Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas in Queenstown

We are so grateful for the spirit of Christmas. This year has been quite different for Nick and I and we truly appreciate the love and cheer that we have felt. It has been a whirlwind week with Christmas parties, holiday hiking and then our Christmas vacation to Queenstown.
We had our work Christmas party, themed Pirate’s of the Caribbean. Nick dressed up as a HOT pirate and I put on a stick-on-mustache and called myself a pirate. Our efforts were in vain. Compared to our co-workers we weren’t dressed for the occasion. They had rented costumes, borrowed from theaters, bought wings and make-up and truly looked like pirates. Nick and I were just a boy and a girl that put on a bandanna and a fake mustache pretending to be pirates.
Towards the end of the night we were able to sit on “Santa’s” lap and receive a present. I use the word “Santa” lightly because “Santa” was more in fact a native bush man who was half naked, dressed in a grass skirt, bone earrings and necklace who had painted himself black. I sat on “Santa’s” lap and collected my present and was glad that this “Santa” couldn’t see me when I was sleeping or awake.
The next day we went on a 6 billion hour hike. Fine, I might be exaggerating a little, but not by much. We literally hiked for 6 hours through the mud to a seal colony. The hike was beautiful and took us through a mines tunnel, the mud, more mud and extremely steep stairs. When we finally arrive at the seal colony we couldn’t see any and it wasn’t until we started to leave that they finally decided to make an appearance. Did I mention though, that we hiked for 6 billion hours?
Nick and I decided to spend Christmas in Queenstown, which is considered to be the adventure capital of the world, and it truly is. It has jet boating, helicopter flights, bungee jumping and rafting. Basically whatever you consider adventurous, Queenstown has it. Our first adventure took us to the small branch that was held in a funeral home. We met the missionaries and watched the Christmas devotional given by the First Presidency. We left Fox Glacier around five in the morning to arrive in Queenstown by 9:30 to make it to church on time. I drove 95 percent of the way; the short distance Nick drove he was pulled over and given a ticket for going 118 km. Bad luck if you ask me considering I was speeding the entire time.
Our second adventure took us on a helicopter flight, a luge and gondola ride. Might I add that it was all FREE! We also went jet boating down the Shotover River. Holy cow, it was amazing. Our jet boat was within inches of the canyon walls, speeding over six inches of water and spinning 360 degrees. We had a blast and couldn’t believe the maneuverable of the jet boats, we were truly awestruck. Later we went bowling and I bowled my all time high, 105. Nick, in contrast, has no comment about his scores. That night as we went to bed we dreamed of Santa and hoped he would be able to find us on the other side of the world.
When we woke up we were pleasantly surprised to find that he had found us. Santa had paid for Nick speeding ticket, I received $30 and a pair of earrings and we both had a wonderful vacation in Queenstown. Nothing was open Christmas day so watched Christmas movies, feed the ducks and window shopped. We had a perfect Christmas and are so grateful for the holiday season. The next day we called our families to find them opening presents, went to the movie and drove back to Fox Glacier. Ticket free might I add. Meri Kirihimete!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rain... rain go away!

