Monday, May 26, 2008

Desperate to visit but can't afford a plane ticket?

If you have children in elementary (primary) school, or if you are a child yourself, then you know all about Flat Stanley and the Flat Stanley Project and you can just skip ahead to the photos. For the rest of you let me introduce a novel and inexpensive way to travel the world and experience swashbuckling adventures. Take the following steps:

  1. Read the book Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. (1a become inspired to write/illustrate children's books.)
  2. Create a 2 dimensional likeness of yourself. This is a variation on the project, but makes it more interesting. (Warning: this can be very revealing, both in a how-do-i-view-myself kind of way, and maybe in a naked kind of way too if you are into that, but if you are into that we do not necessarily want you to continue past #3.)
  3. Laminate yourself. The world is a moist place.
  4. Find an envelope and mail yourself to NZ. Email us for the preferred address.
Upon arrival, your Flat Self will accompany us on our many adventures, much like Miss Flat K did over the last two weeks:

Here is P and Flat K at the Waitangi Waka. Have you seen Whale Rider?

After climbing the ropes of this 1/5th size Endeavour reproduction, Flat K was eaten by a shark, locked in irons, and attacked by a giant lobster at the Russell Museum. She loved every minute of it.

Meet Tane Mahuta, Lord of the Forest, the largest living Kauri tree in New Zealand. He (?) is 51.5 meters high with a girth of 13.8 meters. Flat K thinks she has seen bigger trees at home.

In a pre-colonial maori village replication Flat K got to explore the special shelter where the rat food was kept as she was the only one of us that could fit inside, lucky duck!

We rented a car for our trip to the Bay of Islands, and we all agreed that Flat K was the safest driver. Since she is not used to driving in the states she doesn't suffer with the Left/Right confusion that B and I do (as everything is on the wrong side- including us- both in and outside of the car). Also, this left B free to help navigate as P and I were busy being carsick.

One of Flat K's favorite things here was the trek to school with P. Soon Flat K, along with the 473 photos we took, will be on her way back home. We will be sad to see her go, but this frees us up for another Flat Friend to sail our way!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Hitching Post

P brought me breakfast in bed yesterday for Mother's Day, and then B made a second breakfast for all of us (including R, his mom L, and his friend Spike, all of whom are now off playing at the Bay of Islands). P and I spent the day wandering through the neighborhoods taking pictures of plaques while B went for a 50K round the city bike ride. So far this is my favorite plaque:

So you don't have to strain your eyes it reads:

Hitching - Post
Used for
Tethering horses
These posts, which were erected at convenient places throughout the city and suburbs, were in common use before the advent of self-propelled vehicles. This is one of the few survivors.
Marked by the Auckland City Council, 1944.
Under it someone wrote in the wet cement "lest we forget" (it actually looks like "l'est we forget" but that doesn't make any sense, even in French.)

While I was taking these pictures a man noticed and laughed. He explained that he has lived in this neighborhood all his life and has never noticed this plaque even though he walks past it every day. Perhaps one reaches a point of saturation when surrounded by so many plaques. Maybe I too will one day reach plaque saturation.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Horseback Birthday!

It was my birthday last weekend so we went exploring along the Pacific coast of the North Island. Our good friend R arrived at 5am on Friday which was also ANZAC Day (NZ version of Memorial Day). This meant B got the day off so we headed up the coast with the goal of spending the night here:

Goat Island Campground is a fun mix of cabins, tents, and stay-put campas. It overlooks the ocean and Goat Island Marine Reserve (below), a popular diving and snorkeling spot. It is my new goal to convince my in-laws to move here and create one of these campgrounds complete with kiddie playground and communal kitchen. If I'm lucky they will name a campa in my honor.

P and I planned to go horseback riding while the boys went snorkeling, but the weather and water did not cooperate for the boys, so they tagged along with us. They opted not to ride and instead lounged in cafe at the stables and then walked to the beach and collected seashells.

Here P and her pony head to Pakiri Beach. To get to the beach we had to ford a river and I thought P might get to swim across it with her pony (an adventure sport of its own here!), but only her feet got wet.

While the weather was not very good for snorkeling (look at those rough seas!) it was perfect for our ride. The beach was beautiful! When R returns from tramping his way through the South Island I will post some of his pictures of our horseback riding trip.

Adventures with R

Our good friend R is visiting us for the next few weeks. Last weekend we went on a road trip to celebrate. Here are some random pictures from our trip:

The owners of this sailboat are camped on the beach - lovely!

Along the roadside there are fruit stands, big and small. The best are wheelbarrows of bagged fruit on the side of the road with a bucket to put your money in!

Here is R trying his first feijoa. He was not taken with it, however he may have enjoyed it more if it were ripe and without its outer peel.