Backpacking in 82 Days: Oct 7-18 2014

It’s been almost two weeks since we had decent wifi, and I can’t remember every date perfectly. Enjoy the incredibly long post about a trip that only my parents read about. Wifi in NZ is spotty, unpredictable and most of the time, you have to pay for it. It’s tough being a white, privileged male sometimes. Where to begin…..

October 7- Hobbiton to Rotorua. I left off before we went to a Maori dinner. Maori are essentially NZ’s Native Americans. Really interesting culture and primitive. But for how primitive and spiritual they are, they are the happiest and most respectful people. They have the bare essentials: food, shelter, family, and their deity. It’s all you need and is why Hobbiton was so sweet. It’s a reflection of a simpler time, even though it’s fantasy. NZ culture isn’t too far from that. Happy people and focus on the three aforementioned life factors (depending on your spiritual choice) image image image imageThis also marked the first night Devyn and I had real food for dinner. Needless to say, we ate our weight in meats, veggies, and beer.

October 8- We left for Taupo the next day. It’s a neat little town set on the huge Lake Taupo. That’s all I have. We were extremely burnt out and did nothing once we got there. We drank wine, ate and passed out to recharge. The next morning, we took photos of Mt. Doom (presumably) on the other side of the lake. It was clear and you could see across to the mountain range. image The alleged Mt. Doom is on our other camera.

October 9- We took off to the Hastings/Napier area that day in Hawkes Bay. It’s one of their wine regions. We booked two days there to settle down a bit and do wine tasting. Besides the wine, the town lacked a charm, or personality. The only personality we discovered were the Germans in our hostel partying all night. According to the guy at reception, “this is the time of year where German kids finish school and their parents give them money to go away. ” It’s a nice way of kicking them out of the house temporarily.

October 10- We rented bikes to ride around the different wine regions and to do tastings. What we failed to realize was that riding from the rental spot to the different wineries, or the winery triangle they call it, is about 14km. It’s no surprise the renters were impressed with us, or baffled by our stupidity. You’re generally supposed to schedule a bus to take you and your bike to the wine trail. Not for this bodacious couple! image image Look for Hastings, then look for number 2. See the triangle near 1&2? That’s the region we biked to like morons.  The tastings were almost worth it. After hitting 5 wineries, we couldn’t bike back. We we’re too pooped. So, like the awesome people they are, one of the rental’s kiwi workers picked us up and called a taxi. He even gave us a free tasting at his winery. Paul, you’re the man. On another note, New Zealand can do white wine like NO ONE’s business. Superb Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Gros. You’re drinking the earth at their level. Napa whites don’t hold a candle.

October 11-We took the long drive to Wellington this day. It’s essentially LOTR central. It’s where Weta workshop is located and a handful of filming was done there. Wellington, like most “city cities,” driving and parking suck. Their parking is worst than San Francisco’s. We booked our hostel, aka frat house for 3 days. LOTR reference: Wellington reminds me of Rivendell and Lothlorien. They’re cities built around trees. They don’t tear them down, but build around them. Most of the first night was settling in and checking out their food and drink scene. Solid craft beers in Wellington.

October 12- We checked out the Te Papa museum and other aspects of the city. Wellington has an awesome farmers market. imageimage imageimage image The weather was up to 17 degrees Celsius, so taking the cable car to the botanical gardens was solid.

October 13- We checked out the Weta Cave, a LOTR’s fan toy house. It has a bunch of props from the films as well as other films the company worked on. We took the workshop tour, which is exclusive and does not allow any photography. Needless to say, we saw a lot of props and sick costumes. We then drove to Mt. Victoria which has a walking track that was used for the “get off the road” scene. If I have to explain this, you already don’t appreciate it. This was a good last day because we were done “loitering” around the city and we were ready for something else. Unlike our hostel roommates. Their definition of traveling is hostel hopping to binge drink. With no exaggeration, many of the hostels we stay in are frat houses. Sure, Devyn and I are old farts at heart, but you’re in New Zealand! Go check out the sites. There’s also great places to drink! Check out the night life. They’re clean crusties. It’s such a waste to sit around blazing during the day and have a hostel party at night. The only reason I ever did that was because I couldn’t legally go to bars. In the words of my parents; “grow up!” Yes, I sound old and senile. imageimageimage October 14- We had to wake up early to catch the ferry to the South Island. But our alarm was muted and it wasn’t until we realized it was too light outside to be 6am that we noticed. We had less than an hour before our ferry left. We packed in a hurry (I forgot a shirt in the process) but we made it. It was well worth the freak out because on a clear day, the ferry from Wellington to Picton is amazing. . image image The pictures don’t do any justice, so why waste time? Once in the South Island, we planned on staying in a small town called Renwick. It’s near Blendheim and Marlborough. They’re areas known for their Sauvignon Blancs. Guess what we did? image One winery only made Pinot Gris, so it was interesting tasting one wine and trying to see how aging wines really makes a difference.

