Sunday, February 12, 2017

Driving to Queenstown

This blog post is more about the drive to Queenstown than actually arriving in Queenstown because who would have thought that a drive could be so incredible! It's safe to say at this rate that I've traveled the world, but I don't think I've ever seen such blue water as I did on this trip!

The first body of water that we saw was Lake Pukaki.  Lake Pukaki is the largest of three alpine lakes near Mount Cook.  I later discovered that this lake was the setting for laketown in 'The Hobbit.' Very cool!
Lake Pukaki

Our Trax Rental Car! SO CUTE

We then passed Lake Ruataniwha. Suzie and I were unprepared to see such incredible color... In fact we didn't even realize we would be driving next to this lake! The glacial feed to the lakes is what gives them such a distinctive blue color, created by glacial flour (which is extremely fine ground up rock particles from glaciers). 

Lake Ruataniwha

Lake Ruataniwha

We also passed Lake Dunstan (a man-made lake) and then the town of Cromwell, which had giant fruit statues boasting it's local fruit economy.  Ironically we also passed the Gold Fields Mining Centre (which is you know that I work in the Gold Fields District in California you should find that extremely funny)! 

Kawarau River

Friday, February 10, 2017

Christchurch, the City Centre, and Fairlie

Much to my surprise, I wasn't tired after our crazy journey from the US to New Zealand. In fact, I was excited to explore the city of Christchurch. As I reflect on it now, I wish that Suzie and I had planned to spend more time in this wonderful city but with the flight issues we only had one day!

We started out the day by walking into the City Centre of Christchurch. The city itself is a mixture of extremely old stone buildings and contemporary architecture, which seemed to fit together seamlessly. The damage to the buildings from the 2011 earthquake could still be seen everywhere and it was shocking to see first person. For those of you that don't know, Tuesday 22 February 2011 a 6.3 earthquake badly damaged Christchurch and Lyteelton killing 185 people and injuring several thousand. The earthquake's epicentre was near Lyttelton, just 10 km from Christchurch's central business district. The quake only lasted 10 seconds but because of damage from an earthquake several months earlier, the damage was severe to the city center.

The Christchurch Cathedral also experienced significant damage, losing its spire and part of its tower. The tower was demolished in March of 2012 because the damage could not be fixed. It was probably most shocking to see this in person. For reference this is what the Cathedral looked like before the earthquake

After Suzie and I walked around the Christchurch Cathedral we ended up eating at the best possible coffee shop. I can't recall the name of it, but the scones were AMAZING. They are probably the best scones I've ever had! Just image the perfect scone that is flakey, buttery, soft, warm, and full of happiness. 

Our next stop was the Canterbury museum. I wish I could say that the museum had one specific theme, but it was a random collect of exhibits highlighting everything New Zealand, including Fred and Myrtle's paua shell-adorned home living room. Fred and Myrtle Flutey decorated their New Zealand home with thousands of paua shells that Fred collected from a nearby beach.

Suzie and I then wandered through the Botanic Gardens in the city centre. If I recall correctly, the gardens were started when an English oak was planted to commemorate the marriage of a two royals (although I can't recall their names). I loved the gardens and wished that we could have spent more time there. One of the prettiest spots in the Botanic Garden was the Central Rose Garden that had over 250 varieties of roses.

It felt so good to be out in the sunshine away from the California rain. If I go to New Zealand and Christchurch again I would love to pack a picnic lunch and eat it in the Botanic Gardens while soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the beautiful city.

After walking through the garden we headed back to the hotel. Our stop for the night would be the Pinewood Motel in Fairlie, a three hour drive from Christchurch (another motel I would recommend staying at if you find yourself in Fairlie). Before we checked in though we drove to Lake Tekapo. The lake was beautiful but the town was too touristy and not to our liking so we headed back to the sleepy town of Fairlie. 

Suzie and I ended up at an old library turned restaurant eating garlic cheese pizza and salad. (For those of you that haven't hung out with us you don't realize that we have a habit of eating garlic chips and a caesar salads more often than we should at Wally's in Cameron Park back home!) We discovered a delicious local cider and had too much fun laughing at a silly TV channel. 

