Auckland, New Zealand to Cairns, Australia

Posted Posted in Australia, New Zealand, Round The World Trip

So we slept in the car last night in the airport short-term parking lot.  We woke up at 4:45 to get our bags together and check in for our 6:50 flight.

Our Sleeping Arrangements for the Night

We were in parking space C-16

The line was very long to check in, but we were able to get all our junk checked in.  This is important because we had: 2 backpacks, one cooler filled with cooking supplies, and one tent.  Total weight was 70 kilos.  We’re supposed to be limited to 20 kilos per person.  But the lady was really nice and overlooked the weight limits.  She did, however, suggest that we carry the tent on with us.  (Doesn’t make much sense, as the extra weight is merely misplaced – not avoided.  But I don’t work for Air New Zealand so what do I care?)

Flight to Oz

We had seats in an exit row, and settled in with pillows and blankets to nap a bit.  Unfortunately, the napping didn’t happen.  Breakfast was served, and there were some good comedy shows on the television.  And – after 2 hours – they showed the movie “Planet of the Apes”.  So we got to see Mark Wahlberg again, only this time in an atrociously horrific movie.

I’m not joking.  It was REALLY a bad movie.  What I don’t understand is how Helena Bonham-Carter, who normally chooses excellent movies, decided that this script was worth her exceptional talents.  She had to wear monkey-makeup, for God’s sake.  I would think that would have clued her in.  Oh well.


At 9:00AM Australia time, we arrived in 30°C weather in Cairns.  Before our trip was extended, the plan was to drive down to Sydney Dec 12-16 and fly out on the 17th.  So we’d previously arranged for a car beginning on Dec 10.  We stopped by Budget at the airport to ask if we could move up the reservation and not drop off the car in Sydney.  They had no problems with it so – PRESTO! – we have a car. This one is a Mitsubishi.  It’s much larger than our little Mazda, but it also has 6 cylinders and some serious pick-up.  It’ll work for the next week until we have a chance to buy a car.

Quest for the IDC

We drove into Cairns and began our first quest: to find a place to take our PADI IDC (Instructor Development Course).  Now, Cairns is hardly short of dive shops.  There’s a shop on just about every other block.  But our qualifications were that it had to be a relatively large dive shop with some good deals for us to do some “fun dives” or get work as Dive Masters.

We were very disappointed.

First of all, the PADI IDC schedules are subject to PADI’s schedule of IE Exams (Instructor Evaluation).  The IE is a standardized test that is given much the way the SAT/GMAT/MCAT/GRE is given.  It’s done once every few months in a centralized location and it monitored by specialized PADI personnel.  So most dive shops vary their IDC schedule around PADI’s IE dates.  Naturally, almost all scuba shops follow this similar schedule.  As it turns out, one of the IDCs began just last week.  The next begins at the end of January.

Second of all, an IDC candidate must have at least 100 dives to sit for the IE.  Jon and I have 60+.  In Thailand, the additional dives were included in the price of the course.  Not so here in Cairns.  We would have to pay for the additional 40 dives on our own.  Yikes.

Third, no one here really employs Dive Masters.  Instructors are much more lucrative as they can do more than just lead dives.  They can actually help the divers improve their diving skills and therefore up-sell the dive shop.  Dive Masters – according to rigid PADI standards – cannot ever EVER teach.  So we’re out of luck when it comes to working at a dive shop.  (Not to mention the fact that we don’t have work permits.)

Fourth, the IDC is prohibitively expensive.  We look at this as a kind of investment, as we can go back to NY and teach dive courses on the weekends occasionally.  But we weren’t really prepared for the added costs of books, gear, and the fee for taking the IE.  I suppose this is PADI’s way of weeding out the half-hearted Dive Masters.  But damn.

So after running around all morning and afternoon, we were jet-lagged, exhausted, and more than a little bummed.  We had a few leads, and a few more people to talk to tomorrow.  But I was ready to get on a plane and head back to Thailand.

The Floriana Hotel

As part of our errands, we’d stopped by a few backpacker places looking for a room for the next few nights.  We were disappointed here too, as most of the good ones were completely booked.  But we finally found a cute little place to stay for tonight and tomorrow called the Floriana Hotel.  Our room is ensuite, with a kitchen and bathroom, and is nicely air conditioned.

It’s also right on the Esplanade along the water.  Note that I didn’t say “beach”.  Cairns actually doesn’t have a beach.  The only reason this town is here is because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef.  Regardless, the Floriana has a nice view.

The Floriana View

So it had been a long day by the time we dragged our butts back to the hotel at 5:00.  We’d stopped by an Internet place and a grocery store for food, so we were ready to settle in for the evening.  We’d also picked up a copy of the real estate section of the newspaper to find an apartment.  Jon and I went for a little walk along the Esplanade, but it was so hot and we were so tired that we headed back in.   I took a dip in the pool and then a shower while Jon make some calls about various apartments.  He got some addresses for places that we’ll look at tomorrow.


We made hot dogs for dinner.  There is a BBQ here at the hotel, but it’s not really a “grill” so we decided to cook in our room instead.  Big mistake.  The pan that’s supplied in the kitchen was really burnt on the bottom.  After it heated up it started smoking and the fire alarm in the room went off.  There was no way to turn it off, so I had to stand beneath it and wave a pair of shorts at it until Jon had finished the hot dogs.  This was a good 10 minutes or so.  My right arm is probably quite fit now, seeing how I couldn’t stop waving the shorts or else the alarm would go off again.

But the hot dogs were yummy and we sat around and watched TV for the evening.  Finally, jet lag caught up with us and we were in bed by 8:30.

New Zealand: Russell to Auckland (North Island)

Posted Posted in New Zealand, Round The World Trip

The rain and wind were INCREDIBLE last night.  I lost track of the number of times the side of our tent was blown inward and into our heads.  Jon says he heard on the radio this morning that the winds were 40-45 km/hour winds.  That’s pretty strong gales for our tent to withstand.  Such a good little tent.

The weather forecast yesterday indicated that we would have rain all night and for most of the morning, but that it would clear up by the afternoon.  This would be very convenient for me and Jon, as we had to let the tent dry before we packed it up.

Long Beach

So Jon went for a run and I went for a walk. I took a left out of the campsite and followed the path to Long Beach.  It was raining (well, drizzling) but it felt kind of good.  And just as I reached the top of the hill I had a gorgeous view of the beach.  It wasn’t a very large beach, but I was the only one on it and so was very happy.  I ran for a bit on the sand, but running is a bit difficult in hiking boots.  So I climbed on some rocks and found a bunch of mussels.  Then I made my way back to the campsite to shower.

