Monday, May 19, 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

Day Twelve: Home again, home again, jiggidy jig!


Day 11 was our last full day in New Zealand, but we had the better part of the next day before our flight left. Given our proven ability to inadvertently turn a four hour drive into an eight hour drive, we decided not to detour through a forest that was on the list of amazing things to see in NZ, but I will say this: We sort of poo-poo'd that route before we even left home because it had something to do with really tall, really old trees and we were like "BUT WE ARE FROM CALIFORNIA! REDWOODS ARE PROBABLY TALLER AND OLDER." But then after seeing just how spectacularly beautiful New Zealand is and admitting that it may possibly be more glorious than California, I guess maybe that drive might have been worth it if we'd had more time...but we didn't. Plus, I am my father's daughter and I can dilly dally and saunter my way *to* a place, but when it comes time to go home, that's all I can think about - PEDAL TO THE METAL, DOLLY PARTON!

So we checked out of our hotel, hopped in our sweet Nissan, and started the journey back down to Auckland. On the drive north a couple days prior, there was a confusing toll road (or maybe it wasn't confusing but we are wary of accidentally getting on toll roads without properly paying the tolls after  that time we went to France and accidentally went to Italy too) and we couldn't tell if we needed to pay the toll in both directions and decided it would be easier to take the non-toll road and just hope that it wasn't EIGHT YEARS longer than the toll road.

That turned out to be a wonderful decision because instead of taking the highway with nothing but scenic green hills to look at, we drove along the coast and through little towns and boggled at the assortment of school uniform options. (Note to self: When asking kiwi Jody about why shoes aren't required, also ask her why some school girls look like they're joining the convent because if my options are a skort or a long school marm skirt, I'm probably going to go skort.)

New Zealand continued to be beautiful:

One last chance to put our feet in sea water:

And then in the blink of an eye, we were back on our way to the airport, snapped back into reality, Carrie had gasoline spilled all over her feet and legs (she was not pleased), and I was forced to give up my hair dryer and a bottle of wine because my suitcase was obese and I couldn't shove any more into my carry-on and I didn't want to pay TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS for its weight problem.

We met one of the few Americans we saw on the whole trip at the airport bar. This particular one was from Atlanta and had originally planned to go on a backpacking adventure with a friend, but the friend backed out at the last minute so he went alone, which seems crazy bold, but he wasn't the first solo backpacker we met on our journey so I guess that's a thing people do. He was celebrating his 30th birthday "tomorrow" but when I did some quick time traveler math I realized he meant tomorrow in America, which would be TODAY in New Zealand. DUDE, TODAY IS YOUR 30TH BIRTHDAY! WHY AREN'T WE CELEBRATING!?!?

He said it didn't count as his birthday because he was the only person he knew in this time zone so that it wouldn't be until he got back home that it would *actually* be his birthday.

But here, in this airport bar, if we look at the calendar, TODAY IS YOUR BIRTHDAY. There was some debate over whether or not time travel birthdays count, and my opinion was that it's not worth arguing if it's your 27th birthday or your 38th birthday, BUT THIRTY IS A GOOD ONE! AND YOU GET TWO OF THEM!? AND YOU'RE NOT APPRECIATING YOUR GOOD LUCK!!?!? NEED I REMIND YOU THAT TWO LOVELY CALIFORNIANS ARE BUYING YOU HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEERS AT AN AIRPORT BAR IN NEW ZEALAND?

I really was yelling. Or at least strongly trying to influence his opinion on this matter. We made a point of HAPPY BIRTHDAY'ing him multiple times in the couple pre-flight hours we spent together and again once we landed on Adam's 30th Birthday #2. He was darling and I am hopeful that we'll be part of his 30th birthday #1 and 30th birthday #2 memory time capsule and that when he's old he'll look back on his 30th v1 and v2 and think of us.

I ended up surviving the flight home -- significant thanks go out to the flight attendant who saw me nearly start to cry when I got to my seat and saw the blinking DOS command thingy instead of a menu full of in-flight entertainment options and moved me to a new seat so my delicately balanced mental well-being while being stuck on a plane for 12 hours wouldn't be derailed.

