Friday, May 11, 2007


One more thing. I just wanted to let everyone know that we have arrived home safely and are currently in Dayton, OH with Carrie's folks. On Saturday I'll be headed to DC. Thanks again to everyone who has been keeping up with our lives these past few months. For those of you who want to be continually amazed by my occasional insights, I have started a new blog which can be found here:

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

All Good Things...

Well, this is it. We've been traveling for exactly 9 months tomorrow. This has been a wonderful journey and we have loved sharing it with you all. To sum it all up now in one final post would be impossible so I leave it to you to return to the former posts and enjoy our trip with us. Mostly in the final post we want to say thank you to all of our friends and all of our family- those we have known for ages and those we have only just met. Specific thanks go to everyone here in New Zealand who have been so wonderfully welcoming and without whom we could never have made this trip. So, thank you to:
Patricia, David, Rusty, Wal, Ami, Shannah, Elizabeth, Ben, Kaz, Candices and the Taiwanese girls, Ian, Mel, Kate, Trinity, Sam, Henry, Bruce, Kerry, Mat, Andrea, Taylor, Kirsten, The Borkins, Stuart, Andrea, Donna, Dan, Seth, Marisa, All the Quakers at Summer Gathering, Marion, Quentin, Alex, Peter, Molly, Diana, Aja, Sky, All the Quakers at the Settlement, Dave, Tracy, Stephen and the Kids, Paul, Sue, Lu, Grant, Sonia and the Jones', Colin, Karen, Beth, Anna, Steve, Emilie, Jerome, Craig, The Zwanikkens, Helen, Derry, Simone, Julian, Bridget, Seraphine, Xavier, The Gordons, Keren, Hadas, The Clarkes, Brian, Ali, Hank, Marla, Trish, and of course the ANZACs.

Matt & Carrie

So long

I'm not sure I've ever felt this organized or relaxed on the night before a long intercontinental journey. This also might be the first time the journey isn't starting at some ungodly hour of the morning. Bridget and her mum are taking us to the airport at noon. We even have time to sleep in and shower.

Even though we don't have to wake up early, May 9 is going to be a very long day. Our flight leaves Christchurch at 3 pm and we arrive in Dayton, Ohio at 11:45 pm on the same day. Simple math would make that a 9 hour trip but "the math doesn't work" and it's actually 25 hours and four flights from Christchurch takeoff to Dayton landing. All together we'll have a 40 hour day on 9 May.

I'm sad to be leaving New Zealand but it is getting cold here and like we've explained the houses aren't too warm (Bridget and Julian's being a well-insulated exception). When we arrived in August the deciduous trees were bare; now most of the leaves are on the ground as the trees prepare for winter. We've been here for lambing, camelias, snow, daffodils, gorse blooming, rhodedendrons, flax flowers, ducklings, avocados, huhu beetles, pohutakawa flowers, apples, and autumn colors. I'm going to miss tree ferns, weirdly shaped native trees, the abundance of waterfalls and idyllic swimming holes, fantails, tuataras, and paua shells. There are some things I won't miss, like old men in short rugby shorts, the way they say 'pasta', or the yield-to-the-right driving rule.

I have a lot of adventures to look forward to this Northern Hemisphere summer in the U.S. I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of family and friends. I also must admit I've been missing some weird things like snakes, turtles, and Chicago-style deep dish pizza.

I'd better stop this nostalgic rambling before this gets too long. I love New Zealand but I'm glad to be going home. I'll be back someday.


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Christchurch: "Had to be better than before."

The last time we were in Christchurch for any length of time was when we first arrived in NZ. We stayed with a family here who were nice but, as it turned out, not really a ton of fun. It was cold then and we found Christchurch to be generally boring and lame.
Needless to say, our expectations for this final week were not too high. We figured that we would enjoy our stay with Julian, Bridget, Seraphine, and Xavier because they are lovely and welcoming people. But beyond that we assumed we would just be busy getting rid of stuff and arranging ourselves for departure. Boy were we wrong! We've had a really fun time this week and may have even changed our view of Christchurch.
Last week we met an American couple (Hank and Marla) in Wanaka in the kitchen of the motor camp we were staying at. It turned out they are leaving from Christchurch on Wednesday too. We bumped into them again here in Christchurch and they invited us to come rock climbing with them on Friday. I was a bit intimidated because they are like bad-ass, super, travel-the-world-to-look-for-awesome-climbs, climbers and we are... well... not. But they led us to a place near by that was just right for beginning climbers and we had a blast!

