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


jwill said...

I am howling. You are going to be so bored when you get back home when life is so normal (and butter isn't an afterthought).

rosemary said...

I have been following your blog since it started and it has been great reading, Brigitte. I have learned so much. You should write for a living! Enjoy the rest of your trip. Rose from Illinois

Kristin WD said...

Rosemary, I told her this... but she won't listen.

I am howling too. And you better find something to amuse you in the states... I can't have you gone again for so long! :( WE MISS YOU... even if i think what you are doing is fantastic!

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