Donating my hair is something I have done for years, but let me tell you a little back story. My first year of teaching I was an intervention teacher. One of my students, let's call her F., asked me to read Because of Anya with her. Of course I said ok, and taught the skills I wanted to teach through the book she chose. Little did I know how much the book would change my life. My second year of teaching I had F. in my classroom. She asked if I could read Because of Anya as a read a loud. Of course, again, I said yes. It was a book that we finished in two seatings in class because the students loved the book. The students talked about the book a little after we finished it, but that was really it. My third year of teaching I had the F's little sister, we will call her R. in my room. She also asked if we could read the book as a read a loud. Here is where the story starts to change.
I read it out loud. The day after we finished the book. I greeted my students at the door, which I always do, and commented that the R. had a beautiful hair cut. She grinned from ear to ear, and said, "I have a surprise for you." She stopped, opened her backpack, and handed me her pony tail, and then reached back into her bag. The next thing would bring tears to anyone's eyes. She pulled out her sister F's ponytail. She told me they had been growing their hair out since the first time I read it with the F. my first year of teaching, three years eariler.
During the day we researched the best place to send their hair, little did they know, I actually called my hairdresser, and had an appointment for as soon as school was out. I figured if those little girls could cut their hair, so could I. The next day, I brought my ponytail to school, and we mailed all three of them off together. Since I have been home I actually ran into their mother in a store. Now mind you, they asked me to keep cutting my hair off as it grew long enough whenever I could. I promised I would, but never really thought they would do it also. This promise was six years ago. The first thing their mother said was, "I love your hair cut, did you just chop your hair off? The girls have and appointment next week to do the same." How cool is that? Two little girls in second and third grade decided to grow their hair out, cut it off when they were in fourth and fifth grade, and are still keeping their promise.
The research is kind of confusing so let me share with you what I have found through the years. Here is a list of the best I have found that will help the most amount of people. I have found some will only donate hair to people with permeant hair loss, and I want people with cancer to be able to benefit from my hair also.
Here are some options...
Pantene Beautiful Lengths
“Beautiful Lengths is a partnership between Pantene® and the American Cancer Society®, the largest nonprofit health organization committed to saving lives from every cancer and improving the quality of life for people facing the disease. The role of Pantene is to help women grow long, strong*, beautiful hair and provide the funds to turn this hair into free, real-hair wigs for women with cancer. So far, Pantene has donated 24,000 free real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig banks, which distribute wigs to cancer patients across the country.”
REQUIREMENTS: Must be at least 8 inches or 20 cm. Helps people who have hair loss from cancer. Can not be colored and no more than 5% grey.
Pantene Beautiful Lengths
806 SE 18th Ave.
Grand Rapids, MN 55744
Pantene Beautiful Lengths Promotion
PO Box 6331
Frenchs Forest NSW 2086
Pantene Beautiful Lengths
PO Box 302-003
North Shore City, 0751
Wigs for Kids
“For over 30 years, Wigs for Kids has been providing Hair Replacement Systems and support for children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, Alopecia, Trichotillomania, burns and other medical issues at no cost to children or their families.”
REQUIREMENTS: minimum of 12 inches, No Chemically treated or colored hair, No Grey hair, No dreadlocks, please make sure that the hair is clean & dry before sending
24231 Center Ridge Road
Westlake, Ohio 44145
Click here for form to donate
Children With Hair Loss
“Children With Hair Loss was created as a resource forALL CHILDREN who have medically-related hair loss. It is our mission to empower these children to become whole again by making hair replacement available to those who may be financially challenged and might otherwise not have a means of obtaining the hair they want and need.
Our goal is to assist as many of these children as possible in changing their lives by improving their outlook and empowering them with a degree of self-confidence that will allow them to face the world with renewed self-esteem.”
Children With Hair Loss
12776 Dixie Hwy
S. Rockwood, MI 48179
Click for form to donate
So who is ready to go read Because of Anya, and get a hair cut?
