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Kiwis North of the Equator

Welcome to our travel page. Have a look round, and leave us a comment. We will probably check it regularly because we will be spending just a wee while in the car. We will try to update you on our adventure as often as possible
Love to you all at home.

Diary Entries

Friday, 19 October 2007

Location: USA

The final entry.
We are sitting in LA airport in the same manky terminal as we were in 6 weeks ago almost to the day and time. Doesn't seem as overwhelming to the kids this time, and we know things are heading in the other direction now. Easier waiting here having come from a day at the beach in California than it was off a 12 hour flight and expecting to have anothyer 2 hour flight to Vancouver after 5 hours waiting.
\LA has been a good time for us all. It was great catching up with Karen and Dave and cruisy doing the parks with them. Also much easier than last time when the kids were not keen on some of the rides. This time they did it all, with Jenna conquering the Tower of Terror. My city and fun park fix is over for a few years now! The hotel we stayed in was full of Kiwis and Candians and great. Walking distance to the fun parks, 2 big pools, and really user frindly. 2 stories high so full of courtyards and plants...Yay.
It was loveley to get back to the sea and the beach today. Off the pier we saw a pod of dolphins just beyond the surfies, and later a seal lolling about in the shallows. Wow in the middle of LA!!!
We head home having had a fantastic time. The highlights for me have still been all about the people as I have renewed freindships and made some more. I know the kids will remember the places, but I want to get them to treasure the contacts...we will see if that stuff is as important to them as me.
Back to Chch where Diane has a roast planned for us with some friends around for dinner, and then a drive (short by our latest standards) home to Nelson. Monday is a public holiday so large intake of breath and back to work Tuesday. Erin has exams, Alan needs to teach 5 days to make up time, and Claire has...heaps happening. And Jenna will be Jenna.
It has been fun writing this blog and I know it has kept some in touch with our movements.
Cheers
Claire

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Location: USA

We feel like we are on our third holiday in a row. We finished our geological adventure and had a geological curtain call before hitting the urban America aspect of our trip. Popa Joe is right there hasn't been an entry for a while and we have done so much!
Vegas was a hoot. Mainly for the people watching aspect. Man: eyes wide open. Lots to do for free or very cheap so that is cool. I didn't put one coin in one machine so I wasn't the ideal kind of visitor although Erin was more co-ordinated than most and won the ugliest soft toys I have ever seen on some sideshows. Circus circus was a fun place to stay and the rooms lovely and big. Being on the 29th floor (thanks Jenna!) gave us great views, and we walked the strip to see the lights and free shows outside the hotels. The second night we got half price tickets to a show on ice from Russia that was just fantastic. The buffet got the eyes flashing too!
We got away form Vegas reasonably early for our longest drive (680km) that took us through Death Valley, below sea level and then on into mountains again and into Yosemite over a pass at 10,000 feet. Saying goodbye to the desert environment wasn't a problem for me. I loved the special places we went but the endless nothingness was not me. I often asked....so why would people live here? Astounding environment.
Yosemite presented yet another geologal oddity with huge hunks of rocks famous for rock climbing challenges. We arrived into the valley late, and I went to check the campsite availability. Standing reading the noticeboard and along rocks a bear looking for apples from the tree I was under. Well hello. He was less worried about me than I was wary of him so we smiled at each other and I watched him longer than he watched me before going our merry way. So....... no camera as proof but a cool encounter.
Yosemite also equals PEOPLE....and this was a quiet time of year. We couldn't get a campsite in the valley so had to either travel 30miles backwards or else pay for a canvas sided hut. The latter was the option as it was already 7pm. Some bought food and we settled in for the night. The next day we walked and explored and sat under El Capitain and watched those with a different psychologic demeanor from me. They were tenting up the side of the rock face....now we hadn't explored that option!!!!! Yep whatever pushes your buttons.
We exited the park eventually via the south entry and through the controlled burnoff of the undergrowth We were left with the impression of the park with the worst information in terms of user friendliness and self driving. It was put together in a way that seemed that you needed to ask someone questions to fill in the gaps. Amazing place though.
Onto Visallia around the Western side of the Sierra Nevada and a great visit with Norm and Sheryl. Alan worked with Norm in Aussie a million years ago, and our kids have very fond memeories of being there last time we came.
Great fun games of croquet, lots of talking and catching up and a look at a high school game of football (they could hardly catch the ball....Man what a frustrating game!) including the 52 piece band that played at half time and the cheerleaders and carry on. Erin was enthralled!!! Don't think it would catch on in our communityu somehow!
An early start on Friday and down to Universal Studios. Good shows and special effects. Erin hated the haunted house...you learn something new about your kids every day especially on holiday.
We hit the freeways at 7pm and made our way across LA to Ross Bianca and Kiera's place. It has been great to be in amongst family again and catching up with these guys in their environment. They get the tolerance prize for enduring the much waited for shoppping expedition to Ontario Mills the outlet mall (we had had a test run in Vegas!). Bianca cooked us real tacos last night. I can see they will be on the 102 menu for a while.
We are just back from the park watching baseball, and will go to a proper Mexican restaurant toinght.
Tomorrow is Disneyland and catching up with Dave and Karen. The odometer has 7300km on it and we are going to chill for 3 days with a Disneyland pass and a hotel with a couple of pools before we come home...shock horror...........

