This post was originally to be titled “Multi-media Extravaganza!” and consist of text, pictures, and cool videos I’ve been working on. Unfortunately a 7″ Android tablet does not make a very good digital editing platform. Buggy software wasted my time and nearly made my pull my hair out. I humbly concede that Apple does media better.
So I’m in Queenstown now, and have been for several days. I spent four days with a really great young family doing work exchange in a suburb about 12 miles from town. The house has a funky modern design with a view you wouldn’t believe and a really cozy en suite for my accommodation. I can’t tell you how nice it was to sleep in a queen-sized bed with no roommates! Mom, dad, and two cute little girls aged four and seven made my stay welcoming and fun.
Phil is recovering from shoulder surgery and needed help with landscaping and yard work. The house and property have a lot of potential and Phil and Kate have a good vision for what they want to achieve. I won’t lie, the work was physical and tiring. I dismantled part of a patio made up of big, heavy slate rocks, dug a drainage ditch, and replanted several small trees over three days. This was my fourth HelpX experience and I’ve come to think that I might prefer homestays rather than helping someone with their business (e.g. the vineyard), regardless of how hard the work may be. I get the same satisfaction of doing quality work that I feel when improving my own home.
Amazing lake view from a trail near my hosts’ home…
The family has Easter weekend plans so I had to say farewell earlier than all of us would have liked. I had bussed into town a few times after completing my work so I was familiar with the city before coming here to finish out my stay. Oh, and I have officially hitchhiked now! The busses run on a funky schedule in the outlying suburbs so my choices were to walk about five miles or hitchhike. Kelvin Heights is a very posh community so it was about the safest hitchhiking experience one could have, so don’t worry Mom. One guy who picked me up installs ski lifts so we chatted about all the places we had in common in Utah. Another awesome couple took a chance on me as I was standing by the side of the road with all of my gear. It turns out she teaches music, has a music degree, and he has an audio engineering degree. How cool is that? We chatted about everything from bluegrass to avant garde music, music therapy, ukulele, my career and how I got to New Zealand. These are people I would have enjoyed having dinner with yet our meeting was completely random. Too cool.
Queenstown was recommended to me by just about everyone who knew I was visiting New Zealand. It’s a tourist town, to be sure, but I love it. An outdoor-lovers paradise, there are tons of extreme activities to explore: mountain biking, hiking, skydiving, bungee, water activities on the lake, etc. The town itself is big enough to be interesting but easy to cover on foot in 30 minutes time, though most of the shopping caters to activity planning, outdoor gear, and restaurants. Lots of young people flock to Queenstown for activities and late-night partying but I’d think anyone would enjoy a day or two strolling around the city. It’s also a springboard for tours to Milford Sound, which I’ll be doing tomorrow.
Thursday I rented a mountain bike and all (well, not quite all, as you’ll see) the appropriate body armor for downhill riding. Back home I ride cross-country, which is a mix of uphill climbs followed by downhill sprints. Here in Queenstown they have a gondola like you’d find at a ski park, which allows you go way up the mountain and blast down it as fast as your cojones allow. I couldn’t believe how physically demanding downhill riding was. I’ve always had respect for the skills and guts of downhillers, but now I’m even more impressed by their fitness.
A pic from the top of the mountain, taken by an Aussie named Josh who I rode with all day.
And a pic from five minutes later. Why didn’t I take the freely-offered forearm guards?
A final thought…
My alma mater, the University of Louisville Cardinals, is currrently fighting their way through the NCAA basketball tournament, called March Madness back in the states. Since I’ve been travelling for most of the season, I’ve missed all of the games. Lucky for me, I was smiled upon today by the timezone gods and am currently typing this while listening to streaming audio of the game on my phone. Don’t you just love technology?
For those who couldn’t see it on Facebook, here is a pic of me representing my Cards on Fox Glacier. Go Cards!