October 15- We took the 7 hour drive to Franz Josef. The drive we took down the coast from Westport to Greymouth is one of the top 10 most beautiful drives in the world, according to Lonely Planet. Today marked the day where I also realized Devyn likes to put diesel in cars instead of regular gas. It was an expensive mistake, but we had fun talking to the mechanic, who was really open about his life. He also showed us his house.

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October 16- We woke up and left Franz Josef. It’s an amazingly warm, small town with a pretty awesome view.

image It’s been the small towns like this we have had the most fun. They usually mean great scenery, people and of course, food&drink. The drive from Franz Josef to Queenstown is stunning in itself. image image

Queenstown is really neat. Much like Wellington, it’s built around the trees, but on a larger scale. The mountainous background doesn’t hurt. It feels like Colorado mixed with California, but with better food. It is the adventure capital of the world. Sadly, we are on a budget so can’t bungy jump or skydive. We’ve done both in the states, but still a bummer. I recommend coming to NZ with a lot of money. Really cool activities and events, but it’s all costly.

October 17- This was a day tour to the Milford Sounds. Awesome stuff! We had a long bus tour from Queenstown to Milford and on the way, you see some great sights. Our bus driver made the drive fly by. Once you get to Milford, it’s where the cruise boat is. You take it through the Milford Sounds, which is surrounded by waterfalls and treacherous looking mountain ranges. The rainy weather made the scenery awesome and ominous.

image image image image image image image It’s another prime example of pictures not doing any justice.

October 18- It’s raining in Queenstown and we did our laundry. I don’t have any photos for that. It’s my birthday tomorrow and we are doing the Pure Glenorchy: Lord of the Rings tour.

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Backpacking in 82 Days- October 4th, 2014

Yes, you read that right. We went a day ahead flying to NZ and are currently in the future. It’s really cold in the future and in the future, you only have 30 minutes of wifi before you start paying for it! We are jet lagged so enjoy these photos in absence of anything interesting.

Double pack

Double pack

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Kings 2014 Champs=Good for hockey in California

It’s probably been about 20 minutes (probably even longer once this is posted) since I watched LA King’s Alec Martinez score in double overtime in a game 5 against the New York Rangers to win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. Easily, the King’s road in the playoffs, for me personally, was the most exciting four rounds of hockey I’ve watched in a while. A few weeks ago it was even hailed that the Western Conference Final between LA and Chicago was classic, fast-paced hockey. Needless to say, watching the King’s in the playoffs has been heart pounding and exciting, with an excellent finish.

Now, before the bandwagoning accusations start flying, let me set the record straight: I’m a diehard Red Wings fan from pre-puberty days and I laugh at modern day Kings fans who don’t know who Barry Melrose is. Below I will demonstrate my proof:

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I’m about 10-years-old here; around two years after the Wings swept the Washington Capitals to be the last team to win the Cup two years in a row.

 

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I also got arrested in October of 2011. Notice anything? That’s right! My face does look chubby!

 

 

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I’m also a huge fan of the sport in general. I played for my high school and won state back in 2006. So does this eliminate any bandwagon allegations yet? If not, well, I can poop on your face if that helps.

 

Back to the topic at hand: the Kings, at the hands of muppet face Darryl Sutter, now lead the three California hockey teams (Anaheim-1 cup, San Jose-0, LA-2) in Stanley Cup Championships. Now, regardless of how you feel about the Kings, set aside all emotions and just hear me out. With LA bringing the Cup to SoCal twice, not only is California slowly being put on the map in regards to hockey, but it seems California residents are finally paying attention to a great sport. Now that the Lakers suck, those alleged sports fan have another local team to root for.

