It has been nearly three months since I have been alone in a house while Elizabeth was napping. Meaning: it has been a very long time since I've had the time and means to blog!
Our trip to New Zealand was fantastic. (Pics to follow, when I get them off the camera.) We spent five days in the Chatham Islands and then about two weeks driving around New Zealand.
In New Zealand, we got to Christchurch, picked up our not-so-new campervan and promptly left the city for Mt. Cook. That first night, we pulled over and stayed at a picnic area, and then drove on to the mountain -- which was, of course, obscurbed by misty clouds. That night, it snowed, and when I went to shower in the bathroom, I was dismayed to see I had to stand bare-footed on a frigid concrete floor wide open to the elements (with a privacy door, though). The water was hot, so I stayed a very long time until I had the nerves to shut the water off and dry off in the frosty air. After I got back to the campervan and Jim went to shower, it snowed. Did I mention NZ was cold?
After the Southern Alps, we drove down to the southeastern part of the island and stayed in a campground for two days overlooking a wind-swept beach. It felt as if the world was lonely there, and our presence warmed it up a bit, so we all enjoyed it. The best part of the southland was seeing penguins in the wild. We went to Nugget Point and waited for the Yellow-Eyes Penguins, the most endagered and shy of all penguins, to return from fishing. Eventually, we did see two return to shore. One took half an hour of swimming up and down in the surf, keeping an eye out for predators (of which there was nil) before finally hopping UP A CLIFF to his nest in a bush. Not what I had imagined a penguin would be like --- it wasn't like Happy Feet at all. (But it was cool!)
All was going well until I stupidly thought I could warm myself up by jumping on the beach. I decided to show off for Elizabeth and do my first long jump in ten years, so of course I slipped on some rubbery seaweed and hurt my back. No problem, I thought, I'll be fine. And I was, until that night, when getting ready for bed I pulled something and couldn't move a muscle without spasms. In case you should ever need it, the NZ medical system is awesome--they have free insurance for travelers from out of the country. Can you beleive that? The Saturday morning doctors' visit (best ever, too) cost us $25. The meds were a bit more, but boy did they help. Thankfully, we were driving a campervan, so I could lie down in the back while Jim and Elizabeth took us across country. After a few days, I could walk again and went back to the front seats. (It was dreadfully boring lying in the back by myself, staring at puffy clouds.)
We drove up the West Coast, saw a glacier, and took the ferry to Wellington, where we stayed a few days to visit the museum and the University. (The museum is awesome, by the way.)
Then we drove to a national park loaded with active volcanoes. The biggest one had actually errupted only a week before, so I was excited. We also glimpsed the infamous Mt. Doom of LOTR fame (it looked a bit kinder in the white snow and without the special effects). After that, we drove to the Otorohanga Kiwi House so Elizabeth could see some birds (she's obessessed, I tell you!) and then up to Auckland. At that point, we were tired and ready to go home, but we had three days left...so we went to an Underwater Aquarium to see penguins and fish, and then to the Auckland Zoo. Now, Elizabeth can point out sheep and say "pshee!"
We got back to San Diego on the 30th, took Elizabeth trick-or-treating on Halloween dressed as the last costume available at Target (an angel) and then had our household goods packed up on the 1st and moved away from San Diego on the 2nd. Quite tiring. We got to Denver on the 4th, and I finally have time to sit down, take a look at my novel, and get back to work. I've got to finish the first draft by the end of the month.
Cheers--and I promise, pics will appear soon!