...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!



New Friends and Milford Sound: Queenstown to Te Anau

Hi, All!

At the time of this writing, it is 9:00am on Saturday May 5th. We woke up well rested after a HUGE day yesterday.

We hit the road from Queenstown as early as we could. Our target was a little town called Te Anau, which is where the highway splits. There's a dead-end highway from here that takes 90 minutes to drive (each way) into the famous Milford Sound.

Listen, we are only going to attach a few pictures here for a couple reasons:

1-we have 150 to show you all when we see you,

2-there are better cameras than ours out there.

On the way to the Sound, we saw a little red station wagon with it's hood up going the opposite direction. We stopped alongside to ask the couple inside if they were okay. Turns out they'd run out of radiator fluid and needed some water. We emptied our bottle into the car and they thanked us and everyone was happy.

After finally making it to the Sound, we took a boat ride and explored all the way back out to the Tasman Sea. The whole tour only took about an hour and a half, but our necks hurt by the end from looking UP for even that short amount of time.

The Chemical Bridge, Baby G's dad, will be happy to note that we stayed ahead of the storm the whole way back to Te Anau. If we had not, the road would've been treacherous as. :)

So in the beginning of a rainstorm, in the dark, after an AMAZING boat ride, with a tank of gas running on love and kisses, we stopped at Bob and Maxine's Backpackers. Bob and Maxine are a wonderful couple who got into the hostelling business only recently. Because of this, everything here was brand new and cozy...they've really thought about everything they'd like to offer travellers, and have made it available. Hence why we're able to write this now - Bob has a free wireless setup for people like us. Good on you, B&M! We wish you the best of luck with the new house and your rugby team - and thanks for having us!

The only other two guests in the whole place were, surprisingly, people we'd met once before - the Canadian couple with the car trouble! So we had a lovely time talking and laughing and sharing kiwi experiences well into the night:


That's essentially it for the morning. We'll blog more again when we get the chance. Today should bring us to the Southernmost tip of the country, and we'll stay in a town called Invercargill, the Southernmost city in the world, tonight. Hopefully these last few posts give you a rough idea of what the scenery and colors have been like. We know the camera doesn't do it justice, so we're looking forward to seeing each and every one of you and sharing some more stories over homemade pavlova.

Until next time,

If Only Our Nissan Sunny Were a Helicopter: Makarora to Queenstown

We woke up in the middle of mountains and very little else so we could hit the road to Queenstown. The road was very twisty and turny, but we had great weather and got some wonderful pictures of the valleys and the colors of a New Zealand autumn.

On the way, we stopped at Puzzling World. This is an amazing place that is devoted to optical illusions and puzzles. There was a whole room you could walk into that was tilted. All the furniture and settings were also tilted, though, so your eyes and your head told your balance it was wrong. Okay, look, we'll show you:

It also had a walk-in maze, which was a lot of fun. We got to this place right when they opened, so we had the outdoor maze to ourselves. Not unlike "The Shining", only without Jack. We're pretty sure. The whole experience left us a little dizzy and disoriented, so of course the first thing we wanted to do was twist and turn our way an hour's south to Queenstown.

Queenstown is nothing like either one of us had pictured. First of all, it's not a big city. You hear a lot about Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown as the big four cities, but Queenstown is a smallish city nestled in between giant mountains. We asked a Swiss girl at the backpackers who said it reminded her of home, and we'd imagine that's true.

We'd brought, all the way from home, a few discs with which to play disc golf. Baby G had never played, and Dizzle hadn't played in awhile, so he decided to teach her. There is a beautiful course where he's from in New York, and it's always nice to try out new ones. It was the right move. Though the course was poorly marked, there were some hazards he'd never had to contend with before: grass seed, amazing views, and ducks. Right around the 13th hole, there were something like a million ducks wandering around. We didn't aim for them, we let them play through. A good time was had by all – and we think we managed to stay even with par... we aren't really sure, as we didn't play all 18 holes. Like we said, the course was pretty poorly marked.

