lifeinabakery

because life in a nutshell is boring

Month: December, 2012

From the West Coast with Love – Seattle

So we got to Seattle late in the afternoon on Tuesday, which means that we would have 3 full days to explore. Our hotel was north of Downtown, mainly due to the parking situation. It was only about 15 minutes to drive into the city, depending on the traffic. At this point in our holiday we are lucky to be awake before 8am, and we are going to sleep by 12am… not my ideal sleeping pattern, but its working for now.

City of Seattle

City of Seattle

Sir noticed the cinema that we drove past to get to the hotel and found that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure was showing at 7pm in 3D IMAX. So we went to that. And it was so worth it! The scenery in the movie was amazing, as expected, and a few of the scenes we recognised the location from our travels around Queenstown/Milford. We got home from that around 10:30pm and had organised to Skype Sir’s parents at 6pm their time, so 12am our time. It was so great to see them and talk to them! All the family were there actually, Tim & Sal both home, and Jodie and the girls had arrived from NZ the day before.

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SIr Parents <3

SIr Parents ❤

Day 1 – Wednesday

We woke up late on Wednesday, given that we didn’t get to sleep until after 1am. I got a little agitated after waking up, mainly because I don’t have a kitchen to go to, a dining table to sit at, or anything like that. Being in a hotel means being confined to the one room, and that room is dark until lights are turned on. Don’t mind me – just going a little stir crazy. Looking forward to getting to Calgary and being in a house!

Anyway, we got out of the hotel by about 9.30am, which was the plan to avoid traffic. It had snowed overnight! That was pretty cool, but meant it was very cold! We headed to the Pike Place Markets. I generally love markets, especially the ones with food! I love seeing an array of fresh produce to choose from. This day, I just wasn’t feeling it. One: the markets are big – it’s like a maze. Two: there was nothing I needed. Three: it was cold and wet! We wandered the markets until we got hungry, then went to find lunch. I had read some reviews about some places in town to try, and one we had past when getting to the markets. Etta’s. Etta’s is known for its Crab Cakes, so that’s what I wanted to try. I got a cup of Clam Chowder to start with, which Sir shared with me. And then I got the Crab Cakes for my main. It was served with sautéed Brussel Sprouts and Shoestring Fries. And yep I ate them.

Since it was raining, instead of looking at lots of buildings, we decided to got to the EMP. The EMP is a building designed by Frank O’Gerhy, the guy who did the Disney Theatre in LA. You will notice the similarity I am sure.

Frank O'Gehry EMP Building

Frank O’Gehry EMP Building

Frank O'Gehry EMP Building

Frank O’Gehry EMP Building

Guitar Sculpture inside EMP Building

Guitar Sculpture inside EMP Building

So inside this building is a Music Museum. It was pretty cool, but I’m not really into Punk Rock, so I wasn’t overly interested. We wandered that for a couple of hours and by about 3pm we were both just tired and over being out and about. So we just went back to the hotel. We had Thai takeout that night and just stayed in. Oh but we did attempt a workout! We did Burpees for 5 minutes. I managed to struggle out 75… I am definitely noticing my lack of consistent training! We did some pushups and stretching, but barely a proper workout.

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Day 2 – Thursday

Again, another late rise, but I was a little more chilled about it this day.  This was the day we were going to see all the buildings Sir had on his list! We parked back down by the markets and went on our little walking tour. I love this part of our travels, by getting around on foot I think you get to experience the city a little better. Seattle was slowly growing on me… but the cold and rain were not my favourite! My feet were getting wet through my suede boots.

The first building we went inside was the Library – such an amazing space! I grabbed coffee at the café and sat down and rang my mumma! Was so good to talk to her! Ahhh. Sir went and explored the inside of the building and was not disappointed.

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The other buildings we looked at were good… but I must say I enjoyed myself much more once I bought new leather boots and my feet stayed dry, and therefore warmer!

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We drove over town to look at the Chapel of St Ignatius. Once again, this building did not disappoint…

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My cousin Amy had commented on an earlier post of mine to let me know of some places she had researched that looked pretty cool. The one we found was Stumptown Coffee, a sweet little place that roasts their own coffee. And boy it was gooood coffee! Best we found so far I think! Oh and it was super hip.

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The sky was clearing, so we made the most of it and went to the Space Needle. It was so windy up there!

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On our way back to the hotel we stopped into a place called Pie. I had a hankering for pie since before we got to Seattle. And this little pie shop was awesome! I got a cheese and broccoli pie and Sir got a chicken pot pie. We also ‘may’ have got an apple and blueberry pie to share. Ah-mazing! That was our late lunch.

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For some reason, despite having a late lunch, we still decided to go out for dinner. Sir wanted to take me out on a date, so I found an awesome little place in the Belltown area of Seattle. It was called Local 360 and their whole mission was to only use local produce in their cooking. Neither of us could decide what to have from the menu, so we went with the chefs tasting menu. For the appetizer we had crusted bacon with salad. For main we had pork fillet and mussels with sautéed vegetables. And dessert was brownie. The whole meal was delicious!

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The only downside to the evening was that we got back to the car and had a parking ticket – for parking in front of a hydrant! Oh so annoying, but much cheaper than any parking fine I had gotten in Australia. This was Sir’s first infringement EVER.

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Day 3 – Friday

This was our last full day in Seattle. We were checking out of our hotel and going to stay in town for our last night, since we had to return our car, it made it easier to get to the airport. Before we went to return the car, we stopped off at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

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It was cold (this was before I knew what cold was!) so we didn’t stay for long, but by the time we finished we were able to drop the car off and check-in to the hotel for the night. We still had some food to finish so we snacked in the hotel for a while before heading out to find coffee. We walked about 3 blocks to a café I had found online and passed 4 Starbucks! Literally they are on almost every corner, and then some! We totally just chilled out for the afternoon.. we went to GNC and checked out some of their products and how much cheaper it is there than in Australia.. I was surprised it wasn’t too much.

We flew out early the next morning so had a quiet night in.

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Next Stop Canada!

From the West Coast with Love – San Fran to Seattle via Redding

We arrived in Redding mid afternoon on Saturday. I know its a little boring that we left San Fran early, but both of us were just ready to keep moving. We used the rest of the day as down time, then went out to find some dinner. It was cold and ‘lightly’ snowing (again – think tiny shards of ice!). That was a bit of a novelty for us 🙂

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Redding was an interesting place, approximately 90,000 people live there.. mind you it didn’t feel like there was much going on. It’s one of those place in which it’s difficult to determine where the hub is. We got over that and just went to the shopping center.. I may or may not have left our power adaptor in San Fran, so we grabbed a new one and then to find dinner. I felt very limited in food options here, for the first time on our trip. In San Fran we had plenty of real food options that weren’t part of a chain. We decided to take our chances on a recommendation made by our friends in San Fran, Adam & Keira and go for Chipotle which is a Mexican food chain. We were not disappointed! I got a salad (to avoid any nasties that might be in the Burrito wrap) and Sir got a Burrito. So mine ended up being lettuce, tomato, black beans, onion, capsicum, real chicken (not like that from Subway!) and guacamole. It was great!

