Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year's....

I survived most of the flies. I have heard, numerous times, that the flies will leave soon. My luck it will be the day I leave for South Africa.
Yesterday, I checked out a swamp preserve, got lost--I know, shocking, and ended up taking a huge tour of the town. I realized that Bunbury is 55,000 people. I read that somewhere and that is about the same size as the town that I grew up in. THey are similar. Kids dragging the main streets, lots of tagging and I have been yelled at more for walking than any other place. I keep hearing--Get a car, and I want to say--Why? So that I can get fat?
I absolutely love Australia and the random people that I have encountered. Good or bad, it is a trip. I mean, some people are truly genuinely friendly. Others are opposed to greeting other people and really, I think that that is more of an international thing...not the people that live here. The biggest difference between Bunbury and my little unnamed hometown, is well, the ocean. It makes a huge difference and it is amazing. I walked along ther beach last night and when I returned to the main road, I interrupted to kids "parking" and it was too funny. I mean, come on, get a room! Or, at least wait until it is dark!
Happy New Year to all of you and all of the new people that I will encounter on my journey. Be safe, have fun and enjoy. Be realistic about resolutions and this year, I will try to actually commit to one of them.
I arrive in Perth this evening and I am hoping to find some wine and a nice spot on the beach to ring in the new year! Cheers!!!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Persistance of flies and other issues...

I thought the flies in Apollo Bay were bad and they were...however, they won't die and go away. I decided to go for a walkabout yesterday and felt like a collector of flies. Seriously, I killed 15 by slapping myself and still had an entourage. I think that I now look like a victim of domestic violence, but it is all due to the flies. I went running this morning and had relief--they weren't out yet.
I made dinner last night. The kitchen at this hostel is so small and so I had cocoa puffs for dinner. Anyways, while I am chowing on cereal I hear "I like big butts and I cannot lie.." and I am laughing because all I can see is a flashback to Hailey and Cory's wedding in 2002 and dancing to that paricular track. That song was a definite improvement to some of the other music played on the radio here.
I checked out the dolphin preserve, but didn't see any dolphins. I figure that I should try to get there earlier with fewer people and distractions. I did book my flight from Joburg to Capetown and back. I arrive in Joburg at 10:50 pm and depart for Buenos Aires at 6:45 am and so I thought I would just hang out at the airport instead of trying to find a hotel for 6 hours.
Take care and i will be here for a few more days to battle the flies. And no, I can't buy a fly face mask since they are out of stock. It is really ridiculous here!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Indian Ocean

It's amazing, but I have swam in all of the oceans and it feels pretty awesome. I think later, today, i will go and absorb the sun and waves on the beach.
Bunbury is a cute town. There isn't much to see outside of the dolphin preserve and the "cappucino" strip of 3 blocks of one street. I am entertained by the people--locals and of course, fellow travelers. This hostel is small and the kitchen in unusuable at night. There are a group of 10 asians staying here and they pretty much overrun the kitchen when they come in to cook. Last night, they made dinner and then decided to make a cake much to the dismany of the other travelers. I was smart and opted to go to dinner.
It is beautiful here and extremely hot. The flies still suck, but I am learning to deal with them. Hope all is well. I need to book a flight in South Africa and figure out the kitchen here. Take care--

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Destination Bunbury...

Last night, I opted to go out with the 3 guys that I met at the hostel for a goodbye celebration. We cabbed it into Margaret River and it was definitely a local bar. I suppose they had 2 bars, but not much to differentiate them from. Thankfully, they had Hoegaarden on tap which was a beautiful thing since I am not a fan of Carlton Draft.
It was entertaining listening to the 3 guys talk about relationships and women. One guy th0ught he was god's gift and all I could think of was how much he reminded me of Jim Belushi from Animal House. Seriously, this guy had no game and was full of hot air. Two of the guys were a little less obnoxioius, although, some of their stories were unbelievable. I didn't realize how superficial young men could be. The bar we were at was about 3/4 men and so there weren't many options for them to choose from. They were stuck talking with me all night as a result.
Today, I woke up early and caught the bus going north. I am now at the hostel, but I can't check in until 4 pm. They do have internet, obviously, and a decent kitchen and so I had lunch and ran into a couple I had met in Margaret River. They are on their honeymoon, traveling around Australia for 3 months--i think. They are super nice and we exchanged books the other day. I met this other traveler, named Helen, who was an inspiration to meet. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and was sad to see her leave.
Bunbury has a dolphin center and apparently dolphins are very healing for the heart. I will check it out later and familiarize myself with the general area. Seeing how busy the bus was this morning, I think my bus to Perth will be full on new year's eve.
Have a glorious day and yes, it is hot here, too!!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas from the Beach....

Margaret River is an impressive beach. I am staying, literally, on the beach, with a hostel full of surfers. They walk about 1 mile to their beach and I can walk about 5 mintues to get to mine. The water is a bit cold, but I am enjoying the Indian Ocean for the first time in my life. It's awesome.
Yesterday, I had a chill day with fellow travelers. I have befriended a scots man, one from the UK and one German. We seem to gravitate towards each other at meals and breaks. There are two guys from Alaska sharing my dorm room. They are quite nice, but they snore--LOUDLY--and a lot. There is also a german lady in our room, too. I have loved the beach and the calmness of the area.
I went on a wine tour on Christmas Eve and wasn't too impressed by the wines. Not to mention, I ate kangaroo at lunch and it didn't agree with me. I suppose that I should stick to things I know while traveling in Australia in preparation for South Africa and South America. Anyways, I was able to enjoy a nice blend from the Barossa Valley for xmas eve and yesterday, I opted to just enjoy the beach and reflect on life. It was nice to get a tan, too.
I can finally view my blog from this hostel and so I wanted to update you on my whereabouts and future. I leave for Bunbury tomorrow, which is also on the coast, south of Perth. I will be there until New Year's Eve and then I will bus it up to Perth in preparation for the celebration. Until then, I will continue to enjoy the beach, sun and life. I hope that you are all warm and safe and that you have enjoyed the holidays thus far. I can't wait to return for a proper thanksgiving dinner, xmas eve green chile and of course, my month long venture of mexican food. Take care!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Last night, I got to the airport early so that I wouldn't be scrambling around. In Adelaide, they have one terminal which services both international and domestic flights. I guess you can imagine how small the airport is. Anyways, as long as you are flying domestic, you can bring in food and water from outside. I was reveling at that concept. I remember what it used to be like in the States...I digress. They postponed my flight by an hour. It wasn't too bad since I had arranged for a room at a hostel in Perth. I arrived at 11:30 pm, just in time to sleep and turn around to consider new accomodations. They have a hot tub here which is a huge attraction for me. I decided to stay until Sunday when I relocate to Margaret River. I am still deciding if I should rent a car or not. I guess I like the idea of the freedom it will present me. Plus, I believe that Margaret River is easier to get around by vehicle. I think I am going to do it.
Enjoy the last minute shopping/christmast parties/snow. Finally, yesterday, it felt like a true summer day. I love the heat!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Onward to Perth

I checked out of my hostel and decided to be honest about some of the staff there. One guy, Darren, was awesome. He let me check in early on Sunday morning, let me change rooms (twice) and booked a tour for me. His co-worker, that works nights, sucked. He told me that he didn't want to book a tour for me since it wasn't worth the commission to call and inquiry about a possible stay in the Barossa Valley. He suggested that it would be just as easy for me to do even though I didn't have a phone. Disappointed, I e-mailed the company directly and arranged for my tour. I wanted to mention the man's lack of assistance since they consider themselves tour travel help, too. They advertise that they book tours and really, how difficult is it to make one phone call? I understand having bad days or even not wanting to be bothered--I know that I have been there with some of the customers at the Bull and Bush--but, how hard is it really to be compassionate? I pose this question to you as I have pondered it the last few days.
In my note to the establishment, I didn't lie about what happened or call the man a name. Instead, I wrote what happened and how it affected my stay at the Blue Gulah Hostel. Darren told me that he was relocating to Sydney because he was tired of his co-worker, who also happens to be a part owner. Of course, he is! Some people should take vacations more, or find a reason to be happy in life. Truly, it is too short to be so unpleasant.
Enough complaining...I leave for Perth this evening. I should, hopefully, be on the beach tomorrow morning and explore the western state of Australia. It has been a beautiful experience so far.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Penfolds was heavenly. Today, we toured the building of red wine. They insisted that I wear closed toe shoes and so I sported some of their rejects. I forgot Flat Kellen; otherwise, she would have had a photo with me at the factory. Not to mention, I made my own blend of wine. They make a Bin 138 each year comprised of grenache, shiraz and mouvedre. They have made a 50% grenache, 40% shirz and 10% mouvedre in years past which I tried to copy---too soft. Then, their 2007 vintage will be 65% grenache, 25% shiraz and 10% mouvedre...which i also thought about trying. For those of you who know me...I love full bodied wines. I crafted a 50% shiraz, 40% grenache and 10% mouvedre which at first, was too tannicy for me. I let it breathe and moved on to my next trial. I opted to try 35% shiraz, 20% mouvedre and 45% grenach which again failed to tempt my palette. As I considered my options, I went back through and decided to take home the 50% shiraz blend. I have a 375 liter bottle with my name on the label and I am very proud of my wine. I will drink it tonight and head to Perth tomorrow. I also checked out Sabaltz for lunch, Wolf Blass for wine and Seppeltz for port. I enjoyed the port, but it is always too heavy for me. overall, a beautiful day of trying/tasting wine. I wish that I could offer you my blend, but that will have to wait for the States or if I dabble in wine myself. Just know that it is full bodied and beautiful.
I met another American on the tour and she was interesting. Her sister is in New Zealand and they are trying to missionize the chinese in New Zealand. I didn't want more information.
I hope that you are well, enjoying wine and by the way--it is my baby sister's birthday in the States. HAPPY BIRTHDAY jASMIN STAR....I love you...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Barossa Valley

I went on a tour today with 9 other people. We started at wolf blass and tried a few different wines. I paid to try the black label shiraz since there was no guarantee that I would be doing the expanded Barossa tour tomorrow. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't worth the additional cash. I felt that it should have been offered with the others. Plus, the lady that helped us wasn't really into the job. One of the guys with me, asked her what a reisling was and she said--it's a grape varietal. Well, he didn't know what that meant.
Next, we went to Maggie Beer's winery which wasn't great outside of the gourmet products they offered. Afterwards, we went to the Barossa Valley Winery where we had wines and lunch. Again, one or two of the wines were okay, but mostly, I enjoyed the McLaren Vale more.
Next, we went to Langmore which had 1o0+yr old vines. They had a fantastic viognier and I loved their cabernet and a few of their shirazes...things were looking up. We concluded at Chateau Tanunda and tried 14 different wines. They had 3 different shirazes from 3 different regions and they were my favorite. One was earthy, one was fruit forward and the other was a cooler climate shiraz. I enjoyed the funky, earthy shiraz. They also had a mouvedere, tempranillo and a red zinfandel. I was in heaven.
Tomorrow I will go to Penfolds--YES--and then a few other big name wines within the Barossa. wish me luck!!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

McLaren Vale..

