Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Northern Hemisphere Visit in July

We recently flew back into Auckland after a 5-week visit to the northern hemisphere. It was timed perfectly with the crappiest of New Zealand weather. Per usual, Portland had incredible summer weather. We had a whirlwind visit with as many friends as we could (8 days total). I cherished every moment. Maybe short visits are good for one reason -- people don't have time to get sick of me. Thanks to the Slighterallis and the Childers for providing places to stay. At first it was hard to impose, but both of our hosts made it really easy to feel at home. We honestly wanted to stay way longer. Dan and Juliana let us borrow their roadbikes (plus helmets and bike shoes!) to use while they toiled away at work. It was fun to roadbike after 1.5 yrs of riding only heavy, fat-tired mountain bikes. Robyn not only architected the addition to their house (our guest room), but stocked it like a high-end hotel. Actually, it was even better, as there was Bridgeport Hop Czar in the minibar fridge, and it was free!

My parents were great hosts in Michigan while we stayed for 3+ weeks, which gave them plenty of time to get sick of me. They feed us so well and gave us so much during our stay. My mom gave me a bounty of delicious facial lotion, serums, sunscreens, etc. It is definitely a luxury that I won't give myself. Now, every morning and evening when I rub some lotion on my face, I think of my parents. Now that my mom is retired, we spent a lot of time with her during the day. We were pleasantly surprised to find that my mom's twice-weekly strength-training/cardio class absolutely kicked our butts. We couldn't walk straight for 4 days after the first class. How cool that my mom is able to do that kind of stuff now that she is retired!? We spent some quality time in the evenings and on the weekends with my Dad as well as my sister's family. To pass the great summer-weather days, we did a lot of yard work and Scott partook in a fair bit of fishing. Oh, and we also ate and drank A LOT! We also squeezed in a too-short visit with one of Scott's brothers who lives in an even hotter locale than Ann Arbor in the summertime.

My parents have fully adopted
our kitty, Oscar, who was tortured during 8 hours of flying (and layovers) from Portland to Detroit in April, 2008. I think he has finally forgiven me for that hateful plane trip. We miss him so much.

Upon our return to Auckland we were once again reminded of how wet it is here. We ran into van troubles before we could even leave the hotel parking lot. We had to wait a few days to get our van into the local diesel garage. We learned that there was water sitting in various electrical connectors under the hood, which disabled not only the accelerator pedal, but also the diesel fuel pump. It's still a mystery how the water got there, which worries us since it could easily happen again. After 3 days and $500, we were back on the road. We still don't trust the van and are constantly worried about every noise we hear. We've even kicked around the idea of trying to sell/trade the van during the high tourist season and buying a smaller more reliable Toyota van (sans shower).

I thought I would try and finish this blog post on a happy note. The following sunset picture was taken on the North Island of NZ as we were heading down to Wellington (at Te Hora beach) for our ferry to the South Island yesterday. We had a fantastic parking/camping spot right on the beach with a river running next to us. Grin.

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