Archive for December, 2011
Mt. Cook is a must see on your trip to New Zealand, especially on a clear day!
There are some great things to do in the area and if you are lucky enough to have time and good weather I would suggest spending at least one, if not two nights there.
Here are some of the things we have done while there and my “perfect itinerary”, if money weren’t an object and I controlled the weather might look something like this.
Arrive at Mt. Cook with time to hike to Mueller Hut and do an overnight stay.
Watch the avalanches, enjoy the sunset and sunrise and some amazing star gazing.
After a leisurely morning start the next day take short walk from Mueller Hut (if there is one) then head back down the steep face and maybe a short detour to Kea Point.
There are some other short walks to do or take a drive out towards Blue Pools that would be worth a look to see some of the icebergs from the Tazman Glacier. If you have money burning a hole in your pocket book a boat trip with Glacier Explorers to get right up close to the icebergs – but you don’t get right up next to the glacier – a bit too dangerous. At $140 a person it’s a bit steep. Here are some pictures from our trip with Glacier Explorers.
Day three head to Hooker Valley and come back for a great picnic lunch. Head out to catch a helicopter ride over the peaks to give your legs a rest. If the helicopter is a bit out of your budget how about a $16 3-D movie at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center which will take you to the top of Mt. Cook from the safety of your theater seat?
As for accommodations, I have only ever car camped at Whitehorse Hill which is $6 per person per night, flush toilets, shelter/”kitchen” area that has boiling water and tables. There are also showers near the gas station a 10 min walk away. There are a couple hostels and of course fancy hotels. The camping does us just fine. I can’t really recommend the restaurants as must visit places, but they are fine if you don’t feel like cooking.
This is one of the easiest walks that I have done in the Mt. Cook area. Granted, I haven’t done all of them, yet.
It’s a gravel path that I did the morning after our Mueller Hut hike and before our Hooker Valley hike. It only takes about 15-25 minutes each way. A great short trail run, or just a simple way to stretch your legs and get a great view point. I didn’t really have plans to do it, just wanted to see Mt. Cook in the morning light and started off in my flip flops and next thing you know I was at there. I think this place could be an amazing place to get some good views at sunset as well as the light on Mt. Cook could be awesome. But don’t take my word for it as I didn’t actually make it here for sunset.
Simply head out the same way you would to Seally Tarns/Mueller Hut hike from the Whitehorse Hill campground and you’ll see the turn off for it.
This is a not to be missed walk in the Mt. Cook area. It’s about 3-4 hours round trip, relatively flat and easy to follow. I recommend hiking/sturdy shoes and bring a layer. We always start from the Whitehorse Hill campground -but you can start from the village, just add about 45 minutes to your total walk. Most skill levels can do this hike.
If Mueller Hut hike is a bit too intense for you don’t miss out on this one!
You get amazing views along the way, cross over two swinging bridges and on a clear day awesome views of Mt. Cook.
Talk about bang for you buck!
This is an amazing day hike up and back, or can be done as an overnight in Mueller Hut. We had been waiting for a good weather window before heading up there from Queenstown, which is about a 3 1/2 hour drive. Definitely check your weather before heading up as you wouldn’t want to be at the top to be inside a cloud.
What is it with New Zealand not giving distances but only time it takes to hike? Ugg. From what I gather it is about 5 miles round trip but with over 1000m/3400ft elevation gain.
We tend to car camp when we head to Mt. Cook ($6 per person, flush toilets, boiling water in the kitchen but no gas, running water, there is one public shower that we found – ($2 for five minutes – hot!) near the gas station. You can start the hike right from the camping area and it starts off very easy, wide, flat gravel path but about 15 minutes into the hike you start going up, up, up and don’t stop for about 3-3 1/2 hours. The path is well marked, and varies between walking up wooden stairs, rock stairs and steep rocky trails.
About an half way up you’ll get to Sealy Tarns (Tarns are small alpine lakes). This alone makes a nice hike and gets some awesome views of Mt. Cook and the valley below. Continue on for another 1 1/2- 2 hours to get to the saddle and get even better views. Because of our drive we started this hike at noon – so the bright sun was on us the way up. Hiking a bit earlier would have been more ideal.