P.S. For the sake of this blog I'm leaving out the numerous (hilarious) things that happened to Suzie and I while in New Zealand. If you want those stories then you'll have to talk to us in person!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Series of Unfortunate Events

A series of unfortunate events; that's what created a 32 hour plane journey from Sacramento to Christchurch, New Zealand.

Here's the first blog post I wrote from 30,000 feet in the air:

As I write this, I am sitting high in the clouds, counting down the minutes until Suzie and I land in New Zealand. This hasn't been an easy journey and we've already had our fair share of adventure!

Leaving from Suzie's house this evening presented it's own set of challenges. We not only hit commuter traffic on Highway 50 but we also failed to realize that the Sacramento Kings had a game and that made additional congestion. We slowly crawled onto Interstate 5 then the road finally opened up and we turned into the Sacramento Airport.

Going through a security was a piece of cake and was probably the most enjoyable TSA experience I've ever had. Our flight from Sacramento left relatively on time despite the heavy rainfall and winds. Upon landing at LAX Suzie and I realized that we had to sprint through four terminals to get to the international terminal, find our gate, and try to make it to our flight. According to my FitBit, it took us approximately 9,000 steps and we walked almost 3 miles!

Hurry up and wait... That's the theme to the rest of this story. After sprinting to our plane at LAX we sat on the tarmac for nearly an hour. (I'll leave out the ticketing snafu but I will say that thanks to a very nice gate agent Suzie and I were able to get seats next to each other.) Since our flight leaving LAX was late that meant that we missed our connecting flight in Brisbane, Australia.  We tried to rush and catch our Brisbane to Christchurch flight but going through international security meant we had to wait. Qantas tried to rebook us into Christchurch via Sydney but that meant not getting into Christchurch until midnight. Instead Suzie and I are now traveling to Auckland, New Zealand. Hopefully we will be successful in catching our flight to Christchurch once we land, but since our connection is extremely tight I'm not sure it will happen. 

In the Brisbane airport Suzie found an amazing coffee shop (Coffee House) and I found food. Because of the missed connection Qantas supplied both Suzie and I with $20 vouchers for food. I had a cheese bagel, orange juice, water (for Suzie), a chocolate chip muffin, and a chocolate nutella milkshake (I'm pretty sure it was only like 9 o'clock in the morning but I really wanted a milkshake!).  Suzie had some sort of delicious looking breakfast but I can't recall what it was - only that it had an egg on it.

Poor Suzie... I think at one point in time she was ready to rip my throat out because of my unrelenting optimism about our situation. Alas - I'm excited to be on the plane headed towards New Zealand, even if it is the wrong island!

After writing that blog post (on my iPhone no less) I can say that we successfully landed in Auckland. We boarded an Air New Zealand flight to Christchurch and finally arrived at our destination around 9 o'clock pm. It was 32 hours of nonstop travel!

The first night we stayed at Amross Court Motor Lodge (61 Bealey Ave.) in Christchurch city centre. The owner was incredibly nice and I think she recognized the look of two weary travelers. I honestly think that fact that it was nighttime when we arrived worked in our favor since we were able to head straight to bed.

P.S. If you need a place to stay in Christchurch I would say that you should stay in Amross Court without a doubt. It's located next to several restaurants and coffee shops, as well as being a short walk to the earthquake center, the botanical gardens, and the Canterbury museum.  Plus the owner is incredibly sweet and caring.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Rattle Snakes and Choking Dogs

Last week I saved Josephine's life. Literally. The poor little dog was choking on a piece of dog food and I performed the doggy version of the heimlich on her.

This week I saved Jane's life. Literally. We had a rattlesnake in the house and she walked right next to it barefoot without actually seeing it.

