Saturday, December 26, 2009

12 days of adventure

We are out and about for a 12 day adventure trip including camping, hiking the Tongariro crossing, sky diving, glow worm sighting, canyoning, sea kayaking, wineries and chillin on the beach!  We hired a van for the trip.  It's myself, Wingnut, #2, Carly (Canada), and Molly and Carol... who are my first visitors from the States!  Excited!  Should be awesome and will update when I can.  Cheers and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holidays!


Well good bye West Coast and hello Holidays!  Holidays as in Christmas and new years... and also Holidays as in vacation for a few weeks.  We left Barrytown last Friday for a trip up through Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, Wellington and Hamilton.  I am currently in Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty on the East coast of the North island.  Its not the chilly-air, wrapped up beside a fire, Christmas Vacation playing on the DVD, poking fun at my brothers, cooking with mom, having an TAB (Tasty Adult Beverage) with dad, and Christmas carols 24-7 on all the radios...but it will be nice.  I have some great friends and a family that I will be spending it with... So although I will not be with my loving fam (whom of course I will greatly miss laughing and conversing and being with), everyone can sleep soundly as I will be very well taken care of!  I know everyone was worried!  Ha!  But truthfully, take advantage of the chance you have to share meals and hugs and presents and love...after all...Tis the Season!   
Meri Kirihimete! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Beneath the Surface



We’ve all heard the expression, “Beauty is only skin deep!’’  Today I am inviting everyone that follows my blog to take a look beneath the surface.  This pertains to many things we encounter on a daily basis... individuals, places, situations, etc.  Sometimes it takes a little while to know the true personality of a person or place...or when you look deeper into things, you will discover a side or aura that you didn’t know was there. Other times it takes a situation in order for this beauty to present itself. For example, the beach here in Barrytown is covered with rocks... gray rocks... the beach just looks gray.  Then on a jog one drizzly morning...yeah the same drizzle that brings most people down into depressing funk like the Monday blues...the rain exposed the most beautiful of colors!  That’s right...the gray rocks were all of a sudden exploding with many deep rich colors when you actually took a closer look.  Once wet, the rocks true colors were revealed and it was a great treasure.  So, today I invite everyone to take a more in-depth peak at things.  You might be surprised at the beauty you will find when you dig deeper and look beneath the surface!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

One week!

One week from tomorrow my stint here in Barrytown (Baz Vegas) is complete.  It's been a great ride filled with the following:  meeting people from all over the world, hanging with the "Wild West" locals, cooking many meals, leading fitness circuits on the beach, bartending for the Stray bus dress-up nights, lots of manual labor including digging a sand volleyball court, shoveling and gardening, calm strolls on the beach searching for green stone (Jade) and lots of laughter.  From here, I will be heading North with "Number 2" and "Wingnut" for the holidays.  We have heaps planned and some good times ahead.  My working experience will be on hold for a while as I will be enjoying a little traveling with these two and a few others.  Christmas, New Years, tramping, kayaking, swimming, beach-chilling, concert-going, skydiving, glow-worm spotting, canyoning, and much more are some of the adventures that we may experience.  Thanks for those that have been following my blog thus far.  Stay tuned for some great pics and more great commentary.  Sweet as!  Bird

Friday, December 4, 2009

Birthday!


Welp, just celebrated ye ole Bday!  Below are a few thoughts of 
mine about our annual number stamping:
Birthdays are a fun reminder to celebrate your existence and be 
thankful for being born!  
Many people run away and do not like their Bdays! "WHY"...I say! Why run away from it? It's only a number.  
Instead, embrace the fact that you have made it this far!  
I am proud to say that I am 34.  
Thirty-four... sounds like that's getting up there! "Rubbish!" You 
are only as old as your attitude (which means I am about 12! Ha!) 
Most people dread getting older... I think life is getting better with everyday that I am fortunate enough to live through. "Everyday 
above grass is a good one!"  
Oh my, I am in my midthirties...isn't there a set plan that I need to be adhering to?...Corporate workforce...house owned...married...
settled down...etc.?  
Everyone's life is different and it's interesting to figure out where 
your journey is taking you. Everyone has a unique story... I find 
that out more and more everyday traveling! 
Some of us are fortunate to have met that significant other, have 
beautiful children, loving life in a more permanent environment.
Some of us like to take the road less traveled... and that is great 
too.
Whichever lifestyle you live and how ever old you are...remember to embrace each Birthday with open arms! It's a blessing and one of those things in life that is perceived based on your attitude.
I once heard, "It's not the years in your life..but the life in your 
years that counts!"
So Cheers for Birthdays... 
I am in my Thirty-Fifth year of existence and loving it!

"Life is one fast-moving train, and you have to jump aboard and 

hold on to your hat and relish the sweep of the wind as it rushes 

by. You have to enjoy the journey, it's unthankful not to."


