March - May 2016
  • Day46

    I'm officially not a sav blanc drinker

    May 13, 2016 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    We had booked a wine tour of the Marlborough wine region just south of us. Trish of Marlborough Wine Tours picked us up and we were lucky enough to be to only ones on the tour. Trish was great.

    She asked us (me) what we like to drink and then crafted the tour accordingly. We first stopped at Lawson's which was great because there was a good range of what can grow in the region and each was explained well. I ended up buying 3 bottles there.

    Then it was off to Fromm. Marlborough is known for its Sauvignon Blanc, other whites but not really reds besides Pinot Noir. Fromm is an organic farm that specializes in reds. Yumm! We ended up splurging on 2 reds, one for a gift, another for ourselves.

    Next up was Framingham which had a nice cellar courtyard splashed with cool quotes. Apparently the winemaker leans toward the punk side. There we got yet another 2 bottles, one special for us to keep and savor in a few years.

    Last up was Spy Valley, home of one of 5 US military spy stations that track communications all over the world. Beautiful winery and at this point of the day, the waning sun was gorgeous.

    Head home and went to the Slipp Inn for dinner, a recommendation from Trish and guess who we bumped into? Trish and her husband!

    What a lovely day. My biggest take away. I don't like Sav Blanc but Rieslings do not have to be sickeningly sweet, so much that I bought and since have enjoyed both. Oh and that while Tom's palette may have expanded a bit, he still doesn't like whites.
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  • Day45

    Dorothy's version of NZ

    May 12, 2016 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    After lunch on the beach we continued up north to Picton. It took us forever because we kept on having to stop for pictures. At each turn the views took our breath away.

    Picton was lovely. It is where the ferry takes you to the North island but also gateway to a serious of bays, inlets and islands. We had a quick drink but had to be on our way to make sunset at our next spot. Although I do wish I had more time there to walk the Queen Charlotte trail.

    From there we took the scenic route to Havelock. This road winds along the coast with seriously spectacular views. Most corners required me to go 25km/hr (~15m/hr) and we basically missed sunset because we still couldn't help stopping for pictures.

    We finally got to Havelock and our little, very little cottage. We were here for 2 nights and had groceries for dinner and were excited to do some internet research on the coming days. No pots, no kitchen sink, simply a microwave and fridge. No internet. Ok.

    Our little patio was lovely though and overlooked the water so we sat down with our drinks to enjoy dusk. Well that was short lived. The wind picked up to the point that it was a little crazy. So we finished them inside and walked into town the grab a bite to eat.

    We walked through wind and rain and got back to the house to watch some tv and go to bed. The wind was insane. At many points I thought the cottage was going to pick up and be swept away. Later we found out that this was not normal for this time of year and had been quite a major wind storm.

    Welcome to New Zealand #2.
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  • Day45

    Can we pull over again?

    May 12, 2016 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    After getting supplies we drove up the east coast. Outside of Christchurch we hit the coast it was a holy moly moment or 10.

    We stopped in Kaikoura, a little village on the beach in the backdrop of a majestic mountain. It is known for seeing marine wildlife and true as Bob we saw a bunch of big, fat and lazy sea lion. Apparently it's a great place for whale watching and penguins too.Read more

  • Day44

    Goodbye Oz, hello NZ and earthquakes?

    May 11, 2016 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    We flew to Christchurch, picked up our rental car and checked into a hotel. Christchurch had 2 major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 that devastated the city. In fact 82% of the buildings in the CBD have or are scheduled to be demolished. We decided to take a drive around and check the city out. Super depressing. While obviously cleaned up 5 years later, you still see many empty lots and large buildings barricaded or marked for demolition. There is an energy there though, artists have graffitied many walls or placed cool, colorful sculptures in abandoned lots. A makeshift mall has been put together from shipping containers.

    Went back home and walked to an Irish pub for an excellent meat pie. Back in the room we're playing cards and all of a sudden the entire building starts to shake. I look at Tom in disbelief as if I was imagining this. Turns out we experienced a 4.7 magnitude earthquake. It was so weird, the floors and walls were like rubber. Welcome to New Zealand.
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  • Day43

    Cairns craziness

    May 10, 2016 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    Time to head back to Cairns and hand in the camper. We cleaned it inside and out and checked into a hotel in Cairns.

    It was hot. Cairns does not have a beach but it does have a large public pool on the water so we went for a swim.

    After cooling down we had a drink. Cairns is a weird little town. Very transient, it is packed with tour sales offices, bars, restaurant and lots of backpackers. As we sat there we met 2 Canadians from Toronto that didn't know where Vermont is. Sweet girls, young, drunk and free!

    We had a super early flight so went home early. Time for NZ!
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  • Day42

    Scuba or snorkel, why not both!

    May 9, 2016 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Today was finally our scuba day. We got picked up at the campsite and head to the marina. We boarded a large but very nice boat. The boat had 40-50 people but with all its levels and decks it felt spacious. Only 10 of the crew were diving, the rest intro dives or snorkeling.

