Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Christmas Experience

Here are some shots from Tithai Bay on Christmas Day:
http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/ChristmasAtTitahiBay

I wrote this Christmas Day:
I'm not sure I've ever seen the ocean on Christmas. Not sure, I've ever even seen the sun on Christmas, but I have to say it's pretty awesome. It was my first Christmas away from home, I was a little worried I'd be lonely today, but I'm actually having a pleasant experience. Christmas is such a big day...when you have family and friends, but when you're alone, it's just another day. I wasn't feeling this good earlier as I spent all of Christmas eve and Christmas Day alone, without even speaking to someone in person (aside from the phone). I think it's the ocean. Something about it, it calms me, sooths any homesick I could have, and simply reminds me that this is where I'm supposed to be. Seriously, what is it about the ocean that doesn't make me homesick anymore? It always reminds me that whatever I'm doing, at that moment, I'm doing exactly what I should be doing. Right now I'm sitting in the back of the Subaru with the hatch open, drinking a beer and watching the waves on the beach. It's Christmas. At this moment all my family is gathering, having dinner and exchanging gifts. I miss them. But this year, I'm exactly where I should be. Maybe its the ocean, literally the ocean and the water that makes me feel at home. I mean the ocean I'm starring at right now is the same ocean I stare at back home. Its the liquid median that connects my home to where I'm at now. Same ocean, same water, same world.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Turning around

It is seriously quite interesting to me how a body of water can look so turquoise blue and yet be so numbingly cold at the same time. Can anyone out there explain this to me? I'm really fascinated by it. Seriously I'm interested if you know. I mean the water and this whole place reminds me so much of Hawaii, but there I go again trying to compare it to somewhere I've been. But the mountains and the water color are so stunningly beautiful, it's unreal sometimes. I drove out to a beach yesterday called Castle Point. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere on the Southeast coast of the North Island. Beautiful Place. Probably one if the most beautiful beaches I've ever been. Went for a hike with my new Flatmate Hamish, (I'll tell you more about that in a bit) and then I went for a swim in the beautiful water. it was so inviting, how could I not, but it was so cold! To me if the ocean is green, its cold. If the ocean is blue and light blue, its warm. Obviously this theory needs some work. Check out the Photos on this link: http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/CastlePoint

Ok here's the low down. Apologies if the last post seemed like I was down a bit. I kind of was, but I needed to remember that this is all part of the traveling game. Stuff like this happens all the time to people right? Ok...well maybe not everyone, but there's always a way to figure it out. Stuff and ideas and plans are always changing, you just got to adapt to it. So once I decided that I was about out of money from this car thing. I realized that I couldn't afford to be driving around all over the place. So I decided to rent a room out and look for a job. I found a room for rent for the next few weeks in a house in Newtown, which is about a 20 minute walk from downtown Wellington. I have 3 flatmates (that's what they call roommates here), all doctors, Kunaal, Hamish and Amit. All just a year or two younger than I. Super cool guys. They're letting me rent the room out until the 28th of Jan and then they have a more stable flatmate coming to live with them. Totally awesome as I'm not big into leases at this point. Then I started looking for a job. Since its right around the holiday's I wasn't thinking I'd find anything anytime soon, but to my luck, I got a call a couple days ago and was offered some construction work out by the beach (which gets surf! and I found is only like an 8 minute drive from my new house). All that's left is to get a board. I just need to make some money first. But I've also found that it's pretty hard to find good boards here. New ones are painfully expensive and the 2nd hand market here....well lets just say needs some work (but I think that it means not a lot of people are surfing over here). Anyways, so the whole point of this super long post is that thing are starting to turn around. And even though I'm not traveling around all over the country right now, it feels good to have a place and be meeting some people and making some friends. Beside, something wouldn't feel right waking up in the back of the Subaru on Christmas....but then again that could be fun too. Merry Christmas!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tis the season to get effed



