Travelling Clears Your Habit Slate

travelling photoI like travelling because it gives you a clean slate to work with.You are in a different place, sleeping in a different bed, eating different food, seeing different things and people.So much of your habits relies on your routine. You are in the same place so you do the same things. Think about what you eat and do at home. Or at work. So much of that goes out the window when you’re in a totally different place.Think about when you go on vacation and how much of your routine is the same as home? Not much.You might think that’s because it’s a holiday, it’s supposed to be different. It doesn’t have to be. You could do everything you do at home when you’re out on vacation. But you don’t.The reason it’s easier to do new things on vacation is because it’s a different place, it’s easy to do new things. You have no habits and routines set up yet.Have you ever gone on vacation to the same place twice? Did you do some of the things the same as you did the first time? Already, the routines and habits are starting to get set up. It’s much easier to kick yourself out of those routines when in a completely new place but they are still there.So what do you do when you have no routines or habits to get stuck in?Anything!Feel free to set up your life exactly how you want to.Always wanted to meditate in the morning before the day gets crazy? Do it.Always wanted to spend the morning exercising and then writing? Do it.Always wanted to making things for the morning and then exploring in the afternoon? Do it.You can. You can do anything when you travel because there are no rules about what you have to do. There are no habits pushing you back into old routines. You get to create from scratch.So go create.You can do anything you want. Make it good.

Where Are You Travelling Next?

After finding Chris Guillebeau a few years by a random link talking about how he was travelling the world and visiting every country before he was 35, I've seen him do some incredible things. The latest of which pretty much blew my mind. The World Domination Summit went far above my expectations for the non-conforming conference and it was the first time they put it together! Everything went smoothly and every time I turned around I met another like-minded person that had big, awesome ideas. It's no surprise that his #trust30 prompt is about travel.Travel - Chris GuillebeauEveryone has their place they would love to visit. Some people say Hawaii, some people say Paris, others say New Zealand. Regardless of where it is there is almost always some place that by simply hearing the name, they are whisked off in their mind to explore the nooks and crannies of their dream spot.One of mine was New Zealand. I got to visit in 2009 for a month and I've never had more fun in my life. I know there will be incredible adventures in the years to come but I will always look back very fondly at the time I had in New Zealand.This year, I was able to get over to Paris for 2 weeks to explore that area. It's already on my list of places to see for the second time. The week I spent in Paris was amazing and I can't wait to go back to explore further.For new places that I can't wait to see, Chile, Thailand and Switzerland are probably at the top of the list. I've heard and seen amazing things from all three places and it's just a matter of time before I'm sitting on a plane on the way the next one. My trip in 2009 cemented my resolve to travel as many places as I can. Not just for a vacation but to see and hear and taste and smell all the different cultures our world has to offer. With it so easy to fly cheaper these days, there is no excuse not to do some travelling in your lifetime.The entire world is open for anyone to travel now. Where are you going next?

Thoughts on France

I've been back from France for a week now. I can't believe we've been home for a week already but it's been that long.Looking back on our time there it seems so long ago already. As always, I miss the feel of travelling, not working, being in a new place, exploring every nook and cranny to see what surprises await.France was no different. We only spent time in Paris and Marseille and I know we missed out a lot of the French countryside, mountains and other places but there's only so much you can do in 2 weeks. We've already said we'll go back sometime soon to visit another part of Europe and make a quick stop in Paris.Things I Took to FranceI wanted to put up the list of things that I took to France because that's one of the first things I look for when I go somewhere. I want to know what people take when they travel and whether they use them or not.T1i Camera, 18-200mm lens, 50mm lens, 3 SD cards, T1i Charger, SD1100 Camera, SD1100 Charger, 1 SD cards for SD1100Mini laptop, laptop power cord, small hard drive, Phone cable, Phone charging cord, Power ConverterClothing

  • 1 white Puma shoes
  • 1 pair dark blue Jeans
  • 1 pair black jeans, black dress shoes
  • blue collared shirt
  • white plaid collared shirt
  • green collared shirt
  • brown t shirt
  • green shorts
  • 3 pair black socks
  • 1 pair short white socks
  • black rain jacket
  • merino sweater with collar
  • 4 pair of boxers
  • flip flops

Documents

  • maps on iPhone
  • paper directions to hotels
  • passport
  • drivers licence
  • 2 visa cards
  • paper copy of passport
  • paper copy of drivers licence
  • paper copy of birth certificate

Luggage

  • 1 medium size suit case
  • 1 brown leather messenger bag
  • 1 small overnight/carry-on bag

$200 Euros in cashMoleskin notebook and pen to write for journalConlin Angus book to readFrench phrase book2 paris Lonely Planet Paris booksPurchased in FranceI bought one white collared shirt, biege shorts and 4 pairs white socks while I was there.Why I took all this stuffLuggage: Initally, I was trying to pack as light as possible and it was going well. Then I started thinking about how it's only 2 weeks in another big city not travelling a ton and got lazy. I ended up taking a medium sized wheeled suitcase and a small carry on bag for my luggage. I had the messenger bag back in my suitcase just for a walking around during the day in Paris and Marseille. I really only used it to hold my camera and a bottle of water and maybe a sweater if it was cooler (which it was not the entire time).Clothes: When I was looking into France and Paris last year, I was thinking it was going to be 26 degrees when we were there. That's pretty toasty for me and my girlfriend. It's grab a beer and sit on the lake kind of weather. We had mostly packed for 12-14 degree kind of weather, hence the pants and shoes. I assumed I was going to spend the whole time in jeans and a collared shirt. I ended up wearing shorts most of the time because of the heat. I ended up buying more white sucks since they go better with shorts and my white shoes and I only had 1 pair. I bought another pair of shorts as well to change things up. Funny thing was that they were almost identical to the ones I had from Canada.Electronics: We could have brought one camera but either my girlfriend or I wouldn't be able to take photos so we brought my T1i DSLR and a small Canon point and shoot. Most of our photos were from the T1i but there were still a bunch of good ones from the small one. The computer and hard drive were to store the photos and to back them up. I shot most of the photos in raw and ended up with 50 gigs of photos. I'm working my way through them and you'll see them up on my Flickr stream as I pick out the good ones. Our iPhones were pretty useful even though we didn't use them to call anyone. We could still use the WiFi and the offline map apps to find places and get information if we needed it on the go. We tried to unlock them before we left so we could use a local sim card but they are still locked into a plan. Damn cell companies.Others: I wanted to write in my journal every day on the trip. Even if it was just a quick note about what we did that day, I wanted to get something down to remember everything later. I think back to what I can remember to the trip to Australia I did 8 years ago and I can't remember much. Even the photos don't really jog my memory. We were doing so much in Paris, it was hard to keep up. It's definitely something you have to keep on top of. I almost caught up when we went to Marseilles because there was less to do but I still have to write a few more things.We knew most of the places we wanted to see before we got to Paris but like most trips other things come or you just have a bit of extra time to fill. The Lonely Planet books are excellent for finding lodging and restaurants. I like to use them most for finding the touristy places to see. You may not be able to find a brochure in the hotel or hostel or a good website but the Lonely Planet guides are likely to have most places listed.I'm already itching to get out on another trip and see more of Europe. There are so many places to see, a few places in  in Asia and South America  have caught my eye. Time to start planning!Comments: Want to know why I brought something or how useful it was in Paris or Marseille? Let me know in the comments and I'll respond as soon as I can. You can also email me at ross.collicutt (at) gmail (dot) com.

