Friday, August 29, 2008

Life's a Beach!

Yesterday was our first visit to a NZ beach! It's still technically winter here, but the sun was shining, and it was a great day for a walk along a beautiful black sand beach. It's a 20 minute drive away from our place, so we can see ourselves spending a lot of time here in the future (i.e., SUMMER!).

In the following picture, I'm donning my latest and greatest NZ purchase: a HAT. I love hats. It has the silver fern on it which is a national symbol (& also part of our new blog layout).

This is a "winter beach walk" shot. Tune in in a couple of month for the SUMMER VERSION!!

This was the view when we turned around and started walking back:

Apparently there's a white sand beach 20 minutes from our place in the other direction. Next time we'll have to check that one out!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The more we’re together, the funnier Lowell gets.

Since we’ve been in NZ, Lowell makes the appropriate animal sounds whenever passing a pasture, and he’s SO GOOD at it.

It sets me into giggling mode which just spurs him on even more.

Here's a typical interaction in the car.

Lowell: “Baaaaaaa”

Me: *giggling* “Wow Lowell, that was pretty accurate.”

Lowell: "K, here's a goat... and now this is a cow."

Me: *amid gales of laughter* "Wow Lowell, you're GOOD AT THAT!"

Lowell: “Yeah? Now do you wanna hear a bull when a cow is in heat?”

Me: “Yes please.”

Here Lowell is cleaning giant chunks out of the cows' water (the owner asked us to put stones in it to weigh it down). Unfortunately, we neglected to bring our big farming rubber boots, so the preferred method involved keeping feet out of the muddy pastures (and pointing them directly to the sky).

Lowell’s humour also extends THROUGH the night (unintentionally). He has been known to give lectures about Freud in his sleep (analyze that!), but last night he gave a lecture while using a New Zealand accent! Priceless. I wish I would’ve had the video camera ready to roll.

Good thing I have an entertaining husband to help combat homesickness.

Monday, August 25, 2008

We have a home. We have a car. And we have COWS!


Prior to our arrival, Andrew and Kay (our newly adopted NZ parents), made arrangements with a member of their church for Lowell and I to rent a cottage that is attached to a currently vacant lodge. We had no clue that they were making these arrangements and were so pleased to find that they cared enough to begin paving the way for us. We now realize just how important both of our extremely hospitable parents (in Canada) must be to students and other visitors (especially the foreign ones). We have appreciated Andrew and Kay SO MUCH!

So, back to the lodge. It’s in the country side and is complete with a locked gate and beautiful drive way (Speaking of celebrities!) …

…as well as COWS in the adjoining pasture. Makes us (mostly Lowell) feel right at home! Mooooooo…

Here's our cottage from front and back:

Here are some shots of the the lodge and grounds:

ZABU- we have our own gazebo! BOOK YOUR FLIGHT NOW!!

The owner of the lodge plans to turn it into a centre for disabled/special needs kids, but since it’s currently vacant, we were allowed to take whatever we needed from the main lodge. It was super fun perusing through the lodge and picking up what we wanted to use. It felt like Christmas!

We have not yet unpacked all of our stuff, but we’ve already found a home for most of the stuff from the lodge. Here’s our kitchen:

And here’s the living room:

Note the HEATERS. NZ does not have central heating. So even though it’s +15ish Celsius outside (just finishing winter), it feels like zero OR COLDER inside. DEFINITELY a big adjustment for us (especially since we left Lethbridge in +35 Celsius weather). We can handle -50 Celsius with windchill in Edmonton- but no central heating? NO CAN DO! The heaters have been little life savers, and have gone a long way to making us (me) feel more at home.

The bedroom. We are sharing a single bed. BOTH of us. In ONE single bed. How many of you are sharing a SINGLE bed with a 6 foot 3, almost 200-pound DUDE? Good thing we like to snuggle!

So the cottage is super, and after a grocery shopping trip to our nearest supermarket, we filled the cupboards and fridge!

We stocked up on NZ brands so we could soak up the experience. We bought Milo which is their version of hot chocolate. It's pretty good, although it doesn't compare to my Momma's hot cocoa (but then again... nothing does!) :

It turns kids into good soccer players!