Chipotle Salad

Chipotle Salad

Sunday brings us to the reason we went to Redding in the first place. To go to Bethel Church. They have seen and continue to see amazing moves of God in that place and we just wanted to submerge ourselves into it for a day, maybe capture some of what they have! We went to the 10am and the 6pm service. The presence of God in that house was so thick and tangible, I can see why people pack up their lives from all over the world to got there and learn and get hungry for God.

We had a late night on Sunday, so decided to rest up on Monday. we still wanted to get on the road by 10:30am, but we weren’t rushing ourselves which was nice. We got up, put some washing on, went and did a workout, dried the washing, packed up our room and were checked out, in the car by 10:50am. Just to divert here – our workout was 5 Rounds for time of 10 thrusters, 10 burpees, 50 skips.. I did it in just over 10 minutes, Sir followed not too far behind. It was nice to have some weights to use (although limited).. I also worked a little on my DU’s, handstands and did a little ab work. Sir did a real ab workout. Although I know I am not doing enough exercise, I am cutting myself a little slack. I will need to up the work though, I can already feel I am loosing strength! 😦

So we hit the road by 11am on Monday, the air was crisp, and the sun was out which made for beautiful scenery. It had snowed over the weekend, so the mountain tops and the ground were lightly dusted.

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We stopped in a creepy little town, just south of the boarder and grabbed some lunch. I was happy with my choice – Salmon Pattie on whole wheat bun with tomato, lettuce and homemade tartare sauce. Sir got a veggie burger with Chilli (as in the mexican chilli with beans)..

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We got into Oregon and the scenery didn’t disappoint. We still had about 4-5 hours of driving ahead, so it was nice to have such good views to look at!

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We got to Portland in the dark. Checked into our hotel, ate dinner and went to bed. Not much exciting-ness after such a long day of driving. Sir was zonked, and rightly so. The next morning (Tuesday), we had to sort out the data issue on Sir’ phone. He had cracked whatever Apple and AT&T had going on saying that you can’t have data if you’re on a prepaid plan. However, for some unknown reason we had lost the ability to use data (therefore maps) as we crossed the boarder.. The AT&T guys were clueless, so we went to Starbucks for Sir to use the wireless to figure it out. Turns out some configuration had changed between states, so it was actually pretty simple to fix! Awesome! 🙂

We drove into downtown Portland to check out some buildings that were on Sir’s list. We never planned to spend too much time there, but I am sure that it would be a fun city to explore some day. It is full of post-modern architecture, which repulses me. I understand that the whole point of it is to critique classic architecture, but that is it, it doesn’t seem to say much for itself. It’s like having an argument with someone, disagreeing with them, without actually having a point in your argument. Not sure if that makes sense but anyway..

Post-modern building

Post-modern building

Another post-modern building - this one I really didn't like!

Another post-modern building

This is a new building..

This is a new building..

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We did a stop in at Wholefoods on our way out of town, to grab some supplies and lunch. Sir stated that he would move to America for that shop! haha.. I literally could spend hours looking at all the amazing produce and products they stock, and probably spend hundred of dollars! Love it! They have these salad & hot food bars, so you just fill your box up with what you want.. I got Turkey, roast pumpkin, green beans, broccoli, chargrilled capsicum & squash. I was thoroughly satisfied! Also got a pro-biotic drink, interesting idea, no nasties and quite tasty!

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Within no time we were in Washington State (literally, it happens as you go over one of the northbound bridges as you leave Portland).

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And for the next few days Seattle is home. Will fill you in on it once we have explored a bit! But that is the end of the driving part of our holiday, now we go back to planes and public transport… shall be interesting! 🙂

From the West Coast with Love – San Francisco Baby!

Ah I think I am in LOVE… with San Francisco.

We got to San Fran around 2pm on Wednesday afternoon. We were both exhausted from our days of travel and as sad as it is to say, we laid down in our hotel room a zoned out in front of the TV.. it wasn’t until about 5 pm that we emerged from our hotel into the cool evening air of San Fran and wandered in search of food. I had done a little brief research for something that I liked the look of, and lucky enough it was just around the corner in Chestnut Street. We went to a little place called Pacific Catch – I had coconut crusted prawns and some sweet potato fires. Yes this was naughty – it was all deep fried! I found the batter on the prawns too salty, so ended up pulling that off and just eating the prawns. The sweet potato fries were so good. To anyone concerned that my desire to eat healthy was going to stop me from experiencing some of what the US if famous for – don’t be. I am balancing it out and indulging where I choose. That is something that I have loved about this journey so far – you can actually travel and eat healthy, you just have to be prepared to plan a little and do some research, but I have been able to choose the times I want to “cheat” on what I feel is worth it.

Speaking of indulging.. I did some research on food that San Fran is famous for. Google told me that apparently they do great Milkshakes.. so off I searched for places to got get a Milk Shake – boy did I hit jackpot. Over at a cute little cafe on Baker St, towards Golden Gate Park, Chilli Pies and Ice Cream have created the Pie Shake. Yep, a pie shake. Literally it is a piece of pie and ice cream blended together. Ah-mazing. seriously – who thinks of that?? I loved that all their pies were homemade, using fresh, local ingredients and their ice cream is also using locally sourced organic ingredient. Since parking was such a difficult thing that night, Reg dropped me off, telling me he wanted something with Apple pie. The only option they had created is Green Chilli Apple Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Shake. Amazing. I had Pear and Cranberry Almond Crumble with Lemon Cookie Ice Cream. Amazing. Brilliant, loved it, totally worth it.

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Not surprisingly the next morning I was pretty flat. After a high dose of sugar, I often sink a little emotionally. Thats how I felt on Thursday morning. But we headed out into the crisp morning to hire bicycles. Reg had a few buildings he wanted to see on the east side of the City, and we wanted to see the bridge – and what a better way to get around town than on a bike.

MAN. It. Was. Tough. My bike fitness is nowhere near where it should be, or needs to be (given that I have a triathlon to do in March with a 20km hilly ride!). As much as I struggled uphill, I did thoroughly enjoy seeing the city this way, and got a lot more confident in riding on the road as a vehicle! Here are some snaps from our excursion..

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Once we finished riding the bridge we headed into the park (via Bakers Beach) to look at some buildings..

Baker Beach!!

Baker Beach!!