After climbing we brought them back to Julian and Bridget's house and then we all took a bus downtown and had a night out. Several bars and a Kebab place later we took a cab home and we had (I assume) a great time!
Today we woke up feeling chipper and awake (or something) and went to have lunch with Rusty, Wal, Ami and Shannah. Rusty's parents live in Christchurch and so they all came up to visit and to give us one last farewell before we're off. It is always great to see them. Also we needed to give them back their camera and they are buying our phone so there was a practical element. By the way, that means that if you'd like to reach them you can call our number after we get home. they are lovely people and I'm sure they would love to chat. After lunch, a walk on the beach, and a stop at the local Savemart (like Goodwill but bigger) we came back to Bridget and Julian's house to set up for a Young Friends dinner/party that they were having. So we spent the night tonight hanging out with all the Christchurch young Quakers which was great. Better yet, we were able to give away a bunch of our stuff and we sold our car! Selling the car is a huge relief and it is nice to know that Susie is going to a good owner.
Rusty and Wal also came up to Christchurch in part because they are interested in attending Quaker meeting and they wanted to check it out. We will see them tomorrow at meeting and then we'll have lunch one last time before they head back to Waimate.
We have been so fortunate in our travels to meet wonderful people everywhere we have been. It is really sad to think that we will be leaving them all so soon. However, we try to take some solace in the fact that we have invited about half the population of New Zealand to come stay with us whenever they are in the States. We wholeheartedly hope that they all take is up on the offer.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

The West Coast Again

We're playing a bit of catch up on the blog this week. We left Waimate on Thursday afternoon and arrived in Christchurch on Tuesday afternoon via Wanaka, Haast Pass, the West Coast, and Arthur's Pass (the long way).

We told some of you we were going to hike the Routeburn track in Fiordland but we had a change of plans. The last time we were here we were in a bit of a hurry to get to the North Island. Also, it was rainy and cloudy the whole time we were on the West coast (which is its usual state). This time the weather was mostly sunny and clear! It’s great to see Westland in different light. Thanks to Rusty and Wal we have pictures of it.

Nothing terribly exciting happened during this leg of our trip, but we did see a few cool things that we wanted to share.

Mt. Cook was clearly visible and we could see it reflected on Lake Matheson. This is the stuff NZ postcards are made of. We definitely couldn't see Mt. Cook from the West coast when we were there in October.

Last time we tried to see Franz Joseph Glacier it was raining and miserable. The glacier looks tiny here but... really have to click on this picture to see how big it is. In the lower right corner there are some tiny little specs. Those are people on guided glacier hikes.

You can't say they didn't warn you about the hazards.

This picture doesn't look like much at first glance. What you need to realize is that this is a ONE LANE bridge for cars, bikes, pedestrians, and TRAINS on the main highway for all of the western South Island.

For our two days the weather turned cloudly and rainy. We've been through Arthur's Pass two times now (once on train in August). It's supposed to be really striking but both times we've seen little more than low clouds. We got the impression we really missed out on the awesomeness of Arthur's Pass.

Now we're in Christchurch waiting with bated breath for calls about our car for sale...


Other things to do with cob

Not only can you use cob to fill in gaps or build walls, you can sculpt it while it's still wet. Rusty had the inspiration to do some sculpting on the columns in their lounge and suggested I do some birds. She did the vines and leaves, and sculpted two fantails and a kiwi.

The rare cob kiwi

A close up of one of the fantails when it was almost finished.


YouTube movie clips

We've posted three short movie clips to YouTube.

Tui Singing
The tui has an awesome song so we took this short video so you can hear it. The recording didn't quite get all of the notes but you get the idea.