Loved the was interesting. Honestly, my favorite was Woodstock shiraz and they had a nice cabernet. We started the day with me oversleeping. Thank God, they called to see where I was. I suppose that having a tour with only two people requires this action. They picked me up ( no shower, contacts in, teet brushed) and we started at the cheese factory for coffee/cake. Afterwards, we went to our first winery, Fox Creek. We did a tour and tried their wines. I enjoyed the red baron, Ilona, which is a subtle shiraz. I also liked the shadow run which is a shiraz--very mellow and user friendly. They had a few whites and a sparkling shiraz/cab mix which killed my palette. I wanted to choke on it.
Afterwards, we went to Lloyd Brothers olive press and unofficial winery. I loved their shiraz and reserve shiraz...they were both fantastic. The mediterranean blend of olive oil was also super. Then, we had lunch at Woodstock which was my favorite winery overall. I sampled a few port wines in addition to the reds. Lunch consisted of local gourmet flavors and chocolate cake and ice cream. Yes, Kellen, Flat Kellen and I ate ice cream and she liked it.
We went to Hugo wines where I met two Americans and continued to Petaluma/Bridge Water winery and enjoyed the red wines there. Our last winery stop was disappointing as it was predominantly white wines and not that terrific at that. I am now back and trying to figure out how to get back to the Barossa and enjoy the wine there. It will work and I will do it.
Hope all is well.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


My bus ride was difficult as people were snoring and the roads were challenging at points. I did receive some ear plugs, from Petra, my German friend the other night which came in handy. The bus wasn't full, but I couldn't get comfortable. I slept on my side and woke up aching on my right hip. I still am uncertain what I did to accomplish that. So, today, after I checked into the hostel and slept for a bit, I decided to incorporate some yoga into my life again. I feel so much better after an hour of yoga/meditation.
I am going on a wine tour in the McClaren Vale region tomorrow which is north of Adelaide. I hope to make it to the Barossa on Tuesday and stay until Thursday. I fly to Perth Thursday night and it should be interesting to be on the west coast of the country. I have heard wonderful things about it though.
Well, I hope that you are all well and enjoying wine. I know that I am. I hope to track down some Penfold's and soon.

Friday, December 14, 2007

raining--the constant theme of Australia

It is clean and pure, but nevertheless, raining again. I am heading west to Adelaide this evening and will arrive tomorrow morning at 6:30. I have heard from a few people that Adelaide is quite boring, but with the wine regions so close...i have to go.
I went to the Yarra yesterday on a wine tour and wasn't too impressed with the wines that I sampled. The Yarra is known for its chardonnay, pinot noir and of course, cabernet. They are scrambling to plant more shiraz grapes and reisling. Apparently in the late 80's they were stripped and replaced with chardonnay grapes. I had a few quality chardonnays and overrall my favorite stop was a boutique winery called, Yerling Farm. They produce 6000 cases of premium wine a year and I liked the ambiance and they had a fantastic reserve cabernet and shiraz. We toured domaine chandon and sampled green point wines there, too. My least favorite place was Rochford...i couldn't find any wine that stood out for me.
Anyways, I went to dinner with Petra, one of the wine tour companions and we had a wonderful dinner by the water in Melbourne. I have been fortunate to have met some interesting people this past week. Teja, from Slovenia, is now in LA trying to shop for tevas and I met Marieke from Sweden who is staying at the same hostel as me. All of three of these ladies have been fascinating to meet and kind to converse with me.
Hope everyone is well. I am off to Adelaide and hopefully enjoying fantastic wines by Monday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I spent the day in Melbourne and had a super time. I had free dinner at the hostel which is a nice bonus to staying at Nomad's. Actually, for $4 you get an entree portion of their free night. Last night was pizza and so as I happily ate pizza and read a book, I decided to go exploring after dinner to check out the area.
Had I not eaten, I could have had a wonderful meal at the Victoria Street Market. This place is filled with eateries, candles, soaps, massage therapists, wine, etc. I loved the people watching aspect of it and ran into Ricki from Germany while I was perusing the stands. Ricki was one of my sharemates at the hostel in Apollo Bay as well. She is a cool chick, traveling on her own and I enjoyed our conversations last weekend. We are going to try to meet up in Perth in January. Speaking of January, I had hoped to fly from Perth instead of Sydney, but I can't do it like that. I can change the date of travel for a fee, but not the departure city. Oh, well, it still works.
I had a tarot reading at the market and was pleased with the results. I have been reading a lot about healing, journeys and spiritual guidance in general and felt drawn to this woman. I wasn't disappointed either.
When I returned to the hostel and prepared for bed, the fire alarm went off. I couldn't believe it and so I unpacked the necessary items that I can't live without and headed outside. I know that it was irresponsible, but I didn't smell gas or smoke. I got outside and they told us to go back in. 3 fire trucks were on the scene and apparently some intelligent being sprayed too much deoderant in their room which set off the alarm. Pretty smart, huh?
Today, i will check out Melbourne and tomorrow I am headed to the vineyards....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Melbourne, finally

I left Apollo Bay this morning and it was sunny. Our bus to Geelong was late which made us miss our train to Melbourne. However, I arrived safely and i have a room for 3 nights. I love it!
I am going on a wine tour on Friday and am meeting up with a girl from Slovenia for drinks tomorrow night. I met her in Apollo Bay. Taea has been traveling for 7 months and she wanted to have a returning celebration tomorrow night and of course, I was happy to oblige. We will meet up for wine and pizza or chinese food. Either way, wine is included...I have been a good kid in terms of wine since I arrived in Australia. I decided to wait until I toured the wineries to see what is out there.
Melbourne is a chill city and I am excited to explore it. I am staying near the Victoria Market and a few parks.
My stay in Apollo Bay was exactly what I needed. The hosts were fantastic...they provided breakfast and internet was based on the honor system. Unfortunately, some people just don't understand that. I stayed with 4 girls from Finland for the 5 day period. Everyday, I would get up, shower, eat breakfast and take off. When I returned either they would just be getting up, eating again or on the internet. Last night, i woke up at 2 am to use the bathroom and 2 of them were furiously typing on the internet. It was annoying knowing that they weren't paying for it and the reason they got up so late each day was because they were ripping the owners off. I believe in karma...don't you? I also firmly believe in respect for people and property. I guess people are the same everywhere.
Enjoy the day while I enjoy the sunshine!!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Still raining...

I love Apollo Bay with the exception of the the wind. I have woken up the last 3 days and it is overcast and cloudy. I went to Mariners Falls yesterday which is a 12km bike ride from the hostel. After that, you hike in about a 1/2 mile and see some beautiful forest and of course, the waterfalls. I enjoyed the ride and it was definitely worth the ride. Molly and Reg, the owners of the hostel, let me use their bike which is always a bonus.
Today, i will wait for the weather to break and hopefully, go for a walk to the next town over. I love the coast, but the ocean is frigid. I like the idea of laying out/lounging on the beach, but with the weather as such, I don't have many options. I know that I shouldn't complain seeing that the weather in the States in snowing and/or freezing. I will be quiet now.
From here, I will return to Melbourne where I have a room for the next 3 days. I have heard that Melbourne is a fantastic city and it did feel that way on Friday during my 8 hour stretch.
I hope that all is well and that you are keeping warm. I am learning how to occupy myself in someone else's home while the weather sucks!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Rain, but still the flies persist

YEsterday, I had grand plans of riding to the waterfalls. They look pretty intense and worth the hike. So, I had breakfast, showered and got mentally prepared for my day. It began to rain, hard. I thought I could wait it out and then it rain again. Off and on about 5 times and so I opted for a hike up to Mariner's Lookout which was great and I was able to do it in between down pours.
Today, it will rain, again, but I am determined to go to the waterfalls. Or, I could go tomorrow, but they have nice walks/hikes around and I want to do something. Yesterday, was a day for resting/soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh, and i have a nice strip of burnt skin on my lower back where i missed the lotion. I needed to rest that area.
Have a wonderful day and I hope that you are enjoying the football.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay is awesome. I arrived on Friday night and decided to stay until Wednesday. The hostel is small, about a ten minute walk to the beach and the owners are quite nice. When I arrived ( no shower in 36 hours, exhausted) they made me a cup of tea and gave me cookies...I was in heaven.
The beach is glorious, only cold. I believe that I am now seeing the southern ocean and the water is clear and if I surfed, this would be the spot. The only problem with Apollo Bay is the flies--they follow you everywhere outside. You step outside and you are swarmed, seriously. I went for a walk yesterday and had 20 on my backpack, arms and buzzing around my face. Oh, and they try to go up your nose--it is fantastic.
I am relaxing and it is nice to have a place to be. Sydney is overripe with travelers and Melbourne felt that way, too. I think I am going to head west and check out the outback. At least I will be entertained. Also, I am thinking about going to Esperanze and Margarets River. They all head to Perth on the southern coast, but they are supposed to be nice ports to hang out.
HOpe all is well. I love the sunshine. I got a little sunburnt yesterday.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Got to Melbourne, but...

