Friday, 30 November 2012

Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast

Well, a week of relaxation did me good I must say. It was great to see Byron again and we managed to cram in a ton of stuff in just a few days...

I left on friday afternoon, which was a bit of a rocky start, my advice, if youre gonna go out the night before as a good bye thing, have all your stuff laid out, packed, and cleaned ha, just saying. But for you who know me, you know that this isnt possible, so ya, busy morning. And nothing like lugging two suitcases, a purse, and a backpack through train stations and airports...
Well after that, smooth flight, landed and Byron picked me up. That night we went out into the city for awhile had a few drinks and just checked out what there was. Went to the craziest 3 story club, all decked out like a jungle. It looked like a scene out of Batman. Its called Cloudland in Brisbane...look it up. The next morning we got up fairly early and headed up to the Sunshine Coast to see his sister and check out the beaches. His sister  was super sweet and we had a good time hanging out. She lived a block from the beach so we packed a cooler and hung out for a few hours in the sand. Next morning went into town to check out the really popular beaches and a few of the shops. We headed back to Brisbane that sunday night because we got 2 free tickets to the outdoor movie theater to watch FrankenWeenie. It was really pretty, laying out in beanbags on a warm night watching a movie with the city in the background...

Then Monday byron had to work, so i took a walk around the town and by the bay to check out what there was. I found this manmade wading pool and park, and it was filled with seawater and sand. It was the coolest thing I had seen. Then later that night when Byron came home we had a seafood feast of oyster, prawns, and Moreton Bay crabs. Apparently this is the only place that you can find these crabs and they are this weird mix of a lobster and a crab. There is a ton of meat and they are delicious.

Next Morning, Tuesday, Byron had to work again so I went back into town and went to the wading pool to swim and tan...I might have been a bit too light on the sun screen, but its all good now because this gal has got a tan. yeeeaaaaah.  Then that evening we went into town again and checked out a few bars and walked around downtown checking out the night scene. The next morning though Byron had off, so we woke up early and headed down to the Gold Coast, where he grew up. The beaches here were beautiful. We had an awesome breakfast at the Viking surf club then headed to the Alley to swim and watch surfers. 

Viking surf club with Byron and his sweet  hawaiian shirt, sitting outside on the deck, over the ocean.

After we went to Carrumbin Valley to hang out with his Grandpa for a bit; funny guy. Then he took me up to the mountains to check out the rainforest part of Queensland. Ah, so cool. On the way up the mountain it actually started raining some which made the jungle even more awesome. We went to a state park and this river with some waterfalls where we jumped the railing and went wading up and hung out by the water. 


We headed back to Brisbane that night because we both had flights out that morning...:(. Very, Very sad to leave...Its been so great and im ecstatic that I got to see so much and do so much before I left...its been a great 5 months here and I will make it back one day...

Now for the longest plane ride ever .....


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Melbourne Cup and Finals!

Hey all, ya its been awhile I know, but a lot has been going on these last few weeks.
So we had the Melbourne Cup, which is the Derby of OZ. It was great fun, our house was packed! All the Girls had people in town so our house jumped to about 20 residents. It was a bit crazy. The races were great, we hung out on the lawn and watched the races. Well, big better over here lost  a whopping $10. All the top horses, didnt even place in the top 5!! Green Moon for the win...Maybe next year.

After the racing week we had to dive straight into our finals week, which of course is always stressful. I had two studios and one furniture design class. Out of all the classes, I was the happiest with my stool design. The brief for the class was to design a stool within 400 mm x 400 mm x 400 mm and must weigh less than 2 kg ( 4.4 lbs). So I worked with 4.5 mm polypropylene... issues? yes. Its a very soft and bendable materials so getting it to work too some canoodling. So here it is...

We had to add tension wires to keep the stool from compressing too much. 

The stool was slightly bouncy. I was really happy with the design but I wish I had the money to create one more prototype because there were a few kinks that needed to be worked out. Wish i could take this home with me :( but no room in the suitcase!

