Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I lost the battle but won the prize

I was just going back through some of my previous posts... found one from March 31st, after my other Grandfather passed away:

I've been lying in bed thinking about grief. It's an odd thing, extremely painful and yet you can't touch it or even point it out. There's no miracle pill to get rid of the pain, no limb to chop off, there's nothing inside of you they can cut out. It's buried deep inside of you, somewhere around the heart-lungs-throat region. In my experience (17 years) it never goes away fully - it's like a chronic scab - it heals over partially, but if it gets bumped hard enough it flows again. An intangible wound. I don't know if that makes sense, but it's the best I can do at 1:20 am.

Yup. That pretty much sums it up.

In other news....
Dad and I had been going round and round about me and my vehicle. He wasn't happy with my Escort, even though I've had it for 8 years and 3 of those have been up north. He wanted something with more room for my long legs, something I didn't hit my head on, something big enough for me, something with 4 wheel-drive for the weather up there... He even threatened to sell my Escort (since it's in his name) before I got back and get me something of his choosing - eek! So I finally said we'd see when I got home... well anywho.. he won the arguement. But I must say, I won the pretty new car! /beam
It's a 2004 Honda Element... and it's ORANGE! hehehe
It's so purrrrrty.

If nothing else it has distracted me from other less desirable things.

Christmas wasn't as bad as I was thinking. Had Friday dinner with my Aunt and Uncle and on Saturday I had Christmas lunch with my Mom's family.
No tears. Just a little sadness in the air - on both sides.

It'll be 2005 in a couple of days. Strange to think. What happened to this year? So much has happened, yet I can't imagine it's over with.
Talk about life being a rollercoaster! This year has been so unpredictable - both good and bad.

Anywho, wishing you all a very Happy New Year.
For my Minnesotan friends - I'll be up there on or by the 8th of Jan. See ya then!


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Not Again

I arrived back in Texas on Sunday night to the news that my Grandaddy had passed away on Saturday night.
Rough re-introduction to the real world.
The service was on Monday afternoon. Short and sweet but rough none-the-less.

In other news...
It feels strange to be home, as I knew it would. Perhaps even more so because of the unexpected shock I received upon my arrival.

This is going to be a really rough Christmas. I've lost both of my Grandfathers this year and my two cousins and their families who have moved away aren't coming back to Texas for Christmas... so my family is shrinking. Anywhoooo.

Looking forward to going back to MN - heading out around Jan 5th or so. Still need to make travel plans.

Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Very strange indeed...

To be back in the States (or as my Mom says; 'State-side').
At first glance it was very strange to see people in the 'correct' drivers seat again :) And unfortunately I find American accents a bit abbrasive (for lack of a better descriptive word) after 4 1/2 months of the lovely lilting Kiwi accents and assorted English, Scottish, Irish and Aussie accents I've been around.

Left Wellington yesterday (today) at 4:30pm and flew to Auckland (1 hour)
Left Auckland yesterday (today) at 7:30pm and flew to L.A. (12 hours)
Saw the Holywood sign =0)
Waiting here in LAX for my flight, after much hub-a-loo through customs, luggage, and security, but they gotta do what they gotta do.
At this point I AM looking forward to getting home - getting over with all of the travelling and giving the parents big hugs!

Ugh, but am I really back?
Strannnnnnge feeling. Maybe it'll settle once I'm actually back home, in the house and town I grew up in, with my family and! my critters! I need some Jakey luvin! *grins at the thought of snuggling with her puppy tonight)!!! Not nearly enough dog luvin over the past 4 1/2 months, though Anne's kitty was a sweety.

I'll arrive in Texas just under 2 hours after I left Wellington - though I left yesterday... and yesterday is today... hehehe I'm a time traveller!

Sorry for random thought spillage - can you tell I'm bored? And quite happy to have internet access again, after over a week? /addicted
Oh! I decided last night - er Saturday afternoon to buy a lotto ticket, well a couple actually, since I hadn't bought any yet. Well I won $36 bucks! Hehehe what are the chances? I bought myself a 2 disc CD set of CHRISTMAS music, listening to it now, getting the MooooOoOooooood!