A Big Pile of Bones Under Paris

When we started putting together the list of things we wanted to do in Paris, visiting the catacombs was high on the list. I really had no idea what to expect before starting a bit of research on the big pile of bones that lies beneath Paris. Going to see a pile of bones is cool but it's even more interesting when you consider some of the history.By the 17th century, Paris was having some big issues with where to put it's dead bodies. Cemeteries around churches were getting full and things were getting messy. Cemeteries had layers to them because there was no where else to put the bodies. They needed a solution.Alexandre Lenoir, the Police Lieutenant General overseeing the consolidation of the abandoned mines under Paris at the time, had the idea of moving the deceased into the mines to create more room. So from 1786 to 1788 the bones of all Paris' dead were moved into the mines under what is now Denfert-Rochereau near the south gate to the city. In all, the bones from some 6 million dead were moved from the cemeteries into the mines or what is commonly referred to as the Catacombs. From 1867 on they were opened to the public on a regular basis as a tourist attraction.Creepy stuff eh.We took the metro down to Denfert-Rochereau and popped up on the street wondering where the catacomb entrance was going to be. I had read that it was hard to find and some people had spent a good amount of time trying to find it. Either they were looking for a difference entrance than we were at or they didn't have a large lineup signaling the entrance because as soon as we turned around we spotted the large line for the catacombs.There was something on the sign about 26 year olds and under getting in for half price. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be a discount for under 26 year olds from EU countries like some of the other attractions but we showed some ID and got in for 4 euro instead of 8. I certainly wasn't balking at 8 euro to get into something this cool so 4 was even better.Right by the entrance, a tiny spiral staircase started it's decent of over 100 steps. Finally emerging at the bottom into the museum part of the catacombs, we could read a bit about the history in a well lit underground area. We quickly moved on to the underground tunnels that wound its way over a bit of the 2 km that you walk through the tunnels.The tunnels continued on for a while and we began to wonder how many bones we were actually going to see. Rounding a last corner, we were greeted with a creepy sign above the entrance to the ossuary. Stepping through the door, we saw hundreds and hundreds of femurs and skulls piled neatly almost to the ceiling. The bones lined both sides of the tunnel as far as you could see. It was tough getting a good photo without flashes but the small lights provided enough light for some decent ones.I'm sure we didn't walk past the bones of 6 million people but there were still many. I'm not sure where all the other parts were, all we saw were the leg bones stacked up and the skulls in patterns along the way or stacked on top. We easily saw a few thousands skulls. Makes you wonder how many more hallways and rooms are full of all the other bones that they don't show you.We picked up our pace a little bit near the end as the roof was starting to trip and the floor was getting weather. I brought an older pair of shoes as well as a brand new white pair to France with me and I'm sure glad I wasn't wearing the white pair. Our shoes had a good splattering of mud and bone dust on them when we got to the end.We had started to ascend before we hit the final staircase but it was still another 80 steps up another tiny staircase back up to the surface.A small price to pay to wander through the halls of the catacombs among the bones of 6 million dead Parisians.

Wine and Cheese in Paris

My girlfriend and I have just finished off a week in Paris. We've current basking in the sun in Marseille and will be spending another 2 days in Paris before heading home at the end of this week. It's always sad to think about the end of the trip and heading home but it wouldn't be so incredible if we were here all the time.We flew into Charles de Gaulle 1 week ago and it's flown by. I wasn't sure how easy the train system here was going to be to use but it's been a dream. As soon as you figure out which side you want to go down onto the train platform(decides which direction you want to go) you're golden. The RER (big) trains have letter names like A, B or C and the metro's have numbers like M1, M3 or M8.The night before we left I was freaking out about which metro pass we should get. One lasts for 1, 3 or 5 days and gets you certain places, one goes from Monday to Sunday and does other things. One you need a picture for and others you don't. Or you can just buy tickets each time you go. Or you can buy a book of 10 at a time and that's called a Carnet (it's really just 10 tickets that you buy at once and you get a bit of a discount). If you're looking for more information on the passes and trains in Paris check out Paris by Train. There is a ton of information there and you can ask questions in the forum. We opted to just go with buy tickets by Carnet and it's worked out well so far.Almost every trip we made was within the central zone of Paris, zone 1, so it worked well. If you are going to and from the airport or out further to somewhere like Versaille, you have to get a more expensive ticket. We just got our tickets from the a ticket window near the train stations and we were on our way. Try and learn a few of the words for paying for a ticket in French and it will be much easier. Some of the ticket people didn't know any English (or didn't want to speak it).I spent a bit of time on street view figuring out exactly where we had to go to get to our hotel before we even left Canada and it paid off in the end. We got to our hotel without a problem, a quaint little place called the Hotel de Tour Eiffel. The rooms weren't especially big or nice for what we paid for it but the front desk crew was there 24 hours a day and they were very nice and helpful. We picked the hotel on a recommendation from a friend so I'm not sure if it's indicative of other hotels in the Eiffel Tower area in terms of price and comfort. We were happy with the price so we didn't look for too many other options. Being within 5 minutes of the Eiffel Tower was pretty appealing for first time visitors to Paris.There isn't anything quite like laying on the lawns of Champ de Mars with some wine and cheese.        

Vive La France!

