A Travellerspoint blog

October 2011

Go The All Blacks!

Learning the sport of rugby with world champ fans

Being in NZ for rugby world cup (RWC) has been a lot of fun, and has really enlightened us to a sport that we knew little to nothing about. We have been trying for the past three days to get an All Blacks flag for our campervan, but everywhere is sold out. People walk the streets bouncing rugby balls like we would a basketball and parks are alley ways are filled with kids playing touch rugby like you’d see soccer being played in South America. The country’s support for the national team is amazing, almost every car and house has at least one All Blacks flag waving, and you can see the All Blacks logo and slogan on anything from beer bottle tops in the city to paint on bales of hay in the country. Here is a photo of “go the ABs” on rocks at the beach… who cares about drawing a heart around your initials when there is rugby at stake!
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Restaurants, supermarkets and advertisements all have “All Blacks” specials and commercials. For example, this town was famous for its carrots and painted their huge orange carrot statue black for the RWC in support and as an ad for a painting company.
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For the final game we attended the Roturua City “Fan Zone” which was held in an event stadium suitable for concerts and major sports games. The stadium had a ton of people all dressed in black ready to support their team on a big screen. It was fun to learn game details with the locals who were eager to explain the rules. When the whistle blew at the end of the game signifying a victory, we were surprised with indoor fireworks and confetti. For as long as we have been here, the radio talk has been all about rugby and it continues with thoughts on how the tourist economy will be after RWC, and of course the endless game analysis.
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Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 15:14 Archived in New Zealand Tagged rugby Comments (0)

Auckland

Setting foot into New Zealand

We left the heat of Fiji and I am pretty sure Robin’s words were something along the lines of “perhaps we should follow winter instead, I don’t like the heat and humidity.” Well, when we stepped off the plane in Auckland, Robin’s wish came true. Instead of the 90 degree sticky weather, it was now 61 degrees and POURING with rain.

Luckily, the weather cleared up quickly and next day we were able to rent bikes and explore the city on the wrong side of the rode, which made things even more exciting.
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Among the sites we explored were Eden Park, the world cup rugby stadium and the William Webb Ellis Cup, just three days prior to the final match.
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After a night in a hostel with the world’s loudest snoring people we decided that for the second and final night we should run ourselves to the ground and get pissed with a branch of Auckland Hash House Harriers. Totally loved it, and many thanks to Drag Queen for the hospitality.

So far the people in NZ are EXTREMELY nice. If you pull out a map or look lost, it takes about 12 seconds before a Kiwi asks if you need help, for example, were on a bus that stopped at a stop with two confused girls who just missed their bus. The driver said “jump on and I will catch your bus and you can transfer to it.” And that is just what he did. He radioed the bus in front to tell the bus that he had two passengers for him, and in 5 minutes, the two girls were on the right bus. It is amazing how welcoming the country is to foreigners. So far most people think we are from Canada and one surprised English bloke from London said we had surprisingly gentle accents for Americans, like omg!?

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 14:50 Archived in New Zealand Tagged bike rugby Comments (1)

Kevin vs. Coconut

The Art of Opening Coconuts

sunny 89 °F

Coconut trees are everywhere in Fiji; in the city we saw a construction worker pull out a machete and hack open a coconut for a drink break.
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Inside unripe coconuts is what is known as coconut water or juice and is actually now sold commercially as a healthy antioxidant drink. We learned that coconut milk is made from mixing the water with the flesh of a ripe coconut. Kevin first decided to attack a coconut while walking along the beach and although he didn’t have a machete, he made do with a rock and a serrated shell. We even made a cocktail out of rum and coconut water ... watch our instructional video “Big Coconut Egg VI” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IVL1TBzHt0
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Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 13:06 Archived in Fiji Tagged fiji coconut Comments (1)

Bula Fiji!

