A Travellerspoint blog

Buzzing Through Singapore

And Other Hot Tales

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We have now finally made it to South East Asia, where we will be spending the majority of our travel time. We had been looking forward to this piece of our trip as it was probably going to be a bit more challenging and also more enlightening. We started off with our late night flight out of Sydney airport on Gulf Air. It was an overnight flight, and consequently we arrived in Singapore at 4:40 a.m. There are more people that you think awake at this insane hour. After finding a hostel that would take us at 7:00 in the morning, we set out on the MRT (Mass Railway Transit) to find our crappy little hostel, and the heat and humidity hit us hard. We were not used to the heat or the humidity for that matter after travelling in Australia and New Zealand for 2 months. Our clothes were instantly wet as we stepped outside. We have gotten into the habit of showering 3 times a day to curb the smell.

Once we settled into Singapore, we were able to try some of the local cuisine from the nearby food stalls. This was quite a cultural experience, as we were not completely sure what was in the food, and we were surrounded by locals in the stifling heat. As we continued our on tour through some of the major sights in Singapore, we encountered many friendly Singaporeans. They were eager to help us if we were lost, or even if we were not. We were able to visit the famous Raffles Hotel, which is a huge white complex (not just a hotel) built in the late 1800s by some Armenian immigrants. It gave us a little history of the building of the Singapore itself at the museum upstairs. We also had the opportunity to visit Sentosa island just a few kilometers south of Singapore itself. The best part was taking a cable car over from Singapore in order to get a bird's eye view of the area. On Sentosa, there was an amusement park feel, and we couldn't leave without trying one of the attractions. John's choice was the "luge", which was actually going down a semi-steep concrete path in a plastic cart with a brake. It was a pretty quick trip, but fun nonetheless. Also on Sentosa, was the southernmost point on the Asian continent, so that was pretty cool to be there even though we hadn't been hardly anywhere north of it!


I'll save on shampoo now!

The next day John decided that he needed a haircut. There was an Indian barber that would do it for just 5 Singapore dollars, so why not? John thought the best cut for travelling might be a buzz cut. As for you Texans, that's a burr. As all his blond hair was coming off, I was wondering if he might look a little funny, but it's a new "militaryish" look for him one could say. He can look very mean with that haircut if he wants to!

Our last activity was a Night Safari at the Singapore zoo. It sounds a bit corny, but it was actually very good. We saw lot of big animals, and it was a clever setup. Since it is nighttime, we couldn't see the cages, and in some instances there wasn't cages at all. There were moats separating us from the animals. We were joined on our Night Safari by a fellow traveller from Belgian named Herman. I told him about the "Herman the Worm" story, and he thought that was pretty amusing.

As for now, we have entered into Malaysia, and are enjoying the laid-back beach life so far. For now, selamat jalan.


Posted by TulsaTrot 22:09 Archived in Singapore Tagged round_the_world Comments (6)

Let's Get a Wriggle On

Friendliness from the Family of Bennett

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This entire post along with more photos are located at www.tulsatrot.com. Please go there and subscribe.

Unless you're willing to have a go, fail miserably, and have another go, success won't happen. Phillip Adams (Australian)

As Nadine and I headed east on the train headed towards Melbourne on Nadine's birthday (September 1st in case you forgot), we were uncertain of what to expect of our encounter with the Bennett family. Upon walking into their living room and seeing a chocolate cake with a candle on top, we knew that our time together was going to be great.

We spent the weekend mostly relaxing with the fun Bennett bunch. To really be welcomed by/into the Bennett family, we went to a "barbie" put together by Chris, brother, uncle, family comedian. We spent the evening quizzing each other Aussie words and their American equivalents. Be careful talking about "rooting" for your favorite team in Australia, you will get some interesting looks.

We visited the normal sites, museums, parks, cultural places you wouldn't find in New Mexico, but what made our time in Melbourne great was the Bennett family. We met each other through a fellow educator, Joy C., who had switched places with the Bennetts early in the 90's in a teacher exchange. They offered to put us up for awhile and share a part of their life with us.


Big waves in front of the museum, no sharks

Terry took us to an Aussie Rules Football game between his team, Richmond, and West Coast. Unfortunately, his team lost by almost 100 points. I played basketball with David for an evening in his basketball league. It was great to run up and down the court. We didn't lose by the same margin as Richmond. We spent a night playing cards with Louisa (Lou), James (Jam), Anthony (Ant), and Kathy (Kat). Anthony, being the dealer, some how won. A little fishy. Rachel and I had some major battles over chess, the 12 year old came close to beating me, but not quite. Jess was ever the entertainer.


