Sunday, January 24, 2010

All good things must come to an end...NZ post #4

Continuing our road trip further north, we stopped at the Waitomo glow worm caves. Now, those of you who know me well, know one of my biggest fears are worms. I think it stemmed from an experience in third grade, but that is beside the point. Needless to say, I was a little hesitant when Josh said he wanted to do this. Ideally, he wanted to float down on a little inner tube through the cave, but I had to draw the line somewhere. Well, I don't know if I am just totally uneducated when it comes to the insect world but I was quite relieved to learn that glow worms aren't actual slimy night crawlers that glow in the dark. They are maggots (which aren't much better) and they secrete this mucus (which too is disgusting) that hangs from the ceiling in which they catch their prey. But somehow, the whole experience was pretty mesmerizing. We took a boat ride through the caves covered in glow worms, which gave the effect of a starry night sky. Kind of a random thing to do, but worth the stop. Next up, the beach side town of Paihia. The first day there we attended church at the small branch. The Branch President and his wife were kind enough to invite us over for a traditional Maori dinner. The Maori's are very generous and hospitable and I witnessed this with every one we came in contact with. Another highlight of the trip was the R. Tucker Thompson boat ride. I think Josh secretly wants to be a pirate(...and a cowboy, and a fire fighter...and a...) and was so excited he pretty much took over the ship. There were only a handful of us on the ship and we were responsible for "running" the ship, i.e hoisting the sails, etc. After our hot chocolate and biscuits on board we sailed for a couple hours to the shore. We were able to climb to the top of a hill and look out over the ocean. On the hill were bunkers and other structures built for lookout use during WWII. It was an unexpected surprise and I thoroughly enjoyed this historical aspect we encountered. When we got back to the ship, we had lunch waiting for us, and a rope swing calling Josh's name. It was a unique experience that we both really enjoyed! The last day there, we went to the Waitangi treaty grounds/Maori museum. I had been wanting to go to something like this, to get an idea of some of the Maori history and culture. We attended a show where I was taught how to do the poi poi and Josh did a mean haka (think BYU football pregame). Well, knowing our vacation was coming to an end, I decided I wanted one day to relax on the beach. Josh however had other plans and wanted to take on sea kayaking. Needless to say, Josh went kayaking, I read my book on the beach, which led to a short nap, which in turn led to a severe sunburn. Lucky for me it was the last day of our vacation, unlucky for me, it made for a pretty uncomfortable plane ride home. Well, as the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end", and it was bitter sweet leaving this amazing country. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn't so anxious to see my kids, I couldn't get home fast enough!! We were truly blessed to have been able to go on this trip. Thanks to my in laws (a billion times over) for watching our kiddies and everyone else who helped out. And a big thanks to my travel agent a.k.a Josh, and his months of planning that made this trip even better than I could've ever imagined. Farewell New Zealand...that is until next time. hehehe

I was surprised, this was a lot harder than it looked...check out the concentration!
Josh and one other guy were the only ones who braved the rope swing. Josh definitely won style points on the back flip, however his form could use some work.

Ahoy Mateys! Josh climbing up to the crows nest (don't worry Mama Dean he had a harness on)

I like this pic because you can see the R. Tucker Thompson in the background.
This might look like raising the sails was easy, but give it some time...

and clearly I was struggling. I gotta hand it to those sailors, this was hard work!

Just a random pic of a "dairy". We frequented these for our sugar fix. Josh introduced me to all sorts of delicious junk food including, new flavors of ice cream, gummy candies, and of course the beloved licorice, I couldn't get enough! If I drove by a building like this in the U.S. there's a good chance I wouldn't have eaten anything from there. But the ghetto wallpapered facade drew me in every time!

We couldn't take pictures in the cave, apparently the glow worms were a little camera shy, so here is an okay image of the glow worm caves.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

North Island or Bust! NZ post #3

Farewell to the South Island! Josh and I road tripped it in our awesome station wagon from Wellington (Josh's mission) to Hamilton. There aren't any free ways in New Zealand which made for a windy ride through the mountains and over the hills. Since they drive on the opposite side of the road, I left the driving up to Josh (at least that's what I told him, but really I just needed a good long nap in the car:) So, what I saw when I was conscious was some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. Miles and miles of green rolling hills, some covered with sheep...lots of sheep and mountains along the horizon. Looking back I wish I would've taken more pics of this, but oh well. Along the way we stopped at some places where Josh served on his mission. We were blessed to meet up with a woman he baptized, found another woman he taught the discussions to, and happened to run into his old landlord. We ended this part of the road trip in Hamilton where we met up with one of Josh's companions and his sweet little family. We enjoyed spending a couple days with them, going to to the tree lighting at the temple, and attending a temple session with them as well. This was another highlight of the trip. On our few travels that we have made to different parts of the country and the world, it is always such a humbling, and faith promoting experience, to know no matter where in the world you are, the gospel is there. Always, always, always you will find faithful, loving members who welcome you in and share your same beliefs, and for me that is such a huge comfort and blessing.

This was no Temple Square, but they put on quite the production each night as the trees are lit. Very few people decorate with Christmas lights, so it was definitley the place to be, and I must say quite beautiful.

Not, the best pic, but a general idea of the green countryside, and little sheepies dotting the land.