Equal thanks to my doctor for prescribing me some anxiety medication before we left that she said would make me feel like I'd had a few drinks so not to take them with alcohol.

Huge thanks also go out to an un-named cousin/unlicensed pharmacological adviser who was like "You can totally take those with alcohol - I do it all the time."

Mediocre thanks to the flight attendants for being stingy with the wine but refilling my cup anyway.

Bonus points to me and Carrie for figuring out on the flight over that the red wine fight attendant was different from the white wine flight attendant so shoot your first glass back before the other color of wine comes around.

And then, thanks to the magic of modern medicine, I fell asleep after dinner and woke up right before breakfast. WITH NO HANGOVER. SO MAGICAL! The 24 hours I spent flying to and from New Zealand FOR REALS equated to like six or seven hours of consciousness - MAX!


(And don't worry Mom - I won't develop a dependency. My prescription was for 15, I took two on each flight, I dropped one, and there are still ten left in the bottle.)

And now that we've established that I am a bossy celebrator of 30th birthdays and that I am a rule breaker when it comes to wine service on an airplane and mixing prescription medication with said airplane wine, I have to tell you:

New Zealand was the best vacation I've ever taken. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. I missed my family like crazy so I personally wouldn't have wanted to extend the trip too much beyond the time we were already gone, but I definitely, for sure, absolutely want to return.

And that's saying something because I'm not really on board with going to the same place over and over again. (Except for Tahoe, which totally doesn't count.)

But it would be better if we could fly first class.

Dolly is coming with me, either way.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


OPOTD, originally uploaded by dumpstar_drummer.

So bright.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


OPOTD, originally uploaded by dumpstar_drummer.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Bopotd, originally uploaded by dumpstar_drummer.

Brunching outfit photo of the day

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Day Eleven: Another day of island and bar hopping while wearing stretchy pants

Day eleven!! The last hurrah!! We had GRAND plans for day eleven -- a day long cruise of the Bay of Islands on a tall ship -- but it was not meant to be. Day ten's downpour led to poor visibility on day eleven and the cruise ended up being canceled. This was a disappointment because we were bathing suited up and ready for our day, but Plan B ended up being pretty awesome and I was very glad that our last full day in New Zealand played out exactly the way it did.

We ended up on a different cruise of the bay, and hearty sailers that we are, we rode on the outdoor deck for most of the journey. This left us damp, but let's just call it a southern hemisphere seawater mist spa experience and then BOOM, it's money well spent.

We took a ferry from Paihia to Russell where we were to wait for our tour boat. (Google maps is smoking crack if it thinks you can WALK there, but I guess maybe if you're Jesus?)

Russell, New Zealand's first capital, turned out to be SO STINKING CUTE and colonial-looking. We'd heard a rumor that a Top Chef contestant was the chef at one of the hotels and we had a couple of hours to kill until our tour boat departed, so we sat out on the porch of The Duke of Marlborough Hotel (whose tagline is "Refreshing rascals and reprobates since 1827") and enjoyed one of New Zealand's finest qualities: another platter.

 We were both very excited:

 The stuff in the ramekin was some sort of coconut milk ceviche and was seriously one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten.

And another one of our favorite things about New Zealand: THE WINE!

And then I also ate some oysters because apparently that's what I do now but also because I overheard the waitress giving a very complicated explanation to the table next to us and one of them (the one on the left) featured lemon juice in that Top Cheffy suspended-in-whatever magic that in regular person language translates to "balls of lemon juice" and I wanted to try it:


I'll also add that it was very misty and we were basically getting rained on while we ate but we opted not to move to a table further from the edge so if we look damp, we probably were.

And then we had one of the best restaurant desserts I've ever had. I was not originally super interested because I'm not a huge dessert fan but daaaaaaang, it was good. Peanut butter ice cream and everything!

Paired with the most perfect possible dessert cocktail of espresso and something else:

That meal was kick ass. And it showed when the bill came, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

We could have stayed sitting there forever (on a sunny day it might have been impossible to leave), but we pushed on -- there was a whole town to see! (Though really, it took about 30 minutes to see the whole thing on foot.)  