Saturday, 06 October 2007

Alan this time, no beard anymore which is a suprise for many.
Bryce Canyon was great in the morning with views down onto deep red sandstone pinnacles. This kept us busy until lunchtime, few hours driving and joined the rest of America at Zion National Park.

Here the views are from the bottom of the Canyon, plus some amazing road construction and tunnels to get the traffic past the sheer cliffs. Huge sandstone massifs and walls, named by the Mormon Settlers so it is very biblical with pulpits, angels tables and apostles. To manage the large number of tourists there are compulsory shuttle buses along the canyon access roads, pre-recorded messages for each bus stop and a lot of signs. Jenna and I went to a Rangers talk in the evening and we can tell you that Squirrel bites are the most common injuries in the park and things to do if threatened by a Mountain Lion!! In the morning we walked up towards the narrowest part of the canyon, but without the hired wetshoes and walking poles available.

An afternoons drive across the top of the Colorado River to the south rim of Grand Canyon, never sure if we were going to be in forest, desert or grasslands as we crossed small passes. Interesting combination of Indian, Morman and European explorers/trails/settler/road building history at roadside stops.

Again back amongst the hordes at Grand Canyon but what a view. A huge RV park and for the first time we wondered if we would be able to get a campsite. Great views last night but no sunrise at dawn due to heavy cloud. But people watching was a good substitute activity. A trip to the visitor centre, some more photos once the sky had cleared, an IMAX film of the Canyon and the start of our drive towards Vegas. Forecast overnight minimum of minus 5 tonight so piked on the camping and all tucked up with a heater in a little cabin, on a small section of the historical 'Route 66'. Tomorrow it should be all Lights and Action in Vegas!!
Towards Las Vegas

Thursday, 04 October 2007

Location: USA

Ok so it is catch up time. We have had so many pleasant extras on this trip that it is hard to document it all. I will go back to Sunday when we left Scarletts in a convoy of 2 cars heading for Sapphire mining. We got the true backcountyry cowboy experience thanks to Scarlett's navigation but had such a cool time in an old town setup for mining sappires with a real candy shop and a bar to lunch in. Great day with Scarlett and her friend Dixie. But goodbye it was and onto a campground just north of Yellowstone that Karen had recommended. Our kids are becoming KOA (Kampgrond of America) junkies as they all have good facilties and usually free wireless!
Into Yellowstone and wow from go. The geothermal was magnificent, and Jenna loved the wildlife. We saw a bear up in a tree and had an hilarious conversation with a ranger who had come out to a "sheep jam" (the cars that is!) and had ended up at a bear jam...you need the accent for this! Our second bear sighting was swamped by these fanatical cameramen with full camoflage on. Oh what!
Through the middle of the park about 4pm and the outside temp changed dramatically. The flash Subaru has an outside temp guage which we have competitions guessing. From 16 down to 3 in no time and then it was snowing! A qiuck family conference and we bailed out to West Yellowstone to a seedy motel that had a solid roof and a heater. Good decision as the night got well below zero, and our next day in the park was like being at the other end of the earth with snow everywhere. A closed pass added an extra 100km to the day but it was worth it. As we exited the park and headed for the Grand Teton National park the sun came out and we got the magnificent views of the 7000ft mountains rising up from a 7000 ft floor. Yep Mt Cook size all of them!
A late arrival at a campsite and set up tent in the dark was a mission but we got up this morning and hit the road for a 750km drive to here in Bryce National Park. Some lovely scenery with fall colours in Northern Utah and the geologist was almost dribbling (and nothing to catch it with?) as we rounded the corner into red canyon. Spectacular is a mild understatement and the 26 degrees a bit of a contrast to 24 hours ago.
So we are camped in the middle of scenery that TV commercials are made of and look forward to the opportunity to explore tomorrow.

