Wednesday, January 27, 2016

WWOOF #4 A Cool Farmily

This adventure takes place on a small family farm south of Napier. This farm consisted of a mother, father, three children (all girls aged 4, 6, and 11), some sheep, 2 milking cows, chickens, an alpaca, 3 cats, an adorable kitten, 3 dogs, an old horse, 4 rabbits, several ducks and ducklings, calves, the cutest lamb (named Stevie Nibbles), and possibly more I'm missing. They had names for almost everyone; I have no idea how they remembered them all. They attempted to be as self-sufficient as possible, but in a laid-back way. It's not their main concern. They make their own milk, butter, cheese, bread, beer, and more.

I had a really great time there. I helped with the daily job of milking the 2 cows and feeding calves. I helped pull thistles. I helped pick black currants. I helped with some general sheep care. I learned a lot of random farm things. I helped trim some incredibly overgrown hedges. I planted potatoes and beans and cauliflower. I saw a nearly hatched baby duckling. I helped take down some fence. I helped put a small watering system into a greenhouse.

As an added bonus, their neighbor had a very large sheep farm and happened to be sheering on my second day. We stopped by and I got to watch the professionals at work. IT WAS SO COOL! It looked very impressive. And their neighbor was great. He was more than happy to explain everything to me. Success.

The milking shed.
Poppy being milked.
The adorable Stevie Nibbles.
Cool view from a nearby hill.
Another view.
Things that go together well.
I really enjoyed just being a part of the family. I didn't take off to do something else in the afternoon. I hung out with them. I played with the kids. We bounced on the trampoline and went on walks and climbed trees and made up adventures. I read my book outside or in the comfy living room. I watched cricket on TV and had the game hopelessly explained to me. We had some very interesting conversations about politics (both NZ and US), life in NZ, kids, family, jobs, and everything. I enjoyed home brewed beer. I was taught to juggle. I plotted ways to steal their kitten and Stevie Nibbles and maybe Possum the dog. It was really lovely. 

I found a lot of parallels to my childhood. In the farm, in the general family attitude, in the creative minds of the girls, in books and toys I used to have, and in strange little coincidences (like the way they tallied allowance money on a dry-erase board). There was just an enormous amount of nostalgia. I miss you childhood; you were great. 

Other things to note:

  • nothin

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Road Trip, I can't think of a pun

I had another week between wwoofing hosts. You know what that means: car camping road trip! This one was mostly seeing beautiful nature and beaches and things. I drove around the east cape. It was lovely. Here are some pictures and my best stories.

A lion? 
I don't recall why I was angry. Or why I thought a selfie was appropriate.
East Cape Lighthouse

It's called Ocean Beach. How thoughtful.

I settled in to a campground. After setting up my tent, I put down my blanket and sat on it. I colored in a coloring book and wrote some letters. I drew my parents a terrible picture of the scenery around me, complete with labels explaining what was a tree and what was a fence; I'm very talented. After awhile it got dark. I didn't really think about it, but i stopped writing because I could no longer see the page. But it was peaceful and nice and I was in my own world, so I just continued to sit on my blanket. There were two guys camped nearby, but I hadn't really talked to them. One of them walked over with a short string of twinkle lights and asked if I needed light. Then I realized that I'd just been sitting in the dark for at least 10 minutes, like a weirdo.

I had also been working on a bottle of wine, so I offered him some and he joined my picnic. His friend came over as well and we all talked for awhile. They were two Germans, probably around 19 years old (this is a very common demographic of backpackers around here). At one point one of them said he had a question for me, but couldn't think of how to say it, so he was thinking about it. A minute later he asked his friend a question in German. He responded, quite quickly, 'Donald Trump'. I chimed in with, 'Agh, no. I don't want to talk about it. Have you seen the stars? They're really clear tonight.' They then admitted the question he had asked was something like, 'Who is that silly American politician?' Accurate. They then made fun of me for turning to the stars for a distraction. In my defense, they were really great. And Trump is not worth discussing. Overall they were pretty cool people. They were hitchhiking and I gave them a ride in the morning.

Late in the week I arrived at another campground and decided that I was sick of moving around and should stay put for a day. So the next day I had the luxury of not packing up camp. I moved slowly and packed my backpack for adventure. I left the campsite at around noon. There was a trailhead pretty much right behind my tent. I walked a little, then read for awhile (still Game of Thrones). Then walked and read, rinse, repeat. The hiking trail was a large loop up a few fills, around a lake, and ending back at the front of the campground. It is meant to take about 2 hours. I got back at around 7:30. And then I didn't bother to go back to my tent, but sat in a tree next to the lake and campground and continued to read.

At about 8:00 a man came up to me and asked if it was my tent and car on the other side of the campground. I said yes was concerned that a sheep was eating it or something. This is entirely possible. He was relieved and explained that the couple camping nearby was concerned that I had not returned and was asking about me. This was something I had not considered, but I did go for a two hour hike eight hours ago. He went to tell them I had been found; I followed shortly after. The couple was not at their tent, but soon the woman returned. I went over to thank her for her concern and let her know I was fine. She explained that her husband had gone looking for me and she'd gone calling for him, but he hadn't heard. So now I felt bad and was concerned. I was also a little mad that I was made to feel bad for other people's concern about me. In her defense, she wasn't concerned about him, but she did hope he would come back soon, before it got dark. So then I got my camp chair and took it over to her tent. Again I  said I was sorry for causing concern, and said it was fitting that now I was concerned for her husband. We sat and talked until he returned, just before dark. Then I stayed and talked to the both of them for awhile. They were very nice. They have daughters around my age, which further explains their concern. Although I was in a cycle of being a little upset and upset that I was upset, it was nice to know that people notice and care about me. Humanity. Sometimes I have hope.

got the oil changed in my car! Not really an exciting story, but I was proud. It's hard to remember that I still need to be a responsible adult. I need to eat vegetables and do laundry and take care of myself and take care of my belongings. It was a comforting situation. I sat outside the garage watching a man work. Oldies were playing on the radio. It smelled like grease and oil and real. I kind of wanted to stay after he was done with my car, but I didn't. 

