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Lots to get to - the Kiwi Experience continues!

Hey all, Dizzle here. It has been a crazy few weeks but we are finally beginning to suss out what is going to happen the next few months.

Firstly, I have been working at Gotham a few nights a week to put aside some extra cash to get an apartment in Hoboken or Jersey City. Hopefully September, but realistically October.

BOTH pairs of parents just got back from vacations in Michigan. Weird, right? They didn't see each other while there.

Baby G has been busy planning the bachelorette party/bridal shower for Jaime with Joce WHILE looking for work (we may have good news TODAY - but I don't want to jinx it by typing it out!)

Congrats to Andy & Mandy! Wee Oliver has been with us a couple weeks already, and already has his own BLOG! It's on the sidebar to the right, and we couldn't be happier for the whole family.
Congrats also to Steve & Lisa! Sophia Grace Varol joined our world this week, and is even cuter than one would've dared imagine. Nice work, you two (now three):

A couple interesting news articles from New Zealand made it all the way over here to the states this week. Both are funny.

It's 4Real: Parents say they'll call their son Superman
Pat and Sheena Wheaton have been told they cannot name their baby boy 4Real, but they have a Plan B.
"It's a little bit cheeky," admits Pat, but he says - if need be - he and his wife will register their son under an alias.
"If we have to register him for the Government or the system or whatever, then we'll register him as Superman . . . to friends and family he'll stay 4Real.
"It doesn't make a lot of sense: I can call him Superman but I can't call him 4Real," Pat told the Herald.
The couple's original choice met with controversy after it was made public and late last week the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages rejected the name 4Real on the grounds that the dictionary definition of a name was "a sequence of characters".
The Wheatons say they are deciding whether to appeal the decision.
"They've turned us down but we're considering how far we want to go," Pat said.
However he admitted the couple would have to give the matter considerable thought before proceeding.
"I'm really unsure how successful we'd be if we took it to court; I'm obviously not a lawyer and [the Government] have got unlimited resources and taxpayer money."
Tony Wallace, a spokesman for the Department of Internal Affairs, said discussions with the family were ongoing in a bid to decide on a final name to be registered.
He was reluctant to comment further until a final decision had been reached.
The Wheatons initially decided on the name after seeing an ultrasound scan and realising their baby was "for real".
They believed the spelling 4Real was the clearest way of writing it down.
Pat said some of the criticism of him and his wife regarding their choice had been difficult to handle.
"I did go online and Google some of the stories and as tough as I am, it does get to you, but there's no point getting upset.
"It could be a 10-year-old school girl making those comments."
He said people's negative reactions were "predictable" because the name he and his wife had chosen wasn't the norm.
"No matter what, it's gonna stay 4Real," Pat said. "I'm certainly not a quitter."

and, I caught this one today:

Laptop thief identified by popular YouTube video
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A thief was convicted and fined after being spotted on a video posted on the Web site YouTube.
The man was taped slowly circling the store, stealing a laptop computer, slipping the computer into his overcoat and stepping out of the store in the South Island town of Greymouth, local media reported Friday.
The whole performance was posted on YouTube _ set to "The Pink Panther" music track _ and attracted 500,000 hits from around the globe.
One viewer recognized the man and alerted police. Dawson Anthony Bliss, 50, was convicted of theft in Greymouth District Court on Thursday after pleading guilty.
Judge Gary MacAskill fined Bliss $1,485 and ordered him to pay $1,478 in reparation.
Greymouth on South Island's west coast is 234 miles south of the capital, Wellington.

Finally, as you can see, I've posted quite a few things on the sidebar today. The otters and monkey are just cute, while Tony's video is quite good, and Ollie's Blog just makes you want to never stop smiling.

We're livin'. You?


Right outta the gate!

Thanks, Everyone who's been checking this - I know we haven't updated in awhile. Hopefully that'll change soon.

We got back from a fruitless effort to make a little money in Washington, DC about a week ago, and have moved in with my folks (Rev. J and the Divine Mama) in Warwick, NY. It's been slow going, adjusting to being back in the USA, but we knew things would start to feel better once we are gainfully employed.

