March 14, 2011
March 01, 2011
We spent the morning at a really cool museum in Wellington that had an area within where they simulate an actual earthquake. It was pretty neat to experience this so soon after the Christchurch event and be able to see a bit of what they must of gone through. From the museum we made our way to the grocery store. We bought stuff for lunch and dinner and then hopped back into the overstuffed car to find the Lord of the Rings location.
My job in the car is "The Navigator" and god help the woman who doesn't have a firm handle on exactly where we are going! The Wellington map we have is a free one and is more than a little challenging. After more than one...."Do you know where we are on the map?" and a few "I can't drive and navigate."....we finally arrived at the lookout point for the city. We had thought we would have our lunch here and then proceed via the gps coordinates to the spot.
Lunch sounds easy right...?? WRONG....we pack up our car so tight. I put the air mattress and chairs in and quickly close the hatch and then we stuff pillows and sleeping bags from the back seat into the trunk....so opening the trunk and finding the peanut butter and jam is a full on sweat fest! You can just imagine the great mood I am in once I have located both of these items. I then get the pleasure of balancing all the groceries on the roof of the car in the blowing Wellington wind and trying to make sandwiches as the peanut butter slides away......this is the point that Alex decides to be a witty teen and says..."Mom, I think you just need to breath."....I think I may kill him....I tell him to take his sister up to the lookout and give me a few minutes. Amelia decides she doesn't feel like it. I reply, "Fine get in the back seat and buckle up and prepare for the worst!" Remarkably all of a sudden they both feel like a short walk to the look out! lol.
I get my few minutes to breath and eat my sandwich and Graham reviews the map....I know that soon enough it will be my task to figure out as we drive if we are heading towards the gps spot and watch for signs and review the map.....I try to just enjoy my p&j on the curb in the wind. Soon enough we are all in the car and I catch a break and take us in the right direction and even navigate us into the closest car park.
We all exit the car happy and excited and we hike through the bush watching as we get closer and closer. We all review the pictures in the book and compare to our surrounding and then finally....YIPPEE...we are there. Just exactly as we remember from the movie....so cool....so neat....you hear a bunch of..."Frodo must of stood right here...." and "Man, look it is just like the movie."......All of the dysfunctional family moments wash away and we are left with only a fantastic memory.
February 26, 2011
Now don't get me wrong, I can't imagine paying 60 some dollars a night for the privilege of staying in a parking lot...disguised with the name "Holiday Park". You do get to use the hot showers but come on people.....$60 for a shower!! As soon as we head for our Department of Conservation tent site and take some secluded gravel rode down to the end of a breathtaking valley I realize that we have made the right decision. The call of the hot shower hasn't out won another beautifully serene New Zealand site.
Another plus is that we are officially out of "black fly" country! Thank goodness. 2 nights was more than anyone would want to handle. You feel as if you are going a bit batty. On the last night there I had to get up in the middle of the night to pee and all I was concerned with was the black flies. I was trying to get my clothes, socks and shoes on as quick as possible, so I could get out and get back in quickly. As I rounded the back of my tent in the darkness and was swatting the bugs, I came face to face with a fat bushy sheep. I was stunned. He was stunned. We both stood frozen in time staring at each other. I felt like I had walked right into a children's book. I had a quick flash of the sheep charging me and then I thought I would try taking a cautious step forward to see what it would do. Thank goodness sure enough it turned around and ran down the hill.
We have spent the last few days in Kaikoura. Graham and I spent some time here 17 years ago. It is always cool to come back to a place you have been. Graham thought it would be fun to tour the area via bicycle and it turned out to be a great idea. We all rented bikes, along with his Aunty Cathy and hit the NZ roads. Our first stop was this beautiful rocky beach area with the NZ seals. As Amelia and I came to the end of the bike trail and we looked ahead for Graham and Alex, I noticed a seal immediately beside us. At this moment Amelia asks, "Where are all the seals?" and she stops her bike. I pointed right beside her and she JUMPED! The seals don't seem quite as friendly as the ones we remember from Galapagos. This guy bared his teeth at us and gave us a "get lost" grunt. It was pretty cool though.