Attack of the steep hills! – Run #25

This morning we both woke up at 7am so I could go for one last run in NZ and Heidi could go for a nice walk around the area.  I headed out in the direction that I new the beach was supposed to be and ran straight into a nice big hill.  No sweat, I figured it would lead to the beach and that would be downhill.  This was correct but once you got to the end of the downhill you were also at the end of the path/road, so it was back uphill!  I headed back up the hill and decided to go along Queens View, but was disappointed that I couldn’t even see Brooklyn (bad New York joke)…anyway, this was further uphill.  Next I got a great view of about 75 sailboats moored in a small harbor and then went through the small town of Russell.  I still had a bit more time left to run so headed to what looked like a nice hill.

What had looked like a nice hill started to look worse as I approached.  When I started the worst of the hill I realized that I was only able to get about 2/3 of a normal stride, the hill was that steep.  Five minutes later I was finally up the hill.  Never walking but certainly not flying up this steep monstrosity!  After I while I turned around and had to go back down this beast, which took almost as long to go down as it did to go up, that’s how steep it was.

I made my way back to the campground, adding a few blocks to the run to add some time and got to the campground just in time for the hot water in the showers to be turned off so they could work on the hot water heater–go figure!

The campsite was upgrading their water heaters, so the hot water was turned off between 9:00AM – 4:00PM.  I hopped in the shower at 8:45 just in time for the last bit of hot water while it was still on.  The only bummer was that the shower cost $.50 for 6 minutes of water.  This is the first metered shower we’ve had and I’m happy that we didn’t have them the entire trip.

Kitchen Sink Omelets and Other Stuff

When Jon came back from his run, we did the laundry (including our sleeping bags!) and started breakfast.  We used up all the last of our vegetables, cheese, and eggs in our final “kitchen sink omelet” in New Zealand.  Then – during a brief respite in the rain – we collapsed the tent.  Jon had gone up to the laundry room to do something while I un-staked the tent.  Just then, a HUGE gust of wind came and lifted the tent up and away about 5 feet.  I went running after it and managed to stop it from sailing to Australia before we got there.  Jon thought it was the funniest thing he’d seen in a long time.

When the laundry was done, we finally packed up our backpacks and cleaned out the car.  We had three weeks of junk crowding up the back seat and the trunk (which is called “the boot” in this part of the world).  It was a bit difficult because of the rain, so we took over the laundry room and spread out our stuff in order to pack better.  When we were done with the backpacks, all we had to do was to pack up the cooler, kitchen utensils and the day packs.  Surprisingly, this took at least an hour.  We spent part of the time chatting with a couple from the UK who were in NZ for 2 years and lived in Wellington.

On the Road Again

Finally, around 3:00PM, we hit the road.  Before leaving the island, Jon wanted to measure his run.  So we drove along his run and he showed me his favorite sights, which included a house with his dream grill – built into the side of the house overlooking the bay.

The view from one of the hills on Jon’s Run

We drove past the Kiwi Reserve and we rolled down the windows to hear the kiwis chirp.  Unfortunately, they’re nocturnal and so weren’t out at 3:00 in the afternoon.  We did hear a few, but not as many as he’d heard on his run this morning.  We did some interesting birds, though.

No idea what kind of birds these are.  But they were pretty!


So we went to the ferry – which had just arrived – and made our way back to the mainland.  This ferry ride was rainy and wet so we stayed in the car.  The drive to Auckland was rainy and uneventful.  The weather had cleared up by the time we got to Auckland at 7:30.  We went for dinner at Burger Fuel, which was the same burger joint where we had dinner last time we were in Auckland.  But we knew it was affordable and good, and we knew where to park which was a bonus.

So here was our decision for the rest of the night, just to fill you in on our thought process.  Our flight to Cairns leaves at 6:50AM tomorrow morning from Auckland Airport.  This means that check in will be at 4:50AM, and we will have to leave wherever we stay at 4:00AM.  So we’ll have to get up at 3:00AM.  Now – I ask you – is there any point to paying for a room or campsite?  For that matter, is there any point to really sleeping?  The answer: NO.  We decided to stay out kind of late and sleep in the airport parking lot for a few hours.  Not because we’re cheap, but because we DO want to get SOME sleep, and it’s more efficient to sleep right next to the place we have to be.

Showers at Ponsonby Backpackers

We went to Ponsonby Backpackers, which is the house we stayed at when we first arrived in Auckland.  The owner – Steve from Yugoslavia – was very nice to us when we were there.  So we decided to stop by and ask him if we could use his showers.  Because it was 8:30 at night, he wasn’t actually at the desk and was probably in his house next door.  So we went on in and helped ourselves to the bathroom and showers.

OK.  Not the most honest thing in the world to do, but we weren’t robbing him from revenue.  We just borrowed one of his assets briefly.  I was toying with the idea of leaving it out of the journal, but I want to remember that we actually did it.

Rock Star

In downtown Auckland, we drove around for a while looking for a movie theater.  We finally found one and were able to get student tickets, even though the sign said “Student Discounts on weekends for secondary students only”.  The tickets were for the 9:20 showing of “Rock Star” with Mark Wahlberg (yum!) and Jennifer Aniston.  Jon went to find a parking place and I went to get seats.  Now, in New York, if you don’t get to the theater at least 45 minutes ahead of time then you’re stuck in the front row.  We figured the same applied to downtown Auckland on a Friday night.  Not so.  When I reached the theater at 9:00, the girls ushering had to check if it was open first.  Since it was, they let me in and I was the only person there for a good 10 minutes.

The movie was actually great.  The plot was interesting, the dialogue amusing, and Jon loved the heavy-metal music.  Besides, no one can complain about Mark Wahlberg in leather, and Jennifer Aniston actually played a role somewhat different from what she usually plays.  So we were happy all around.

Sleeping with the Airplanes

Around midnight, we were both incredibly tired and ready to get some sleep.  We made our ways to the airport and – after a wrong turn or two – finally got to the short-term parking lot.  Jon found a nice spot in the back corner of the lot where we it was a bit quieter.  We packed up the rest of our stuff, reclined our chairs, and tried to get some shuteye.