Ever since I got home from Australia and New Zealand in 2009, I was itching to travel again. I had only just got a taste of travelling and wanted to experience something farther away from the Canadian culture I see every day.I've had my eyes on Thailand and Chile for some time now. It seems like half the location independent lifestyle designers are currently in Thailand and it would be a blast to cruise through and see what that crew is up to. And I've heard nothing but good things about Chile. Everyone says it's the most amazing place they've ever been. I think that's a pretty good reason to go.I also had to think about my girlfriend, Brenna. She's not been travelling on her own yet and while my own tame experiences in Oceania wouldn't would qualify me as a seasoned traveller in anyones books, spending 4 months overseas anywhere makes you comfortable with the whole travel idea. She wasn't there yet.We had always talked about going to Europe and seeing some places there. Europe has so much to offer in every way. The only problem is the expense. It's not inexpensive like Asia or South America can be. It tends to be more in line with North American in terms of prices and the way things work. Something that's similiar to home would be good. Don't want to rock the boat too much for Brenna's first trip.Some friends took off last year for a month and went to a few places in France, Germany, Greece and Italy. We thought it would be a great trip to do something similar so we started planning. We quickly ran into the problem of time off from work. As much as I hate to admit that the globe-trotting we can do is limited by having to show up for work each day even though we both can work remotely online, it's true. Both our jobs can be done completely online but our employers are still not open to the idea of working from around the world. We're working on it.That little hitch meant we had about 2 weeks to play around with. Not quite enough to see 4 countries. Not really a lot to see 2 countries. Instead of trying to cram too much into 16 days, we decided to play the schedule on the light side and do 2 cities in France, Paris and Marseilles. It originally was Cassis, near Marseilles, but the organization of getting there and our lack of French language skills sort of pushed towards staying in the bigger cities.As it stands we've completed our week in Paris and have just arrived in Marseilles. At the end of the week, we'll head back up to Paris and fly home (and, gasp, back to work). So far it's been a great mix of free form activity and planned things. I found in Australia that I really liked to have a list of things that I wanted to do but be totally open on when they could be completed. I could mix and match activities in the days. Some days were crammed full of stuff if I felt like a lot or just a couple things if I just wanted to chill. Nothing is forced and there's time for almost everything.There was tons to do in Paris. We could have spent a few more weeks there always finding new things to do. We hit the main tourist attractions as well as a few little odds and ends that we had to dig to find. A post with more details and photos is coming soon! I'm spending much more time out adventuring that writing so it might be a few days before that hits the rcThink shelves.Marseilles is going to be even more free form. We had a vague idea of what the city was all about when we booked the tickets and hotel but really didn't have any details. Thankfully the hotel is awesome and the city is beautiful near the water. We just arrived by bullet train from Paris and didn't do too much today. The exploring will start in earnest tomorrow. I've got tons of great photos to show you so keep an eye out for those! I've got a few highlights up on Facebook already, flickr and blog versions coming shortly![Update] I've started posting about our days in France. You can follow our adventures here.Our first day: Wine and Cheese in Paris

You Won't Even Have to Move, Ever

Ever wonder about all the things you can do from that chair you're sitting in right now?Years ago, all that we could do in a chair was eat, sleep and read. You could sometimes talk to people if they were around. Or yourself if you really wanted to. That was about it.Now the power you have from your chair is incredible.Right now, I'm watching a ski film I got online. I didn't have to go to the store to buy it, or to the rental store to rent it. I just went to my favorite online video site and buy it there. Instantly I have it on my computer and can enjoy it without any getting up. I don't even have to sit on the couch to watch it on the TV. All of it is possible right from my computer.We used to have to go to the mailbox with a piece of paper and wait weeks for it to go through the system if we wanted to talk to someone around the world. Now there are too many ways to talk to people anywhere. It's easy to call people but then you have to worry about long distance charges and country codes. Why not just use skype, facebook, email, or the almost countless other services that allow you to communicate with anyone in the world real time.Do you need to go to the grocery store, fill up your cart and pay for your groceries there? Nope. You can just head over to your grocery stores website, click a few items and click deliver. You don't even have to get out of your chair. (You may need to walk to the door to answer the delivery guy but that's what rolling office chairs are for aren't they?)Want to go travelling? Everything you need is online. You can access your frequent flyer miles, your favorite stores to get more miles, all the information you need to decide where you're going and even the flight agency where you'll buy your tickets. You can check in online, see where exactly your seat is and change them if they suck.Things are going to get real interesting when houses that are completely connected to your computer become the norm in the market. Need to make sure you closed the garage door, turned off the coffee maker and shut the blinds from half way around the world? Not only is checking the status of those items going to be possible, being able to control them from anywhere on your computer will be as easy as checking your email.Cars are getting more hooked up to the internet as well. New Ford trucks connect up to your computer and allow you to do work on the road. We're almost at the point where we can just treat our vehicles as another mobile device. We'll park in the driveway and load up our cars with our favorite music and apps for the next days trip. Need to check where car is? Log in and look at the map.What all of this means is it's getting easier and easier to do whatever you want without even moving from your chair. Seen that animated movie about the two robots, Wall-E? Humans had advanced their technology far enough, they never had to get up from there hover-chairs, they only interacted with their world with the touch screens hovering in front of them. It never mentioned this but they probably had their minds read so they didn't even have to moves their mouthes to ask for something.I hope you can see the problem in this not-so-futuristic scenario. Humans were made to move. Having the technology to do everything you need without moving would be incredible but my hope is that it would just be used to free up time and worry and let us to do truly incredible things.Another issue with the scenario is that we are still dealing with a ginormous gap between people that can afford these luxury items and the people that are still living in dirt houses and can barely afford the food and water the need to live.Will you use the power gained by all our incredible technology to get fat and lazy or will you use it for the betterment of society and to advance human civilization as a whole?****Challenge UpdatesYou'll start to see little challenge updates on the bottom of my posts. They might be tiny but they'll be there. I'm always working on little challenges, but each month I'll focus on 1 or 2. I like this method for a couple of reasons. First, if I don't record things, I'll be more likely to forget what I had accomplished. I may go straight back into what I was doing before and repeat the steps I had made it though. Second, writing a post each week that includes a little tidbit of info about the challenges forces me to think about the steps I'm taking towards conquering those challenges. Thinking about something often makes it much more likely to come true. Not guaranteed, but much more likely.What I'm wondering though is if you've ever done a monthly challenge and how you set it up? Did you make a goal to be completed by the end of the month? Did you just work at it to see how far you get? Did you continue on after the month is up or start a new one? I'd love to hear what went well and what didn't work. I'll be trying my own configuration but any input would be much appreciated!

