Franz Joseph Glacier

Franz Joseph Glacier
Coolest Trek of the Trip

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

West Coast: LA

It was so great to be back in the USA. I left Auckland around 11:30 am on THursday and flew 3 hours to Fiji. I sat there for 6 hours then flew for 10 hours to LA. I arrived in LA at 1:30pm on Thursday. It was strange but so great to be in the US. I don't think Australia and NZ were that hard to navigate around in because of the language but there is just something about being home. And that is what it felt like as I landed and turned on my cell phone for the first time in 6 weeks.

My stay here in LA was through Saturday and I got a chance to visit some relatives. With the exception of the great Uncle Jim (Gpaw, to some), they are all some form of a cousin. And they gave me a warm welcome and showed me around a bit. Margie picked me up at the airpot and along with her husband, Mike were gracious hosts.

We met for dinner on Thursday night and were joined by Jim and Diane as well as Brett and Chris. Jim and Diane happened to be helping Chris with the house for that week so luckily, I got to see more of the west coast family than at first expected. It was so great to see everyone again and catch up.

Margie was a great tour guide on Friday as we took a coastal tour up to Malibu in the car and then down Sunset, Rodeo and around the city a bit. I did get to see some LA traffic which was nice and really made me feel even more at home.

Friday night we went out again for dinner and this time, Mexican, much to Uncle Jim's disapproval. However, I think he has converted to become a fan of Mexican even though he didn't grow up with it in Massachusetts. At 93, I do believe salsa wasn't invented until sometime after the 50's. But I think its a great invention and thankfully the east coast has caught on as well.

I am sure that if I am out in the west coast area again, I will be stopping by this area of El Segundo and hopefully we can get some of you back to visit us in the Boston/Oakham area soon too!

Taupo Sunset

I can't say enough about this sunset so I tried to capture it in a video. I'm in Seattle now and getting a chance to dump some photos- stay tuned....

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Last Night in NZ

This 6 week trip has come to an end. I fly out of Auckland tomorrow and begin the West coast trip. I am really sad that its over although I can't imagine it being any better than it was. The entire trip was everything I wanted it to be and the greatest part is that I really do want to go home :) I'm not saying I want to go back to work anytime soon but the US is home for me, at least for now.

I headed up to Rotorua for 2 days after Taupo and spent a day blitzing the tourist attractions there. I did another geothermal park (really cool- pics to come) followed by a legitimate mud bath from the thermal springs (10 years younger kids) followed by a traditional Maori hangi or dinner and concert. The entire day was unreal but i was happy to leave the town the next morning. Because of all the volcanic activity, the entire town smells like Sulfur- not on my top 10 places to come back to, although definitely a must do.

After Roturua, it was up to the Bay of Islands to a town called Paihia. It was a beach town and in the sits on the beginning of many islands and tropical weather. I stayed a 5 star backpackers and this place was by far the best place I've stayed yet and for the same price. I ventured down to a beach bar and stumbled upon the best night of live music of the entire trip. (better than Nelson, jenn, and not weird) The coolest thing is that it started out with 3 guys and ended with 7. Apparently every Sunday night is jam night and locals just come and bring whatever instruments they play and just jam all night. It was alos supposively one of the best nights of the summer. I chatted with a groupy and she said I was lucky to have been there that night. Guitars, bongos, full drums, sax- it was really awesome. Everyone was in bare feet and it was really nice out and right near the beach. It was very cool.

The next day, i got to go out in search of dolphins. What we found was the most incredible trip yet- dolphins swimming everywhere. They would do jumps right in fron tof the boat, swim in and out of the waves- and there were probably 50 of them. We didn't get to swim with them becasue there were babies with them but the sight was pretty cool. We spent the rest of the day sailing and relaxing on the boat.

Tonight I'm in Auckland, just another city and I kind of feel like I'm in the US. I made to the top of the sky city tower and watched the sunset and now I'm heading up to fingure out how to pack for the plane tomorrow. I'm off to LA to visit relatives and I am really happy about all that has happened the past 6 weeks. The trip was the most amazing thing i have done ever and it almost makes me want to stay at Intel to get another sabbatical. For those who know me, understand what a huge statement that is.

Time is running out so I will have to post pics later. I hope everyone has enjoyed reading of our adventures. Its been fun to post and hear from those of you who have been following along. You need to all take time to travel. its great.

See you soon.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Taupo, NZ

After leaving Jenn, I ventured up North to a place called Taupo. In Taupo, there is a huge lake. It is the best trout fishing in all of NZ and this is also a place of adventure overload. You can skydive, parasail, golf, hike, go to natural hot springs and go on various fishing trips into the lake. It is a very beautiful place and I had 1.5 days here. I spent the evening of arrival exploring town and walking along the lake. I found a place that had gluten free pizza which was SO good and after a place that had gluten free chocolate cake. I really didn't need the cake but I need to explain that when I see these things, I usually feel compelled to buy them on the spot. Who knows when I will get this treat again and it is SO delicious. I got a GF muffin yesterday as well and it was amazing. Just to put it in persepctive, I haven't had a muffin in about 8 months. THe chocolate cake happens in Septemeber for my birthday so that was a little less thrilling but still good. Ok, it is harder with jenn not here so I occupy my excitement with littler things. Oh well.
That night I saw the best sunset I have seen, possibly ever.

The next day I think I walked a total of 5 hours and about 12km. I didn't have a car orr a bike and really wanted a workout. So I went up to the trailway and hiked the trail out to Huka Falls. After that I went to a place called Craters of the MOon. This was a trip- steam came out of the ground in various craters and holes and there were pools of bubbling mud. This is the start of the volcanic zone so that's what happens here. Weird. I actually met a French guy that walked the track with me. This made the adventure even more strange. He knew very little english and what he didn't know, I think I interpreted copmpletely wrong. THe tenses were all wrong but he, thankfully, just laughed at everything. I'm sure the experience was mutual. He gave me a ride down the hill on his bike and we parted. I continued on to make my way passed the falls again and at the bottom was a completely natural river runoff that was heated. So, picture a waterfall that empties into a pool that is like a natural hot tub. Amazing, especially after all that walking and hiking. I was exhausted.

Friday, 1 February 2008