...and though it's not full time, and we are still looking, yesterday I was hired on as the newest addition to the waitstaff of Gotham Comedy Club, on 23rd and 7th in Manhattan. I start training Thursday and couldn't be more excited.

We'll keep you in the loop as events progress, but so far, we are feeling pretty positive and are looking forward to starting a new, post-NZ life together.

Keep an eye here for more to come.


...the experience continues...

Hello, and welcome back to Baby G and Dizzle's Kiwi Experience!

There have been several wannabe posts since we arrived back in the good ol' U.S of A, but none were comparable to our previous posts (they were actually funny and interesting), so we bagged them. At some point, either Baby G or myself (it's Dizz, by the way. Duh.) will cut and paste those rough drafts into the little window to "Create New Post" and you'll see how lame and inept they are. They were written in the depths of jet lag. In addition, we haven't actually stayed in the same place more than three nights in a row since April 26th, so it's been a little difficult to focus.

Sooner or later, there will be a post reflecting on what we learned while in New Zealand, who we became, and what's next for us, your loyal and jet set heroes. We will discuss culture differences and war, technology and communication, the future and the past. It'll be bitchin'. For now, however, there's about 3 weeks of bouncing around we've done since we landed in Pennsylvania on May 10th, and we, in typical BG&D style, got pictures of all of it.

We rolled into Philly after being awake for 36 hours straight and got picked up by BG's cousin, Celina. She was nice enough to stop and let us pick up cheesesteak sandwiches, which was therefore our first American meal upon our return. Scoff if you want; tell us how bad that is for us or let us know how badly you feel for the poor cow who gave his/her life so we could dine upon this greasy concoction of meat, onions, and Cheese Whiz. Yell at us, spit at us, write us nasty letters, we don't care. You know why? WE'D BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO IT! And we agreed, it was one of the best *&^%ing sandwiches we'd ever had. God bless America.

After an 11pm dinner like this, you're in the mood to do one of two things: sleep a long time, or go to New Jersey. We did both. In that order.

My dad, Reverend J., picked us up at the Newark Train Station the next afternoon (we literally took two boats, three cars, three planes and a train to get to this point from Wellington, NZ, 10 days before). Here's a picture of us in my dad's car in Newark:

If we look tired, it's because we were. Oh, God, so tired.

Anyway, we made it up to Warwick, NY, where my parents live, in time to have a lovely BBQ in the springtime sunshine. It was quite lovely.

Mother's Day was coming up only a couple of days later, so we had to split up for the first time since Kev-Bo and I moved our stuff ORIGINALLY from DC to the NY/NJ area. Seriously. We've been together pretty much all the time for 6 months. In an effort to say "I love you" to our moms, we made them both the famous Kiwi dessert pavlova:

"Yum!", said Lady T.
"Yum!", said the Divine Mama
"Now that you're home, you can weed the garden!", said Rev. J.
"Mow the lawn," said The Chemical Bridge.
Sigh. Happy Mother's Day!

Following this ultra-sweet dessert weekend, we headed out to New York, New York, the city so nice they named it twice (a saying so nerdy since the city's so dirty). As we mentioned WAY back, the Ridgewood Power Trio is composed of Baby G, Jocelyn, and Jamie. These are the girls who go way back to High School together. It happened that early the next week was Jocelyn's birthday! So, the two of us, Jocelyn, Jamie, and Jamie's fiance Tony all got together and had a wicked good Italian feast and shared pictures from New Zealand. This was, however, not enough time to spend with them, so we decided to do it all over again a few days later, this time, with Jocelyn's boyfriend Julian! A great time was once again had by all.

Clockwise from left: Dizzle, Tony, Jamie and Julian. At one point, we had four part harmony to an acoustic version of a song by Tool. How rock n' roll.

This is Julian soloing. This is such a rad picture.

Tony, Jamie's fiance. This picture is not a mistake: his eyes actually glow red when he smirks.

Jamie and her invisible guitar, Lucille. "Hello, SoHo!"

Jocelyn's birthday wish: "I wish that no one takes my picture while I'm exhaling." Sorry, Joce!

The Ridgewood Power Trio: Jersey Represent!

