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Ride to Auckland, Wendy’s for Dinner, Got Fourth at the Poker Tournament, Toga Party, Crazy Hectic Night at Globe Bar – Auckland, New Zealand (Day 36) (September 21, 2009)

Today began like many of the days before it: waking up in a room full of strangers, packing a bag, and waiting for the bus to go to a new place. Today we were heading to Auckland and Auckland meant it was time to find a job, a place to stay, and start settling in. The bus stop was a little bit of a hike from the hostel, so I got up early, got to the stop, sat down, and waited. I saw our driver from the beginning of the trip, Lauren, and said hi. It was good to see a familiar face. Eventually the bus arrived and we were on our way. I think we played some card games on the bus, but we might have just rested.

We hit some traffic coming into Auckland, but eventually we made it to Base. Base Auckland is the kind of hostel that grinds people into the ground and leaves them wondering where they are and how they got there. With 8 stories and 100’s of beds, Base Auckland is a beast of a hostel. It is filled with dysfunction and despair interspersed with intense revelry. If possible, avoid it. If not, stay only as long as necessary. There are a good amount of long timers there and you can see the struggle in their eyes.  We unpacked our bags and I headed out to grab a meal at Wendy’s. Australia doesn’t have Wendy’s and the only one I saw in New Zealand was in Auckland, so I decided to get some familiar food and walk around the city.

Eventually, I returned to take part in a poker tournament. Base has a poker tournament almost every night. There is a $100 bar tab on the line and the tourney helps get people in the bar and get the bar warmed up for the evenings. I ended up placing fourth and then headed up to the room. Up in the room, I was greeted by some roommates pre-partying. Tonight was a Toga Party night and there were free drinks for everyone wearing a Toga. Why not?

Auckland is a hopping off point for many people to head to another country or head back home. That makes an arrival in Auckland a special night for many. A last chance to get it all out before confronting a new challenge, a new place, or a life that was left behind. This was the case for a few on our bus and we did it big. The night started with wine in the room, then cocktails in the bar, then free drinks at the bar, then Jager Bombs, then more cocktails and absolute mayhem. Eventually we closed the bar down and headed out with a few locals to a bar on Vulcan lane. I think we made it home at around 5. Below are some pics from that night.

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What kind of establishment has a claw game that involves live lobsters?

Guy and Kate

Free Drink

Sloppy with evil eyes

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Man on a stripper pole. Do not like.

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At least Guy has pizzazz.

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Guy bought us a round of Jager Bombs

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so goofy

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closing the tab

perfectly normal

the bar had normal people in it too

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vdg is trouble

trying to steal a lobster

vdg being vdg

This was the end of my New Zealand tour. The rest of my time in New Zealand would be spent getting myself together, looking for a job, finding permanent accommodation, and trying to settle in New Zealand.

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Ride to Taupo, Card Games with Friends, Got Second at the Poker Tourney, Another Pretty Chill Night – Taupo, New Zealand (Day 35) (September 20, 2009)

Got up early and got my stuff together. The bus leaves Wellington at 8 AM from YHA which is a short walk from Base. The ride to Taupo is a long one. I think I spent most of the time resting and browsing the web on the smartphone. Eventually we got to Taupo and got checked in. I took a short walk around Taupo and made it back to the hostel in time for a dinner that was sponsored by the hostel. Later on we went to the Base bar, The Element, and had a few drinks while playing cards. Most of us were looking to have an easy night and it was a quiet night at the bar so we took it easy. The bar ended up hosting a poker tourney and I ended up getting second after hour or two head to head battle of attrition. After that we headed back to the hostel and got some rest.

Some pics from the ride:

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Tour Progression:


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Long Day on the Road, All Blacks Game Day in Wellington, Grocery Shopping, Calm Night, Rest – Wellington, New Zealand (Day 34) (September 19, 2009)

Today was pretty laid back. I got up early, ate some breakfast, took a shower, and packed my gear. Eventually the bus came and we all piled on. Our destination was Wellington which is around a 250 km ride according to Google Maps. The journey takes some time though because you have to get a ferry to cross the Cook Strait.

Below are some pics of crossing the Cook Strait

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Even the sheep have to take a ferry in between islands

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I was sort of fretting the entire day because one of the Tri-Nations games was in Wellington that night (All Blacks vs. Australia) and I hadn’t booked accommodation. Luckily, my bus driver was able to find me a bed at Base Wellington. When we got in the city you could tell it was game day. The city was packed and everyone was out drinking and partaking in other pre-game activities. I took it easy, checked in, unpacked some gear, and made a trip to the grocery store to get some food for the evening.

At this point in the trip I was looking forward to Auckland and contemplating how to get some long-term accommodation arranged and find a job. All of my friends were now gone or in different parts of the country and the buses heading north only have a handful of people on them making it hard to find and assemble a crew.  Had a great nights sleep.

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Status Update – July 16, 2011

Below is a short and sweet status update. Going to get through some status and then hopefully get to some travel posts.

