Saturday, November 18, 2006

New Zealand

Hello to family and friends-
Kpr and I have been in New Zealand for well over a week now, but it seems like we have been here a lot longer. There is so much to do and see every day, yet this is a very small country and we're really only doing the highlights.We started out in Auckland and went to Glyn and Ang's wedding (some of you might remember our friends from our wedding- they were the ones from New Zealand- go figure). We were finally able to meet their kids, J and E (who is Kpr's goddaughter) and were folded quite nicely into their family during the weekend at the vineyard where the ceremony and reception were held. Everything was so beautiful, from the little b&b where we stayed, to the amazing flowers and vines to the sunshine that peeked through the clouds just as the outdoor ceremony began. Gly and Ang had both rain and shine on their day and I think that makes them doubly lucky.

While in Auckland we went to this amazing little island called Waiheki and had lunch on a top of a mountain overlooking these beautiful green coves. Everything in New Zealand is green and looks very fluffy, like you could just lay down in a field and it would be super comfortable. There are sheep and cows all over and they eat very well. Every setting looks like it is out of Lord of the Rings (as it probably was) and most of our pictures are of the awesome landscapes and vistas.

After Auckland we traveled through the North Island, stopping in the Coromundel Pennisula to go to Hot Sands Beach, where you dig a hole in the sand and it fills up with hot water and you sit in the hole and drink wine. Unfortuneately, we weren't there during low tide, do Kpr dug a a lot of holes, but never hit water. We then did a hike to Cathedral Cove, which was an amazing rock formation and, well the pictures we have don't do the place justice.

We drove to Rotarua and had an afternoon in the famous Polynesian Spa, bathing in the hot springs up to 42degrees Celcius, which is really hot. The next day we went to the Tongaririo National Park and climbed a volcano. We got all the way to the top and had to turn back around because it was so exposed and so windy (the weather was pretty horrible) that I almost got blown off the side. We then had to retrace our steps and hike three about three hours of desert brush to get to where the car would pick us up. A six hour trip over the volcano turned into an eight hour 'oh my god is this ever going to end' trek.

We made it to Wellington and took the ferry to the South Island, where we met up with Glyn and Ang and the girls on their honeymoon. We went to this little resort called Punga Cove where you have to drive up a mountain over the twistiest road full of more turns and cliffs and falling rocks- all while driving on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road. We made it though and it only took about an hour and a half to go 45km.

After Punga Cove we said our goodbyes to Glyn, Ang and the girls and made our way through Marlborough Sounds, to wine country. We stayed in this lovely b&b and drove to as many vineyards as possible before they closed for the evening. We had dinner at an English Pub, and went to bed early, gearing up for more wine tasting the next day.
Despite the on and off rain showers, we decided to bike through the countryside, figuring we were wearing helmets, and that meant we could drink as much as we wanted. We had a great time, learned a lot about wine that we promptly forgot, drank a lot of savignon blanc, pinot gris, pinot noir, and the one that starts with a ger- something or other. We biked through the rain and earned our pasta dinner that night.

Yesterday we drove from Marlgorough all the way across the south island to the West Coast, which is so amazingly beautiful. We stayed in a little cabin last night after trecking through the Truman Track. This morning we went to the "Pancake Rock" formation, which are rocks that look like stacks of Pancakes, right on the coast and at high tide the water is sent up these little 'blowholes' and looks like geysers. It is pretty neat.

Tomorrow we take a heli ride up a glacier and hike around a bit and then Tuesday we fly to Sydney and meet up with Anthony and hopefully spend a lot of time on the beach and get to see all our friends in Sydney. Kpr leaves next weekend and I spend an extra week in Australia and return on 12/2.

Hope all is well in your world. It has been great to be unplugged from everything going on back home, but of course we miss you all! We've had updates from the Rs and Barb and both Bonnie and Champ are doing well- but we miss them terribly!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Kpr and I are going to have to have our own little Thanksgiving Feast when we return, as we'll miss it this year.


