Fizzy Lifting Drinks

Fizzy Lifting Drinks
Originally uploaded by Mac Girl.

I know that I’ve sort of abandoned the blog. That’s no ones fault by my own. By the middle of our trip I realized that I was spending far too much time messing about with my photos and not enough time relaxing, and that’s bad. So I put the photos and the blog on hold. But now we’re back and I have time… finally! Stay tuned, there’s more to come.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled travel blog…..

One of the [many, many] things that I love about New Zealand is their choice of beverage. Everywhere we went Coke was on the menu. I think we saw a few Pepsi bottles once and by then it shocked us a bit. We hadn’t seen Pepsi in days by then and the blue bottles stuck out like a sore thumb.

This explains why, when the stewardess on the Air New Zealand plane that took us from Sydney to Wellington asked what I wanted to drink and I said “Pop, please!” she gave me the blankest look that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s “Coke.” That’s all. That’s what you ask for. “Coke” means “pop” because its often the only cola on the menu, and that’s true almost everywhere.

I couldn’t be happier! I had litres of it while I was there, and got lots of photos of my favorite beverage in bottles, in glasses, and on signs.


People, For Dad

People, For Dad
Originally uploaded by Mac Girl.

Here’s a shot of windy Wellington from Saturday. We (Duane, Jim, Sophie, and I) went downtown to meet up with some of the Wellington Flickr Group. We had coffee, then went to the ukulele concert and shot photos until it was time to stop for lunch. More Wellington Flickrites were waiting for us at One Red Dog, a swanky place that serves scrumptious pizza! Shots of that later…

Anyway, dad wanted “shots of people” because “we’ve got rust and bolts here in Michigan that you can shoot!” I don’t know how to explain it without sounding like a complete nutter but the quality of the rust here is actually different. I know, I know, it’s hard to see when you don’t look at rust all the time, but it is. Trust me. I need to shoot the rust. πŸ™‚

More later!

Slow Down!!!

Speed Camera Area
Originally uploaded by multitrack.

WOW! It’s Sunday night already (that’s Sunday morning 3am-ish for you Michigan folk) and our trip is almost over. So much for keeping a daily travel blog, eh? πŸ™‚

We’ve both been taking a HUGE number of photos though… and there’s a story behind that. Duane borrowed our good friend Terry’s little Canon point & shoot for the trip and started taking photos and liked it a lot. Then Jim, our wonderful host, offered to lend him his old Panasonic and he got the shutterbug. He got it BAD. So bad that he has a brand new Canon Rebel XT on order and it should be waiting at the office for us on Monday.

Yeah, THAT bad! πŸ™‚

Let’s see, what’s happened… We’ve been introduced to “real” fish and chips (not the heavily battered, greasy stuff we get at home, no, this lightly battered and crispy around the edges… perfection!) and taken day trips to the Rumataka Mountains, Paekakariki, Foxton, and Bulls. We’ve also been all over the city, we’ve met Wellington Flickr Group members and some of Jim’s extended family.

I’m now thoroughly convinced that there are no unfriendly kiwis. Thoroughly convinced. Everyone has been wonderfully welcoming and generous, even when we’ve had little cross-cultural misunderstandings (Never call it ‘pop’, you’ll get a blank stare. Instead, call it Coke.) everyone has been patient, if amused.

Tomorrow everyone here goes back to work and school, and Duane and I strike out on our own to tour the city. More pictures will undoubtedly ensue.

Cheers, mates!


Wellington From The Air
Originally uploaded by Mac Girl.


Just for the record, when you look at a 30 hour non-stop travel itinerary and think “Oh that’s no big deal! We’ll just sleep on the plane…” Yeah. Not gonna happen, ok? Not unless you fork out for one of those ΓΌber-expensive Premier First-Class pod seats. Even then, I have my doubts!

So yes, after about 30 hours of travel (and MAYBE 2 hours of sleep each… maybe) we’ve finally made it to Wellington, New Zealand. Jim was there to meet us and demonstrated all the patience of a saint when he had to wait almost an hour between our landing and our appearance. You see, our one checked bag didn’t make it. Yeah. Among the missing are my lovely new tripod, my camera bag (though none of my gear, thank God!), our electrical outlet adapters… oh, and all of our toiletries. ALL of our toiletries.

It’s all very sad.

But we’re here, we’ve slept bunches, we’ve had our first bowl of Hokey Pokey ice cream which I can already tell I’m going to miss when I’m gone, and even seen a bit of the town already.

I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble we get into today!!!


So we’re packed, and ready, and I’m just waiting for the latest episode of GREY’S ANATOMY to download from my TiVo. Then it’s off to lunch and the airport.