We also had a great time with Dasha, Baby G's sister, and her boyfriend Kreeson. They were nice enough to take us to a fantastic Cuban restaurant and listen to us babble on and on about how beautiful New Zealand is. PLUS, Dasha took us to TWO movies! We saw "Pirates 3" and "Waitress". One was over loud and long, the other was charming and nice. Take your best guess. Still, it was astoundingly nice of her to take pity on our weary bones and let us just enjoy her company without having to be on out best behaviour or, you know, talk.
So then we went and bounced back to Warwick for my sister's 3rd and 4th grade choral concert. Ya Ya (my sis) actually got these adorable little kids to sing in 3 part harmony, which is not an easy feat. We were very proud of her that night, and she did a really great job...

...but WHILE she was conducting, her daughter Molly decided to go up to the students and be a part of the show herself! In front of everyone!

This is my sister, Ya Ya. You can tell from this picture she's got a little Heavy Metal in her, too.
Not long after this phase of hopping around, we took a quick trip up to Ithaca to visit a couple friends we hadn't seen since December, Paul and Sue. We were thinking maybe we'd walk around, or play Frisbee, or get some other form of outdoorsy activity in. Instead, we missed each other so much we all just sat around and talked. It was really nice. Plus, my mom sent us along with some homemade muffins, so there's that, too.

Paul and I being thuggish in each other's shades.

Baby G and Sue in another episode of "Armlength Theatre"
So that brings us up to about as current as we can get. We got into Washington, DC two days ago and are still couch-hopping in rock-star style. We are at Jake and Jenn's now, and it has been a blast catching up with them and exchanging photos (they got married last month and flew home from their honeymoon the same day we flew in from Christchurch). Tomorrow we go to David and Miriam's for the weekend, and then off to Patrick and Erika's for a week, though they'll be in Seattle, so we'll still be missing them. After that, we FINALLY get to spend more than three nights in a row at a place! We're staying the last three weeks of June at Meredith's house, and we couldn't be happier.

So that's the last month. We're in DC making money and saying our final, permanent goodbyes before whatever is next. As Baby G & Dizzle's Kiwi Experience comes to a close (or: "Final Act"), we'll keep you posted on our future plans. In the meantime, we're safe and sound. Though we have no "home" of which to speak yet, we're looking forward to inviting you over to it once we do.

Now go outside and do something active. Do some of it for us, too. We are exhausted.


p.s. Okay. I've spent a long time trying to get blogger to format this post the way I typed it, and this stupid program won't let me. So now, if anyone has this problem and Googles the phrase "I don't know why I bothered formatting the blog the way I did if Blogger is going to do whatever the hell it wants to, anyway" will be directed here. I feel you.


Long Day.


"The following takes place between 10am and 10am, both on May 10th, the day of our departure from New Zealand. We are Baby G and Dizzle, and this is the longest day of our lives."

At 10:00am today, May 10th, we were in Christchurch International Airport. It is (or was?) a sunny day, great for flying. As we had to check out of our backpackers early, we were at the airport with ample time before our flight. -Too bad it was delayed.

Also at 10:00am, on May 10th, we were at Los Angeles International Airport. It was (or is?) a sunny, smoggy day, apparently great for flying. Too bad our flight keeps getting delayed. We are far too tired to do the actual math (in fact, as we write this, we are sitting in LAX terminal, waiting for our delayed flight to Philly to finally board), but we think 5/10/07 will be roughly 40 hours long for us.

That's what we get for skippin' New Years.

We will post the latter half of our South Island trip in one shot (Editor's Note: Scroll down), but it has all been written the day it occured, so nothing will be changed. We'll also post pictures and soon have a US-based phone number.

But for now, just wish us luck getting on this stupid plane, our third of the day. Then, we are going to sleep a bit.

Thinking of you... it's nice to be home.

p.s. For those of you wondering about Sunny, our rental and the third party on our South Island trip, he was returned in fine style. He will be missed. But not enough to have gotten a picture.