Wow, what an incredibly boring week. I spoke too soon is saying good weather was on its way for Fox Glacier. It has been raining for the past seven days straight, expect for yesterday. So basically for the past week we haven’t been able to do one activity. On rainy days, such as this entire week, Nick and I have been keeping ourselves occupied in many different fashions and the more rain we receive the more creative we become.
I usually check a book out from the Elementary school. It has a total of 30 adult books, half of which are John Grisham books. I plan on reading the entire adult library and have about 25 books left. Nick on the other hand researches basketball on the Internet, especially the Utah Jazz. He’ll read reviews, comments and anything and everything dealing with basketball. When the Jazz play he’ll listen to them live while I read, yet another John Grisham book. On creative days we’ll take walks in the rain, play card games for hours and shop at the local gift shops. We are so sick of being cooped up in our room that we’ll come up with any excuse to leave.
After this week, Nick swears he’s going to go on a fast from the Internet. I told him he’d never last if the Jazz were playing. So, instead he said he’d fast on a day the Jazz weren’t playing. I said I don’t mind going on a book fast, I could use a break from John Grisham. Currently I’m reading The Street Lawyer; not bad for my first John Grisham read. We’re just hoping that the raining subsides soon. We don’t know how much longer we can last; it’s so gloomy and grim.
Only nine days till Christmas! We’ve decided if the weather continues as it is, our Christmas won’t be much different from yours. Instead of snow though, it’ll be rain. Instead of snuggling by a fire, we’ll be snuggling by an electric heater. Not much of a difference at all. We’re excited for Christmas though and have been spreading good cheer everywhere. Merry Christmas and the Happiest New Year!
Yesterday, seeing as it wasn’t raining, we walked to the Fox Glacier. While we were there was saw huge ice chunks falling from the thermal face. It was amazing and sounded exactly like thunder. We also talked about our hobbies. Nick wants to be involved in photography and music, whereas I want to make jewerley. I’ve made jewerley before and absolutely loved it. Now I’m writing this down so when we actually get time for hobbies we’ll remember what they were. It was a lovely walk and showed us how out of shape we’ve become.
Anyway, a pretty uneventful week in which nothing really happened. We’re determined to have a more eventful week and we are keeping our fingers crossed for better weather.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Kayaking woes

Another week passes as we become more and more like are kinfolk, the kiwis. We’ve picked up much slang, but are still unable to understand each other. No matter, we’ll just keep trying until New Zealand is in our blood and becomes our second home.
Working has become quite an adventure as well as drama central for the, might I add, male pilots. You thought females created drama? Wait till you get six pilots with different agendas and personalities, then that drama. Somehow Nick and I even became part of the drama seeing as we did everything wrong and needed being told, or so we thought. No matter, all is well down under and we’ve learned to steer clear of all pilots when they’re being dramatic, which happens to be more often than not. Not all is lost though for the pilots; we do have a few who love us bloody Americans. So everything is as good as gold.
After our stressful day of doing everything wrong or again, so we thought, we headed out to Okarito for a nice relaxing day of kayaking through the peaceful lagoons. Not so. It was a painful and beautiful experience. We had a two-man kayak and together paddled around the most stunning scenery and heard every bird call, but after about an hour we were tired. Next though, we had to paddle against the tide to some more stunning scenery, which was pretty much the same as before. Most of the time we felt more like we were moving backwards instead of forwards due to our paddling against the swift tide. After an hour or so we reached our next lagoon, which was probably only 100 meters further than the first lagoon we saw.
Our hands and arms were hurting so bad. Nick’s were more than mine seeing as I got tired faster so stopped paddling half the time. Maybe that’s why we were going so slowly? Nick didn’t know this though, as I was behind him. I steered the kayak as Nick navigated. Eventually he caught and made me switch places with him so he could make sure I was paddling my fair share.
After paddling around the lagoon and lunch we headed back to shore. We could hardly paddle for longer than 10 strokes and took more breaks than was needed. The whole trip was supposed to take us under four hours, not so for us. We’re surprised we made it back at all. Once we did I fell in the mud trying to pull Nick to shore. All he did was laugh and couldn’t stop. All in all it was a wonderful experience and another relationship lesson. If we hadn’t got along and worked together we would still be paddling against the current straight into a head wind, which almost happen. So what was supposed to be a nice relaxing kayak trip was actually a four and a half hour exhausting experience. We woke up the next day with everything being sore.
The weather is beginning to turn beautiful. Not as much rain and a lot more sunshine. It’s actually been hot a few times and with Christmas only being 17 days away it’s feeling more like summer than winter, which it actually is. Nick and I are counting down the days of Christmas with a homemade paper chain. We decorated it with stickers and Christmas drawings. Holidays aren’t big in New Zealand like they are in the states, which is sad but true. We did get to decorate the company Christmas tree though. I’ll eventually decorate our room with hand drawn pictures of Santa, a Christmas tree, reindeer and anything and everything else having to do with Christmas.

We are at the beautiful Pancake rocks. It was very cool.

Mariah resting after hours of kayaking. We are just about to have lunch before our kayaking journey back to our car.

Me doing all the work as Mariah takes pictures and watches for birds.

We haven't had a place all to ourselves lately, nor have we had such a big bed. As you can see Mariah loved it!

Us at the Pancake rocks again, look at that blue water!