Category Archives: Uncategorized

Heading Back North Again

At the moment I’m in Nelson, at the top of the South Island.  Since Milford Sound I’ve been to Queenstown, Wanaka, Greymouth, and now Nelson.  Working my way back north has made me a bit sad, but still excited for what’s yet to come.  It’s hard for me to choose which has been my favorite stop since Milford.  Each has been delightful in it’s own way.

Queenstown was a life changing two days for me.  The bungy jump was the life changing part, in the sense that I feel like I can do anything now.  If something in the future makes me hesitate because it looks intimidating, I can say to myself, at least it’s not jumping off a bridge.  Not that jumping off a bridge wasn’t fun, of course!  It was very fun!  Just not in those few seconds when the technician is counting down, 3, 2, 1, and I’m looking down at a river 141 feet in the air.

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Wanaka was a stark contrast to Queenstown where everyone participates in adventure activities during the day and goes out to dance clubs in the evening.  Wanaka was just incredibly chill.  I spent about 3 hours down by the lake under one of the many, (I want to say Willow, but honestly I have no idea what kind they were), trees and relaxed.  It was a perfect way for me to unwind after an adrenaline filled couple of days.

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In between Wanaka and Greymouth are two glaciers, Fox and Franz Josef.  The glaciers themselves were spectacular, but the deep valleys they carved and receded back from were just as spectacular.  All along the steep walls you can see where huge boulders gouged the rock face as the ice slowly forced them forward.

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The west coast near Greymouth is gorgeous, and I was sad to leave it to head inland toward Nelson.  Staying in Greymouth also gave me the chance to visit Arthur’s Pass again, which I traveled through by train earlier.  It was just as beautiful the second time.

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Tomorrow I’ll be heading back over to the North Island and will soon be hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.  It is considered to be the best one day trek in NZ.  I am really looking forward to it!

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Sleep is Overrated

I had a tough decision to make this morning.  I woke up not feeling well, a common occurrence for people my age the morning after Saturday night.  All I wanted to do was stay in bed all day, but I had planned on traveling to Piha Beach and go hiking in Waitakere Park.  So I made myself get up, pack my things, fill my water bottle, and go.  I am so glad I did.

I took the scenic route, which turned out to be the most fun road I have ever driven on.  It was full of winding turns, steep hills, beautiful sights, and stretches of pavement that were so narrow traffic had to slow down to pass each other.  I would have loved to take pictures of the most treacherous parts, however there was nowhere to pull over and, frankly, I was having too much fun to stop.  I had planned to go hiking in the park before heading to the beach, but the road I was going to take had a gate down and I decided to go on to the beach and find another hiking area later.

It took me about 50 minutes to get from my flat to the beach.  There was one small detour along the way, when I came around a corner and saw this:

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I knew at this moment, I had made a very good decision this morning.  Spoiler Alert: I climbed that big hunk of rock later in the day.  From this vantage point, I saw a car park right beside the beach and used my phone to figure out the route to get to it.  The weather was really nice, about 66 degrees with a very steady wind coming off the water.  The beach was huge, and the sand was a very dark brown.  The waves were coming in so strong, there was no way I could have gone out for a swim and lived to tell about it.

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I spent about two hours walking around on the beach and climbing over rocks.  I think I took about 100 photos because everything was just so amazing.  At some point while walking around I thought, “Yeah, this is why I came to New Zealand.”  I saw people on the big rock and immediately starting looking for the trail to get to the top.  I found it, and climbed for about 8 minutes to get as far up as I could.  I stayed up there for about 20 minutes just enjoying the view and listening to the waves.

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I had passed a couple of car parks on the road that had trail entrances so I figured I would just stop at one that looked promising.  The one I picked happened to be a trail that led to the Huia Dam.  The park that the dam is located in is very tropical.  I felt like I was in the Amazon or something.

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I made a rather inspired decision to take my whole bag with me on my hike, which had my umbrella in it.  I didn’t look like rain when I set out, but after about 20 minutes the rain started to fall.  Then it poured.  Sneakers were a bad choice.  They are still drying out.  I think I will need to purchase some good hiking boots for future treks.

After today, my expectations for future excursions are very high.  I cannot wait to see what will top it.

Devonport

For the past two months, I’ve been settling into a basic routine with work and making arrangements for my long term stay.  But today I threw the routine out the window!  Now, thanks to my new ride, I can finally travel the country!  I decided to head to Devonport today, which took about 30 minutes to get to from my flat.  It’s just across the bay from downtown Auckland.

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My first stop was Mt. Victoria, another extinct volcano and the highest for miles around.  I parked my car and climbed to the top in about 15 minutes.  It’s very surprising how fast you can walk to the top when you see it towering above you in the distance.  The views were spectacular.

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We’ve been having a lot of rain lately, so it seemed that everyone was trying to take advantage of the lovely weather and take their sailboats out for a cruise around the bay.