We woke up at 4:45AM, after a few restless hours.  So read on for tomorrow

New Zealand: Hamilton to Russell (North Island)

Posted Posted in New Zealand, Round The World Trip

Jon woke up at 5:30 to go for a run so we could hit the road bright and early.

Running in Hamilton again – Run #24

With all of the rain we’ve been getting I decided last night that even though I would have to get up at 5:30 I was still going to go for a run.  I was tempted to blow the run off when the alarm went off this morning but thought just once about all of the rain we’ve gotten recently and jumped out of bed.  

My last run in Hamilton was really nice so I decided to head to the river again, only heading downstream instead of upstream as last time.  The trail is really nice–great big ferns growing alongside well groomed planters all along the path, and most of it is made of these interlocking bricks like you might use to make a high falutin’ porch or something.  The parts that aren’t made of brick are the elevated wooden walkways, which I guess are there because the path is pretty hilly in places and some of these spots probably didn’t lend themselves to an easy route for the pathmaking engineers.  Anyway, remember how it’s been raining so much recently?  Well, as I rounded one of several hairpin, downward turns, I managed to hit a slick spot and wiped out.  Smacked my leg down but landed on both hands.  I did a quick check, first of myself then around me to see if anyone had seen this momentary lapse of grace, and decided all was well so I kept going.  For most of the rest of the run I tried to remember the last time I had tripped and fallen while running and couldn’t remember the last time it had happened.  And I’ve run races in the dead of winter when there is ice and snow in Central Park!  Oh well, content that the blame belongs on the wet wooden path, I continued the run.  I even managed to get in 4 sets of 2min. sprints in an effort to get some speed training in.

We finished off the cream cheese on some pseudo-bagels (really bread in the shape of a bagel) and were on the road by 8:00.  Of course, it was a gorgeous morning and barely a cloud in the sky.

And we leave in two days.

Quite fitting, I think, that we should leave New Zealand and the weather be just as beautiful as the day we arrived.  Never mind the fact that the entire trip was water-logged.

So we drove the 6 hours it took to get from Hamilton to Russell.  It was my turn to drive, so Jon read and I sang (very loudly) to the mixes we put on our MP3 players.  Jon is very good at tuning me out when he needs to.

“That’s a 10-4, Good Buddy”

Because it was such a lovely day, we had the windows down and enjoyed the sun and nice weather.  Unfortunately, we didn’t even think about wearing sunscreen because we were going to be in the car.  My right arm was in the sun for almost all of the trip (driving north in the morning, the sun is on the east side which was directly to my right).  So I have a slight burn that clearly shows the line of my t-shirt.  I wised up after a few hours and put on a long-sleeved shirt, but the damage was already done.  And so Jon has been smugly referring to my odd coloring as a “Truck Driver Tan”.  I’m thinking about getting a CB and a “handle”.

Really Bad Jokes

At some points on the trip, we drove through some construction sites and had to stop for alternating traffic through one-lane roadways.  This is when Jon and I would crack some really bad jokes to break the monotony.  Sometimes I would sing for him while doing an interpretive dance, or occasionally we would just make some silly comment about our surroundings.

For example:

“This truck is driving as slow as molasses!”

Hah!!!  (that was my joke)


We reached the Russell Ferry around 2:00 or so.  Russell is a small island in the “Bay of Islands” that can only be reached by ferry.  So we waited with a handful of other cars for the ferry to dock and pick us up.  The trip was well worth the NZ$15 it cost.  The view was great and I really felt like I was crossing into another world.

We settled into our Top 10 Campsite (, which is one of two campsites here.  After setting up our tent in the very spacious campground, we had tuna sandwiches for lunch and then walked into town.

Russell is a tiny little town that reminds me of Maine in the springtime.  It has little Bed-and-Breakfasts by the sea, in addition to wee cafes and historical sites.  We walked along “The Strand” next to the shore and admired some of the houses.  One of them was the police headquarters, which is an historical building.  The sign next to the white picket fence gives some history about the large tree there, planted in 1870.  The sign also says, “This is our policeman’s house.  Please respect his privacy.”  Policeman.  Like, only one for the entire island.  No wonder it’s also the headquarters.  I’ll bet the most exciting thing he ever has to deal with is the occasional missing pet.  What a nice place to live.

On the Pier in Russell

We also went out to the beach to play on some rocky cliffs.  We snapped some photos, looked at the snails in the rock pools, and found some large purple crabs.  It was great fun.

Jon “On the Rocks”

We also found the Internet Cafe, and we logged on for a little while.  Jon had a few other emails to read than I did, so I sat on a sofa, read a magazine, played with the dogs, and spoke with the nice woman who was working there.  It turns out that she and her dog Brae went for a little trip a while ago.  They road from Bluff, which is the southern-most town in New Zealand, to Cape Reinga – the northern-most town.  This is all fine and dandy, but they did this on horseback!  She had two horses – a riding horse and a pack horse – and little Brae walked alongside or rode horseback with her.  She has some beautiful pictures, and is currently publishing a book called “New Zealand – Bit by Bit” which is a compilation of her travel journals.  So very cool.

Dinner at the Campsite

We walked back to the campsite and began to make dinner.  Since we’re leaving tomorrow, we’re trying to use all of our foodstuffs so we have nothing to take on the plane.  So we made a monster pasta sauce,  boiled the last of our pasta, and drank the last bottle of red wine.  We also hung out and talked to a couple from Canada who are spending 5 months biking across NZ.  Seems like a lovely way to travel.

New Zealand: Picton (South Island) to Hamilton (North Island)

Posted Posted in New Zealand, Round The World Trip

Today is our 3-year wedding anniversary.  So what did we do?  We drove.

And drove.

And drove.

And drove.

We woke up at 7:00 to get up and pack, but first we had to wait for the rain to let up.  When it changed from a pour to a drizzle, we made our ways to the bathrooms and the kitchen.  After enjoying a veggie omelet we then packed up one very wet tent.

The Ferry

Our ferry to the North Island left at 10:00AM, but remember that this is a monopolistic business so all the work must be done by the customers.  So we had to get there at 9:00 and wait for an hour for them to get their acts together and marshall us onto the ferry.  Jon boarded with the passengers to get us a good seat near an electrical outlet for the laptop, and I drove the car on board.

Our Little Red Mazda on the Ferry

Weather was pretty bad for the entire 3-hour ride.  (We were on “The Interislander” which is a slower vessel than than its sister “The Lynx” which we took 2 weeks ago.)  So I napped while Jon updated all his running journals.  If you go back a few weeks and into November, you’ll find his new write-ups for each appropriate day.