It was so satisfying making and eating our first homemade REAL meal in our new little home. I made Kylie’s famed taco soup. It made us feel right homey (but also miss Kylie and the rest of home a lot)!

PS- We’re not sure how long we’ll be here because it is unknown when the Lodge will be up and running, but for now… we have about 8 beds at our disposal, so all you potential visitors better start making travel plans. NOW!!


While we were still in Canada, Lowell was in contact with a Couch Surfer named Chris. He suggested that we purchase his car as he was traveling to India for a few months. We didn’t commit to anything, but let him know we were interested. Once we arrived, we contacted him, and he came over (to Andrew & Kay’s house where we stayed for the first 2 nights) to show us the car. He took us for a little spin, then stopped in a parking lot and suggested that we take it for a little drive on our own. Just around the block. In less than a minute, we returned and he was GONE. Completely vanished! We thought perhaps we had just inherited a car, but eventually he showed up again (with a new pair of trousers in hand). He was extremely interesting and very entertaining.

So now we have a car. A light blue 1991 Mitsubishi Chariot. It will hold our visitors AND their luggage when we pick them up from the airport (HINT HINT). It’s perfect!

The only problem is the whole driving on the left side of the road thing. I’m adjusting quite well, but there have been some interesting instances! I’m now no stranger to smacking my arm against the door or throwing my hand out the window while attempting to shift. I'm also constantly turning on the windshield wipers when meaning to signal. And the fact that I need to look up and to the LEFT to see out of the rearview mirror feels completely abnormal and unnatural. And slightly unsafe. Insurance is not compulsory in NZ, but we have every intention of getting it ASAP (Don’t worry Dad, we’ve been TRYING (in vain) to get it. At first we thought everyone was being friendly and honest by sending us to their competitors, but now we get the impression that nobody wants to deal with us. We're the complicated Canadians!)

So, we're making this place home. I definitely have not been without my (vicious) bouts of homesickness, but things are really coming together here and we have a lot to be thankful for.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Celebrities Shmelebrities

Our flight to LA via Seattle went super smoothly, and we even made our first new friends! Katie sat with us on the plane, and we chatted nonstop for the entire 2.5 hour flight. We then met her husband Kurt at LAX. Here's the immensely photogenic couple:

We waited for about 1.5 hours for our free 24-hour hotel shuttle. Every other hotel had a shuttle that flew by every 2 seconds. After a while we finally called, and were told to expect a black limo in 10 minutes. We got a big white van in over an hour. And it wasn't free. I guess that's what you get when you choose the absolute cheapest hotel in the area!

Waiting... wondering... and very Canadian!

The following morning, we picked up our rental car: a Toyota Corolla. OOooooo so sleek.

Now let's talk about our LA experience. The streets of LA aren't lined with celebrities as I had anticipated. They are more so lined with garbage and unkempt everything. Not quite as glamorous as I had expected...

Soooo, did we meet or even SEE any celebrities?


But we sure did dine at the same restaurant that Jessica Simpson and Tim Allen frequent.

We also took a stroll down the walk of fame. My favourite stars were ANDY GRIFFITH...

...the Olsen twins (Carlynne- this one is for you. Twin power all the way:)...

...Sandra Bullock (the epitome of romantic comedies!) ...

...and Britney Spears. Hey, don't judge. She has some catchy tunes and I'm SURE she puts on a good show. I'm not going to lie...I would not turn down the chance to see her in concert.

Lowell's favourite stars were Chris Farley and David Spade. Mainly because Tommy Boy used to be his favourite movie and the stars made him feel all nostalgic.

It was also fun to see Anne Shirley because when Lowell was in grade 12, he was Gilbert for his High School's production of Anne of Green Gables. (PS- we have no idea whether this is THAT Anne Shirley or not, but it's cool anyway.)

Other highlights of LA included Universal Studios.

I got Starbucks for the SOLE purpose of walking around looking like a cool dude celebrity. I would've purchased normal coffee- but it was way too hot.
We just walked around, we didn't actually go IN to where all the movie sets and stuff are (as it cost an arm and a leg), but we peered through the bars imagined that we did.

We also walked around a popular shopping centre known as 'the Grove'.

Hee hee, there's Victoria's Secret in the background!

