The west has always had a sturdy grip on my heart and Utah is a spot I’ve wanted to head back to since I visited a couple years ago. Now that I’ve been here a month I remember exactly why I was so hype on it. I mean red rocks, sunshine, hiking, camping, swimming, sunsets, canyons, etc… It’s basically a little kacy paradise, with one exception, the damn 3.2% beer. Mmmm all the bloat, none of the buzz.
Fear not though, big mama has a healthy stock left from her days in Maine and hath discovered the liquor stores sell the real McCoy (but only warm and by the single bottle). Wouldn’t be mad if someone decided to get me a membership to the beer of the month club for x-mas… wink wink… Siblings…
Sups glad I hauled my life the 3,000 miles out here, me thinks I’ll happily be living life out west for many moons to come.
So this is it. The end of New Zealand, the end of a truly incredible adventure.
My last few days were spent wandering around wine country getting my sommelier on, picking cherries, playing in the ocean, feasting on the beach, and turning 25. I have now been 25 for almost two weeks and it has been a good chance to look back at 24 and be proud. In the past year I became that person who not only talks big dreams, but lives them. I went after what I want in life and I had some incredible adventures along the way. I’m more open minded, more confident in myself, more ready to face fears and take on any challenge that comes for me. Best of all, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. So thank you to everyone who supported my choices and to those of you who said I’m crazy… I hope I’ve managed to chance your perception!
Now that I’m home (and poor) I’m going to be taking on new adventures, trying to figure out how to balance working and being all consumed by the travel bug. Tomorrow Rosie and I hit the road again and I begin life as a travel nurse! Watch out Arizona!
I’ve been slacking on the blog the last few weeks, but in my defense I was out making the most of my last few weeks in New Zealand! After all, I had limited time there and it is quite a bit easier to wade though and post my pictures from here…
After making our way up the west coast we decided that we should absolutely go to the northern tip of the South Island, Cape Farewell. It was so incredibly beautiful, there were amazing hikes through fields of sheep with cliffs that dropped down to white sand beaches. My favorite part though, without question, BABY SEAL ENCOUNTERS. People naturally freak whenever we see a wild animal up close and personal so when my travel bud and I stumbled upon a cave full of seals it took some sneaking and strategic timing to avoid drawing attention to the hot spot, but it paid off! We were approached by at least 5 babies and the moms all just kept eyes from a distance and didn’t seem to mind us one bit!
An experience I won’t soon forget (especially since every piece of technology I own is now backgrounded with a picture of the babes)
This time of year is for family and friends- for getting together, catching up, for being around those that you love. Being halfway around the world I knew that there would be some challenges, but life is what you make of it… right?
Christmas in Milford Sound has a magical ring to it, so I booked a hostel and a bus ticket and decided to roll the dice.
I. got. lucky.
On my way up I met a Canadian chick, also traveling alone, looking for a hiking buddy-sold! We sat down to plan our Christmas hike and learned that there are really not any hikes within walking distance of town, the lodge, or anything, so we had to get a little bit creative on transportation methods ;). We made it out to the Gertrude Saddle trail head and hiked Christmas day away, surrounded by waterfalls and mountains. On our way back to the lodge we managed to recruit a new team member and orphan Christmas was officially a thing! A respectable crew of 6 backers, we got together to make our “only add water” grain variations and canned meat dishes (sounds much sadder than it was) and followed that up with an evening of charades and scrabble with our newly found Indian BFFs (totally not orphans, but their parents enjoyed the break…).
Given that I couldn’t be home, the holiday was more than I expected and better than I could have imagined.
I swear this isn’t a green screen.
Kea- Alpine parrot!
Kea- Alpine parrot!
(I’m in this picture)
We found some white on Christmas
New Zealand Christmas trees?
Awkward family photo.
Now I’ve been back in Queenstown for the past few days enjoying hanging out with the friends I’ve made and working on my freckle collection, but with only 3 weeks to go the pressure is on to see the some more of this beautiful country!
After getting to Te Anau I looked at a Department of Conservation map, picked a remote little site, loaded up Big Teal, and headed out there for some peace and quiet with no real plan. It was a great chance to slow down and join the finer things club. When traveling it is easy to get caught up and feel like you’re not moving fast enough to see everything, but constantly racing around it is easy to miss the magical world that constantly surrounds you. I walked slow, stopped to look at all the weird fungi, and made some great bird friends who did my hair and made me a beautiful ballgown to win over the prince… wait… nah, that’s Cinderella’s bit. But I still felt a bit like I was living in a fairy tale!
Big Teal ready for action.
Hey bro, you’ve got a little pollen on your nose there…
If a tree falls in the woods and there is one person to hear it, does it still make a sound? YEP.
My little piece of paradise!
Home sweet home.
So fresh and so green, green.
First wild hedgehog encounter!! Millie’s distant cousin, Morty.
Just a word to the wise- BUY BUG SPRAY IF YOU’RE IN NEW ZEALAND. The sand flies and mosquitoes are ruthless demons.
Guys, I have to admit I don’t know a whole lot about LOTR, that is probably all too clear after my last post where I thought Mordor was a mountain, but I do know that it was partially filmed in the area I explored for the past few days and now I totally understand why. The park is beautiful and the weather rolls though so quickly that Mt. Ngauruhoe often fits the movie name of Mt. Doom as it peeks out from behind some very ominous looking clouds. Half of my trip was freezing, 40km per hour winds, and raining frodos and bilbos, but the second half treated me to a chance to dry out and enjoy the incredible environment around me. I couldn’t have planned a better way to wrap up my North Island experience, on Tuesday I turn in the black box and hop on a plane for Queenstown to navigate life on the road as a true carless tramper!
Day 2. Rain.
Waterfall explorations with new pals
Mt. Doom + cotton candy skies
Our hut was somewhere towards the end of this moon walk.
Crazy colored lake
I know how to celebrate- first load of NZ laundry on the clotheslines behind my tent too!
After the transition of my short tan lines into bright red thigh/bum burns I had to accept the fact that this pale girl isn’t cut out for 2 months on the coast so inland towards Rotorua I went. This was a town that made it clear to me that inner earth must smell like one gigantic fart, because this very thermal town had the same to offer. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the hot streams and bubbling mud pits, but damn, sulfur really stings the nostrils! After an afternoon lounging in an area where a hot stream and cold stream meet I decided to continue on to Taupo, a cool little lake town near Tongoriro National Park. This is where I shall take on my first solo backpacking adventure of New Zealand! 4 days and 3 night’s wandering around the forests of Lord of the Rings and hopefully summiting Mordor! (weather permitting…)