After this Alex let us all know that the trail ended up ahead and all that was left was a hiking trail "switch back" up the side of the hill. Yup you guessed it.....up we went huffing and puffing. We made it to the top of the hill and from there we were pretty much riding a trail along the top ridge of all the hills. Pretty nice. Every so often they would have these wooden 3 steps up and 3 steps down thingies, to make things difficult. No worries though, we are a tough lot and we just would pick the bikes up and over and carry on.
Once we were on the other side we made our way around the peninsula and all the way back into town. We figured we had burned enough calories and treated ourselves to.....omg....are you ready for this...so bad....chili cheese nachos, burgers and fries, fish burger, and even a jumbo thick milk shake. I haven't yet forgiven myself.
We ended the day by doing a really cool loop all the way around the outside of town through all the farm land. We passed horses, cows, chickens and of course sheep. Picture the greenest grass valley ever with a ridge of mountains along one side. It was a wonderful day and a great way to feel as if you really saw the town.
We ended the day with a vegetable stew and a massive healthy salad to make up for all the grease and of course a bottle of Shiraz to wash it all down.
Living it up in the New Zealand Campgrounds
ps...WE ARE SO EXCITED!! Alex said today that every night feels like the night before Christmas. I have to agree. We have so much to look forward to we all feel giddy.....family, friends, a dog, a new home, new schools, work and lets not forget TIM HORTONS!!!
February 22, 2011
Thanks again everyone for checking in on us. We most definitely feel loved.
Julie, Graham, Alex and Amelia....safe and sound in New Zealand
February 20, 2011
The campsite we are at is absolutely amazing except for the black flies. On one side of our tent is a beautiful New Zealand beach and roaring ocean with amazing crashing waves and on the other side off in the distance is the most amazing New Zealand glacier...Fox Glacier. Totally scenic. Luckily last night we were able to enjoy happy hour in our camping chairs gazing up in awe at this massive piece of moving ice before the black flies set in, in force!
On this day we set off to get up close and personal with the glacier! I had an idea that the day might be an adventure because we had heard that they no longer allowed people to hike right up to the glacier without being part of a guided tour. This is the kind of thing that Graham seems to take on as a personal challenge.
When we arrived at the parking lot there was a huge sign letting everyone know that there was a nice short 80 meter walk to the lookout area. I knew that Graham had other plans as he loaded up our backpack with water, food, first aid kit, etc... Cathy had decided to come with us on this adventure and she got to see first hand how days like these unfold.
We hiked to the end of the path and stood at the roped off finish point with a number of other tourist. Behind the rope was a full size photo cut out of a park guide with his hand up in the stop position. The sign read....."Proceed no further without a guide!" Another sign next to this one listed all the potential dangers of proceeding.....falling rocks, moving ice, glacier rivers, and one other I can't remember. Graham became quiet and began to scope out the situation. I could see him looking for potential trails and weighing the risks. At this point in our adventures I usually hang back and try to decide for myself whether or not I am going to join him. I could see tour groups on the glacier and I could see the trail they were following. The risks did seem manageable but the part that made me uncomfortable was climbing over the rope in front of all the other tourists. Cathy hung back during all of this and seemed to be content just to wait and see where this all ended.
A tour finished and came past us all and we had heard that there wasn't any jail time or fines for pushing past the signs, so all at once we made the decision to just do it and we pushed down the ropes and climbed past the friendly photo of the park guide!
The climb to the glacier was pretty easy. Nothing compared to our volcano hike a few days previous. We past a few tours and no one said anything to us. Everything was going great.......until Guide Graham decided it would be cool to hike off the path on the sides of the wall to overlook the glacier. We all followed but with each step I was getting more and more nervous. We stopped for lunch and as we began to eat I looked up at the ice shelves above us and could see rocks and gravel sliding down. I decided lunch was over and it was time to head back to the marked trail. I won't lie to you I was freaking out a bit. Again Cathy took it all in stride and packed up her lunch and followed anxiety stricken Julie and the kids back to the path.
