Thursday, July 23, 2009


Holy moly have I been busy. This has been the longest that I haven't blogged, and for that I am sorry. There has been no time! It's getting down to the final days of my stay, and there is so much left to do! I'm only writing this after an evening with some girls at the pub....

Anyways, do I have stories to tell! First off, I have had so many fun times. My last day of work was glorious and to start my freedom, I had a fantastic fish n chips party at Curl's house. The theme was "dig for gold" basically, they ordered about $100 worth of fish n chips, and you had to just dig for the good stuff. We also had Export Gold beer, and "gold" (white) wine along with a home made dessert that was ice cream with chunks of Tim Tams, Squiggles, and Snickers. It was fun, Mitchy did a good job planning it. We had 6 scoops of chips! Let's just say that is A LOT of french fries. A very healthy meal.

Next important news, I survived my first earthquake! It was New Zealand's 2nd largest quake ever, and it was off shore on the south island around a pretty uninhabited place, so no one got hurt which is good. It was a 7.8 on the scale, which is pretty big. I actually didn't know it was an earthquake, though. Sara and I were hanging out with Tracy, Matt, and Moir and Tracy and I both started feeling dizzy. She just brushed it off and was like "Oh, maybe it was an earthquake.." later on to find out it certainly was. It was kind of weird, like the TV was floating away from me or something, but I just thought it was something wrong with my eyes. Ha.. So no harm done, I kind of felt it, and I'm actually happy about it. We live by the ocean so we were on tsunami watch for a few hours also, although I'm not really sure what exactly I would do if a tsunami hit. I'm not really prepared for that kind of natural disaster.

Later on in the week Sara and I had a tourist day of Christchurch. It was very fun, we bought tram passes and went around the city all day long. We saw all the exhibits at the art gallery, which was quite interesting to say the least, and we even went to the history museum. I learned about Maori life and Moas (ancient extinct birds), and lots of fun facts about Christchurch. We also walked around the botanical park and had coffee at a mock-Spanish street called Regents St. We had kumera fries at the Dux Deluxe (the most delicious vegetable that should be everywhere in America...I'm on a mission to find kumera when I get back), and just had a really fun day. I like Christchurch a lot. Good city.

Our next adventure was the West Coast, and it was quite the drive! We went across Arthur's Pass through the Southern Alps to get to the coast. I drove from one shore to the other. It was beautiful. The mountains are now covered with snow, and it just sparkles in the sun. At first on our drive it was cloudy and you could hardly see anything, but at a certain point you get above the clouds and it's all blue sky and sparkling untouched white gleaming snow. Really indescribably beautiful. It was about a 4 hour drive, and we made it just in time before dark to see the cabins that we rented out- they were surrounded by a farm, and on a beach. What a strange combo. There were Sara's favorite shahammels (alpacas), and goats, sheep, pigs, and chickens. We walked up and down the beach and found a bunch of cool rocks that rival ANY rock family I've ever seen (Bridget, I have photos to prove it).

That evening, we walked across the road to see a Glow Worm Dell. That's a little worm that lives in the mountains and lights up at night. It's actually really neat, however, you have to walk up this little deserted train in the pitch black of night just to see all these tiny bugs. We were determined to do it as the good tourists that we were, but the night scared us so we waited outside until a family walked up and we followed them in. It was good fun. I tried to take photos of them but the whole glowing thing doesn't really transfer to a digital camera. Oh well.

The next day it was pouring rain, but we had already booked to go four-wheeling at the Franz-Joseph glacier, so we headed down further south from where we were staying (a little town called Hokitika). We had good spirits, and once we finally were suited up and on our quad bikes it didn't really matter how wet we got, because the dirtier the better. It was really fun, we drove through jungles and glacier rivers, which are the most crystal clear blue color you could imagine. Pure ice water. SO cool. The storm even cleared up and we had a fantastic time. The glaciers are really beautiful and it makes you feel small when you see how much power nature has. This glacier had carved out an entire side of the country. Really neat.

The next day we had to leave, but on our way out we made it up north past Greymouth to Punakaiki to see the Pancake rocks. They are these rocks that have formed into little stacks that look like pancakes, but no scientist can figure out why. The rocks are huge and they spread across an entire beach. There are also blowholes at these rocks that shoot up water when the tide comes in like a little geyser. Once again, nature being awesome. I think this trip has reinstated the word awesome for me, because some of the things I have seen and experienced have really filled me with awe. New Zealand is a wonderfully beautiful and neat country.

On the way home from the trip, Sara and I had the great idea to buy a boogie board and sled down a hill in the mountains. Mission accomplished. It was wonderful....Sara ate it once and got a big scrape on her back, and I was kind of a sledding pro, not to brag or times.

Since we've got back from the West Coast, it's been a whirlwind really. The day we got back was a celebration for the girls of Western, because they won the league with like 4 games to go. Pretty impressive. We also house-sitted for Sara's mom, which was fun because she has a really neat apartment and a really cute dog named Ted. We took him to the beach and to the dog park and he was loving every second of it.

Curls and Megan were wonderful and took me to a farm that Curls' uncle used to own at the foot of the Southern Alps. It was so beautiful. We first stopped at a lake that was called Lake Coleridge. It was blue as the ocean and the sand was white as the Pensacola Beach that I spend my summers at. So gorgeous. We then drove over to Lake Ida, a lake that is in the shadows of a mountain so it is completely solid ice. At first it's scary to walk out on a frozen lake, but once you figure out how solid it is it's so much fun! We had Curls' dog Bessie with us and she was hilariously awkward walking on the ice. I tried to do a running dive that didn't really work out, and we had a couple of ice-skating races. It was really a good day. The farm was so neat, I could only dream of growing up in a place like that. So many places to get lost! We did a little four-wheeling action and took on a couple of rivers with the car. Overall, a fantastic day trip.