Nothing terribly exciting on the ferry.  When we arrived in Wellington, we immediately found Highway 1 and began our long drive north.

The Drive

Nothing exciting about the drive, either.  It was long and rainy.  The original plan was to go to Taupo and finally do the ill-fated skydive that we had to postpone a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t look much more promising.  It wasn’t raining ALL the time, but there were about 80% clouds which doesn’t make for a nice view at high altitudes.  So we drove straight through Taupo and continued on.

Our destination is the “Bay of Islands”, which is one of the northern-most parts of the North Island.  Of course, we knew we wouldn’t make it there tonight but we hope to get there soon tomorrow.  So we wanted to get a significant amount of driving behind us today.

So that’s all we did.  We drove.

Here’s something exciting.  A plane painted like a chocolate-chip cookie.  You’ll note the blue skies above it.  This was toward the end of the drive.


We reached Hamilton around 8:00PM to beautiful sunny skies and warm weather.  Just like it was when we left here nearly 3 weeks ago.  We went to the same campsite (The Municipal Motor Camp) we stayed at last time as it was very nice and close to town.  But because it was late and we were hungry, we elected against setting up the tent and arranged for a standard cabin instead.

Then we went to Burger Planet to get some burgers to go.  We brought dinner back to our cabin and ate in front of the television, just in time for the last episode of “Band of Brothers”.  What an incredible series that is.  I really can’t wait to get home and watch it all again.  Seriously.  Why is it that WWII seems so noble and well-fought (pardon the oxymoron) when every war since then has been seeped in controversy and confusion?  The men who fought in WWII always appear so impressive and dignified.  Does the presence of the media make that much of a difference?  If there had been live TV and Internet access in the 1940s, would we think of WWII in the same light as we do today?

Just a thought.

New Zealand: Kaikoura to Picton (South Island)

Posted Posted in New Zealand, Round The World Trip

Helicopter Whale-Watching Anyone? 

Yesterday, disappointed with our second thwarted attempt at whale watching, we scheduled a helicopter whale watch trip.  We thought this was kind of cool: we would see whales from the air instead of the sea.  It was fool-proof, right?  They didn’t have any spaces left yesterday afternoon, so we set up a time for 10:00AM this morning.

We woke up, Jon went for a run, we disassembled the tent and had breakfast.  Then we went to the heli-pad for our 9:45 check in time.  The pilot was in the office and said – because of the cloudy, foggy weather – they weren’t sending a trip out just yet.  He was really quite nice and suggested that we call back in an hour or so because he thought the weather was clearing up.

We logged onto the Internet until 10:45, when Jon called the office to see about the flight.  They scheduled us for 1:00 instead and we went back to catch up on our emails.  The campsite was nice enough to let us stay until then (checkout was at 10:00AM) since they were the ones who scheduled the flight for us.  So we had lunch at a picnic table and waited until 12:45.  Then we rang up the helicopter place again and found out that it just wasn’t going to happen today.  It was too cloudy for any flight to be worthwhile.

So Calm, but too Cloudy!

The place we were going to use was the Kaikoura Helicopters World of the Whales (  I haven’t been to the website, but maybe there are some pictures there that might show what we would have seen if we’d been able to go.

So we’re batting .500 right now with our outdoor activities so far.  We successfully scuba dived, abseiled, and glacier-climbed.  But no luck on the skydiving, boat whale-watching, or helicopter whale-watching.

Wine Tasting

We drove to Picton because we’re scheduled for a ferry ride tomorrow.  So we made our way up the east coast to Picton.  We stopped at two wineries along the way.  Here are the details:

Montana Vineyards

State Highway 1, Riverlands

US Distribution:

We liked the Pinot Noir, and the nice lady Sue who answered all our questions.

Interestingly enough, the name on the labels in the US is “Brancott”, not “Montana”

Villa Maria Wineries

Corner of Paynters & New Renwick Roads

The Pinot Noir and Cab/Merlot were a bit soft and – as Jon says – “unimaginative”.

The Villa Maria Winery

Cheese Tasting

Throughout our drive through New Zealand, we’ve passed a few cheese factories that offered cheese tastings.  We’d managed to resist the urges to stop at them, despite Jon’s constant teasing.  See, when I was in college, my best friends had a nickname for me because I ate so much cheese.  They said that I might even sell my body for cheese, and thus the derivation of my nickname: “Cheese Whore”.  Not exactly an endearing name, but my best friends aren’t usually inclined to be mushy or sentimental so it’s definitely fitting.  At any rate, Jon decided we were going to make a side-stop today to satisfy my “Cheese Whore” tendencies.

We stopped at the Kiakomo (or something like that) Cheese Factory and Jon talked me into stopping.  We tried all of the cheeses on offer (about 8 or so) and decided we liked the mild cheddar the best.  But we didn’t buy any because the cooler is full up and we’re trying to get rid of food – not buy more!  So we hopped back into the car and proceeded to Picton.  My Red House roommates would be so proud:  the Cheese Whore lives!


We arrived in Picton around 4:00PM and checked into the Blue Anchor Top 10 Campsite (  Then we went to the supermarket to replenish our dwindling veggie supplies.  (Veggies, by the way, are called “Veges” here in New Zealand.)  After shopping, we stopped by a backpacker’s hostel called “The Villa” to find Kath.  She’d been here for 2 days and went kayaking in the Sound today.  I talked her into making pasta with us back at the campsite, and we cleared a space for her in the back of our very cluttered car.

Dinner was pretty delicious, even though it was the same thing we’ve been eating for the past two weeks.  And it was nice to have dinner with someone who added to the conversation.  Not that Jon and I are running out of things to talk about, but it’s nice to have some variety.

After dinner, I drove Kath back to The Villa and went back to shower and get ready for bed.  Jon spent some quality time updating his running journals, so read on for more info.

Jon finally logs his runs in NZ! (written on 4 Dec.) – Run #23

It’s taken me a little while but I’ve finally gotten caught up on my running journals.  For this morning’s run I got up at 7am to get the run in before the helicopter ride.  Having driven through town a few times I knew I didn’t want to go towards town for my run – too many very steep hills and no good views to make it worthwhile, so I headed for the same direction as Sunday’s long run.  It was a bit foggy and cool but I still would rather run in this weather than the muggy weather of Singapore.  Allen told us that when he runs in Singapore he either goes late at night or early in the morning–that’s got to be the only way to do it!