That was pretty much it for the day. We fell asleep early knowing it would be a pretty full day tomorrow, too.

Dizzle Messes up TWICE, but Takes Excess Time Fixing it: Hokitika to Makarora

The morning started as we'd hoped, although noticably wetter. It had been windy and rained all night, and it was not unlike a horror movie for a little while there. But it stopped raining in time for us to have a nice breakfast of toast and coffee, before heading out down the road. We were on our way to the village to do some shopping, and wondering how we were going to kill half an hour before most shops opened.

There are a lot of funny birds here in New Zealand, and one of them is featured in a clever commercial. It's called a pukeko, and it's big and blue and flightless. Not two minutes down the road from the backpackers, and we come across two of them on the side of the road. Dizzle realized what they were too late and decided to swing the car around to go back for a picture. He misjudged the angle of the uturn and got the Sunny (our rental) and got stuck teetering on the rim of the small ditch on the side of the road.

Before either one could think of what to do, BOTH of the first two cars to pass by stopped to help. Seriously, we had barely realized we had a problem, and all of a sudden we've got these two Kiwis grabbing rope and straps and attaching them to our axle (or: A-X-E-L. We honestly can't remember and are nowhere, NOWEHERE near internet access to check. More on this in a sec). They pulled us out and we thanked them and it killed the halfhour we needed to kill for the shops to open.

Here are the not-very-good-after-all photos we got of them, anyway:

p.s. About an hour later, Dizzle accidentally hit one with the car. We're not laughing – it was a little sad.

We left Hokitika around 10:00am (Wed.) and continued South. We knew sooner or later we'd have to drive the “Haast Pass”, one of the only three ways east/west across the South Island, but we didn't know when we'd end up stopping for the night, we just knew we had to regrettably leave Hokitika (potential retirement place, by the way, for anyone looking) and hit the glaciers sometime in the afternoon.

When you see pictures of snowy mountains in New Zealand, you were probably seeing a picture of a glacier, or Mt. Cook (or: “Aoraki” in Maori), Australasia's highest mountain.

The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are two of the fastest-moving glaciers in the world. You can feel free to go to Wikipedia and read about them. We'll just show you pictures of both and tell you it was breathtaking and just the two hours we walked around for lunch was one of the top three moments of our whole time here.

We had lunch at Lake Matheson, one of the most photographed places in the world. We won't go into too much of it's geology unless you ask us, but the lake is very still and right at the bottom of Mt. Cook, so there's a reflection of the mountain and it looks like a Bob Ross painting – but not in a bad way.

From here, we were presented with a choice. We opted to try to get as far South as we could before sundown. So we checked into a little backpackers in a town of three buildings called Makarora Wilderness Resort. So far, we've had a lot of luck sticking to our $50/night budget. We walked in to our tiny little room, and Dizzle immediately informed Baby G he could not find his glasses – THE ONES HE WAS JUST WEARING.

As it was neither sunset nor dinnertime nor bedtime, we proceeded to kill about 45 minutes looking for his glasses. More time well spent.

Tomorrow we'll go to Queenstown and hopefully play a little disc golf. As for tonight, we're huddling up around the space heater and watching a bootlegged copy of '300'. 'Night!

p.s. again: They were on the bedspread the whole time.

Small Silent Insects, Breakneck Roads, Buckets of Rain, and Fantastic Views Make for Dangerous Driving (on the Left): Nelson to Hokitika

Last night we stayed at Paradiso backpackers in Nelson, which is a lovely hostel. Probably lovelier still, if you're 20 years old, and want to party the night away – but what backpackers isn't? (More on that later) We woke up bright and early to a complimentary breakfast and coffee, and went into town to see Christ Church Cathedral, and a little jewelry store whose claim to fame is that they were the jewelers who made the One Ring to Rule Them All. -It was all good. Nelson is supposedly the sunshine capitol, but it was gray, rainy, and cold, so we decided to hit the road.