Other things to note:

  • I drank an entire bottle of wine writing this. I regret nothing. (I would like it noted I'm no longer doing wine induced facebook meltdowns)
  • Cat Stevens singing 'The First Cut Is the Deepest' just played in my headphones. You know who you are.
  • Every time I get a chance to eat sushi I do. It's delicious. It's becoming a problem.
  • It got dark and I'm sitting in the middle of a field where I was running and rugby-ing. Now it's weird. Do I leave?
  • Today I realized it's ridiculous that I didn't have a rugby ball. It was amazing to go into the nearest sports store and buy one. I'm never leaving.
  • Now a wizard rock song is playing on my ipod. If you know what that is, I'm glad you're reading this.
  • I didn't move. I'm now sitting in the dark in a strange location.
  • This is who I am.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

WWOOF #3 Flowerbed and Breakfast

Last week (maybe longer, I don't know. I don't believe in time.), I tried my luck with another WWOOF host. I was to help at a Bed and Breakfast near Napier. I arrived on a Friday evening and was greeted by a slightly drunk older man. He apologized and explained that they'd had family visiting for the afternoon and handed me a glass of wine. So that I could catch up and he wouldn't feel as foolish. I guess it was off to a good start?

The place was really great and beautiful. I was given one of the rooms, so I had my own bathroom with a shower and a tub! I actually took a bath and it was amazing. The place had a great yard and garden and fruit trees. It was lovely.

One day I hoed (that's possibly a word) and weeded a vegetable and flower garden.

Another day I trimmed a bay tree and cleaned up flower beds.

Another day I cleaned out and enlarged a flower bed and added a bench and walkway.

Fancy bench. Just hope a grapefruit doesn't fall on your head.

I also transplanted blueberries, planted petunias, tied up and pruned tomatoes, destroyed some day lilies, and other random tasks.

I really enjoyed myself and had a great time. The couple running the bed and breakfast were nice and understanding and we got along very well. I found that I got along especially well with Jes.  He'd give me the right amount of instructions and room to figure things out and I never felt like I'd be doing something wrong. He also explained everything well and answered all my questions. I learned a lot.

He was a bit of a grumpy old man, but in a good way. He was a little difficult to read, didn't put on a face for show, didn't talk if he didn't have anything to say; he was who he was. We were kind of kindred spirits. He wouldn't give in to my terrible jokes. Sometimes it seems like I'd tell twice as many so I could still get some laughs. Overall it just seemed like they cared about me having a good stay and experience.

I also got to spend time with some of the guests, who were interesting. One night we made pizzas in an outdoor brick pizza oven, delicious.

They gave me suggestions of places to spend my afternoons, and that was also super. The Hawk's Bay area is gorgeous. I enjoyed some time in Napier, which is a very pretty port town.
Not a great picture, but I didn't take many.
I hiked up Te Mata for some stunning views.

And hiked to a surprisingly large waterfall, Shine Falls.

And when I left I picked apricots, grapefruit, and plums to take with. They also gave suggestions of places to stop, which have worked out very nicely. My happiness and well-being are fully restored. Hooray!!

Other things to note:
  • This update is vague and uninspired because I waited too long. Note to self: be better.
  • I had my first pizza with anchovies. It was ok.
  • I'm very happy that apricots are pronounced ape-rocots, like I've always preferred. I'm torn on whether to say to-may-toe or to-mah-toe. I've never thought that song would actually apply to my life.
  • I'm really getting spoiled for waterfalls. I have to consciously not take them for granted.
  • I've been watching a few cricket matches. Even with explanations, I do not understand.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Camping and reading and Christmas, oh my

I took another road trip and camping adventure. It was over Christmas and New Year. I basically wanted to lay low until it was over. Which kind of worked, I suppose. I spent a few days on the beach, then a few days around Mt Taranaki. Camping and hiking, hiking and camping. It was very beautiful.

On Christmas day I hiked to Dawsons Falls, then went to camp at a boat club. I pulled in and an older group of people camping there noticed I was alone. They invited me to eat Christmas dinner with them, in the way that a grandmother offers you all the food and cookies in her house, more insistance than question. It was really nice and I had a good time talking to them and trying to be as interesting as they imagined I would be.

Here are some photo highlights and a Christmas video.

I then spent the few days around new years back at Tongariro National Park. I did more day day hikes there, it was great.

So many waterfalls

Somewhere in the mix of all this I began reading Game of Thrones. I have a collection of the five of them on my kindle. I've become a bit obsessed.

After I left Tongariro I was heading to a nearby campsite, that I drove past three times and failed to find. But I ended up driving much further to a more secluded site. It was pretty and peaceful and I was actually able to put up my hammock.

I ended up staying there three nights. It was perfect and I somehow read the first two Game of Thrones books. It was only mildly terrifying in that setting. So, that's about it. Nothing terribly exciting, but it's been good.

Hammock in a foreign land
Other things to note:

  • Applying sunscreen should be a finite thing. At some point, your skin should be sun resistant. Also, how are uv rays getting through the layers of grime?
  • I'm no longer being fooled by my camelback while hugging trees. I'm sad.
  • Someone said to me, "Thanks again for your fire stick." I think that's a great quote.
  • New Zealand seems to be proud of the Hokey Pokey ice cream flavor, but they sing hokey tokey, not hokey pokey. Weirdos.