Shawn went scuba diving today, so I’ll leave the fish tales to him. I walked about town and enjoyed a leisurely lunch on the wharf at 36 degrees. (I’m guessing that’s our latitude. If I remember my 6th grade teacher correctly, longitude is the long vertical lines on the globe and latitude is the circles. Feel free to correct me.)
In the afternoon we headed further north to Doubtful Bay. We have a cute little apartment right on the beach. The big, beautiful house next door is the owner’s. He pulled a Tom Sawyer on Shawn and had him help reel in the fishing line.
I swear I’m not making this up, but we had dinner at the Waterfront Cafe. I get it, New Zealand is an island and there’s lots of water frontage, but there must be some more creative names for restaurants. Hell, name the restaurant after your dog if you can’t come up with anything better.
36 degrees – 4 Kiwis
Waterfront Cafe – 4 Kiwis
Golden Sand Beachfront Accommodations – 3.5 Kiwis mostly for the beach and laundry facilities
Gelato flavor: rum raisin
Steps taken = 7,184 (the last thousand on the beach outside my door)
As predicted, we woke up to a rainy morning, but with our handy list of wet weather activities we ventured out into the rain decked out in our quick-dry clothing, hats, an umbrella for Shawn and raincoat for me. Because the north island just isn’t enough island for us, we once again found ourselves on a ferry headed to the island of Russell.
We strolled in the rain along the waterfront to the Russell Museum to learn about the Maori and European history of New Zealand. The museum includes a one-fifth scale model of Cook’s ship Endeavour. The rigging is pretty amazing with numerous wooden pulleys.
Next, we headed to the Pompallier Mission (1841). While waiting for our tour to begin, we strolled the gardens in the rain. We were on the only brave souls, but it was worth the climb up the soggy hill. I think agapanthus is a weed here. They are everywhere…little ones grow along the roadside and giant agapanthus is used to create hedges and apparently to hold up hillsides.
The restored building that we toured was a printery and tannery, and we learned about the full processes of printing and leather tanning. I have a new appreciation for leather bound printed books. Our guide Maggie enjoyed telling us how many common sayings came from the early printing industry, such as “mind your Ps and Qs” and “strong silent type”. I also had no idea that it takes about 2 1/2 years to tan a piece of leather.
We lunched at the Waterfront Cafe (they seem to have a shortage of restaurant names here). Surprisingly, the seafood chowder was green and had smoked fish, but it was creamy and good. The fish in the fish & chips was fresh, light, and flaky with a nice crunchy breading.
After lunch, Shawn insisted we find Christ Church (the oldest existing church in New Zealand built in 1835) because he had read in the brochure that some of the headstones in the cemetery had musket holes in them. We tromped through the graveyard in the rain but could not find a single musket hole. We did find Cook’s headstone though.
After a rainy ferry ride back to Paihia, we drove to Haruru Falls. Since driving on the left is not enough of a challenge, Mother Nature decided to test Shawn with the addition of pounding rain. Once again, he safely navigated us to our destination. The falls were not quite as impressive as the tour posters portrayed them to be, but after our California drought any falls with water are a welcome sight.
An afternoon of blogging drinking a cup of tea while sitting with the patio doors wide open giving a fine view of the jungle/forest and constant rain…not a bad way to spend your day. Now, where should we go for dinner?
Being on vacation, we have no sense of dates and times. We headed into town and stopped at a restaurant we’d seen the day before. We walked in and the first thing they asked was “do you have a booking?” It was 7:00 PM Friday night on a holiday weekend, things were not looking good. The hostess was on the phone and held up a finger telling us to wait a minute. She got off the phone and said she just had a cancellation, the owner’s mother would not need her table. She walked us to the best table at the front of the restaurant looking out on the street and ocean.
My career as a food blogger is looking dim. After we devoured the beetroot and goat cheese salad, I realized I hadn’t taken a photo. In case you’re wondering, it was pretty and delicious. So were the lobster ravioli in a lemon sauce and the salt and pepper squid with fried capers. Just imagine the lemon and lime meringue pie.
Wi-fi is sketchy at this hotel, so more photos later.