Stopping on the Way Home to See the World's Largest... Sweater: Twizel to Christchurch via Mt. Cook, Lake Tekapo and Geraldine

This morning, early, we left our little backpackers in Twizel, well-rested and ready for our last hard day of driving – the road to Christchurch, “City of Airplanes to Auckland 'City of Airplanes to Los Angeles 'City of Airplanes to Philadelphia 'City of Trains to Newark'''”. We'd been told we can't leave New Zealand without seeing Mt. Cook from inland. It isn't far from Twizel, which isn't far from the highway to Christchurch, so we decided it'd be a nice morning thing to do.

It turns out we were right.

We'd seen Mt. Cook from the other side last week, around Lake Matheson, but we weren't able to get this close. We also learned that Mt. Cook is not just the tallest point in Australasia, but is the highest point between Papua New Guinea and the Andes. It is, indeed, very tall. We found a nice little 60 minute trail and decided to go for it.

The next stop down the road was where our new friends Mark and Amanda got engaged less than a week ago. It's a tiny little chapel on the shores of Lake Tekapo. Aside from dodging the other tourists (other people know about New Zealand??), it is a church that would hold about 50 people, but would hold them captivated throughout anything due to the fact that the wall behind the pulpit is a window looking out over the lake, with the mountains in the distance. It was no wonder Mark decided this spot to ask Amanda. We hope no tourists were around, though, as that would've ruined the mood. It's an amazing landmark in a remote little corner of the planet, but for them it will be a huge landmark. We couldn't be happier for them.

Right next to the church is a statue of a collie – a sheepdog. This is to commemorate the DOGS that helped settle the area 100+ years ago. Seriously. Baby G took a picture despite Dizzle's insistence that it was stupid.

Another place Mark and Amanda told us to check out was Giant Jersey, a shop in Geraldine that boasts the “Largest Sweater in the World”. It, like Mt. Cook, is very large:

But it is not the best part of this little store. The best part is in the back, where this guy has spent the latter half of his life working on a mosaic made out of teeny tiny pieces of steel. Yes, steel. -Attached to masking tape. It sounds kind of hokey, but when we saw this up close, it was pretty amazing. 4571804751057105 feet long, this piece was obviously a labo(u)r of love. And he told us ALL about it. He worked at a company that threw away steel gears constantly, so he began collecting them, and snapping the teeth off the gears to use in constructing his masterpiece. Over a million pieces later, with all the pieces attached to aforementioned masking tape, he used ONE very small brush to paint the story the mosaic tells.

Now, the original tapestry ended at a certain point, as the end of the story went missing. So our man decided to research what happened in 51935716956BC and render it onto his own mosaic. So the last twenty seven feet are what he believes the original looked like at the end. -Although, he's received confirmation from Oxford University that he's probably correct. Aces!

But, as he pointed out, this wasn't enough for him. He's an avid puzzle fan (you know, sudoku, mazes, word games, math problems, riddles...) so in his tapestry, in the background, he created a secret puzzle that no one in the world has yet cracked. -Mind you, at this point we were staring at him blankly, and our jaws were dropping down wider and wider.

But this still wasn't enough for him. So, he decided to create a CD Rom, enabling the user to magnify his mosaic, and dig deeper, to find the code (or whatever), crack it, and win the prize, of you know, having done it. You can check all this out at www.giantjersey.co.nz and www.1066.co.nz. Be sure to check out the "questions and answers" section on that second one. This guy was a trip!

When we left this shop 20 minutes later, we were a little dumbstruck.

But on we went. We got in touch with Mark and Amanda, our friends on alternating days, who managed to give us a call and book a 4-person room for everyone in Christchurch. We met up with them around 4:30 or 5, and cooked a spaghetti dinner with salad and bread that couldn't be beat. We're having breakfast together tomorrow, but for the time being, it was the first and only home cooked meal any of us have had in quite some time, and we think we were all thankful for the hot food and company.

Tomorrow is packing for the flight on Thursday. Less than 48 hours to go!


Wake up in the Morning, is it Still Dark, or Night Again?: Dunedin to Twizel

We woke up and had a nice breakfast with our friends before hitting the open road once again. The sun being solidly in our eyes for the second straight day, we were both feeling a little road weary, and, as we are now headed to Christchurch and therefore on our way back to the USA, we were both feeling a little eager to get on the plane as well.