My other finals for Inhabitation and Sustainable went pretty well also. But it was great to actually be done! I was so tired...

So Julia, Maren, Frida, and I rented a car and did a two day trip on the Great Ocean Road. Its a drive along the southern coast with all these stops and sites and ends at the 12 Apostles. We had the best weather, it was sunny and bright. It was also the first time we got to see wild Koalas!! Ah they are so cute, but they make the craziest noises. They actually grunt really loudly. 

No this is not from the internet, this is the picture that I actually took. It was a lot of fun riding along the beaches. After the apostles , we stayed the night in a hostel and the next morning headed back to Melbourne, stopped in Geelong on the way back and checked out the beach there. 

Julia, Celine and I also spent one of the days at the famous Brighton Beach! Its a really nice beach and is lined with these little houses for storage that worth a few hundred thousand dollars. It was nice to lay out and catch some sun and not have to worry about school for once! 

Yay Australia!!

This past weekend, Julia, Celine, and I took a last trip out to Willsons Promontory. It was beautiful! We rented a car to drive the 2 and half hours out to the park. But since we didnt have a tent, we car camped ha, which, is not very comfortable btw. But we spent the weekend hiking and hanging out on the coast. I know, hard life right? But if you are ever in OZ, you should really do this trip. My favorite hike was to Tongues Point. We hiked through the forest, well aussie forest. There had been a fire so all the trees were these black crazy looking sticks. It was pretty cool lookin. We hiked up and you come over and can see the ocean and its so blue. We hiked down to Fairy Cove, this small beach, and we were the only ones there...private beach status!

Fairy Cove

 Tongues Point


The whole weekend had beautiful weather and beautiful sites! Even better, we got to see wild kangaroos, Wallabys, Wombats, and Emus!! It was crazy, I didnt think I would actually see them in the wild! We even saw a snake...not so great. Not a fan of snakes by any means. 



The most beautiful sky!

It was an amazing weekend  It was kinda sad to leave, but im glad I was able to have this weekend. 

Well my time here is wrapping up :(, and I am very sad about it. I do wish I could stay another 5 months. If anyone is thinking about traveling, ya you should stop by Oz, its awesome. I do have one more week here though. I have a friend in Brisbane, who I met in Nashville, and hes flying me up to stay with him for 6 days. He lives an hour from both the Sunshine Coast and the Golden Coast, which are supposed to be some of the best beaches ever! Im really excited, a week of beach hopping. My life has been real hard hah. Ill be sure to post lots of pictures and tell you alll about it. And yes, people I have been working on my tan and i do have some tan lines, yaaaa. I wont be super dark, but ill be darker than you pasty people and you and your winter clothes. ;).


Monday, 5 November 2012

Wrapping up the School year

Hey all,

Sorry its been awhile since an update. Not too much has been happening. We have had some pretty great weather though these last 2 weeks, which is exciting!  .We have had a couple of days where we go out and hang out in the park all, and I have started a base tan. Along with that, school is wrapping up. Classes are over and we are in our finals week so we have 10 days for so when all of our studio projects are due. After the cup, its back to work work work. At the same time though, its pretty sad because it means everyone is leaving, including me. I would love to stay in OZ for another 5 months, its been a really great time.

Also, found out that Halloween is a big flop in Australia. They really do not celebrate it here which is pretty sad. We did manage to go to one Halloween party though and of course it was with all the international students. It was a pretty good time. Also, and update on work, I get some hours but as soon as finals are over  can work everyday so I should be making a lot more money. Still a little weird to rub naked people though...
Biggest news though, The Melbourne Cup and the end of the semester! Yay! Well classes are over and have a week until we turn in all of our studio projects, so after the cup, its going to be very hectic. I did though, finish my stool for furniture today!
This is right after we cut it and screwed it together. We havent added the tension wires yet to keep the stool from compressing.

This is the stool with the wires. Excuse the writing, I left the film on to keep the stool from being scratched up before review on Wednesday. For the brief, the stool needed to weigh less than 2 kilos (4.4 lbs) and i might be slightly 250 grams. Its alright though, i think its cool enough looking that the prof will over look that hah.

