Saturday, August 6, 2011

World Trip

I'm leaving the US for the third time this year to return to New Zealand and eventually meet up with my brother to continue to Indonesia and India. I leave August 17th from Los Angeles and arrive in Auckland on August 19th. I plan to be in Indonesia by mid- late October and India by November. I'm excited to embark on another journey and to pick up blogging about my travels once again.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Buy Me Online

Oh the places you can purchase me online.

My collection of poetry, A History Of Silence, was published by Bicycle Comics in 2010 and is now available on Amazon:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hokitika: The River

One of my favorite spontaneous things we did: jumped into a freezing river in the afternoon and rode that current all the way home. Just outside of Hokitika on our way to Glacier Country.

The Tunnel Trail

From Top to Bottom: (1) Dan at the beginning of the Tunnel Trail,
(2) There must have been a million cicadas - it was unbearably loud,
(3 - 6) Dan and I traipsed around various tunnels with and without paths,
saw incredible foliage, and even spotted a fantail bird.
(7) The exit tunnel on a beautiful day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mike's New Blog

My favorite thing to do when I have a moment is to read my brother's new World Trip blog:

Please check it out. His writing and photography skillz are outta this world. He has an open invitation for everyone everywhere to join him on his trip around the world and his blog will provide you with all of the information and inspiration you could need.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Let's Go Down The Coast

From Top To Bottom: (1) Punakaiki Caverns,
(2) The Excursion,
(3) Dan leaving the Cavern like a true Hobbit,
(4) View of the sky from the cavern entrance,
(5) Riding down the coast,
(6) Sunset along the coast,
(7) We really like sunset,
(8) Upon discovering one of our best campsites we were really excited,
(9) REALLY excited - look at that stove!

Punakaiki Photos

From Top to Bottom: (1) The West Coast!
(2) The coast of Paparoa National Park,
(3) Our friendly Kiwi family,
(4) One of the best sunsets of the trip,
(5) This was our view from our beachside campsite,
(6) Campfire on the beach,
(7) The boys with the Pancake Rocks.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Queenstown: The Adventure Capital Of The World

Carrie: "Uh oh, I forgot to take my lactaid pill."
Dan: "Are you going to start lactating now?"

We arrived in Queenstown on the afternoon of January 26th after several stops at fruit stands and orchards where we lightened the Free Dried Fruits and Nuts tasting tables. The weather cleared up as we got into town but it was a better choice to stay indoors as the ground was still wet from all of the rain. We opted for the cheapest place in town: The Pinewood Lodge, which provided us with a private room with 2 bunk beds and access to shared showers and toilets.

It was a sterile, dorm styled place and immediately made us appreciate the Palace Backpackers that much more. It was definitely clean and cheap but had the vibe that a lot of dunk bros from the states came to piss and vomit in their own beds every night after bungy jumping their money away. Maybe that's a bit harsh but it's true that the environment an establishment provides allows the way its patrons treat it. The Palace provided a warm kitchen with free shared food, spices, and a heated towel rack - all of which encouraged people to share their own food and take care of the kitchen. The Lodge was the exact opposite: nobody did each other's dishes - there were hardly any dishes to use to cook with.

We quickly picked up some chicken from the grocery store and made a big stir fry dinner with some fresh vegetables from our orchard stops. I was exhausted and used the internet while the boys made friends with some other Americans and we all went to sleep around midnight.

In the morning, I forced the boys out of the dorm and left them in the early afternoon (after a nap in the sun) to go explore Queenstown. The size difference between North Island and South Island "cities" became even more hilarious as I strolled around the quaint, busy streets of Queenstown. More mountainous and ski resort-esque in its feel, it reminded me a lot of Wanaka but more vibrant, touristy, and younger. I window shopped and met a nice Frenchman named Julian at a candy shop who convinced me to buy some fudge after one taste of the Creme Bruelee Fudge. The weather was perfect and the town thriving along the lakefront. I returned to the hostel to skype with my mom for a bit and almost missed my ferry ride around the lake with Mike! I ran all the way back into town in my flip flops and we just made it aboard.

The boat ride was a cheap $25 for a relaxing hour and a half ferry ride in gorgeous sunny weather. It was exactly what I wanted to do: sit, chat with Mike, and enjoy the mountains (known as the Remarkables) and million dollar homes lining Lake Wakatipu. After our boat ride we bout some chips (the best french fries I've ever eaten) and wandered around the amazing botanical gardens which line the lake front before returning to the Lodge to meet Dan and Tim after their exciting afternoon on the Canyon Swing.