Thursday, 04 October 2007

Location: USA

Hello..
Its Erin, this is for you Laurel.
we have had an awesome holiday so far, and my eyes have been opened a wee bit by some of the places we have been through.
After Bigfork at Scarlett's house we drove south th phillipsburg where we mined our own sapphires. It was pretty awesome, and at the moment they are getting heat treated and sent back to NZ so that we can do what we want with them, hopefully earrings. We have been through cowboy country, with lots of people on horses, and watching out for deer on the road at night is something new. I managed to convince my darling parents that staying in the snow in a tent in Yelloiwstone was not a good idea, so we got a little room that was small but warm. We also got to experience the land of Yogi bear in both summer and winter, On day we saw bears, deer, elk and Bison in the wild, and the next with a good 15cm of snow on it. It was pretty cool.
Love to you all
Erin

Thursday, 04 October 2007

Had a fantastic time in Yellowstone. Heaps to tell but it is 7.30am and we want to do 750km today down to Zion National Park from here where we are on the edge of Idaho. I am not sure when we will have coverage again, and these pages take time...needed to put a comment up or else Papa Joe will get grumpy....will do a goody as soon as I can.
Claire

Saturday, 29 September 2007

hiya everyone.We went to an awesome mueseum in drumhellar and saw real dinosaur bones fossils it was cool walking through the dinosaur gardens that were very much like our native bush. we saw people repairing and cleaning a dinosaur nest that they had found close to the mueseum. having a great time and covered 2500km in a week. wow that is a lot of driving. the view is very different from home and we have seen glaciers, prairies, mountains and forest in one week. Hope everyone at home is having a good holiday miss you all
Jenna

Saturday, 29 September 2007

I have just driven back from town having dropped Scarlett at a weeding. I was cruising along in "our" Subaru with the local classic Rock station blaring, past the old brown church, past the wetlands with the formation of Canada geese just leaving, onto the 70mph road with the big mountains in front of me. The mountains are sporting a fashionable frill of snow with a definite snow line on the trees. Turning left at a flashing overhead light I pass the local school which is all in one very large reasonably ugly building. They have snow on the ground for 6 months of the year. Past the christmas tree farm and onto Echo chalet the Road that leads to Scarlett and Justins lovely 3 year old house set in the tress at echo lake. Beautiful. Did I mention that in the 8 mile drive I saw 7 deer?
Now this is what travelling is all about. Getting into the small places and staying with the real people. Scarlett lived with us for 3 months in 2003 when she did a teaching placement at Brightwater. Just so lovely to catch up with her and hang out today. You realise how really well you know someone when you can get back together again like this and feel so cool to be together.
We have had a family insular last 4 days where we have done so much.
We are technically challenged so uploading photos won't happen for a while so description it is!
We left Kamloops on Tuesday and headed to Jasper. OUt of the barrren again and into the mountains. The Canadian Rockies to be exact! Kerry's pass saved our first of 3 lots of $17.80 to get into the park!
Mount Robson winked at us out of the clouds but we appreciated her awesome presence. Into Jasper and a fantastic camp under the trees. OUr first night camping too. Very exciting. We were met by elk wandering through the camp, and then the lovely sound of a male roaring...spine chilling. The one male had his evening ritual through the camp (that has 860 sites!) Jenna went crazy with photos of elk and then lovely little squirrels cruising around.
Wednesday we travelled the majestic road down the length of the Canadian Rockies to Banff via a cold Lake Louise. The glaciers at the top were fantastic especially knowing that if you if you peed at the top it could end up in the The Arctic, Pacific or Atlantic oceans. Well in thoery anyway. It would probably freeze for a few thousand years first! The photos will really show how awesome it was, and even they do it no justice at all.
Camping in Banff after that day was just as lovely in another Park campsite.
Thursday morning we got up and ready for action. Like the night before it got down to close to zero if not below. Great camping weather.
We exited the Rockies as dramatically as we had arrived into them and then hit the plains that sit before the Praires. Miles of Albertan wheat fields with telltale oil rigs chugging away in them. This is the rich province. Half an hour in Calgary traffic reminded us why we were avoiding the cities and then up to Drumheller to the astounding dinosuar museum. Jenna will fill you in on that!
In the car and South averaging 100km/hr on roads that only have right angled corners and signs to warn you when a hill is coming.
We made it to Fort Mcleod and camped in a nice commercial camp that felt like it was in the middle of the train tracks so not the best sleep. Warmer though.
Friday we crossed the border into Montana at a sleepy little crossing. No cross-examination about the car ownership which was good, and into the mountains again. This time with beautiful flourescent yellow alders, (it is fall here!) and beech trees complimenting the mountains and blue lake.
Lovely to be here in Big Fork with more of our family....This world is about places, but mostly about people.
This is such a cool trip....... Oh and Alan looks like a different piece of scenery too......that is just a hint!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Location: Canada

