Tag Archives: New Zealand

Last October (NZ Style) Part 2

2 Nov

In case you missed my post from last week, you’re going to want to check that out before proceeding: Part One.

Anyway, the second half of our trip was doubly fun. The four of us woke up on Day 5 and drove to Whakatane where we boarded the Pee Jay, a boat that would take us on a tour of an aquatic volcano. The journey to White Island took about two hours by boat, but I didn’t mind because the ride was so beautiful. The tour of the island was informative and interesting, but actually getting there was quite the challenge for me. They anchored the boat a ways out and then dinghies shuttled us on land. That was a task in and of itself, but when I was deposited on land, I looked up and found myself surrounded by huge, white birds. In case you missed this little quirk of mine in an earlier confession, I’m deathly afraid of most birds. Trying not to freak out, I take a few steps forward. They’re surrounding me. They’re near my precious head. They’re landing inches away. It was a terrible scenario for me and I’m quite sure I didn’t escape the island without letting my freak flag fly really high- everyone knew what a scaredy cat I was. Anyway, after moving away from the congregate of birds, I really began to enjoy learning more about this volcano. There are probably lots of people reading who have been to see a volcano, but who among you have walked on an active one? What an experience that was!

Photo Copyright @ Joshua Reed

Isn't this beautiful? Copyright @ Joshua Reed

And here’s a short, uneventful video of Don, Josh, and me at White Island while Captain J is recording-

Our next and final stop was Rotorua where Captain J insisted on zorbing for the first time. This fun activity originated in NZ so it was a must do on the list. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to partake. I did partake in drinking some “Dracula Juice” at our hotel bar that night in the spirit of Halloween. I mixed up a few for this past Halloween weekend, too! The next morning, Captain J and I woke up early to do a little kayaking in a nearby lake. It was my first time so I found myself quite nervous until I realized how easy it was on calm waters.

There were a lot of firsts on this trip for me. Experiencing New Zealand, a place I have always wanted to go, was surreal. I want to go back so badly and see the south island, too. I want to scuba dive in the beautiful reefs and bum around the country for a solid month before heading back to the states. It’s a lovely place to visit. And gosh, darn-it, it would have made a wonderful setting for a proposal!

Hear me out, though because I wouldn’t change a thing. Half way through the trip, I realized it wasn’t going to happen…and I wasn’t sure I even wanted it to at that point. How weird would it have been to be so excited and the only people I could show the ring to would be his buddies-like, “look guys! I’m taking away your pal.” I didn’t want them to hate me!

The reason I brought up this entire story is because, for awhile ,I was convinced that he was planning on asking me to spend the rest of my life with him while we were there. Thank God I was wrong! He asked me later on, in Alaska- our new home we’d established ourselves in. It truly was perfect and I was completely surprised, but when I came across this post from Gwen In Love , I couldn’t help thinking about my nonexistent overseas proposal. (Please go read and watch that video to see what I’m referring to as it is the whole reason I wanted to write this all out!)

Looking back to a whole year ago, I can see how far we’ve come. I can’t believe we’re nearing one year of marriage already. I suppose time flies when you’re having fun…and we really are. I love my husband more and more every day and I count him as one of my greatest blessings. I still cannot believe how lucky I am. I don’t deserve such an awesome individual, but I’m super duper glad that God gave him to me anyway.

*Special thanks to Josh for allowing me to post his photos to share with all of you! Happy November!



Last October (NZ style) Part One

27 Oct

I have some old news to share with you- a bit of a recollection, if you will. Exactly a year ago to this very week, I was arriving in New Zealand with my (now) husband and two of his friends. They had been planning this adventure as a celebration of returning back to the states from Iraq and the plans were set well before I even met Captain J for the first time. In fact, I didn’t want to intrude. They should have guy time, right? They could share old war stories, drink New Zealand beer, and revel in the fact that they had two weeks to do whatever they pleased in one of the most gorgeous countries that I’ve ever seen. For whatever reason, J didn’t want to leave me behind so he shelled out the money for a plane ticket for me, as well. I was excited!

We arrived in Auckland on October 26, 2009- which happened to be NZ’s Labor Day. I remember being amazed at the individuals I saw running the streets. Everyone seemed to be chiseled to perfection- so fit and healthy! We set out early in the morning from the airport and I guess this is when many people take the opportunity to exercise because literally every person we saw that morning was out jogging. The city wasn’t bustling yet at that hour and we would come to find that it was unlike any American city we had experienced. No one seemed to be in a big hurry and everyone was eager to talk to us and tell us of their favorite local spots when probed. After a quick glance at the culture via a local museum, we left to check into our hotel and catch some shut eye. The only problem was- I was too excited to sleep!  I crept out of the hotel room and (Mom & Dad: Skip this part) strolled around the streets of Auckland by myself. I went to a nearby restaurant and sat around and listened to some street music and enjoyed some coffee while I thought to myself, “I wonder if J will ask me to marry him while we’re here.”

On October 27th, we hopped in the rental car and whisked ourselves away to Thames, NZ. While in Thames we did a little hiking in the hills behind the town and enjoyed relaxing in a small town that was virtually deserted. Small businesses surrounded us, but it was difficult to find them actually open. That night we stayed in a little hotel that had about 4-5 rooms. The bathroom and shower areas were community with the bedrooms the only place of privacy. We chatted with the lady who owned it downstairs in her food and bar area. While, we enjoyed walking the streets of Thames, we eagerly looked forward to exploring more of the country the following day.