Annnnd! What are the chances of this?! I ran into a girl I know from school in MN! at the Auckland airport and we were even on the same flight. She had been just two hours north-east of where I was doing her student teaching. We talked for a bit before boarding about our experiences and exchanged email addys so we can talk more :)

This morning one of my students - who was also a neighbor - came to say goodbye. I had taken him to Te Papa - the national museum on Thursday and then to see the seals at Cape Palliser and the lighthouse there on Friday. He got a big kick out of me and my slight apprehension of being so high up... *cough* anywho... today he brought me a little fishey key chain he painted and a stuffed snowman because I'm going back to snow - something he hasn't seen much of in northern NZ. When you squeeze it's hand it plays It's A Small World - rather fitting I think.

Jer, if I don't call you on Monday, don't take it personally? Might spend it out with Mom - she needs an Aspen-fix :) And I could do with a Mom-fix ;) I'll try to call you Monday evening :) Glad to see you got a room on Aya's floor!

Ok think that's enough for now. Good waste of 35 mins in surfing net and typing!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 13, 2004


Denial (n) A refusal to accept or believe something.
That pretty much sums it up. I refuse to count my remaining days. I'm going to enjoy every second of my remaining time and I don't want to spend it frowning about having to leave. Besides! It's almost Christmas and I'll be with my family (well most of them) soon!

I finished my one-week-whirlwind-tour of the North Island. I rented a car and drove over to Napier and Cape Kidnappers and visited the Gannet Colony. Funny little birds! Their take-offs crack me up! They spread their wings, shake their tail feathers (literally), hop to or three times and then they're off. It's hilarious! As Cole put it: "They do the macarena."

I went through Taupo - saw the giant crater-lake, formed a long time ago when a volcano went *KABOOM* a long, long time ago. Big honkin lake with some islands and a backdrop of beautiful mountains and another volcano - Ruapehu. Drove around it and it was steaming on one side. Don't know how people can live near those things - they're creepy.

Spent a couple of days in Rotorua - well known for it's Maori culture and Geothermal activity. Their city park - in the middle of town - has mud pools and steaming ponds. Uhm yeah... seemed very strange to me, but they live with it everyday. Walked through the park and went to a couple of hotspots outside town, checked out some of the local lakes, took the gondola up one of the mountains, and went to a Maroi concert and hangi feast (where they cook the food in the ground) YUM!

Drove up north a bit to Whakatane and over to Tauranga and down to Matamata where I checked out Hobbiton. I hadn't done anything specifically related to LOTR and I've been here almost 4 1/2 months :) I figured I should do something LOTR-y before I left. It was kind of neat. New Line rented this section of farm land from 3 brothers and their father who are sheep ranchers. The studio promised to return the land to it's natural condition and after filming they started tearing down the set. Weather turned icky and they told the brothers they'd be back in 6 months to finish. During that time people started stopping by asking to see it and I guess the familiy saw dollar signs - contacted the studio - and made arrangements. So what you see isn't the full set, but the lake and the party tree and the field are there - MASSIVE old oak tree, probably 120 years old, and I have a picture of me hugging it so you can see how big it is. Bilbo/Frodo's home is still there and so is Sam's first house - along with several other hobbit holes. Was funny to see the sheepies running around Hobbiton - Hobbiton's newest inhabitants!

I drove over to the west coast and saw Mt. Taranaki - CRAZY mountain! Sharp peak - just zooms right out of the land. Hard to describe, but very cool.

Had fun, even if it was a quick trip :)

Monday, December 06, 2004


I did it, number 2 on my list-of-things-to-do-before-I-die!
I swam with dolphins!
Dusky dolphins here in Kaikoura.
Cold water - 12ft + swells - little sea sickness, but I did get in the water and swim with them :) And managed not to get sick *cough* thank goodness!
No pictures from being in the water with them - too murky - darn storms. Had opportunity to take pictures from the boat though. I'll try to find time to post some dolphin jumping pics - if any come out - so hard with the swell and they're so fast!
But I did it!
/bounces around for joy

Weather turned icky again - cold rainy windy.
Going back to watch the third LOTR - watched the first two - one each of the last two nights. It's such a different experience now - having seen some of the sites where they filmed and even seeing landscape so similar to those in the film. Looking at the movie through a new set of eyes.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

I'm sorry, try again...

I made it into the 8:30am swim today and then when I called they said they were cancelling all swims today because of the swells.
I was put back on the waiting list and I was just scheduled for a 12:30pm swim tomorrow... keeping my toes crossed.

I spent about 2 1/2 hours this morning posting pictures to My Photo Blog so I hope you enjoy those - there's lots of 'em.