"Programs get you Programs" or "Churro Churro get your Churro" all sounds of baseball at Texas Ranger Stadium, oops I mean Globe Life Park. We all have those memories or traditions around a sport we have grown to love all of our life, with those you love. My tradition with the game I have loved, since Nolan Ryan pitched, is Opening Day at the ballpark with my Dad. The smell of popcorn, the rumble of the stadium during a home run (which we didn't get this opening day), the first crack of the bat all send chills down my skin especially on opening day. Now that I live in Australia I do not get a lot of time with my family, so the traditions we have mean more now than ever, being so far away.
The day started like any other baseball game with us arriving early enough to see the ballpark open and the staff set up for the rush. In our family we do not like to be late and sometimes are very early and use the time to walk around and visit friends we through the seasons. As the 48,885 fans stirred around we found our seats as this year they are on the lower level, a ways away from the upper deck of years past. From our previous birds eye view to being able to see the squint of the pitchers eyes as he went into the wind up, we knew that this year will for sure bring a new level of excitement for us on this opening day.
As the fans stood for the National Anthem and the planes flew over with a roar, it made me proud to be an American, and then the announcer said the best words at the stadium, "It's Baseball time in Texas". As the announcer finished saying Texas, I looked to my Dad, he was like a giddy school kid. He lives for Ranger baseball. This year the real opening pitch was thrown by a retired injured military purple heart recipient, whom was escorted to the field by none other than former President of the United States of America, George W. Bush. While the other first pitch, the ceremonial first pitch, was thrown by the current governor of Texas, who was injured while out running one night in 1984. Opening day is like Christmas morning for my Dad, especially in our new seats for the season. Inning after inning we cheered our team as Dad and I talked about how this could be a long season, but we are still fans no matter what. The Rangers did not play as well as hoped. As the 5th inning came around, I knew I was in Texas as they played the normal "Deep in the Heart of Texas".
As the game wound down, the fans were still excited to be watching the Rangers at home but had anticipation of a long, but fun year. Opening day is fun no matter if you win or loose. Being a Nolan Ryan fan since I was 6, I will say the park is not the same without him and I did miss looking down and seeing Nolan in his normal seat beside the dugout.
Leaving the stadium I took another look at the park that gave me memories with my Dad and already started counting the days till 2016 opening day.
What is a tradition that revolves around a sport with your family?
As soon as we came back from New Zealand I headed over to Texas for some family time. Landing back on home turf after being away for almost a year, there were many things I miss, but it is the people in my life that I have missed the most. My Dad picked me up from the airport, and off I went on my adventure at home spending the first few days with my Nanny, Pawpaw and Dad.
My first day back in the states I spent with my Pawpaw. I did not start the day taking pictures because I never thought I would make a blog post about just hanging out at home. I write my blog to encourage people to travel, let people see what we are up to, a place to put my pictures, encourage people to make memories, or to make people ponder a topic. I didn't think a day with my 80 year old Pawpaw really fit any of those topics. Oh was I wrong. My Pawpaw is one person in my life that has always told me to never be afraid of others, and he taught me to stick up for myself no matter what, and so many more life lessons. We may have never shared a conversation over a cup of coffee, but we have had many over a can of Dr. Pepper. Thinking back through the years, he and I have spent several hours out in the wood shop building stuff I dreamed up or fixing furniture he had found on his walks.
My first morning back in the states the alarm clock sounded after a not so sleepy night with the jet lag, but up and at em I went. To the kitchen to be greeted by my Nanny whom was getting ready for work, and of course a Dr.Pepper to start off my day. Before I knew it, Pawpaw and I had already laid sod, pulled a tree down with the truck, cut the tree up, and worked on fixing a hole on the house, it wasn't even lunch yet. Not too bad for my first day back. At times through the day he obliged me by allowing me to capture this day in picture, that so many times in the past I wish I had done. I don't think he thought I was going to write a post about him, but little did he know. Only resting for our Dr. Pepper breaks and the occasional vanilla Oreo, we wound up the day with both of us tuckered out in hopes of a much needed hard rest. After a quick shower to wash off the grime from the hard days work, we got cleaned up before Nanny got home, and just like always I told her about the adventures Pawpaw and I had during the day. Then off to dinner we went before turning in for the night to prepare for the next full day. They have both been examples of hard work, dedication, and other important lessons that they have passed down to me even when I was not listening or looking. Who in your life has ever left you with such life lessons that you never knew they were teaching you?