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I stayed at the top for about a half hour.  By that time I was pretty sick of dodging out of peoples’ photographs, and from the top I was able to plan out my route to downtown Devonport to search for some fish n’ chips.  I walked down to the edge of the bay and followed the beach west to the little town.  The beaches had sand, but there was also a lot of jagged volcanic rock.  There’s nothing like scary, black, jagged rocks on the beach to remind me that I’m not in Ocean City!

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I found a nice little place to eat my fish n’ chips with an outdoor seating area.

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The town was very clean and had an old, chic feel to it.  It reminded me of an upscale downtown D.C. neighborhood, except this neighborhood had palm trees!  And palm trees make everything better.  You know what I mean!  No one ever sees a palm tree and says, “Oh man, not palm trees!”  No.  They are excited to see that palm tree.

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I really enjoyed walking around the little town and watching the boats drift past in the bay.  I think I am definitely ready to head out of Auckland on my next road trip.  There are so many places to visit, I am having a hard time deciding where to go next.  I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

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Tying up the Loose Ends

There’s only a few days left ’til I leave, yet there is still a lot that I need to accomplish.  Packing is looming over me, but I can’t really do much until the weekend since all my clothes need to be washed.  I have set out some things that I need to take but I don’t use on a daily basis, like my passport, my backpack, and my camera.  I say looming, but it’s only because I’m anxious to get started.  I’m actually really excited about packing!

I scheduled my last hair appointment, and I have to remember to get instructions so I can pass them on to whomever will cut my hair in NZ.  Curly hair can be a bit tricky!

My money transfer still needs to be scheduled, so I will have funds in my account when I arrive.  The process has been very simple so far.  It seems like the bank I’m working with has a lot of experience handling accounts like mine, so hopefully things will continue to go smoothly.

Spending quality time with friends and family is also being squeezed in.  I’ve got a bunch of stuff scheduled with some cool people, which is a better use of my time than fretting over the same small details over and over again.  Like the fact that bathing suits are really hard to find in February.  So annoying.

Leave a comment if you have any questions for me!

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I’ve got, ONE ticket to Paradise!

Finally!  I booked my flight to Auckland. I’ve been putting it off, and it might have something to do with charging such a large amount on my credit card.  It could also be the fact that more so than anything else, this is what really puts my plans in motion.  Booking this flight was the biggest hurdle for me to jump, and it was looking pretty high.  The Book It button was staring at me for a good ten minutes before I pressed it!  But press it I did, and I’m relieved and excited at the same time!

I’ve been looking at flights for about two months now, checking every booking site and perusing the options to get me to Auckland this February.  Kayak.com was most helpful since it gave me prices from all over the web condensed onto one page.  Living in Frederick does have its advantages, since I have access to three major airports that are all about the same distance away.  Add in the fact that I was flexible on dates to depart, I had many options from which to choose.

Lucky for me, prices have not changed much since I’ve started looking and I think I got a pretty good deal. A one-stop, one-way flight for $1,160.  My total travelling time will be about 23 hours, but since I’m heading West and flying over the International Date Line, I’ll be leaving Monday morning and arriving Wednesday morning.  It’s like I’m traveling to the future!

My layover will be in LA, and I’ll have 9 hours to spend waiting for my next flight.  I don’t know if that’s enough time to go exploring since I’ve heard that traffic is so awful there.  It would be cool to get a Pinks hot dog though.

What do you guys think?  Did I get a good deal?  Should I explore LA?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Blog Title

So, you might be wondering why I chose the title, Pictures Don’t Count, for my blog.  It seems pretty self-explanatory to me, but I’ll break it down for you anyway.

Whenever I get home from a vacation in an exotic or picturesque locale, I am always disappointed by my pictures.  They never, EVER, reflect how awesome that place really was.  There’s such a disconnect from the picture I’m looking at and the memory I have of actually standing there in that place.  Pictures don’t reflect that feeling of serenity you get standing on a beach looking out over 10 different shades of teal water.  Pictures don’t capture the sound of foreign wildlife serenading you as you gaze up at snow capped peaks.  Most importantly, pictures don’t convey the circumstances that led you to that profound scene, which can sometimes be more rewarding than your intended destination.

So, for me, pictures don’t count.  Some people can look through books at pictures of places they’d like to visit and in the end, pictures are enough for them.  They never visit those places, they just look at pictures.  From traveling around to different spots, I have learned that there is so much more behind the picture.  I can look at a picture, but I want to really SEE it.  Experience it.  Live it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love taking pictures; ironically, I will be posting pictures on this blog!  To all the photographers out there, I’m not trying to diss you or say that your pictures aren’t great and amazing.  They are, and I will always enjoy looking at them.  I’m just saying that pictures of places I’d like to visit don’t count for me.

I want to SEE it.

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