Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Trip to the South Pacific

Wow, I don't even know where to begin. I'm usually one of those people that uploads my photos to facebook just moments after they were taken, so the fact that it has been 32 hours since I have been home from the biggest vacation of my life and I have not yet uploaded a single picture is pretty unbelievable. The problem is that I have about 500 pictures and it's incredibly overwhelming to even think about sorting through those and deciding which ones to post. Plus, I don't remember half the names of the places we went. Well, that's not entirely true. I remember lots of names. I just can't remember which name goes with which picture. So again, I am going to defer to Sherry's blog, where she is posting a much more detailed description of our journey than I ever could...or ever will.

In answer to the very broad question that everyone is asking, "what did you do?" I will answer with a very broad, "spent a few days in the Dunedin area checking out the shops and local tourist spots, touring the beautiful Otago peninsula where we went on some hikes and saw lots of sheep and birds and sea lions (AND...keep reading to find out what else we saw there); spent 5 days driving/camping around the south island, mostly on scenic highways, stopping for lots and lots of hikes and going on 2 boat rides; and finished off with another day and a half in Dunedin."

One day soon, I will upload a large number of my pictures to facebook and you can look through them there.

For now, I will just list the highlights of my trip!

1. I saw a penguin in its natural habitat! Who can say that? And, to top it off, it is one of the rarest species of penguins in the world! It is called a yellow-eyed penguin and you can learn more about it and see better pictures here. We went to Sandfly Bay on the Otago peninsula, which is just outside of Dunedin to catch a glimpse of these little guys. Penguins will run/swim away if they feel threatened and this can be detrimental to their hungry babies, so it is very important that you are not seen. So...we had to hide out in these wooden rooms. We only saw one penguin and it was pretty far away, but it was worth it. Even from 100 meters away, I could tell it was cute. =)




2. The Catlins rainforest. It was incredibly green and dense. We went on lots of short hikes, which was really fun because we could walk for 10 minutes and be at a gorgeous waterfall. All of our hikes pretty much looked like this. It was great.


3. Fiordland National Park. Yeah, the whole park was a highlight. It's hard to pick out the best parts, because it was all incredible and unlike anything I'd ever seen before. I'm not hard to please when it comes to nature and scenery. I can find beauty in a variety of landscapes. But this was really just different from anything I've ever seen before. There was moss growing on everything - the trees, the rocks, the ground. I'm pretty sure it was even growing on itself. And if we had stayed there long enough, it would have grown on us, too. Sadly, I don't really have any good pictures that describe this because my camera battery died that day, but I did snag this video, so check it out to see some awesome scenery. Besides hiking and camping, our main activity in the Fiordlands was going on a boat cruise in Milford Sound. It was gorgeous.

video




3. The waterfalls. Oh, the waterfalls. We saw so many waterfalls, Sherry even started joking that she was sick of seeing waterfalls. We saw big ones and small ones and there were definitely too many to count. Besides the one at Milford Sound, here are some of the impressive ones.


4. The totally awesome science exhibit at the Otago Museum. I felt like a kid playing with all of the hands-on exhibits. Just think back to a really cool science museum you went to as a kid and you've probably got the idea. Except NOT. Because this one was at least twice as cool because it also had a RAINFOREST! This rainforest had a banana tree and a waterfall and geckos and turtles and a bazillion butterflies. Seriously. One bazillion. I think I read that somewhere. There was also a display of butterfly and moth pupae and you could see the adults breaking free and starting to fly!




5. The Haast Highway. Why? Because it looked like this. If there were a road you could drive on to get to heaven, I think it would look like the Haast Highway did the evening we were on it. Absolutely stunning!

The best part of New Zealand was, without a doubt, the beautiful landscapes. So I will try to add pictures to facebook tomorrow, because showing you pictures is probably the best way I can describe my experience. And I will add a link to the album on my blog, for any of you who are not facebook users.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm a Cheater

I'm not writing a real post - one with substance - right now. That's why I'm a cheater. I'm too tired to blog about my NZ trip right now. All I want to do is sleep, but I've been trying to stay awake until a reasonable bedtime hour so I can get back on a normal rhythm.