As we walked back I heard this huge sound of an avalanche and I looked across to the other side of the glacier and watched as part of the side wall slipped away. My heart was pumping! Finally we were at a point that I felt safe. We stopped and let my heart rate return to normal and we finished our lunch and took a few pictures. Alex yelled at me for high tailing it out of there without him and accused me of leaving my children behind! Too funny. I told him I left him with Nurse Cathy and that she would of taken care of him. I reminded him of the time we saw the pirates and he hopped down below and left Amelia and I on deck and he was dangling by his tether on the stairs! Pay back!
At this point Graham made the whole day worth it. He found this amazing trail that took us along the side of a mountain. We passed waterfall after waterfall and saw some of the most amazing scenery. The trail was dangerous and we did pass signs reminding us of the steep slopes and edges and not to proceed without a guide but this all just seemed to add to the excitement. At one point we even needed to descend a ladder. Totally wild. I loved it. I stopped Graham and thanked him yet again for pushing me beyond my comfort zone and he replied...."I probably could of picked a better spot for our lunch!" Man I love this guy.
The grand finale of the day was a picture of Graham hanging over the life size cut out of the guide with his hand in the stop position and a huge grin on his face. As we walked back to our car, Cathy remarked on what an amazing day it had been. She got to see first hand that "Perry Style" isn't always smooth sailing but most often it is a happy ending!
Who knew this would be so hard? It is funny how easy it seems for the other 3 members of my family? I am moody and anxious. I feel lost. I feel so much....I probably just need a good long talk with Rob. He would bring me to my senses. A little..."suck it up buttercup" therapy. Life is exciting now and we have so many opportunities before us. We are lucky.
I seem to be examining every aspect of my life with a fine tooth comb. I feel like I need to justify my existence. I feel like I need purpose.
Graham made curry the other night and I went through all our bags and gathered together all the ingredients and brought them to the picnic table. I chopped the cabbage, carrots, green onions, cashews and onions. I opened all the cans...mandarins and coconut cream. I held the fry pan as he stirred the ingredients and arrange the bowls so he could easily dish out our servings. As everyone ate the curry they remarked how this was Graham's "best curry ever". Everyone seemed to go on and on about "Graham's" amazing curry. I sat back and listened and I realized that I was just the girl who cut the vegetables. I have so much to think about. I seem to be searching these last few days for something. Not sure what....I am thinking these feelings are familiar....each time we close a chapter of our life and begin something new I am sure I go through the same self reflection.....I think I want to be the girl who makes the curry......not sure yet.....I do enjoy organizing our life and planning things out but this means I will never be the "girl who makes the curry"....hmmmmm....lots to ponder as we travel about New Zealand saying good bye over and over again to Mother Ocean....
I have probably shared to much but I have been nothing if not honest with this blog. Our adventure on the sea has come to an end and I am just me....just as I was and am....
ps...I have had a few days to ponder this entry before posting and you know what....Graham and I make one heck of a team. I am so looking forward to returning home and I am going to embrace planning and organizing our life and helping turn our dreams and goals into reality; whether that means making the curry or cutting the vegetables. I sent this blog to Rob before I posted it and he said all the right things.....his exact words were..."..you make the curry in life"!
February 16, 2011
Heather was exactly as we knew she would be....wonderfully excited! We gave her about 6 hours notice that the Perry 4 were going to be invading her life. Her response was..."Can't wait!". Man we are lucky to have friends like this.
When we arrived at her posh executive style apartment we were in heaven. We were in the hot shower with dual heads and using the washer/dryer and Internet within the first 1/2 hour.
Heather surprised us with the news that Stray Kitty arrived in town a few hours earlier and would be joining us for dinner! We were all so excited. A cruiser party on land. Heather made us an unbelievable butternut squash, mushroom risotto and a melt in your mouth roast beef with my favorite....horseradish! OMG we were in heaven. 5 bottles of wine later my face hurt from laughing so hard. Man I am going miss these folks.
We met back up with Grahams parents and his Aunt on the ferry this morning. Right now we are on the South island in a beautiful campground on the ocean. It is about 8pm and the perfect temperature. A game of Uker is being played at the picnic table, a paper is being read in the camp chair and a frisbee is being thrown in the field. Pretty much a picture perfect evening.