De Young Museum

De Young Museum

Giant Cement Rotunda! (lol.. Joey will get that one!) Palace of Modern Art

Giant Cement Rotunda! (lol.. Joey will get that one!) Palace of Modern Art

So much to see, not enough time.. we get our bikes back to the hire place, walked quickly (as we could – there are some serious hills in San Fran!) back to our hotel to get ready for dinner down at Stanford with the beautiful Smallcombes and Welburns! Been about 12 months since we have seen all these wonderful people and it was so awesome to catch up!

On Friday we decided that we would jump on the ever-most touristy method of getting around town – the Sightseeing Hop-on, hop-off bus! We had discussed the night before with Rachel, that this is her favourite way to get around a city when you are not familiar with it. We had pre-planned where we wanted to go in the city, given that Reg had some buildings he wanted to see. We hopped off once we got into the Financial District and headed to the Ferry Building. We walked out the pier to see Bay Bridge and the happenings of the Port of San Francisco – not much was going on out there. Once inside the building it was like we entered a whole other world. The building was so full of amazing boutique stores that I think I could have spent all day in there browsing through the beautiful produce and products available.

A sweet little bakery with such adorable cupcakes and packaged sweets! my heart melted with the pastels!

A sweet little bakery with such adorable cupcakes and packaged sweets! my heart melted with the pastels!

So much organic goodness to choose from!

So much organic goodness to choose from!

Fresh, local, organic produce galore!

Fresh, local, organic produce galore!

After Reg dragged me out of the Ferry building we began our wander through the city, using the locations saved on google maps. In no time we came across a cafe that I had pinned called The Plant Organic Cafe. It did some beautiful meals, but it was only mid morning, so we weren’t ready for a meal.. They did a wonderful selection of fresh juices, but it was far too cold for juice.. so we opted for a cup of homemade Potato & Leek soup. It was delish and warmed me up just enough to brave the cool again. As we sat and drank our soup, Reg turned to me and said that the building we were in was one he was meant to be looking at – according to his map! We got outside and it wasn’t that impressive, so we moved on. We continued to follow the map, leading us to our next destination..we got onto a street name (which I can’t remember) and I told Reg that there was a cafe on this street that I had wanted to see! There were no buildings there to look at, even though the map said so.. Lightbulb moment – we were looking at the map I had made with cafe’s on it, not Reg’s buildings!! hehe… whoops!! So the journey kind of began again for us, but this time looking at buildings instead! 🙂

Believe it or not, I have begun to thoroughly enjoy looking at buildings with Reg. I am finally able to give a critical review, make comments, and ask questions that challenge his thinking.. it has become quite an interactive activity for us!

Frank Lloyd Wrights' Morris Gift Shop

Frank Lloyd Wrights’ Morris Gift Shop

I like to do some research on the buildings so that I have something to tell/talk with Reg about – I had read that Wright was not the first choice architect for this building, but he was doing the Morris home in Sea Cliff. When Wright found out that someone else had been commissioned he confronted Morris – and the end result was that Wright was given the building brief to design! That little fact Reg didn’t know so I was happy with myself there. this building Wright also used as the trial for placing a spiral stair case in a square building.

Beautiful Interior

Beautiful Interior

We continued to wander and look at more buildings, until we got hungry of course! So we googled the closest Wholefoods and headed there to get some deliciousness in our bellies! We both opted for the Hot food Bar, since it was cold, having veg was heaps more appealing than salad!

Mmmmm Yum. So much goodness in such a small space!

Mmmmm Yum. So much goodness in such a small space!

Not sure at what point of the day we found the Scotch and Soda Store, but we were both so thrilled by this! It’a a super funky clothes shop. I wandered through the ladies section, holding back from picking anything up.. only to find that Reg was in the change room already.. so I headed off to pick out what I liked to try on! I made sure I looked at each piece with the rest of my wardrobe in mind, and also what i available at home. I chose one sweater, a little blue one. It reminds me of something my sister Jolie wears 🙂 * I can’t seem to get get my pic to upload.. will try later!

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More buildings..

Jewish Museum

Jewish Museum

San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco City Hall

We jumped back on the bus at the end of the day with just one stop left to check out, just to be real tourists! Earlier in the day we had been told by a local that they would never go there, as if it doesn’t even exist. But we did it. We went to Pier 39 to check out to seals and have some famous Clam Chowder. No regrets there. Delish again! Something I have noted about America is that you get bread at every meal, complimentary! Way to make yourself full before dinner! It was only about 4:00pm at this stage, the sun was setting and it was cooling off even more!

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Festivities everywhere!

Festivities everywhere!

We walked back to our hotel, at least this time we avoided the hills! Both of us were exhausted at this stage – I’m pretty sure I blogged.. about 8pm Reg was hungry again so we headed back out, just around the corner from our hotel was Chestnut Street. This time we walked much further than the 2 other times we had been down there and found that it had a treasure chest full of little shops, bars and restaurants – all open for our exploration. We chose to dine at a place called Blackwood. Turned out to be an amazing combination of American and Thai Cuisine. the scollops were devine!

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Reg snuck a picture of me - but shows my sweater off!

Reg snuck a picture of me – but shows my sweater off!

That brings us to today – Saturday. This morning the alarm went off at 7am. It felt like about 4am. It was dark, cold and miserable out. We packed up our room and checked out early. We were going to have breakfast out and then check out some op shops. I had read the the Haight-Ashbury area was good for both, so we went that way. We parked on Haight Street and wandered down. It got weirder and odder as we went, to the point we were both uncomfortable so we got back in the car and re-planned our morning. We went to a church, St Mary’s Cathedral, Reg had wanted to see – turned out to be one of his 2 favourite buildings he saw in San Fran, so super glad that we did.

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It. Was. Stunning.

Then because it was freezing and our morning hadn’t turned out as planned, we decided to head to Redding early… and so our road trip to Seattle began…

Ps. we are in Redding now – and its been “lightly” snowing. More like tiny shards of ice are falling from the sky, turning to water quick-smart!

Pps. I forgot to let you know how we have been going with working out. Winter kills it for me. We did a workout when we were in San Luis Obsipo, HIIT that involved lots of burpees, squats, push ups etc. And our run in Monterey. We considered the Bike riding and walking enough while in San Fran. To be honest, it hasn’t been as easy to include it as I thought.. Hopefully we will be able to get some in while in Redding – Reg has just been doing lots of Push ups. I remembered this morning I should be practicing my handstands! I might clear some room for that tonight!

 

 

 

 

 

From the West Coast with Love – LA to San Fran

I am going to try to make this post short and sweet. To be honest, I found these few days quite difficult. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, I guess I really struggle without routine. You know, I am used to working a 40 hour week, I know when I fit my workouts, cooking, study and social time into that. When on holidays, that structure is lost. I coped well in Queenstown because we still had summer light, so I was waking up early and felt like there was heaps of day to do things, and then because we went tramping, that in itself had routine and purpose. This week hasn’t had much routine.. we have been waking up later, the days are shorter and its getting cold! I actually thought I would have lots of time to workout, read, journal, blog.. but my days are just disappearing so quickly.