Once you reach the saddle you’ll be looking across at some amazing hanging glaciers, waterfalls and avalanches. We chose to stop and enjoy our lunch at the saddle and then carried on to the hut. The views at the saddle trump the views at the hut in my opinion. With our short stop at the tarns and a longer lunch stop we still arrived at Mueller Hut in about 3 1/2 hours. There are pit toilets and water at the hut (bring your own tp). If I were doing this again I would definitely want to stay at the top – there are about 20 mats for $35 each. It would be amazing to have watched the sun go down and see the amazing colors and the night sky and then of course the new days light would be impressive to wake up to. Listening to avalanche after avalanche crash down the other side of the mountain.
The avalanches are amazing but you don’t always see them – it’s like looking for the lightening strike as you hear the thunder – it’s not going to happen. It’s so loud throughout the valley and you expect to see a HUGE snow and ice fall and you look up and you see some snow tumbling down but it all looks so small compared to the giant rock face. Then you remember how far away from the actual fall you are and that even though it looks small it is all relative, and there is no way I’d want to be anywhere near that coming down. It’s an amazing place.
Oh – on this hike, definitely a hiking boot/shoe hike. If your knees are particularly bad this might be too hard on them. We chose to hike with poles and saw many people doing the same. Makes a difference for me for sure. I don’t care for steep downhill but this didn’t freak me out, there wasn’t anything so exposed that I got nervous.
Kids – this is going to be a tough one for most kids. That being said I know it is possible as we met a family of 5, dad was carrying the baby on his back (about 1 1/2) and the girls age 6 and 10 were hiking on their own. Chris and I know we aren’t going to be parents but if we were that would be the kind of parent I would want to be.
Bring a lunch/snacks, enough water, and a layer. We carried rain gear and warm layers and used all but the rain coat. This hike was done on December 21st – longest day of the year. Happy summer!
Below are some of our favorite pictures.
Ok, just to be clear, I don’t want this to be a “whoa is me” post. But there are some challenges to the life we have. They aren’t bad challenges to have, they just take some getting used to.
Challenge number 1: What do I contribute?
This was a big one for a while, two years into it I am feeling a bit more comfortable in what I contribute to the relationship/household/etc., since I don’t contribute much financially. I realize that Chris values the fact that I like to cook and I take care of meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, etc.
I remember a friend asking me what I was going to “do” and I used the word “companion” in my explanation and she asked – “is that enough?” I’m still figuring that part out myself. I try to place myself in Chris’ shoes. Let’s say I have enough money to quit working, to travel where I want and to do what I want. Wouldn’t that be more fun WITH someone? When your friends are all mostly married and having babies and have work commitments you can’t just call someone up at 2pm on a Tuesday to see if they want to go for a mountain bike ride. I have to remember this is what he wanted too, he offered this life to me. He wanted someone with which to experience all that is amazing in life. Don’t we all? I enjoy the same activities – hiking, biking, travel, etc. that I enjoy the same things and I make pretty good sandwiches just helped seal the deal.
Challenge number 2: Friends
I had great jobs with social outlets and worked with great people who became close friends of mine. It’s difficult to keep up with everyone, especially when you don’t live in the same city, state or even country as they do. We live in VERY transient places, friends I made last summer were only here for the summer and are now gone. I come and go as well every few months making it very difficult to become really close to people. I was never the type to have a large group of friends always doing something but do miss the ease of making friends through work. Still learning on finding other ways to build strong relationships.
Challenge number 3: Routine? What’s that?
This can drive me up the wall. I’m a former stage manager, remember. So when my life goes from knowing my schedule 6 months to a year in advance and limited time off to a wide open schedule I get a little flustered.