I remember taking this photo because it looked so lovely and like somewhere I might want to stay when I return to Russell:

Upon further exploration of Russell, I'd say that an overnight is probably not necessary because there isn't much to do other than eat and drink (though these are both enjoyable hobbies) and walk around:

 And get arrested:

And I don't know what this was about, but it sure did make me read the other side of the sign...which was something unexciting -- I think the name of the store it was in front of:

And then we got on our boat and went on a windy, misty tour of the Bay of Islands:


(But we totally want one because all of our selfies were old school.)

And this is one I feel is just begging to be an album cover:

On a less stormy day the boat goes through that hole, but the water was too high and rough so I was perfectly happy just to look at it:

The cruise dropped us off on some other island for a little bit so we walked around in the rain took more damp photos of ourselves.

I also picked up a shell that is currently sitting on my bookshelf, which is something that stretches my brain because today, it's in San Jose, but a couple of months ago, it was on a beach on an island off the coast of New Zealand.

And then it was back on the boat for more cruising of an area I believe is supposed to be spectacular on a less gray day:

 We were happy to be there though! And oh hay! Champagne!

And then we were on our way back to Paihia:

 But not without pausing to watch the dolphins!

So then we were back in town and needed something do with the rest of our evening. We stopped for a drink at a restaurant near the dock (that's 35 degrees SOUTH...ohhhhhh HEMISPHERES):

And decided to see what Irish nachos were in New Zealand:

I ate half that plate and I still don't really have an answer for you. Potatoes and bacon and dollops of something creamy and a side of soy sauce? But this sparked our plan for the night: Let's go to all the places and try all the American-sounding things on the menu and see how in the heck New Zealand interprets them!!


Next stop: Some other bar with something called "chicken bites" on the menu. We decided that part of the sport would be to make guesses for what would actually arrive. In this case, I think we both guessed boneless chicken pieces and one of us thought they would be buffalo style and the other did not. We were both wrong but also a little bit right:

Definitely not what an American would call a "bite" and the flavor and interior color led us to believe that they may have been lightly dipped in a buffalo-esque sauce before battering them because there was a TINY bit of tang and a SLIGHT orange glow, but these "bites" and the accompanying blue cheese dressing were sad.

This taste-test-the-"American"-things strategy was super solid except that there are really only like five restaurants in town. We'd just hit two of them, another was heavy on the seafood and didn't have any Americany items on the menu and one was the bar from the night before, which left us with a very questionable looking pizza place run by Eastern European women. We ordered the nachos and Coronas (which I mentioned before appeared to be the trendiest beers everrrrrrrr) and SCORE, when you buy two Coronas you get a free Corona hat!!! SO WE BOUGHT FOUR.

And now we both have Corona hats that we got in NEW ZEALAND.

But about the nachos. In New Zealand. At a pizza place. Run by eastern Europeans. We were nervous.

We had a full set of predictions. We thought they'd have marinara sauce on them instead of salsa (they did not, though they didn't have salsa on them either). We thought they'd have mozzarella cheese on them (CORRECT!). We thought they'd be a non-tortilla chip (WASH: They were tortilla chips, but the chips appeared to be a single serving bag of Cool Ranch Dorito-style chips, which I'm counting as a point for "the chip will be wrong").

I can't remember what the meat situation was -- I think we determined that there may have been a can of chili-like food in there, but I remember it being sweet -- like possibly a can of BBQ baked beans.

The grand plan of Americany food taste testing was relatively short lived -- in part because of the small number of restaurants in town, but also because we were we did what any smart girls would do and we went back to visit our BFF Ross the dread'd white guy for a little bit.

I remember sitting there thinking that it was SUCH A SHAME that this was our last full day of vacation and that IN AN BLINK OF AN EYE we'd be back in our business'y business lady outfits. But on this night, we were full, we were damp, we were wind and sun burned, we had new Corona hats, and we were happy to be there.

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