With batteries in our speakers, so we could play our iPod (thanks Daniel and Darius), we headed Southwest on State Highway 6. And it went from gray, rainy, and cold, to pouring down buckets of rain within a few minutes. Dizzle handled it like a seasoned veteran of driving on the left (no, not flashbacks from 'Nam), and kept our little car from slip sliding all over that tiny, curvy road. Baby G meanwhile, was busy snapping pictures of the scenery and views – which were breathtaking, and apparently, we're not even at the really amazing part yet.

As we wound our way Southward, we stopped off at a place outside a town called Murchison, to see the Buller Gorge Swingbridge. It's the longest swingbridge in New Zealand, and has a whole mini-gold panning/jet boat/zip line attraction thingy going on with it. We immediately signed up for it. How often does one get the chance to do a whole mini- gold panning/walk/zip line attraction thingy? Except that we didn't do the jet boats – it wasn't offered and we didn't ask, nor was the gold panning thing an attraction for us. So we started to walk across this really really long swingbridge, above a rushing river, with lots of rocks and sharp edges everywhere – a prime location for BG to injure herself. However, BG and D made it safely across the bridge with a nice adrenaline rush to accompany the sense of accomplishment. After a scenic walk around the area, we geared up to do a tandem zip line back across the river.

This was all well and good until we saw the attendant (a five foot nothing blond sprite) whip out a wrench to tighten up the “ride.” Dizz encouraged BG to seize the moment and throw caution to the wind, and ride the death trap. And we did. Without injury, without cursing once, and whooping and hollering the whole way. It was great.

And the good feeling lasted us all the way back to the parking lot where we made ourselves an impromptu picnic, celebrating facing a fear of heights. The good feeling lasted even until we were back in the car. It lasted, in fact, up until the moment when Dizz realized that we were under siege. The dreaded sandfli of New Zealand had smelled our fresh blood, sensed our naiveté, and decided to strike. They struck hard.

We must've looked like complete freaks, running around, swatting at the air, and jumping over each other to get these tiny, silent, vengeful bugs away from us...we think that there's still one holdout in our car. It reminded Dizzle of that scene from “Tommy Boy” when David Spade is drunk and Chris Farley pretends the car was filled with bees to fool the police officer who'd stopped them. Better that than the scene when Farley sings “Maniac” while being sprayed with water by Rob Lowe after cow tipping, right? You're just SKIMMING right now, aren't you. Admit it.

Anyway, to get the flies out, we rolled down the windows and drove fast, hoping the air rush would sweep them back to their homes. It mostly worked.

Not long thereafter, the rain let up at the same time our road turned due South along the West Coast. It is a road not unlike those in car commercials, as far as the curviness goes. But we rolled down the windows and turned up the music and relaxed with it a bit, pulling over occasionally to snap a photo or let someone pass.

We made it to a gas station outside of Greymouth and grabbed a can of coke and some insect repellent, and then continued on to Hokitika, where we are now.

After a day of driving, neither one of us was too keen on staying in a backpackers full of drunk kids, so we were surprised to find this little place tucked away about 3 miles out of town. We parked in an empty parking lot and entered the door marked “Reception”. Inside, there's a doorbell with a sign that reads, “Please ring bell and wait – it takes us 5 minutes to get there!”


So we rang the bell.

And waited.

And the proprietor of this hostel, Keith, rode up on his bike and told us we were welcome to use whatever we liked and make ourselves at home. It's our second day on the road, and we've already had a hostel experience we're not likely to enjoy as much this entire 10 days: We have this place completely to ourselves. Dizzle just made a fire in the wood-stove, and Baby G made a delicious dinner of meat ravioli, garlic bread, soup, and cheese. We are currently listening to the rain in this beautifully rustic little living room, and alternating writing on the laptop and working on a “Lord of the Rings” jigsaw puzzle. It doesn't get much better than this for a rainy day on vacation, does it?

Tomorrow, we are looking forward to waking up rested and driving down to the Fox and Frans Josef Glaciers to do some exploring. If breakfast is anything like tonight has been, it'll be a very nice wake-up call.

Have a good night, Guys. We'll blog to you tomorrow.