Monday, November 06, 2006

off to new zealand

kpr and i leave tomorrow for new zealand and australia. we're going to a friend's wedding and then we'll travel around the north and south island and make our way over to sydney. i'm super excited!
this will be my third continent this year! after this, i'll only need to visit antarctica to have seen them all! anyone want to go to antarctica?

i'll be back in early december. while i'm gone, maybe you would like to vote for me in this finesse hair care contest?
the top five winners are part of the 2007 advertising campaign and i thought it would be really neat if i were in that top five....
that's where you come in- if you would be so kind as to go here each and everyday and give me highest marks, i would love you forever!

what are you waiting for? go now!

love ya!

dear abby

this past weekend, i traveled to ohio to be with my parents and my sister as we said goodbye to our beloved family dog, abby. she had been a part of our family for the last twelve years and was diagnosed two weeks ago with several tumors on different parts of her lungs. there was also something else troubling her as she lost the use of her legs, her eyes were pretty bad too, she had had bad cataracts for some time now, and we wondered if she could see at all. her breathing was labored, she was unable to go outside without my father carrying her in and out and it got the point where she was suffering so much that there was really only one decision we could make for her.

we were all there with her as she passed, it was heart wrenching, but i think we all took a little comfort knowing that she was no longer in pain.

we adopted abby when i was sixteen, shortly after we moved to ohio. we had adopted a german shepard/yellow lab puppy, named braeburn, and had him for over a year, but he had horrible epilepsy and it got to the point where the medication was no longer working... after braeburn, my parents told us that we would have to wait a while before we looked for another dog. i think this decree lasted about a month and a half before we went back to the little house that served as a dog shelter and started our search. we had also went to the big fancy aspca building and had our eye on a little puppy, who was adorably cute, but it was at the little house that we found abby. she was the house dog. so sweet and gentle that she was allowed to roam freely, made her bed under the front desk and was loved by all who worked there. she was a sight to see- part dalmation, part border collie, part god knows what (beagle it seemed as she aged, her legs got shorter and her belly began to hang just like a beagle's). she had some spots, some black patches, some white patches, a long snout and the loveliest eyes you ever did see. i remember thinking she was probably the ugliest dog, but boy was she sweet (my opinion changed in no time short as we all fell under her spell). when we decided to adopt her, i remember the teenage boy who volunteered at the shelter had tears in his eyes as he said goodbye to her. we knew we had picked the right dog.
they told us she had been found wandering at the side of i-270, someone had dumped her on the side of the highway and abandoned her. it was apparent that she had just had a litter of puppies, even though the vet didn't think she was much older than a year. she had been horribly abused and was so afraid of everyone, especially men. whenever my father raised his voice and she was in the room, she would role over on her back in a submissive position. it was heartbreaking. she soon grew to trust us all and lived up to her reputation of being the sweetest most loving dog.

she greeted everyone who walked into our home with a wagging tail and an insistent snout that demanded she receive proper attention. if you were sitting down, she would come up to you, put her nose on your knee and just look at you with eyes that said "my ears sure do need a good scratch." there was nothing you could do but oblige her and the second you stopped scratching the nose would return, more nudgingly insistent this time "you didn't think you were done, did you?" she was beloved by everyone- my friends from high school would visit even after i went away to college, all to hang out with abby (and my family too, i guess).

abby was the neighborhood dog, the little kids who live on our street would often knock on the door and ask if abby could come out and play. she loved nothing more than holding court in the backyard where all the kids would crowd around her and rub her tummy and her ears and then run off to play ball. she would sit contentedly under her tree, keeping an eye on them all as they roughed about, coming back now and then to check in with her, give her another treat and another good scratch. most of those kids knew abby their whole life. it was hard when the boys next door came over to say goodbye to her, i had to escape to the kitchen and then upstairs while they were with her, because it broke my heart to witness it. abby used to go over to their house and wander about. they had their own stash of treats, just for her.

she soon solidified her role in the household as the 'queen.' my parents set up the biggest, most lush bed in their room for her to sleep on. she was afraid of thunderstorms and would insist that one of my parents lay on the sofa downstairs and pet her until she fell asleep. she kept my father active, with daily walks down to the schoolyard. she was a constant companion to my mother and was very protective of her after her surgeries on her feet. this past summer, the house next door to my parents was broken into and robbed. luckily no one was at home at the time. my mother was doing some gardening a few days later and discovered that our screen facing that house, had been cut as well. my parents filed a police report and they surmised that abby had scared the robbers off (although if anyone had broken into the house, she would have greeted them with tail wagging and insisted they pet her a while before getting down to business).

she would come running anytime the pantry door was open, hoping for a treat. she was always there with her tail wagging when you walked in the door, and gave the best kisses. she had the deepest, most beautiful brown eyes, the softest ears and i miss her so.