We left Auckland today and headed for Paihia. I wanted to stop at a quilt shop, known as patchwork shops here. The shop is All Things Patchwork and it is a cute store with an abundance of Kaffe Fassett and Tula Pink fabric (this is an important fact for my fellow quilters); however, the cost is over twice what we pay in the states so nothing new is coming home with me.
The countryside is lush and green. There are rolling hills and a strange combination of what looks like pine forests, jungle, and grazing land. The highway was two lanes with the occasional one-lane bridge. If you’re on the side with the big arrow, you have the right-of-way. Many sections of the road are very curvy, and its still freaky to see a cars coming at you around a curve on the right. The logging trucks are downright terrifying, but Shawn navigated us safely through it all.
We have a nice little studio just outside of Paihia proper. We walked through town and along the beach. The weather today is cooler and windy along the beach with a bit of rain. Tomorrow is supposed to be windy and rainy, so Shawn’s scuba trip has been moved Saturday (the dive shop owner indicated the wind is the issue, not the rain). We stopped at the iSite (tourist information office) and asked what to do in the rain. The helpful staff was prepared with a list of activities for wet weather.
Speaking of the iSite, we stopped along the road at what would be the equivalent of our rest stops. There was a nice park, clean bathrooms, showers, the iSite for tourist information, a gift shop, and a great little cafe where we got lunch. Shawn had some strange concoction of espresso, coconut oil, and butter. Our sandwiches came with a little dish of something that tasted like a sweet tomato salsa. I’m not sure what we were supposed to do with it considering I had a falafel sandwich and Shawn had the Philly cheesesteak (or New Zealand’s equivalent according to Shawn).
Being curious, we checked out the local real estate listings (no Moms, we’re not planning to move). A nice ocean view home runs about $1.5 NZD or $1M USD.
We ended our day with another fine dinner at The Waterfront. More giant squid rings followed by fresh pan-fried snapper with sweet potato mash in a lemon sauce with a glass of Picton Sauvignon Blanc for me. Shawn had lamb and sweet potato mash with the local MOA pale ale. As you can see, it was a lovely meal.
Cafe in the Park – 3.5 Kiwis
The Waterfront – 4 Kiwis
For a moment, we were wondering if we were going to make it out of LAX. We asked for directions and ended up outside the terminal and on a shuttle bus to the international terminal. I’m not sure if we could have gotten there without going outside, but it was a long way between terminals and ate into our 2 1/2 hour layover pretty quickly.
The Air New Zealand plane was a 777 and we had upgraded our seats to a “sky couch”. That didn’t work out as hoped, but it gave us all 3 seats in the row so that was good. The conceptual drawing showed the footrest flipping out into a bed that two can sleep on. So picture the width of a normal 3-seat airplane aisle. Now picture Shawn and me lounging in that space…yeah, that didn’t happen. But, all in all, for a 12-hour flight it wasn’t terrible.
Shawn bravely tackled driving on the left side of the road. It was even more of an adventure due to highway construction. He safely navigated us through numerous roundabouts and right-hand turns (which are very freaky as you cross over oncoming traffic). We laughed every time he turned on the windshield wipers instead of the turn indicator. I don’t think I’ll be doing any big city driving. I’m not famous for knowing my left from my right.
While waiting for our hotel room, we took a stroll downtown along the waterfront. There were lots of indoor/outdoor restaurants with seating along the water. We had lunch at Pescado. Tapas included squid rings so big they looked like giant onion rings, shrimp with garlic aioli and a beef salad with fresh feta and a mint dressing. So far, so good!
The concierge at our hotel is great. He gave us lots of advice on what to see and answered our touristy questions like “do you tip?” (You can but it is not mandatory like in the U.S. There’s no tip line on the credit card receipt.) Michael suggested tipping for great service particularly for young people who may be putting themselves through school.
I’ve learned about a few websites and apps that make travel planning easier. We used Expedia and Bookings.com to make all our hotel reservations. Strangely, they did not always have the same accommodations available, and if they did they were not always the same price. We ended up using Expedia for the majority of our reservations. This is nice because it makes an itinerary for your whole trip. Both apps show lots of pictures of the properties and you can narrow your choices by price, ratings, and amenities.