February 14, 2011
The next stop on our Lord of the Rings tour was at Mordor. Yes....you heard me...MORDOR!!Absolutely stunning and exactly as it looks in the movie. Mordor is basically at the foot of a volcano. We had the latitude and longitude and used our GPS to arrive at the exact location where Gollum jumped down onto the hobbits. You can call us geeks. Well maybe not me....I asked the kids if Dobby and Gollum were friends. Am I the only one who thinks this is funny? LOL.
Once we had our pictures we let the kids know that we were climbing the volcano. Amelia couldn't wrapped her brain around why we wouldn't just take the chair lift up. Finally after much whining we decided that it might not be a bad idea to let the kids meet us at the top of the lift and then hike the few hours beyond there to the crater rim. We totally raised her hopes and gave her a $20 for 2 tickets. She came back to let us know it was $14 each and this was enough to give us a wake up call and ask ourselves....what the heck? We are in NZ to tramp and tramp we will!!
The hike began with grumpy Millie.....and we stumbled and climbed up fairly large rocks. Over head we watched as the folks in the chair lift rode above us and every once in a while letting out a "hello". You can imagine Amelia's comments :-).
About halfway up her mood changed and the singing began. We came to a beautiful small shower waterfall and the kids cooled off. We enjoyed a snack and an amazing view. The hike continued....straight up. It was such a satisfying feeling once we had arrived at the top and saw others stepping off the lift. I saw Alex puff with pride as a fellow asked in surprise..."Did you just climb up here?"
We ate our lunch and prepared for the next 2 hour hike up to the top and snow level.....if you can believe it. The hike made me realize how out of shape I am. The final 100 meters was straight up in sandy earth and rock. My legs ached. Amelia had long since stop singing and was not a happy camper....but let me tell you once we reached the top and looked out at the glorious New Zealand landscape it was all worth it. Amelia and I climbed together to the tallest jagged point and I had that beautiful amazing feeling well up inside me that makes hard things so worth it.....I think you call it....fulfillment.
I should mention that Graham's folks and his Aunt hiked up this volcano with us. His Aunt Cathy looked like she has been hiking all her life but swears she hasn't. His mom and dad are avid hikers....with base camp Mount Everest in their list of accomplishments. It was pretty cool to see 3 generations of Perry's climbing up together.
Alex made a New Zealand snowball at the top and Amelia held the snow in her hand and remarked...."Well I can check, touching snow in New Zealand off my list of to do's now!"
After our gin and tonics and beef stew we were all exhausted. The kids decided movie night was in order. We set up our big tent so all 7 of us could lie on one side and we put the computer on the chilly bin on the other side. We were laughing so hard watching "Rat Race" that all of a sudden our door flew open and there stood a tired backpacker asking us to keep it down. You can imagine his surprise as he saw all 7 of us lying there like a tin of sardines.
ps...the name of the town is Whakapapa....and the WH is pronouced as a F sound......and the next A they kind of pronounce as a uh.....so you can just imagine how often the kids said the town name and laughed themselves silly.....ok....truth be told we were all laughing!
February 08, 2011
February 07, 2011
February 03, 2011
January 20, 2011
We ate breakfast and quickly got into the car. With no stops on the way we made it to the glow worms in record time. When I say glow worms I mean the beginning of the walk to get to the glow worm caves. We started our walk and for the next half an hour we walked and walked and walked; we had to avoid many cow plops.
When we got to our first cave my friends and I looked at the mud and decided to take off our shoes. The mud was so thick it was disgusting. The six of us went down into the cave while Un-Kee Bob (my new name for Uncle Rob) and Mom stayed out. It was pretty tricky getting down into the cave but we made it ok. When we got to the bottom of the cave it was really dark and we could only see 1 glow worm. It was pretty lame, until Dad found a crevasse with about 50 glow worms in it. It was so cool.
When we climbed out of the first cave we had to walk for another 10 minutes to get to the next one. It was much bigger than the previous one and much steeper. We scrambled our way down the rocks and finally made it to the end of the tunnel. OMG amazing! It was so cool. We all screamed out so loud. Mia, my best friend, was the loudest. The glow worms sprinkled the ceiling like stars sprinkling the sky.
