Tuesday, December 23, 2008
So we got back to Queenstown the other day after 5 days of being gone, and realized the summer crowd has infiltrated the city. Seriously over the time span of a few days, thousands of people made it into the city. As we were sitting in town eating delicious protein in burger form (we just got back from hiking and all we wanted to eat was hamburgers) we realized how uninformed we are living in our bubble. We don’t watch the news or have internet readily available so we are able to check world events. What we do keep up on is the Lakes Weekly Bulletin. This is basically a Queenstown area classified with coupons for restaurants and bars in the neighborhood. We love reading the bulletin so much it was to the point that Ash, our Roommates, and I were all sitting in a coffee shop reading our individual bulletin catching up on the sales and coupons as soon as it was delivered to the shop.
Well during one of these regular pow-wow’s in the coffee shop we decided to make a list of things that we want to get accomplished before leaving. The list includes but is not limited to:
*Blowing Bubbles in the Park *Selling Rice Crispies *Camping *River Surfing *Skydiving *Finger Painting
In order for Ash and I to get a working visa here in New Zealand we were required to
buy insurance. Basically it just covers incidentals, but all in all it seemed like fairly good coverage. Well after we purchased the insurance we were reading what was not covered. Basically it does not cover any injury related to adventure sports including hiking, bungy jumping, skydiving, mountain biking, etc. After reading these clauses we were a little depressed, because those were all of the things we were planning on doing while we were in the adventure capital of the world. We decided we were just going to be careful, but mainly we found a loophole in the insurance policy. When skydiving, the participant does not get injured…. they die. So, we won’t need insurance for that anyway. Serious loophole.
The other day Ash, Dana, Tatty, and I all jumped out of a perfectly good airplane at 15,000ft. You may think this sounds like an act of insanity, but it was seriously one of the most amazing experiences. I was so excited and there really wasn’t enough time to second guess jumping. First of all you are strapped to the front of a huge man, and basically he leans into you and you fall out of an airplane. There isn’t enough time to turn back. Tatty reminded me “It is exactly like all of the dreams I have had about flying”. I am now considering a profession in skydiving, but that maybe expensive and time consuming. But hey it’s worth looking into. Mom, I know this freaks you out, but that’s why I didn’t tell you I was going before hand. I just told you now so you would know I lived.
We just go back from our first major “tramp” in New Zealand, the Reese-Dart Track. This is considered a high level class, but since we are so keen on hiking it wasn’t too difficult. In addition to the 75 kilometers of the main walk we did a side trip of about 15 kilometers. It took us four days of strenuous walking. The first two days we walked about ten hours, and the second two days we walked about five hours. My three companions (also my roommates in Queenstown) on this trip are all taller than 5’8”. I on the other hand am barely 5’4”. I have accepted my height and generally I don’t wish to be taller (although I still think 5’6” is the perfect height). For this trip I was definitely working quite hard to keep up with the girls. They weren’t necessarily moving ultra fast, but typically 1 of their strides is 1.5 to 2 strides for me. Tatty made the observation that my legs take lots of tiny baby steps. I was quick to say, “These are GIANT steps for me; your leg span is just 12 inches longer than my own.” For some reason I move quite a bit faster down mountains than they do. Basically I have realized unless I am nearly running I am left alone on the way up the mountain, and if I don’t consciously go slower on the way down I am alone in front of the pack. Either way I am hiking at my own pace for a bit of each walk.
We were blessed with gorgeous weather on the first day, but it didn’t stay that way for the rest of the trip. The last two days we hiked in complete down pour. Luckily New Zealand caters to tramping and they have handy huts to sleep in. Every night after our hike we had a warm, dry place to sleep and refresh. It is funny when you take off your rain jacket and it is just as wet on the inside as on the outside. We were light hearted about the situation even though Ash and I have a phobia of rain since a near death experience in Alaska’s rain this summer. We were fairly good about remembering the nostalgia of rain when we were children, so we turned being cold into jumping through puddles on purpose. Wet feet just became the norm, and coldness reminded us of playing in the rain as children (mostly). I don’t even have that many blisters (well less than ten). On our side trip we walked near a glacier in canyon saddle. This was definitely a highlight of our trip. As we were walking we heard a loud crashing sound, and when we turned we realized the glacier was caving on the mountain. The breakage then created a small avalanche, which is probably one of the coolest things I have every witnessed.