4 months in Australia and New Zealand; A Year Later

I realized today that I never did a roundup post of all the posts while I was away in Australia and New Zealand last year. Looking back I wrote way more than I thought. Having nothing else to do in the hostels during the evenings gave me some  good time to write. I wish I had kept up that momentum when I got home. Having to hunt for a job to pay off the trip put a bit of a dent in the free time I had.So here's the coles notes version of my trip last year.Flew into Sydney. Met up with a friend there that I hadn't seen for a few years and got my bearings. It was nice to see a familiar face when so many things are changing at once.I bought a shitty old car and drove through Sydney to Goulbourn. It was crazy getting used to driving on the other side of the road. I was trying to do it in Sydney no less.After staying Goulbourn for a couple days I headed down to Canberra and took some crazy backroads out to Queanbeyan. Where I stayed with some family for a few days. I checked out the Australia War Museum and a few other things while I was there. They also took me down to Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's tallest mountain. It wasn't very hard to climb but was an excellent adventure. The area was beautiful.I had planned to go down to the coast, possibly to Melbourne, then turn around and drive all the way back up to Cairns. But my family there convinced me that driving over to Adelaide was well worth the trip and I could just come back across the middle and see a bit of the "outback". So I headed off down the coast.  I stayed in a few neat places and was just going to drive straight through Melbourne but ended up staying for a week.There was tons of stuff to do in Melbourne. There are lots of gardens there and an awesome bus system that goes around the center of town. There is even a free one. The Aussie Rules game was awesome. I still don't really get all the rules. The best part was a show on the docks with the Pyrophone Juggernaut.Sadly, it was time to get on my way and I hit the Great Ocean Road. Apollo Bay was beautiful but wet, the 12 Apostles were, uh, some big rocks and Port Fairy was a little creepy(but had a volcano!)I had no idea what to expect when I headed into the Grampians. After hiking to the Pinnacle, I decided it was one of my favorite places in Australia. The hostel there was owned by the guy who started the one in Apollo Bay and they bother were small, cozy and eco-friendly.I had had enough of the rain though so it was time to head North. I packed my bag and headed up to Adelaide to spend a couple days. After that I started to drive to Broken Hill and realized that Australia is a really big place. I basically cut across from Adelaide to Sydney and got about as close to the "outback" as I could without being screwed if my car broke down. I just tried not the think about that happening. After 2 incredibly long days of driving I made it to Dubbo. After searching around for a place to stay, I got a decent campsite and then hit up the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. I hadn't seen most of those animals in my life.Despite being much further North than I was a week before, it still wasn't sunny enough so onto the road again to Cairns. Diving on the barrier reef was incredible and I will definitely be back to do it. Re-energized and a little tanned, I headed down to the party town of Airlie Beach to do some sailing.I was not disappointed.And then Rockhampton was pretty boring.I had never heard of Hervey Bay but it was apparently the gateway to Fraser Island, the Island of Sand.After driving around the whole freakin town trying to find parking for the hostel I was going to stay at, I hung out in Brisbane for a few days with some hilarious Irish guys.Back down in Surfer's Paradise and Lennox Head, I stayed with some more friends and climbed Mount Warning. Damn that thing is steep.Port MacQuarie was a cool little place. I ran a lot here getting ready for the 14k race I was going to do in Sydney when I got back there. It was on the water and sunny so I was happy.I had been in Australia for 2 months by now and I was starting to think in Australian. Weird though....now was that an Australian or Canadian thought?Funny that I totally blanked about what I did in Newcastle. I guess it wasn't very exciting.I wish I had had more time in Katoomba but I was anxious to get back to Sydney to sell the car that was falling apart around me.The first place I stayed back in Sydney was in Bondi Beach in the same hostel we stayed at when I went down to play rugby in 2003.Before I left for Australia, I saw a rad video who was travelling around Asia taking pictures of himself almost every day. He put it into a timelapse which showed going from clean-shaven to a dirty traveller with a bushy beard and long hair. I thought it would be neat to try. I couldn't do it.Cutting 2 pounds of hair off left me way faster for the 14km City to Surf running race. It went from Hyde Park all the way out to Bondi Beach. with 70,000 people in it, it's the biggest time race in the world. I've never been with so many people.I didn't lose much and bought a couple things and did some thinking back on my last 3 months. I took a few photos along the way too.Whew. I didn't lose you there did I? Ok, that was 3 months in Australia. I had 1 month left and absolutely no plan for my time in New Zealand. All I knew was that I had to Zorb... and possibly bungy jump.... and maybe jet boat too.Short and sweet New Zealand trip.... and GO!I think there were a number of days around here that I was just generally picking my nose and not doing much. I can't remember why I didn't post. I took the Magic Bus south through the North Island, through Rotorua, and spent a day in Wellington. Then we needed to get ourselves to the South Island. We had the option to take the Interislander Ferry across Cook Straight or fly across. I wanted to see the area a bit differently and knew I'd be taking the ferry back on the way North so I took a little plane over. After being re-routed to a different airport on the South Island because of the wind, I finally made it to Picton.We didn't stay long in Picton and headed right away to Nelson where we spent a day in the Abel Tasman National Park. We took a water tax a few kilometers into the park then hiked back. Talking the bus driver on the way out he had mentioned a longer, but more interesting trail back that went up into the hills a bit more instead of along the water. "Much better views up there", he said. We took his advice and took the high trail. It's always interesting hiking with people you hardly know when you have no idea where you're going. It all ended up well.Along down the coast to Greymouth. Funny enough, it was a very grey little town that's only claim to fame was the Monteiths Brewery, which we got a tour of. Being incredibly hung over after only a couple hours of sleep is not a great way to spend a bus ride but we made it in one piece to Franz Josef ( and to keep all our food down...).I had heard that there were a couple of good glacier tours to do in New Zealand before I left on the trip but I didn't really think about it again until I was down there. An option on the Magic Bus tour was a tour of the glacier or a heli-hike. The heli-hike was the same amount of time as the regular one but quite a bit more expensive.  I'm so glad I bit the bullet and in no time we were up in a helicopter and then wandering around the glacier.I wasn't sure if anything was going to top the experience of walking around on a massive block of moving ice. I forgot about everything you could do in Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of New Zealand. We took a bus trip out to Milford Sound and I have to say that it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. My photos could not do it justice. To top it all off, I flew back over the mountains into Queenstown. I was a little disappointed that there weren't enough people interested in the helicopter ride back to Queenstown. It was expensive but it would have been the most incredible way to see the area. They even stop on one of the glaciers one the way back.Not wanting to say I went to New Zealand and didn't snowboard, I booked some gear and headed off into the Remarkables. The snow was great but the visibility on the morning I went was atrocious. They had orange pegs in the snow so you could see where the hell you were going. I definitely bailed into a big icey hole on my first run that I couldn't even see.Then I did the must gut wrenching thing I've ever done in my life. For some reason I booked everything right when I got into Queenstown and figured it would be a good idea to go Bungy Jumping. It was an even better idea to book it on the last day I was there so I'd stew in my own nervousness for a few days before I actually got the chance to jump. If you decide to do it if you go, do it right away. I felt sick I was so nervous the days before. To top it all off, I didn't choose the first bungy in the world off a bridge, or the platform off the side of a mountain over Queenstown, but the third tallest bungy in the world, the Nevis.I surprised myself on the bungy though. Everyone there was scared to go, some more than other people. Some people were so scared they tried not to jump when they go to the edge but ended up falling anyways. I'm not sure if it was competition with the couple guys that jumped well before I went or the solid resolution not to look like the fool that pretty much just fell off, but as I got to the edge, all fear fell away and I managed to pull out a beautiful swan dive 134 meters above the canyon floor. I felt like I was going to die just before the bungy caught and then it was all over. I was alive and well and actually able to think about the rest of the trip for the first time in a few days.We headed out to the coast to Dunedin and ate too much chocolate at the Cadbury factory. Aside from running, there wasn't much to do in Kaikoura because of the weather. Then it was back to Picton and across Cook Straight into Wellington. I had heard Wellington was called the Windy City but I experienced first-hand myself when I went for a run along the sea wall.One of the most unique things you can do in New Zealand is called Zorbing. You basically get into a giant hamster ball and get rolled down a hill. It felt like being stuffed into a giant washing machine.At this point, it felt like the trip was almost over. We were heading back towards Auckland and although there was still another section to the trip, I couldn't help but feel sad about an incredible adventure coming to a close. I had made some amazing friends on the bus trip around New Zealand and now here was a good chance I'd never seen them again.The last section going North from Auckland was relaxing. After the whirlwind tour of the rest of New Zealand it was nice to slow down, relax and spend the remaining time with the people I had gotten to know well on the trip. There was one more crazy adventure in store though. We all piled onto a 4 wheel drive bus to go out to Cape Rienga and on the way back 4x4'd to 90 Mile beach and the huge sand dunes in the area. Once we got there, they pulled out some boards and told us to hike to the top and slide down. We all thought the driver was crazy, until he did it himself and made some of the fastest runs out of all of us!The bus ride back into Auckland was pretty horrible. I got sick with something that made any time away from the bathroom a scary thought.  I made the best of my last few days in Auckland, and then making sure I had all my gear and tickets, headed off to the airport.Returning from being in other countries for 4 months was a strange experience. Before getting home, I had this feeling that things would be so different. Everything would be upside down and in different places when I got there. Everyone would be different and I wouldn't be able to recognize anyone.What I found though that everything was exactly the same. Everyone was doing the same things. Everyone was thinking the same way. Everyone was watching the same TV shows. Nothing had really changed. Everyone's were almost exactly the same as I had left them 4 months earlier.You can get addicted to travelling. I can see why that is so after only doing one international trip. It's hard to make big changes in your life staying in the same place and being stuck in the same routine every day. Being in a different with different people and different languages and different cultures shakes things up. You can stay the same if you want but it's hard. Travelling changes you. It lets you start fresh. It lets you be whoever you want to be.It's almost time to travel again and I can't wait. I'm excited for the opportunity to see new places, meet new people and, most of all, the experience of starting fresh.