We have no set schedule. Every day we wake up, look out the window and depending on the weather and how we feel we decide what we want to do that day. This can drive me crazy when I am trying to maintain a workout routine, or want to take a class or schedule an appointment. I find this WAY easier in Hawaii where I easily wake up at 5:30 or 6am for a sunrise bike ride followed by some yoga only to bring Chris some tea at 7:30 while he is waking up. Queenstown, not so much – WAY too cold for me at 6am!
Life is short and we want to take 100% advantage of every day (especially the nice days) that we have.
Challenge number 4: House envy
Ok – so this is a bit of a joke, but it seems like every house we visit we get a bit of house envy. In Queenstown we live in a $500
house shack with a million dollar view, at least that is what it feels like. We don’t have nice things because we don’t feel we need them, so to visit with people who just bought a real house that has a REAL kitchen I get a bit envious. That being said – I don’t think either of us WANT to buy a house and deal with the costs and work associated with it.
Challenge number 5: What do you do?
This one is all mine as Chris has his business but I do struggle with the “what do you do” question. I’m really lucky to have this life, but I do want to contribute to society and have something to show for my time here. I do have my Beachbody Coaching which I do part time, sometimes TOO part time. I want something to be proud of and excited about, it’s not always easy with such a mobile life style.
So there you have it… hope that wasn’t too whiny.
If you are just finding this you may want to start on part 1
I headed back to New Zealand in March 2010, almost exactly two years after I had finished my vacation and moved into Chris’ “cabin” in Queenstown. It was a bit weird at first. I wasn’t on vacation, I wasn’t working, I didn’t have a big group of friends in Queenstown to catch up with. We adjusted to living in Chris’ space instead of mine and adjusted to being together almost 24-7.
I guess I should clarify that Chris and I weren’t just going to live out of our suitcases from now on. Due to visa’s we can’t stay in each others country for more than six months, due to weather we chose not to
He had been “chasing summer” for many years -both as river rafting guide and then later as his business took off. Ironically, he came to Queenstown 15 years ago for the skiing but has spent a total of four winters in those 15 years. Our current “plan” is about 4-5 months in NZ followed by 1-2 months traveling to the northern hemisphere, sitting down for 4-5 months in Kauai, Hawaii or somewhere in the northern hemisphere and then 1-2 months traveling back to NZ. Traveling all the time is exhausting. This of course is not a schedule set in stone – just a rough draft. It is a great life – and telling people we go from the set of Lord of the Rings to set of Jurassic Park does have a certain ring to it – but it does have it’s challenges – I’m NOT complaining – just observing.
After I left Vegas I spent a week in Colorado with my family. I had really started to learn more about fitness and nutrition as a Beachbody Coach and was really loving what I was learning. No more processed meals, was learning how to cook healthy food and how food really can be medicine. My mom had about 30 pounds that she could stand to lose and was on 3 different medications all for weight related issues. The more I learned and read, the more concerned I became for her health and I wanted her around longer.
I sent her an email asking her to give me simply TEN MINUTES of movement everyday. She told me she would start walking and with my Beachbody discount I bought her Ten Minute Trainer for her 60th birthday. Six months later she still hadn’t even taken the DVD out of the box, much less pressed play. I told her when I was there we were going to work out everyday and follow the routine. I also helped her come up with a nutrition plan and we made some changes to what she was eating.
We had to modify some of the exercises, like push ups, and we opted to stick to walking outside instead of the indoor cardio. We did the 6 or 7 days together and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I left. Thankfully she stuck to it and went from a size 14 to a size 2 or 4. She is off two of three of her meds and a lower doseage for another one. I’m SO proud of her and she is by far my favorite success story with Beachbody!
I remember when we first walked around the neighborhood and she was huffing and puffing after 10 minutes. Now she can easily walk 3 miles and has stuck to her routine! She’s inspiring those around her as well.
One fact I know to be true for me is that I will always regret the things I have NOT done way more than the things I have done.
Some people might look at what I did as giving up a lot, walking away from “it all”, taking a giant risk. Others look at as an opportunity of a lifetime. It took some explaining to some people. Some were super supportive, others were “concerned”. Of course this made me examine what “independence” meant to me.