We stopped in a little town called Oamaru to see the blue penguin colony they have there, but the penguins are nocturnal, and we were there at, like, 10:00am. Unfortunately, we had to bag it. Maybe in Christchurch we'll see some. Sigh.

So we cut West to get to the side of Mt. Cook we hadn't yet seen in our travels. Our goal was to get as far as a town called Twizel, as this would be a convenient place to get BACK from as well. Halfway there, around lunchtime, we came upon the heavily-recommended-by-Mark-and-Amanda “Elephant Rocks”. From the pictures they showed us, we were looking forward to having lunch and playing Frisbee in this amazing limestone field where they'd filmed part of “The Chronicles of Narnia”. What M&A hadn't told us was that this limestone field also doubles as a sheep pasture so was not the best place to dive for a disc – much less walk without boots. We still had our picnic, though (PB&J. Again.). We sat ourselves down on top of a boulder, away from sheep poop, and enjoyed the breeze and view from this central-NZ pasture. It was the second really great picnic spot in two days, and we were feeling good.

Trying to put as much road between us and Dunedin as quickly as we could ended up working out, and we checked into a backpackers in Twizel by 2:00pm. Both not feeling great, we decided to hunker down for the night and watch movies until we fell asleep. After a viewing of X-Men and X2, that's exactly what we did.

Tomorrow: The Road to Christchurch.

Homeward Bound: Owaka to Dunedin

We were under instructions to go the the Ramsay Lodge while in Dunedin, should we wish to meet up with Mark and Amanda again. It's Sunday. So we talked about it in the car and decided that, even though we'd met them twice already, the first time was on a roadside while fixing their car, and the second time we'd all had free internet so we were all buried in our laptops most of the evening. Baby G made the very good point that 'buried in a laptop' is no way to get to know someone better, and we both agreed we'd like to get to know them better, so we decided Ramsay was the way to go.

Dunedin is an interesting town. It's known as a university town that follows rugby with cult-like fervor. It is frequently, from what we've heard, grey and rainy, although the weather he;d out for us and it was actually our most beautiful day on the South Island to date. Town is nestled between rolling hills not far from the Pacific, and sits at the mouth of the Otago Peninsula, home to penguins, seals, and the world's only albatross breeding colony. Dizzle told his parents Monday that if you were to picture the South Island as a clock face, we were spending the night at 5 o'clock, and needed to get to 3 by Wednesday.

We checked into Ramsay very early in the afternoon – well before Mark and Amanda made it this far East – and managed to land a double room in a house that was not attached to where we thought the hostel was. Turns out the 'backpackers' was TWO Victorian houses: both very old and very big. In our double room there were also two extra SINGLE beds, so we had plenty of pillows and warm blankets for the night.

We decided to explore Dunedin a little for the afternoon, figuring Mark and Amanda would be able to make a connection around dinner time. So we asked Burt, the proprietor of Ramsay, to help us our with the map. After getting flawless directions from him, we were on our way.

There is a road we had to drive TWICE last February, north of Auckland, that is scary. It is OVER a mountain and therefore very steep, and it seems to slice through a rainforest, so at least one pass over was very wet, as well. That was the scariest road Dizzle had ever driven until ANZAC Day a couple weeks ago, when he drove over the Rumetaka Range to get to Andrew and Barnsey's place in Martinborough. That record, too, was swiftly broken here on the South Island near the Fox and Frans Josef Glaciers, where the road could be icy, steep, curvy, fast, and let's not forget the danger of falling rocks and avalanche. That title, “Scariest Road Dizzle has Ever Driven” (not counting NE DC – different kind of scary), was replaced about 24 hours later on the way to Milford Sound last week. All of the same dangers are present – just add breathtaking views, attacking parrots, and make it REMOTE. We are going on and on like this for one reason: Outside Dunedin, on the way to the peninsula, there is a twisty road along the coast. It is beautiful, and we were on it on a lovely clear day with views of the city and the Pacific, but so were every tour bus and campervan in the country, apparently. This road takes “S” curves on the edge of the sea at the standard 100kph, so it probably wasn't unlike many of the other areas we'd driven thus far – with one glaring exception: No guardrail. There is literally nothing stopping you from flying off this narrow little road and taking an accidental swim if you're not careful. We almost did a couple times.