The past few days have also been a big transition into another part of the world. Coming from a most pristine and untouched part of the world, it has been difficult not to judge what I am seeing now against that – I will fill you in on this as I go. Oh, and being in the car all day.. I have discovered this isn’t my favourite way to travel – I much rather stop somewhere and actually have time to explore, find the cute cafes, the hidden secrets of a city/town. Travelling the way we have up the coast didn’t really give us time to do this. But we did get to see some pretty cool stuff along the way!

LA – Santa Barbara

LAX. What is that – its hardly an airport, not like the others I have flown in & out of. You literally walk through customs, get your bags (by the time we got here they had been taken off the carousel and just dumped on the ground), go through security and exit onto the street. No shops, no “Welcome to LA” or anything. In fact it’s quite dirty. I often think that Sydney could do with a little upgrade, but after this, arriving in Sydney you feel like royalty!

I had some grand plans for our first day in LA. I wanted to go and hang out in Santa Monica.. go to the farmers market, a health food shop and just enjoy the little warmth we would have before driving north into the cold. First issue: It was only 15’C – not actually warm in my books, however, I imagine if the sun could shine through the smog it would have felt warmer. Second issue: customs took way longer than expected, picking up the hire car had its own issues and then a combination of Reg relearning to drive (opposite side of the road & the car) and not having a GPS or decent map meant that by the time we actually got to Santa Monica the markets were over. Third issue: I was HANGRY! and tired. So rather than attempt to find anything in Santa Monica we headed up HWY 1 for Santa Barbara.

Eeek! Wrong side of the car and the road! And - what are the rules??

Eeek! Wrong side of the car and the road! And – what are the rules??

Leaving the smog of LA

Leaving the smog of LA

Cowboys. Yep.

Cowboys. Yep.

We drove for about 45 minutes and got to Malibu. We stopped there to find somewhere to get a sim card and data (mainly so we can use maps). While we were unsuccessful in that area, we found somewhere cute to eat – Marmalade Cafe. Not sure how “clean” it was, but I had a Chicken Fajita Salad with fresh Guacamole. Rookie move – I forgot to ask for my dressing on the side, so there was some through my salad. As expected the serving size was massive. My salad served me for lunch, dinner and Reg snacked on it too. That food made my afternoon much cheerier.

Lunch with my love. Chicken Fajita Salad!

Lunch with my love. Chicken Fajita Salad!

We didn’t get to explore Santa Barbara much, I was pretty excited to stop in a Wholefoods and stock up on some salad, breakfast and snack food for our road trip! I found so many treasures – totally want to have something like this in Oz! In the morning we managed to find AT&T and get Reg’s prepaid sim sorted then headed off up the coast. I know we didn’t explore Santa Barbara at all, and therefore may have missed out, but found some cool spots along our way.

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Santa Barbara – San Luis Obispo

We made sure that we stopped along the way, mainly because we didn’t have a long day of driving, only a couple of hours. Our first stop was not far out of Santa Barbara. Refugio Beach was nice, however, we still couldn’t see the horizon due to the smog..

Our second day of the journey through Santa Barbara County

Our second day of the journey through Santa Barbara County

Driving the N-101

Driving the N-101

Refugio State Beach

Refugio State Beach

We continued on up the coast road until we got to Lompoc, spotted a Starbucks and decided we would mooch their wireless so we could set up the data on Reg’s phone. This took about an hour an a half – which I was okay about, gave me time to check emails, upload some pictures and talk to family online. And with the success of Reg outwitting the Apple software set up, we then had data, which means we had maps, which made life so much easier! And eliminated many heated arguments that would have been!

We stopped off at the Premium Outlet stores in Pismo Beach mid afternoon, and out shopping began. We went to the Nike store as I had been planning to buy new Free Runs, but they didn’t have what I wanted. Got a couple of shirts, singlet and a jersey for mountain biking. Reg got some nice shirts for workouts too. Also went to Levis and I scored a new pair of jeans for just $25! I have established a  new rule though. Unless prices are ridiculously cheaper, don’t shop in places we have in Australia. And only buy it if you LOVE it! Luckily, everything I have purchase so far I have loved!

Before we got to our destination, we took another side road and stopped off at Avila Beach for sunset. So quaint and beautiful there. I imagine that it would bustle in Summer, much like Forster. But it was quite on this cool evening.

Tired travelingbakers!

Tired travelingbakers!

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Avila Beach Boardwalk

Avila Beach Pier

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San Luis Obispo – Monterey

Again, we just stayed in San Luis Obispo, we didn’t explore it. We were finding by the time we got up and happening in the mornings, we just wanted to get on the road. So off we went up the coast road, first stop – Hearst Castle.

There is so much history to Hearst Castle. In short, it was built by William Randolph Hearst on his family ranch property. He had travelled the world earlier in his life, post WWI and collected a whole lot of art, sculptures and antique collectables that were circulating at that time. This was his dream home. There was the main house, 38 bedrooms, 30 fireplaces, 42 bathrooms and 14 sitting rooms. There was even a massive a theatre for movie screenings. Additionally on the Castle grounds were 3 guest houses which are mansions in their own right, the outdoor Neptune pool and the indoor Roman pool (located under the tennis court) and a private Zoo. Seriously – a Zoo.. although animals have been relocated, many donated to other California Zoo’s, there are still decendants that wander the grounds with the Hearst Cattle, such as some African Goats and Zebras.

I was concerned that Reg wouldn’t like it, being that it is a monstrosity that is over the top. So it is those things, but the design of this place is not to be questioned. The architect who worked on this with Hearst for 28 years (it is actually unfinished due to Hearsts’ sudden death at about 80), Julia Morgan, articulated the vision for the work perfectly. Contemporary (for its time) but with so much history encased in the work. You know what – my words are nothing compared to these pictures.

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After Hearst Castle, we got back on the coast road, its was totally lunch time and I was starving. I had bought salad stuff the day before and whipped it together with the plastic knife I had – brilliant! This was at the Elephant Seal Vista Point – they are odd animals!

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Big Sur was the next highlight of the trip. An amazing stretch of road that wraps around the coast. Spectacular views, saw a massive pod of whales too!

Waterfall!

Waterfall!

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The end of Big Sur saw us to our night stop over at Monterey.

Monterey – San Francisco

We got up early in Monterey to go for a run! We both bought new minimalist runners and wanted to give them a try – only a short 1.5km’s and then we headed off early to get to Santa Cruz. I was actually a little disappointed when we got to Santa Cruz, it wasn’t as great as I expected. As Reg and I walked the boardwalk we discussed why and my conclusion was that I was making judgements on locations based on what I had seen and experienced in Queenstown/Milford. I realise that this is super unfair, and will lead me to not enjoy my holiday – I was a little concerned we had made the wrong decision about what to do for this holiday. Through our talk I realised that I like to based myself somewhere and have time to explore – I don’t like to just do the touristy thing, but to really experience a place, find the sweet little cafes to cozy up in and the little boutiques that have items you won’t find anywhere else. So obviously this road trip style of travel isn’t really conducive to that exploration. But no fear – San Fran is near!!