New Zealand: Kaikoura (South Island)

Posted Posted in New Zealand, Round The World Trip

Fur Seal Scuba Diving 

At 8:30, we drove to the scuba diving shop to get our gear for the scuba dive.  There were 10 of us going out, but only 4 divers.  The rest were going to snorkel.  We had full wet suits: two-piece 7mm suits with hood, gloves, and booties.  In other words, this was going to be a COLD dive.  We rode out on a little boat that was put into the water via a tractor.  Pretty funny, actually.  The site we went to – Rhino Rock – was a short boat ride away and there were many fur seals frolicking on the rocks and in the water.

Dive: Seal Dive at Rhino Rock

Depth: 17 meters

Bottom Time: 41 minutes

Visibility: 10 meters

Water Temperature: 14°C (i.e. COLD!!)

The four of us submerged and were each a bit shocked by the cold of the water.  Both my Open Water and Advanced certifications were done in cold water quarries, but I’d forgotten how cold the water can be.  Wow.  What a shocker!  On the bottom, there wasn’t an awful lot to see except for tons and tons of kelp and some nuclear-sized crayfish, which look remarkably like lobster but Kiwis insist that they be called crayfish.

But then the seals showed up.

They were FABULOUS!  There were two that followed us for a while and were very playful and definitely curious.  We were told ahead of time not to touch them, but we could flip around them if we wanted to.  So whenever they would show up we would roll onto our backs or do flips to play with them.  They would swim right up to our masks to make sure they had our undivided attention.  Obviously, they didn’t like being ignored.  Their sleek bodies would slide by, in and out of our little group, and – after playing around with us – they would quickly disappear.  Then they would show up out of nowhere a few minutes later.  It made all the cold water worthwhile.

For a day that started out rainy and cold, the sun was out and it looked to be a beautiful day.


After our dive, we went back to the dive shop and turned in our gear.  Then we headed into town and Jon dropped me off at a haircut place.  Jon bought a hair clipper a few weeks ago, but the largest setting is a “4” which would leave me with 2 cm of hair.  Not quite long enough.  So I finally got my haircut after 2 months of growth.  It was so nice to have my hair cut by someone who speaks English!  Since we left the US, my haircuts have been a lesson in sign language.  First, there was the disaster in Egypt.  Then, there was a haircut in Hong Kong, which turned out to be a great haircut even if the guy didn’t speak English well.  Finally, I had the last haircut in Beijing.  So it was great to sit back and have the utmost confidence that my hairdresser knew what she was doing.  She was devastated when she nipped my ear with the scissors and said she hasn’t done that when she first started cutting hair.  She was so distraught about it that she gave me $5 off the haircut.  I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but I certainly wasn’t going to turn down the discount!

I’m quite happy with the haircut, and am surprised at how different my hair looks.  I haven’t colored in two months, so only the tips of my hair is blond.  Jon thinks it looks cool and doesn’t think I should color it again.  So we’ll see how long it will be before I get tired of it.

We had lunch at a little fish-n-chips joint and sat in the sun for a little while.

Kaikoura Winery 

Jon wanted to visit the Kaikoura Winery nearby so we drove down the shore and up the hill to the building.  The winery is only 2 years old, so most of their own vines are still growing.  The wine was OK.  We were a bit disappointed because they only had whites and we prefer red wines.  But there was a bonus – the view!  The building was on a hill overlooking the ocean and it was lovely.

The Beach

Then we went to a second hand bookstore aptly named “Canterbury Tales”, where we sold some books we’ve lugged around a few countries, going back as far as China.  Across from the bookstore was a pretty beach area and Jon and I lay on the smooth rocky black beach for a while.  It was so relaxing, and the rocks were so warm that we both dozed off for a bit.  Then it started to rain and the cold raindrops were a bit of a buzz-kill.  We ran for the car and drove back to the campground.

But first Jon wanted to get some ice cream from a nearby ice cream store.  Oreos and cream – very yummy!

Whale Watch Thwarted Again

We checked in for our 3:30 Whale Watch, but it was deemed “marginal” because of large swells and many sea-sick passengers.  They were pretty much recommending that people not go if they might get sea-sick.  Since Jon and already know that – in very bad conditions – we sometimes get sea sick, we didn’t really feel like spending a few hours on a boat just to get sick so we decided to bag on it.

Back at the campsite, we spent the next few hours on the internet, reading, and updating the journal.  We started dinner early to avoid the 6:30 kitchen rush and made veggie pasta.

New Zealand: Kaikoura (South Island)

Posted Posted in New Zealand, Round The World Trip

We left Christchurch fairly early and drove to Kairoura.  There really isn’t anything exciting to share here, except that – as we neared Kaikoura – Jon yelled, “Hey!  Penguins!  Pull over!!”  So I pulled over to the side of the road and Jon grabbed his camera and hurried to the beach.  He slowly climbed down some rocks and carefully approached the penguin.

And then it flew away.

So it wasn’t a penguin but a funny-looking bird.

We checked into our Top 10 Campsite and squabbled a bit about where to set up tent.  All in a day’s travel for us.  Finally, with the tent set up and the sky looming with clouds we set off to run a few errands about town.

Whale Watching

We’d made reservations with a Whale Watching company for today at 3:30.  But we knew from some other people that the boats were often cancelled because the whales weren’t where they were supposed to be.  So we stopped by the company to see what the status was for our 3:30 departure.  They had cancelled all of the morning trips because of rough seas, but said they wouldn’t know about the 3:30 for a while yet.  Looking at the size of the swells close to shore, however, we figured that it wouldn’t happen.

Shark Diving

We had also heard about a company that does Shark Dives from a cage.  So it’s not really diving but rather watching.  We found the offices and went in to check it out.  It seemed like a cool thing to do, but – as Jon pointed out – a bit overpriced for 15 minutes in a cage.  We decided our time was better spent doing a real dive.

Scuba Diving

We headed down the street to a scuba shop we’d stopped by on the way into town.  The staff seemed nice and the dives sounded interesting.  So we signed up for a dive tomorrow morning and were intrigued by the 60-80% chance of seeing Fur Seals.

The Afternoon/Evening

I was pretty beat, so I took a nap while Jon logged into the Internet.  At 3:30, we headed over to the Whale Watch offices to find that – indeed – our 3:30 boat had been cancelled because of rough seas.  So we returned to the campsite where I caught up on journal entries and Jon went out for a run.