Throughout my childhood, basketball, baseball, and especially football dominated popular sporting events and I was always the outcast watching those pasty Europeans and Canadiens chase a piece of rubber around. Now, California’s basketball teams don’t make it past the second round of the NBA playoffs and the NFL is turning into a circus sideshow, with players bitching about pass interference to get an extra 15 yards. And baseball, well, I’ll try avoid being bias about baseball (it sucks). When the Anaheim Ducks won back in 2007, it brought some minor attention (and yes, bandwagons) to the sport. It was also great seeing Teemu Selanne get his name on the cup. I mean, who doesn’t like that guy? Unfortunately, Anaheim is not a major city like Los Angeles, so the attention is minimal. And let’s be honest: The San Jose Sharks are the San Diego Chargers of hockey. They look great in the regular season, but blow it in the playoffs. I don’t think anyone is waiting around for San Francisco’s unwanted step brother to pull off any magic.

With Los Angeles, people know that name. With Anaheim, I generally had to remind my friends in San Francisco (I spent my college life there) that it’s where Disneyland is. When I say hockey is a great sport, I don’t use “great” lightly. It’s fast, physical, intense and most of all, there’s so much respect in the game. I recommend to anyone who is new to the sport to read The Code. It discusses the aesthetics of fighting in hockey and how wrong people are when they call it “barbaric.” Anyone else notice how at the end of every playoff series there’s a handshake line? There’s so much respect and class in that sport that it’s mind boggling how people watch anything else.

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And I can’t fathom how Superbowl Champs call themselves “world champs.” It’s an American sport! No one else plays it, so I guess technically, you are the best team in the world. But I was too distracted to give a fart during Kurt Russell’s pre game introductions. Going back to class in hockey, watch Teemu Selanne’s post game 7 interview, after the Ducks lost to the Kings earlier this playoff year. It was Selanne’s last NHL game and the Kings pounded their sticks on the ice (it’s a hockey way to convey various positive emotions). I think he sums it up quite nicely. “[Class] it’s what the game is about.”

 

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https://www.evernote.com/shard/s370/sh/374afba9-c68b-4e14-8fb9-1b63e06bff77/35c79a29b5042ae895545803516a749b

Click that ^ please to further your understanding.

Once LA started gaining momentum and looked like a threat in the playoffs back in 2012 (first time since 2001) people started paying attention. I’ve noticed a surge in old friends and companions I had back in high school who started waving the King flag, but flash back to when I’m 16, they didn’t know what icing was. Now, they’re talking hockey smack and going to sports bars to rep their team. Hey, I completely agree with many of the bangwagoning accusations. Yeah, more likely than not, they’re paying attention because the Kings won. The Kings have them. The Ducks had them. The Red Wings have them. There’s no escaping it. But regardless of that, it’s a great stepping stone for hockey to gain more West Coast recognition and fans. Those poor souls who wait all year for a 16 week season (football) of prancing goons, or those who have the time to watch all 8,435 baseball games, now hopefully, have had their eyes opened. There’s a great sport being played and we can finally stop basketball from being played at every restaurant! The Mid-West and East Coast are fine; they don’t need any additional help. The West Coast does! Especially California.

We’re a coastal state. People are surf bums, potheads, hipsters, assholes, and there’s a ridiculous rivalry between NorCal and SoCal, where all the beef is really in the Bay Area for reasons I’ll never understand, other than to toot their own horn. Even if you’re a disgruntled Shark fan, look at the grand scheme of things! We’re not known for this sport on ice, but we’re slowly gaining momentum and fans along the way. It’s the last few sports played with any real heart.

Sure, some of the fans will probably dwindle away once the Kings lose their crown, but to sum all of this up, how I see this, it’s great exposure to one of the greatest sports ever played. The more fans that this sport can gather, the better. Speaking of cups, I say this with the upmost sincerity:

There is only one cup in my book and it has nothing to do with soccer.

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Hockey memes courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/hockeymemepage

Check that out! Quite hilarious.