Rachel, Cathy, Jess, Big Terry, Cool Guy, Cool Girl

Nadine and I also had the pleasure of meeting . . . .

This entire post along with more photos are located at www.tulsatrot.com. Please go there and subscribe.

Posted by TulsaTrot 02:22 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (4)

I Don't Know Island, Chocolate, and a little Barossa wine

Wine and Bikes are a comical combo

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[/b]Don't wait or worry about tomorrow, just keep focused on what's happening today. -excerpt from Be A Dreamer

Since our last entry, Nadine and I had spent over a week in Cairns and the surrounding area enjoying some much needed warm weather. We are now in Melbourne and home of the Australian Football League Grand Final. Our Super Bowl. We flew from Cairns to Adelaide.

With several days in Adelaide, we explored multiple sites within the city center. Two of our favorite spots were Haigh's Factory and the Sushi King, both food related. Sushi King became a home away from hostel home by the fact that we ate there three times over 5 days. "Why eat sushi before going to South East Asia?" The sushi here was good and inexpensive. Plus, if you buy 3 rolls, you receive a free drink! Need I say more?

Secondly, probably one of our most anticipated activities was a tour of the Haigh's Chocolate Factory. This tour had a huge circle in our guidebook. We lined up like all of the other female chocolate afficionados and listened to our host talk about production of the coco bean while our minds were wandering to the free chocolate we were going to be tasting. I must admit that I personally dreamed of having a diving board on the edge of a pool of chocolate that we could optionally jump into at the end of the tour to most completely enjoy the warm liquid chocolate. The pool and diving board were unfortunately absent, but the free chocolate wasn't. We savored each bite as if we were professional chocolate judges. "Yes Nadine, that was a much more quality chocolate than that Hersheys bar we tried yesterday." To further our chocolate judging abilities, we bought several chocolate bars and truffles and sat outside carefully tasting each one. Our final decision, they were ALL great. Haigh's chocolate is not sold abroad, they use no advertising, no celebrity endorsers, just word of mouth over blog entries like this. Thus, we had to send a small box of pure joy for our parents. If you live close to Odessa or Omaha, you might consider visiting our parents to check on them and make sure they are doing alright and if, maybe, by some chance, they have some quality Australian chocolate lying around.

The one activity we were definitely going to participate in was visiting the wineries of the Barossa Valley, a valley renowned for its wine. After a few days exploring Adelaide, we set out north. Luckily, our bus driver notified us along the way of a wine and gourment food festival, creatively called Gourmet, coinciding with our visit to the valley. He let us know that the little hostel we wanted to stay at had been full 5 days ago. He suggested we try the Caravan Park in Tununda. Right on cue, we got the very last short trailer in the park, high living standards for any resident of New Mexico.

Once lodging had taken care of itself, we began walking towards Para Road, home of 4 wineries within walking or staggering distance, depending on your wine capacity. You can imagine us two backpackers sauntering on into the first winery with our t-shirt and zip-off pants and thinking to ourselves, "can we really just walk in and try all of the free wine we want?" As we saddled up to the testing bar, I casually looked at the list of wines we were able to taste, and calmly asked to try their finest Shiraz wine. And just like that, the girl handed me a glass with wine, and it was free. At that point, we both started quickly tasting several white, rose, and red wines and commenting to each other and the girl behind the bar how well you could truly savour that oak, vanilla, or fruity flavor in the wine. At the end of the bar was a large spittoon, to spit out all of the wine not pleasing to your own personal palate. Personally, how foolish was it to actually use the spittoon. After our last winery visit, we had the task of walking home in the cool stiff breeze in our aforementioned t-shirts, but feeling quite warm, chattering and laughing all the way down to our miniature mobile home at the caravan park. This is a walk the locals must see daily and call by a specific name, there goes the Para Road walk, those two.