Jon finally logs his runs in NZ! (written on 4 Dec.) – Run #22

So today being Sunday, which is my day for long runs, I decided to give it a shot and try for a long run.  I figured that if I could go for an hour I’d have a good indicator of where I stood in terms of making my goal of running an easy 10 miles by Feb or March.  

I turned out of the campground and headed along State Highway 1 for about 1.5 – 2km.  Can I just mention that New Zealanders call the major roads State Highways but none of them would actually qualify as a major highway in the US.  They are quite like the old road that went from Maine to Key West before I-95 was built – A1A, which passes through so many little towns that it would take a week to actually use it to get from Maine to Miami these days.

So anyway, I ran down the highway for a short bit then headed down this little country road that was about 200 meters from the beach.  On one side of me I had grazing cows and on the other side I had more cows grazing in the narrow stretch of land between me and the beach, and then the beach.  Mixed in between were lots of those bushes with the yellow flowers and a few sheep as well.  It was an easy 60 minute+ run, which was good since that’s the longest I’ve run in six months!  NY Marathon 2002, here I come.

The campsite is just near the beach, but it’s separated by the Whale Watch Offices and a railroad track that’s fenced off.  So we can’t walk directly from the campsite to the beach without going out to the main road, down the road, and down another road.    But we can hear the waves crash, if that makes any difference.

We started dinner in the cramped kitchen.  There weren’t enough ranges to accommodate everyone who wanted to cook, and some of the ranges weren’t working at all.  So it was a bit of a scramble to find a place to cook.  But since Jon was grilling things worked out pretty well.  We had BBQ chicken sandwiches with potatoes and vegetables and it was very yummy.

We spent the rest of the evening reading/writing/and watching “The Peacemaker” on the little TV in the kitchen.  I remember when they filmed that movie in New York.  Most of the last 1/2 hour of the movie was filmed near the UN (where I worked) and in nearby Tudor City.  One of my friends came back from lunch saying, “Does anyone know why George Clooney is running up and down 2nd Avenue with a gun?”  The movie crew built a church in Tudor City just to blow it up.  I’ll never forget the day they did the explosion.  Everyone I worked with was plastered to the window of our offices to watch the church go up in smoke.  But –  before we did – we had to wait for a helicopter to get its shot with at least 10 different fly-bys.  Then they blew up the church and we were so disappointed that it didn’t make more noise.

New Zealand: Christchurch (South Island)

Posted Posted in New Zealand, Round The World Trip

We woke up relatively early after a wonderful sleep in comfortable beds.  After a breakfast of bagels and cream cheese (which we’d bought in Dunedin yesterday), we headed out for our long drive to Christchurch.  Actually, the drive only took about 5 hours, but it felt like forever.

We stopped for a bathroom break in a little town of which I don’t remember the name, and decided to have lunch on the nearby rugby field.  So we sat up on some tiny bleachers and ate peanut butter and jelly bagels.


By the time we arrived in Christchurch, the sun had come out and it was looking like a beautiful day.  We planned to meet up with Kath, our leader from the Tibet trip, who lives in Christchurch when she’s not traversing the globe.

Chenrezig Tibetan Sand Mandala (

As we navigated our way around town, we randomly drove by the civic center which was featuring a Tibetan sand mandala.  Kath had told us via email that it was there, and we decided to take a break to check it out.

Interestingly enough, we saw plenty of Mandalas in Tibet but none of them were made of sand.  So we were pretty excited to get to see it.  A mandala is a representation of an enlightened being’s place of residence and everything that is contained within it.  These representations can be 3-dimensional, but a sand mandala is a two-dimensional representation.  The mandala is an expression of the state of complete enlightenment and is used as an aid to meditation.

Chenrezig embodies enlightened compassion.  As the brochure said, “If each one of us could become more compassionate there would be greater harmony and less conflict in our world.  The kind of compassion embodied by Chenrezig is unbiased and wishes to free all living beings, without exception, from the suffering they experience.”

Anyway, the civic center had a raised platform on which 2 Tibetan monks were creating the mandala.  They each use a metal funnel called a chakpu.  When this ridged funnel is rubbed with a piece of horn, the colored sand (crushed limestone dyed with pigments) inside the funnel trickles out in an even flow.  Apparently, “the fact that both the funnel and the horn are needed in the process reminds us that nothing had independent existence but that everything arises in dependence on a multitude of factors.”  I’d forgotten that – in Tibet – everything has a meaning.

The monks – when they work on the mandala – remain mindful and attentive, and try to arouse feelings of “love, compassion and altruism as they create the different parts of the mandala they contemplate their symbolism”.  Well, if I were the monks, I’d be thinking “Damn it’s uncomfortable crouched over this thing.  And what is this ‘compassion and altruism crap’?  I’d rather be skiing.”  But I guess that’s why I’m not a Buddhist monk.

Sarcastic though I may be, the designs they were making were lovely.  And the sand mandala is incredibly tedious work.  Here’s a picture of the design close-up:

In true Tibetan style, we’d removed our shoes prior to entering the building and walked clockwise around the platform.  Then we found a phone to ring Kath.  She said she’d been to the mandala a number of times already, and was presently sitting in the sun.  So we made plans to meet up later on.

We found the Christchurch Top 10 Campground, which is really the only campground in the Christchurch area.  It’s also over-run with children and RVs.  We set up our tent in a little back corner of the site and met Kath an hour later at the Office.

Christchurch Botanical Gardens 

Kath drove us to the Christchurch Botanical Gardens, which is a huge and lovely park in the middle of town.  The rose garden was gorgeous, as was the weather.

It was great to catch up with Kath and her crazy Asia exploits.  She’d been scheduled to lead a tour of Mt Kailash that we knew she was looking forward to.  Unfortunately, after Sept 11 the Chinese government shut down the entire area.  So she found herself stuck in Lhasa with a group of people and no place to go.  Being the enterprising woman she is, she created her own “Tour of Tibet” and ended up showing her passengers some wonderful things.  They actually got to see a Tibetan Sky Burial, which is the traditional way of disposing bodies in Tibet.

Back at the campground, Jon and I made pasta in the super-hot kitchen that didn’t have enough space for all the campers.  So we had to fight a bit for space and burners, but we got it all done in time.