I took an overnight busride from Sydney to Melbourne. It was about 12 hours and I met this fascinating lady who was traveling to meet her daughter in a smaller town along the way. We hit it off right away and I felt so fortunate to being sitting by someone so genuine and pleasant. There were several jerks that took up a lot of space and were inconsiderate.
Anyways, I arrived at 6:30 and knew that most hostels wouldn't allow me to check in until 11am or noon. I decided to check a few out, to no avail. I grab a cup of tea and then venture to the i-site building for accomodation assistance. The guy can't hear me and tells me to walk 7 blocks to their main building. All I can think of is--seriously, I just walked from that direction, I am tired, I haven't showered and I just want a room. He wanted no part of it and so I made my way back to the main building.
I sit down and explain my needs to this woman. She calls 2 hostels that are full, I had checked out 2 other hostels that were full and so I decided to get back on a bus and go to Apollo Bay and lay on the beach. I need solitude, a shower and the sun.
I have discovered that although it is sunny here, it rains a lot, too. I suppose it is good since they had water restrictions the past few years, but I want sun all of the time!!!
I will be in Apollo Bay at least through Monday and then I will either stay there, longer, or return to Melbourne to give it another try. I do understand why it is full. In spite of the rain and overcast weather, it is a chill city and has a relaxed attitude. I could see myself really enjoying it here. Until later....

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Day two....

Sydney is a fantastic city. I am staying in Town Hall, near the central business district and circular quay. I love the area since they are so many people, shopping, cafes and things to see. I walked up to Kings Cross today which is considerable more seedy--ladies of the night, fetish shops, etc--but it also has a nice energy and interesting vibe. It has several italian eateries and take aways which I was interested in. I tried to go to the free museum, but I wouldn't leave my bag with the attendant. I need to take out some of the items before I leave it with someone, you know. It is overcast, but I am enjoying it. I am not ready for the intense heat of the summer here.
At my hostel, I am staying with 6 boys and 3 younger ladies. They partied in our room until 10:30 and I felt like the old lady who was annoyed that they wouldn't leave. However, I didn't say anything to them about their music or drinking; instead, I read, hoping that they would soon leave. I missed my shuttle the day before, remember and so i didn't sleep much on Monday night. Eventually, we became friends in the room and they told me that three nights ago an American kicked them out of the room for drinking and being too loud. They apologized to me after this point and I told them it was fine. Really, they weren't that bad and it was my fault that I was tired. Their music ranged from stuff that Lil Ricky plays on Sunday nights to Jack Johnson and James Blunt. I was entertained!
Today, I will continue to be a tourist and right now I am enjoying the library. I forgot that they have free internet--which, of course, I love and support.
Enjoy the day, if not the snow and think of me while I am wearing shorts and loving the possibility of sunshine!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sydney, Australia...

Last night, I tried to sleep and I set two alarms. I even heard one of them go off at 3. Next time I check, it's 4:22 am and I have definitely missed my shuttle to the airport. Frantic, I take a freezing cold shower and decide to find either a cab or someone that can get me to the airport. I see a guy at the hostel who tells me that there is a city bus that runs every 35 minutes to the airport. I decide to wait it out, hoping that the airport isn't as restrictive as the states.
I wait, wait, and wait and finally at 5:15 am the bus shows up. Of course, we have to go by all the other stops on the way to the airport and we make it at 6:00. My flight is supposed to leave at 7:10, according to the printout on my tickets, but when I go through security, it says that the boarding time is 8:40. I guess that is why you are supposed to confirm your flight with the airline before you make arrangements...anyways, I made it to Sydney and I am going to stay here for a few days before heading out to Melbourne. I fly out of Sydney on January 8th and so I figure that I can always return and explore the city itself. Australia is huge, ridiculous huge and I want to check out the wineries in Adelaide and hopefully, go diving at the Great Barrier Reef. To achieve this, I need to maximize my time and plan to do it all. I understand that it is better to fly between cities here and so I think I will be flying from Adelaide to Brisbane to check out the Gold Coast and then head back to Sydney. It could all change though.
Sydney is a beautiful city on first appearances...I am off to explore!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

last thoughts...

I am back in Auckland and it is cold here. I would almost believe that it is always overcast in Auckland. When I returned to Queen Street Backpackers, Ben asked me if I had bought pants yet and I said--NO. But, most people that know me understand that I can be stubborn when it comes to fashion and necessity. I tried to go to my first and only Broncos Game, last year on a Monday night in shorts. It was early October, but the weather was rainy and cold. I had a pair of red running pants in my trunk which I wore to that game. Sometimes, I understand how foolish I am being.
Anyways, it is nice to be back to city life. People everywhere eating, drinking beer/cofffee and the hustle of a city compares to nothing else. I like watching the energy. My flight leaves early tomorrow morning and so I have arranged for a shuttle at 4 am--yes, 4--so that I can make it there on time and deal with the necessary departure issues. I considered staying up all night, drinking, but my arrival in Australia will suck. Instead, I will take it easy and say good bye to New Zealand.
I heard the KU is playing VT in the Orange Bowl--GO JAYHAWKS!!! I am very proud of my team and hope that basketball is trimphant, too. Best to all and take care!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The best of New Zealand...

I traveled around New Zealand without a guide book...i probably wouldn't recommend doing it, but I got by and it was fun. I decided to reflect on what I would want to see in a guide book and so here is my best of New Zealand--
Best day walks--Rotorua walkways which divide into 8 sections of forest, lake, city and geothermal hot zones. It is cool to see the steam and take in the wildlife factor.
Best free tour--Kiwi experience of Auckland and checking out Te Papa Museum in Wellington
Best $7--raspberry chocolate cake in Olives Cafe in Wellington, great ambiance and the flat white coffee was fantastic too. The cake was superior to any others that I tried.
Best $8--peppermint hot tea and a blueberry muffin
Best $32--Bottle of Seresin Pinot Noir--an organic winery
Best $100--the Bed and Breakfast at Renwick. I could have stayed there the entire time. Robert and Diane were wonderful hosts, they made me feel extremely comfortable and they had a hot tub which I can never pass up. I almost returned there to spend the next 10 days...
By far, the best hostel was in The Zone in Rotorua. When i arrived the guy told me that he would try to keep it so that my room was only for me since they were slow. I was able to use the internet for cheap and take two baths. The hostel is clean, quiet and the linens were brand new. It was definitely worth the $27/night.
I also like the Downtown Back Packers in Wellington with its central location, and each time I stayed there I was able to stay in a 4 person room with a shower/bath attached for $25. It was clean and close to the rail station. The bathroom was a definite bonus.
The Queen Street BP in Auckland is where I met my tour guide, Ben, and so that is definitely a top 3 item too. Plus, they provide towels and the bed was cheap. The tour guide made all of the difference for me though. We went to the ice bar, remember?
The worst hostels--
Definitely, in Blenheim--the Konai. It was grimy and didn't feel at all clean. THe location wasn't that great and it wasn't worth going to or from.
The Traveler's Lodge in Hastings was dreadful. The UK lady was pleasant, but she didn't give a tour, she handed me dishes that I didn't use and I had to pay $25 to use a crappy bike. It was out of the way and chaotic. I know that they recently took over, but clean it up. I found a cockroach in the shower/laundry room. It felt like I was showering in the arctic since it was more like an outhouse.
The Peak Backpackers in Havelock North was dirty and a lot of seedy people were guests. I had my own room, the guy lent me his bike and he drove me to Craggy Range and so despite its appearance, it wasn't one of the worst for the customer service.
I stayed at a few others in Nelson, CHristchuch and Napier. They were okay, but I should have been more choosy. I met Amber in Christchuch which was cool and I got lost in Hagley Park. The hostel was a good location, but it was super loud at night. I enjoy sleeping too much to be disturbed by drunken morons at the hostel bar.
I have realized that I am quick to decide. I should be more patient and the results could be better. I finished reading the Alchemist and Eat, Love, Pray and I feel so in tune with what I am doing and what I want to be doing. It feels great to be on this journey.
New Zealand is expensive. The dollar is basically crap here and they charge $8 for chips and salsa--not something that I would recommend to eat here. The Mexican is awful. They do well with fish and lamb.
In terms of wineries--
Nautilius and Seresin were fantastic on the south Island. In Hawkes Bay, I enjoyed Craggy Range, Matariki, Hatton and Te Awa. Each had a charming attendant and of course, I did hang out with the crew from Craggy which was fantastic. Their wine is in its own class.
I will return to Auckland tomorrow and then head out to Australia, early on Tuesday morning. Yes, I have a guide book and I will be a little more ready. I am getting rid of some books and it will feel great to be able to come and go as I please. I will probably have more to say tomorrow.
Oh, and I did have some interesting travel companions. I would recommend bussing around New Zealand since it is convenient as opposed to signing up for the Kiwi, Magic or Stray tour. It is easy to be independent here as a traveler.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Rotorua is on fault lines and so there are many mineral pools in the area. I decided to stop here before going to Auckland in spite of the sulfur smell that envelopes the city. I like it, though. I arrived, arranged accomodations at a backpackers that is new and extremely clean. The guy said that he would try to keep it just me in the dorm room--which is amazing and nice. THe internet connection is fast and I am centrally located. I am either hiking tomorrow or checking out the city.
I had a blast with TJ and his crew from Craggy Range. He is quite the host, although, he did sneak out early in the night. Thinking back, I should have left shortly after him instead of continuing to drink red wine. Craggy Range is a beautiful, asthetically plesant winery. I got the VIP treatment and felt welcomed be everyone that I met there. We went to Diva for drinks and appetizers and then I was walked back to my backpackers, by Sam, one of the wine makers. The backpackers, itself, was not clean, but it was the only one in Havelock North and the manager let me borrow his bike with a styrofoam helmet since it is mandatory to wear helmets in New Zealand and he drove me out to Craggy Range. All in all, he probably saved me $50 which is huge in the traveling world. So, even though it was a dirty little establishment, I overlooked it since the man was nice and the showers were awesome. The bike had definitely seen better days, but it got me to where I needed to be.
I tried to watch some of the Cowboys/Packers game, but there were only 3 possibly establishments that I could view it from. The first one, had the most options, but the bartender wouldn't put it on if I was the only one watching it. I told her that she had been incredibly helpful and took off. THe next tv was taken by golf and the 3 rd place, couldn't get it, but was determined to give me updates via the internet. I decided to have a glass of wine since he went to so much trouble for me.
I hope that all is well and since I love the internet here, I might be more user friendly...I will end this with, one of my companions on the bus today was driving me crazy. I was reading and listening to my ipod--yes, it works again and I love it--and trying to not listen to this chick on her phone, spitting into it, singing and just being annoying in general. I look over, finally, and realize that she looks like the barracuda from Denver. I thought it was her and almost had fell out of my seat. Then, everything made sense--why I was so annoyed by her and why she was unable to just sit still.
Until later...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Take 2