We finished our day by going to FergBurger which we all immediately fell in love with and didn't mind how much our wallets were lightened by the experience: I got a chicken burger with sun dried tomato tapenade, aioli, tomato, onions, and lettuce and downed it with a ginger beer. FergBurger is terribly expensive (what isn't in Queenstown?) but their burgers are MASSIVE and DELICIOUS. We ate along the lake front watching a Canadian street performer while the sun set over the lake behind us. We went in search of our British friends Danielle and Will from the Palace Backpackers who we knew were in town and we managed to surprise them in their hostel and they joined us for ice cream: also expensive, also massive, also delicious. Our bellies were so happy and so full that night. We said farewell to Will and Danielle who asked us where we were staying that night (as it was now dark and getting late) to which we replied "We don't know!"

Off we drove out of town to search for a campsite. We drove to Moke Lake and were certain we'd driven the wrong way as it took forever and we kept driving through gate after gate of Private Property Signs in the dark. For the FIRST TIME Dan and I slept in the tent at the request of Mike and Tim who wanted to sleep in Adi. We survived the cold night to be woken up by Tim in the morning whispering that we needed to be quiet and stay inside the tent as the Ranger was there and Mike and Tim were going to tell him that they were the only two camping there. This was funny enough as it was, listening to Mike and Tim try and be sociable with the Ranger in the least sociable way possible, but Dan also had to pee really bad and was squirming around and finally peed out the side of the tent that the Ranger couldn't see. After some stealth passing of our belongings out of the side of the tent, Dan and I finally ran to the car when the Ranger wasn't looking and covered ourselves with blankets as Mike and Tim broke down the tent and jumped in after us. We hit the dirt road, glancing over our shoulders, proud of our stealth moves and ability to save money: a whole $14 worth.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mmm Wanaka you make me sleepy

"The best part of waking up is Sprinklers up your butt!" - Mike
(to be sung to the tune of Folger's coffee commercials)

Getting up at 6 in the morning to avoid paying a camping fee: not as worth it as we perhaps thought. Sure we didn't end up paying any money and we got to eat breakfast on the lake front while the sun rose to light up the mountain ranges - but being that exhausted? No. Not worth it.

The boys made us oatmeal on a picnic bench and the sprinklers decided to come on in the middle of everything. So I watched, safe and warm from inside Adi, and decided to video tape them get soaked while trying to rescue breakfast. It was entertaining for certain.

We had already agreed that we would get a cheap motel room for that night as we knew we'd be sacrificing sleep, we hadn't showered in 7 days, we'd managed to camp for free all 7 days, and it was rumored to rain that night. So Dan fell asleep in the car, Mike went for a walk, and Tim and I hunkered down in the motel lobby to use the internet until we could check into our room. I had set up a much needed skype date with my friend and tour mate, April, and after several exhausted hours of internet use was able to take a shower in our motel room. We did our laundry and watched the worst television soap opera I've ever seen (hey- it was New Zealand made) and I fell asleep for a delicious three hour nap. I wish that I had had an opportunity to really hike around the Wanaka area because that is what it's known for: it's breathtaking views from its hiking trails up and around the lakes and mountains.

We made potato pancakes and a warm veggie salad for dinner before heading to Cinema Paradiso to watch "Due Date" starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. The theater was so worth the $14 entrance fee: it only has one screen and there are old comfortable sofas and car seats and actual cars for people to sit in while watching the movie - AND they make their own previews/ads - AND there were the most AMAZING warm homemade cookies that are served during intermission (yes. there. was. an. intermission.). Hands down awesome sauce.

The next day we got up early to find it was pouring rain and ended up spending most of the day curled up indoors reading, journaling, and catching up on blog posts. Mike and I booked us a hostel in Queenstown, where were headed to that night, so that we wouldn't have to camp if it continued to rain. We said fairwell to a now rainy Wanaka and headed for the "Adventure Capitol Of The World": Queenstown.

Hello Wanaka

Carrie: "Mike take my pants off!"
Mike: "As your brother I would be honored."