Most Popular Posts from 2009 on rcThink

Popular Posts

2009 was the first year I really started writing on this blog. I tried last year and got bored. My 4 month trip to Australia and New Zealand really got my excited to write and share my adventures with the rest of the world. Here are my most popular posts from this year!10. Coming Home From Australia and New ZealandI spent 4 months this year in Australia and New Zealand. It was the best thing I've ever done. Check out my thoughts on returning to Canada after spending some time down under.9. Winter Challenge RoundupI found the best way to get myself to do something was to make a challenge for it. If it was a contest of sorts with myself, I'd be more likely to stick with it and write about it. Here are my challenges for this winter.8. Powerful Beyond MeasureI credit @jonathanmead with this one. What an incredible message. If you want to get riled up for the wickedness that will be your 2010, watch this now.7. A Change In DirectionI had no idea what I was going to be writing about when I started the blog. At first it was going to be about everything I did but it quickly turned into a travel blog while I was away. After returning I wasn't sure what to write about since I wasn't travelling. I'm a bit addicted to trying new things, seeing what I can learn and how far I can push myself so this is what rcThink will be about. If you love these things too check this post out and let me know what you're into.6. My 30 Day Minimalism ChallengeI was moving out. I had loads of stuff. I didn't want to take it all. I couldn't take it all. I started a challenge for myself to get rid of all that I could.5. 1 Week Into My Minimalism ChallengeA status update on the minimalism challenge. I didn't exactly hit my goal of one thing every day for a month but I did get rid of whole lot of stuff. It did change my view on what I need and why I keep things around. I'll be doing another one of these early in the new year to shed unneeded junk and clear my mind to accomplish all the awesomeness I'm going to in 2010.4. The Most Beautiful Place I've Ever SeenOn my trip this year I spent a day in Milford Sound. It's pretty much the most beautiful place I've ever seen. I've never seen anything like it, almost prehistoric. The cliffs rose straight up to staggering heights out of the glassy water. The dolphins were following the boat as we cruised by. Waterfalls poured from the valleys into the fjord below. Definitely worth a read if you want to go (or go back) to New Zealand.3. Rcthink FaceliftI had a tough time choosing a theme for rcThink. I'd change it every once and a while trying to find a fit for myself and my content. I've been so happy with Headlines from Woothemes that it's on a few other blogs I write for as well. Quick advice: Find a good theme and stick to it. Do spend some time finding one you really like though.2. Digital Nomad Blog Carnival #5I got the change to host the 5th Digital Nomad Blog Carnival created by Cody at Thrilling Heroics . I had a fantastic time reading through and picking my favorite posts. I'll be doing this again soon!1. Creating the List LifeWith so many ideas for adventures running around in my head I had to write them down. The best of the best appears in this list. I hope you get some inspiration to get out and really experience life from it!

Plans for 2010

It's an incredible feeling to have a clear purpose for something. I feel like I know exactly where I want to go with this blog and I'm going to pour everything I've got into it and a couple other projects in 2010.In writing this I've tried to experiment and see what the whole blogging thing is about and I've done well on some things and sucked on other things. A few things I want to improve on next year:

1. Regular Posting Schedule

I didn't think this was going to be so hard but posting on a regular schedule ended up being near impossible for me. I'm going to experiment with schedules this year and, who knows, maybe I'll end up with a schedule of no schedule.

2. Wrap up Challenges

I started some posts, challenges and contests this year that petered out into nothing. I won't be doing this again. Everything will have a strong start and an even stronger finish.

3. Spend more time on Posts

I've never spent much time writing. In elementary school, I breezed through. In high school, it was an afterthought. In university, I always did it the night before it was due. Writing has become much more than an afterthought or lame assignment to me now and I'm going to spend much more time learning and perfecting my skills.

Gimme Your Comments

What was your favorite post you wrote this year? What are you going to do next year to improve? To make it your best yet?