On island time…

sunny 88 °F

There are lots of accommodation options in Fiji and over 300 islands to choose from; after a month of extreme packing and preparation we wanted to have a bit of R&R so decided to venture off the main land but not spend all of our time in transit. We found Plantation Island Resort just an hour boat ride from Nadi to Malolo Lailai Island, picked up some local Bounty Rum at duty free and kicked off “island time” with cocktails on the porch of our Garden Bure (cabin).
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Plantation Island Resort was like a mini club med with a lineup of new activities each day. In true Robin and Kevin fashion we filled the day with snorkeling, tennis, hiking, mini golf, swimming, kayaking, wind surfing, cocktails, ping pong and a host of other entertainment from the kids club talent show to scouting the best spots for sunsets. Each morning we began with a short run along the beach. Still being slightly jet-legged, we had the benefit or early morning wake ups and the beach to ourselves.
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After a half day of learning how to wind surf, we could both safely sail back to the resort, without the assistance of the rescue boat :) We also took a Fijian cooking class in which we learned how to make coconut milk from a freshly picked coconut and were rewarded with a nice sample (actually more like a mini meal) of the coconut white fish stew. On one of our walks around the island we discovered an outdoor sailor bar out on a spit that provided wood and grates to BBQ your own food. We met a couple who had been sailing since 2008 on a 44’ catamaran who introduced us to some ‘interesting’ folk and shared sailing tails of cannibals and the like.
Many of you have asked how we were able to save up enough to go on this trip, so we’d like to give a few examples of how to live ghetto fabulous while on an island resort!
• Buy kids branded sun block for half the price and double the SPF protection
• Go to an island with multiple resorts and stay in the cheapest one, then take a leisurely stroll down the beach into the expensive resorts and use their beach side pool and comfier hammocks and chairs
• Order a fruit slushy and add your own duty free liquor -- what you save on the cost of one drink pays for a whole bottle
• Get a Capital One MasterCard and a Charles Schwab ATM/Visa card -- you’ll have no money conversion fees and get refunded for all of your ATM transaction fees
• Find a local shop and buy portable food such as Curry and Roti (indian style burrito) and have a picnic on a different beach every day – we spent less on food for our entire trip than we would have spent on one day of an all-inclusive meal plan

Pictured below is one of the pools we visited and a sunset dinner at a dock we found across the island.
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Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 19:05 Archived in Fiji Tagged fiji Comments (0)

The Longest Day of Our Lives

from the US to Fiji

After a hurried morning with packing and final details such as international drivers licenses and student ID cards, we put on our packs and took the picture below before running out the door. I know many of you are looking forward to seeing Kevin's 40L pack with all that he described in the previous post.
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A brief synopsis of the longest day of our lives:

Pack like crazy
Anxiously await Fed Ex
Return to AAA to fix international drivers license
Leave Fort Collins for Denver
Lunch in Denver with Megan Dibiase
Quick visit with Christina, Alirez and the Verm during our 5 hour layover in LA
10 hour flight to Fiji
Arrived in Fiji at 5am
Bus to Port for ferry to Malolo Island
7:30am Ferry to island
3 hour tour of resort premises while our room was cleaned
Full day of activities including snorkeling, hiking, napping in a hammock
Went to bed at 7:30pm, only to wake up at 4am the next morning

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 22:11 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Packed up and at the Airport

After another full week of organizing banks, and banker boxes we are at the airport and are so ready for the beach! We'd hate to have to give an honest number for how many times we packed everything up just to remember we forgot to put something in or needed something out of the box buried on the bottom of the stack. All together we managed to shrink our worldly physical possessions into a small corner of our parent’s basement.
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With all this talk about storing and shuffling 'stuff' around, the big question is, what are we actually taking with us?!
Below is a picture of the contents of Kevin's bag spread out on a table, and the itemized list.
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pair of reef shoes
pair of shower flippyfloppies
pair of chaco sandals
pair of teva light hikers
snorkel mask and breathing tube
100ml fluoride fortified toothpaste
floss
travel toothbrush
stick of lip balm
two disposable razors
small bottle of wash gel
gum pick
stick of deodorant
ear plugs
sleep mask
extra quart zip locks
extra gallon zip locks
chico bag
money belt
extra visa pictures
vaccination card
international drivers permit
usa passport
laundry line
fake wallet with fake credit cards and id and small notes
lanyard pins for securing backpack zippers
inflatable pillow
sink stopper
two door jams
samsung focus
usb charger for focus
ear buds
ear bud splitter
business cards
canon point and shoot camera
canon camera charger
3 camera batteries
two 8GB SD cards
1gb usb key
mini tripod
international plug adaptors
visor
sunglasses
beanie
thin gloves
bag of rubber bands
eee pc asus netbook and sleeve
asus power cord
mini usb mouse
mosquito bug spray
water purification drops
first aid kit
diarrhea kit
malaria pills
altitude pills
rei 40L lookout pack
two mini pad locks for zippers
rei flash 18 day pack
small nalgene
headlamp
padlock and cord
door alarm
cocoon bivouac sack
bag of snack bars
medium clothes compression sack
small clothes compression sack
micro fiber pack towel for drying
small piece of micro fiber pack towel for washing with
two ankle running socks
two thin wool socks
northface thin track suit bottoms (warmups)
montane technical pants with zippered pockets
rei zipper pocket swim trunks
rei zip off pants without the pant legs
northface running shorts
technical tshirt for sleeping
boxers for sleeping
two short-sleeved 65% polyester / 35% cotton blend button shirts
long-sleeved 65% polyester / 35% cotton blend button shirt
chilis long-sleeved polyester base layer
northface long-sleeved light pull over
hooded wind shell
two exofficio boxer briefs
exofficio briefs
rei briefs