I had a job I had to go to in order to pay my bills on the two houses I “owned”. I worked 6 nights a week and if I wanted to take a night off for a concert, show, event, etc. I couldn’t, it wasn’t an option. If I wanted to take a weekend off for a wedding I could use one of my three personal days a year, fingers crossed all weddings would be on a Wednesday – my one day off. I worked extra hours around the holidays as we always had extra shows. I had 2 weeks off and no long weekends. I may have made all my own money but I was pretty stuck in my job if I wanted to keep the financial life I had. Really, how “independent” was I? I was pretty damn dependent on my job, if you really look at it.
So… If I am going to be financially dependent- I might as well be with the man I love while traveling and having some amazing life experiences, right?
I guess I could have waited another 3-5 years to save up enough to travel for an entire year, but then what? Would Chris and I have lasted another 3-5 years of long distance just so I could save enough to pay my way? Chris never game me an ultimatum. It was my choice. But seriously – long distance from New Zealand to Vegas?!? Neither of us wanted a relationship like that.
But what if Chris and you break up? Where will you live? What will you do? But what if you want to work again? Can’t you just ask for a leave of absence?
But what if you miss Kipper? Are you sure you want to give her up?
But what if it all works out just fine and it was the best decision of my life?
But what if I am exposed to new and exciting people, places, opportunities, to grow, explore and learn?
But what if I stay in my job because it is “safe” and I never get an opportunity like this again?”
My job wasn’t guaranteed for the rest of my life and neither is this relationship. Nothing is. Just the other day I found out that Jersey Boys is moving from the Palazzo Casino to the Paris Casino. They are officially closing which means no one is guaranteed to get their position back. Who knows if I would have been on the chopping block during the transition.
I knew for a fact that even if things go down the tubes between Chris and I that I’ll eventually land on my feet and I will not have regretted the choice I made. Ever.
A friend once told me that I manifested this. I put it out there in the universe that I was going to save up to quit my job to travel and that it manifested itself in other ways. She also told me I live life unreasonably. It was one of the best compliments I had received.
Another blog shared the top five regrets of the dying with the number one regret being “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” This was not going to be my regret.
Click to read part 14
I need to take it back a little bit to a pretty life changing event in my life. As my Krav Maga post touched on a few post ago I gained two key things from those classes – confidence and my love of working out. Time to talk about my love of working out and how I replaced my gym.
After I stopped taking Krav Maga classes I joined 24 Hour Fitness and a private boxing gym. I started finding classes I liked and began scheduling my days around what gym classes I was taking. At times I belonged to 24 Hour, Las Vegas Athletic Club and a boxing gym. Yep, three gyms. Can’t really take gym memberships along on my travels can I? I really found my love of working out and as much as I love hiking and the outdoors I never really looked at that as a “workout” – that was just play. Also, I would not workout by myself. I HAD to have someone tell me what to do. What the hell was I going to do if we were traveling and moving every 4 months? I had to find a solution.
A friend of mine mentioned that he was thinking of trying P90X. I had never heard of that so had to do some research on it. I googled it and it TOTALLY clicked! Sure, I was a bit skeptical, you know, “infomercial product” and all, but I figured I’d give it a shot. In case you haven’t heard of P90X it is a 90 day extreme home fitness program that is 6 days a week of weight lifting, cardio, yoga and a comprehensive nutrition plan. I decided to start it on June 1, 2009. Chris was going to be gone for the majority of the next three months so I had time to focus on it. I didn’t think I would like working out to a DVD but I found Tony Horton funny and hot – so that made it easy! I also felt challenged and after my first day I had no problem coming back day after day.
The biggest change I made was with my nutrition. I had been working out 5-6 days a week before P90X but never had the results I wanted. Maybe that had something to do with the cookies I snacked on, the sodas I drank, the high sugar cereals I started my day with and the microwavable dinners I ended my days with. I started paying attention to what I was eating and next thing you know I had visible results and people were asking what I was doing. I was hooked!