Now that I have your attention, I first have to apologize for the lack of posts as of late and specifically the lack of photo posts. I am currently back in the US and on a poetry tour and therefore have had very little time to catch up on all of my NZ posts. Additionally, Mike - who is currently in Melbourne - has all of my photos and has had difficulty getting them to me. BACK TO THE ADVENTURE (and the explanation of the above quote):

We rolled into the lakeside town of Wanaka after an incredibly beautiful drive through the bottom of the West Coast. We stopped so many times to just gasp and take photos and stand in sunny lake water that it actually got annoying. Nothing should be so beautiful but it is. The lakes that you see below are huge and brilliantly blue with these powerful green mountains lining them and the entire drive winds around them.

Wanaka is kind of what I imagine Aspen, Colorado to be: a small, gorgeous, resort town with lakes and mountains and sunsets and incredibly expensive everything. We picked up our most expensive groceries yet, got gas for a parched Adi, and scoped out information at the iSite which happens to be right on the grassy beach of Lake Wanaka. We ate some snacks, checked some emails, and Tim, Mike, and I went swimming in the blissfully cold lake water as the sun began to set behind the mountains. We made dinner at a picnic table (chicken sausages and beans) and drank tea as it began to get dark.

Mike and Tim were off chatting up some pretty foreigners as Dan and I got the tea ready and somehow I managed to dump my entire mug of tea across my lap while fighting with the honey bottle. I started shouting and trying to rip my pants off as fast as I could on a public beach front. Dan had no idea what had just happened and started to video tape what I was doing as Mike and Tim came over to see what I was shouting about. Let's just say it's a pretty good video and someday will surface. I was writhing on the grass with my pants around my ankles screaming "My crotch! Is! On! Fire!" and thus said the quote that began this post much to the boys' delight.

We rewarded undressing in public with ice cream and spent some time standing in front of the Real Estate windows exclaiming over the number of 0's on some of those plots of land. We heard from some other backpackers that we shouldn't freedom camp in the area as the Rangers were particularly active and that instead, we should camp in a nearby campground and just leave at the crack of dawn. That sounded like a good idea to us for some reason so we went to the campsite and tried to sleep through the loud techno music being played ("They have to be German" - Tim) and the full moon. Dan and I gave up and just watched an episode of Friday Night Lights on my ipod before passing out somewhere around 3:30 in the morning for two and a half hours of sleep.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lake Matheson and the beautiful road to Wanaka

Before we left Glacier Country, the four of us headed just down the road to Lake Matheson: a body of water notorious for it's picture perfect reflection of Mt. Cook and the glaciers on a calm day.

We did not visit Lake Metheson on a perfect, still day but it was definitely beautiful regardless. We had an awesome time on the suspension bridge and made friends with an older British couple doing a house exchange in Austrailia, a pair of priests from the local community, as well as a German woman and her father (seen in the video below!)

I fell asleep as soon as we left Lake Matheson - I was utterly exhausted from the early morning wake up, the hike up the glacier, and extreme climate changes. I woke up a couple hours later as we approached our campsite for the night. This was one of the most stunning areas I had seen up until this point on the trip: incredible rolling fields of gold, forest along the roads, and snow capped mountains. Our campsite was buggy, but there was a rock beach and a river of glacial runoff. It was amazing. We cooked at a stone firepit before it was dark (possibly a first for us!) and were joined by 3 German men who weren't too certain of our quick conversations and jokes. We had tea for dessert and went to sleep around midnight.

We managed to get away with not paying yet again: our 6th consecutive win! We decided we should probably bathe and attempted to do so in the river. I scolded the boys for using soap in the river and had to literally limp back to shore as the water was so unbelievably frigid my feet cramped up and I couldn't walk.

We hit the road around noon and spent the day racing tour buses to the dozens of photo spots along the gorgeous road to Wanaka. We stopped at so many waterfalls, the "gates of Haas" (which is essentially a giant waterfall gushing into a river and absolutely perfect), and the infamous Blue Pools. The Blue Pools are the most brilliant blue I've ever seen. You walk this lovely 20 minute path through the forest to reach two suspension bridges that extend over the Blue Pools and surrounding river.