But for tomorrow, thats the big day of Melbourne Cup! Our little house is at maximum capacity, its like invasion of the irish here!  We did try to Irish proof the house though, hid all the breakables and bought plastic ware, but some how, we still managed to break a glass door. Ah, so close. Most of our room mates friends came on Friday or saturday, so Saturday afternoon we had a giant cookout. So goooood. But tomorrow all the festivities begin early! The Melbourne Cup is basically the Derby, everyone gets all dressed up and fancy and wears big ole hats. Unfortunately I havent bought any sort of head accessory, but thats alright, I will still be cute.  Tomorrow will be a great time and I cant wait to tell you about it!


Friday, 19 October 2012

Nom Nom Nom

So its been awhile since I updated because New Zealand was such a long post, I took a break. So in a nutshell, weather is warming up, Ive been working more, and school is coming to an end. Its been great living in Australia, Ive had a good time. It makes me wish the semester was longer so I could spend more time here.

Well enough of that, im here to talk about food. Thats right, one of my favorite things to do is eat. Well recently I finally bought my first bit of Kangaroo meat. It was interesting. Its a very red meat and its 98% fat free so the only way to cook it is medium/medium rare. If you cook it well, it dries out.  I marinated the steaks in olive oil, salt and pepper, and rosemary. I served it with sweet potato mash and gravy with asparagus. It was a pretty good meal. The meat though, was really tough. It was pretty good but not tender at all.

Be jealous of my awesome meal. 

Along with kangaroo, I had a chance to have some delicious seafood. It was so good. The day was really nice so Celine, Julia, and I headed down to St. Kilda to hang out on the beach for awhile. The tide was really low so we got to walk way out into the ocean and hang out in the water. Im so excited for the summer to come so I can go swimming in the water!  Sorry to all of you who are dealing with the cold weather and rain. After the beach, we went to a restaurant and sat outside. We ordered this massive tray of seafood, and I mean maaaasssive. On this one tray there was : Calamari, fried scallops, oysters, mussels, shrimps, fresh prawns, fried prawns, salad, avocado with crab meat, watermelon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, oranges, a half of a pineapple, topped with a crab. Oh and of course, fries. It was a beautiful site. To say this in the most eloquent way, we destroyed that entire tray. I mean, we ate everything then cut into the pineapple and ate that. Best meal eeeeva. 

Complete carnage 

So even with all the sun and surf, im still missing home because fall is my absolute favorite season and i hate that im missing it. Apple cider, changing leaves, pumpkin pie, pumpkin carving, baking cookies, and of course, Halloween! Its my favorite holiday and gotta say, Australia is letting me down. They really dont celebrate Halloween here so it will be a really lame holiday for me. So, to lift out spirits, Julia and I decided to bake pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and watch a scary movie! Ok, so Scream 4, not the scariest of movies I know, but there was slim pickins at the library. 

Check out Betty Homemaker. Needless to say, the cookies were fluffy and delicious. 

I hope you are good and hungry after this post ;).  


Saturday, 29 September 2012

New Zealand Part 2

Hey all,

Sorry it took a minute but we had midterm reviews on Friday and I had a lot to catch up, but now thats out of the way and I can finish telling you about new Zealand.