We have experienced the true variety that BC has to offer in the last few days. We left Vancouver for theinfamous Whistler. Wow the road is 100% under construction. Roll on 2010. Beautiful place and the opportunity to stay in Sue and Jeff's condo. Just great. Could have done with a week or so. Manic downhill cycling and rich beautiful people all in one place what a hoot.
The drive north of Whistler and here to Kamloops was apparently a terrible road but the steep climb was in better condition than the average Wellington street so no probs. Absolutely beautiful moving from lush coastal to dry semi-arid...past the rodeo at Deadman's creek!!!! Here in Kamloops we have stayed with a family that met Alan's parents 25 years ago. A dry but interesting environment. Most of the trees are brown and dead as a result of the pine beetle ripping through North America. Wow.
Onto Jasper tomorrow and our first night in tents and the overnight temps are about zero!!! Yahoo!


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Recent Messages

From Gail
Hey! You need to call me before you go! Alan looks ten years younger! How is Mickey?
Response: I don't know when we will call. We ahve just got back from dinner and you will be in bed, and you will have left in the morning before I am up! Will phone form home otherwise!
From poppa joe
you must be busy gambling , no report since Oct 6 ???????
Response: Yes there was...you need to check your dates Papa Joe. In LA and will do a good report tomorrow I promise!
Claire
From Gail
How about some pics of Alan without a beard!!! Sounds like you guys are having a great time. Dad loves your blog!
Response: There are some there. Look closely!!!!
From Walker/Mills
Hi guys - well its a dark day in Kiwiland - oh my god the rugby!! Now its up to the Silver Ferns - no pressure! Hey shoe size US 9 UK 8 Eur 42.5 CM 27 (mens). Schools starts for term 4. Bet you are missing it - not. Your adventure sounds amazing - photos are great. Cheers JJ&Z
Response: Bought some Nikes today...hope they are trendy enough Zoster!!!!
From poppa joe
looks like you are havinga great trip ,a little cold camping . lucky you have a 4x4 you should have snow shovels .Will look forward to seeing you with micky . We had a great Thanksgiving with 10 for turkey . JOE
Response: Having a blast in Vegas. Went to an ice show tonight. Very good.
Claire
From Karen
Wow Erin, your mother must be getting soft. I thought she'd be making you kids shovel off the snow at the campsite so you could pitch your tent. :D

Pictures look great.
Response: On Route 66 tonight. Erin says that next I will be buying her churros in Disneyland! We even had fast food for lunch today?!!! See ya soooooon.
From Diane
Forgot to tell you that your car has been stolen. Hope you've got some insurance! (no such luck!) Seriously though sounds like you're having an awesome trip with the "full monty" of weather etc Put Colorado crowd on train this morning. School on Monday!
Response: Yahoo. Do a couple of hours work for me!!!
From Tavale
Hey hey hey family, looks like you are all having a blast all over the place....do it for your country, do it for world peace, do it for those of us who are still here in Niu Sila waiting for summer....hope you are lapping up every minute of it, kool site, and to follow on from Bruno would you like to vote on the local Lyall Bay council elections, we are deciding on whether or not we should have green bins on tuesdays..I only take yes votes though haha, luff ya, PS Xaviers going for his first job interview next week, oh how time flies....Peace
Response: Hi ya. Good to hear from you. In bling city at the moment. Vegas is a wierd place!
From Gail
Your pics are wonderful! What is the comment about Alan????
Sounds like you are having a great time. Not too cold for you??
Wish I was there.
Love you all.
Gail
Response: hey how about catching a plane to LA for a couple of days?
From Alison & Hal
Great site. Sounds like you're having a great time. Enjoy the rest of your holiday - hope to see you in New Zealand sometime !!!!!
Response: You better get there. You could hire a motorbike or 2!
From Elena
Hey guys - imgaining you camping up in dem dar hills and then scooting across dem dar prairies !! Just printed my own photos of Van Is so interesting to compare climates. Great that you're having such a wonderful time - not surprised with all your contacts and interests ! It's raining here today -yeah !! Got back from a beach-side holiday with 8 children and wild weather which we all enjoyed and survived - including Joselani who spent his first ever 2nights away from Mum !! I still look out for your car/s from time to time then remind myself that you are far away! Keep having a funtastic time ..lovely to get the messages and pics. Love in abundance to you all -
elena
Response: About to hit Yellowstone tomorrow! Yahoo!
From Gaye
Hi Travellers, great website you've set up!! Whistler looks fab, I think I need to have a winter holiday there! Enjoying hols here, last week at Pohara, gorging on scallops. Enjoy your travels, Gaye.
Response: Bonjour!
You have a great time too.
From poppa joe
O. K. it is now Fri. and no report sice Tues . Where are you ?????
Response: You just expect so much to happen so quickly!!!!! The age of technology.Give us a break Poppa Joe!
From Walker/Mills
Yo dudes
Sounds like you guys are having a very cool time!! Yehaa.
Started my new job and there is a lot to learn. All going well so far. Brain is on overload though. Jdub & Zoe are hanging out during the holidays. Film fest is on so John is catching some great movies. We have had an American visitor staying with us for a couple of days so everyone but me been doing lots of day sightseeing. Zoe fits size 10 Nike boots (NZ) it would be awesome if you are able to get some. Your pavlovas sound good!! Cheers guys and keep on keeping on!! Love to y'all.
Response: Cool. Is that men's or womans? Go and get her to try some on and give us all of the sizes on the label, especially the US one!
Things are great. Kids at the hot pools, I am out by the fire pit outside the tent...technology!!!
From Linda
Really enjoying keeping up with your adventures - holidays here, but seem a little tame! Looking forward to hearing about the camping experience - are there bears in them thar hills??
Response: Yep. Seen evidence but will probably see the real thing in Yellowstone in the next couple of days!!!
From keith & trish
We are glad to see you are enjoying spectacular BC and it's abundant fire hydrants. Gail told us about your sight, glad to see you are having fun. We look forward to the updates.
Response: Cool to have so many people keeping up with us!!!
From Karen
I take it you haven't smashed up my car yet, seeing as you've made your way to Vancouver. Good going! :D