I rented a bike and set off this morning, optimistic in my quest. I had called Tj, from Craggy Range, only to find out that he was in Australia. I set off for a different area of Hastings and met some interesting people and drank some fantastic red wine. Some of the best--Quintology from Matariki, the Doctor from Hatton, The Boundary from Te Awa and Zone 6, also from Te awa. I sampled beer and met the brewer at Roosters. I suppose that it is handy to say that I work in a brewery and that yes, I enjoy beer, too.
I decided to relocate to Havelock North since the ride isn't as long and I am hoping to find cleaner accomodations. The people here, are pleasant, but I have definitely had better accomodations. Plus, I prefer staying near the town center so that I am able to do whatever I want.
My ipod is corrupted, again, and so I am hoping to find an ipod store, or ship it back to the states. I am blue. I miss being able to listen to my ipod, but it is so fragile and i suppose that I am reliant on it, when I shouldn't be. I could be meeting more people, right? I am preparing a box of goods to be sent back to Denver. Any takers?
I have a few more days in New Zealand and am off to Rotorua on Saturday. It has hot springs and volcanic activity. I am excited to sit in a thermal pool. I will have one day in Auckland before I depart for the down under. Wish me luck!!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I made it and now I am waiting to head to Craggy Range tomorrow. I have to rent a bike, ride it far and battle the wind. Sounds like fun, but it is necessary since I don't have a vehicle in New Zealand. I am looking forward to it though.
I am staying at a hostel which i wouldn't recommend to other people. Hastings is small. I found the only winery in town and had lunch there. All of the other wineries require effort on my part and so I waiting until tomorrow to handle it.
Last night was a bit rough for me. I spent a night in WEllington with 3 other people. In the scheme of things...not that many except that two of them, showed up late, blasted the lights, talked for 30 minutes and woke me up. It reminded me of sharing a room with Michaela when we were younger and I would fall asleep, innocently, and she would wake me up and then go to sleep. I used to hate being so gullible, but she did it frequently. Anyways, to make matters worse, one of the girls hacked all night. One them moaned all night and the other 0ne snored all night. I felt like I had an orchestra going that I wasn't paying for and didn't want. In the end, I woke up early and was a bit louder than usual. My busses tend to leave at 8 or before which makes for an early morning....

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wellington take two

The computer situation in Nelson was dire and so I have been alone the last few days. Nelson was a little too touristy for me, or two many Americans in my case. I stayed at a clean hostel, but they charged me to print off my itinerary for the ferry. I wasn't too pleased about that since they wouldn't call and take care of it for me. Most of the hostels do the arrangements for traveling which I love. Plus, there were 4 germans in my room, two were dating and so they couldn't figure out that our room wasn't the most user friendly place for them to make out. I wanted to sleep/read since I woke up at 5 to depart for the north island. They were insistent on making out and talking german all freaking night.
WEllington is a great city. I arrived, made arrangements to head north and went to eat chocolate cake at Olives. They didn't have chocolate, but I ran into Amber, the girl I met in Christchurch which was pleasant. We exchanged e-mails and wished each other luck on our travels. She is relocating to Chicago to pursue a degree in massage and yoga. I always meet either chefs or healers. She reminds me of my friend, Melody, from Santa Fe.
I am bummed that KU lost, but it was bound to happen. How is the basketball faring? I know that they played my other favorite team this weekend and so I am curious to see how they fared.
I should be in Hawkes Bay tomorrow and haven't decided how long I will stay there. Of course, I am tempted by the wine and food factor.
TOday, I went to the museum in Wellington and it was fantastic and FREE. I loved that aspect of it.
I hope that you are all well. I don't have any bad bus stories today. My ferry ride was nice and I have been reading for sport. It is actually really nice not to be reliant on the phone or even a tv. I suppose that I will use my phone card at some point to check in.
I am glad that everyone has had a nice holiday weekend.

Friday, November 23, 2007


I made it here safely and decided to check out the city. It is really easy to get around. I am staying at a hostel near Cathedral Square. I love the location, but it never stops. I think I was up til about 3 am due to the noise factor and then people were out and about at 6 am. I think I might enjoy a siesta later.
My share mate, Amber, is from Michigan. We had a lovely conversation last night since we both were hoping to retire early. Instead, my sleep wasn't great, but I did enjoy talking with her. She recommended going for a run near the botannical gardens this morning. I went and looked at the map before I left and felt confident that I could get around. I finished in Hagley Park and had no idea where I was or even how I had gotten there. I seem to get lost easily in New Zealand. Eventually, I figured out my whereabouts and now I am off to enjoy the day. Christchurch is nice and has ample parks/gardens. I think that I will relax here and then head north tomorrow to Nelson.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The bus to Christchurch or searching for the new Ally Sheedy...

I took a bus from Napier to Wellington, last week, and was surprised by some of the passengers. This one girl made herself a sandwich and it was white bread with brown sugar. I thought to myself, how bizarre, and then I immediately remembered Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club. You know, the character that made a drawing from her dandruff, not to mention some of the food she ate. So, today as I am riding along, I look ahead of me and this guy is scratching his head, profusely, taking his hands away and then smelling his fingers. He grossed me out until I met the winner. This girl was eating her hand half of the time and the other half, playing with her hair. She wasn't wearing shoes most of the bus trip and her jacket reeked of sour clothes. I was fortunate to not be sitting with her, but she was near me the entire trip. I don't know...maybe traveling for extended amounts of time can do this to a person.
I thought it was funny and it did make me think of the Breakfast Club. Christchurch is New Zealand's second largest city. They refer to it as the "garden city" and i am off to explore. Again, happy thanksgiving and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


It is today for me and so I wanted to express how thankful I am in to be traveling and have the love and support of all of my friends and family. It has been a brilliant journey so far and I look forward to what the future holds.
I am trying to savor the present and I wish you the same. I keep saying that when i get back, I went Mexican food and Elways, which is true, but I will also want Thanksgiving dinner. I miss green been casserole, stuffing (Bryn's dads), mashers and gravy (my dad's) and I figure that I always get intoxicated on wine which I supply.
Today, I was good. I went to 9 wineries, but I mostly only tried red wine. Keep in mind, I am in a white district and so I sampled a little red wine along the way. And, I was biking which kept me in check and it was windy which made me exhausted and sweaty. I know that I look like a treat right now. Normally, I dress up but today I will only think back to Thanksgivings of past. When I was a child, my parents, sometimes, made us all wear the same dress. Real cute, you know. I hated wearing dresses and I wasn't too fond of church either. Of course, I suffered through it, dress and all. My cousins never wore the same outfit, I might add.
I rushed to Isabelle Winery since they closed at 4 and we called them at 4:15. I made it there in time to meet 4 other Americans from Denver. The younger guys actually had heard of the Bull and Bush and they live near it. I told them to come in and tell them they met me in New Zealand. So if this happens, it is true. I spoke, at length, to Andy. He invited me to Thanksgiving dinner, but I think I will lavish in hot tub.
Nevertheles....have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Drink lots of wine and enjoy each other. Jade, I have Michaela some wines to check out. See that she sticks to it. Also, I did try some reislings in your honor yesterday. I am still not sold; however, I did find a pinot gris that you would like today at Gibson Ranch. It is a new winery and quite fantastic!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

bike tour...

My bed and breakfast is awesome...i feel like a real tourist here. No backpacking or staying in a dorm...I feel like a real tourist. They have a hot tub and bikes that I have used. I went to 7 wineries today and it was great, a touch windy, but fun. I met several other travelers and I must say that I was enjoying myself the most. I found a place to eat for Thanksgiving and I purchased a bottle of wine to use for the hot tub. I am stoked. I hope that you enjoy my updated photos and it was a huge pain to do it and so it probably won't be too often that it is updated.
Tomorrow, or as I like to call it--Thanksgiving--I will get back on the bike, tour wineries and sit in the hot tub. Friday I leave for Christchuch unless I can convince this nice couple to adopt me so that I can stay here.

November 21st....

I wanted to wish Steve Black a happy birthday. I owe you a meal when I return since you and Pocketsize spent a month celebrating my birthday. Thinking of you today and wishing you a fantastic birthday!!!

the bike wine trails.....

Today, I am going to the luxorious bed and breakfast and then I am hiring a bike to go and tour the vineyards. This could prove a bit dangerous for the drivers since my sense of direction has been poor. I am excited to check out a few more wineries and get really acquainted with the area. Afterwards, I will be in Christchurch for a few days and then head back up north to Nelson, which is a hippie town. I can't wait. I think I will check out a few of the breweries and then make my way back up to Hawkes Bay and thoroughly scout out the red wines. I need red, not white. Really, it isn't that bad, but I prefer red.
I am searching for a thanksgiving meal and I hope I find one. The b & b has hot tub, which might be the substitute for my supper. I love spas and I feel heavenly at this point. Have a great day. It is sunny here and beautiful. Enjoy the wine and thanksgiving if I am unable to get to a computer tonight.

Monday, November 19, 2007

does anyone remember Fifi's???