Now you might ask yourself, if all of that is in Kevin's bag, what in the world can Robin be carrying?

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 14:41 Archived in USA Tagged colorado packing Comments (0)

Fort Collins Colorado

hotel penske from seattle to ft collins

with seattle in our rear view, we made it to fort collins! three days of driving, and two night in hotel penske.
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with about 20 boxes of our worldly possessions and 5 bikes, we have filled up kevin's parents basement and are finalizing the details on the trip. For every one thing we cross off the todo list, we add three more. t-minus 2 days till we leave the states on thursday!
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Posted by Kevinrez 19:45 Archived in USA Tagged colorado Comments (0)

So Long Seattle

GasWorks Park Farewell Party

Thanks for all the hugs and well wishes at the farewell party! On a classic seattle afternoon we had a few rain drops, before it cleared for a gleam of sun above the olympic mnts.
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We home brewed 5 gallons of Raspberry Ruby Ale and 5 gallons of Coffee Stout served out of the garbage can below... which by the way was the primary fermenter for both beers and is a Strharsky heirloom handed down from Kevin's dad's brewing days.
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Posted by Kevinrez 19:43 Archived in USA Tagged seattle Comments (0)

Motorcycle Safety Class

preparation for travel

sunny 68 °F

In case the opportunity arises to rent motorcycles, we decided that we should learn to ride them and to be safe. In the state of Washington, the motorcycle safety course is subsidized, and for just $100, you can take a 3 day course on how to ride and be safe on a motorcycle. This experience turned out to be very different for Robin and Kevin. Robin thought that riding a bike with a motor couldn't be that much harder than riding a bicycle and perhaps the class was a little overkill. Kevin thought that riding a motorbike would be very challenging.... both of us were wrong! Robin nearly dropped the bike the first time she sat down, and Kevin found that riding the bike was really not that hard.
Over the course of three days, we both managed to hone in our motorcycling skills and passed with 99 and 100 percent on the driving evaluation, and we both got 100s on our written tests. Robin was amazed at how challenging it was to maneuver a 300 pound bike, especially at slow speeds. Hence, everything is easier with more speed. In fact, motorcycling is very much like mountain biking... don't look where you don't want to go, and momentum and speed are your best friend.

Our instructor at the Evergreen Safety Council (Jim Sullivan) was one of the best. He really made the class fun, and informative. Two funny quotes during the same class came out of stories about being safe on the bike, really!

1. Jim teaching us about 'get your head in the ride or put the bike aside' told us a story about how his dog was giving birth to puppies all night long so he was too tired to ride in the rain the next day: "So my bitch was popping one out ever hour"
2. After talking about riding over train tracks at a right angle, robin gave the example of how hard it is to do that in Westlake where the South Lake Union Trolley Runs parallel to cars (and bikes): "I was being chased by a S.L.U.T. the other day"

All in all the class was well worth the money and we both are now legal to drive motorcycles in the State of Washington, which scares us a little too cause neither of us are prepared to ride on a busy street, much less the highway. But if the chance arises on a farm say in New Zealand, I think we will both jump on the opportunity.WP_000195.jpgWP_000208.jpg

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 19:56 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Last Furniture Standing

getting rid of everything!

sunny 72 °F

Right now there are two pieces of furniture left in our house... the desk that I am typing on and the chair that I am sitting on. Last night we ate dinner sitting on the floor using a cutting board as our table. It is amazing how much stuff two people can accumulate, we blame the basement. New rule of life = move every 3-5 years no matter what so that you can cleanse of stuff! Attached is a picture of Robin counting up the CL $ before one of several trips to the bank. WP_000210.jpg

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 19:52 Archived in USA Tagged packing Comments (0)

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