Dan had his heart set on jumping off of the suspension bridge into the Blue Pools: something we'd been told to do by the Germans we'd met the night before. And he did. He leapt from a bridge a good 20 to 24 feet in the air down into the crystal blue waters that were reportedly just as cold, if not colder than the glacial run off we'd bathed in that morning. Mike had a fun time pooping in the woods while I watched Tim and Dan survive the cold waters -- it's a good story, you should ask him about it sometime.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Glacier Country

After we left Hokitika I was feeling like something spontaneous needed to happen and suggested that when we saw a river worthy of jumping into, we should do so. 10 minutes later we were all in our swimsuits leaping into a river with a very strong current: strong enough that when we leapt into the water, it rushed us downstream about fifty feet or so until we swam out of the current to the sandbar. It was really difficult for me to actually stand on the sandbar the current was so fast and often had to opt for making it all the way to the rocks at the edge. We cheered and waved at the cars passing on the bridge above us and when the boys decided to jump in naked into the freezing water, I decided I should probably walk away.

We drove down to Glacier Country to stay at a free campsite called Gillespies Beach about 20 km outside of Fox Township. "Glacier Country" refers to the World Heritage Area where New Zealand's two most profitable glaciers sit: Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. Mike and I had decided that we wanted to take a guided hike onto one of the glaciers and had a lot of difficulty deciding which to do. Franz Josef was much more commercialized and popular and for an extra $20, you got entrance into the Hot Springs. Fox offered smaller tour groups, bigger glacier, and was much older. The major difference seemed to be that Franz Josef offered more ice time but was more expensive.

In the end, Mike and I opted for Fox Glacier based on some locals recommendations, and now having done the glacier, I would probably suggest people opt for Franz Josef. It was definitely a very cool and surreal experience - but the stories I heard from those travelers who did Franz Josef kind of trumped my stories. C'est la vie!

After a buggy, late dinner night at our packed to the absolute gills campsite - we woke early and Tim and Dan dropped Mike and I off at the tour. We decided to wear shorts and layer our shirts as we would be hiking up through a rainforest (hot hot hot) to get to the access point of the glacier (cold cold cold). It was nice for Mike and I to have some time to spend together (although the tour was seriously not as fun without Tim and Dan there to be crazy) and we really enjoyed our tour guide Sam, a native New Zealander in his early 20s. I think the thing that was the strangest was that we were on a TOUR: we were with tourists and for the first time it really felt like we were... tourists! We couldn't go off on our own and had to hike at the same pace as everyone else - so it was definitely a change. We were also required to wear the provided hiking boots. They did not fit. That's all I'll say as I'd prefer not to relive the feeling.

The rainforest was really cool to hike through and I peeled off my layers as fast as possible. We passed waterfalls and crossed water fresh enough you could drink it straight out of the stream. The absolute coolest thing that happened was during a short break during the hike: we had a perfect view of the front of the glacier below us when the front of it collapsed! Pieces of the front of the glacier melt and fall off everyday into the river of water that flows below, but this was a HUGE chunk and the echo of the collapse sounded like thunder down the valley. Sam immediately jumped on his radio to warn other guides and rangers and promised us he'd never seen such a huge chunk fall off. It was so awesome!

When we hiked up the ice stairs to the glacier (which have to be hacked away at with ice picks all day long by three Fox guides) it became frigidly cold. We'd put on our shoe ice grips and grabbed an ice staff to walk with and we clambered around on top of a freaking glacier! The glacier was much dirtier than you'd expect: each snowflakes is built around a speck of dust and when you have billions of snowflakes creating a glacier, you have billions of specks of dust as well. I loved how blue the ice was and we got to poke around a little ice cave in the glacier. It was an overwhelming experience: looking behind us towards the middle of the glacier, it was sparkling ice blue in the sunlight and absolutely beautiful.

And now I can say things like "I climbed a glacier" in normal conversation.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hokitika and the Drugs

We seem to have this luck following us around on this trip and one of the luckiest and coolest parts of the trip was our ability to camp entirely for free down the West Coast of the South Island. We didn't pay to sleep anywhere from Nelson to Wanaka: seven whole days of free camping and no showers. This doesn't mean that we always stayed at free campsites: sometimes we freedom camped, sometimes we stayed at DOC Basic Campsites which don't have fees, and sometimes we just got lucky and the Ranger never came to collect fees at the DOC Standard Campsites (which are just marginally better than Basic ones and thus usually have a fee).

Such was the case with our magical Nacho Campsite between Greymouth and Hokitika. This campsite had our own private campsite with a stove over our campfire, drinkable water from a nozzle, and flushing toilets. And apparently free drugs.