Movie – “The Others”

We went around the corner to the mall to see “The Others”, for which Jon had finagled us some student tickets.  There was practically no one in the theater – somewhat surprising for a Saturday night.  But the movie was very good and had a quality surprise ending.  Of course, I missed part of the movie because my eyes were covered.  But I have Jon to tell me what I missed.  I really do like Nicole Kidman, especially after seeing her in “Moulin Rouge”.

We got back to the campground at 11:00, showered, and crawled into our sleeping bags.  Of course, it started to rain shortly thereafter.

New Zealand: Dunedin (South Island)

Posted Posted in New Zealand, Round The World Trip

Today we had a long drive from Te Anau to Dunedin.  Dunedin is a city on the south-east coast of the South Island.  We have reservations to stay at the Larnach Castle, which is quite an exciting splurge for us.  So we spent most of the day on the road.  Nothing too exciting.  On and off rain.  Some cows.  Some horses.  Lots of sheep.  A slight life-threatening moment when I drove on the wrong side of the road for 3.14 seconds.  Other than that, all was well.


In Dunedin, we followed the signs to the City Center for the Tourist Information Office.  Every city in NZ has an “Information” office, and they are always full of friendly, helpful people who will call and make reservations for you anywhere in NZ.  They will also give out maps, directions, and other helpful advice.  They’re actually better than any guidebook ever written.

So we went to the Information Office, got a city map, directions to the Larnach Castle, and reservations for whale watching in 2 days in Kaikoura.

As it was beyond lunchtime, we made peanut butter and jelly bagels and ate in the city center square.  There was a jazz band playing and the sun was out, so we were quite happy.  While Jon watched the car (we were parked beyond the 30 minute limit), I ran into the Air New Zealand Office and asked some questions about our airplane tickets.  The lady was very nice and quite helpful.  It seems that this is a trait that everyone in NZ shares.

Speight’s Brewery (

We had reservations for a tour around Speight’s Brewery at 2:00, and Jon was very excited about it.  The tour lasted about an hour and a half, and we were taken through the history of Speight’s (started in 1871) the ingredients, the big copper kettles, the silos, and the brewery itself.  Then we had a tasting of 4 different brews.  They were very yummy.  The funny thing about this tour, though, was that there was a group of about 10 teenage girls on some sort of field trip.  They were lovely girls, but when it came time for the tasting they were served lemonade.  So my question is why would anyone take a bunch of teenagers on a field trip to a brewery?  What a nutty thing to do.

Our Speight’s Guide Serving us Beers

Larnach Castle (

After the tour, we drove to Larnach Castle, which is about 30 minutes outside Dunedin on the Otago Peninsula.  When we were in Rotorua, we met a couple at the campsite who advised us to call and make reservations at the Larnach Stables behind the castle.  The castle also has nicer accommodations at “The Lodge” next to the stable, but it was a little fancy for us and we were excited to stay in the Stables.

The Peninsula is a gorgeous drive outside Dunedin with some stunning views.  The road was often winding and narrow, usually on ledges just over the ocean.  But we definitely enjoyed it.  When we drove up to the castle, we felt so cool driving up to the gate and saying, “Hello.  We’re staying here this evening.”

The Larnach Castle

The Castle is privately owned, although it was built by William Larnach for his 6 children and eventually 3 wives in 1876.  It’s actually a bit sad, because he ended up committing suicide as did his eldest son.  Neither of them died in the house, but it’s still said to be haunted (probably because it makes for a good story).  The Stables and the Lodge were located around back.  While the Stables were still very stable-ish inside, the downstairs had been converted into a breakfast room for guests, and the upstairs had 5 bedrooms, 4 showers, and a bathroom for “Stallions” and one for “Fillies”.  We were very happy with our room, which had four beds, slanted walls, and many windows.

After getting settled in, we took a tour of the castle and the grounds.  The Larnachs sold the castle (called “The Camp”) years later after squabbling over William Larnach’s will.  And the castle eventually ended up in the hands of the government who auctioned off all the furniture and put the property up for sale.  In 1967, it was bought by a young couple called The Barkers.  Think of the movie “Money Pit” and then multiply it times 1000.  That’s what the Barkers faced 30 years ago.  The place was crumbling apart, they were trying to start a family of their own, and so they did most of the restoration work themselves.  They also spent millions of dollars over the years buying back the original furniture so The Camp could become a tourist attraction.  And – years later – that’s exactly what it is.  It’s open to the public for a small fee, and all funds go to the upkeep of the castle and the grounds (no small task).  The revenue from the accommodations in The Lodge and The Stables also helps out.

Our self-guided tour was very nice, and the best part was definitely the view from the tower on top.  The story says that William Larnach and his son were walking the hills of the Peninsula when his son climbed on top of a rock and said, “Dad!  Look at how far we can see!”  So Larnach bought the land from the monarchy in London and built the castle.

Jon on the Larnach Tower – Great View!

We also walked around the grounds and looked at the beautiful gardens.  Although it was almost 5:30PM, the sun had hardly began to set.  Actually, the sun doesn’t completely set until about 10:00PM here because of how far south we are.  It’s pretty crazy to walk around at 9:30 without needing a flashlight.

As we walked behind the castle and though some paths, we ended up at a lovely spot with some benches and pretty flowers.  A great place for a quick picnic and snack.  We pulled out the cheese and crackers we’d put in the daypack and sat on the steps enjoying the view.

Our Picnic View

Dinner at the Castle

We went back to the Stables to shower up before dinner.  The castle offers its guests a special “Larnach Castle Dinner” in the Dining Room for a pretty good price.  Jon and I figured that we could splurge for a few reasons:

  1. Dec 5 is our 3-year wedding anniversary.
  2. Dec 4 is our six-month travel anniversary.
  3. We forgot to actually celebrate Thanksgiving last week
  4. The sun came out
  5. Jon has a new pair of Tevas

Clearly, we can think of any other number of ways to rationalize the dinner.  But I think those 5 will do.

At 7:00 we walked around the grounds to the castle where we were greeted by a bunch of men in kilts.  They weren’t actually part of our dinner, but were greeters for an accounting firm who had their Holiday Party scheduled for the ballroom that evening.  Nutty accountants!

Jon and I were led to the dining room, which was one of the rooms we’d admired on the tour this evening.  Dinner was pre-arranged, and Jon and I had made our selections when we checked in at the front desk.  They gave us a wine list and Jon chose a bottle of Cabernet from Mission Estates.  Then we were joined by 2 people from Sidney, Ross and Christine.  Just after they arrived, Susan and Alan showed up.  They are from St Andrews, NZ and were celebrating Alan’s birthday.  Susan is originally from San Jose, CA, but emigrated to NZ 30 years ago.