I suppose that one of my sisters, Jeremy, Hailey or Cory or Jean from Seattle would remember Fifi's in fond terms. My feelings are mixed, but I went to a place like it this evening for dinner.
I spent a nice day on the wine tour. Of couse, being picked up an hour late isn't nice, but I dealt with it. Apparently, they had the wrong place written down. Neverthesless...I went to Whitehaven to meet the others and realized that it was a microbrewery. Of course, I tried some of the beers, met the brewer and went about my own way. I did wait an hour and so I felt completely at ease when they came to find me. The brewery had a nice bourbon stout and a porter. I wasn't too fond of the american pale was flat. Gabe would never have put out a product like that.
We went to 5 different wineries and a chocolate shop. My favorite was an organic winery and they had a nice pinot noir. I am in an area where white wines rule and so I had my fair share of reislings and sauv blancs. Jade--I found a few wines that you would have enjoyed.
I returned to my personal hell--I mean, hostel--and decided to go to dinner. THere was one place, highly recommended, by the tour guides, publications, etc. and so I walked there. I had been by it a few times and so I decided to check it out. Right away, the concierge asked me what I was looking for and told me that I should look at the menu and find something suitable before she sat me. I found a few things, looked at the wine list and opted to sit at the bar. She poured me wine, which was bad (oxidized) and I ordered my meal. She offered to move me to a table and I agreed once the food arrived. I would have needed a high chair. After that, I was left completely alone. I felt like a homeless person. I was wearing my typical attire and then I looked around the place...the average person was 55+ and thought--why am i being hassled when I am the youngest person in here? The food was okay, early 90's at best. I was annoyed, but paid for meal and left. Bacchus in Blenheim is awful. Don't go there if you visit New Zealand. Really, don't. It thoroughly reminded me of working at Fifi's when I was in college. The owner didn't trust anyone and in its day, it was a grand establishment. WHen I worked there, it was on its way Bacchus....

the upcoming wine tour

I made it through the night, barely. There are two guys that are sick and they were hacking all night and I felt bad for them and wanted to say, please go blow your nose or do something. Anyways, I now have clean clothes and a day planned. I am going on a wine tour this afternoon and they also go to an olive oil farm. I am excited about that too. Yesterday, my cheese tray was awesome and i know how well olive oil would accentuate the taste of the food here. I think I am going to stay at either a winery or a nice bed and breakfast for a few days. I know that I should be doing this on the cheap, but really, when is the next time that I am going to be in New Zealand? And, I want to stay in a nice place on Thanksgiving. It will sorta remind me of home. The last few years, I have either went to Bryn's parents house for Thanksgiving or Tiffany's house. They are both fun and different. At Bryn's, it is all family and reminiscient of thanksgivings with my family. Of course, with my sisters, we always complain about who is cleaning up after the feast. At Tiffany's it is a mix of friends and co-workers. I never quite made it for dinner, but drinks afterwards were always fun. This year, I am hoping to meet people and have a fantastic meal.
I'll let you know how the wineries are.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Blenheim, New Zealand

I crossed into the south island, the better one, according to many people. I jumped on a bus to Blenheim since this is the beginning of the wine country in Marlborough. They are known for their sauvignon blancs, reislings and pinot gris. I opted to stay at a hostel that was near the train station. Everything is typically convenient here. You arrive via train, bus or ferry and there is lodging information available and nearby. I knew that eventually I would stay in a shit hole and today is the day. I was tired of carrying my back pack and so I decided to stay here for a few nights. Plus, I was hungry, a little delirious and my judgment was off. I am staying in a mixed room with showers attached. I went to the book exchange and was further disheartened. Books here cost as much as a bottle of wine in a restaurant and so I have been surviving off of book exchange at hostels. I am almost out of options!
I went into Blenheim and found a cute cafe. I had a few glasses of sauvignon blanc and a cheese/fruit tray for lunch. It was awesome. I had to return to the hostel to sort out my tour tomorrow and when I returned two girls were singing Justin Timberlake's Sexy Back. They are tone death and extremely loud. Plus, two of my roommates haven't left. They are fixed in the room. I decided to e-mail and figure out my next stop. I might stop into Christchurch or head to Queensland. A lot of the hiking is in the air due to the weather situation. It is warmer here though.
EIther way, I will go on a wine tour tomorrow with olive oil as well. I thought about doing a bike tour since I figured it would be safe and healthy.
I can handle this for two nights...I am hoping. I might stay at a bed and breakfast next. I could use a little pampering and comfort!
Take care. I will let you know how the wine is and if I survived the night.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My blonde moment...

YEsterday, I had a few glasses of wine and felt pretty confident about the city of Wellington. I had found Cuba Street which I wanted to do. After my chips and salsa, I decided to head back to the hostel. I leave the restaurant and decide that if I turn off of Cuba, I should end up on the street which leads back to the hostel. I have no idea where I ended up. I walked around aimlessly, and ended up at the second location of the bus drop-off. I remembered the name of the hotel of the second stop and so I meandered until I found familiar sights. Eventually, I saw the signs for the railway station and knew that I was heading in the right direction.
Today I paid more attention to the city. I hiked up to Mount Victoria and enjoyed the beautiful veiw from there. I didn't make it to the museum. Instead, I found a cafe and enjoyed a decadent piece of chocolate cake. It was fantastic. I decided to take a day off since my ferry leaves at 8:25 am. It is pretty early for me.
I am heading to the south island tomorrow. I am hoping to enjoy my first glass of Sauvignon blanc by noon in the Marlborough region. Until then, no more blonde moments--i hope.


YEsterday I arrived in Wellington which is the departure city heading south. I opted to stay for a few days, orient myself with this city and so far it has been nice. It has many cafes and little restaurants. I decided to jump off the wagon and enjoy some wine yesterday. I met foreignors at the cafes that I went to which kinda defeated the purpose. I wanted to meet legitimate kiwis, but perhaps today. I had chips and salsa for $8--yes, I was that desperate for mexican food. The place was called the Flying Burrito Brothers and it reminded me of Mezcal in Denver. It was almost identical in the decor and the tequila fixation. It was fun and I met an American bartender and an English guy. I know that in the States we are fortunate to live on typically evens out. And, in New Zealand it isn't customary to tip. WEll, I have discovered why people don't tip. The bartenders aren't attentive, fast or efficient. It was embaressing to think that they are a reflection of what I do and I have to tip them since they know what I do. Frustrating and yet petty--I guess.
I am hoping to go to Mt. Victoria, check out the museum and perhaps the botanic gardens. My ferry to the south island leaves early tomorrow morning and so I should be a good kid, even if I don't want to be.
I hope that everyone is well, enjoying life and eating Mexican food. I have already warned Jan and Tom that when I return to Phoenix to get my car, we are eating mexican for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a few days.
I think that KU is playing ISU today. Good vibes to the Jayhawks!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I got a massage today since i am actively trying to release toxins so that I can drink some of the wine here. I leave for the south island tomorrow since I will be returning to meet up with TJ in the near future.
The massage was okay, but I definitely could use one from Izba. The lady didn't really know what to do about my shoulders and so she kinda brushed over it and kept going. I decided that since I wasn't drinking I would be decadent in another way.
Have a wonderful night and hope to catch up later. I am being a good girl, reading, writing and taking care of myself!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wine Country

Wine country and I am loving it here. I haven't imbibed since I got here, but tomorrow, look out. I am in beautiful countryside and ample wineries. I opted to head south, check out wine country and then go to Christchurch. I will update later..

Leaving Auckland...-

I decided to head out of auckland and see more of new zealand. When I arrive at my next destination, I will update you on my whereabouts/accomodations/food/etc. Although, I did have this fantastic ham and cheese breakfast croissant. Of course, I had coffee which was much improved here. They are already decorating for Christmas which seems strange. They have this massive Santa on one of the buildings near the hostel. It is scary!
Have a wonderful day. Oh, and I got rid of a book and so I have a little more space in my pack....i am working on it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Auckland Tour on the Kiwi Tour...

The Kiwi tour is similar to the Feejee Experience. Both are geared to have you see a sight, experience it with other people and roam around at will. The day in Auckland was free and so I decided to check it out. First, they took us to the AUckland Bridge where we could bungy jump for $90 (discounted rate). I was wearing my sandals and it was rainy and windy and since I didn't have close toed shoes, I couldn't go. WEll, they gave me an option. I could use their shoes which were too small for my giant feet and they didn't have socks. It was gross and I opted to read my novel in the warmth of the building. I know I could have sucked it up, but those shoes were unsuitable.
It started to rain and so we went to have lunch in Devonport, a suburb of Auckland. It has numerous coffee shops, used book stores and New Zealand products. We were trying to avoid the rain and so we had an early lunch. After lunch we went to a small trek where the New Zealanders had armed themselves for attacks from the Russians in WWII. Of course, we didn't outrun the rain and so we hurried to the bus. Did I mention that I was 1 of 2 Americans. The bus make up as follows--4 Singapore, 3 Brazilians, 2 Canadians, 2 Israelis, 1 German and 3 English. We return to the bus and the driver, Dave, takes off. I realize that we don't have the 4 people from Singapore and he is like--What? When did you last see them? One of the Brits said--well, when you were taking their picture. Dave seemed confused, got off the bus and went to look for them. It was like a surface version of Open Water. I would have been livid had I been left.
I am now back at the hostel and trying to decide how to spend tomorrow. Wish me luck!!!


So, I decide to stay at Queen Street Backpackers. Disheveled (backpack, small baby pack, rain jacket) I approach the reception and try to make sense of what I need. The guy, Ben, helps me out and I ask him to point me in the direction of a beer. He takes my Auckland guide and says I think there is a coupon in here for a free beer. He finds it, cuts it out and tells me that when i am ready, he will serve me my beverage. I go into my dorm room and there are people already sleeping in the room. I get my beer and have every intention of going to the bank and checking out the area. Ben stops back by and tells me to slow down and that he would join me. Let's just say, I didn't make it to the bank. Instead, I had a really enjoyable day with Ben and Carl--a guy from the UK. Again, there are many British people on holiday. Carl is a cop, doesn't seem like it at all though. He was too laid back for it. He is traveling the world and will be in South America, like me.
So, we have a few beers and decide we need food. I go to dinner with them and have some wine--much better in New Zealand--and then we check out this bar called 5 below. You go in, they give you boots and a mid length coat and gloves. I looked like a little Russian lady if you can imagine. Next you go into the bar which is filled with ice sculptures and freezing. It was great and since Ben used to work there, we were comped. Normally, it costs $30 to get in and have 1 drink. It was all vodka drinks and smirnoff at that. I looked beyond that and had a grand time.
Today, I am going to go on a tour of Auckland and hopefully detoxing a little. New Zealand is cold and I wasn't expecting that. Really cold and the change in temperature is affecting me.
My first day in the Land of the Kiwis was great. Although, when I arrived it was like going to any other city. I felt at home here and very comfortable. Until later....


