(From my phone.)
New Zealand in green, blue and black + white.
From my phone.
No fish were harmed on this trip (i.e. none were caught).
I've been all over the map the last few months.
Scott and I left New Zealand to expand EditMate into Australia (and explore along the way), then headed back over the Pacific for a day of swimming in everything that's glorious about America (filtered coffee! right side of the road driving!) in LA before landing in Austin, TX for a week of wedding festivities and taco hangovers. Then, we headed north to Massachusetts where we've settled into my beloved Jamaica Plain, for a TBD amount of time.
More on all of that soon.
Until then, here's a few photos from a nice morning at O'Neill Bay in New Zealand. It was a perfect morning for a surf, a nap and an expansive game of fetch for Smokey.
This year Scott learned what it's really like to date an American: we treat Valentine's Day like an episode of The Bachelor.
I like dogs (cats are another story) but I've never really understood people who are suuuper into their dogs. As in they personify their dog, talk about their dog, take their dog everywhere and talk TO their dog in that particular high pitched voice usually reserved for infants and toddlers. I've never understood it. Kind of similar to the way I feel about folks who opt to have standing desks.
This all changed when I met Scott's Dad's dog, Smokey. I officially became one of those people.
Smokey is smarter and more pleasant than a lot of humans out there. He doesn't require a leash, will wait patiently outside a grocery store for you while you shop, loves hanging out in cafes while you work, is an ideal wingman for meeting new people because he's so handsome people just want to pet him AND he does tricks. He's the ideal running and hiking companion, loves to explore the city, always down for a road trip, is incredibly friendly and relaxed, loves the beach and on top of all of that, is wildly photogenic.
He's just a dreamboat. I don't know who I've become. I've never felt this way about a dog before.
Full disclosure: this blog is (perpetually) a little behind... so be prepared for Xmas in NZ posts even though it's actually currently March and I'm in Australia. Lots to catch up on!
Here's the start of an Auckland summer:
After 6 months in New Zealand, it's the time to take a break from the travels (a holiday from my vacation, if you will) and head back stateside to see the fam, reunite with friends and celebrate a few marriages. I'll be exploring the U.S. of A a little bit and then heading overseas again come September, but until then, I'm excited to enjoy a sunny summer in Boston.
THINGS I'LL MISS ABOUT NEW ZEALAND: muesli, runs on the Te Atatu Peninsula followed by brunch at William Souter, the view from my bedroom, power walking around Beach Haven listening to Serial, trampolining with Amanda, Carlos + Archie, The Raw Cafe, white hot chocolates, black sand beaches, rum races, the drive over the Harbor Bridge, listening to Alabama Shakes on the way to surf, campervanning with Sandy, the green countryside, peaceful Aeroview Drive, free blueberry muffins, walking through the Viaduct, the slower pace of life, AM commutes on the Beach Haven ferry, the Pacific Ocean, brunches with Jess, Denise's gossip, feijoas, my van, hello Sunday mornings, long blacks and the way everything just seems easier in NZ.
See you later New Zealand, you tiny beautiful country.
Partly because she didn't fully understand where New Zealand is located, but mostly because she's a fantastic friend... Jessica came all the way over from Boston to visit, for just one week!
Jessica is my former roommate, eternal birthday partner and has been my best friend since we were 13 years old. She's the vital kind of friend who despite time or distance, whenever I see her we're right back into giggling like we did in 7th grade English class. It was wonderful to get to do that with her all over the North Island of New Zealand.
Once living out of a van while working full-time became an impractical idea (due to pesky considerations like where to park, where to shower, blah blah blah) and it was clear that hostel living in the city wasn't any cheaper than renting a place... I searched for a place to call home in Auckland.
I scourged TradeMe (their version of Craig's List) for a few weeks and checked out half a dozen places before finding a listing in Beach Haven that looked too good to be true. Right on the water with a gorgeous deck and pool, it looked like a house off of a 90's season of The Real World. Half expecting it to be a scam, I was intrigued when I got an email reply from a guy that wasn't a Nigerian Prince asking for my bank account details... but a Kiwi who said to come by and take a look at the place. Turns out, it was even better than the photos. AND for less than I ever paid in Boston! I moved in the following week.
While I'd love to give a full house tour a la Design Sponge, that would be cheating as I didn't actually contribute anything to the decor of the place. Owning only what fit in my backpack in the previous five months, I was psyched it was fully furnished. It had such an airy and clean feel to it, I didn't try to impose my own aesthetic (lots of patterns! too many colors!) onto the existing look so living here was a nice continuation of minimalist living but with my own room and SUPER SICK VIEWS.
Beach Haven itself is a sleepy neighborhood that feels like Cape Cod in the off-season. It smells like summer but is super quiet. There's no traffic, the funny mix of shops are low-rise and the sunsets are spectacular. As soon as I arrive at home, it feels like I'm on vacation.
Before I bought a van (dreams do come true! But more on that later) I took the ferry to work every morning which is THE ideal way to commute. I'll admit it, I was smug as hell thinking about how last year at that time I was digging out my car from mounds of snow in JP, snow soaking through my boots.
Living in Beach Haven has been pretty dreamy and very different from anywhere else. I think that's the been the best part of long-term travel for me, having these little micro-lives in each new location. Each spot brings a new lifestyle and new habits. You begin to notice what you keep consistent and patterns emerge, illustrating what's genuinely important to you. It's a risk leaving all the routines and comforts of home when you've worked hard to establish them for yourself. But it's pretty interesting to see what kind of life you can cobble together, when you start from scratch in a new place. I'm beyond thrilled my current one includes an ocean view.
It can be easy to hang with other backpackers when traveling but if you're going to really experience a new country, it's more fun to find natives to show you around. Many of my outings around Auckland consisted of checking out all the local surf spots with these two charmers.
Scott would check the surf reports and we'd cruise around in Cam's van, frequenting Te Arai Point, Maori Bay and Piha (I never surfed Piha...Piha would eat me alive. I'd read The Department of Speculation and work on my tan at Piha).
Cam could always point out the local floral and fauna while Scott showed me how to paddle out the back without "looking like a bloody jelly fish". Eventually, I got the hang of changing into a wetsuit in a parking lot and even grew some surf muscles.