Yesterday, Sara's friend Georgia had a ingenious idea, and we jumped right on the bandwagon of it: to go for a winter dip. We actually jumped in the ocean. I thought my feet were going to fall off. I couldn't run fast enough out of that water. It was so cold!!! I am, however, glad to say that I've done it. Most of you who know me would understand how big of a thing that was, because I don't even get into most water unless it's the bathtub-warm ocean water of the Gulf on Pensacola Beach. I'm a wuss when it comes to being cold. It was certainly fun though.

Tomorrow's a big big day....I get to go whale watching! I'm so pumped. It's fun to be a tourist. And expensive. I suppose you only live once, so I'm taking my chances as they come, and I can't imagine a better time to go whale watching in New Zealand. I'll surely update the blog with those adventures.

My time is running short now, and I'm getting sad. I've gotten kind of used to my lovely little life here in Christchurch. It's so beautiful. That is really the best way to describe it. With the expiration dates on the milk starting to show my departure date, I'm trying to stretch my days and make them last as long as possible!

Start the countdown now, though. I will be home very, very soon.

I still miss everyone at home, and I'm already starting to miss everyone here. I'm beginning to think that I'm going to always be missing people and places now. I guess that's not always a bad thing, though. Good to have something to miss :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sweet Summertime

Today is a really really nice day. It is so clear you can see the entire Southern Alps mountain range and all of the Port Hills in one glance. The sun is shining and the air is so clear and nice, I've finally gotten a beautiful summer day :) It made running so much nicer. It's easy to be motivated to go outside when it's not rainy and cold. I suppose you gotta do what you gotta do. And with the help of my borderline psycho trainer Sara, I have been going out on the cold rainy days and running. She is kicking my butt. And it's helping. I've got every single one of my run times down by a ton...but back to what I started with: the sunshine! It makes me happy.

This past week has been kind of random. I hope everyone had a fun 4th. I sure did. American Independence was celebrated here in New Zealand, the right way. We all dressed up in our red, white, and blue and went out on the town. I personally had the Star Spangled Banner written on my back (I was wearing a backless dress), and we even found a belt that had "USA" written in camo in the dollar shop....don't ask me why they had it, but I bought it haha... We had beads and party hats and we hit the town. It was a fabulously fun night.

The next day we went and saw Matt play in a game with the Mainland Soccer team. I'm going to try and explain this but I will probably fail. So the teams around here all are mostly clubs, but the Mainland league is a group of players that are selected to play for their area. The area around here is Canterbury, which is probably the second best or largest behind the Auckland area. Sara plays for the women's Mainland team, and they practice a couple times a week, but they don't usually have that many games until the end of the season. Well the men's Mainland team was put together to play against a professional team from Wellington that actually plays in the Australian A-league. It's basically the only professional soccer team that NZ has. Long story short, the Mainland team ends up playing really well against those pros, and almost comes up with a victory (missed an open goal)...they end up with a tie, which most were pretty proud of. Matt played really well, and it was cool to see someone I knew play in a big stadium atmosphere. It was fun.

Also, Sunday Pip came!!! I was SO excited to get to see her again!!! Her sister was playing a hockey game here so she came to watch. It was the first time she'd really been to Christchurch I think. Sara managed to introduce her to some of the major food places (sushi ball, a couple of cafes, etc.) and we just hung out and caught up. She just got back from a trip across America, so it was fun to catch up on her crazy stories. I love those foreigners. Seems like every time I'm with Pip I'm planning something. This time, it's when we're going on a Europe trip (we've decided 2 years to save, and that we want to do a Tour de France on bikes), and also a Vegas trip next July, which will be a bit easier for me living in the states. We've also discussed whether or not we should all try to play professional soccer in Australia and live together, or if it would be fun to all live together in Auckland. It's fun to imagine all those things. Being around Pip makes me want to live with her. Always funny times. She's working on a muesli business right now, and about to be working in a fishery for her dad. Ha. I love my friends.

Big news: I quit Subway. I decided it's time to move on to bigger and better things. Ha. I've got less than 4 weeks left now, and I don't want to spend them making sandwiches. Although I made a lovely sandwich artist, my time with the layered meat, bread, and cheese is over. My boss was ticked off a bit, because they have to rehire now and I'd only been there for a little over a month. Oh well. I've got things I want to do before I leave, and Subway gets in the way!!! I'm going to work the rest of the week, and then have my freedom.

Yesterday Sara and I went to Sumner Beach, which is pretty close to her house, and it was so pretty. We took Ruba and she went mad running around. There is a huge rock thing that you can climb all around, and it's got caves and lagoons and you can go to the very top or all the way underneath. We were exploring. We threw a ball into all the lagoons and made Ruba jump in to get it... ha we really were like little kids, it was fun. I forgot my camera, though which made me so mad! That just means we'll have to go back...

That's about it on the fun front. I've been working a lot, which is also part of the reason I quit. Tracy and Matt have moved out of their house to save for when they move to Australia, and everyone else is kind of just hangin out. It's funny how you can be in a completely foreign place and have it become just normal all of a sudden. One day I woke up and realized I was taking it for granted! I am currently in the process of turning myself back into an awe-filled tourist. I need to document and remember every second of my trip here.

I miss home, and I'm thinking about every single one of you. I'll keep updating with the last four weeks of fun filled stories. Be looking for them!

Much Love