We hung out at Santa Monica Pier for a bit before we made our way to San Fran.

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Sea Lions!

Sea Lions!

Boardwalk Theme Park

Boardwalk Theme Park

Pretty Pastel houses all in a row

Pretty Pastel houses all in a row

Mater and I!

Mater and I!

I hope you have enjoyed this instalment – a little longer than I planned. Keep an eye out – I hope to have our San Fran adventures up in the next couple of days!

Holly x

In Transit

So obviously we made it out of Milford Sound, back to Queenstown for a night. We crashed out epically that night and struggled to wake up before 7:30am as per our plan. We flew back to Auckland at about 11am. The flight out of Queenstown had AMAZING views!

Queenstown from above - I love this place!

Queenstown from above – I love this place!

We flew back with on Jetstar with Amy and had Aunty Bron drop us off at the international airport.. it was lovely see her, ever so briefly! We left some stuff with Amy – our joggers and some other gear we decided we could travel the States without. I am so wishing I had left more, or never brought it with me in the first place. Hindsight aye.

We had some drama’s with checking in with Air NZ. Apparently they have become quite strict on their luggage allowance, so we had no luck with checking in our carry on suitcases along with our big ones – so that meant we had to rejig our luggage.. unfortunately thought my big suitcase can’t actually fit in more than about 18kg’s, so there was 5kgs I was forfeiting. Additionally, carry on luggage is weighed out of Auckland airport, so it couldn’t be more than 7kgs – in a suitcase, that isn’t very much. This whole situation was infuriating! But, I managed to keep perspective and remind myself that it was all part of the adventure.

We ate a lot before we went through customs and security – I had some Burgen bread, tuna, apples, nuts, protein powder and a protein bar. We managed to get through most of it, given that we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and were unsure what our options would be on the plane. By the time we went through customs and security we had about 2 hours to wait – Reg worked, I’m not sure what I did, read a little, slept a little… The flight wasn’t as bad as I expected. Dinner was okay – and surprisingly I was super hungry again! I had Beef Korma with Basmati Rice, not something I would consider clean or eat normally, but with options limited I just did. I may have also eaten the New Zealand vanilla bean ice cream..  I watched Ruby Sparkes, most of On the Road (until it got too weird to watch), then some modern family as I fell asleep.

We were woken up quite abruptly at about 5.30am LA time for breakfast. The options here were not cool. Continental (ie. cereal and yoghurt full of sugar and nasties) and fruit, or hot (scrambled eggs, sausages and baked beans). I ate the fresh fruit and got the nuts out of my bag. That was my breakfast.

Customs took FOR EVER! close to an hour to get through I think, and to make it more fun, and in true Holly fashion I was busting to go to the toilet! Eventually we got through without any dramas, followed quickly by security and we were released into LA and beyond… 🙂

The Milford Track

The Milford Track. I don’t think any words or photo’s I am going to share do justice to this place on earth.

On Wednesday we drove from Queenstown to Te Anau, the place where we picked up our tickets for the track. You know how I had been calling this ‘trekking’, well I found out it’s actually called ‘tramping’ in New Zealand. Our group of Bakers + some, made up 11 of the 40 trampers to set out on the Wednesday. They have 40 independent and up to 50 guided trampers start the track every day during the summer. It’s amazing to think with that many people going through the track every year that it still looks and is so pristine and untouched like no one goes there.

We got our tickets, it was raining in Te Anau. The ticketer advised that we may not get out of Milford Sound on Saturday afternoon due to the rockfalls that had been occuring over the Homer Tunnel Road. This would mean that we wouldn’t get out until Sunday morning, and not get back to Queenstown on time for our flight o Auckland, therefore we  might miss our Auckland to LA flight. Our options were to risk it, or stay the 4 days in Te Anau*. I was a little disappointed with the options, but decided to risk it.. and it was totally worth it!

Once tickets were collected, we headed to Bev’s Gear Hire to pick up the gear Reg, Tim, Prue and I needed for the track, which was pretty much everything. Reg and I had bought some thermals and polar fleece items earlier in Queenstown, but we needed wet weather gear, cooking and eating utensils and our packs. This was the first time quite a few of us had ever worn packs, and boy was that an addition of about 12kgs I wasn’t ready for.

We caught the boat from Te Anau Downs, catching the boat across Lake Te Anau is the main only way to access the start of the Track, apart from a helicopter. I fell asleep for a lot of the 1 hour boat ride, just too tired to keep my eyes open. I was also still super sore from mountain biking the day before!

This is considered Day 1. Once off the boat, we were overwhelmed with the Sandflies. I had been told to take repellent, and I did, but opted for Jodie’s Tea tree oil and this worked a treat for now. We got a family photo at the beginning of the track.

The Family at the start of the Track

The Family at the start of the Track

The walking on this day was 5 kms. It wasn’t difficult as such, but my hips struggled with the weight of my pack. I sure felt like there would be some serious bruising. I sucked it up though, as there wasn’t much to be done about it!

Maximum of 10 people on the swing bridge - the first of many!

Maximum of 10 people on the swing bridge – the first of many!16930efe411f11e28fa722000a1fbcea_6Spotting of a waterfall - again the first of many!

Spotting of a waterfall – again the first of many!

Our first night was spent at Clinton Hut. The walk there was through beautiful beech forest and along the Clinton River. We also took the little side walk to see the wetlands close by. Ross the Ranger that was looking after the Clinton Hut area when we stayed was great. He took our some people on a guided walk, but we stayed in doors to play cards. It was raining just a little that afternoon, and it was cool, but the group of school kids that got there during the day had lit the fire and so the eating room was toastie warm! The forty of us bunked in 2 rooms that night, we shared half the room with one other tramper – Ethan. You will hear more about him later.

The Clinton River

The Clinton River

The Wetlands - the snow capped peak in the background in what we climbed!

The Wetlands – the snow capped peak in the background in what we climbed!

The Family after dinner at the Clinton Hut.

The Family after dinner at the Clinton Hut.

Day 2 was 16.5kms. It began with a gradual climb along the Clinton River. To be honest, this was a long difficult day. I think it felt that way because I didn’t eat enough for morning tea, so I was running out of fuel. But we got the first view of the Mackinnon Pass, which is what we were to climb.