Monday 17-  Today we had scheduled a sea Kayaking trip on Milford Sound for 10:00 in the morning, well ended up waking up early to pouring rain. Ya, super excited about that. It was a five minute drive over the sound and kayaks. Once there, we were suited up. It was actually really nice because they provided you with everything you needed. They gave up thermal pants and shirts, over fleeces, a rain jacket, and a skirt that fit around your waist and over the kayak to keep the water out. By 10:30ish we were on the water, in the pouring rain by the way. Not gonna lie, it was kind of miserable. Im not a big fan of standing in the freezing rain feeling like a wet cat. Fortunately  though, 20 mins after being on the water the rain stopped and the sky cleared up and it was beautiful. It was pretty crazy to actually be in the sound, it was beautiful and massive. Its really hard to get any sort of proportion in the pictures, but trust me its extremely large. We kayaked around for a few hours, ate lunch on the water, had a group pee in the woods, saw the rare Fiordland Crested penguin and  Fur seals; it was an awesome day. I actually did learn a lot about the Sound, which by the way, its not a Sound at all, its actually a Fjord. Not only was Milford misnamed but the other 13 Sounds in the areas turned out to be Fjords as well. Since this was discovered so late and Milford was already so famous with half a million visitors each year, the name was kept Milford Sound. They did try to  alleviate this mistake by renaming the whole region Fiordland. Its a nice gesture, but they misspelled Fjord. Almost New Zealand...
So this fjord was formed a long time ago when a glacier moved and cut through these solid granite mountains. They were able to measure the speed at which the glacier moved and they believed it moved up to 10 meters a day, which is crazy. These mountains that were left behind would normally resemble the mountain faces in Yosemite of just bare rock, but that region of New Zealand is so wet that moss can gross on the rock face.  The moss grows really thick and in some parts up to a foot deep. The moss catches seeds so plants and even trees are able to grow using the moss as a foundation. Sometimes though the vegetation can become too heavy and you get a tree avalanche. You can look at the mountains and see huge bare patches on the face and see where a whole side of the mountains vegetation has slid off into the water.

On the mountains you can also see the constant stream of water and waterfalls coming down the mountain and feeding the fjord. The fjord has both saltwater from the sea and freshwater from the rains and glacier waterfalls. The top 10- 15 meters, dependent on rain fall, is all freshwater. This top portion is dark and murky because all the water leading to the fjord has been tinted with minerals from the ground. The top layer is also the coldest water. Underneath the fresh water is the salt water. In the deep basin the salt water can be up 250 meters deep. The guide said that this was a popular place for divers because the mixture of water makes a unique environment and when you dive, you can actually see a distinct line where the fresh and salt water meet.

A majority of the freshwater in the fjord comes from the two permanent waterfalls, Sterling Falls and Bowen Falls. We got to kayak right up underneath Bowen Falls. The falls are 160 meters tall (3x the height of Niagra) and its fed by a glacier. This waterfall supplies all of Milfords power and also all of its drinking water, which does not need to be filtered by the way.

Me and Jules in front of Bowen Falls

We had a really great trip on the water, but after a few hours of wet tennis shoes and paddling, your ready to get off the water. We drove back to the lodge, which I found out later that I left my camera on the shuttle :(, and im still waiting for it to be shipped to me. We took an easy night playing Yahtzee and walked the glow worm trail. Ya that seemed neat at the beginning to see glow worms, but turned into stumbling through spiderwebs and tripping over logs in the dark. It was still good just for the crack of it.

Tuesday 18-  We woke up a little later this morning so we had a late start. We headed back to Queenstown and arrived around 3. Celine, julia, and I decided to ride the Gonadala up the mountain. We got some pretty awesome views of Queens. From there we watched all the paragliders floating down the mountain, well on a whim I decided to go paragliding. Why not? It was the best place to do it! It was pretty cool. You get all strapped up and you basically walk down the slope of the mountain until the wind picks up your shoot and then you float down. For those of you too weenie to skydive, I would recommend paragliding, its fun. After that little excursion, we hit up Fergburger again. Jules and I split the Sweet Bambi this time : Deer patty, plum chutney, brie, lettuce, tomato, and onion with fries and a beer. Fabulous dinner. After that we ran into some of our friends from Swinburne and we all headed to World Bar where they were going to start their pub crawl. The specialty at the bar were Teapots. Just as it sounds, they take a small teapot and fill it with one of their fancy mix drinks then give you some shot glasses or a cup to drink it with. We ended up following them on their pub crawl and had a pretty good time. We would roll up to a bar, dance our faces off for 45 minutes, then move on. There are some really cool looking bars in Queens. We left around 1230 and headed to our favorite lake spot, out past any lights. The stars at night above the lake are crystal clear. Not too often can you go out at night and be able to see the milky way.

