Monthly Archives: May 2013

Favorite New Zealand Photos

I tend to be a little long-winded so I’ll keep it short and let you get to the photos. There are so many wonderful photo ops in New Zealand. Here are a few of my favorites from the six weeks I enjoyed in this beautiful country.


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Kentucky Fried Home Improvement

New Feature! My home and the pain I endure to improve it. The blog was feeling a bit neglected since I’m not traveling at the moment so I’ve decided to branch out.

I bought my home about twelve years ago. It’s a cute little three-bedroom, one-bath abode that was built around 1905. 100-year-old houses, like 100-year old humans, sometimes show their age. They creak and groan, they complain about being too hot or too cold, and sometimes they leak. But we love them anyway, right? Luckily, with a little TLC and some elbow grease, these old timers can be beautiful again. I’ve always had this weird belief that inanimate objects appreciate kindness and will return it to the owner, like when you wash and vacuum your car and could swear that it runs better. Could be just me.

On to the current project. For a while now I’ve been trying to decide what to do with the floor of my eat-in kitchen. It had that typical 90s-era yellowing vinyl flooring that was well past its prime. Having all but decided to be lazy and slap sticky tiles over top of the whole mess and call it a day, a conversation with my friend Amy got me thinking about a different approach. Years ago my parents painted the laundry room floor in their old house and it turned out nicely. Decision made: every bit of the old flooring would have to come out.

With a renewed sense of excitement I started pulling up the old vinyl, which was barely held down with adhesive. No sweat… I’ll be done by lunchtime. Ha! This is an old house, dummy; there are no easy projects! I knew the vinyl was glued to 1/4″ luan, but what I didn’t anticipate what that the luan was affixed to the floor with nails every six inches. The room is 8′ x 14′. That’s over 500 nails. I wouldn’t be done by lunchtime.

Luan likes to explode if you put any force on it with a crow bar so I adopted a technique of working down an edge and inching further in, until you eventually can’t go any further and have to snap it. At some point my brain decided to participate and I realized it would be cleaner if I scored the piece with a circular saw at the snap line. To pop larger pieces loose I used a shovel as a lever. So now I had a system and everything was groovy until… wait, what’s that? Another layer of vinyl tile glued to the original wood floor?

Whoever glued down the original vinyl intended for it to survive Armageddon. I’ve scraped it, soaked it, pleaded with it, swore at it, and eventually took a heat gun to it, which has been the only successful approach. The paper lining underneath the vinyl almost certainly contains asbestos so I’ll be wearing a respirator but will forego the full-on hazmat suit and plastic lining. At this point I have all of the luan removed, along with those damn nails (if you don’t get them with the crowbar you will certainly find them with your bare feet). I’ve discovered a few more surprises where old vent registers were filled in with blanks that I’ll have to deal with. Hopefully piecing in those sections with similar wood will suffice since it only has to be paint quality.

Is all of this worth it? Maybe not, but I’m never content to “put lipstick on a pig”, as they say. When I finish a project I need to feel that I gave it my best effort. I just hope it turns out as well as I expect!

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Favorite Australia Photos

I’ve been home for a couple of weeks now and have had time to go through many of the pics and videos I took while on my trip abroad (over 1,000… 15GB worth!). What follows are some of my favorite pics from my brief stay in Australia. Stay tuned for more from New Zealand!

All of these pics were taken with a Canon S100 in P mode, usually with Vivid mode on. I adjusted exposure on the fly based on the scene.

– The sunrise pic has special meaning for me because it was taken on the flight toward Sydney. It kind of signifies a new chapter.

– The obligatory Sydney Opera House shot. Being a novice photographer, I learned a lot on this trip about how lighting can make or break a photo.

– The pic of the Joker was taken at the corner of Hosier Ln and Flinders St in Melbourne. I honestly thought I had posted a bunch of pics from the incredible graffiti in the area but I can’t find a post in my archives. Hmm, maybe I’ll have to fix that.



Aside from meeting lots of wonderful people, the wildlife was my favorite part about Australia. I’ve told friends that I didn’t realize how infatuated I was with wildlife until I found myself in a place where everything was foreign. I was very ADD… I’d hear a sound, drop what I was doing, and run toward it with my camera.

The sleepy koala pic was taken at the Taronga Zoo. The turtle, fish, and jellyfish were taken at the Melbourne Aquarium. Those little turtles move fast! I must’ve taken 20 shots before I got a decent one.

One of the coolest critters I saw was this wolf spider. At first I thought it was covered in hair, but when the hair moved and I realized this was a mamma with babies clinging to her! I’d encourage you to click for the full-size image but I take no responsibility for any nightmares that may result.

Wolf spider with babies

Dorrigo National Park

My awesome Bellingen HelpX host, Kevin, offered to take me on a hike to a nearby rainforest. I had no idea that rainforests existed in Australia, let alone 60 minutes from the coast. The hike was one of the highlights of my trip, but if you go be aware of leaches!

Oftentimes the things we appreciate most in life are experiences that were difficult or took some effort to achieve. The following photo of a simple little flower is an example of this and is probably my favorite of the entire trip. Kevin and I were walking along the trail and I happened to spot this flower, about the size of my pinky fingernail, dangling from a single spider web thread about five feet off the ground. The web was attached to a branch which was swaying with the wind, causing the flower to spin in circles but I was determined to get the shot. Thank God for digital cameras. If you check out the full-size version you can faintly see the single strand.

Flower suspended by spiderweb strand

And finally…

While hanging out at the Bondi hostel on my last day in Sydney these two gorgeous Rainbow Lorikeets decided to pay a visit to our picnic table. I’d only seen these guys in a zoo back home and here there were 10 of them in the trees nearby. I remembered from the zoo that lorikeets love nectar so I mixed up a bit of sugar water, which they happily lapped up from a tablespoon I was holding. 🙂

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