First view of the MacKinnon Pass - can only just see it through the fog

First view of the MacKinnon Pass – can only just see it through the fog

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There were lots of waterfalls and creeks to cross. The scenery was amazing, we spotted lots of Blue Ducks along the way which are an endangered duck that Ross had said there would be some pairs. We stopped for lunch around 12:30, at a place known as the Bus Stop, there was a little climb to get there, but worth it to sit down, take my pack off and eat something more than nuts. I had a tuna and cheese sandwich. I had warmed up a fair bit from the little climb, but cooled down very quickly, so we took off pretty quickly. Tim, Prue and Aunty Jan went ahead, then Amy and I left and the rest followed. This remaining 6.5kms or so were all upwards and it began to rain. I got cold as we got higher and had to add another layer under my raincoat. The next 2 hours were difficult and miserable as we climbed to the Mintaro hut. Amy and I trudged up the hill, step by step, aching, wet, tired, cold and hungry. One thing we were glad was that because it was cooler up there the sandflies weren’t around! It was at this point that I realised that the Milford Track was actually a lot tougher than I expected. My whole body was aching and it was super cold up this high, so being wet didn’t help. The hut slowly got warm, however, it was impossible to dry anything, so wet shoes in the morning were inevitable. Once in warm clothes and after some couscous and tuna for dinner I started to feel much better. We had a game of Phase 10, Reg, Jodie, Jan, Amy, Ethan and I. Ethan was grat fun, and it was this second night that we got to know him a little better. He is a Physio student in NYC, from New Jersey. He was over in New Zealand for the semester doing outdoor leadership skills. The Milford Track was his last venture before returning home. He was super speedy on the track and handy around the hut as he had EVERYTHING. He was prepared and well experienced in tramping. It was lots of fun having his company along with our family. It was in the Mintaro hut that we also got to know the group of school kids that were tramping. I was doing some stretching with Reg and Jodie and a few of the girls joined us. They were about 14/15 and lots of fun. So despite this day and the walk up the hill being the most difficult and probably miserable with the weather, the evening together was great!

Ed, our hut Ranger had also warned us of a certain bird, the Kia, that is notorious for vandalising things, due to this we were to hang up our shoes. I woke up at about 1 am needing to go to the toilet, but since they were outside and it was raining, I stayed snuggled in my sleeping bag instead and made myself go back to sleep. I woke up again at 5.30 am and it was light, so I got up to go to the toilet. I came out onto the verandah there were two Kia’s picking at someones shoes. They backed off a little as I walked past, but weren’t scared off. I went back inside and woke Tim up immediately as he had been saying how much he wanted to see them! That was a little highlight  of the Mintaro Hut!

Day 3 was the climb and decline of the MacKinnon Pass, 14kms. I thought this would be more difficult than it was. I was sore, and it was freezing cold at the top of the pass, but surprisingly it was manageable. It took us about 2.5hrs to climb to the top.. I wish I hadn’t have been so cold so I could have appreciated it more. These pictures hardly capture how amazing it was up there.

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Plaque in commemorating Quinton Mackinnon, the man who established the pass through to Milford Sound

Plaque in commemorating Quinton Mackinnon, the man who established the pass through to Milford Sound

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View down into the Valley we are about to go to

Amy hanging out at the 12 second drop!

Amy hanging out at the 12 second drop!

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A Kia at the top of the pass

A Kia at the top of the pass

We stopped at the Pass hut and had a hot lunch – Ed had told us to make sure we had a decent break as going down the pass was difficult and if not rested, you can trip up easily. The hot lunch helped, but it was so cold up in the hut that we got moving again within half an hour. We had to use the “Emergency” track because there had been rock falls on the normal track. This alternate route was meant to be easier, but steeper. I found the steep part pretty good, but as we got lower my legs got tired, since I had been doing lots of one legged squats effectively.. Legs and feet ached big time once the emergency part of the track was done and we got onto flatter, but still down hill. It was all quite technical too, since you had to choose the safest path through the rocks and streams. Half the group went ahead and then about 2 hours out from our hut Shona needed a break so Reg and I went ahead ourselves leaving Pete, Shona and Jodie. I found that once I got to this point of being really tired all over, feet and legs aching, I begun to not even look at the scenery, but just want to get back to the hut. There were lots of amazing waterfalls and creek beds, the water was so clear and fresh. We got back to the hut late afternoon, and the only way to describe how sore my feet were was that it felt like I had been wearing high heels that were a little too small ALL day!

The Dumpling hut was great. It had a large cooking and eating area which were separate to the the sleeping rooms. There was a large drying room with the fire in it that was connected to the kitchen. When we got there, it was just us and Ethan. We feasted on all sorts of food, I did give in a eat some Nutella at this point.. I had been good the rest of the time so felt okay with cheating a little. We entertained ourselves before dinner with games of 500, a Baker family fave!

Day 4 – the last day, a total of 18kms. I felt that this day had heaps of really nice stuff to look at, and at the start of the walk while I still had the attention span. I will tell this day in pictures mostly 🙂

Sir loves the Mountains!

Sir loves the Mountains!

The day was so clear, made everything so much more spectacular!

The day was so clear, made everything so much more spectacular!

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Picturesque

Picturesque

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Baker Kids

Baker Kids

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Mackay Falls

Mackay Falls

Giants Gate Falls

Giants Gate Falls

Note Here: Iphones can survive a swim in an Alpine River. Mine may have jumped in for a dip in this very river while I filled up my water bottle!

The end of the Track! 53kms compete! Sandfly point lived up to its name though :)

The end of the Track! 53kms compete! Sandfly point lived up to its name though 🙂

It was amazing to finish the Track. 38 of us got on the 2pm boat. The 2 that didn’t were a French couple. Anne had hurt her knee the day before on the decent, she had decided however to walk the rest of the track. We came across them early in the morning on the track and a few of us stopped to pray for healing. She was super thankful that we did and said that there was no pain.**

We got back to Milford sound about 2:20pm and had organised to go on a cruise around the sound. We all looked haggard and terrible! haha. To be honest, I struggled to stay awake. The Sound was amazing, however the best way to describe it is that we had just eaten and experienced the most amazing chocolate cake, and then cruising around the sound we were just looking at it. I realised that the cruise is all most people do to experience Milford – but I tell you what, there is so much more and I feel like we have only just scratched the surface.

Milford Track is a must see, do, experience.

* We got out of Milford no worries. And got all our flights the next day with no problems.

**We ran into Anne and her partner at the end of our cruise. She said after we prayed for her she had no pain and finished the track trouble free, in fact, only missed the 2pm boat by 15mins. I was so incredibly filled with joy when I saw she had finished and gave glory to God for his healing power that helped her finish the Track. So awesome!

 

 

 

Queenstown – Up the Mountain, Down the Mountain and a Bear

Yesterday Jodie arrived from Auckland. Sir received an early text from her before she departed stating “Bear Grylls is on my plane!”. This got him up quick smart to ensure he didn’t miss the trip out to pick Jodie up, with the real motive being to spot Bear. We waited patiently for the plane to land, which in itself was quite cool to see. I talked the other day about the landing, but that was when I was on the plane, watching it from the airport was different again. Bear, being the celebrity that he is, got off the plane first with his crew. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, Sir walked right up to him, hand out, and arranged for a picture.