So...go to Sherry's blog and read about things we did in New Zealand.

I'll write my own later!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I haven't traveled to the top 2 corners yet, but...

One of my favorite comedians, the late Mitch Hedberg, said, "I want to hang a map of the world in my house. Then I’m gonna put pins into all the locations that I’ve traveled to. But first I’m gonna have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won’t fall down."

Well, I haven't traveled to the top 2 corners yet, but...I am going to the bottom right corner of the map on WEDNESDAY! Hooray!

Sherry is pretty much amazing and she made this awesome map (color coded, even!) of our journey. It reminds me of the maps at the back of the Bible that show Paul's travels. But our journey will be much faster because we will be using a car. Lucky us.

As you can tell, this only includes 5 days of the 10 (well, 9 and a half, really) I will be there. The other days will be spent around Dunedin, where Sherry and Eric live. I am SO excited!

By the way, I just went into my bathroom to consult my world map shower curtain to try and figure out what countries I need to go to in order to put a pin in the top 2 corners of the map, and I ran into a serious problem. The top 2 corners are the MIDDLE OF THE ARCTIC OCEAN! Don't know if anyone's noticed that before, but that presents a problem. Looks like I'll have to travel to the New Siberian Islands in Russia and some of those uninhabited Canadian islands way up north. They aren't exactly in the corner, though, so I'll probably have to travel to Alaska and eastern Russia so I can tack down the sides, too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Apathy and the Irony

I forgot how much I hate elections. I think it is WONDERFUL that people have differing opinions, because no ONE person or ONE group can be right all the time. (Well...except Jesus Christ - I look forward to the day that He rules the earth and we don't have to worry about elections anymore.) I think there is rightness and truth on all sides (or should I say "both" sides) and that we need both sides to balance each other out. It's natural that there should be disagreements about what's best for our country or what's the best way to reach those goals for our country, but it just makes me sad to see people and politicians be hateful toward one another or attack their moral character for not having the same political opinions. I just want these elections to be over...stat. I plan on voting and I hope that the person I vote for wins, but if he doesn't, oh well. America won't fall apart. That's the beauty of our system. There are checks and balances to make sure one person can't screw it up too badly. And even if they do, their time in office will expire and someone else will take over and America will still be free and we will all be ok.

So I guess I could say I don't really care what happens tomorrow. And you could call me apathetic...but I probably wouldn't care. ;)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloweeeeeeeeeeen

Introducing...Burger King and Dairy Queen!

So...the costumes. We had been tossing around ideas for a while and finally decided on these about a week before Halloween. I knew I wanted to make some sashes, so I went to the fabric store and bought some cheap muslin, ribbon for edges, and gold glitter paint. They turned out alright, although they were a little too short and I did a terrible job on the sewing. But that's pretty much what I expected. I don't know how to sew. I want to learn, though. Anyway, the day before Halloween, I went to DI (Deseret Industries thrift store) and wandered around for at least an hour, hoping something would just jump out at me. I almost bought 2 matching shirts with a picture of smiling cows. I'm glad I didn't get those. They were really ugly. Luckily, I ran into an old friend and told her I was having a hard time coming up with a costume and she suggested robes. Brilliant! Don't know why I didn't think of that before. DI didn't have crowns and I didn't have time to go anywhere else, but lucky for us, Jared's neices (who we took trick-or-treating) had some that we were able to borrow! Isn't Jared's crown perfect for a king? I love it.

Other Halloween-related things that are somewhat noteworthy:
1. Caramel apples are really easy to make. Just melt some of those square caramel candies in the microwave (with a little bit of milk - 2 tbsp for every 14 oz of caramel) and dip the apple. You can even roll it in desired confections.
2. I don't like scary movies. I always think I can handle them, but I can't. I end up covering my face most of the movie and then having to ask what happened after everyone screams.
3. The Halloweiner is the cutest Halloween book ever. It's about a weiner dog named Oscar that saves the day.
4. I really like leaves on the ground. It kinda makes me sad to see people rake them up and put them in bags where they cannot be enjoyed. They are so pretty! And fun to step on!