Saturday, November 28, 2009

This past week...

Started off the week with a trip to Karamea (the northernmost settlement on the west coast of the south island). This is where the Heaphy Track begins... a beautiful 4 day tramp.  We did some rock climbing, trail running, grilling, cave exploring and boshing.  It was nice but I did forget my bug spray and my legs got dominated by the sand flies.  The rest of the week has consisted of bone carving (carved a bone into a really cool necklace), cooking for guests, landscaping the gardens out back, shoveling gravel for new paths, and teaching people about Thanksgiving. For Thanksgiving, "Number 2" (the manager), hosted a Hangi in honor of this holiday.  A Hangi (pronounced Hungy) is a traditional Maori meal that is cooked in the ground.  The following is a description: We dug a knee deep pit 4 ft X 4 ft. the day before.  Then yesterday we put in chunks of iron and metal, then a fire on top and got it real hot for several hours...Usually you use rocks instead of metal but the rocks here will explode so we used metal. Then Number 2 and I prepped the food...duck...stuffed chickens...pork butt...potatoes...kumara (like a sweet potato). Next we dug everything out of the pit...ash, rocks, metal... it was really hot and we had to do it quick (20 minute window to keep the heat).  We put the metal back down, draped a wet duvet cover on the rocks...placed our food that was in crates on the metal...draped 3 more wets blankets on top of that...then recovered with tons of dirt and sand and packed it down. The food gets steamed for about 5 hours and no steam can leak out or it wont cook.  Pretty intensive but fun!  About 8pm we uncovered it and pulled everything out...it was DELICIOUS!  So moist!  We had about 35 locals show up and everyone enjoyed it.  Number 2 made a little anouncement about the Hungi in honor of my Thanksgiving holiday!  Choice!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


As I sit here over 8,000 miles away from home, the day before Thanksgiving, it makes me appreciate all those times and meals and laughs that I have been fortunate to have with a loving and enjoyable family.  Family is extremely important to me and I am one of those lucky few to have one...and not just have one, but have a GREAT one!  To my fam back home, wish I was there to spend some good Q.T. with you!  It is refreshing to know, though, that I will be celebrating T-giving with my West coast 'family' and several locals here tomorrow night.  We are doing a Hangi feast... which is a traditional Maori meal cooked in the ground.  Several people are all pitching in and we will be roasting duck, bull, chook and pig...plus other dishes like my Mac 'n' chee.  And of course everyone will be drawing hand turkeys like back in kindergarten and getting a history lesson on the original Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and the Indians.  So enjoy yourselves and your families... eat up and soak up the moment!  Bon Appetit!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Daily Circuit



Each morning I help lead a circuit with whomever wants to join... backpackers, fellow staffers (including the manager who is an Ironman and Triathlete).  We usually jog down to the beach for some exercises using our body weight and various sized rocks!  Rock relays, boulder tossing, piggybacking, pushups, situps, water-running, etc.  Great workouts in a beautiful setting!  Keep it rolling!

The Baz Special


This is the delicious brekkie (breakfast) special that I make for many of our guests: 
2 eggs, 2 pieces of toast, 2 sausages, 2 tomatoes, hash browns and beans...
mmmmmmmmmmmm!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

People Make the Difference

There are beautiful places and unique scenery everywhere...all over the world.  From the rugged West coast of New Zealand’s South island ...to the Royal Mile at Edinburgh castle...to the gob-smacking Mediterranean views in Cinque Terra, Italy...to Sydney’s Opera House Harbor...to the clear caribbean waters of Staniel Cay Bahamas...to the awe inspiring Grand Canyon... All of these places that I have been fortunate to visit have a common thread of being gorgeous destinations.  But the underlying theme of a location reaching that “Awesome” label is of course your interaction with the people there and sharing it with someone.  

Individuals can make or break the experience.  Being in good company enhances the aura of a place ten-fold.  For example, I am often reminded of my experience at Camp Cherokee.  Facility-wise, it is very rustic with no fancy “bells and whistles”...it’s the people there that make the experience memorable.  The same goes with many of these fantastic destinations...the people that you encounter along the journey make it the difference of being just another beautiful location or being an unbelievable experience!

Europe was better because of my fellow backpackers, Catfish and Patches.  Australia was an outstanding experience because of my mates Emily, Ron and Tish.  Well so far, my kiwi adventures have been killer due to my new friends in Auckland and now here in Barrytown.  Just think about it yourself, a sunset is much more vibrant and vivid when sharing it with someone.  Sweet as!

Beauty of a day



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Barrytown....aka Baz Vegas Baby!