Bear and the Baker Boys

Bear and the Baker Boys

As you can see, all three of the Baker men were excited to see him! I took the photo, not worried about missing out on being in the picture. Bear was a little quick to leave and almost didn’t seem to want the picture. I thought it must have been because he was surprised to be spotted, while wanting to be unnoticed. But, he then rushed to the bathroom and I completely understood.. I am not my friendliest when needing to relieve myself! hehe. I don’t think anyone in the airport knew he was coming, except for us, given the whispers that we heard as Bear walked through the terminal “That’s F*%#ing Bear Grylls!”. I thought this was humorous!

The morning lead to a bit of panic on my part as we began to discuss what we needed clothes-wise for the track. This where once again I felt ill-informed/prepared. Apparently we shouldn’t take anything that is made of cotton, because cotton holds moisture and sucks moisture from the skin. So that ruled out of my attire most of my tops and all of the pants I brought to walk in. Given that my underwear is cotton, I will have to make sure I put my wet weather gear on before it starts raining. Wet added to very cold conditions would not be fun! So turns out I was missing quite a few essential items. Luckily Queenstown has plenty of stores that cater for outdoor activities.. so off we went to Katmandu. I purchased a mid-layer polar fleece (managed to get comfortably into a girls size 12, thus saving me some $$), polar fleece pants, some merino tops (from glassons!), microfiber towels, and for Sir, some more thermals (a stripy top and bottoms – I will snap a pic at some point, he will look like a Croxford boy – super cute!), and a jacket.. Ah – I think I am ready… maybe.

In the afternoon we headed out to Mountain Bike. Unexpectedly, I had to ride a full suspension bike, I am used to my hard tail, however, after coming down that Mountain I can see why a full suspension was necessary! We went to the Queenstown Bike Park which is a steep pine covered recreational reserve. The gondola is the way to get up, so we bought passes for the afternoon. The scenery is amazing from the top, all the way down to the bottom spectacular views distract! I had to make sure I wasn’t looking at them too much.. given that I was riding down the mountain at quite a pace. Back at home when I ride down Snakes and Ladders in Glenrock, there is one corner with an amazing view that I always almost come off!

View going up the gondola

View going up the gondola

I stuck to the easiest track, happy with the challenge that it was for me. We rode consistently for about 3.5 hours, I only got down four times during that. The second run was amazing, I felt confident and was a little too confident at times. The third run I began to get tired, so I could feel my concentration and control waining. I went up a fourth time because Jodie and Prue stopped riding and Luke and Amy came up for their first run, which I lead the way. As expected, due to my tiredness, I stacked it twice.. just skidded out on the corners, I think because I took them too slowly. Despite that the afternoon was so much fun, and I definitely want to get back on my bike more when I get home!

The crew before our first run! From left to right, Prue, Tim, Me, Reg, Jodie

The crew before our first run! From left to right, Prue, Tim, Me, Reg, Jodie

Sir and I after returning the bikes - both very exhausted, but thoroughly happy with our ride

Sir and I after returning the bikes – both very exhausted, but thoroughly happy with our ride

Selfie! So stoked with my efforts :)

Selfie! So stoked with my efforts 🙂

Today we are resting and getting things ready for tomorrow! Don’t be concerned, but I won’t be posting until after the track now, unless something amazing happens today of course!

 

Queenstown – Middle Earth

Today has been spectacular! We had a late night to bed, and then a restless morning since some of the family got up at 3:30am to watch the Rugby. I got up at 7:30am, had a delicious breaky, just overnight cinnamon oats, greek yoghurt and banana. Yu-um. I so look forward to it everyday! We then headed out to the airport to pick up Sal and Luke about 9 am. The sun was wonderfully warm, and the sky oh so clear!

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I got home and smashed out a quick workout, 5 Rounds of 100 skips, 50 squats which I finished in 14:02 minutes. Then I did 5 rounds of 10 walking lunges and 5 push ups. A total of 18 minutes all up, great quick, tough workout. Feels good to be keeping up the hard work, especially with all the sitting I have been doing!

Talking about sitting, this morning we went for a two hour drive out of Queenstown to a little town called Arrowtown. The scenery was so lovely. I have no photo’s of Arrowtown itself, but in my poor attempt to describe it, it was a mixture of a western town with saloons and early settlement cobblestones. Arrowtown was settled on the finding of gold back in the 1800’s. It was a beautiful town to wander, although we didn’t have long to spare since we had plans for lunch.

Wild Flowers are lining the roads everywhere

Wild Flowers are lining the roads everywhere

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Local cherries I bouth in Arrowtown, picked fresh yesterday

Local cherries I bouth in Arrowtown, picked fresh yesterday

We headed home, had a BBQ lunch then headed out again. Just to grab some stuff at the shops.. I ducked into the supermarket to grab some nuts and dates to make myself some of my raw nut energy balls that is really just the base from my recipe I shared the other day.

We had a quick stop at home, refueled with some peanut butter on corn thins and I grabbed an apple and nuts for our next adventure. This time, all of us, Mum & Dad Baker, Reg, Sally, Luke, Tim, Prue, Amy and myself, went the opposite direction to normal, out to Glenorchy & Paradise.  The scenery this way was incredible, and breathtaking.

Wooded roads with streaming sunlight

Wooded roads with streaming sunlight

From the lookout only about 10kms into the drive.. the snow capped peaks were spectacular!

From the lookout only about 10kms into the drive.. the snow capped peaks were spectacular!

Timmy and I at the lookout

Timmy and I at the lookout

Sir and I at the lookout

Sir and I at the lookout

More wild flowers

More wild flowers

Sheeeeep!

Sheeeeep!

Sir taking some great pictures

Sir taking some great pictures

One of Sir's pics

One of Sir’s pics

I photo I accidentally took so well on Sir's phone

I photo I accidentally took so well on Sir’s phone

You may recall some of these scenes from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, hence my hash-tagging and calling this post “Middle Earth”. This is truly a beautiful place and you can see why so many films come to capture some of the sights.

We got home late, around 8pm, but of course it was still light. It is now finally getting dark at 9:55pm. I am thinking I will go get in bed with a cup of tea and my book, in a home I get to sleep early!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queenstown – An Introduction

We had a 9:45am flight from Auckland this morning. After our late night, about 12am, we decided getting up at 7:30am should give us enough time to get ready and go. Mind you, 7:30am NZ time is 5:30am EST. This is about the usual that I wake up at home, and surprisingly it wasn’t too hard. We got ready, had some breaky, just oats and protein powder milk.. Zac was up multi-tasking, watching morning TV and playing computer games.. when he found we were up, he offered to make us pancakes. Such a sweetheart that kid! We left on time, 8:30am, however, Sir forgot the bag with the laptop (which I am using now, so certainly grateful that we turned around to get it).. so we went home again to get it, as such making us arrive at check-in as it was closing, and going through security as the plane was boarding. Never mind, this never surprises me – we often arrive at the Airport just in time.. We boarded the plane to find that we were seated with the rest of the Bakers – fancy that.. I wonder if it was done on purpose?? This made for a fun two hour flight. Sir was sneeky and took some extra pics while we flew!