Dinner was divine.  Jon had the “Baked Lamb Fillet topped with cashew nut crust, served with mixed mushroom risotto and a rich dates and fig relish”.  I had the “Fresh Fillet of Sole poached in white wine on scalloped potato with a spicy tomato and basil sauce”.  Very good.

We were a very merry group and had a wonderful time.  Jon and I were obviously the “young-uns” at the table, but we actually enjoy that.  The conversation is usually more stimulating with older people and tonight was no exception.  We talked and laughed about everything: New Zealand, Australia, US, politics, public policy, taxes, the Internet, kids, and a whole range of other topics.  We so enjoyed each other’s company that none of us were in a rush to leave.  The staff had to politely kick us out at 10:30.

Jon, Ross, Christine, Susan, and Alan

When we left the castle to walk back to the Stables and the Lodge, an eerie fog had moved in.  It definitely looked like something out of the movies.  We couldn’t see anything beyond the light of the castle, and thought it was very fitting for a supposedly “haunted house”.  As we walked back, Christine told me that she saw a ghost many years ago and her description had my hair standing on end.  It’s a good thing I was exhausted, or I might never have been able to sleep.

New Zealand: Te Anau (South Island)

Posted Posted in New Zealand, Round The World Trip

Our campsite is separated from Lake Te Anau by a quiet road in this very sleepy town.  A very sleepy town that, at 3:00 this morning, was the sight of a dance party right in front of our campground.  I suppose that some bar had just closed down and a group of kids moved their party to the nearby lake.  Then they  moved the party to a house down the street, and the music went on until about 5:00AM.  So we were a bit sleepy when the alarm went off an hour later.

Today we went to see the famous Milford Sound.

Of course, it was raining.

The Fjordlands get seven meters of rain a year, so rainy days on the Sound are not unusual at all.  But that doesn’t mean that we have to like it, right?  We had planned to do this wonderful two-hour hike called The Divide, but since we couldn’t see more than a few hundred feet away, we decided that it wasn’t worth it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me describe the drive to the Sound.

Drive to Milford Sound

Te Anau is the closest town to Milford Sound, because Milford Sound really isn’t a town at all.  It’s more of a scenic point.  We left Te Anau at 8:30 to get a head start on the day.  The drive was windy, wet, and quiet.  Despite the fact that Milford Sound is a day-trip for almost all visitors, the roads were empty except for us and the occasional van.  After an hour and a half we reached the place where The Divide track started, but it was raining so hard that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it.  So we decided to go straight to the Sound and see some sights.

The drive was an additional half-hour, and we had to pass through a long sloping tunnel.  This tunnel was literally a tunneled-out cave in the mountain.  The walls were rough rock and there were no lights save from our headlights.  Jon wondered why – after spending the money to tunnel out the mountain – the government decided not to put electricity through it.  But we figured it was because of the water coming from the ceilings and walls.  Our windshield wipers were on the entire time through the tunnel because it was so wet!

When we reached the other end of the tunnel, we were greeted by tall mountains and many, many little waterfalls.

We kept driving to the Sound, where we parked in a bus parking lot because – for whatever reason  – the car parking lot was 500 meters away from the visitor’s center.  We walked out to the water and snapped a few pictures.  We were soaked within minutes.

After looking at the Sound, we decided to go back and check out some of the paths and hope that the weather might clear.

The “View” of Milford Sound

Long story short: we did two walks.  One was a quick walk to a place called “The Chasm” which was a river that had carved some interesting shapes in some large boulders.  There was a sign with a quote from David Henry Throreau which read, “The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time.”.  The other walk we did was a “Nature Walk” to Lake Gunn.  This was a nice little stroll through some pretty rainforest before we reached the lake.  It drizzled a bit but it was nice to do nonetheless.

We had lunch before the Nature Walk, sitting in the car and looking at the lovely purple and pink flowers.  After the walk, we drove back to Te Anau and arrived at the campsite around 2:30.  Of course, back here it was cloudy but had barely drizzled all day.

Nature Strikes

Being the city girl I am (does that still apply anymore?), this nature thing is wreaking havoc with my allergies.  I had a sneezing attack so repetitive that Jon stopped saying “Bless You”.  In fact, he began to Un-Bless me instead.  After an hour of sneezing, I felt as though I’d been put through the wringer.  Jon went out for a run and I crashed for about 2 hours in the tent.  He woke me up when he was ready to start dinner.

Jon finally logs his runs in NZ! (written on 4 Dec.) – Run #21

Yesterday’s run along the dirt road was so nice I decided to try it again today, only this time I would skip the other part of the lake where the hikers only path was.  This was a good choice because the flowers still smelled as good as the day before and I was soon well past yesterday’s turnaround point.  I ran all of the way until I came across a creek that ran from the lake to some of the cattle grazing land.  This was about where I wanted to turn around anyway.  

Based on the reaction I got yesterday when I tried to talk to the sheep, I decided that they were downright snobby and didn’t want to talk to them today!  It was sunny though so it was a bit warmer than yesterday afternoon and I probably got some sun while I was out.

Key Trauma 

I put some laundry in the machines and walked back to the car to put the laundry detergent away.  As I went to get the car key out of my pocket, it slipped out of my hands and fell on my foot.  Because I was walking, my foot kicked the key a ways away.  I watched it skid across the pavement right over a sewer grate.  The key itself slipped through the grate, but the plastic key tag teetered perilously on the edge for a second or two…. And then fell through.

I thought, “You have GOT to be kidding me.”

The water in the sewer was pitch black and I couldn’t see the key at all.  But the “ker-plop” sounded pretty shallow.  Unfortunately, the grate also looked sealed.  I must have made some noise of alarm, because the girl in the van next to the grate said, “Oh no!”  Her boyfriend said, “What’s up?”.  She said, “Her keys just dropped down the sewer!”

I went to the office for help, and we came back to the sewer the girl and her boyfriend had a fishing pole out and were trying to fish out my keys.  So sweet!

The man from the office got a large pole of some sort, banged against the grate which loosened the seal, and reached down and pulled out the keys.

The entire ordeal lasted about 3 minutes, but it felt like forever!

Dinner was BBQ Chicken, potatoes and veggies.  Then we sat in the TV lounge and read, updated journals, and watch Robbie Williams in concert on TV.  Jon crashed early, which is understandable because of the full day we had today.