New Zealand - the South Island

Boy... have I ever neglected the updates!! I guess an update of New Zealand's South Island is better late than never... right?

Day 11 - Christchurh (Kiakoura)

I drove two hours north of Christchurch for a dolphin boat tour... only to have the tour cancelled because the morning group didn't see any. So... yeah. Stupid animals. The drive itself was pretty nice, I had fish and chips for lunch, and took my time driving back to Christchurch, after viewing some baby seals frolicking in a stream. 

Day 12 - Christchurch

A day hanging out in Christchuch. There was an earthquake that devastated the city about four years ago... and the downtown area is still not even close to being rebuilt. It looks... wartorn. I visited the Cardboard Cathedral and had a great little tour by a volunteer, and also visited the International Antarctic Centre. Is it weird that I want to work on Antarctica for a summer season?

Day 13 - Christchurch to Oamaru

I'm pretty sure I found the weirdest town in New Zealand... Oamaru. It's probably the steampunk capital of the Southern Hemisphere, and steampunk is something I just don't get. At all. There was a steampunk convention or something the weekend I was there... and those people are... interesting. The Steampunk Musuem did have this cool room with a mini light show of sorts, but the rest looked like junk. I also wanted to see the little blue penguins, but the little jerks decided not to come ashore that night. I'm 0/2 on paid wildlife excursions so far. 

Day 14 - Oamaru to Dunedin

On the way from Oamaru to Dunedin I stopped at the Moekeri Boulders... round boulders in a rather small area on a beach. They were extremely interesting to see, and I managed to get to the site right before a family of about a zillion people showed up and started climbing all over the rocks! I arrived in Dunedin on the Queens Birthday holiday, so the town was pretty dead. Until about 11pm - when I got to experience a 4.7 earthquake, that was only 5km deep and centred less than 30km away. That meant for a lot of swaying! No aftershocks though!

Day 15 - Dunedin to Invercargill

Cadbury World Chocoate Factory!! We weren't allowed pictures inside, but we did get samples! Saw how some of the chocolates were made, and saw some being packaged. It was a pretty decent way to spend a couple of hours - apparently it's the last Cadbury factory that does actual tours of the working part of the factory. 

Day 16 - Invercargill to Te Anau

Since I'd seen the most northern tip of the North Island, I figured I'd have to see he most southern tip of the South Island, in Bluff. The drive into Te Anau was decent... the roads on the South Island are definitely straighter than the North Island! 

Day 17 - Milford Sound

A couple of people told me, that since I grew up when I did, Milford Sound would be a bit of a letdown. It was beautiful, and I got to see a friend I went to university with for about ten minutes, but the people were right... glad I went though!

Day 18 - Te Anau to Queenstown

Bungy jumping! Yup - I did it. And it was awesome. Well, once I'd finished saying "Scheizer" - apparently when I jumped I turned German - and realized that I'd live, that is!  I highly recommend it. I also went up the Queenstown Gondola to watch the sunset - a beautiful time to go!

Day 19 - Queenstown to Auckland

It's kind of hard to believe that is spent almost three weeks in New Zealand and hadn't spent much time in the largest city. I watched my first Super Rugby game... sadly the Auckland Blues suck, but the experience was great!

Day 20 - Auckland

In all honesty, I didn't really find the city of Auckland all that great. I'd already gone to the top of the Sky Tower, and I didn't really have much else on my to do list. I walked down to the wharf area, walked around the shopping area of downtown... and just took it easy. I discovered that Dunkin' Donuts has the largest takeaway teas available in the country, but other than that, the day was a little meh. 

Day 21 - Auckland to Melbourne

Goodbye New Zealand, hello Australia!!

Next I'll update my trip to Uluru... damn that was amazing, and well worth the expense!

New Zealand - the North Island

Kia ora!

It's been almost two weeks since I first landed in Auckland after a rather uneventful, but exceptionally long flight. I'm lucky I can sleep on planes, and I'm also lucky that I managed a successful bid on an upgrade to premium economy on my Air New Zealand flight. 

Here's a recap of my travels around the North Island...

Day 1 - Auckland to Hamilton

This was pretty much just a "get acclimatized to driving on the wrong side of the road" and find a place to sleep day. I did manage a drive out to Bridal Veil Falls for a quick bit of sightseeing. 