Coast view after departing Auckland Airport

Coast view after departing Auckland Airport

So we arrived in Queenstown. And my.. it is beautiful! It’s quite a funny place to land.. As the plane descends it actually flies through a lot of the terrain, so you get quite close to the mountains. Additionally, you come onto the runway towards and beside the mountains. I am told that take off is interesting as you take off over the edge of the cliff you come in on. I will let you know how that goes!

Mountains encircling the Queenstown Airport. Ruggedly beautiful.

Mountains encircling the Queenstown Airport. Ruggedly beautiful.

By the time we landed and left the airport in our super sweet as bus/van we have hired, we were all beginning to get a little hangry. Hangry is the point were you become so hungry that you actually get angry. Hence hangry. We decided we would go to the house in Fernhill that we have rented for the week and settle in while we waited for Aunty Jan and Mum Baker to get there (Aunty Jan flew in 15mins later than us and Mum Baker waited for her). The house managed to be an awesome distraction from our hanger.. It has the most spectacular views.. Words cannot describe and these pictures hardly do them justice!

Lake Wakatipu and Mountain backdrop

Lake Wakatipu and Mountain backdrop

Sir and I stoked by the view from our balcony

Sir and I stoked by the view from our balcony

View from the kitchen bench as I drank my cuppa!

View from the kitchen bench as I drank my cuppa!

We went into town in search of food and did we find some! So obviously my goal is to maintain my healthy and as clean as possible eating while we travel. I understand that this will be a challenge, but I am willing to give it my best shot. Options discussed as we walked the streets of Queenstown became Mexican or Kebabs. Consensus was kebabs. I was concerned as all I could think of are the dirty, greasy kebabs you pick up at 2am when you are still drunk. Not that that occurs these days, but I have to admit I have done that! The moment we walked into this cafe/kebab shop I could tell this was different! The salad options were amazing.. green beans with cinnamon & caramelised onion, beetroot salad, spinach, brown rice, lentil, blackbeans and there were some other great options.I know the meat wouldn’t have been the leanest option, but I had chicken with blackbeans, spinach and beetroot and it was AMAZING! A little large in portion size, but incredible non the less!

Here is a terrible picture of me enjoying my kebab!

Here is a terrible picture of me enjoying my kebab!

We then did some necessary things like groceries and naps.. Every actually napped until about 7pm. Sir and I did an awesome workout at about 7:30pm.. We made it up ourselves, we went out into the empty garage and did the following:

6 Rounds for time:

10 push ups

30 plank on hands (not elbows)

10 squats

1 min skipping

I finished in 13:49 minutes, a little way behind Sir. The plank after push ups were a massive challenge! We then finished with Tabata of plank burpees.. I managed to get 8 out every 20 seconds.. and collapsed at the end for quite a few minutes. I felt great! After 2 full days of travel and sitting down I so desperately needed to move, since I was feeling like I didn’t want to. My tailbone is super sore, hoping that settles as I move around over the next few days!

Going to put in my little “bummer” “sulk” note here. Silly me left my Polar Heart Rate Monitor strap at Zea’s place. Yep in Sydney. I had so wanted to see how I would go on the trek, but no luck given that I have spent a good part of today asking in at all of the Polar retailers in Queenstown if I can just get a strap. Nope, it has to be ordered and won’t arrive before we leave. Sad face. Lucky Zea is amazing and is sending it over to Auckland so I can get it before we leave for the States..

It’s been quite an odd feeling here, given that the sun doesn’t set until around 9:15pm.. We all sat around without any lights on until around 9pm before we realise we should do something and then head to bed.

Broad daylight at 9pm!

Broad daylight at 9pm!

So we headed out to find a cafe/ice cream shop.. this was more difficult than expected. After some wandering in the rain, yes the rain has set in.. we found a dairy that sold tip top ice cream.. I didn’t get one as I felt more like a hot chocolate, which I found a little while on at Starbucks.. I know this isn’t healthy, but I can things like that on occasion. It was a peppermint hot chocolate and was totally worth it. We found this random Korean shop with a whole lot of random stuff.. I got lots of strange looks too.. I wonder why??

Lamb beanie/gloves..

Lamb beanie/gloves..

Whirlwind Stop Overs.

So our adventure has begun. We left work on Thursday afternoon, a little after 3pm, sensibly picking up some Sourdough Baker toasties for the road. We got home at 3:50pm and decided we could make the 4:29pm train from Civic. Luckily we had packed the night before because it meant that we were able to scoot out of the house and walk to the station by 4:10pm and just (I literally mean just) arrive in time for the train!

We trained to Hornsby where my lovely friend Zea picked us up and took us to their place on the Northern Beaches to stay. We had a fun evening together, somehow managing to find ourselves practicing handstand push ups down in the park, in the dark!

Waiting at Hornsby Station

Waiting at Hornsby Station

At 6:30am on Friday, my sister Jolie picked us up to take us to the airport for our first flight. Today we were heading to New Zealand. We knew we were going to be in the airport/flying most of  the day so we had had a big breakfast, packed the left over toasties and some other snacks for along the way so that we didn’t have to resort to unhealthy options.

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Farewell Sydney - we will see you again in 7 weeks!

Farewell Sydney – we will see you again in 7 weeks!

We got into Auckland around 5pm and were picked up by Amy, our cousin! This lady is seriously the best! So looking forward to the week with her.

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We visited Reg’s grandparents straight away. They were originally coming to Queenstown with us and staying in the house for the entire week, but about 8 weeks ago Nan had a fall and broke both her legs. It’s a long recovery, but she is doing great. Was so lovely to see both her a Poppa in a whirlwind visit and pray for them both for healing.

We then headed to Reg’s older sisters place, Jodie. Ah I haven’t seen the nieces for about 18months.. all three of them were so grown up and beautiful! Asha is almost 8, Talia is almost 5 and Nya is 3. We are both looking forward to spending a couple of days with them on the other end of our trip. We had a quick, easy healthy chicken and salad wrap for dinner and left for our home away from home, the Maclouds. I love our visits with Pete, Bron, Ella and Zac – this one was particularly quick, but no less lovely.

The view from the Maclouds kitchen in Howick

The view from the Maclouds kitchen in Howick

We headed to the airport around 8:30am to head to Queenstown. And what a place this is….I already have a few pictures to share, even though we haven’t done very much today – coming soon!