Dec 21st, 2007
For lack of motivation for typing a full detailed summary of the past few days. Here is a journal entry that I wrote a couple days ago. I think it’ll sum up the best of it. And for the sake of the younger readers such as my innocent little baby sister who has never heard a swear word in her 15 years of life, I’ve changed a word to another meaning….see if you can tell what it is.
Dec. 18th, 2007,
LOVE ME!!! I am royally LOVED! I bought a car yesterday from an auto auction. it’s a 1996 Subaru Legacy with about 75,000 miles on it. I got it for $1800 New Zealand dollar which is about $1500 USD. It had one bad tire that needed to be replaced but that was it as far I was could tell. Seemed like a good deal, so I went for it. The graciousness of Tim and Jennifer returned as Tim offered to take me to the auto auction and sit with me the whole time as I freaked out at the intensity of the auction. It took most of the evening and Jennifer waiting for a ride from us at work. Anyways, I got the car and started driving it off. Not even 5 kilometers away from the auction place and the “Check Engine” light comes on. As I’ve learned with my truck from back home (which is still not fixed or sold by the way) this can be a LOVIN pain in the arse. Then, to top it off, as I took a right hand turn, I started hearing the CV joints clicking violently. LOVE!!! I was thinking I should have been able to hear this when I test drove it, but looking back, the auction only lets you go around this LOVING lamo track, but the track only turned left! LOVE!! How is it my luck that it was the right side that was all LOVED up?!? LOVE YOU Auto Auction!!!!! Then, to top it off, I find that the registration expires in a few weeks and I have to wait 10 days just to get it in the mail and the Warrant of Fitness (which is a safety check of all vehicles in NZ done every 6 months) is up in February! LOVE!!!! What the LOVE was I thinking?!?! I’m such a LOVIN idiot!! So before I travel anywhere I have to get a new tire (which I found to be way more expensive than I thought here), get the CV joints replaced and somehow put my mind to ease about the LOVIN check engine light. I still need to buy insurance! LOVE!!!!!! Looking at my account and given my truck issues back home….I’M LOVING BROKE!!!! How the LOVE did this happen!!! MOTHER LOVER!!!! This was supposed to last me a LOVIN year and I’m barely two weeks into the trip!!! I haven’t even bought a LOVIN surfboard yet!! LOVE ME!!! I need a job, I’m not going anywhere. LOVE IT! I'm out.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Game

Here is a quick dorky video I shot of one of the hostels I was staying in. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6330478536995634191&hl=en
I actually wrote this yesterday: It’s kind of funny to me sometimes of how mental the game we call “traveling” can be. Everywhere new we go we’re always comparing, contrasting and finding some way to make sense of everything we’re experiencing. “Oh it totally has a Costa Rica feel but really reminds me of San Francisco with all the interesting culture of Hawaii.” When really, wherever we go that we’ve never been, it’s really nothing like anywhere we’ve been. To me, that’s what makes the world so interesting and beautiful. Taking in each new place as an experience that you’ve never had. Dealing with people that you’ve never met, eating food you’ve never tasted, learning about culture you’ve never known and seeing somewhere new for the first time. It’s an excitement that reminds me of the anticipation feeling I’d get when I was younger and my parents would take me to Chucky-Cheese. But there’s two side to this so called “Mental Game“. One hand you have the romantic version, which is everything we dream about before going to a new place. That feeling of excitement with all the unknown factors. Kind of like a new challenge, “can I just show up in a place with no plans and make something happen?”. Yes, you can. But it comes at a cost. You’ve completely changed your life to play this “game”. That means you don’t always have your friends and family to fall back on and support you. It’s not always going to be comfortable. There will be those awesome times that you dreamed of, but there will also be times you least expect, feelings you can’t anticipate. Ones that are like feelings you’ve had before, boredom and loneliness, but they’re different somehow, just like how new places are never the same. That’s why it’s a game, a challenge of the mind. Do you give up and go home and go back to what you do know, feelings you’ve had and places you’ve been? Or can you overcome obstacles of the mind and continue to seek the unknown?

Seriously?