I started thinking about half way though the day "you know days like this are all about making memories." Everyday moments are what memories are about. I have so many memories out in my Pawpaw's shop building things, following him around, and hours just talking and arguing. Little did I know he was really teaching me life lessons, work hard, earn money, stand firm with your beliefs, but take time to listen and make memories doing everyday things.
Getting to travel and explore new things is exciting but everyday moments are what really matters. If you do not remember to stop and enjoy everyday moments you will let life pass you by. So thanks for indulging me and reading a post just about everyday life. How many times do you stop and pinch yourself while asking, "Is this really my life?" Regardless if you get to explore new worlds or stay at home, it is the everyday moments that make your life count. Are you making the most out of your everyday moments?
TAKE MONEY! I thought Australia was expensive...until I went to New Zealand. When we were in Queenstown we ate at Furgburger for the simple fact it was $16.00 for a burger that fed us both. On average I saw fish and chips $30.00. None of our hotels had kitchens. I should have researched that a bit more. Gas was also outrageous. We rented a Toyota Corolla, it coast $73.00 to fill up.
Climbing the glacier and white water rafting all required us to wear their gear all the way down to their shoes.Be prepared to wear their clothes. If you are a germaphobe take a chill pill and just put on their clothes. Look at this as a positive though, less to pack.
Just drive. If you have free time just hop in car and drive. The scenery was amazing. We could not believe what we would see just driving around. Now saying just drive, be prepared to get there slow. In the area we were in didn't have many straight parts on the road. Allow yourself plenty of time. Stop at the lookout points, there is a reason they made a stop there. We couldn't pick up many radio stations but we had our cord and iPhone and had a blast jamming down the road making memories.
Be prepared to go outside. New Zealand is full of adventure go experience it. There were many free trails that were marked great around every town we visited.
Be flexible. Most of the time our tours and adventures were late, but make sure you are on time. The companies don't mind running late but one of our guides said it best. "We don't care if you make the tour or not, you made the booking." Allow a lot of time in between each tour, none of our adventures ended on time.
Wear layers. Every day we were in New Zealand we experienced all four seasons. Don't forget the most important layer, a rain coat.
Bring lotion. The air was much dryer than we are use to. Our skin was really dry.
Bring a good camera, the sights are amazing. Make sure you enjoy your family and surroundings. Don't waste it looking through a camera. Stick in a ziplock bag that your camera will fit in. It can start raining out of no where. Someone else shared this tip, hang your camera around your neck and put bag around camera tucking in the open side to your body, or put in day pack with ziplock closed. This worked perfect for us.
If there is something you really want to do, book it before you go. If there is stuff you would like to do but wouldn't be disappointed if you missed them, book when you get here. Most tours we saw were completely packed, but did see some last minute openings. Check Groupon, Living Social, and Grab One for local deals, there were some good specials when were there.
Most important have fun and go make memories!!!
It's hot and humid dress appropriately. Some temples require a skirt over knees for girls or long pants, long pants for boys and sleeves that cover shoulders for both. I thought I would be smart and bring a scarf to help with dress code, they do not accept this anywhere. They only require this in certain areas, dress how you need to so you can be cool and bring the required in your bag. We wore zip off pants. They were great to help with layers. A sarong would be accepted for the skirt and would be lightweight in your pack.
Bring fun things for the kids. There are kids everywhere. Do not buy from them. All the local people we had as guides told us this encourages them not to be in school, and beg. We bought candy and gave them, they would quickly quit working and turn into a kid as soon as you pulled out the candy.