If you use Gmail and Google Calendar, Google will helpfully read your email and put all your reservations on your calendar. This was very handy because with a glance at my calendar I realized I had double booked one day and didn’t have a place to stay the next day.
Tripit is another app that will read your email and add all your hotel, flights and rental car reservations to an itinerary. You can also add other activities (like a scuba dive and dinner at Hobbiton) to your itinerary. Great for keeping everything in one place. While on your trip you can add photos to each day too. I think that will be handy for remembering when, where and what we saw.
For mapping our adventure, I found a great article on how to use the Google map engine to make your own custom map. I dropped all our lodgings on the map and then Google calculated the routes. Assuming all goes as planned, we will be driving about 1200 miles on the North Island and 900 miles on the South Island. Good thing Shawn loaded up the iPod with tunes.
Shawn also found a used GPS on eBay with New Zealand maps installed. We paid about $80 for it and can probably resell it when we get home and recoup our investment. This was much cheaper than adding a GPS to our rental car. Shawn has also pre-loaded all our destination addresses into the GPS so we’re ready to hit the road.
I love technology, but I’ve heard Internet performance in New Zealand is a bit slower than what we’re used to. Oh well…its vacation and we’re not in a rush.
So I’m getting ready to embark on the longest vacation of my life. One month in New Zealand. My plan is to pack for about a week and do laundry a few times while on the road (many of the places we booked indicated they had laundry facilities). We did some shopping for “travel” clothes and I ended up getting some Columbia pants and shirts because they are lightweight, dry quickly, look nice and are still comfy for some of our long car trips. Variables like weather and activities make it hard to be prepared for all situations.
It all needs to fit in one smallish carry on and one larger suitcase. This is my plan:
Tank tops (2)
Long sleeve denim shirt
Yoga pants (1)
Sandals (2) – Keens for activities and dressier for around town
Walking shoes (1)
Now, what about the non-clothing items?
Airplane pillow (inflatable)
iPad (books, music, games)
Nylon backpack for day trips and souvenirs – folds up into a tiny pouch
Cell phone – it will mainly be used as my camera
Paperback book – for off the grid moments
Chargers and converter for electronics
Hair dryer and curling iron – maybe, can’t decide on these
I was in a meeting the other day at work, and the subject was QR codes. I was asked to write technical guidelines on how to use them in business. As the meeting began, I pulled out my quilted covered notebook to take notes and one of my coworkers said: “you could make a QR code quilt.” We all had a good laugh, and the meeting commenced.
But the thought stuck in my mind. For years, I have been saving 2-inch squares of batik fabric. For some reason, I decided that if a scrap of batik was big enough to get one or more 2-inch squares, I’d keep it. I don’t do this with any other fabric, just batiks. These squares would be perfect for the QR code quilt, but what would happen when the QR code quilt is scanned? I decided to use my website address KristinLaura.com for the QR code. Using a QR code generator, I produced a 29×29 grid of squares…that comes out to 841 shares! No way am I going to piece together 841 2″ squares, but I remembered reading about watercolor quilts that use a fusible gridded interfacing. I will give that a try…
For the past 10 or so years, I’ve done my quilting in my kitchen/dining room. It was great while the kids were growing up because I could be cooking dinner, helping with homework and getting in a bit of sewing. There is a great view of the swimming pool and the kitchen island is the perfect height for cutting and pressing. Storage is a bit lacking and it would be great to have a design wall, but I still managed to get projects done.
Now the kids are all grown and in college, and it looks like I will be getting a bedroom to call my own in the spring.
Since I have time to plan, I’ve started the quest for the perfect space. I’ve scoured the last few issues of Studios magazine and lots of books on organizing your space. At the moment, I’m leaning towards wire baskets for fabric storage. (I just visited Ikea for the first time last week…that experience is a whole other blog post.) I’m also thinking about a Koala cabinet for the studio. I have a smaller, thin sewing cabinet now, but I’m looking for extra space behind the machine so larger pieces don’t fall over the back edge.
I have lots of other grand plans, but then I open the door and remind myself that the room is only 10’x10′. The fun part will be personalizing the space…it’s not all about function.