We didn't have any American cash on us, so we ended up parking for free. OOPS. The parking attendant was probably thinking 'stupid Canadians..'. But it was kind of a ritzy outdoor shopping market, so we EXPECTED that they would accept credit cards. I guess we expected wrong!

We also drove up the Hollywood hills where the celebrity home bus tours go. We MUST'VE seen celebrity homes, but we just don't know which ones were inhabited by famous people, or who the famous people were.

Last thing we did before heading back to the car rental place was pay $10 to park our car at Santa Monica Pier and have a 20-minute power nap in the car. It was supposed to be $8, but the machine didn't give us change. Still the wisest $10 we ever spent! Rush hour in LA is crazy, and would have been disastrous had I still been in the sleepy/heat-stroked state I was in prior to the nap.

That night we flew to NZ via Tahiti (all we did in Tahiti was nap in the airport). This trip was 17 hours long, and luckily Lowell and I managed to sleep for most of it. When we arrived, we were welcomed by Pastor Andrew's warm smile. We had made a connection with Andrew through his church's website, and it was sooooo nice to have someone there to pick us up. He went out of his way to give us a little tour, told us about some landmarks, and also educated us on some NZ terms. For example, for us, the word 'supper' refers to the big meal in the evening. You know: breakfast, lunch, supper. To THEM, supper is tea and a biscuit before bed. Also, 'counters' in the kitchen are called 'benches', and regular closets in the wall are referred to as 'wardrobes'.

Lowell also tried a NZ spread called Marmite. To me it tasted like soy sauce, but it sure looks like Lowell is enjoying it!

Here's our hostess, Kay, working hard in the kitchen.

Here are our friendly, welcoming, and jolly hosts: Andrew & Kay.

Today we are hoping to move into a little place of our own, and also purchase a car. We'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We're Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Today we bid farewell to Canada (for now)!

Lowell and I will be spending a day/night in Los Angeles en route to New Zealand. Since LA is a celebrity hot bed, I’ve devised a little plan of action (in order to feed my ridiculous celebrity connection obsession).

When (not if) I spot a celebrity, I will approach him/her and talk to him/her as though I have NO CLUE that he/she is famous. Perhaps I’ll inquire about the cut of his or her pant leg, or offer my opinions regarding the American presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, Lowell will be hiding behind an inconspicuous pole or sale rack with our 18X zoom lens snapping shots of me and the celebrity.

This way I’m not some annoying fan, and let’s face it: we both benefit from the interaction. I get my celebrity photo, and they get the pleasure of my interesting conversation.

Plan B: If Lowell looks like a creepy paparazzo and someone calls the cops on him, maybe he’ll just approach the celebrity and me, make some smooth comment, then snap our picture oh so casually. Oooooooo it’s a surefire plan I think. Can’t WAIT!

Next time you see me here,hopefully it’ll be with a celebrity. He he.

But for now, we must go as we don’t miss our flight. AAAAAHHHHHHHH!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Weird Things Happen to Weird People

I was JUST outside. Then I decided to run back inside, grab the car keys and the car insurance policy that I was temporarily using, and go back outside to a) put the insurance policy back in the glove compartment and b) move the car (as it was parked in front of the neighbours house because other people were in front of our place. I NEVER park there!). This is the view I was met with upon my return to the great outdoors:


So it's actually quite ironic...and a little funny. The reason I had the insurance policy in the house was because I just made a call to AMA to cancel insurance on the car....effective THURSDAY (whew *giant sigh of relief that it wasn't effective TODAY!*). Tomorrow (the day we LEAVE FOR NEW ZEALAND), we were going to drive the car to the airport and Lowell's parents, bless their souls, were going to park it at the farm.

Ha, I don't think that will be the plan anymore.

Many a neighbourhood folk gathered 'round, and some experienced car buffs suggested that it was a write-off. We'll see. Good thing we just appointed my Mom Power of Attorney- now she gets to deal with it (sorry Mom!).

Okay, now let's have a look-see at some of the damage. OOooooo that sucks.

The Culprit. It just SNAPPED! It wasn't even windy, and it's ALWAYS WINDY IN LETHBRIDGE!

The other half of the culprit:

City dudes finally came to clean up (thanks guys!)...

This was (is) a weird experience. I guess that makes us weird people.