 
Yesterday I took a walk down to the beach, it was a pretty nice day, maybe around 70 degrees with a semi-chilly wind. I was like OK sweet I stick my feet in and feel it out. People were swimming everywhere. I didn't really understand this considering that it wasn't all that warm to be swimming, especially in the ocean. So whatever, I'm used to the 47 degree waters of the Washington Coast, how bad could it be? Right. I only stuck my feet in and I seriously felt like they were going to instantly fall off in some sort liquid nitrogen way that happens with only the uber bad dudes in final scenes of movies like Die Hard, Die another day and Die an utterly painful death in cold water....Well I haven't seen the last one yet. But really come on! I was about to collapse in a fetal position with my knees tucked into my chin and and start moaning like the "Grape Lady" on Youtube.com. It's kind of interesting, just when you think you're some real hot Shizz, you go and find an entire country with balls of steel.
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Friday, December 14, 2007

Getting Antsy


After I decided that I'm hitting the road instead of sticking around Wellington, I've been getting really antsy to get out of here. It's been so long since I've been in the Ocean...I don't even know how long. Deciding to hit the road has made everything feel so much better lately. But I'm still here. Why? Well before I take off, my mission is to find a vehicle to buy and I'm not going anywhere until I do. I have put on the biggest vehicle hunt of my life. I actually test drove a van yesterday. If you've never driven on the wrong side of road before...try it. Its awesome! Anyways, So between looking for a vehicle to take me into crazy New Zealand adventures and my time here. I'm still seeing the sites. I'm crashing with some people I met on www.couchsurfing.com. A couple of German dudes named Andi and Thomas who are going for their masters at Victoria University here in Wellington. Really nice guys. Today I checked out the Botanical Gardens and took some shots.
http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/WellingtonBotanicalGardens

Decisions

I've been having some difficulties getting hooked up to internet the past few days. But I wrote this the other day.

December, 14th, 2007
So many new sites , sounds and people. The accents are incredible, makes the English language sound respectable in the ranks of Italian, Spanish, French and Latin. Almost how it’s supposed to sound. Very familiar feeling, with a different twist.

Bill Bryson wrote of the feeling he got when he travels 15,000 miles over the largest ocean in the world, losing 2 days of your life only to step off the airplane and see a modern westernized world with freeways, fast food chains and the everyday hustle of a modern, completive economy. Its like with everything you go through just to get here, you half way expect to see people on camels speaking a language you’ve never heard., living in mud adobes or something. But no, I’m on the bottom of the world, chillin in a super Seattle-esque coffee shop sipping an Americano writing on my laptop. Is this the traveling experience I came for? Not sure. Two days ago, I went out flat hunting (looking for a place to rent). I totally dig Wellington, very much a place I could spend a lot of time. It’s on the bottom of the North Island, and the access to everything is incredible. There’s even a surfing beach pretty much in the city (although the waves don’t get very good very often here). Seems like there’s a ton of jobs here, and I could be very happy spending a ton of time here. I’ve been in the country now for a week. I’ve seen so little of everything it has to offer. I went though so much to get here. Yes I’ve been a little worried about the cash flow since issues with my truck back home have turned from bad to worse. So logically I should hang low, get a job, find a place and hang out for a bit. But that’s logic. What is logic really? Was quitting a good job with nothing lined up logical? Was getting a one-way ticket to a place I’ve never been on the other side of the world logical? Was leaving a perfectly good life logical? If I listened to logic, I wouldn’t be here. So why start now? Time to move.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I'm here, I'm alive