Me over Queenstown

Wednesday 19-  We all woke up early because it was skydiving day!! I was sitting this one out though but it was going to be the first dives for Julia, Celine, and Doug.  They were all super nervous before hand but they all said that once they were strapped up, they were ready. Celine jumped from 9000 feet and Doug and Julia jumped from 12000 feet. The difference in free fall time from 9000 to 12000 is about 20 seconds. It was the perfect day to jump. They were all kinda jacked after jumping ha, but for good reason. After, we went to the market, fixed lunch by the beach, then swung by the skydive place to pick up everyones pictures and videos. By 3 we were heading to Fox Glacier for our glacier hike in the morning.  It was quite a drive and we ended up driving in the night. Found out there are quite a lot of possums in New Zealand and all of them wait till the last minute before darting in front of your car. They were introduced to NZ awhile ago from OZ and they are now a pest and most people would suggest just running them over. Just a helpful hint if youre ever in NZ.

Thursday 20- Julia, Celine, and I all signed up for the glacier hike on Fox Glacier. For the hike they provide you with boots, socks, gloves, snow pants, rain jackets, grampons ( metal spikes you tie to your boots to walk on the ice), and a back pack if you need it. They drive you to the front of the Glacier and from there you hike up to the ice, then you get to walk around on the ice. We spent a few hours trekking around this massive ice sheets checking out the different formations and cracks. It was pretty neat, I had no idea really what a glacier looked like. I had this vision of a pointed iceberg sitting on the land, which to some extent it is, but not so mountainous. The  guide said it changes every week so every tour is different.  What is a glacier you ask? Well, ill tell you. Well in order for a glacier to form you need a cold, wet region. As it so happens at Fox Glacier, they can get up to 45- 80 meters of snow a year along with 11 meters of rain. To get that much rain and snow, the region has rain showers 200 days out of the year. That would get so old, i dunno how the residents deal with it. All of this rain helps to freeze the snow and all that weight helps to compact the snow down to sheets of ice only a few meters thick. These sheets start to pile up and over time, gravity wins. The ice will start to slide down the mountain cutting out deep valleys. Fox glacier now only moves up to a meter a day but you can see the valley that the glacier left as it receded back. The valley it forms is "U" shaped and has a flat bottom. On the side of the valleys you can see the height of the glacier by the distinct vegetation lines. The glacier trip was pretty great, thats something I most likely will never experience again. If you get a chance, do it, it kind of blows your mind.

The front of Fox Glacier. They are hard to see but on the other side of the valley there are people standing on top of the glacier. They are tiny. It gives you a little bit of an idea how big this ice sheet really is.

After the hike, we hopped into our campervan and drove through Franz Joseph up to Arthurs Pass. Along the way we stopped at an overlook and while we were there we had a run in with a Kea. Keas are a type of parrot ,that are now endangered, and they are really smart and curious. The issue with keas are that they are a lot of fun and they get really close to you and will hop into your car and onto you tables, but they also get into your things and cause a lot of problems. They also become dependent on people if you feed them and then they can no longer survive in the wild. Well we definitely werent helping their cause. Our bad.  Well we made it to Arthurs Pass and since it was still light out we hiked up to the Devils Punchbowl Falls. Of course we didnt follow the path and instead bushwhacked our way through the woods. Its really the only way to hike. The falls were beautiful. We hopped the rails and hiked right up under the falls.  I really enjoyed the hike and spending time in the woods. Honestly, all the trees and bushes there are straight out of Lord of the Rings, its great. They are all old and gnarled and has this almost creepy vibe to them.  After the hike we stopped at the Alpine Hotel and bar and had some munchies. It had this log cabin feel with a pool table, fire, and leather couches. We all had beers, had some nachos, and dessert and sat around the fire. It was great. Even better, the owner had a giant, fluffy orange cat named Ernie! Not only did I have cake and ice cream, I got cat cuddles too. Awesome. We also met this guy Oliver who had been traveling around NZ as well. We all hung out drinking beers and had a game of scrabble. It was the best end to a night.

