February 26, 2011

Long Drop

I am imagining an endless supply of hot running water, my choice of toilets, a vacuum, soft clean sheets, jacuzzi tub, a mirror, clean clothes and the list goes on. We are on day 21 of living out of our Nissan pulsar hatchback and our tent. I would be lying if I said I wasn't getting ready to come home. We have another 11 days to go though. Everything is pretty manageable, except for the nights when we just find a spot to throw our tent and not even a long drop (this is what New Zealanders call an outhouse) is involved. Sad when an outhouse becomes luxury. We are those people at the local pool who are taking advantage of the showers and brushing their teeth.

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

We are all ok

Hi Everyone! Thanks so much for your emails. We are all ok in Twizel, New Zealand. Luckily we had decided to hang back another day and we avoided the Christchurch earthquake. We are heading today to Kaikoura which is past Christchurch. The earthquake was only felt a bit here in Twizel. We actually didn't even feel it but the librarian where we were at did. We all listened along as the news came in. The librarian had 2 grown kids in Christchurch and we awaited their phone calls. Luckily they were both safe but it sounds like it was even worse than the one they had in September. Roger, Judith and Cathy left town at about 10am and they weren't planning on giving Christchurch a miss, so they should also be ok. We hope to catch up to them today.

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


Imagine the sound of rain on your tent and then realizing that the sound was not rain but rather black flies trying their best to get in. Amelia and I lay awake in the morning in our sleeping bags looking up at the top of the tent which is is covered in black. Pretty much the last thing we want to do is get up and venture outside but we know that the day must begin. We prepare for our exit by tucking our pants in our socks, pulling our hoodies up around our necks and spraying any exposed bits of flesh. As we step outside the pesky black flies still manage to find a tasty spot to feed on. This morning it is the palm of my hands and in between my fingers......omg....so unbelievably itchy.

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!

Girl who makes the curry

We keep coming back to the ocean. Each night we pull into a new campsite and off in the distance I hear her.....Mother Ocean. I feel a twinge of sadness but I am called to go and see her. As I stand on the edge I ache with sadness....the realization that we don't live on the ocean anymore sinks in. We are officially tourist. We aren't "those" people anymore. The froth of the ocean comes close to my toes and I jump back. The sun begins to set and I need to walk away. This isn't my life anymore. I don't want to remember the ocean as a visitor, I want to keep my memories intact of nights alone with Mother in the cockpit.....I am crying now...I remember...

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's House

After a few nights in a tent we decided that it would be nice to spend the night in a real bed. We gave our friend Heather from the sailboat Ceol Mor a call. Heather and Jim and their boys had set up their "on land" life in Wellington and let us know we were welcome anytime. It was time to cash in on this offer :-).

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


Where to begin.....the days have been jam packed.....glow worms, waterfall hikes, blueberry picking, volcano climbs and movies in the tent....so many stories it is hard to know which to tell. We are most definitely "seeing" New Zealand.

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

Close Your Mouth

Ok so imagine sand dunes for as far as the eye can see.....and way off in the distance in the hot blazing sun, you see a zig zag footprint trail up the side of the tallest sand mountain....

This is the sand mountain that Alex climbed with boogie board in hand and slid down going comma cozzie style face forward down the mountain! Absolutely insane. Sand flying everywhere and me yelling, "Close your mouth!"

He drug his toes behind the board hoping they would slow him down but they didn't seem to do much. When he finally reach the bottom he just laid there with a look of shock on his face. I stumbled across the hot open sand and collaspsed in front of him. A smile slowly spread across his face and I felt relief. He said that is was so unbelieveably scary but really fun. It looked to me like he had sand in every crevase.

Amelia couldn't resist and began the hike up with the board. About half way up she found a pair of really cute abandoned sandals and lost all interest in sand boarding. lol. She did jump on and coast down the hill but once at the bottom her first thoughts were about climbing back up to retrieve the sandals.

We had such a great day. We all hiked around the Northern most tip of New Zealand and had a refreshing dip in the huge surf. We found a beautiful spot to stop and enjoy ice cold beers from our chilly bin (this is what they call a cooler here).

So what is the best way to end a great day???.....by getting lost. We were exhausted from our long hike and then our climb in the hot sand but we also got to look forward to cooking our meal at the campsite in the dark. Good news is that it is like I am living with 4 Graham's and no one seemed to have any issue with this. Dinner was served and dishes were cleaned in record time. These are a hard working bunch that are hard to keep up with. I might just have to give up and sit back and relax....wish me luck ;-)!


February 07, 2011

Someone's been sleeping in my bed...

"Which bed's do you think they are sleeping in?"....I wake up Graham at 4 am to ask him.