Bring old stuff and shed stuff. Things are cheap to buy. Don't think you have to bring everything. Pants run around $3.00 and shirts about the same. Dress like the locals. Or plan to do laundry. Most hotels or guest houses charge $1.00 a kg.
Learn how to use Asia toilets and bum guns. They are everywhere. I never quite mastered the Asia toilet, anyone have pointers? Yeah and never tried the bum gun. Only Vietnam really had toilet paper, so bring some along for everywhere else.
Bring your unlocked phone and buy a SIM card here. We bought one for $9.00 2g of data and $5.00 of calls charging $0.03 a minute with no connection charge.
Have an open mind. Go for any adventure thrown your way. You do not come to Asia to stay in your comfort zone. Don't come to Cambodia if you don't want to experience the culture. One of our guides said it best, "when you stay in really nice hotels, eat at really nice places, and only stay with tourist, you miss out on the best part, the people. The nice tourist places are paid to smile at you. It isn't genuine." Our hotels were in no way five stars, and yes I was a little worried about them when we decided to go, but the experiences we had were amazing and memories were made!
I have had many people ask about the people invading my personal space. I have a pretty big personal space bubble. I only had my bubble popped in Vietnam a couple of times at the market. Other than that everyone pretty much stayed out of my bubble.
Now in saying that be prepared to be pampered! Josh and I both got 5 one hour massages, that's 10 hours of massages and our bill was less and $60.00 total.
Bring American cash to Cambodia. They function with American bills and theIr money for coins. Their money is 4000 to one $1.00 so it feels crazy giving 3000 for $0.75. Most things are $1.00 so bring mostly ones. As for budgets we brought $50.00 each for every day. We did everything we wanted to activity wise, ate what we wanted, had many massages, and still came home with money.
Go to markets and never accept the first price they give you. Usually you can talk them down to about half of the initial price.
Wear some kind of hiking sandle. It is very dusty and really hot. Tennis shoes would be nasty with the dirt and sweat.
For a day pack bring a small backpack like a camelbak. It was not so big we bumped into anything and if we didn't feel safe we could put it under our arm. Perfect size for everything we needed to carry around.
Relax! They do most things the "Cambodian way" and it works for them.
Most important go make memories!
Need more ideas? Click Asia at the top of the page and look at all our Asia posts.
Waking up for yet another early morning, we headed out about the same time we drove into town. We finally would get to see the sites along the road that we drove in on in the dark of night. As we pulled out of town we got to see the start of the many one lane bridges and we could now see beyond the guardrails. On the first of journey the roads were lined with ferns three meters high, lush green grass, and thick evergreens that had seemingly never had missed a drink of water. The mountain trees were as thick as a tightly woven basket, and at times you would see where they had fallen down the side of the mountain like dominoes taking all in their path. With every turn was an even more stunning view with waterfalls coming down the side of mountains after the fresh night rain. At one point we dodged out to the sea as the sun was raising and we took a leisure stroll along the rocky shores that were littered with drift wood. You could also see the stone stacks that are hikers marks to show they had been there.
Driving away from the sea and further inland we started to see the same size massive mountains that were only covered in the native hill grass with bear tops. Then further along the road the mountain side turned green with padlocks speckled with sheep. The road became a little more straight and a bit busier as the locals and tourist came alive. The sea side views turned into these large lakes that contained the melted snow runoff. The small towns became larger and larger as we went, and as we traveled along we remembered there was a puzzle museum an hour out from Queenstown.
Pulling into the puzzle place, we saw all of the kids and adults playing in the front with some of the stationary props, and being big kids ourselves we ran to the ticket counter with joy. First we took on the four corner maze that looked much easier than it actually was to complete. We found the first tower with ease and struggled on the other ones a bit. From there we came inside for a snack and to play some of the table puzzles. Our last but least task was the illusion rooms. I have to say that it is one of the coolest places you can take a kid or husband because they can play for hours in the different rooms that ranges from the tilting house to the picture gallery of 3D photos and much more. Exhausted and with only two hours before our flight checkin, we drove down to the city center to check out the lake front and to get one last glimpse of this side of the world. Then on our way back to Queenstown we went along the hairpin curves that I now think it was for the better we drove in the dark the first time because they were intense. Along the way and ten minutes outside town we called in our last Fergburger. Food in hand and the gas tank now full we pulled into the airport to drop the car, and to the ticket counter we went. As the lady said those words we don't like to hear at the end of a trip, "Mr and Mrs Thomason here are your boarding passes and that way to your gate. It was a fun filled trip and one we will not forget.