Digital Nomad Blog Carnival #5

Ferris WheelWelcome to the Digital Nomad Blog Carnival numero 5!This is the 5th monthly issue highlighting the best of the digital nomad blogs and their fantastic writing and amazing stories.A special thanks @CodyMckibb at Thrilling Heroics for setting up the first one and making sure this fantastic idea keeps on truckin.And without any more blah blah blah  from me, here are the best of the best from the latest submissions.Thursday Bram presents Go Abroad: It Will Make You More Creative as well as Flying Solo: What If Your Other Half Doesn't Want To Travel? posted at Working Your Way Around The World.John Bardos presents 8 Reasons Why You Should Work in a Foreign Country | JetSetCitizen.com posted at JetSetCitizen.com.SVB presents Find The Best Web Host For Your Online Business posted at The Digerati Life.Chris Dunphy presents Connected at Burning Man posted at Tales from Technomadia.David Turnbull presents How To Be Effective posted at David Turnbull.Robert Fitzsimmons presents My Date with a Cambodian Girl posted at AdventureRob.com.Kirsty Henderson presents Nerdy Nomad » My 10 Favourite Cafes in New York with Free Wifi (So Far) posted at Nerdy Nomad.Jeremy Zongker presents The Importance of a Professional Website Design posted at Reliable Writers.That's it! If you were hoping to submit an article for this month, you just missed it but JetSetCitizen is hosting next months so make sure you get your entry in soon! You can do that on the Blog Carnival submission page.If you are new to this whole Digital Nomad Blog Carnival thing, check out the previous editions:Carnival #4 at Working Your Way Around The WorldCarnival #3 at Voyagner by @DanHaneveerCarnival #2 at Get Paid To Write Online by @SHurleyHallCarnival #1 at Thrilling Heroics by @codymckibb

Coming Home From Australia and New Zealand

IMG_4698I've started this post on the eve before I fly home to Canada from New Zealand. I've spent three months in Australia and one in New Zealand and while I'm excited to head home to my car, my family and my bed, I'm sad this trip is coming to an end.Having only driven and flown to a few place in North America previous to this trip, I didn't have much experience in overseas extended travel. I was about as green as they come when I landed in Sydney four months ago. Scared, excited and completely unaware of all the intricacies of travel, it took a while to figure everything out and become comfortable with it. Luckily I had arranged to meet a friend in Sydney when I got there so I wasn't totally alone. After that I hadn't  planned anything.I'm normally someone who likes to have things planned. It makes everything smoother and puts my mind at ease when I know 3 days from now where I'll be and what I'm doing. I'm also very lazy. I don't like to plan much because it is work. It requires reading, emailing, money and time. After reading so much on ditching the guide books and just do what comes up, I decided to give it a shot. I was in Australia and New Zealand during the winter, or low season, and I wasn't too worried about booking.My last minute plans were only disrupted a few times. The vast majority of the time I rocked up to whatever town I could find along the way and went with whatever happened. I don't recommend this way if you are on a tight schedule or absolutely have to stay at a certain place or do a particular activity but for me it worked well.Instead of driving around New Zealand like I did Australia, I switched it up a bit. I booked the best "hop on, hop off" bus I could find in New Zealand, the Magic Bus. What resulted was a very different trip than in Australia but one that I'm very fond of. Thinking back now, I had a better time in New Zealand because of the adventures and people I met on the bus.Back at home, I still second guess myself on which way I should look when crossing traffic. I highly recommend driving when there are other people on the road so you can follow them.If anyone has any questions or comments about the trip, please let me know in the comments down below!

Dune Boarding near Cape Reinga

IMG_4949Back in Auckland from my whirlwind trip around New Zealand, I was thankful to have a day or 2 rest before hopping on the plane and heading home.I just had one more trip to do up to Cape Reinga, the top of New Zealand.Because of the way the bus schedule worked we would head up to Paihia the first day, do a day trip to the cape the second, and then have a day to relax on the third.I was expecting this part of the trip to be pretty slow and just a scenic drive up to the cape and back. We got to Paihia and went on a cruise out to the "Hole in the Rock".  It's basically a massive hole in one of the rocks that you can drive through with your boat as long as the water isn't too high. Unfortunately our boat was a little big and the water too high so we didn't fit. We did get to see plenty of dolphins playing around the boat along the way.I didn't realize that we would be doing some dune boarding on the way up to the cape. I had never even seen it before and was excited to give it a try. I assumed it would be on a fairly small dune and the sleds wouldn't go very fast.Just getting to the dunes was a bit of an adventure. Right on 90-mile beach, the dunes rise up off the beach and are bigger than I thought. The road ends abruptly and turns into a stream that heads down to the beach. That didn't stop the bus driver. He slowed a little to make sure we were in the right gear and then plowed on through the river.Careful not to stop in the gooey sand he showed us the smaller dunes the "Oldies" would be sliding down. There were a few buses hitting the dunes that day and a couple were primarily an older crowd. He quickly hauled the bus around so were facing a much larger dune with wind whipping up sand over the top. We'd be climbing that.Our guide and bus driver had an incredible amount of energy and as soon as everyone had a board set about explaining how we were supposed to do this without breaking our necks.He flops down in the mud by the stream and explains where to put your arms, feet, body and how to stop. Then he hops up and starts to run up the sand dune.It wasn't small. And sand is about as hard to hike up as snow, minus the cold. 2 steps up, 1 step back.Near the top, I couldn't wait to rest to catch a breath but had to get right to do the top ridge to do it. Stop before and you'll be assaulted by sand whipping over the top of the dune and down the other side.Finally we make it to the top. Myself and a Finnish fellow named Antti made it to the top first after the guide and we hurry over to where we're supposed to slide down.The first run was fun but I wasn't sure how fast or far I would go so I dragged my feet a little.  Wicked. Now that I know what it's like time to hurl myself down the hill.  I trudge all the way back up to the top of the dune hop in line. Once we've gone once and know what to expect we're allowed to cut the line and go further down the dune. Antti and I rush over past the rest of the wide-eyed first timers and rip down the dune a second time.I pretty much laughed the whole way down. It's like sliding down a huge hill on a sled in the snow but nice and warm. Aside from all the sand getting into my ears, eyes, mouth and nose it was a wicked ride.Antti and I managed to get up the dune 3 more times and got a little further each time. The stream went along the bottom of the dune so if you were going fast enough you'd go right over the stream into the swamp beyond. I didn't quite make it into the swamp but did get onto a little island in the middle of the stream. The last 2 times we raced a couple other people all the way down.We hit up a beautiful beach on the way out of the dunes and hopped in the water to get rid of all the sand. Even after the swim and a shower later, I still was finding sand everywhere. It was a small price to pay for an awesome trip to the sand dunes.[gmap]