Spent some time on the beach earlier, but there's a pretty cold wind coming off the ocean so I only stayed out about an hour. Also spent some time out at the seal colony - they had a baby too :) not as small as the one I saw at Cape Foulwind - but a baby still.

Mostly well finally....

Talked on the phone to a cousin yesterday =) and Mary K today =)

One and a half days left in Kaikoura... can you hear the clock? *Tick Tock Tick Tock*

Saturday, December 04, 2004

I'm Back!

Back in Kaikoura - love of my life! Well... you know :)

I missed out on Mt. Cook - opted for the West Coast route and saw the glaciers and pancake/blow hole rocks.

I saw both Fox and Franz Josef glaciers - kinda neat. Wasn't swooning over them or anything though.

Spent last night in Nelson and drove into Kaikoura today. Feels good to be back. Staying at same place as last time and guy remembered me and stuff :) Was nice.
I swear the rain is following me though - been nothing but rain, especially the last week - and here in Kaikoura I just got poored on. Hoping it lets up tomorrow - wanna hang out at the beach!
I'm on the waiting list for swimming with the dolphins - REALLY hope I get in on that. If not I could still do it up north.

Feeling much better, just a residual cough - slightly annoying.

Getting excited about Christmas with the family and going back to MN - seeing friends again. Can't beleive I'm leaving the South Island in 3 days - doesn't seem possible. And leaving NZ in two weeks... we won't even go there.

Hmmm.. thought I'd have more to say. Nothing too exciting has happened though - just lots of driving.
Oh! I finally got to see a KIWI! The feathered kind! I spent night before last in Hokitika and they have a little aquarium-zoo-type thing. It was dark, as they're nocturnal - but I did get to see not one, but two kiwis! Very exciting. Unfortunately, the tuatara was in hiding. Also a LOVELY view of the Tasman Sea - gorgeous - from a restraunt there.

LOL oh I stopped at Cape Foulwind - aptly named - Seal Colony there. Needless to say, somebody had a good sense of humor - cute furry critters, but you can smell 'em, that's for sure! And they had BABIES! One that was JUST born - you could tell - it was still wobbly and stuff and not much bigger than a sea gull.

LOADS of pictures to upload and I'm at this awesome internet place in Kaikoura - same place I uploaded whale and dolphin pics - so I'll try to get some more pictures posted in the next day or two - have to go check on my position on waiting list for swimming with the fishies!

/keeping my toes crossed

For my benefit!
Just in case!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Moving on UP

Yesterday I left Te Anau - stopping by the wildlife sanctuary just outside of town. It only has birds, but it has some very cool - very Kiwi - very rare birds. For example, the Takahe - there are only about 200 left in the world. They also had Kea and Kaka and other pretty - colourful birdies.

Drove up to Queenstown - very Aspen-like (Aspen, Colorado that is). It's a ski-town, located in the mountains. However, Queenstown has had quite a bit of room to spread - around a lake - a few differences from Aspen. But it was a very busy little town, good feeling, pretty scenery. Also, home to the Lord of the Rings Shop.

Never been skiing... odd? A girl with the same name as one of the most well-known ski resorts in the --- world... might have something to do with my extreme klutzyness and aversion to pain and broken limbs.

Uhm back on track... lessee...
Oh yes. Spent the night in QT and then headed up to Glenorchy - drove around into Asipring National Park - towards Paradise - yes it's a name of a place - and the woods were mossy and green and gorgeous - very elfy. As in Lothlorien elfy - where they filmed part of Lothlorien!
The mountains around there are in the opening shots of the first two movies.

I took my first jet-boat ride up the river. AWESOME! Twisty - Swirley - Coldy - Rainy - but FUN FUN FUN! Also saw where they set up and filmed Isengard - right next to the river.
Took a couple of short tramps through the woods - good to make you extra cold and wet, what with the mountain rains. But really, honestly LOTS of fun. Very glad I did it. Was lucky too - group of only 6 of us and the driver - not the usual 14.

In Wanaka, another pretty little town, nestled in the mountains, wrapped around a lake. Nice little drive, LOTS of photo-ops - which you KNOW I took advantage of.

Spending the night here and then heading up north... somewhere... wherever I feel like!

/likes being an independent woman who can change her mind whenever she darn well pleases!

I know I would like to see Mt. Cook - New Zealand's tallest mountain. And my final destination before flying back up north is Kaikoura - again ;)
But we'll see which way I take to get there :)