Finally it was time to get back to the car. We quickly turned around and headed back to the car. Today was definitely a day to remember.
January 18, 2011
Straight away we started getting inquiries and once the holidays were over we have begun to have showings. This has been a bit difficult because we are working on getting all the little nit picky things done like all the exterior varnishing and interior painting while having people come by.....basically a recipe for relationship disaster :0. Oh and throw in the fact that we have had company here for a majority of this time and we want to show them around and vacation with them and continue to work on the boat.....well, it has been a bit stressful.
You all have heard about "Mr Perfectionist" well imagine him now times ten. He is working to get everything 150% perfect for the next owner. Artemo has never looked so good. I took a bunch of new photos that you can check out on "TradeMe". We have stripped all the exterior wood down to bare and are now working to apply the 15 coats required when the weather permits. We hauled Artemo out last week and painted her bottom and let me tell you....you haven't seen a nicer bottom :-). We are back on the water now and yesterday we went for a little motor around and my heart ached just to keep going and find a nice secluded anchorage to kick back in and continue our adventure. For now though we continue the cosmetic fix ups at our cement island in Opua.
Moms visit was great. We can't thank her enough for coming and seeing us and Artemo and seeing first hand the life we have been living. It was so nice to share it with the woman who gave me my "YES I CAN" attitude. Mom was a gracious guest and overlooked our stressed out moments and relished in the good ones. Highlights for me were a girls day out doing winery tours and a stop at the chocolate factory and of course camping with mom and the kids. Mom seems to make friends where ever she goes and it didn't take her long to have us invited over to the most friendly NZ families campsite to make some new friends. The fellow Rob, even took Alex fishing early the next morning and much to Alex's excitement he caught 3 good size rainbow trout! We spent our last night together at a hotel and I watched as mom swam in the pool with the kids and she dove down and held her breath and played with them and as I watched I realized how lucky I am to have so many people in my life who love "me".....the whole miserable wonderful me. Miss you already mom!
I should mention that Rob and Brian's visit was also great. The house that Rob rented was AWESOME. Picture us unlocking the front door and the kids running throughout yelling "OMG"..man they were happy. In true Perry style though we did manage to have a dryer fire and had to call the local firemen. I have always wanted a house full of firemen and I got my Christmas wish....LOL. I had been doing laundry to beat the band since we hadn't had free access to a washer and dryer since forever. The dryer was a pretty cheap unit and must of overheated. We were watching TV late one night and the breaker blew and the fire alarm went off and then we smelt smoke. I ran straight to the kids room and with my well practiced...."We are all going to die" face I yelled at them to wake up and get outside. Once they were safe I saw that the dryer was on fire and I called Graham. He yelled at me to go to the neighbors and call 911. He managed to suffocate most of the fire by the time they had arrived. The firemen took the dryer off the wall and took it outside and disassembled. Regardless we couldn't expect to have a holiday without a story could we??
Our plans for now are to finish up the varnishing and then to head up to Auckland. Grahams folks and his Aunt Cathy arrive on February 3rd and we hope to tour the South island via car with them. If we haven't sold Artemo by the end of February then we will probably cruise for the month of March and then get ready to return to Canada in April. We are all still looking forward to doing a cross Canada road trip and visit all of you along the way. I promise not to destroy any ones dryers.
Everyone do some positive thinking to bring the right person our way to become the new owner of Artemo. It feels so strange to be selling her. She has kept us all safe and has been such a huge part of this journey, adventure and family. Artemo always knew what to do even when we didn't. I remember on day 1 Graham saying to me, "don't worry Artemo knows the way". I hope we can find someone who will love her as much as we have.
oh and Captain Graham is still my Mr Wonderful. As much as we both have wanted to strangle the other over the past few weeks, we both recognize what is just a symptom of the stress and sadness we feel...as this chapter of our life continues to close. They don't get much better than this guy....oh and I don't think there is anyone else out there who would put up with my craziness.
Ok, time for bed. Sorry it has been so long since I have written. As you can see we are digesting quite a bit. I miss you all and we all dream of our visits with you real soon.