Paying to Climb Into a Washing Machine

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That's what it felt like. Like getting into a washing machine.After leaving Wellington and heading north we had a bit of time to look around in Rotorua. I wanted to try Zorbing.After watching some videos and hearing everyone talking about it, Zorbing was definitely something on the New Zealand to-do list.  I had gone through Rotorua on the way south but the weather was horrible so I decided to wait until I was going north.Out of a bus load of people, Russell and I wanted to go. I'm not sure if everyone else was scared or were trying to save money. We got our certificates printed up, changed into our swim suits and headed on up the hilll in a ragged old 4x4.There are 2 runs down that you can choose from. One is straight and wide and the zorb gets moving a faster on the way down this one. The other one that I did zig-zagged down the hill and ended up in the same place as the straight one.The Zorb guy topped up the ball with some air and then shot a bunch of warm water into it. He turns to me and says run and dive in. Really? Ok!  After diving through the small hole in the side and feeling like a fish in a hamster ball, he zipped up the cover and opened the gate.I heard a tap on the outside of the ball so I was ready to go. Moving the ball is not as easy at it looks. I threw all my weight at the downhill side of the ball and I was off.My original plan was to try and stay standed up the entire ride. I had heard it was really hard to do and you find yourself on your ass as soon as you start moving. It was damn near impossible! I gave a couple of pushes in the right direction and then I was down. The Zorb gained some speed down the first stretch and then launched up and hit the fence in the corner. Both the water and I were up in the air. I came down first. The water decided to as well but in the general vicinity of my face.The rest of the way down I felt like I was stuck in a washing machine. I couldn't tell which way was up. The water was sloshing around like crazy and up and over me. I couldn't stop laughing the entire way down but in doing so ended up with a bunch of water in my mouth ever corner with all the water flying around.Coming to a stop at the bottom they unzipped the cover, snapped a couple photos and then I slid out feet first. I was lucky to land on my feet on the way out, most don't. They come flying out with all the water and land on their ass.I had no idea what to expect going to Zorb. It ended up being one of the most fun things I've done on my trip and I'm definitely glad I went.[gmap]

Running in the Windy City

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By that I mean Wellington. Because of it's position and the weather in the area, Wellington is an incredibly windy city. I got to experience first hand what the wind was like on my last run there.I was only going to spend one night in Wellington because I wanted to get moving North and have a few extra days in Rotorua. I ended up washing everything in my backpack because of my own stupidity and needed an extra day for things to dry out.I haven't run much in New Zealand. Being on the bus almost every day and being sick for a week has taken it's toll and I feel like I've been on a tour, sleeping or on the bus the entire time. I was excited to get out and stretch my legs.I took to the seawall heading south from the harbour in Wellington and did ran about 4 kilometers down the path. The wind was howling out of the bay and was pushing sea spray up and over the bank and across the path. I missed most of the big waves but I was still almost covered in salt by the time I turned around.Running with the wind is easy. It wasn't actually that easy because the wind was pushing hard enough that I had to lean back into it and I battled to keep some sort of pace.Running against the wind is not easy. The wind was incredibly gusty and I'd be leaning into it for 30 seconds pushing as hard as I could to continue at the same pace and then it would drop off to nothing and I'd nearly fall on my face. Some of the gusts were strong enough to push my feet together, tripping me up,  and I almost hit the pavement a few times.I laughed out loud a few times on the run as I felt ridiculous trying to remain upright and run in the wind. I was happy to be back at the hostel and get out of the gusts afterwards and into a nice hot shower.[gmap]

Throwing Myself 134 Meters off the Nevis

Nevis BungySomewhere along my trip I got the crazy idea to do a bungy jump. I didn't really want to spend the money to do a skydive so I figured bungy jumping would be the next best thing. Little did I know that everyone thinks bungying is harder. You have to jump yourself.There are 3 bungies around Queenstown. We saw the first and original bungy at the Kawarau Bridge. It's 43 meters high. On the way into town on the bus we stopped for a bit to watch a few people jump. Most of the people looked scared to death. A few were able to dive out like they recommend. The others just fell or hop off feet first. I took away a valuable tip though: don't jump feet first.I never saw the second bungy but it was on an open ledge at the top of the gondola above Queenstown. The smallest of the bungies, it might be the most interesting because you run and jump and there's nothing but dirt and rock below you. You can even do it at night.I figured I'd just throw everything I had at my goal and do the Nevis. I had heard it was the scariest thing ever and at 134 meters I believed it. That's 3 times the height of the bridge jump was had seen. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.I have to say, I don't think I've ever been so nervous as the day before and the morning of the bungy. I was trying to think of every possible excuse to get out of it. Talking to a guy from the hostel that had done it the day before, he had mentioned not being able to do it if you were sick... or was that the skydiving? I had a bit of a cold at this point and would be quite disappointed if I couldn't jump because of it. At the same time, getting out of it for reasons out of my control wasn't exactly a bad thing.I arrived at the office to check in and much to my dismay, everything was a go. The weather was good, everything was running, having a bit of a cold couldn't get me out of it now.There were videos of the bungy  playing at the office and at first I avoided them. I didn't want to know what I was getting myself into. I found myself drawn to them though and they almost had a calming effect. It didn't look that bad. It's only a 8.5 second free fall to a 6 inch deep creek below. I'll only end up horribly mangled or dead if something goes wrong. No problem.I was thankful for the 45 minute bus ride out of town to the bungy. Anything to put it off a little bit more. I tried to collect my thoughts but only ended up more nervous. An American guy near the front of the bus wouldn't stop talking. He sounded nervous but was trying to cover it up. Who was I kidding, I was so nervous I could hardly talk.At the Nevis, I had given into the fact that I was going to throw myself from a perfect safe platform 134 meters into the canyon below. We got harnessed up and I checked and rechecked that things were buckled and tight enough. Poppping out the other side of the building, the gondola comes into view.  I was standing on the view platform when a few other people arrived.The order of the bungy is always heaviest to lightest and to my surprise, I would be near the end. The surprised fellow that was to be first came up beside me and took one look at the canyon. He muttered, "That's bullshit", and quietly wandered away.6 of us slid over to the main gondola at a time on the small one and got our leg straps done up. I had forgotten about the full body harness I had on but this made it all the more real. It was like having shackles around my ankles. "You're not going anywhere but down," they were saying.The first guy got up to go. He looked scared out of his mind. Standing on the edge and looking down he mumbled something and fell off the edge. Wow. After being hauled up to the Gondola and breathing again, all he could say was how cool that was. I didn't believe him.One of the things they repeat over and over before you jump is to make sure you dive out. It makes for a better video and makes for a softer landing at the bottom.  Almost everyone just fell off the ledge before I went. A couple of fellows had managed a bit of a jump and that gave me hope. What would happen when I got to the edge?It was quite windy the day I went so we had to wait for the gusts to die down before jumping. The fellow holding your harness behind you would say "3,2, 1, go" and then you jump, no ifs ands or buts. The American guy that had so much to say on the bus was very quiet just before he went. His first try didn't result in much and he was still standing on the edge staring down. The bungy guy gave him a little pep talk and then started the countdown again. The second time was met with more hesitation and was going to pull back but he had gone to far. With wild flapping of his arms, he was gone.My turn. I sat down in the chair, got my feet hooked into the stirrups and was hooked up. No turning back now. Oddly calm, I smiled for the camera and waddled up to the edge. Waiting for the wind to die down I had second to check out the view. It doesn't look that far down but I know it is.3.....2.....1.... go.I think about doing the best swan dive I can muster and leap.8.5 seconds of screaming toward the ground hardly being able to breathe and it's over. I'm at the end of the bungy. I'm not dead, I'm not mangled, I'm quite happy actually. Happy that I didn't freeze. Happy that I jumped well. Happy that it's over.On the second bounce I reach up and grab the strap that releases my feet and then I'm hanging out in the sun waiting to be lifted back into the Gondola. A round metal contraption hurtles down the bungy and clips into the attachment above me and starts the slow ascent. I felt like Neo in the  Matrix being hauled up into the ship.For the first time in 2 days I can actually think clearly. I'm not constantly worrying about what the bungy was going to be like. There was still lots of things to do on my trip and they hadn't even entered my mind after I started thinking about the bungy.It scared me half to death but it was one of the best things I've done on my trip. I'll definitely be looking for more of those to do!Check out the video to see what it was like.[gmap]