What is a place you have gone as an adult and acted like a kid?
Having some travel arrangement difficulties, we got a spot on the early helicopter ride to the glacier. I relied on a travel agent with this trip, my first and only time. She scheduled our flight home and helicopter ride at the same time. The helicopter people were amazing and fit us in during their only open slot. The only problem was that we had a five hour drive to get there, so at the early morning hour of one a.m. we set off to Franz Joseph. The night before we stocked up on a one liter coke and cookies for our early morning snack along the drive. We made the turn out of Queenstown down what we thought would be a somewhat straight shot to our destination.
After the first ten curves we realized it was not such a straight shot, but we persevered along the dark and windy road not too sure of the sites beyond the reach of the headlights. The moon however acted as a nightlight shinning on the side of the mountains and gleaming off the lakes as we passed. It was like Gods way of showing us the way when we were unsure what was off the edge of the cliffs we went around. Half way into our trip I nodded off as Josh continued to drive, while blaring the music on our phones through the car speakers. There were a series of one lane bridges that we could only imagine what was on the outer rails. From time to time I would awake to see bunnies running about and it made me smile as it was Easter morning and it looked like they were running around hiding the Easter eggs. We passed outlook signs, park entrances, waterfall signs, and more what seemed like interesting sites but no way would we have been able to enjoy them in the night. At one point I awoke and pointed to a snow topped mountain that was glimmering in the night acting like a lighthouse guiding us to the town.
The sun started to lighten the dark night sky as we pulled into town and quickly we found a spot for breakfast because we were both starving. After finishing we soon realized this was not a smart move because we were now full and our bodies were saying nap time. Knowing we had no time to waste, off to adventure we went with excitement flowing through us. The lady at the counter gave us a form to sign our life away and pointed us toward the boot room to collect our gear. Boots, spikes, rain gear, gloves, socks, and a beanie collected we took off toward the helicopter pad. Standing on the pad and from our sites around town, the glacier seemed no bigger than a frozen over ice cap that could hardly park the helicopter on. But as we loaded the helicopter and winded our way up the mountain, the small ice cap became this oversized sheet of ice that seemed wedged between the two mountain peeks. We landed on the helicopter pad at the mid base of the glacier and were escorted quickly over to the meeting station to strap on our spikes. One lady in our tour groups piped up and said she thought it was a quick land on and small walk around. After the guide informed her it would be a three hour hike, you could see she was going to need help getting around the ice.
We started the hike at the back of the pack to allow us time to enjoy each other and to not be pushed along amongst the masses. The tour guide was not as informative as Yoshi, but she was just as entertaining. We started our hike up a set of carved our stairs and over these massive blocks of ice. The crevices at times were large enough to fit a horse into and small enough that the melting water could easily disappear to not be seen till out the bottom. Up and down we went and at times our eyes were drawn to the avalanches of melting ice blocks thundering in the middle of the glacier. Looking up at times to enjoy the view and sights, we would pause a bit to think of those whom first discovered this and the first to see it up close. From time to time our group would pause for pictures with us still acting up at the back like kids on a snow day. The most fascinating parts was the crevices and how blue the ice became the deeper it got, and the pools of glacier water that was awaiting its turn to head down the river and into the sea after being deposited years ago possibly during the last ice age.
The sun started to hide behind the low laying clouds and the temperature starts to cool off a bit. Our guide pointed us back to the helicopter as we had been impressed by this marvel of a mass that seemed so small from far away, but so large after covering only less than a quarter of it in three hours. Again as the helicopter arrived and the guide pointed us to our seats, the ride down made you feel so small in such a beautiful place.