    The dives were pretty amazing. Right off the bat we saw a shark, small but still a shark! We did 2 dives. Instead of a third dive we snorkeled. Freaking amazing. Many people said that you don't need to dive in the Great Barrier Reef and know I know why. You're probably not going to see shark, sting ray, turtle, etc. if you snorkel but the light is so much better and the quantity of fish and the insane range of coral colors is incredible. All in all, an amazing day.

    That night we had dinner at the campsite and had our last cigarette!
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  • Day41

    Ocean Safari

    May 8, 2016 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    We finally had a game plan for our scuba/snorkeling experiences. We had heard such bad things about tours from Cairns. Port Douglas seemed too foofy and there were no other scuba trips from anywhere up north. But the lady at the campsite recommended the trip out of Cape Trib on Ocean Safari for snorkeling and suggested a company out of Port Douglas for scuba.

    Ocean Safari was a fair sized (25 people) speed boat that you boarded from the beach. The people who run the boat were super enthusiasts not only about everyone having a good time but also about the preservation of the reef and the forest. The nice thing about this trip too is that it only took 25 minutes to get to what is considered the outer reef and this company is the only one to have a permit to anchor at this particular reef. Needless to say the whole thing was amazing.

    After that we head to yet another swimming hole to wash off before lunch and time to head back down south.

    On our way we stopped at the Daintree river and did a boat tour. There are crocodiles all along the banks and we saw our fair share...from the safety of a boat. Thank you very much.

    We made our way to Port Douglas and found a lovely campsite. We decided to dive into the PD vibe and went out to dinner. Found a lovely place, had a great meal and then enjoyed a great band.
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  • Day40

    Chill day at swimming spots

    May 7, 2016 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    With all this traveling we decided to have a chill day. We had heard from Cotty about this Blue Hole. She didn't know where this secret swimming hole but told us to try find it. The locals we met the night before have us directions so we went there.

    Down a road there is a gate which clearly states that this is a sacred site for the aboriginals. It is the only meant for female aboriginals and that the elders are responsible for taking care of it. The sign didn't prohibit others entering but asked that you respect the sacredness and not enter. Oh my, that's even worse! We proceeded waiting for wrath to strike us down. We got to the spot and it was gorgeous no doubt. The swimming area was off to the right and we needed better shoes to get there so didn't swim.

    We then drove an hour to check out Cow's Bay. Little bit of a disappointment which is ridiculous. We were like 'Oh just another beautiful beach where the rainforest meets the sea.'

    The whole time were were driving in the area we saw signs to watch out for the cassowaries and pictures of emus. Never heard of a cassowary but we found out. From a distance we saw an emu. Upon closer look we saw this black bird with a blue and red head. Later we found out that it was rare to see them so again we got lucky with animals in the wild.

    Next on our stop was another swimming hole, this one public knowledge. Beyond Cape Trib is only dirt road and at some point becomes a 4x4 only trail. Insurance covers nothing for the camper if you drive on dirt roads but we did anyway. It was a little sketchy at times but we made it. A little walk and an absolutely gorgeous swimming hole.

    Had lunch there and then went back to our campsite to finally chill. I could only handle less than an hour and I was up again to take a walk on the beach. I've never seen a tide that changes so much. It was about 400 yards from where it had been at high tide.

    Had our afternoon drinks and cooked dinner. Then took a walk along the beach to the local backpacker bar to listen to some live music. Pretty good and nice to get out. Then we walked home along the beach that was now high tide and literally wiped out the beach at times. Not such a good idea especially because now there were estuaries entering the sea and this is serious crocodile country. Again lucky with animals, this time NOT sighting one!

    So much for a chill day.
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  • Day39

    Up to Port Douglas, wait Cape Trib

    May 6, 2016 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    The next day we head up the gorgeous, windy road and stopped in Port Douglas to check it out. PD was nice but a little upmarket for our mood in the camper van. We went for a swim (in the netted area this time) and had breakfast.

    We decided to go up to the Daintree Forest and stay at Cape Tribulation. You cross over the Daintree river on a short ferry and from here on out all electricity is provided by generators or solar so it's quite off the grid.

    We climbed up a windy road to a beautiful look out and had lunch. So cool to have everything right there with you!

    Daintree is a World Heritage site and beautiful country. We found a campsite just seconds walk from the beach. We had a couple afternoon drinks, then went to the campsite cafe and met some locals. Then cooked dinner in the camp kitchen and watched a little Lord of the Rings in anticipation of New Zealand. I think I made it through 20 minutes and fell asleep by 9:30, a regular occurrence these days.
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  • Day38

    Off to Cairns

    May 5, 2016 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Got to Cairns and went to pick up our camper. Poor taxi guy had a accident right in front of the rental place. First day on the job. Got some supplies and by then we decided not to go too far north and stay at one of the beaches closer to town, Palm Cove.

    Great choice. We got there after the office closed and just picked an empty spot. We'd deal with it in the am. Got our drinks and head out to the pier for sunset.

    Back to the camper, made some dinner and went for a swim. Probably not the wisest move as up here they have deadly stingers and you should only swim in netted areas.
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