I’m not as excited now. I’m all business. Between the two of us we’ve done a pretty good job of paring down our initial packing list and fitting the leftovers into two carry-ons and one checked bag (which will be used mostly to cart souvenirs and such on the way back).

Our flight is going to take about 31 hours total with the layovers and such, assuming that there are no delays. It’s been years since I flew to London, but even that was a long flight at about 8 hours. I’m not terribly comfortable with flying in my old age either, so this should be an interesting trip. I hope I can get to sleep on the plane.

Wellington, our destination, is located on Cook Strait, a channel that runs between the North Island and the South Island – the two main islands that make up New Zealand. Because of the way the islands are shaped and placed, and in part because of the beautiful mountain ranges that run down both of them, a natural wind tunnel is created in the strait. Wellington International Airport is on the edge of the wind tunnel. Here’s a short video of a few planes battling the cross-winds as they land. Fun, fun, fun!

See you on the flip-side!

Doing It With GUSTO!β„’

I know that a lot of you will be blind-sided by this revelation, but I think it’s only fair that you hear it from me… I’m a geek. Yes, I know, shocking, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

I’m also a bit obsessive (I’m fairly sure you all knew that one… uh-oh, someone fainted in the back! Too many shocking revelations, I guess…)


So yeah, obsessive. Just a wee bit. Natch as soon as the idea of traveling to Wellington presented itself I was all over the Internet trying to find out more and looking for things to do! I had a TON of trip-related bookmarks floating around on my computer, then one day I came across Gusto!β„’ and I haven’t looked back. Gusto! is a site where you can bring it all together — bookmark places that you intend to go, upload photos of your trip during and after, and you can even keep a trip blog there. (I prefer to write some of my posts off-line using Ecto, so I did not use Gusto! for this trip blog.)

The really kicker though is something that they call the “Gusto! Grabber.” You just add their little grabber tool to your bookmarks bar (works with most browsers) and whenever you come across something interesting you just hit that bookmark link and PRESTO! you get a pop-up window. Ok, that’s not the cool part. Wait for it…. wait for it… the Gusto! Grabber will create a Gusto! bookmark for the site, suck any image of your choice off of the page you’re viewing (this really helps jog your memory later), write little notes about why you want to go there, categorize it (eateries, lodging, LotR movie locations, etc.) and save it to Gusto!

I have a large-ish set of bookmarks HERE. These aren’t all places that we’re definitely going – we don’t have very much actually planned out for the trip – but it’s a good place for me to go for a little personalized inspiration when we’re looking for somewhere to go that day.

As of this writing, Gusto! still needs work. The blog system is a little wonky, and the photo organization is… well… you should probably use Flickr instead, let’s put it that way. But the Gusto! Grabber is definitely a winner. Bookmarks on steroids!

3 days, 9 hours, 11 minutes to go….


So here’s how it went down…

One night a couple of years ago while I was looking at photo sharing web sites I noticed this amazing photo of a fountain. The backlighting, the seagull landing, the perfect blue sky, and the water – so sharp it looked like it was moving – I had to pay my compliments to the photographer. That’s when I met Jim!

We started out just chatting about photography, but soon we discovered that we had similar tastes in music, books, and life in general.

Movies… not so much. πŸ™‚

At any rate, we became great friends. We’ve always said that we’d put each other up if we were ever “in the neighborhood” but being that he lives in Paradise (a.k.a. New Zealand) and I live in Grand Rapids (a.k.a. NOT Detroit!) it seemed unlikely that these offers would ever amount to much. They were sincere offers on both ends, but a travel distance of around 8,500 miles is nothing to sneeze at. We literally live on opposite sides of the planet!

Fast forward to July. My dad had just been through a near-death experience and I came to realize just how short life really is. I talked to my husband and then to Jim and we made arrangements to visit him in February – our first real vacation in seven years! February the perfect month — still brutally cold here in Grand Rapids but quite warm in New Zealand — and the best part is that the kids will have just gone back to school so the beaches will still be warm but a bit less crowded. Perfect!

I’ll be blogging here every so often up to the date of the trip, then daily (or more!) while we’re gone. If you know about RSS you can subscribe to this blog and get automatic updates. (And if you don’t know about RSS, EMAIL ME! It will change your life!) Oh yes, there will be trip photos in spades, so watch for that here as well.

Got a comment? Got a question? Want to yell at us for not smuggling you along in our luggage? That’s what the Comment link at the bottom of each post is for, so use it! πŸ™‚

Oh, and one note — you may be wondering why this isn’t all going on my regular blog. Well, I leave my blog address just about everywhere and I don’t really want to advertise to the general public that our house will be empty for two weeks, even if the neighbors WILL be watching it. Make sense?

6 days, 7 hours, and 55 minutes to take-off! But hey, who’s counting? πŸ™‚