Day 2 - Hamilton to Taupo

I visited the Kiwi House... which was nice, but with the stupid Kiwi birds being nocturnal they won't let you take a picture of them (I'm assuming that's because most stupid tourists don't know how to turn the flash off on their cameras). Then it was off to the Wiatomo and Ruakuri Caves. In all honesty - if you have to pick one cave, pick Ruakuri. Better caves, small groups, and you can take pictures. The Wiatomo caves were very touristy and you can't take pictures. 
The pool of water in that picture was some sort of pond used in the Lord of the Rings. 

Day 3 - Taupo to Rotarua

The morning started off with a boat cruise on Lake Taupo out to a large Maori carving that you can only get to by boat. We had great weather, so the pictures turned out really well. 

Day 4 - Rotorua

Today I did a 5km hike around the Waimangu Volcanic Valley during the day, and then saw a Te Po in the evening. 
The Te Po was great... I saw a cultural show (including the famous Haka), and ate food cooked in a hangi, a pit in the ground. The Maori culture is fascinating!

Te Puia is also home to a couple of geysers, that we got to see at night enjoying a hot chocolate on a naturally heated staircase. 

Day 5 - Rotorua to Whangarei

Hobbiton day! Also the longest driving day yet...

Day 6 - Whangarei to Paihia

I decided to go north of Auckland, rather than drive down to Wellington. Stopped in a town called Kawakawa that is know for a public bathroom designed by some eccentric artist that apparently likes to break pottery...

Day 7 - Paihia to Kaitaia

Visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds - this is where the original treaty between the Maori and the British was signed. Saw another cultural show (with another Haka), and wandered the grounds. I also decided to take a three hour detour to see Cape Reinga - awesome decision. The Cape is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet, and is pretty much the most northern part of New Zealand. Almost lost my camera a few times from wind gusts though!

Day 8 - Kaitaia to Dargaville

A must sea on this part of the island is Tane Mahuta - the second largest Kauri tree still standing. I expected it to be taller... since it is about 1700 years old!!

Day 9 - Dargaville to Auckland

I stopped at the Kauri museum on the way back to the city, and was treated to an excellent chat with an older gentleman that worked there. We talked trees, history and more trees. It's talks like that one that have made this trip so far. 

Day 10 - Auckland to Christchurch

I explored Auckland a bit in the morning before my flight to Christchurch. Because the weather was so good, I decided to head up the Auckland Sky Tower, since the last time is been through the city, it was so foggy I couldn't even tell there was a tower, and didn't want to chance crappy weather when I returned in a week. 

In all, a great first leg of the trip. 1960 km driving on some of the windiest roads I've ever driven on, eight different accommodations, and three waterfalls seen!

I'm currently on the South Island, and will write all about it when I'm back in Auckland next week. 

Countdown to VACATION!

I have a confession. It's been eight months since my last post. 

I'm still alive. I just lead a rather boring existence. 

But... it's now four sleeps until I head to New Zealand and Australia, so I thought I'd resurect the blog to use as a travel diary of sorts. 

I'm pretty much packed. All my flights and transportation are booked. I've prepaid for a number of excursions. My accomodations are all booked. 
I've even made an offer through the AirNZ website to One Up my flight to premium economy. For 13 hours, more butt and leg room will be appreciated. 

I think I'm ready to go. 

Next stop, Auckland. 

No... you are NOT Tim Thomas!!

So... this keeps happening...

A couple of weeks ago...
And then just this morning...
Really?  Why?  Why choose a professional hockey player to constantly use as your profile picture?  Is it because I'm the only girl online that knows who Tim Thomas is and keeps calling you on it?

And as a side... why choose Tim Thomas?  The guy is an idiot.  Wouldn't show up to the White House after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup because he's a Republican.  Really?  Douchy move.

Online dating (not that I'm actively searching... I haven't been on a date in a loooong time, and rarely, if ever make contact with anyone online - I spend more time deleting "s'up" messages than anything else) is hard enough as it is - why would you start with a lie?  

If you're not happy with your looks, don't put up a public picture.  If you just want to get laid - try Tinder.  But seriously, continuously lying about your age and what you look like is just plain fucking douchy.  Constantly opening and closing accounts is creepy.  

And yes... "Mr. Tim Thomas", I'll keep reporting your picture as a fake and I'll keep responding the same way every time you message me.


From the World Wide Web

A wrap-up from around the interwebz this week...

I hate cilantro - and there's actually a scientific reason why!

I want need a pair of these boots by Poppy Barley... anyone have a spare $325? I've never spent that much on shoes before... but these would be custom to my feet!

This woman is my cantankerous twin! Damn rights I'll tell a kid to behave!