Ernie is the cats meow for sure

Friday 21- Its the first day we got to sleep in some without an alarm, but unfortunately we woke up to a park ranger knocking on our window to let us know that we needed to pay for sleeping in the campsite. Almost a peaceful morning. On top of that, I think all the altitude changes got to me because I woke up with a sore throat, no bueno. We then had another run in with keas, they were all over the campsite and kept jumping on the tables while we were trying to eat breakfast. One even got into Celines bag and pulled out her scarf. We then jumped into the car and drove the 300 km to Hanmer Springs where they have the hot pools and springs. We arrived around 3.  The hot springs are a bunch of different outdoor pools, not all being fed by the hot springs. There were maybe 15 different pools, including a kids play area and a lazy river. They also had sulfur pools and mineral pools all between 25-42 degrees Celsius. You just hop from pool to pool, relaxing. Its the best way to end any long trip. After hanging out in the pools for a few hours we walked around Hanmen looking at some shops, but there really wasnt a lot going on since most places close at 5. We eventually had to drive out of town about 20 minutes to find a campsite and curl up for the night.

Saturday 22- Our last morning in NZ and the last day with the campervan. This morning I did wake up pretty sick, I was really stuffed and just achey all over. Im glad that whatever I caught held off until the last day. We packed up and organized some and started back to Christchurch where we had to return our campervan by 4. We got into town early so we went to check out the downtown. I did not realize but about a year ago there was a large earthquake that destroyed most of downtown. What we found though was this grassroots community of shops and cafes all built by shipping containers. It was really cool and something that I wish Cincinnati had. The containers were painted bright colors and stacked on top of one another and had glass fronts to create shop fronts. The project is called Restart and its a way to bring people back to downtown and create jobs. We hung around, ate some lunch and sat by the river for awhile. Fun fact, the river in Christchurch is full of eels. Im really not joking. We saw this family take out this raw meat and start throwing it in the river and being the curious one, I walked down to check it out. Sure enough there are a pile of eels at the bank snatching up the meat. The things you learn... Well by 4 we finally had the campervan gassed up and returned to Britz. So long friend, you were good to us on those smooth roads, but those rough roads and wont be missed. At this point we had a choice. Our flight didnt leave until 6:15 the next morning so we could walk and find a hostel to hang out and sleep in, or save the $25 and hang out at the airport. Guess where I spent the next 14 hours? ya, the airport. Let me tell you, there is nothing harder or more cold than an airport floor. In the end we boarded our plane on time, caught a quick nap, and then was lucky enough to have a friend pick us up from the Melbourne airport that morning.

The trip was amazing and beautiful and im so lucky that I had the chance to go. If you are thinking about going, go. Its awesome. Also for those of you who are Facebook friends with me, go and check out all my New Zealand pictures!


Monday, 24 September 2012

Mid Semester Break - New Zealand

Hey All!

So its been an exciting week for me! As I told you before I was taking a trip to the south island of New Zealand for the break and it was an amazing time.  New Zealand is so beautiful, the whole of it looks like a post card, its pretty unreal. We spent a full 8 days traveling around and seeing a ton of the sites so im going to break this into a few separate posts, so not to overwhelm you.

A few things you should know about New Zealand before we get strated, they really arent that important but I learned about them, so I think you should too.

-New Zealand is the cousin of Australia, but there is this strange love hate relationship between the two. More towards the hate on the NZ side.

-Apparently the OZ accent and the NZ accent are different, thats what they say anyway, but good luck trying to find the differences.

-The nickname for a New Zealander is, a Kiwi.

-Sheep > People

-There are no snakes in NZ. No joke.

-There are no large predators such as wolves, bears, coyotes, mountain lions, or foxes. Pretty much just sheep.

-Anything that is considered a pest, such as the possum, is not a native to the islands. They pretty much blame Australia for all the pests they have.