Praying weather holds out for you until you make your way south. And looking forward to hitting Disneyland together next month.
Response: Ther are so many admirers of ou flash sobaaaaru!!!
From Gail
Good to see you updated this! I miss you guys already. Hope you have a good time at Whistler. Thanks for helping Dad with the roofing (but after all you are family)! Keep in touch and hugs to all.
Response: Think you should be with us!
From Bruno
Hi Guys,
Cool site. Very envious!
Boring stuff for you but: the ASTE/TIASA amalgamation ballot is currently out (till 27th Sept). Do you want me to fill yours out? (I only do yes votes though!!!).
Bruno
Response: Yes please for both of us.
From Katie
Hey guys!
Looks awesome - will have a crack at loading your pics on to a stick and putting them up on our big TV so Grandma can maybe see them. I visited Sandra and boys last week so got a few pics of the wee Deakin for her to check out as well!
Have fun!
Love Katie, Anne and John (the flatties...)
Response: Say hi to the olds/flatties. Would be great to show grandma photos.
Cheers
Claire
From Elena et al
Hey darlings - this is a fantastic system and I can so imagine you doing your thngs where you are !! You will be sad/shocked to learn that Ian Marriott died of a stroke this weekend....I know !! I went up to say goodbye to him today and also give him your thoughts Alan - full of life an gone at 52 - a message in there about doing what you're doing !! We're off to 4th birthday and christening this weekend so will tuck you in the spaces !! Love as ever to you all xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Response: Frosty phoned us with the Ian news. Wow. My comment was exactly about doing what we are doing! Love to all.
Claire
From Janita
its a nice day in dunedin..beautiful and sunny..just lacking the temperature!ha. 2days of school left then heading home on sunday...going via the west coast and going up glacier with friend so should be good. Go in for the operation on the 3rd Oct. Say gidday to the girls and Allan. Make another pav 4 me! Can't wait for the hippie tea when you return :-) :-) :-) :-) might make it a weekly affair!!! xo The olds and kirst say hi.
Response: Go girl. do as much as you can before the op as it will help the rehab heaps. Looking forward to getting you sorted when you come home. Hippie meals all go!
From Karyn and Mark
What a fantastic time you guys are having. I am VERY envious!!!
Keep the updates coming, its great. X
Response: Hope all is good with you and yours!!! Claire
From Scarlett
Yes, you can still get to me. They are repairing the road that goes through the top of the park. You can still drive around. And when you're here, we can still see a bit of the park!!
Response: OK. We will check before we come through that it is still closed. Looking forward to it. Will phone when we know exct dates as it keeps changing. Fine if you have wedding...we are independent!!!!!
From Scarlett
Looks like you're having fun!! Have a wedding on the 29th, but pretty flexible!! Glacier will be closed at top but you will LOVE Jellystone!
Response: Sounds good. Does that mean we can't come down through Glacier national park to get to you? Happy to work around whatever.
Claire