So, I leave Nadi, Fiji, at 8:45 am which means that I arrive at 6:30 am to deal with the airport and all. I think that i have to pay a departure fee and so I have kept $50 to take care of it. Only when I arrive at the airport, i get through to the main terminal and nobody hassles me about the tax. I still think about it up until 15 minutes before boarding. Then, I realize that I won't be paying for it and purchase some cocount oil/lotion for me. I will be sending a nice care package to Denver soon since I am sick of my back pack. I need to e-mail my friend that i have in mind, since I can't unload anything else on my aunt!
I arrive in New Zealand, breeze through customs, exchange $ and then determine that I should take a bus into the city since it is a $60 cab ride. I have no idea where I will be staying or even what the layout of Auckland is. I randomly get out near Queen Street and approach a hostel...I wil continue tomorrow...

Sunday, November 11, 2007


This goes out to Margo Smart since I know that she has my blog address...she was one of the first people that I gave it to when I was uncertain of how people would respond. I think the photos definitely make a difference...anyways, Margo used to work with me at the Bull and Bush and she know is a furniture manager in Salt Lake City. We became friends through work, and she had met Brian briefly before. When he passed away, Margo let me be me with her since her mom had passed away and a few of friends, too. She understood my place and was a person that I could confide in as time went on. Her mom used to love the song, Xanadu, which she told me one day after I had played it before we opened at work. Now, when I hear it, I think of Margo and her mom. I heard it when I was on the scuba diving trip and i have been meaning to mention it. Like I said before, I have so much to say/think/reflect and then I get in front of the computer and forget what I wanted to talk about it.
Remember that I am a full day ahead of you and so that yes, November 12th, is Hailey Rochelle's birthday. Technically, it is the 12th in Fiji.
I ran into one of the Brits that i met on the islands. Sophie is a funny girl since everytime I see her she is complaining about bug bites or mooching off of people. She told me that when she arrived at Bounty Island, her backpack broke and they (the handlers) dropped it into the ocean. Apparently, they offered her a sarong and a promo t-shirt as a way of apology...This is something that could only happen to her. I laughed since it was funny but it is sad that she goes through life this way.
I sent off my postcards and I am hoping that reach you shortly. I sent one to Hannah and Kellen and one to Flat Kellen's class. Please let me know when they reach you. Of course, I sent one to Mackenzie, too. No worries, Jade, first and foremost, I want Mackenzie to have a desire to see the world.
Next time we chat, I should be in the land of the Kiwis...let's see how that experience goes. LOVE YOU ALL AND i HAVE LOVED fIJI!!!


I just wanted to wish my friend, Hailey, a happy birthday. I have known Hailey since we were 10 and we both went to KU and I was there when she met her fantastic husband, Cory. Actually, I got Cory a job while we were in college. I have spent some time with them in Dallas and we met up at our reunion. Honestly, I believe that both Brian and Cory were bored out of their minds, but at least they had each other to talk to. Most of the rest of my class kept to themselves while Hailey and I were quite social.
I am back to my own hotel room and i love it. I like the social aspect of the dorms, but having privacy is beautiful. Plus, I can go into town and send off my postcards. I wrote out many last night after I dined with a fellow American. His name is Lewis and he resigned from medical school. He didn't have much time left, but it was either resign or be ousted from the program. He is asian and so their is pressure for him to achieve in life. He asked me how I knew when someone was interested in me. I thought it was interesting, but his life is so different from mine. Initially, i thought he would be a pompous jerk, but he sells acuras in silicone valley and although his parents aren't thrilled, he is enjoying his life. I kept pointing out that money isn't everything nor is the position in life due to your profession. I thought it was sad that he had never experienced love or even attraction. He is 30 and very lost in what his priorities are and what they should be. Good luck to him!
I will checking this more since this connection is superior to others. Jade, congrats on cleaning the kids rooms. I remember how much shit you used to have too. It isn't all Tab. Where is KU ranked now? I love that they are 10-0! Go JAYHAWKS....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

summary of Fiji...

The best $5 spent was having my laundry done for me and clean/dry. That was amazing. The best $10 was the sarong...the Fijiians know what they are talking about. The sarongs are so useful and quite sexy, at times, and yes the men wear them, too.
Today I walked into the city since I figured that I should experience life like a Fijiian, not just a tourist. Plus, James went to New Zealand today and so I am alone for the next few days. Anyways, as I was walking, several taxis stopped as they assume that most tourists wish to have a ride. And, I noticed that not many taxis had natives in them. I had a nice sandwich and chocolate cake and then decided to walk back to the hotel. It is probably 3-4 miles from the town of Nadi. As I am walking, I see people with goods on the road trying to sell them. I see a man with lobsters and crabs and so I take a picture of them since they were neat. His buddy insists that I have a beer with them and who am I to say no to that. It was nice and interesting to feel apart from the other tourists. I doubt that I would have been stopped with a group of people. Then they offered to take me into Lautoka to have dinner with them. I declined and walked on. It has a been a wonderful experience and I believe that I will return to dive and stay in a fat hotel. I have enjoyed the dorms, but it is nice to be like a student too.
Until tomorrow...thank you for your thoughts and thank you for joining us, Michaela!

return to Nadi...

Nadi, and I am so happy to be shower (check), good food (check), airconditiong...I love it here.
I enjoyed the Yasawas immensely, but I enjoy a certain lifestyle too. I love a hot shower and today at the islands didn't take one since it was nonexistent. This morning they gave us cereal, which I sorta enjoyed, and bread with peanut butter. They definitely scored points on that one. Really, I could live on peanut butter, avocados, garlic and chips. I would be utterly happy! Anyways, I was patiently awaiting the ferry and enjoying the hammock. I thought about my life in general, the US and other countries. I met this girl, Lucy, last night who is from Nadi. We started talking and she asked me about my life in the States and if I still lived with my parents since I wasn't married. Of course, I was like--no, don't live with the folks and she said that they couldn't do that here unless they were widowed. I can't imagine living with my parents right now...I know that I would drive them crazy. I come home late, loud, and sometimes I am hungry which both of my sisters can attest too. Although, Michaela only stocks health food which isn't desirable to a wine induced state. Anyways, what i am trying to say is that I take things for granted as we all do. We have so many options in the states--food, dress, living, marriage or not--and we don't really appreciate it. We expect it since we don't know any other way. We went to a village last week where you could get married based on if the lemon lands in front of you or not. Can you imagine what life would be like? I can't.
Fiji is a beautiful country with immensely pleasant people. Everyone smiles and is friendly. It is contagious. I have also learned that many Europeans take holiday here. In Wayaleilei, I met 5 other Americans in one sitting, and was like--where did they all come from? In Fiji, there are many foreignors, but few Americans. I guess the 10 1/2 hours is too difficult to is serene, green and awesome. Truly, I think all of you should check it out!
Take care...enjoy Friday night and I will check this later. It has been an amazing day and a nice reflection. I have read tons of books, too.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

the essentials in Fiji

I have learned two things in Fiji that I cannot live without--sunblock and bug spray. It is insane here the amount of bites that I have acquired even with sunblock. I am so over it and so annoyed. There is a Brit that keeps complaining about her bites and I want to say--have you looked at anyone else lately? We are all in the same boat.
I went swimming today and it was amazing...warm water and clear. You don' t need a mask to snorkel since you can see everything from the surface. I also went on a hike and again almost fell down the mountain. Their idea of a trek differs from mine. Keep in mind that it has rained a lot and that the trails are slick and dangerous to my highly sensitive big sandals. I love my sandals and hate the thought of wrecking them in Fiji. I was hoping to get at least another 1 1/2 out of them!
More later...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I don't want to leave this island since it is incredible. I have spent most of my day in a hammock, reading, getting sunburnt--yes, I put sunblock on, but the sun is intense here. The water is pristine and it is ideal here. I love the Yasawas.
The internet sucks, but I am finding that it is either hit or miss as I travel. I will be here until Saturday afternoon at which point i will return to Nadi. I leave for New Zealand on Tuesday morning.
I am on the islands, with James, the Irishman. He is traveling to New Zealand, too, to meet his lady, Yumiko. He had a few days to kill and so we opted to head to the islands together. THe other Brits went on an island hopping adventure of their own and I miss them. They were all quite funny and engaging. I plan to meet up with Rob and Danny in Australia for a meal prepared by chef Danny. I always like to meet chefs, but supposedly, I have to supply some wine.
Well i will check this later, after I have lounged more. I am thoroughly enjoying the sun, sand and ocean!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

the town of Nadi

Today was a chill day...we bussed into Nadi for 60 cents and went shopping. The European guys wanted to buy rugby Fiji shirts, tried to haggle and eventually walked away. I bought some water since it is $5 at the hotel to purchase. I feel like i have cabin fever since we have a thunderstorm and can't go swimming. Plus, my e-mail is being weird and the blog takes forever to get on and so I believe the connection here is faulty. They should update their software and I could use it. We decided to go to Waysalei Island which is part of the Yasawas--most backpackers go here. Fiji has many different islands and I am discovering that most of them cater to married couples or families on holiday. A poor backpacker like me, most reside in dorms and share space. It isn't that bad and the beaches are amazing. I hope the rain stops so that I can even out my tan. Anyways, I will be in the Yasawas until Saturday afternoon. I am hoping to get a massage when I get back since they are extremely reasonable and no, I don't think this is a happy ending massage!
I almost broke my locker key that locks my valuables...something like this almost always happens to me. I got locked in the dorm room the other night and had I not been let out, I think I would have broken the door. I panic at times and so this is normal.
Talk to you soon....

curry, anyone???