In the middle of the Peninsula is Larnach Castle, the only castle in New Zealand. It was built in the 1800's by a politician who's claim to fame is that he's the only New Zealand politician who committed suicide... IN THE BUILDINGS OF PARLAIMENT. One almost HAS to wonder where, exactly, the other ones did it and how many there were. Regardless, it's a beautiful castle with gardens surrounding it, and we had a great time wandering around and looking at the old stonework and sculptures and whatnot. As the castle is on a hill, we were also able to have a picnic (PB&J, of course) overlooking the Bay and Ocean. It was truly unforgettable.

After winding our way back downhill, we figured we still had time to check out “The World's Steepest Residential Street” - which is in a Dunedin suburb. And guys, it's EXACTLY like you'd think. We walked it and regretted it. Then we thought, “Hey, our little Nissan Sunny has been through a lot this week. Maybe he'd enjoy going DOWN Baldwin St.” What seemed like a good idea at the time turned into us getting mildly lost and going straight uphill for much longer than Sunny was comfortable with. But, ever the trooper, Sunny pulled through in fine style, and got us to an ATM, gas station, and grocery store before making it back to Ramsay Lodge...

...where it turns out Mark and Amanda had checked in! They had talked to Burt about sharing our room with us, in the two remaining single beds, and he told them he'd be happy to do it, but would have to refund US some money, as we were technically downgrading from a 'double' to a 'dorm'. Even though it was with the friends we were trying to hang out with anyway! Bitchin'.

So, we spend another evening with our new friends from Canada. We made grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, soup, and chicken parmesan to share and compared our respective chocolate collections for dessert. Then we traded music and movies, and ended up falling asleep to the Will Smith movie, “The Pursuit of Happiness”, which is really only okay. It was still nice to be together. We have quite a bit in common with these two, and so it's been nice to look at pictures and share stories. We're hoping to connect with them again some time in the Northern Hemisphere.

And that's pretty much Dunedin. We missed catching a rugby game here, and we missed the botanical gardens, but we feel by seeing a castle, the world's steepest street, and almost dying on the road a couple times, we lived Dunedin to it's fullest. Tomorrow, we're actually throwing OURSELVES a curveball: We're headed back inland. We figured, we could either spend an extra day in Christchurch, or we could go check out the NZ's tallest mountain, Mt. Cook. So we'll hit the road early, say goodbye to M&A, and holla atcha from west of here.


The Farthest From Home We've Ever Been: Te Anau to Owaka

This morning, we said goodbye to our new friends, Mark and Amanda, and headed South around 10:30am. After driving along the “Scenic South Motorway” for a few hours, we reached Invercargill, and about a half hour later, Bluff.

Here in New Zealand, “From Reinga to Bluff” is an expression that means the whole of the country. As we've already been to Cape Reinga, the Northernmost point in NZ, we felt Bluff was a necessary photo op. So, we stopped at the signpost and got some guy named Sam to snap this shot:

Though Bluff isn't technically the Southernmost point in NZ (or even on the South Island), it's pretty much accepted as that. To think that we were further South than we'd likely ever be again, or actually further South than most people we know have been, was a neat thought. It will get cold again, tonight, as the air here is blowing right off the South friggin' Pole. That's DEEP South, ya'll.

So now we are headed North. This is the official beginning of our return home. The path to our parent's doorsteps will take us, over the next 5 days, through: Dunedin, Christchurch, Auckland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Newark. But for tonight, we're at a lovely little hostel in a TINY little town called Split Level. It is the 3rd hostel on our trip that we seem to have completely to ourselves, regardless of us booking a double room or two bunks in a dorm.
It's very nice, after a week of solid driving, to know we are on the way back to the States, wiser and stronger than we were when we left. We are having hot rice bowls and soup for supper before hitting the road to Dunedin tomorrow.

The weather people are saying it will rain, so we're looking forward to another sunny day. We'll let you know how it went from a backpackers where we may be meeting up with Mark and Amanda again. See you then.


Blogging from Christchurch Airport

We're safe and jumping on a plane in a couple hours. LOTS more to come as soon as we can. Love to everybody! Can't wait to see you!