This is our first night with the new owners in possession of Artemo. This is going to take a bit of getting use to. We are officially "Boatless".

We handed over the keys Saturday afternoon. I was so thrilled to see the new owners excited as they stepped on board. I did feel worried though as Graham introduced them to all the systems on the boat. I kept asking..."What about this....." or "What about that..." and Graham would say that they had covered it. It reminded me of when we left the kids for the first time and we went over all the careful instructions for how to care for them. I would always worry that we had forgotten something. The only difference was that I could call numerous times to check on them. Probably best not to call, so for now I am left just to wonder how Artemo is treating them and how they are treating Artemo.

Grahams folks (Roger and Judith) and his Aunt Cathy arrived at Artemo on Saturday morning. Unfortunately their flight had been delayed the night before and they ended up having to stay in the airport for a few hours until the car rental office opened in the early morning. Once they had their car they then had to drive for 3 1/2 hours to the marina. These folks define "Perry Style"!

We were so happy that they were able to see Artemo before we handed over the keys. I only wish they could of had a sail on her. It was so nice to see Roger, Judith and Cathy with beer in hand enjoying Artemo's comfy cockpit and the sweet New Zealand breeze. I am sure going to miss moments like these.

We are on the road now and of course in true "Perry Style" we have 2 tents and are hitting the Department of Conservation campgrounds. You really can beat the price and the hikes are fantastic. We just got back from hiking a trail with a ton of the massive old Kauri tree's....very cool.

Oh and I forgot to mention the best part.....now we don't just get to enjoy Graham's awesome cooking, we also get to enjoy his moms. I may come back with a few of those pounds I have lost :-).

"What do you think they are doing now?".....hmmm....happy hour in the cockpit.....movie in the salon......cooking dinner in the galley......reading a book in a berth.....or maybe varnishing........hmmmm....that makes me feel better! ha

Boatless in New Zealand

February 03, 2011

Being Artemo

Well here I sit at 5 in the morning, wide awake. I feel all mixed up inside. Artemo has been sold. I don't know even how to begin to tell you how I am feeling.

For so long now planning for Artemo and then owning Artemo has been the main feature of my life. It feels so strange to be standing now at the edge of a brand new adventure that is in its infancy. I keep telling myself to look forward because the looking forward is so exciting and new but every so often I remember and it hurts so much. I quickly try to push the memories from my mind and look ahead again.

I laid awake last night thinking how all our cruising friends refer to us as "Artemo". If we see them on the street you can always hear a, "hey...Artemo!"....it occurred to me that we won't be "Artemo" anymore. I loved being "Artemo".These have been some amazing years and I include the goal setting and planning in these years. What an adventure.

On Saturday the new owners take possession.They are a fantastic English couple who I know will love her as we have. It is going to feel so wrong to walk away from her though. She has kept us all safe. She really did know what to do when we didn't. I remember Graham saying to me, "Don't worry Artemo knows her way around the world."

I am happy though that a new couple with energy and excitement will step on board Artemo and continue to breath life into her. We look forward to seeing her continue to improve. She looks so spiff and polished now. In the past month Graham and I have done all those projects we wish we would of done a while ago. Graham even found time to replace the cockpit floor. Oh and you will all laugh at this....Alex and I finally set up the shower inside and saw how it worked.....brilliantly! Why the heck weren't we showering inside I ask you? We even have hot water when the engine is running.

We had our last cement island party last night. Champagne was popped, songs were sung and hugs were had. Amelia wrote a beautiful song for her friends on Mojo and as she was singing it, I couldn't help thinking how blessed we are to have met so many colorful vibrant people. I was thinking if they were an abstract painting they would be splashes of red, purple, yellow and orange. We won't forget any of you....Gemini, Aries, Mystic Journey, Gromit, Simpatica, Stray Kitty, Mojo, Nikita, High Five, Solange, Shannon, Malikalilou....and the list goes on. I look forward to continuing to follow all of their adventures.

The timing is pretty good for this all to happen. Grahams folks and Aunt arrive today and tonight they will spend our last night with us on board. Tomorrow we will hand over the keys and head off on our tour of New Zealand.

Beyond this point family discussions are still in progress :-)! The knowns are that we will be returning to Canada and working on those 3 important things..."Home, Work and School!" Very exciting. The kids are still dreaming of a owning a dog and Amelia is thinking about how she will decorate her room. We all still think of Toronto as our home but we will need to go and pack up our life in Lacombe. It will be so strange to go back to our house in Lacombe, that we left in 2005 and go through our things. It will be like a time capsule.

Well the sun is rising and it is absolutely peaceful outside. Artemo is sitting beautifully in the flat calm water....time for my morning coffee in the cockpit....man I am going to miss this....