Welcome to Baz Vegas Health and Drinks Club!  Currently I am working at a spot in Barrytown on the West coast of the South Island.  Basically doing quite a bit of everything...bartending, cooking dinner for the travelers, landscaping, painting murals, leading games for the guests and reorganizing this place.  Stray just took over the little hostel and they want it to be a FUN destination spot when the Stray buses stop here.  So basically, there are buses in 4 times per week...and it is like Halloween!  Each night hosts a different theme night complete with dress-up costumes, games and good times until late into the night.  It's great meeting all these backpackers from all over the world and helping them to have a great time!  
Stay tuned for some great pictures and stories!  Cheers!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pancake Rocks-West Coast of South Island

video

Red Denim

Red Denim??  Are you serious?  Oh yes...But I blog about red denim not because of the garment itself, but because of what hidden gem was wearing them.  We walked into the only pub in Marahau in Abel Tasman...and while observing the scene and doing my favorite hobby, people watching, I noticed a gentleman in red denim pants. He was an older lean man with a relaxed look about him... relaxed as if kind of clueless yet comfortable.  In addition to his red denim, he was also wearing a red button down shirt and I quietly thought to myself, “That gentleman sure does like red.”  Moving on around to other parts of the pub, there was another man with a straw hat, full thick beard, weathered visage, and looking as if he had many stories to tell.  The scene that unfolded was awesome and reminded me of the great values of being non-judgmental because you never know about people.   It was open mic night and "Red Denim" went up on stage with "The Bearded Storyteller" and they proceeded to JAM OUT on the harmonica, ukulele, guitar and electric fiddle!  LEGIT!  It was such a fun vibe and I was in awe at these individuals and their talents!  

This happens quite often in everyday life, and we should be conscious of our labeling and strive to not judge.  Lets use our energy on other nice things.  Don't take it from me... take it from Red Denim!  Cheers!



Sunny Days


Alrighty, currently I have ventured down to the South Island via Wellington and Abel Tasman National Park. Allen Schapiro has joined me for this trek and is staying a week in between his travels back to the East coast after 5 months in Singapore.  We hopped on the Stray Bus in Picton and are traveling with other adventurers from Germany, Switzerland, England, Holland, Italy, Canada, Romania, Russia, New Zealand and the States. Yesterday, he and I and a few more bros did the Coastal Track in Abel Tasman.  Its a 12 kilometer tramp all along the coast line beaming with gorgeous views of vivid greenish-turquoise waters and plush rainforest vegetation.  Stunning!  It was the best sunny day here in NZ so far and you can tell that summer is right around the corner!  


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Stray...

Alrighty... Great things happening as of lately.  First off, I will be working for Stray Travel, an adventure bus company that takes backpackers and other travelers around the country to some great spots.  Their motto is "Off the beaten path" which means they like to go to some awesome places that the other tours dont.  Check them out at www.Straytravel.com.  Anyhoo, I will spend the next month in Barrytown, a small place on the West coast of the South island.    Stray just bought the ole wild west type lodge (an old miner's lodge).  Myself and another guy, Kevin, were recommended by IEP to help them get this destination ready.  We are headed that way this week via Wellington and 2 days in Marahau (Abel Tasman Ntl. Park).  Should be fun as there will be Stray buses coming in every other night...bone carving, kayaking, tramping, knife making and other activities on the rugged coastline.  We will be working with 2 experienced Stray guys in doing all kinds of odd jobs and prep work to make it a Cool Destination spot.  Word on the street is the pub gets rockin in Barrytown!  Cheers, Bird

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Slow down... for SIMPLICITY!

I was reminded last night at how we quickly forget, when we get into the daily happenings and routine, to Slow Down a bit.  I know we all have heaps of responsibilities and things to do and things to get done and things that should've already been done, etc... but it is important to our sanity to take that short moment to relax, clear your mind and just enjoy the moment.  For those that do yoga or some sort of other exercise, then you know how important this time is...not just for physical health but for mental health!  I was having a dinner last night and got lost in great conversation and realized how nice it was to not have the feeling of something hanging over my shoulder...like "what's next, what do I need to be doing, what do I need to get done right now..."
Just a friendly reminder that we can all do this...it just takes conscious effort.  So Slow Down, Simplify everything we are involved in, and take time to enjoy some moments...before they all get away from us!  Sweet-as!  -Bird

Saturday, October 24, 2009

2 weeks



2 weeks...that's my current tour length.  It has flown by, but seems longer with all the activities: hiking volcanoes, swimming in cold water and natural hot springs, climbing rocks, eating local cuisine, chatting with people from all over the world, skyping back home, dancing, bungy jumping, job searching, walking, experiencing, etc.
Friday, three of us took a day trip to Karekare which was absolutely gorgeous... black sand beaches... Pohutukawa trees... a wild seal... waves slamming into the seastacks... no one else around... 10 rows of breakers... cliffs...calming.  It was great!  What's next?  Wherever the wind blows... and that can be many different directions!  Traveling releases a sense of surprise, uncertainty and refreshment....and I welcome all of it.  It makes you put yourself out there... which of course makes you indulge and experience many things that you didnt think you were capable of seeing/doing.   I will leave you today with a quote... 
"Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return" - Leonardo da Vinci.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Couch Surfing??