Needless to say it has been an eventful few weeks here in California.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Best Friend Forever - Scout

Today I had to say goodbye to my best friend Scout. He was the best boy that anyone could ever ask for. If you have ever met me, then chances are you'd also met Scouter Lee. He was truly the most special dog. Scout walked thousands of miles along side of me on the trails of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, did some of the most incredible things a dog can do (like zip lining!) and made an impact on so many lives. Scout made my life incredible in more ways than one. Today was the day though that his colon cancer had progressed beyond treatment and he crossed that rainbow bridge. I love my dog more than words can describe and my heart is broken that he's not beside me right now. Thank you to the staff at UC Davis Small Animal Clinic who made his passing painless and thank you to Jane for being with me on such an incredibly hard day.

Saying Goodbye

Buried Next to the Horses

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Travel and New Places

Expo Pomona
Since I last blogged Jane and I went to Pomona California for the Western States Horse Expo. It was beautiful and sunny in Pomona, however I felt that the horse expo itself wasn't a good as in years past. Tis' a shame for all of those who came with high hopes.

Beef Short Rib and Mashed Potatoes

Group Photo at Dinner!
We ended up eating dinner one night with horse trainer Mary Kitzmiller and Kirsten Mew. Plus John Brand came and Shelly from Equi-Sure. What fun times it was!

After Pomona Jane and I worked for a few days at work (In Depth Vision) then headed to Portland, Oregon for the Northwest Sportsman Show. It was a long show and both Jane and I were fighting sickness, but I'm glad I got to go. I was able to eat dinner with my sister Lisa and her husband Craig at Vinnie's in Vancouver. The food was so delicious! (Jane and I ended up eating there twice!!)
Pizza Margarita from Vinnie's

Lisa and Craig

The view from our room at the Red Lion

Jane and a very neat elk.
The next horse expo is Albany in March. I always love going to Albany... Pretty much because I love Oregon and my family is from the Salem area. Plus the Hungarian restaurant in in Albany: Novak's. Who wouldn't want to go there and eat the Chicken Paprika or the Hungarian Gulyas. Yummy!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Life is Full of Adventure

Life is full of adventure. Traveling adventures to be specific. Since the beginning of the new year I've traveled a lot and I hope this trend continues through the year.

For my birthday in January I flew to Phoenix, Arizona first then Atlanta, Georgia next, and finally a car ride to Alabama.  It was a fabulous trip and I was able to spend my birthday with my sister Heidi, her husband David, and their exchange student from Italy, Anna. Highlights of the trip include:
Eating at a really neat Japanese restaurant where they grill the food in front of you.
Alabama got snow!
Heidi and I went to the Natural History museum and then ate Thai food in Anniston.
We played board games.
We played more games.
And even more board games!
On my birthday I got to sing in the Methodist Church choir with Heidi.
We had lasagna for my birthday dinner (my request) along with yellow cake and chocolate frosting.
We ate fabulous cookies from a bakery in Anniston and I drank lots of hot chocolate.
I got to open presents!
All around it was a great birthday!

Last weekend Jane and I traveled up to Red Bluff, California for the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale. It rained so much it wasn't even funny... We had some little hiccups like the fact that the power box was about 100 feet from where we parked Jane's horse trailer, but it was a fun trip. We got tickets to the sponsor dinner, which was really fun! They had meat. Lots of meat. We are talking about New York Steak, meat balls, ribs, and lots of shrimp. Plus it was an open bar, so of course I had to get a drink because I wanted one of the wine glasses that said "Red Bluff 75th Anniversary."

Tomorrow (Thursday at about 4am) Jane and I are going to hit the road and drive down to southern California to Pomona. We will be at the Pomona Horse Expo for the weekend.  Then the following weekend we will fly to Portland Oregon to attend the sportsman expo.

It'll be a lot of travel - but it sure will be fun!

Tiny House Living

My journey of living in a not so perfect but charismatic and charming Tuff Shed... I mean tiny house.

When I moved to California the plan was to move into a tiny house. A whole 120 square feet all to myself located right behind Jane's house. The building was originally a Tuff Shed used to store saddles and tack. One of Jane's dear friends came up with the plan to convert this little shed into my future house. 