I don't really have a reason to buy a new car... but this kid is basically me on the road...
And since I seem to be all anti-kid this week, and beautiful cartoon from The Oatmeal.

Minimalism Game, Week 2

Well, since it's almost the beginning of Week 4 of the challenge, I figure it's time to post Week 2's household evictions!  The challenge is getting harder (I'm actually up to Day 27 of pictures, which means I'm really bloody lazy in updating this blog), but part of me figures that I could probably go a few days past the end of the month.

Parts of my house feel emptier... of the twenty or so drawers in my bedroom, half of them are empty.  The shelves in my walk-in closet are half bare.  My kitchen table has nothing on it.

But overall, I can't say that it looks totally different.  But I know that in the end it will all be worth it - as long as I don't fill up all the empty space with more crap!

105 things gone so far... still close to 400 to go!!

Minimalism Game, Week 1

One of my dreams is to have one of those homes where there's no clutter... the kind where you put one decorative piece on a shelf and call it a day.

Let's just say, my condo is far from that.

But, this month, I'll get closer to that goal.

A co-worker and I have decided to do the Minimalism Game - starting at the beginning of the month, you get rid of one thing on the first, two things on the second and so on and so on until you get rid of 31 things on the 31st (why did we choose such a long month - why we couldn't have done this in February is beyond me!).

We've made it through the first week, and are halfway through the second.  We've set up a Facebook page to post pictures of what we're getting rid of, and so far, so good (I just wish I hadn't taken two car loads of things to the VV boutique in the last couple of months, cause Day 31 is going to be a bitch, and I've already been told I can't throw away 31 grains of rice).

Here's a picture of what was ridded from my house in Week 1... 28 items gone, 450+ to go!

The one where I talk about boob sweat and rashes

You've been warned.

I've got this... rash between my boobs.  It's not itchy, or painful... but it's there and I don't want it to be.

I originally thought it was heat rash, and followed all of Dr. Google's advice to get rid of it (sadly, I can't stop being hot and sweaty, but I tried most other things that were in the realm of reason).

Needless to say, it isn't heat rash, and it's still there.

So, my next visit to Dr. Google suggested maybe I have a fungal infection (yeah... like a fucking yeast infection) on my chest.  It's common says Dr. Google and the multiple women on a message board I found (or at least I'm telling myself that) - especially those with bigger boobs.

Off to the store I go to buy some over-the-counter anti-fungal medication.  Everyone online suggested a brand we don't have in Canada, but I made note of the chemical compound that was in it hoping there was something like that in the Great White North.

Turns out there is.  Canesten.  

Which is marketed to both men and women - to men (mostly I'd imagine since they have gross feet) as a cure for athlete's foot, and to women (mostly because they have vaginas) as a cure for yeast infections.

Now we get to the point of this post (you had to know it wasn't just about boob sweat and rashes)...

The active ingredient is the same... Clotrimazole 1% w/w.

The size of the tube is the same... 15 g.

But the Canesten for women costs more!  $.70 more!  $7.99 for "athelete's foot Canesten" and $8.69 for "yeast infection Canesten".  I know that's not a lot... but seriously?

What the actual fuck?  I'm supposed to pay extra for something in a pink package because it's marketing for my vagina and not my feet?

So... lesson learned... if I ever get a yeast infection I'm treating it with athlete's foot cream.

The Year of the Quiet Carmen

I just got my performance review for the year... and while not surprised at the things on it, I've decided to action on some of the comments.  I can honestly say that this year some of the comments hit hard - especially the ones that aren't true and are based on years old practices that I have made an effort to change.

This year (or at least the next while) is going to be the "Year of the Quiet Carmen".  Apparently I'm too confrontational and insular.  I guess knowing my job and expecting others to know theirs is too much to ask.  I guess dealing with my clients issues from the perspective of my part of the department is too much.

So, while not rolling over and playing dead, my department is going to find out what it's like without my comments and suggestions.  I'm tired of getting the side-eye from rocking the boat, when the boat we're on needs rocking.  I'm tired of not getting mentorship and support from above, because what I do in my job isn't what everyone else does and nobody seems to know what I do on a day-to-day basis.

I actually just found my job description in the past couple of weeks... and it turns out my job is to be a glorified checklist checker.  I can do that. I make awesome checkmarks.

I'm going to have to remind myself on many occasions (like before every staff meeting), that this is my year to be quiet.  It'll be hard, but apparently necessary.

I guess I'll just be doing my job, and not trying to make it more.  Theoretically less stress for me I guess...