Couch Surfing?? What exactly is that?  Is it catching a wave of the unknown like in the ocean?... Who is hosting me?... What are they like?... What am I getting myself into?... Well, allow me to tell you a little about what's out there!  Couch Surfing is a giant reference community online whose official mission statement is "Bringing the world together one couch at a time."  Ha ha ha you might say... that's silly right?!?  Well, yes and no!  Yes, it seems like a crazy concept, but there are 6.1 million people worldwide that can tell you otherwise!  This is absolutely legit! Couch Surfing is the greatest set of people that I have been involved with thus far.  If it wasnt for this community, I would not have had the experience in NZ that I have had!
Three days into my trip half way across the world, I embarked on a weekend getaway with 12 strangers down to a town (Taupo) 3 hours away from Auckland.  This was the start of something incredible!  I had an absolute blast hanging with several other surfers (Germans, Americans, Kiwis) and have already developed some nice friendships!  In fact, I have stayed with someone from that group all night this week!  Sunday was with a Kiwi, Mark... Monday and Tuesday was with Julia in Takapuna, and the rest of the week is with Chris Brooks... Free week of lodging with some great people! How much better can you get?  I mean last night, at the weekly Couch Surfing get together at Buffalo Bar at the Princes Wharf in Auckland, there was a BUZZ about the place!  Loads of meeting and greeting, swapping of tall tales of travel, and a genuine warmth of 19 countries and over 85 individuals coming together for the greater good of humanity!  There is NO other place/thing I can think of in the world that brings people together for a common good than this!  Cheers for good people everywhere!  Mouranga,   -Bird

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kitchens...Save the planet?

I am about to go to bed here at a friend's flat in Tapakuno, a beach 5 minutes outside of Auckland city centre.  Today we hiked up Mt. Victoria, a volcano... and then cooked a dinner with my friend's flatmates...German girl, French guy, 2 Kiwis, and a Scottish girl.  This smaller production reminded me to blog about my hostel experience last week, where I was quickly reminded about my travels in Europe too.  At the ACB Hostel in downtown Auckland, I arrived into the kitchen to cook my dinner one night...what a fabulous experience!  A beehive of delicious smells, pots clanging, different languages, vibrant colors, creative foods, and heaps of laughter filled the room.  One of the most refreshing sights as there were over 40 people from all over the world working together... sharing burner spaces and olive oil and conversation... laughing and joking while enjoying their creations!  If only the rest of the world could take the lead that is set in hostel kitchens by young nomads. 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

First Weekend


Alrighty...Monday morning and no Blues here!  Still high off of the weekend in which 12 of my new friends (Germans, Kiwis, Americans) and I went down to Taupo which is a crater lake formed from one of the biggest volcanic blasts in the history of the world.  Beautiful with lots of geo-thermal activity.  We jumped into a cold lake and then sat in the natural hot thermal streams that emptied into the lake...like a jacuzzi!  Had a 'good feed' (Ate lots of delicious food) and our little house was 'choice' (really cool).  Back in Auckland now and have my weeks accommodations covered as I will be staying with one of my new peeps, Chris.  
Officially been here over one week and look forward to developing a flexible plan of where to go, what to do, and figuring out that J-O-B....maybe!
Sweet-as, Bird

Monday, October 12, 2009

Made it!

Welp, made it to Auckland!  I am chilling here in the BASE backpackers hostel in the city centre with people from all over the world!   So far it's been great as I have chatted with several Kiwis and some Aussies on the flights over. 
Now that I am here it's time to get ITM (In The Mix).  Tomorrow is an orientation and then a Couch Surfers Social at the Buffalo Bar.  Should be good times making connections, getting a phone, and finding a job...to quote Craig's dad in the movie Friday.." The word for today Craig is Job, J-O-B!"  Keep ya posted.  Cheers!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

10 Days!

Alrighty!  As I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off finalizing bills, plans, work, socials, and various accounts... all while preparing for New Zealand and the upcoming bills, plans, work, socials, and various accounts... I am reminded life as a whole is an Adventure!  And as I listen to the O'Jays Love Train right now it states, "Its time to get on board and let this train keep on riding through"...  Well, in 10 days I hop on this "train" all the way down to the newest country in the world, New Zealand... arguably one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  So, I invite you to "hop" on this train with me and add a little Adventure to your life.  Stay posted to my new blog and maybe we can all learn about other places, people, cultures etc... and just maybe we can sing part of this song and mean it... "People all over the world, join hands, and start a love train!"  Cheers, Bird