Natural Waterslide
We mentioned this is an earlier post from the North Island. Thanks to Kerry for telling us about this awesome place! It's a pretty long waterslide ride.

Cobbing a Wall
Most of Rusty & Wal's house is made of mud bricks but the gaps are filled with cob. Cob is a sticky mixture of clay, sand, water, and straw. The best way to get it to stick is to throw it at the wall. It also helps prevent air bubbles. It's really satisfying to throw mud at the wall and watch the gaps fill in. We thought you might like to see how it's done so Matt recorded Carrie and Rusty cobbing.

Our apologies to those of you on dial up since it will take a while for these to load. Enjoy the videos!


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Seafood and Marine Conservation

New Zealand is home to the world’s rarest dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori. There are two subspecies: the northern Maui’s dolphin, and the southern Hector’s dolphin. Maui’s dolphin is critically endangered, with recent population estimates at 110 individuals. Hector’s dolphins, by comparison, are doing much better with about 7,000 individuals. Still, twenty-five years ago there were over 28,000 Hector’s dolphins. Why the decline? Fishing, pollution, and harassment by boats and people.

From our land-based perspective the ocean seems vast and inexhaustible. It seems to be a bottomless pot of seafood. Yet we have learned many, many times that our choices in life are linked to the prosperity or decline of other species. Marine life is not immune from our actions.

I was inspired to write this blog post by an article I read called Marine Conservation on Paper by Giovanni Bearzi. The author expressed frustration that many of the lessons learned from exhausting conservation research never get off paper. Recommendations aren’t implemented for a variety of reasons, and in spite of all the talk, things don’t change and continue to decline. Bearzi wrote:

“What the marine environment needs is a mass of people who value and care about it. This means people who not only express feelings of admiration and awe for whales and dolphins, but who also recognize the complexities involved in achieving meaningful protection and are ready to become engaged.”

We have been fortunate in New Zealand and have seen sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins, dusky dolphins, and Hector’s dolphins as well as fur seals, sea lions, and countless sea birds. I, for one, would like future generations to enjoy the same experiences.

The more I learn about marine issues the more convinced I am of my choice to not eat seafood. Vegetarianism aside, I don’t eat seafood for these reasons:

1. In most cases, we simply don’t know what is a sustainable level of fishing or harvesting. How many orange roughies can you harvest each year without them declining in size or number? We need to know much more about the reproductive biology of commercially fished species, as well as others that are unintentionally caught.
2. In cases where we do know how much is too much, economic and political pressures prevent the passing of legislation to protect marine resources by limiting catches.
3. If the laws are passed, they are hard to enforce. For example, illegal fishing often happens around the Galapagos Islands, but the Ecuadorian government does not have enough resources to adequately patrol for illegal (usually Japanese) fishing boats.
4. Bycatch. Indiscriminate trawling, dredging, gill netting, and seining catches anything in its path. The unwanted organisms are thrown back into the ocean, usually dead. At least if you eat a chicken you don’t have to kill a horse, a flock of pigeons, a bunch of piglets, some ducklings, and a turtle to catch the damn chicken.

The least that my seafood-consuming blog readers can do is make sure that the fish you do eat isn’t from a teetering population or destructive fishing practices.

For several years the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California has put out a red, yellow, and green list of seafood products to eat in the U.S. Here’s a link to the national guide. Take a minute to find your region.

New Zealand has it’s own Best Fish Guide by the Forest and Bird Society.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program has loads of information about different types of fish and fishing practices if you’re interested in learning more.

Happy eating!


One Week

Unbelievably we only have one week left. We had a nice trip up from Waimate by way of the West Coast and Arthur's Pass. We'll talk more about that tomorrow. Right now I'm just writing to say that we are in Christchurch and will be for the duration.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Update on Camera

So, the camera is still broken. Here's a picture of me trying to fix it (How post-modern).

But Rusty and Wal have been amazing enough to lend us their camera for the remainder of our trip. This means that we will have pictures until we leave! the camera is older and so there will be fewer pictures and the quality will be less but who cares(interrobang) Ok, that's all. There is a better post under this one.