Yep, this is it! The infamous apartment that Josh burned down on his mission. Let's just say the landlord had not forgotten who Josh was. haha And oddly enough, was pleasantly surprised to see and speak with him.

After a little searching for where she had moved, we found the apartment of a lady whom Josh taught on his mission. When he knocked on the door and told her who he was, she started to cry and was overjoyed to see him. She had gotten baptized and was a strong member of the church. I was touched to see how the gospel (through my husband) had influenced and blessed this woman's life and how extremely grateful she was for those hardworking missionaries 13 years ago!

Overlooking Wellington, the Capitol, with the De Silvas (Josh baptized the woman). They too were so excited to see Josh, and I was amazed at how much their son knew and remembered about him.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Next stop-Queenstown NZ post #2

Ahh, Queenstown, the Adventure capitol of the world. Where people do all sorts of crazy, life threatening things and where responsible, sensible wives take the pictures of their husbands doing these crazy things. We stayed at an awesome resort and enjoyed some of the adventurous things this unique town had to offer. Josh being the maniacal husband that he is decided to go bungy jumping...again. You'd think once in your lifetime would be enough, but you can't blame him, he wanted to jump off the bridge where bungy jumping originated. I must admit that back in the day, I would have jumped (no pun intended) at the chance to go. However, now that I am a mother and a responsible adult (haha...I know) I really had no desire to take the risk. I was nervous watching him, but mostly because I wanted to get a good video and some pics so we didn't have to spend and arm and a leg on the video/picture package that they try and sell you. Phew, luckily he survived and got the rush he was looking for, hopefully that will hold him over for a while. Anyhow, we also rode the tram to the top of a mountain overlooking a lake. A beautiful view followed by lunch at the top. We couldn't resist the "luge" as they called it...think Alpine slide plus go cart, and clearly it was a blast. We rode these things down part of the mountain going down dips, through tunnels, etc. and boy was it fun! In Queenstown we also enjoyed running along the wharf, eating lots of good food, shopping, and relaxing.

The rare Kiwi bird, and the only one we saw. :)

Just in case you couldn't tell...I was having a good ol' time!

This was just after Josh got dipped. He went in as far as he could go, which was to his shoulders, however some get up to their waists.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kia Ora! NZ Post #1

I decided I should probably start posting some pictures from our New Zealand trip since their are so many beautiful pictures of the awesome country. We had a bit of a rocky start to the trip when our video camera got stolen out of our checked baggage and our digital camera broke in our luggage as well. This meant a new camera for us, and so many memorable experiences to take pictures of! So, I will warn you now of a picture overload, and try to give you a little glimpse of our "gonna be hard to top", "even better than I anticipated" trip to New Zealand! I thought I would start this first post with one of my favorite parts of the trip, the Milford Track. We signed up for this trip in June or July, as they only allow 40 unguided hikers on the trail per day. The spots fill up fast, so we were excited we got in and realize why it is such a coveted "trek" (as they call it in NZ). We stayed in bunk houses with our group and got to know people from Israel, Germany, UK, Belgium, New Zealand, and Australia. We hiked at our own pace and could come and go from the huts as we pleased. The scenery was unlike anything I had ever seen before, similar to being in the rain forest, with green, wet, mossy foliage, and mountains that took your breath away at their absolute enormity and beauty. All in all, it just really is one of those things that you have to see in person to truly appreciate its magnificence!
In order to fight off the didymo bacteria, we had to "disinfect" our boots before hiking.
We found this creature on the bottom of a fallen tree. The white stuff was a hard rubbery growth, which clearly looks like a face. Josh added the finishing touches and gave this little guy a stylin do'.
Ahh,the end of the trail. I enjoyed the trek, but the last day I couldn't get to a hot shower and warm meal fast enough!
Believe it or not, Josh made some serious sacrifices for this photo to be taken. What you don't see or hear is me telling Josh, "Whatever you do, don't get your boots wet, it's not worth it (hiking four days with wet boots=pain/blisters)." Nothing in the rain forest dries out, it was the first day and he was walking along the river bank to reach this vine. No sooner had I warned him, when he fell in, got not only his boots wet, but fell in up to his waist. I couldn't help but laugh, and Josh got the picture on the vine.haha,

Just a pretty picture!
Everywhere you looks waterfalls could be seen falling off the mountains. Some big, some small, but because of the large amount of rain, the waterfalls are so powerful they cut through large rocks and ripped down the mountains.
When we reached the top of the pass, we were hiking in a snow storm (wasn't prepared for that!) We stopped at the warming hut hoping the snow would stop and clouds would pass, so we could enjoy the much anticipated view from the top. We had just left the hut and readied ourself to continue on when the clouds parted and allowed us a few amazing pics!
This was one of my favorite plants that we saw. I guess it was kind of fern with these spongy (everything seems "spongy" in the rainforest) chutes that coiled at the top. You really can't get the full effect in the pic, but take my word for was pretty neat. :)
Here's an idea at how clear the water was. Obviously it was pure run off, and actually the water we drank. I just loved how the blue matches the beautiful hue of my hubby's eyes. (I couldn't resist the cheesiness)
This is what is known as the Milford Sound. It was great to be able to take the relaxing boat ride back to shore and enjoy one last view of this absolutely amazing scenery.