Tuesday, January 26, 2010

One final post

Here is the last group of photos. I wanted to do a quick post before we leave New Zealand. We will be up in a few hours at 3:30 AM to begin our long journey home. I imagine we don't have to worry about losing too much sleep as there will be plenty of time for that on the plane or should I say - planes.
Queenstown - Bungy

Nicholas (on his 8th birthday) and Connor watching the LUGE

Rock climbing

Retrieving Connor from rock climbing

Family photo op at Mount Cook area Glaciers
Glenorchy - Town where Lord of the Rings was filmed
Skipping rocks after a picnic at the lake
This is the closest we got to the sheep. When we got out of the car they usually ran, but these guys knew we had food.
Great view - and a bonus with the lonely sheep
Fishing - something for everyone
Back through Queenstown - a much needed break from pasta in the camper. Nick wanted to try the local Sauvignon Blanc - not a big fan I guess
Closest we came to Bungy jumping

Our home. This site was swarming with nasty sandflies which forced us to stay inside. At least it was a room with a view.
Stream after lake after river and on and on and on...

One of the many great lookout points
A walk to Fox Glacier

Great limestone rock formations

Hokitika - little beach town, my favorite stop. Our site was steps from the beach that was filled with driftwood sculptures all the way down the
shore. Bruce Bay - different beach, but along the beach road were rocks signed by passersby and then artfully displayed among the driftwood.
We left our mark as well. Always travel with a Sharpie.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


We spent 4 nights in Sydney, the first being in the central part and the photo below is simply to prove that we have seen the Opera House. By the way it isn't white, it's more cream colored.
Ferry ride to Watson's Bay.

Connor's having a bit of a chat with ol' Roo

This one wanted Kate's braids.

First time in a Kangaroo petting zoo - very cool.

Wouldn't be Australia without a photo with the Koala.
The kids fed them ice cream cake cones

Beach day at Dee Why, but first some fish 'n chips
We spent 3 of our nights just north of Sydney at Manly Beach. This is the view from the apt. Also had a great little playground there in the front where Connor spun around too many times and lost his breakfast in the grass.

We arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand with a very loose itinerary for the next 12 days. But that’s pretty much the way this entire trip has been. I am coping with the spontaneity of things. This small city is said to be the most English city outside of England. We rented a punt for a short ride up the Avon River that passes through the city. Christchurch was our stop for two nights before picking up the campervan.

The smart company we rented the campervan from had couches and movies set up for the kids while we learned about our new ‘home’. First stop was the grocery store, and as nice as it was to be back in an English market, the food prices were still really high. We did sit in the parking lot for a good hour and returned to the store 3 times as we realized that we forgot a particular essential. And after we left I realized I still forgot the butter.
First stop out of Christchurch was Kaikoura known for it's whale watching which we enjoyed. Below was our first peek at the coastline and we had to get out to see it.

As we settled into the driving bit, I found myself humming John Denver as the landscape quickly changed to rolling hills and mountains.
Every other turn in the Canterbury Region brought hills and fields speckled with sheep, cows and deer, but in the land of 40 million sheep and 4 million people we saw A LOT of sheep.
As for the campervan it was such a lovely thing when a child yelled from the back in a panic, “I have to go to the bathroom!” I looked at them blankly and said ,”Then go, it’s right behind you.” The first day of driving with the kids nearly made me lose my mind. We were hoping that we could really spread them out around the vehicle, but they all had to sit at a table where the seatbelts were located. There was a lot of kicking and yelling and well, the usual. Jack kept telling me to go and sit back there with them. But I refused. What I learned was that if we let them stay up late, at least one of them would fall asleep on the drive and that would bring much peace to our world.
Day three and we are on our second campervan. We decided to take a more scenic route to our second campsite on the East coast. The views were stunning, but the mountain drives were steep. We stopped at the bottom of one mountain and realized we could smell the brakes. We got out and chatted with a guy who was passing by on his bike (an American but now a Kiwi) and he gave Jack some advice about driving these monstrosities down the mountain, basically downshift and don't ride the breaks. After trying to go over a different mountain on a narrow gravel road we decided to turn around and go back to where we started. The only way out though was to go back over the mountain and down again. I was a complete wreck, pretty sure that the breaks were going to go out and we were going to roll over the side of the mountain to our death. The roads were all narrow and the string of barbed wire for a guardrail wasn't going to hold us back. One realizes now as I am writing this that we didn’t go over the side. But, Jack did kill the clutch partway down. The van was stuck in 1st gear, so we coasted along at about 13mph for about an hour with the gas light on and the possibility that the breaks would give at any moment. Oh and did I mention the guy back at the mountain told us that none of the seaside towns had any gas stations? We have also been travelling without a phone since we left Sydney. The van eventually lurched to a stop, but fortunately in front of someone's home. Perk and her husband were gracious enough to allow us to call the van company from their home and let us sleep in their parking space overnight until someone came to fetch us the next morning. The adventure never ends.

Next day, site for sore eyes, 3rd night, second campsite, Lake Tekapo

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ubud - Part 2

I am thinking that maybe 5 weeks for our family to travel together was a bit much. We have 3 weeks to go. A manicure and pedicure for 18 bucks today certainly helped my state of being (nice after that combo would have set me back 180 bucks in Tokyo - which is why I didn’t get them). I told Kate that I missed my alone time. She told me I get it every night while I am sleeping. Sorry honey, that just doesn’t cut it. Possibly a change of scenery will shake things up a bit. We will leave our spacious villa and spend 12 days in a camper. Hmmm…But first we leave Bali in two days and head to Sydney for 4 days.
I mentioned the monkey forest before, but neglected to post a couple of pics. Although video is much better for this, I believe my cable wires are on a ship somewhere headed to America at this time – at least I hope they are. Connor found a friend - but we learned later that you are not to show your teeth as it is a sign of aggression - yeah, I am pretty sure that monkey is not smiling at Connor This guy is wondering why his friends aren't moving.

The bottom of my daily cup of Kopi (coffee), no, not from the animal mentioned before. I am never tired during the day, imagine that.

We had an interesting trek today around the river near Ubud. It was a two-hour trek that we thought could be handled by all. And I have to say I am pretty sure no one complained except for Connor who had the benefit of being carried on the back of Wayung, our guide. If Jack carried him he most likely would have fallen as the trails were either slippery or wet or narrow or unseen and we all lost our footing several times. After a steep and somewhat treacherous walk down to the river Wayung told us we had to cross it. He said he would carry the kids across one by one. Then he stripped down to his underpants, threw Connor on his back and went across. Jack and I weren’t quite sure what our job was at this point until he told us to take off our pants, hold our shirts up and cross. I told Kate privately – thank god I didn’t wear a thong today. I think Jack was more embarrassed about this than I was. I just warned Jack – NO PICTURES or he might have to get swallowed up by the river. Well, he took photos that obviously I won’t be posting and then he went in the wrong way, slipped and fell ALL the way in. I thought that was a bit funny – he didn’t. Wayung hollered, "Wrong way!" haha. After we got across Kate said,“ Mom, Wayung’s naked!” He was drying out his underpants and he told me I could do the same. I said I was fine thank you – I didn’t care if my underpants were wet. We continued on our trek and Kate makes the comment, “Well, that was interesting.” Yes it was. There was nothing about that part in the guide books.

Before heading down still dry and clothed...

Connor first
Then Nick
...and that's all of the photos ;)