-Only one poisonous spider, and its kinda of a weeny poisonous spider that doesnt do a whole lot of killing.

-Sand Flies are the devil

-Yes, part of Lord of the Rings was filmed there, and yes I did partake in an epic journey where parts did feel like I was in the movie. Awesome.

-For some reason "sweet as" is the most popular phrase there. Makes no sense when people use it in context. Hell, it doesnt even make sense on its own.

We laid out our trip before hand so at least we had some sort of schedule to follow.  We would be flying to into Christchurch on Saturday the 22nd. From there we would drive straight to Queenstown to stay the night, then the next afternoon drive to Milford Sound. Spend 2 nights in Milford then drive back to Queenstown, where we spent 1 night. From Queenstown we drove to Fox Glacier to spend 1 night, then drove to Arthurs Pass the next day and stayed the night. From there, we drove to Hanmen Springs to spend 1 night, then in the morning we drove back to Christchurch.

Saturday 22nd - We arrived in Christchurch at 5:30 in the morning. We had to leave our place by 11 to give ourselves enough time to check into the airport, then we had a 3 hour flight to NZ. We actually arrived in NZ at 3:30 am our time, but there is a 2 hour time difference, so all of this made for a sleepless night. We had to hang around the airport till about 8 o'clock when our rental agency opened. From the airport we took a shuttle over to Britz, the company that we hired our campervan from. It actually did not cost a lot to rent the campervan for the week and it really was nice. Inside the van was a fridge, a stove top, a microwave, a toaster, cutlery, outlets, blankets, sheets, pillows, 3 seats in front, 2 seats in back, sleeping space for 4, and a rented gps; so really it had everything you could need. As an added bonus the company has a "pantry" where other travelers left food and supplies they didnt use on the trip and others are welcome to take whatever they need. Saved a little bit of money that way. After getting settled and adjusted, it was time to actually drive...on the right hand side of the car and on the left side of the road. It was just a bit intimidating to say the least. Doug volunteered to drive first, which was eh ok with us. Celine sat up front to make sure Doug stayed on the left side of the road. It was really unnerving, the whole time in the back Julia and I stayed alert, and slightly freaked out, its a new experience to re-learn how to drive.  It was pretty smooth sailing for the most part, one slight incident where one person may have forgotten the left hand side rule, but we survived. We planned to drive all the way to Queenstown, which was about a 4 hour drive. Since we got our campervan so early we took our time driving. We stopped  a couple of times to take pictures and check out the mountains. We stopped at Lake Tekapo then Lake Pukaki, beautiful and clear. It made you wish that it was summer time just so you could go swimming.  We arrived in Queenstown around 6:30 and it was already dark so finding a campsite was a bit difficult, so we parked it in a parking lot for the night. Super convenient because it was next to a rugby field and had bathrooms. I felt like a real life bum washing up in a public in a park, but thats alright, I didnt mind. We actaully went out that night for Dougs 22nd Birthday! Have to say though, Queenstown is not nearly as poppin' as a Melbourne Saturday, but it was still a good time. We bought him  a Candy Paddle at the bar, which was 5 skittles shots all of a different color so that it looked like the rainbow. It was cute. Then after we ate at the famous Fergburger where the burgers are as big as your head! Pretty much my type of burger. We ended our night and retired to our hobo parking lot campervan.


Sunday 23rd-  We woke up early the next day in order to pay for our parking spot so as not to get any tickets. We pretty much walked around the downtown, checked out some stores, then stocked up on groceries for our trip. If you have ever been to Denver or Colorado Springs then you would have a pretty good idea of the town atmosphere. Its really laid back with small roads and tons of shops, lots of snowboarding bums, and a view of the mountains in the background. We went down to a camper site by the Lake Wakatipu shore. Beyond beautiful. The water is a crystal clear turquoise and you can see straight to the bottom. On top of that it was a really sunny clear day. That was by far my favorite campsite that we had.