I forgot to mention my last experience with curry. Yesterday, as part of the tour, we traveled through the Indian region of Fiji. They told us about some of the history...blah, blah, blah...and then took us to this great Indian restaurant. Most of us chose chicken curry since it was supposed to be the signature meal of the restaurant. When they set down my platter--curry, dahl, roti, rice and cucumbers--i sort of looked at the curry with question. First off, it looked like beef curry and when I bit into it, it was all bones. It was awful and I absolutely hated it. I don't think that I can eat curry anymore that is how horrible it was. Everyone felt the same way, too. I know that I can be a critical diner, but for once, it wasn't just me.
I think of all of these experiences, but when I get in the lab sometimes, I am overwhelmed with other people or if the connection isn't solid I talk about what my current situation is. However, I did enjoy the Feejee Experience bus with all of the other travelers. It was a great way to get insights into other countries. One of the girls had done this tour 3 times but with other attractive options. We played volleyball and when another group joined us, it was no longer the "fun" volleyball. The Italian girls played to win. I missed out on that round since I was reading. I wasn't too upset after I saw how they were serving.
I hope all is well and i will conclude this for now. Take care--

Monday, November 5, 2007

Return to Nadi

So, I survived the mudbaths but broke my new pair of sandals. I had them for 18 hours...a new record. The hot springs were actually quite hot and I think I might have ruined my swimsuit. I have another one some where. I have so much crap that I am lugging around. I am over it.
I don't think that I mentioned that one of my traveling mates, Rob, from England was stung by a stingray the other night. Innocently, they were swimming at Voli Voli and when he returned to shore, he felt that he had been stabbed and he was bleeding. The effect was immediate, plus the shock of everything. He went to the hospital where they cleaned his wound and told him to take pills and keep his wound clean and dry. Let's just say no drinking for him. He and his buddy, Dan, are going to Australia for six months to work. Dan is a chef and so I have arranged to have a cooked meal, somewhere in Australia. I have to provide wine which should be easy once I get there.
I will write more later. The internet connection is fickle and there are many distractions in this lab. One thing about the British...they like speaking English, too. OTher Europeans always opt for their individual language even if the only common language is English. I guess it is about superiority.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Voli Voli

THis will be short since the internet is high demand. First, thank you for updating me on is very exciting to actually still be undefeated. I mean, in basketball, that is guaranteed, but football is completely different.
i went scuba diving yesterday and it was amazing. Initially i had some difficulty since the last time i went was in Cozumel with Brian. The first dive, I flailed, but I was composed for the second and I really enjoyed myself.
Today, I will meet back up with the group and we will head back to Nadi tomorrow after a mudbath followed by a hot springs adventure. My damn sandals have taken a beating and so I might have to purchase some flip flops in order to save my sandals. I have drank loads of water, some bad wine and listened to a bunch of American music. Yesterday, we listened to the Top 40 from 1980--let's just say it was pure comedy--Willie Nelson's On the Road again, Christopher Cross, Neil Diamond. AT the resort, they played Anne Murray which made me think of my summers at grandma's house. We would drive from Kansas in our van and listen to 8 track tapes of Anne Murray and the Beatles. Later, they played Dr. Hook and of course, I thought of Shari and Brian. They had Sylvia's Mother and a song I didn't recognize. It was very nostalgic.
I am feeling too American right now since i am hogging the internet. When I return to Nadi, I will check in and let you know how my clothes fared. THanks for the updates...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Voli Voli

I just wanted to let everyone know that i made it safely to the beach and that i don't have internet access until i return to nadi on Tuesday. i am safe and will be diving tomorrow. Jade, i have a will you sit on my lap will get a kick out of it! Me and my damn midwestern naivety. When I return I will update it and it will all make sense. i have a young english bloke waiting on me and so I must conclude this for now.
Last night, I did the splits which I haven't done since high school. i didn't pull anything, but it could have been awful. We played a game called bite the box and it makes more sense with demonstrations.
I went on a hike this morning with the driver and it led to the lap story. Jade, have you e-mailed Dave lately? I tried to thank him and Erik for letting me take a leave of absence, but neither of them have responded. I might be jobless when I return.
The dorms take a bit to get used to. The beds are short and I had to sleep on the top bunk last night and the entire time, I kept envisioning me falling off and breaking something or other. Thankfully, it hasn't happened yet.
Yesterday we went river rafting and spent time in a school and a village. I had my first cup of Kava--yes, Andy, it tastes like a wet sock. The ceremony was nice and it felt as if we were part of something.
The school in the village was a primary school. We visited quite a few different classrooms and the children were pleasant, happy and paying attention to the organized chaos. They didn't have cell phones, ipods or act like complete bastards like in the States. It was refreshing and kinda scary. They have one computer and are trying to fundraise to bring in more technology to the school system.
My clothes are wet all of the time which is annoying to me. I am trying to not be so quick to feel uncomfortable since this will be my life for the next five months. One week down and off to better things...Take care and enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dehydrated in Suva

Normally i drink a bunch of water; however, since I have been in Fiji, I haven't been as religious about it and it caught up with me today on our 4 hour trek. Of course, i had to lead or be in the front since I have this psychological thing about being in the back of a hiking group. I feel that I can't keep up and it tires me out. Nevertheless, we went on this excursion up a mountain , through a river and it was sunny and it rained. Did I mention the rainforest aspect of it? The trail was muddy and my favorite sandals took a beating. Everytime I would step down, my ankle will decide where it wanted to land. It was traumatic and scary. Anyways, after making it through the jungle in the front, we had lunch and then went tubing. Next, we jumped into a water fall and the entire day I was soaked wet--everything--and eventually we made it to Suva.
Along the way, I felt this horrible headache coming on and at first, I thought it was due to lack of sleep. As we drove along, I realized that I was dehydrated and as a prize for my bad behavior in taking care of myself, I was awarded with a full blown headache. I had some emergen C and took an alleve. I feel much better now.
I found this awesome internet cafe that is super cheap and i just want to hang out here all night. Also, i ate chicken curry where I was schooled on how to eat it. My friend, Arvin, the driver, told me to pick up the roti while it was hot and eat it with the curry in my hands. It feels unnatural to eat without silverware, but when in Fiji, do what they do, right?
Until tomorrow I hope that you are all glorious and prosperous in your lives! How was halloween? Any good treats?
Tomorrow I will be in Voli Voli where I will stay until Tuesday. I am doing laundry since i have soured some of my shirts which sucks since I actually like them and I will be going on two dives. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

En route to Suva

I survived the dorm room; although, I was the last one in and the first one up. I had a luxurious hot shower as a result and right now I am in the only person using the internet--another bonus. I have liked how internet friendly Fiji is and have really enjoyed receiving e-mails and blog comments this past week.
Today we are going on a 3 hour trek and eventually, we will end up in a mud bath, I think. Perhaps that is tomorrow's activities. ALso, tomorrow I will be in Volivoli in search of the perfect dive. Wish me luck...

Grandma Emma's Spaghetti

Michaela and Jade--
do you remember visiting Grandma Emma in the summer and eating fried chicken, meatballs, danish and enjoying them? Well, then you must remember the one time we made a mistake in asking her to make us spaghetti. Keep in mind, she was our great grandmother and so she was a farm girl and skilled at what she knew how to cook. Spaghetti wasn't really in her repetoire. We insisted that she make it for us and so she tried. We got a plate of noodles tossed with tomato soup. I remember trying not to be sick, but she made us eat it. We never ate that shitty meal again.
Well, you didn't have to. I just did. I was so upset about being locked in the room that I forgot to mention my meal tonight. I ordered vegetable lasagna and it tasted like Grandma Emma's spaghetti. I should just get accustomed to eating curry or fish and not try to eat normal food. The tomato soup doesn't do it for me! I still ate it due to hunger and envisioning that it was wonderful.
The Rumble in the Jungle refers to Mohammed Ali and George one at my trivia table believed me. Not many groups got that one right. Until tomorrow...I am hoping to survive the bugs, the locked doors and the fact that I haven't had one glass of red wine since Saturday!

Grandma Emma

Bathroom issues....

NOt really, but I knew that it would catch everyone's attention. At this dorm, that I hate by the way, there is no way to get out of it once you latch the door. Unknowingly, I returned to the room to write, knowing that I needed to use the bathroom and then I am stuck inside the room. I try not to panic, but I can't help it. I start yelling for help and this couple looks at me like I am crazed. I knew that there was a cleaning woman nearby and so I asked her to show me how to get out of the room. Still, I haven't used the bathroom and she locks us in. I know that she felt confident about her abilities until she couldn't get us out. Finally, she is able to unlatch the room and she tells me to leave the door cracked. that I can sustain more mosquito bites...FANTASTIC. I really don't know if I will sleep much tonight. No, I am not intoxicated just afraid that I will get locked in the room without the ability to get out and use the bathroom. Doesn't something like this always happen to me?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mango Bay, Fiji

THe first stop of the day was the ocean. It was glorious, clear blue water, warm, sandy beaches and we had a bbq. I ate bratwurst on white bread with butter. I would have loved some mustartd, but it wasn't offered. Next, we went to a traditional village where we watched customs and learned their way of life. Oh, did I mention that I had to buy a sarong to enter the village? We sat in the old Chief's burre and I was animated by three small children. THey were hilarious, but had jacked up teeth and kept biting a photo.
Afterwards, we stopped in a town to use the facilities and then made our way to the sand dunes. Apparently, Fiji is the only country in the Pacific that has sand dunes and so we slid down them at will. When I am able, I will download the photos of me flying down the sand dunes.
Now, after a shower, I am off to a feast with the group of people that I came with--two AUssies, One Irishman, me, and about 9 British--of course, there had to be multiple British. I like the Aussies, they just got married and the Irishmen, James, is traveling to New Zealand like me. I think we might check out some spots together, who knows? He is traveling on holiday and he teaches English in the meantime. Fiji is amazing and I have arranged to go diving on Saturday night on the north coast. I think I will spend 3 days up there and then return to Nadi and island hop, maybe some more diving.
TAke care of yourselves and keep me up to date. I need to find Mexican food, but don't think that I will be able to. I miss chips and salsa. I took some great photos for Kellen's class, too.