We joked that this was a bad band photo.


Over the next few days, we traveled the long, scenic route to Tauranga where we settled in at the lovely Hotel on Davenport. The drive was nothing short of amazing. The vegetation changed so quickly that it was difficult to push the button on my camera fast enough!

During this leg of the trip, we visited the breathtaking views of Mount Maunganui in a short, 20 minute hike. We were able to see excellent views of the harbour and sheep trails as I huffed and puffed, chasing after three army guys on a constant elevation. Later, we went to a winery, Mills Reef, and tasted some wonderfully old grape juice!

Our shadows after the hike. We were waiting on J to finish snapping photos as per usual. Copyright @Josh Reed

I was having a pretty good time, but in the back of my mind, I still felt as though I might be intruding. I no longer thought that J proposing was going to happen. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if he ever would. In my mind, I started calculating my move back to Tennessee. No, I wasn’t thinking of breaking up with him; I simply knew that I needed to get back in school and on with my life while he figured out what he wanted in his. While I hated the idea of being away from J if I didn’t have to be, I also knew I couldn’t just shack up with him forever. When I made the decision to move to Alaska, it was in preparation for our upcoming marriage that we talked about while he was deployed. It was a welcoming home visit of sorts and at that point, he had been home for about a month with no talk of getting married. Little did I know, he was trying to make me think that it was the furtherest thing from his mind…

I began to focus on having a good time on this trip, the trip of a lifetime.

To Be Continued…

A visit with the Aussies

27 Apr

Happy Tuesday all! To start off, I have a little house blog cleaning to do. I’ve decided to preserve some anonymity and change our names. With the nature of my husband’s job, I thought it would help me rest easier at night if names were removed for the most part. Which means that I have some introductions to get on with, don’t I?

Ahem. Is this mike on? Introducing, for the first time….

Captain J

and Mrs. K

Mrs. K and Captain J (isn’t it cute how it rhymes?)

Yeah, yeah…these photos are sorta old, but I don’t think I’ve shared them before. They’re all from our trip to New Zealand back in October/November 2009. That post can be found here.

Why am I thinking of Kiwi’s and the gorgeous views NZ has to offer? Well, that’s a very good question. I will answer that in enlightening you a little more about this past weekend. Captain J, Drifter, and I went on a short stroll through the woods to a nearby lake that is still frozen over. Upon arrival, I hear a shout out from around the bend, “Do you want to share our lake?” We looked up to see an older couple walking hand in hand on the ice formed lake path.

As they drew nearer, Drifter was growing anxious and excited. New friends! Tail wagging, he pulls the leash and me a few steps just to get a closer look at his new company. Before I knew it, he was paws up on some poor guy’s sweater vest. Bad dog!

Anyway, this couple was from Australia. (*Gasp, did she just compare Aussies with Kiwi’s?) I know New Zealanders tend to get annoyed when they’re confused with Australians so I’ll just say that meeting them reminded me of our trip down under. These people were well traveled, interesting, intelligent, and fun individuals who Captain J and I stood around to talk to for quite some time. They were visiting Alaska in order to learn to dog mush. The lady said something that really rang true for us: “We may always be poor, but we’ll always have these memories.” That’s what Captain J and I want in our lives…not necessarily being lacking in the funds department, but we want those memories. We’ll choose travel, memorable stories, and good times over an extra car or other toys any ole day!

We immediately came home and started our official vacation fund.

It was refreshing to have met them and to find out that we had so much in common with them. The wife termed herself as a military brat. She told us stories of growing up with her dad who served in the Australian Military. The husband told us his dad served in the U.S. Air Force for years. Their families now reside south of the Mason Dixon Line (greatest place on earth! hehe) and welcome them to visit any time they please. They’ve been to countless countries and states and they seemed to carry their joy in life with them each step of the way. Each new adventure offered an opportunity to learn something different and meet someone new…even if those new people had an overly excited Alaskan Husky puppy on their hands 😉

(P.S. If you’ve added my link on your website, please make the name change for me if applicable. Thanks, guys. You rock!)

North Island New Zealand

9 Dec

From October 26 through November 2 we made our way to the North Island of New Zealand. During our short stay, we saw much of the island, but did not get to do our first open water dives. My first impression of the country was a positive one. We flew into Auckland early in the morning, quickly rented a car and experienced driving on the left side of the road, and explored the city. It was somewhat quiet; the only life we saw for a few hours were the many runners on the city streets. Everyone seemed to be so fit!

We hiked around Thames, drove along the scenic Coromondel Peninsula, wine tasted at Mills Reef, and went wherever the wind blew us. The vegeation in New Zealand is vast. It’s not uncommon to be looking at gorgeous beach views that quickly morph into a mountain range and then again into green rolling hills. It truly is beautiful and unlike any place else I’ve ever seen.

On Day 5, we drove into Whakatane where a boat was waiting to take us on a journey to White Island. White Island is an aquatic active volcano in the Bay of Plenty. How many people can say they’ve walked in a crater created by a live volcano?

In Rotorua, New Zealand, there were lots of touristy activitites to do. On the top of the list was zorbing. Unfortunately, I was too short, but Captain J had a great time rolling down a hill in a giant ball. He was completely soaked and somewhat dizzy by the end of the ride, but he was happy to have zorbed in the place where it first began. We woke up early one morning and went kayaking in the lake nearby. This was my first time in a kayak. I found it relaxing, but also a bit of an arm workout. I really enjoyed that, too.