As we landed into the base, we off loaded and headed to the changing room to kick off the gear to find something to eat. Not having to walk far, we saw a restaurant that seemed like Chinese food, but after reading the menu that was partly true as they also served Indian, Thai, Chinese, and a few others. We had the Thai curry with the sample platter of spring roles, wantons, and chicken wings. All in all it was not a bad meal by any means.
Sagging rear ended and droopy eyes by this point we were off to the hotel and a quick nap, which may have last longer than a quick nap should have lasted, five hours, oops.
Rested and ready we went off to explore the town but found little to do, so we found what looked like the nicest restaurant in town called The Landing. Again another awesome meal as I had the Kiwi version of fish and chips and Josh had the lamb shanks with veggies. The night was young but with little to do, but after the long drive in and not much to do we turned in for the night.
The clouds rolled over the mountains like the fluffy white wool on the sheep's back just before the sun was to appear in the morning sky. From peak to peak the clouds traveled with some of them touching the lower levels as if they had fallen to see the beauty of the land. Again words can not describe the seamless dance Mother Nature was displaying with every kilometer traveled. The sheep were already scouring the sides of the mountains and walking on the self made terraces to keep from falling off the side. You could tell they had a full day ahead of grazing perhaps before the rain was due to set in. We came upon beef and dairy cows as well that were enjoying a morning graze. Our bus driver from time to time would explain some of the sites along the long and twisty road. It was interesting to learn of the massive lakes between Queenstown and Te Ano were carved years ago by the large glaciers. Some of the lakes were as deep as 400 meters below sea level.
We also learned about the quaint little towns along the way that were reflecting of the yester years when gold mining was big business in this part of New Zealand. Only the general store and maybe the town hotel were all that were left of most towns.
We arrived to our town to only be greeted by our personal hiking guide for the day Yoshi. She gathered the bus driver to take us along to catch the ferry to the end of the longest lake in the country stretching miles and miles long. Along the way we got to learn more about our guide and the driver who laughed and cut up to make the drive shorter. The door flew open on the bus, and to the waters edge we went for the boat across the bay to where civilization ceased to exist except those whom were tracking the trails of the forest. A team of two men boarded the boat with a green soccer ball like machine that had cameras every other patch of the ball. Before I could go ask, he said "I am sure you all are wondering so it is a Google Earth machine that I will strap to my back to log the trails." So check out Milford track in New Zealand we should be at the start of the Google Earth footage. Making our way across the pristine lake through the morning air gave us a sense of the remoteness as you could not see evidence of people anywhere in site from shore to shore. The mountains on each side greeted us with sites of bare tops with ninety degree drops and the trees holding on.
Our boat docked and off we went down the trail. Our immediate reaction was how every fern was positioned perfectly and every tree was sporting lush green moss. Yoshi pointed out the different types of trees, moss, birds, and other interesting things in the evenly shaded forest. One of our favorites was the puff ball mushroom. When you squeeze it this red makeup like dust would explode out into the air. We hiked along the trail in aw until we happened upon a cabin stationed for the hikers who dawn the trail and this one would be their first stop. We went inside and Yoshi had planed it perfect because our brunch was freshly waiting on us. After we walked around the 100 year old cabin and only imagined some of the stories and tall tales that had been told by the fire or down by the bank of the fridged river.