We made a few acquaintances on the trip and they were all sure to try and help us out as much as possible. I don’t think that they knew how much of the terrain we were used to, and how competent in the outdoors we actually are. Ash and I tend to go hiking/camping quite often in much tougher conditions, and the girls (Dana & Tatty) lead wilderness trips during the summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Our “new friends” soon realized we would be fine when we would tramp passed them during the day and rush to do side trips. I think that we just don’t fit the stereotype of outdoor, but it is pretty fun to play that role as well. I am pretty sure they were just ultra confused. Especially because we would wake up late (around 10am) and brew coffee in our French presses in the morning. We just operate on a very different level than most of the population.
We seem to do best when we are surrounded by nature. It really just allows us to refocus, and realize how good living is. Ash pretty much summed it up as she was walking a very strenuous, nearly vertical track. At the top- done with the climb she leaned over the view of rows of mountains and exclaimed, “I am the luckiest duck! I love life!”
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I guess sometimes I need to be reminded that you actually don’t know what is going on in Ash and my life… even though to us it may seem like mundane day-to-day stuff, you still don’t have much of an idea of what’s going on. Thanks for the reminder of your daily checking the blog Char.
For the first month Ash and I lived in Queenstown we were living at a backpackers hostel called Hippo Lodge. Because of work and other obligations we decided to move out of the Hippo into an apartment just down the road. We are living with two other girls that we met at the Hippo, Dana and Tatty. They are childhood friends from Maine. We are really grateful to have met them because we have truly clicked. Our roles so far seem to be the girls are like our younger sisters, and for some reason we were meant to meet and be together for this period of time. Our mutual friend Tom was concerned and asked, “Is this a good decision to live together?” So far it has been great, but I completely understand his concern because we don’t tend to get much accomplished other than “living in the now”. The new joke is “I wish Tom could see us right now.” This is especially said when we are productive, but is also asked when we are especially not productive.
It all started on Thanksgiving. We planned a pretty great feast, but first we decided Mimosa’s were merited. Well Mimosa’s lasted longer than anticipated, and our Thanksgiving feast was pushed back a few hours. Tom (a true English Bloke) witnessed the whole day first hand. I am fairly certain he thinks we are ridiculous, but I am sure that he loved every minute. He definitely only saw one side of our friendship with Dana and Tatty. All in all Thanksgiving was a great day--- sun, friends, mimosas, and “thankfuls”. The only way it could have been better is if you all were here with us.
It is funny to think that it is almost Christmas because it is about 70* to 80* most days. It really feels like it should be mid June, I guess this is what we signed up for when we wanted an endless summer... that and the whole Southern Hemisphere thing. Oh, PS I forgot that there are different stars here. Yes, I remember we learned about the stars in the Northern Hemisphere vs the Southern in elementary, but sometimes I forget.
Back to my original train of thought, despite how the weather feels we splurged and bought Christmas decorations. By splurged I mean we spent 13bucks at Salvation Army and spruced up the apartment. I think it looks pretty chic, maybe shabby chic, but still chic. We have the essentials a tree, lights, and tons of purple garland. I know purple might not be the first color you think of when you think Christmas, but hey we were at Salvo and the choices were semi-limited. It looks extraordinary, I promise. We even made popcorn strands, but the microwaves here are tricky and we burned some of the popcorn. I say it adds color, which is great since we can’t afford to buy cranberries for strand. Once again, “Eh, it’s good enough.”
We live about a seven-minute walk to town, which is great for work and late nights. It is in a nice area instead of our usual shady apartment in Anchorage. Yesterday as we were all at work, Ash was home taking a nap after her shift, and had heard running water and thought, “Is someone taking a shower?” A few minutes later when she actually woke up she realized that no one was home, but the water was actually coming from the wall and ceiling. Within the first week of us living in our new apartment we were flooded with 2 inches of standing water. This would seriously only happen to us… which is why I think we were not surprised. Our landlord is great, because he came over immediately and is fixing the problem. As of now we are staying in an hotel (courtesy of Berry (Land lord) until the floor dries allowing us to move back in. But at least we already decorated for Christmas.