My tiny house is connected to main water, sewer, and propane. I use a little electric heater in the winter and a window air conditioner in the summer (which is a must have given the heat in California). I have a small refrigerator under the starts, a standard size stall shower, a queen size bed, two dressers, a full size stainless steel kitchen sink, water heater, apartment size propane stove/oven, toilet, writing desk, love seat (which doubles as my dogs bed at night), microwave, and a bookshelf. I also have a rail to hang clothes on, a place for shoes, a little shelf which serves as my night stand, and more windows than I know what to do with. There is a window over my sink, desk, love seat, one behind my upstairs dresser and one next to my bed. Not to mention the two sky lights.

There are some flaws in my house though. Nothing that was flawed in R's design but my own doing. I refused to give up my desk or dresser and insisted on having a full size sink and oven. Plus I a girl am therefore have a ridiculous amount of shoes, clothes, and horse/western decor. Oh and jewelry.    Lots of jewelry. 

I wish I had a better system for food/dishes storage. That's a work in progress. Another issue is that my clothes rail is too short and my shirts hand on the ground but I'm limited by the angle and height of the wall. So far those are the only real issues I have... And the heater is on the fritz but I'm researching a new heater with a thermostat. I would love an adorable little (fake) electric wood stove but that's probably out of the question. 

My tiny house has so much character. From the stain glass windows that my mother made years ago to the steel rose by the sink. It is crooked too. Like the house I grew up in. The counter is mahogany and gorgeous, just like the stair/ladder combo that leads to the loft. 

I also have the cutest porch in the world. I've got old brick on the bottom and a tin roof on top. Then some of Jane's rocking chairs and a little table to set a cup on. 

There is also a kennel for Scout in case he needs it, but most days when we are gone he stays inside Jane's house with Josephine, Nellie, and Dooley.

Life is good here in tiny house nation. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A lack of blogging

I have not blogged in nearly a year. I was first worried that perhaps this meant that my life had become boring. But I don't think that means I am boring at all, just busy.

I still live in my beautiful tiny house next to Jane's in Auburn. (I'll post pictures in another blog post.)  Since I last blogged I have had a job change and now work at In Depth Vision as a vision therapist. It's the most amazing job. I am able to change lives with vision therapy. Dr. O is an amazing Doctor and Jane keeps the whole office running smoothly. 

Christmas is coming next week. Last year I celebrated Christmas with Jane and her wonderful family. This year my mom and dad will be traveling down from the lodge to spend Christmas here. 

I will try to blog more often. Maybe even once more today. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's that time again... Resolutions

BI'm one of those people that writes down resolutions the first of each new year then doesn't actually look at them until the eve of the next year, when I arbitrarily determine I need a new set of resolutions (even if I've failed to accomplish the one's I had set for the exiting year). So in honoring and continuing that tradition, let's look at what I wanted to do  in 2014 (see if they happened) and write down some resolutions for 2015.

For 2014 my resolutions were:
1. Travel. I traveled. To expos and to different states. To new restaurants and new places.
2. Ride my horse somewhere new and different. I went to an ACHTA ride in Prescott,Washington. We rode through the Broetje Apple Orachard; miles of apples along the Snake River.
3. Learn how to properly work my new DSLR. Check.
4. Continue to keep a healthy body weight and maintain muscle tone. Sure??
5. Read at least a novel a month. Perhaps. I didn't keep track. I can however tell you that my favorite book of 2014 was Unbroken.
6. Craft. Painted a lighthouse in oil. Took 2nd at the county fair.
7. Work with Kiwi (my new baby horse). Of course.
8. Learn to do something new. Not that I can think of off the top of my head.
9. Learn how to properly drive a team. That way, eventually I can purchase a new draft horse or mule team and use them at the lodge, in parades, etc. I did AND I purchase my first draft mule team - Kit & Kat!
10. Try a new equine sport. I didn't really get the chance to do an endurance race or anything like that. Next year maybe?

2015 Resolutions:
1. Work hard at my new job.
2. Eat healthier. I want my body to last.
3. On that same note, drink more water.
4. Go on an actual date. 
5. Start exercising more, like run a 5k or do some crunches.
6. Start new friendships and keep old ones alive.
7. Travel.
8. Learn something new.
9. Ride my horse new places.
10. Be nicer to myself.