By the afternoon we were cooking a delicious breakfast of eggs and ham in the sun! It even
warmed up enough (maybe 65 degrees) that we decided to take a dip. That was the quickest dip into the water I have ever take. Literally, it was painful. We couldnt stay in for longer than 20 seconds. But hey, we got some sweet pictures and thats all that matters. After the brisk swim we cleaned up then packed up and headed off for Milford Sound. This is the first time that I gave driving on the left hand side a crack. It was still a little unnerving but I felt a lot more confident after watching other people drive. You just have to keep reminding yourself at every turn,  " To the left, to the left. Everything in the van on the lane to the left". Sing it to the Beyonce beat and it makes a lot more sense. Driving really isnt too bad because NZ is really unpopulated. There are only 5 million people in total on both of the islands and roughly 900 billion sheep. Roughly. I had no idea that NZ is mainly farmlands, everywhere. My god, I thought Indiana was bad, but thats the minor leagues compared to this operation. You can drive for 5 hours and only see fields of sheep. Granted, the landscape is much prettier and does vary and has a beautiful mountain backdrop, but its still going to be dotted with sheep. Also these "towns" we drove though are tiny, basically 20-30 houses...and thats it. Im not sure where these people get their gas or groceries. Anywho though, right before we arrived to Milford, we had to drive over these snow covered mountains and at the end we drove through a stone tunnel and when we came out on the other side we drove right into a cloud. It was crazy, we were so high up and had to work our way down a winding road out of the cloud.

Finally below the cloud

We finally pulled into Milford and was completely shocked by the size of it. Tiny. I assumed that for such a famous place that there would be tourist places, a town, restaurants, the works, but no. The town consists of a bar/restaurant/information center, a lodge, and an airstrip for Milford air tours....thats it people. The population of this so called town, maybe 30 people, who are only there because they are the tour guides or they work the lodge or the restaurant. There really isnt a town at all; no houses, no grocery store, no gas station, no hospital, no fire department, no NOTHING. So from our many options we chose the lodge and we were able to take our first showers. yay for cleanliness.

Ill be back later to update, so keep an eye out!


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Mid Semester Break Already!

Hey All,

Sorry its a little late on the update but its been a pretty busy week. We had our midterm presentation for Sustainable design on Wednesday and I have to say it went pretty well. We still have one more project for that class at the end of the semester. In the coming weeks I will have 2 more projects to finish up for my other classes, so its going to be pretty hectic! But other than school, all has been going well. I went out with my room mate Aine and her visiting friends from Ireland to downtown Melbourne to walk around and shop some. Downtown is pretty beautiful.

Another big event this week, I started work! I am working at Aloha Massage as a massage therapist. I went through a couple days of training and on Wednesday I had my first client! Its a little stressful since its a new experience and its dealing with clients, but im sure with a few more clients it wont be as hard, or awkward hah. Its alright though, as long as im making money i can deal with it. Ill have to let you know how that goes.

Last night Swinmates, the international group for Swinburne, put together a booze cruise for the students. It was pretty fun. It was for about 3 hours we were on a boat in Port Phillip Bay drinking and eating free pizza. The views of the city were pretty beautiful. We also got to see the docking yards with all the crates and huge ships. It was a pretty good time I must say.

Biggest new of all, for those who have not heard yet, Doug, Julia, Celine, and I are leaving for New Zealand today!!! We are all so excited. Weve rented a Campervan for the week and we are driving around the South Island for 8 days and seeing the sights. We are flying into Christchurch and arriving a 6 am. From there we are picking up our campervan, stocking up, then heading to Queenstown, on the way passing Lake Pukaki and Lake Ohaw.  We are staying in Queenstown for a few days to do the Gondala and luge, then one day driving to Milford Sound to do sea kayaking, then back to Queens where doug, julia, and celine are skydiving. From there we are heading to Franz Josef and Fox Glacier where we have Book a glacier hike. From there, if there is time we want to drive north to Abel Tasman Park and from there back to Christchurch to stay the night then fly out on Sunday. Its going to be amazing! Il come back and share all my beautiful  photos!!  So it will be another 10 days or so before you hear from me again!