Happenings since April:

Helped bang out another pretty major release at SM
Still commuting by bike
Have put in some pretty solid swims at Barton Springs on a consistent basis
Completed Ironman France in Nice, France
Visited Kate Becker in Nice
Saw Lukey B and Dave and some of their mates in Manchester
Met up with Jacko and Michelle in London and went to the Wireless Festival in Hyde Park
Exploratory visit to Copenhagen, Denmark
Visited Uli and Kristin in Hamburg, Germany
Visited Stef and Sven in Halle, Germany
Finished Walden by Thoreau, The Communist Manifesto by Marx, Unit Test Frameworks, most of Java Power Tools, and began the Critique of Pure Reason, The Wealth of Nations, and The Republic of Plato

Looking forward:

Would like to knock off a half or two in the second half of 2011
Complete my current reading and further reading
Get my schedule discipline back to where it was in 2007-2008
Further increase bicycle commuting
Get the diet sorted again
Find or start a running group in the neighborhood – bare minimum: get runs in during the week
Join some kind of social cycling effort
Possibly join T3 again for weekend rides and runs
Have a greater impact at SM
Get some Android Dev going and get further connected with Ubuntu (possibly Ubuntu Orchestra or just more involved in Ubuntu QA)
Control my mouth..hehehe
Last but not least: take another stab at sobriety

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Status Update

72 days since the last post. Thought I should put something up here.

Some milestones:

~14 months back in the United States of America

~13 months with ServiceMesh

~a few trail runs done, 1 Marathon done, commuting by bicycle

~pretty boring, focused on work and personal studies

Current activities:

I’m currently focused on activities at ServiceMesh and training for Ironman France. I have also been lightly involved in some community projects (Ubuntu, Google Chrome OS). Additionally, in the evenings, I have been reading a variety of books in the realms of technology, philosophy, and government. Public libraries are a great community service.

Some motivations:

While particularly focused on personal behaviors, I have also been looking outward at local, national, and global behaviors and the government policies that function at each of these levels. While not committed to any extent greater than my own self at this point, I believe I possess a desire to advocate and promote ideas focused around increasing the quality of life through healthier lifestyle choices, particularly by focusing on alternative methods of transportation, physical activity, and diet. To a lesser extent there is also a desire to create a perception of living a better life by living a fulfilling life. While this latter motivation is probably greater in depth, I am still working to define what constitutes a fulfilling life.

 

 

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Breakfast, Pack up, Internet time, Took Some Pictures of The Jailhouse, Booked a Ride to Kaikoura, Bummed a Ride to the Bus stop, Japanese Lunch, Library, Internet Cafe, Late Arrival, Super Quiet Night – Kaikoura, New Zealand (Day 33) (September 18, 2009)

Today Mikey and I split up in different directions. Mikey was keen on exploring Christchurch and heading south and I was keen on heading north. Think I had a standard breakfast of a banana, an orange, and some instant coffee. Afterwards, I found a bus ticket headed north to Kaikoura. Could have taken the Kiwi bus, but it was headed out the next day and I didn’t feel like burning another day in Christchurch. It’s a great city, but the road was starting to get to me. Mikey gave me a ride to the bus stop and I dropped my bags off and then headed to the library for some free internet. The library ended up closing, so I grabbed some food at a restaurant next to Base Hostel and then headed to the internet cafe next door to upload some pics to Facebook. Eventually, it was time to take the bus to Kaikoura. I was on my own again and feeling a little roughed up for some reason. We got in late and the bus driver dropped me off on the corner. I walked the rest of the way to the YHA in Kaikoura. It was late and the kitchen was closed so I think I had some bread with peanut butter and some other snacks and then hit the sack. Tomorrow I would catch another bus headed even farther north.

Tour Progression:


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Breakfast, Pack up, 3 Hour Session at Hanmer Springs, Groceries, Lunch, Drive to Christchurch, Check-in to Jailhouse Accommodation, Laundry, Chinese Takeaway, Internet Time, Relaxed Night – Christchurch, New Zealand (Day 32) (September 17, 2009)

It was a cold night, but we stayed warm inside the minivan. Mikey had a series of blankets and I had a sleeping bag. I reckon it was pretty foul, but you can’t tell after you’ve been in it so long. We got a breakfast in and packed the van. The Top 10 Holiday Park in Hanmer Springs is pretty nice. It has everything you need. After packing up we made our way to Hanmer Springs. Unfortunately, there is no alcohol allowed. Regardless, I poured a few brews into a large water bottle and we made our way inside. Hanmer Springs is pretty much a water park made out of hot tubs. There are pools of all different temperatures and sizes and people are just chilling out.

mikey getting some r&r after summiting Mt. Fyffe

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yours truly enjoying one of the hottest tubs

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There’s only so much time you can spend chilling in a hot tub. It was low season and there wasn’t really anyone to chat up. Mikey and I left after having thoroughly enjoyed the springs. Next, we hit up a small grocery store and picked up some sandwich items and snacks for the road. We got into Christchurch in the evening. We took the long way in and had a little tour of Christchurch while trying to find the hostel. Christchurch is one of my most favorite places. It is absolutely brilliant. In hindsight I probably should have tried to find work there instead of making my way back up to Auckland. The first time I was in Christchurch I stayed at Base. This time we stayed at Jailhouse Accodomodation. The hostel is a renovated prison and is one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed. Mikey and I had a quiet night catching up on laundry, internet, and having take out Chinese food for dinner. Check out some pics of the hostel below.