Boots back on we went to explore the massive mountains that dwarft us and the cabin that could sleep up to 50 hikers a night. The Google Earth guy passed us just as we started our journey, about 1.2k into the trail. We soon came across a swinging bridge that spanned the wide banks of the river and looked to come in handy during the snow melt as the river breached its banks. Further on the track we picked back up with the river and stood again in aw of the natural beauty around. We eventually came to what was referred to as the wet lands part of the trail where the canopy of the trees gave way to an open field where you could see that we were surrounded on all sides by glacier cut mountains. Our guide soon called us back as we ventured around just looking up. Ducking back into the forest trail, Yoshi pointed out more things along the way and at times we felt stalked by the small fantailed bird whom seemed to be infatuated with us. Circling back to the cabin we rested and off to the final hike. This hike was more off the beaten path and more cutting your own trail through the wilderness. Along this path we found a moss covered log that looked like a shaggy dog, tree roots that looked as if they should have been buried deep within the soil but unable to penetrate the hard rock of the mountain. However the roots were covered in a blanket of moss that was about three inches thick. Again yet another fantailed bird joined us flying from tree to tree as we went rock to rock along the trail. Popping out of the forest we found ourselves upon an old riverbed that was still trickling water from the melting snow caps from atop of the mountain. Jumping from bolder to bolder and playing around the bed, we had a quick sip of the fresh water to then head down the mountain to catch the boat back.
As we boarded the boat back to civilization, you can't help but to reflect on the mountains they were on the crystal clear water. Looking back at the pristine land we just left, you had a much greater appreciation for nature with all that make it beautiful. Landing at the dock, the bus was there to take us to town to fetch a venison pie that Yoshi spoke of all day. Bellies full we loaded the second bus toward Queenstown to catch some shut eye for the early morning to come.
With a fresh cup of coffee, a coke, and a light breakfast we set off to find our adventure for the day which was not so warm or dry. We gathered at the shop to head off to see the the adventure that most are frightened to think about, and that I have always been scared to try due to my back. My back and cold water have never mixed well, at all. There was a quote just outside the gathering point that said "life begins where your comfort zone ends''. So like any challenge one faces we headed off with nervous but excited spirits. I won't lie I was more than nervous, scared would be correct adjective.
As we arrived and collected the gear, one could only think with this much gear required this MUST be a dangerous. We shortly loaded on the bus to the launching point. Along the way we passed the fields that were speckled with the New Zealand sheep and green lush fields of kale, turnips, and other vegetation that is grown mostly for winter feed before the green is covered in a blanket of snow. As we made our way off the main road, our guide informed us of a sign that states that all rental insurance ends here. Not thinking of the mountainside road ahead we did not give it much thought, but as we wound our way along the cliff side road you could see why, with every turn you would clinch the seat in hopes that a car was not coming around the bend. Then from turn to nail biting turn you would look out the window only to see no road below, check out video in post. Every now and then you would see some wild sheep grazing along the extremely steep side of the mountain as if they were grazing in the flats of the valleys.
Arriving to the bank of the frigid waters, the guides split us off into teams for our journey ahead. The guides came around and personally checked everyone's helmet, wet suit, wet shoes, water proof jacket, life jacket, and knowledge of how to hold a paddle. While they checked your gear every guide asked you if you could swim. At this point of the adventure, scared would no longer be the correct adjective. Our boat captain for the adventure went by the name of Chief and he was a rather entertaining character that had a laugh like Rafiki off the Lion King. He could tell I was a little scared, and sat me close to him in the boat. He assured me we would be ok, "it was his first day,"
We shoved off the bank toward the lower banks floating back and forth playing what seemed like a game of leap frog amongst the other boats. Some boats broke out singing Belgium pop songs, 90's hits, and others quiet as a church mouse scared of what rapid was around the next bend. Chief was preparing us up river as we did drills to get ready for the rapids below. He would tell us to lean left, hold, down, and other commands that were essential during the rapids to avoid flipping over. Passing a few difficult spots mid river he also found the command, "Come on Josh, paddle harder" as he was the only guy on our side of the boat. Turn by turn and rapid after rapid we got down, leaned left or right as Chief would command loudly as the freezing water splashed as high to only rain down inside our rain jumpers. We do not have an professional pictures because me being a scaredy cat, I got down so low, I was not in any pictures. As soon as the water came in and Chief gave the down command, I was gone. His addictive Rafiki laugh rang out as we worked down the river and through each rapid. After one of the bigger rapids we tied up our boat and waited on the other groups to pass the narrow rapids, which proved to be challenging for all but for a boat load of Belgium boys it was rather terrifying as their raft tipped, putting them into the fridged water. Their faces showed terror as they came out of the bottom rapid, and their female boat captain wrestled the raft to tip it back over.
