***LATE POST (like way way late)***
As I headed into the last leg of the nanowirmo process I needed to take a breather from writing, so I came to my blog 😉 **then I waited several months before I came back** This has been such a harrowing experience; attempting to write a 50,000 page novel in just 31 days. I am not a perfectionist by any means, but trying to breeze through this novel-sans edititing every step of the way-has forced me to ease up on the reigns a bit, in writing and thankfully in holding myself accountable for trudging through the days, only now hitting the 2k/day mark, not to mention the much appreciated distraction from the ensuing events of the world.
I unfortunately became rather detoured with a recent celebration in Reno, NV; my 30th birthday (Nov. 19th)! Until now, I had never enjoyed the opportunity to hang out in this adult playground. The hubby and I enjoyed seeing Adam Corolla live and a steak and seafood dinner. The restaurant served New Zealand Red Deer, which I was totally unaware is quite the delicacy in the land of the great white cloud. We danced the night away to a live band and retro 90s dj. There even served us a flaming bowl of alcohol! However, I recall very little beyond that. This trip did allow me to remain secure in the fact that, when the chips are down (cheeky casino ref.) my husband will always be there for me 💙
Fast Forward>> to the most awe inspiring, nerd-fest honeymoon of all time 😍
We flew out for Auckland New Zealand in late December. Landing at the airport, the weather was cloudy with a little humidity, it truly felt like we were in a topical oasis. The husband and I spent 14 days driving a Britz camper van from Auckland on the North Island all the way down to Queenstown on the South Island, where we would fly out of and back to Auckland for another 13 hour flight back to San Francisco Intl.
We did some touristy stuff like visiting the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Winter Garden Pavilion, and went to the top of the Sky Tower. Highly recommend Giapo for gourmet ice cream. I had my first exposure to a New Zealand favorite; Hokey Pokey and officially became obsessed. A coupe days later we went to the fascinating Waitomo glow worm caves and learned that back in the 1800s our 30 dollar admission fee was a mere 8 cents! (Side note, the money in NZ is SO colorful). Driving through the lush country sides we noticed two different deer farms, which I though was strange because on any given day if you are around the rivers near our home of Sacramento, CA you can almost always spot deer, prancing out in the open, unenclosed. Only later did we realize these adorable creatures would likely demolish the lush environment if allowed to roam as they do here in Cali., and I recalled that expensive NZ deer steak we saw on the menu back in Reno.
We stayed in some wonderful Holiday Parks, the most memorable being at Himatangi Beach on Christmas. There were so many local families that loved to stay in these parks. They are perfect for hooking up your camper or motorhome if you need water/electricity, or if you only had a car and tent, most offer non hook-up sites and you can even find free car parks too. People were so friendly and helpful. I loved how everyone was comfortable talking to strangers and sharing stories and travel tips. We took a picture at Mordor on Christmas Day, which was pretty much as epic as it gets. We’ll go back someday to experience the multi day trails that can be found on the Alpine Crossing. Then again… just walking uphill for 20 feet proved challenging for our bettered knees and backs. The one downside we discovered was on Christmas, when NO liquor stores were allowed to sell alcohol. It proved very convenient on every other day though, having plenty of Four Squares and PAK’nSAVE stores when we were in need of food and supplies.
Wellington was by far our favorite city. We stayed here for two days, had a wonderful time drinking craft beer and ale, eating at open air restaurants, and I even got my nails done (#ladyluxury). We booked a tour at the Weta Workshop, where I came face to face with an actual fully functioning Warthog from Halo. We saw and held props from District 9, The Chronicles of Narnia, and of course, Lord of the Rings. This is a must do weather you are a movie buff or not, it is a priceless and inspiring experience. For those of you familiar with the jaw-dropping show Westworld, we saw a life size silicone mold of none other than Matt Damon being created with that fast pace needle work you see in the opening credits. It was truly surreal.
Hanmer Springs located on the South Island, was the coolest water park. Instead of boasting chlorine water, every pool was filled with natural sulfur springs. They even had slides! The most amazingly large portion of fish and chips were served at a small food shack just outside of the park, much more fresh and less expensive than in the states. Not to mention, something about the coffee was amazing (even though when you ordered regular coffee, to kiwis this automatically meant it included milk) and the eggs were the most brilliant orange we’ve ever seen!
Lake Te Anau was a really nice little town surrounding the most beautiful lake, after staying here for a night, we headed down to the Christchurch ruins, Dunedin, and finally Queenstown, where we found the second most amazing ice cream at Patagonia.
Queenstown was an obvious hot spot. Busier than Wellington but smaller so the crowds made it seem like we were in a much large city. There were no shortage of extreme activities to sign up for; bungee jumping, jet boat rides, the coolest looking chair lift you could see from most areas of the town, leading to to what I was told was a café and restaurant that rarely had reservations available, so we skipped it. Opting to instead, to drive up the mountain for about 40 minutes to the town of Glenorchy. This was a rather quaint country town and yet boasts so many fimiling locations! From Isengard in LOTR, to several forest shoots seen in the Hobbit movies, even a scene from Wolverine was filmed on one of the gravel roads we traveled on.
After our luxurious stays at Holiday Parks, having access to showers and laundry service, we chose to spend New Years at a DOC campground near Lake Sylvan. We later ate at the same spot where the cast and crew from LOTR use to hang out at during filming, on the walls hung typical American nostalgia, including James Dean and Spaghetti Western memorabilia. There was even an old western map of Reno, NV hanging near the bar 🙂
TIP: Be sure to purchase local bug repellent to rid yourself of the nasty little sand flies that swarm this location. Our weak and useless Off spray did zilch to keep away this tiny little guys, and I was unfortunate enough to get so many bites on my feet it lead to temporary but very unpleasant skin issues.
Dart River boat rides, a thrilling adventure we highly recommend, was not cheap but totally worth it to see the surrounding landscape from the river, and explore tucked away groves and World Heritage sites. The driver was absolutely crazy! Water sprayed us everywhere (luckily they loan you oversized ponchos to wear under the life jackets). He would signal when we were heading into 180 turns, and there were two boats zipping around each other at the same time.
And finally, now that we’re all up to speed (pfew). It was a lovely first Valentine’s as newlyweds. My super amazing husband sent a special delivery marking the previous day as our six month wedding anniversary! I felt incredibly loved as I carried the large and awkwardly shaped bright green box up the stairs to my office. Then, later that evening, I spent a few hours watching my new roller derby team mates participate in our first scrimmage of the season, #GalentinesDay. Lastly, the following day I completed my public service entry level probation, and began the first course towards earning my MPA certification online at the University of Missouri. So many great things have already occurred, and even more are inevitably on the way… 👶