Snowboarding in the Remarkables

I took a day that I was in Queenstown to head up to one of the local mountains and carve up some snow.

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I couldn't see a thing.There were three lifts. 2 of them went up a bit higher and the third stayed more central and lower on the mountain. I tried one of the higher lifts first and found that all I could see was white and the odd marker that showed the middle of the run. Just getting to the next marker was a bit of a nightmare and I hit the snow pretty hard a few times sailing over unseen holes in the snow.The rented boots and board were treating me fine. The combination of wind, snow, fog and old, scratched goggles were frustrating me. I had my sunglasses with me so I tried those out instead. They worked ok but each run I had to dry them out and unstick all the snow from the front of the lenses.Finally giving up I went in to have something warm to drink and mull over my options. I was very close to throwing in the towel and heading down the mountain. I would have to wait until the next bus just after lunch to do that though. May as well stick it out till then and see what happens.I was struck with an idea on the way out and found myself in the ski shop trying on goggles with yellow lense. I hadn't intended on buying any since I couldn't use them for the rest of the trip and they would just take up space but after spending money to get to the mountain I was determined to make things work. I've been looking for some goggles with yellow lenses for dirtbiking at home anyways so I'll be able to use them again.By the afternoon it had cleared up a little.IMG_4254With the fog drifting away and my new goggles I was able to make it down the run without regularly sprawling on my face.I had no expectations going up to the mountain so I can't say I was disappointed. I wouldn't rave about my day at the Remarkables either. Every mountain has its good days and bad though and I'd imagine my day would have been one of the bad ones.Areas that had regular wind run across it ended up icey and slick. Dips in the sun were reduced to piles of slush that grabbed my board and threatened to throw me over the front. There were too many flat spot for my liking. Skiiers wouldn't have minded pushing through the little uphill bits to get back to the lodge by I can't say I was pleased to take off a binding and hike up.The lifts were all quads but were of the old style so a liftee had to hold the chair every time or your knees were abruptly taken out by the seat.Not having boarded much last year I was glad to get out on the snow. I will be riding as much as possible this year and hopefully the snow at home will be a fair bit better than what I found at the Remarkables.[gmap]

The Most Beautiful Place I've Ever Seen: Milford Sound

We left Franz Josef after a night of the hardest rain I've seen on my trip so far. I was desperately hoping that it would move off or abate by the time we got to Queenstown. I had a lot planned for the adrenaline capital of New Zealand and didn't want it spoiled by too much bad weather.The first day I headed out to Milford Sound. It's world famous for its amazing views and incredible walking track. While we didn't have any time for walking the track we took a full day tour out into the waters of the sound. The 4 hour coach took us from Queenstown around the mountains and down to Milford. Even the views from the coach were stunning.IMG_4057The drive took us through some gnarly terrain along the Milford Road. The drivers need a special certification to be allowed to drive this road during the winter because it can get really bad. Sometimes there's snow, sometimes ice, sometimes both. Every few hundred meters there was evidence of avalanches from the last year. Apparently the roads been closed 13 days already this year because of the slides and supposed to get worse.One section of trees looked completely obliterated. There was no snow to be seen even though they had been tossed around recently. The avalanche had stopped further up the hill but the blast of air that comes down with the snow left the trees uprooted and in various snapped and broken positions.Finally, our anxious bus ride was over and we were greeted with the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen.IMG_4120The breeze was calmly blowing through the sound as we boarded the boat and started the 2 hour putter to the Tasman Sea. I lost count the number of times I completely zoned out, dumbstruck by the beauty of the water, mountains, and snow. The past few days had been filled with rain so the waterfalls were moving pretty good and they were all over the place. Small ones, tall ones, wide ones, narrow ones.IMG_4190The landscape looked prehistoric. I half expected a brontosaurus to raise it's head out of the misty woods.On the way out to the sound the driver teased us with the prospect of flying back over the mountains in a helicopter or a plane. Not only would it give us a site of the incredibly picturesque mountains and water, we'd be back in Queenstown in 30 minutes to enjoy the rest of our day. After flying around in the helicopter on the Franz Josef Glacier, I was set on defying gravity again. Once I heard the price of $550 bucks to take the flight back, I had to rethink my choice of travel. Even the flight back was a bit steep at $330. Nearer to the terminal though, the driver announced that we could get a deal for the plane flight at $260(and even less after the exchange). That sealed it. I was going to fly back to Queenstown over the mountains.I wasn't disappointed.IMG_420635 minutes of absolutely amazing views.IMG_4229[gmap]

Queenstown: Adrenaline Capital of New Zealand

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After the scenery of Franz Josef I was really excited to get to Queenstown. It was probably the most talked about of all the places in New Zealand and I was anxious to see what it was like.I was quite surprised with how small it was. I was expecting a much larger full size town but when we rolled into the city limits all that was there were a few suburbs and a little ski town. I have to say though, I was quite impressed by the time I left with how much this little ski town has to offer.Coming in to town we passed the bridge that bungy started on. The Kawarau Bridge was the site of the original bungy and it's still operating today. Jumpers only fall 43 meters before hitting the water but only some of them do the water jump.After jumping a little boat unhooks the jumpers from the bungy and are taken back to the shore. We watched a few from the viewing platform and all I can say is don't jump with your feet first.The rest of the day was pretty relaxed wandering around in town looking for a mexican restaurant. We had been talking about burritos and margaritas that day and had the crave on. After finding the ridiculously expensive mexican place we opted to head down the street to Fergburger instead.The next few posts will be about my activities in Queenstown so stay tuned![gmap]