Approaching the end of the river we saw a cave approach and Chief told us to prepare as we entered the football field length narrow cave. As we approached the end we saw the final rapid that was a relief in a way and sad as it noted the end of the trip. Paddles high five in the air as we made it the entire river without tipping over exclaimed Chief. We pulled out boat ashore and dumped off our gear for a quick shower.
The bus arrived back in town and we of course had to get another Fergburger. With our bellies full and desert to enjoy while sitting on the pier, we enjoyed the afternoon in a relaxing way by taking in the town sites.
With my ADD, I soon got board and we headed off to the small quit town of Arrowtown. We explored the historic town while taking in a pizza at the New Orleans hotel. Before getting in the car to drive back we went down to the river and explored like kids, helped burn the extra calories. The night was setting in and it was time to head back to the flat for a quick sleep for an EARLY morning rise.
Still working on the GoPro skills...enjoy
Sorry, we have no action shots. Like I said, "I was scared!" Every time our guide yelled down, I got down so far the camera guy couldn't catch a photo. Maybe next time.
With an early start to of the day the alarm sounded loudly with the excitement ahead screaming loudly. Like any of our adventures we gathered the passports and headed to the airport, this trip was the final part of the promised trip. In Australia Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays so we figured, why not go to New Zealand for Easter. When the lady handed is our boarding passes the excitement started.
Flying into New Zealand, it looked as if there was a blanket of green laid out across the mountains. The sea was crashing into the shore as if it was cooing home for the first time in years, yes this is one of the seemingly pristine lands we have been to upon our travels. The plane landing into our destination was exciting to say the least. The plane wings glided into the mountains like a bird spying the ground for prey, and it was one of the most interesting experiences one can have as you pass the snow capped mountain tops from what seemed like an arms reach.
As we landed into the iconic Queenstown, NZ we were greeted with a burst of mountain crisp fresh air. After retrieving our rental car keys, off we were to drive on the "other side" of the road, and just incase we forgot you could peer down at the speedometer to see two rather large arrows there pointing "KEEP LEFT". We were informed more than once by locals, signs, and notes in car to keep left. I guess foreigners come over here and forget, with all the signage, this was a real problem. As we wound our way through the streets of town we dodged out to drive along the water and back again to the rather quaint little town. We continued to wind our way quickly to the hotel to be greeted once again by the waters edge of the crystal clear lake that seemingly reflected the mountains as if they were using it as a mirror.
We found the room and chunked down our bags to not waste time as we wanted to explore the sites around town. The city streets and quaint little shops reminded us of the backdrop of a city hidden in the mountains of Colorado. Walking along the water my mind went peaceful as I basked in the beauties that we are blessed to see, but no words can describe. The mountains that surrounded the lake were sporting cotton candy like clouds around their peeks as the ducks dove in the cold waters of the lake catching their dinner. Everyone we talked to about going to Queenstown said, "You have to eat at Furgburger." So of course we stopped at Furgburger and had "lupper." It was a pretty good hamburger, if I do say so myself.
We happened upon on interesting shop that gave the unique experience of minus 5 degree Celsius. So being the adventure type, we had to try the experience. Slapping on our parkas and ugg boots, we found ourselves deep in the ice house that gave us the experience of drinking out of ice glasses and sitting on ice furniture. If you are headed to Queenstown, check out grabone.com they had a great coupon for the ice house. The house had several intricately carved sculptures to admire and for a photo opp. With Josh's legs frozen and my fingers like icicles, we finished our drinks to warm up in the not so warm outside. Our bodies really had not been cold since we moved to Australia, so we were really enjoying the temperature.
Walking back to the hotel with an appreciation for the city we kept wondering why would you ever leave a place like this, but then we realized with each new place comes a unique adventure like the many we have seen (plus the many to come). With a quick nod and a wink we turned in for the night after taking in the night air with a warm cup of tea before bed.