About 45 days into P90X I started hearing about the Beachbody coaching opportunity. I was active on facebook P90X group and on teambeachbody.com sharing my experiences and support, I LOVE saving money and Coaches save 25% – I really wanted to try Shakeology, I was already talking about what I was doing… it just made sense to join as a Beachbody Coach. I wasn’t going to have my Jersey Boys income anymore and although Chris was comfortable supporting me I thought this would be a good outlet for me to have something of my own. PLUS, I could do this from wherever I was on my own schedule. Never hurts to have a “Plan B”, right?
So that was my solution to the gym which also turned into a solution for an income. Who knew an infomercial could really change my life SO much!
What have you bought off an infomercial? Did it work?
Getting close to the end of this series – read part 13
A, B, C were all out the window. We called a lawyer and the “B” word came up. Bankruptcy. Seriously? Wow. I’m going to be bankrupt.
Somehow I got referred to the best bankruptcy lawyer in Vegas. I made an appointment to go and see him and we sat down in his office with the broken air conditioner in the middle of August or September in Vegas and I told him the situation with Chris and me.
The basics were
~Chris wants me to quit my job and travel with him and he can support me financially.
~I own two houses which are completely upside down, a quarter of a million to be exact.
~I have about $40k in savings (I was still planning on traveling and needed some money saved up)
~I own my car (was still driving my 2000 Honda Civic)
~I have retirement accounts.
~I have a great income and currently have no problem paying my bills. I make too much money to file bankruptcy. (In Vegas you can’t make more than $24k in the last six months).
How do I get out with minimal scars?
His advice to me:
~Go buy a house with the money you have in the bank. Pay cash.I could be gifted up to $15k without tax repercussions so get Chris to give you some so you can get something worth living in. That house needs to be your primary residence and you need to own it for 6 months before filing bankruptcy.
~You can’t file bankruptcy if you make more than $48k a year. Quit your job so that you show income totaling less than $24,000 for the 6 months before you file.
~Put as much money into your retirement account. Bankruptcy can’t touch your retirement accounts.
~File bankruptcy 6 months after you close on your house.
Chris and I thought about this and it all made sense. We trusted him and it sounded like the most sound option we had heard of so far. So after that very first time I bit his head off for suggesting I walk away from my house I was planning on doing just that.
Within a few days I called a real estate friend of mine and started looking at homes that I could buy that weren’t short sales or bank owned homes, something that could close quickly. I think I had about 6 or 8 to chose from and chose the one that was the best of the lot, another cookie cutter condo in NW Vegas. A few weeks later we had a contract and were in escrow. The house closed in early December 2009. I calculated out how long it would take me to earn $24,000 at Jersey Boys and planned for my last day at my job to be February 21st, 2010. I started selling items that weren’t sentimental to me and looked for a home for Kipper. Quack, quack, quack, ducks in a row.
Everything worked out. I found a good home for Kipper, and think she is just fine. It was hard to give her up but I can’t live my life for my dog. I love her and we had great years together. She now has a bigger yard, a doggie roommate and a loving couple that goes to Montana for the summer where the dogs can play. It was also sad to get rid of some of my things. But they are just things, they can be replaced. And honestly, selling things for pennies on the dollar at a garage sale made me really realize how much stuff is worth – not much. It isn’t important to me to have nice things, brand new, not when we live such a transient life. Not when in the big scheme of things that stuff doesn’t matter. At all. My life is free-er without it. I am not attached to stuff that merely ties me down and doesn’t let me pick up and go easily and freely. With the exception of my bedroom furniture which stayed in Vegas with a friend I fit everything into my Civic and drove it to Colorado to store it in my brothers basement. I sold my car in Colorado and got on a plane to New Zealand. About a year and a half after that first suggestion to leave Vegas, a lot of tears, and a lot of lining up ducks I was finally going to do just that – quitting my job and traveling.
Would you have done the same thing? It sounds so romantic – but would you? Would you quit your job and travel? Nothing is certain, there are no guarantees. Would you give up your routine, friends, home, things, job, pet, proximity to family, etc.?