Mike was off christening the flushing toilets while Tim, Dan, and I sat around the campfire eating breakfast and drinking tea when a car pulled up to our site. At first we all thought it must be the ranger coming to collect our fee: I know we all thought this because we all had the same long pause when the woman who climbed out of the car asked us if we had stayed at this site last night. After a very long awkward moment we all replied that yes we had (though I had no intention of telling her that there was a fourth person with us as I expected her next to collect our fee) -- to which she replied "Have you seen my pot?"

Now to my credit, I am straightedge but I have apparently spent enough time around drug culture to be a bit more savvy to these sorts of questions than Tim or Dan. This is to their credit and by their own admittance (you did good, Mrs. Malone!). So this story is actually funnier because Tim didn't know what the woman had asked for and actually thought she was looking for her wallet and was sort of stunned when it was revealed that she was looking for her lost drugs which she had driven 68 kilometers back to this camping spot for. As this woman is scouring the campsite - I know that she thinks we smoked her weed and I'm praying that she finds it and the big Maori looking man in her car doesn't get out of her car. But she DID find it and off she went leaving us a little but more entertained than we planned.

We drove down the road to this Tunnel Trail not far from our site and I really enjoyed exploring the forest and listening to the loudest Cicadas I've ever heard. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the sunlight just filtered through the forest as Dan and I found some tunnel caves to crawl through off the path and also spotted a Fantail Bird which was really cool to watch.

We reached Hokitika in the early afternoon to use internet, book tickets to hike the Fox Glacier the next day, and eat lunch. We were more re-energized when we left -- in fact, this is exactly what we did when we left town:

Punakaiki and Greymouth

We woke from our beach campsite in the morning to have tea and breakfast over a fire on the beach on an overcast day. After a sluggish start, we headed back up the road to see The Pancake Rocks: a tourist attraction located on the coast of the Paparoa Naitonal Park where limestone rocks have been shaped by the ocean to look like pancakes stacked on top of one another. The most alluring part is the blowholes that occur at high tide and while we'd hoped to catch the blowholes in action, we weren't so lucky. The Pancake Rocks were still cool and I stalked a guy wearing a Boston Red Sox cap only to discover he was actually from Oklahoma. We met a couple Americans traveling on tour buses in the area and it was one of our first real experiences being in a locaition populated entirely by the tour buses passing through and people like us.

We grabbed some drinks and ice cream at the little cafe across the street and discovered that just down the road was the Paparoa Caverns. The sun came out and we scurried along in high sprits to climb around this amazing cave. We sang songs ("I Would Walk 500 Miles") and Mike took photos as we walked and crawled through sand stone and little waterfalls. We even saw a few glow worms hiding out in the back of the cavern. It was awesome.

We jumped back on the road and headed down to Greymouth: possibly the largest town on the West Coast. The boys discovered that a brewery tour was just going to start at Monteith's Brewery, so I dropped them off and went to search for internet. I was late to pick them up due to some charging electronics and boys were no where in sight when I hopped out of the car in front of the Brewery. Suddenly, I heard someone running very loudly and very fast in flip flops and realized Tim was screaming my name at the top of his lungs and sprinting full speed down a hill towards me. As he ran into me, he lifted me into the air screaming "We thought we'd lost you!"

They drank a LOT of beer on that brewery tour.

With groceries and more beer supplies in our vehicle, I drove my rowdy and joyous men to our next campsite where we had one of the best meals of our trip: nachos over a campfire. We made so much food that for the first time we legit could not finish everything. The campsite itself was awesome -- it had a stove built over the fire pit and was set off away from the other campsites -- and ... wait for it... FLUSHING TOILETS. Being set off from other sites was definitely good, as we watched Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King while we ate copious amounts of nachos around our campfire and finished the film while all laying on top of each other in our tiny tent. Epic epic night.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Buller Gorge and Westport

From Top To Bottom:
(1) Westport: Thank you for the library bathroom and free wifi,
(2) Buller Gorge and The Iron Bridge,
(3) I like taking photos of Mike taking photos,
(4) Breakfast at Buller Gorge,
(5) Our gnats campsite.

Abel Tasman National Park

From Top to Bottom: (1) The prairie grass looking out to the ocean,
(2) 5pm is great for photos but not necessarily for swimming,
(3) The trees were incredible,
(4) "On The Coast Of Somewhere Beautiful NZ 2011",
(5) The coast of somewhere beautiful,
(6) Naptime with sand flies,
(7) Anapia beach,
(8) To the beach!,
(9) The path through the forest,
(10) These awesome fern palm trees,
(11) Mike admiring the trees