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A Quick Update

There is no denying I have let the site go on the fritz. Regardless of this disconcerting realization, I have decided to turn it around by making a few posts tonight. Additionally, I believe I am determined in my effort to exhibit better discipline in keeping some fresh content headed this way. I will keep posting the New Zealand tour progression(probably a bad idea to have started this) and then look to make some posts on some of the generalities around travelling/backpacking and some of the highlights I’ve had when getting out and about. Google Analytics says the How-To’s are where the traffics at. Apparently, people like to learn. I will look to putting out some more How-To’s, but my focus will most likely be travel related.

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Breakfast, Summit Mt. Fyffe, Descent, Groceries, Drive to Hanmer Springs, Chicken Tiki Masala Dinner, Shower, Rest – Hanmer Springs, New Zealand (Day 31) (September 16, 2009)

Today was a good day. Having had an a night of great food, drink, and festivities, we were ready to summit Mt. Fyffe and then move on with life. We woke up, had a hearty breakfast, packed our bags, and then made the last charge to summit Mt. Fyffe.

Brekky

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We encountered some snow on the trail, but most of it was easy going. The winds were pretty high, but we were in good spirits. Eventually, we made it to the peak. The view is spectacular and I carried a few cups and the rest of the bottle of Johnny Walker to the top. Mikey and I finished it off while reveling in our own glory.

on top

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Kaikoura from Mt. Fyffe

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Now it was time to head back to base camp, pick up our packs, and return to our starting point. From there we would grab some groceries and then make our way to Hanmer Springs.

base camp

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The drive to Hanmer Springs took a while. We ate sandwiches at a highway rest stop and arrived at Hanmer Springs in the night. By the time we got to camp we were knackered, but still needed to eat dinner and clean up. Mikey and I made Chicken Tiki Masala. This was my first time to be introduced to the dish and since then I have made an effort to keep it in my normal routine of dishes I make at the house. Thanks Mikey! I think Mikey and I browsed the internet and watched TV in the community room and then went to bed. Our bed just happened to be in the back of a minivan from Spaceship Campers. It’s good to have a bed while on the road. Tomorrow we would check out Hanmer Springs and then head to Christchurch.

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Check into i-SITE and get Passes for Mt. Fyffe Hut, Seal Colony, Cray Fritter Lunch, Groceries, Drive to Mt Fyffe, Hike up to Mt Fyffe Hut, Make Attempt to Summit Mt. Fyffe, Steak, Mash Potato, and Vegetable dinner, Johnny Walker, Backgammon, Checking out Stars – Mt. Fyffe Hut, New Zealand (Day 30) (September 15, 2009)

This was one of my favorite and most memorable days of New Zealand.

It started off by picking up some passes for the Mt. Fyffe Hut. The hut is maintained  by the New Zealand Department of Conservation and a pass is required to spend a night in the hut. The pass is a steal at 5 NZD a night for an adult. This hut is well maintained, has 8 bunks with mattresses, back-country bathroom facilities, and a wood fired stove for cooking and heating. There is also a rainwater collection system for drinking water and washing dishes.

Next, we went to check out the Kaikoura seal colony. Mikey had already been there, but was nice enough to go back so that I could see it too. Seals are very good at blending in with their surroundings. Unless you get a close up picture of a seal, your seal pictures are most likely going to look like rock pictures.

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On the way to the seal colony we noticed a Cray stand. Cray is crawfish in Kiwi. They were cooking up a few different things and we settled on Cray fritters. It was a good choice.

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We were going to spend a night on the mountain which meant that we were going to need some food. The grocery store was next on the list. We decided to eat right on the mountain and settled on some steaks, potatoes,  and vegetables for the evening meal. For breakfast we got some eggs and other tasty items not normally found on the trail. From the store, we headed off to the trailhead. Once there, we packed our bags and started our way up the mountain.

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The trail is an access road making it not too hard to hike, but there is a good deal of elevation change. The hut is at 3600 feet in elevation. Below is a picture of Kaikoura from somewhere along the trail.

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With some good conversation and Mikey’s good singing we made it up to the hut, dropped our bags, and attempted to summit Mt. Fyffe. After analyzing the pace Mikey and I were holding, we decided to head back to the hut and summit the peak the next day.

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If you do make it up here, make sure to bring a cook kit and some cooking utensils. Mikey saved the day by bringing a cook kit. Without that, we would have had to get very creative preparing and eating our meal.

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After doing some dishes Mikey and I got into the bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label he had purchased the night before. We also got some good games of Backgammon going before going to bed. Below is a picture of Kaikoura at night from the hut.

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Tour progress so far:


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