Traveling around Fiji

So, I leave in an hour to jump on a bus and head south to Mango Bay. I can stay there until Saturday and return to the bus at which point we will go to a village. I figure that I should extend the countryside/coast since Nadi doesn't offer much outside of a way into the country. I hope to dive either in Bequa or on the northern coast. I will figure it out once I get there.
No, I haven't dined with anyone yet. Fiji is about backpackers and honeymooners. It would be odd to dine with a newlywed couple and so I am making my own way and enjoying the solitude. Plus, my mind is drifting.
Jade, take care of your voice and enjoy the U of O game--Go DUCKS> Where is KU ranked now in football? They are still undefeated, right? Hailey, how is the pregnancy going? How is Andrew? Well, I must conclude this for now.
Take care--

Monday, October 29, 2007


So, I am a little bored right now, thinking, too much in my head and I know that it is like 11 pm there. First, I am bummed that I didn't get my Christmas letter out this year. I worked on it, was proud of it and then I ran out of time. I talked about the importance of food, travel, friends and healing through massage, qiyong, yoga, pilates, etc. Maybe when i return, I will send it out for fun. I really liked it.
I have been listening to espn in my room and so I know that the Broncos lost to the Packers. Oh, and I have nick at night...during the mornings, I believe it is the BBC. Curious, no.
Right now, I am about ready to take this bloke out who is the lab with me, on his phone, speaking loudly and extremely interruptive of my thoughts. If I log off, though, I lose minutes.
I miss my phone and the ability to call anyone at any point. I know that I drive my sisters crazy, at times, but they never answer. Michaela is the "Screen Queen" and Jade works nights and has to sleep during the day. I enjoy when my niece answers and then doesn't tell Jade that I called. Jasmin is hit or miss since her phone seems to be off a lot of the time.
I forgot to mention my last meals in L.A. On Saturday morning, we ate at Urth Cafe where they close down to shoot on location. It was an organic, trendy hot spot on Melrose. I enjoyed it since it was bustling with movement and the food was healthy.
Later that day, we ate at Las Cabanas in Venice Beach. I know that I make much better margaritas, but they had all these different salsas that I loved. It was fun and the perfect sendoff. I am going to be so happy when I get to South America so that I can eat rice, beans and salsa. I am going to miss mexican food tremendously.
While I walk around Fiji, the men openly stare--who wouldn't since I stick out? I mean, everyone here is either Indian, Fijian, or Polynesian, dark hair/skin and wearing long skirts. They are extremely friendly and open. I do like that. It reminds me a little of my summer in Guadalajara when i was a guera. I definitely stuck out there due to my height/hair color.
Well, until later. I probably will check this later tonight/tomorrow and then it will be hit or miss until I end up at another hotel with an internet cafe attached. I should be island hopping and diving eventually. I can't wait. Keep in touch and keep me updated on you.

Two drinks later...

I had a tropical drink since I am now in a tropical country. Of course, you can't pass up the pina colada; however, I opted for a smooth lady. It was nice, hit the spot and I probably won't drink another until I go to Australia.
Fiji is beautiful, truly and the food is great. I have been enjoying the curries and the bread. I haven't had Indian in quite some time and so I am enjoying it.
Shari, for your dinner, I think that you should opt for a nice Australian or New Zealand wine since that is what I will be drinking for the next few weeks. I have always liked Penfold's Koonunga Hill or Craggy Range is a winery that I will be checking out in New Zealand. Jade, next time you e-mail Dave, will you remind him to contact TJ for me? I will be in New Zealand on November 13th. I know that you talk to Dave, my boss, frequently via e-mail. Tell him hello and cheers from me.
Also, I like Black Opal shiraz and there are a number of options available. Tell your sisters hello for me.
I am ready to ditch my backpack which a friend of mine suggested. He told me that he traveled for a few years with a t-shirt, a pair of shorts and one pair of jeans. I am not that simple yet, but soon.
Take care of yourselves and please, somebody update me on my team. For once, the Jayhawks are actually good in football and with basketball around the corner, I need updates. Oh, I follow the Arizona Wildcats in Bball too. Could you have Smitty let me know how our team is? Sorry, Hailey, I like U of A too. My allegiance is to KU, first and foremost, but I do like the Wildcats.
Until later--

Fiji Travel adventure

Tomorrow, I will head off on a 7 day around the mainland adventure. My first stop will be Mango Bay and then I will make my way around the mainland with a few brief diving stops. I opted to do this since I really don't have any plans. I will go trekking, see the schools and land in a mud bath. We'll see how it works out. I will check this when I can, but know that I am fine and enjoying life. I need to figure out if I can live without my big bag or if I should lug it with me. I think that I should be able to make it around without it. Fiji is beautiful, similar to Costa Rica with the mountains, rain forests and green. I am adjusting to the temperature and trying to survive the bugs.
Take care all. I will send postcards shortly.


I made it safely to Fiji, despite the horrible flight. I had this man in front of me, who pushed the seat back into my knees the entire 10 1/2 hours. I couldn't sleep, couldn't stretch out and so yesterday, I slept at my hotel. It is quite nice and they upgraded me to the right room. I have two double beds, a seperat shower, a tv--yes, I can watch sports center and it is heavenly. Not really, I am enjoying the beauty of the country. Everyone is nice and generous and says--Bula to greet. Oh, on my hideous flight, I watched OCean's 13 like 4 times. I think I could star in it if I had to. I wouldn't want to play a cougar, though.
Thank you to everyone for checking my blog and making sure that I am okay. I am and I look forward to where I go next. I think I planned to stay in Fiji a trifle too long. I suppose that I could dive multiple times.
Jan and Tom--thank you for seeing me off. It was wonderful to spend time with you. Take care all and I will update you later.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I decided to include some photos from this past summer as a way to include the people that have supported my adventure. I have pictures from Phoenix with Jan, Tom, Sandy and Shari. Vegas met us in July for a few dinners where he behaved himself. He wasn't spouting off nonsense of his attire. I included pictures from Connie, Shari, Hannah and Kellen's trip in June where the girls met my aunt and cousin, Beau.
Also, I wanted everyone to know how many going away meals I had with Steve and Pocketsize, Jimmy, Tiffany, and G.Q. I had a wonderful lunch with the Bull & Bush ladies that I didn't have a picture of unfortunately. Jimmy met us eventually and had a ham sandwich.
As I have time, I will update the pictures at will. Of course, they will be censored! Thank you all for the continued love and support of my life. Next time I write, I will be in Fiji!!! Let me know how you are and how Denver is. I appreciate everyone. Love--Harmony

Sunset Blvd...

So, Jan and Tom made it to LA in time to eat. We went to the sidewalk cafe on Venice Beach and it basically sucked, but sometimes, food is food. We had calamari--I know, I broke the golden rule of no calamari outside of Solera in Denver. Anyways, we had chips, calamari and a few beverages. We checked out the Santa Monica Pier and Tom cozied up to the chef at Bravo Restaurant and we tried their take on stromboli.
Next stop, Sunset Blvd. We wanted to go to the Viper Room, compliments of Johnny (New Glarus Johnny), but since I look like the permanent Michelin Man, we couldn't get in. Instead, we opted for a new restaurant, Amarone. We knew it was new since they brought us an amuse bouche and an appetizer. Plus, Prosecco to start the evening.
The risotto was awesome and we checked out a few salads in addition to the ricotta raviolis. We chatted up the owner and he brought us dessert wine--yes, Steve, you would have loved it and a few desserts. I have learned that it is always good to work the restaurant connection. Overall, it has been the best meal that I have had in L.A. and I applaud the establishment for its generosity and tenacity.
I guess, if you make it to LA, go to Amarone. It is a true find.
I should hopefully be posting pictures tomorrow of my finds and of Flat Kellen. Yes, we ate ice cream.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Venice Beach, take two

I had dinner at an Italian restaurant near my hotel. I felt like comfort food and I never pass up minestrone. In this case, I should have. I have decided that not only will I document my travels, but also the food that I encounter and consume. I think that it will keep me honest in my posts, right?
Plus, I have been following the World Series and I keep wondering when the Rockies will show up.
Be positive and tomorrow I should have some more updates on my life especially since Jan and Tom will be here to entertain me. I always have a story after traveling with them.

Venice Beach

I decided to seach for post cards and am about 10 minutes from Venice Beach. Of course, I was hungry and stopped at this Baja Cantina. Sometimes, it is better to find a better option especially when I found the board walk with all these taco stands, empanadas, smoothies. Anything would have been better than what I ate at that cantina.
Nevertheless, the board walk was fantastic. I saw many people who were shirtless that shouldn't have been. I saw a snake charmer with actual snakes and a little thong on and of course, there is the muscle beach section. Plus, there are people selling their cd's and multiple blown glass shops where you have to be 18 to enter. Most of those were playing Bob Marley as I passed by. I was tempted to check out the bongs/pipes.
I am scouting out a place to eat with Jan and Tom tomorrow. Yes, they are making the drive to LA to see me off--thank god! Although, it is wonderful to not have a set schedule or a definite place that I have to be. I welcome company and appreciate that Jan and Tom are driving from Phoenix to say goodbye. Until later....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

So, I made it to LA and so far, I have decided that I have to detox for at least one month. My body wants to reject alcohol--too much red wine--and rich food. My friends in Denver are amazing and I am sure that they are happy that I left. I think that I became an expensive habit/going away gift for most.
Thank you to Jimmy, Tiffany, Pocketsize and Steve, GQ, Fosh, the staff at Elway's, Fruition and the Falling Rock, Johnny, Doug and their group of friends, plus all of the people that made it to my going away at the Bull and Bush. I wasn't too influenced by shots...I survived. I'll be here to Saturday night and then off to the islands.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Getting prepared

One week away and so much to do. I am ready to sit on the beach and sip a pina colada. I always feel like those drinks only when I am in a tropical country. Otherwise, I loathe making them and drinking foo-foo drinks. 12 days and counting...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The beginning

On October 27th, I will be departing for the adventure of a life time. Please join me as I discover a new world. Comment, question and make suggestions--I appreciate it!