After some crazy moments and the longest traveling I've ever done in my life, I've finally made it to New Zealand. I've had a bunch of profound thoughts that I wanted to post here but I'd rather just let this be known on my first posting from New Zealand: I'm not doing this again anytime soon. And when I say this, I mean, moving out of my apartment, quiting my job, saying good bye to everyone and getting on a plane to a place I've never been not knowing when I'll be back. It was a bit stressful. But Now I'm here, and its finally starting to feel right. Internet access hasn't been as easy as I'd thought, so sorry it's taken me so long to get this to you all.
Ah! I don't even know where to start. So the whole flying experience was crazy. Longest time I've ever spent on a plane, and stood in lines. I'll just give you the run down. Tuesday night, flew from Seattle to LA. I needed to retrieve my pack from baggage claim in LA and re-check it into the international flight. But that flight was delayed and hour and it was 2.5 hours there. I only had an hour and a half until I had to be on my flight to Fiji from LA. Finally made it after some crazy line and a bit of hassle at the counter. Then the flight was 10.5 hours to Fiji, with hardly any sleep and a spilt cup of orange juice in my lap. Then I get to Nadi, Fiji and have to stand in line and wait around for 3 hours in the crazy heat. Then got on another flight to Auckland for 3.5 hours. I get to Auckland and had to stand in line after line. Issues with my visa, had to wait in an area for an hour. Then issues with my hiking boots. Yeah that's right, my hiking boots. Apparently they're not cool with dirty hiking boots. So I had to wait around while they sprayed those down. I thought that was pretty cool of them though. Seems like the Kiwi's know they have a super fragile island environment and don't want to mess it up any more. Anyways then the bus line, then when I finally got to a hostel and checked into my dorm room with 7 other people, it was Thursday at 5pm. I totally lost a day! I left Tuesday and now its Thursday! The craziest thing I've thought about. Did I travel in time? I was well aware that this would happen, but it was still a trip to go through...no pun intended. I met some really cool people though. A bunch of the people I shared a room with, people I met on the lay over in Fiji. It was weird though, when we all checked in to our room, one of the guys got blood clots in his legs from sitting so much and the paramedics we called and they took him to the hospital. Apparently that can be deadly. For all that don't know, make sure you move around a lot on long flights.
I could bore you with more details of my time and some of the weird experience there. But to make a long story short. I spent a day in Auckland checking stuff out and seeing the city. Reminds me a lot of Vancouver. Instead of describing it to you. Check out some pictures.
http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/Auckland

Auckland was cool, but I was just getting some bad mojo there. Could be the fact that I was there to buy a vehicle and I heard from home that there are some major problems with the truck I was supposed to sell. Doesn't look like I'll be getting much money from it any more and in turn doesn't look like I'll be getting a vehicle anytime soon. But fortunately, Simone is here visiting some of her friends in Wellington (10 hour drive away) and they invited me down. So I booked myself a one way ticket and got out of Auckland. I instantly fell in love with Wellington. It's an awesome city. Full of life, beauty and culture. Simone and I spent the day walking around town and went to this park in the hills above Wellington. Check out the Pictures here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/Wellington

Simone's friends are an American couple named Jennifer and Tim. Super awesome people. They're so nice. They had a BBQ that night and invited some of their friends over. Good times for sure. It was fun meeting some of their Kiwi Friends.
Then, the next day we loaded up their car and headed to a giant lake in the middle of the north Island called Lake Taupo. It was raining a bunch and we couldn't see much, but the drive was super fun and the scenery was beautiful. Seemed like we went through 15 different environments. We stayed a night up by the lake and checked out some other cool stuff the next day. Check out those pictures here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/LakeTaupo

Anyways, we got back super late last night. I'm chilling right now at Tim and Jennifer's cause they're so nice to let me use their Internet and get some much needed stuff done. Anyways, I'll write more later when I have some time, but I just wanted to get this out there, let everyone know I'm safe and well. I'll try to update this blog every few days. Peace!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Is this for real?

The count down is here. Reality is here. Time is flying and so will I, soon to the land of Kiwi. It's a bit hard to grasp, let alone fathom how big of a change this is. I moved out of my apartment, got rid of most of my stuff aside from a few boxes at my folks place. I quit my job, a good one with plenty of excitement and opportunity. In a few days my truck will be gone. I've said goodbyes and keep saying goodbyes to better friends than I've ever known I've had. This is for real. I'm scared as hell. What's in store, I'm not sure, but I guess that's what this is all about.