As any traveler has while traveling, they have bright ideas from time to time, and yes, we both had one suggesting that we rent bikes and visit wineries outside the confines of walking. The next morning, after checking out of our short mobile home, we rented our mountain bikes with semi-flat tires and ungreased chains, and set off to our first winery on the map. The combination of our bikes less than robust condition, hills, and having had 4 winery tours under our belt the previous day, riding proved to be difficult. But being the adventerous and thrifty travellers we are, we continued on across paved and dirt roads, fields full of sheep, until we reached our first goal, the winery. We continued this track until the end of the early afternoon. We had visited another 5 wineries and had 4 bottles of savoury wine in our backpack. We had a long ride back with similar conditions as the previous day, lots of laughing, joking, smiling, all while on top of a bike and riding along the main intercity road. We reached our bags safely, boarded the bus, and headed back to Adelaide. The entire Barossa Valley wine tasting tour proved to be a great grape of a time, or as best as I can remember.

A goal we've had on this around the world trip is to volunteer and give back in some way for all that we have been receiving along the way. Nadine researched organizations, contacted people, and finally set up a volunteer experience on Kangaroo Island. We were volunteering with WWOOF as wwoofers. WWOOF is an acroynm for Willing Workers On Organic Farms. In a wwoofing situation, we as a couple, volunteered our services, manual labor usually, for half a day while our hosts provided us with food and a place to stay. We were fortunate enough to set up a wwoofing experience with Dean and Judy Johnson from American River on Kangaroo Island. We jumped on a bus down to the coast, hopped a ferry, rode on another shuttle, and we were there, at Muston Heights B@B. Dean welcomed us at the gate and drove us up the winding driveway past wallabies to their cozy little home. We were to be up the next morning ready for some work.


Next morning, we readied ourselves for a day of work. At the very early hour of 8:30 (5 in the afternoon local Texas time), we started our first half day of work. I kept busy outside mowing grass and pulling weeds, while Nadine did some gardening and inside cleaning. For us, it was great to be helping someone out, but more importantly, meeting authentic Aussies in their native environment of home and their farm. After we finished our morning work, we had time to visit the thriving town of American River, which is not actually on a river, but an inlet of the sea. The town is named after a few Americans built a boat on this inlet 200 years ago. After mailing two bottles of wine back to the States, we hiked a nice, lenghty nature trail back to the Muston Heights B&B.

Next day we worked the entire day mowing, cleaning, and setting some rock down for their garden so we could earn a full day to explore Kangaroo Island the next day.

Our destination on our free day was Kangaroo Island and all of its furry treasures and some not so furry. Originally Kangaroo Island earned its name from a large number of British and French sailors who found an overwhelming number of kangaroos on the island.

Reaching further back in history, the word kangaroo is an Aboriginal word. When Captain Cook initially interacted with the Aboriginals, he asked what the name of the hopping marsupial was, he misunderstood their response. They answered kangaroo. From then on, the British called the kangaroo, a, well, kangaroo. The word kangaroo in the Aboriginal language doesn't refer to the animal, but actually means "I don't know." Thus, when the Aboriginals were asked what that animal was, they said "I don't know," and the explorers took it to be the name for the kangaroo. They really messed that one up. That takes us back to an important lesson, communication is the key.

With a day to spare and a car at our disposal, Nadine and I immediately drove halfway through idyllic red ochre roads to a Koala Park. It was here that we walked around staring at the groggy koalas hanging out in the eucalyptus trees. We counted 10 in total, Nadine spotting 9 of them. That was an impressive sight. We continued on to Flinders Chase National Park. We were walking up to the Visitors Center looking at a sign that told you to remember to know your license plate number for your park pass, when I spotted a small, red kangaroo just chillin' in the sun. He blended right into the scenery! He did not seem disturbed by our presence, so we snapped a few pics and stared at him for a while in disbelief.


"John, are there really kangaroos on Kangaroo Island?"


I'm holding up The Remarkables

From the rangers station, we drove down to Admiral's Arch seal colony. Here we found hundreds of New Zealand seals, I do hope they have their visas in order, lying on the beach, swimming, eating and fighting. All the while, the tide was coming in with huge waves crashing against the rocks. This time of the season, the seals have just given birth a couple of months ago and baby seals are suckling.

Up the coast is the location of the Remarkables. A set of rocks that shot up from the ocean as magma and have taken on some unique forms from erosion over thousands of years. This place rendered several great photo opportunities.

Time dictated we return to American River before the sun came down and we would be more likely to hit something in the Johnson's car. At the end of the day, we had seen some koalas, a porcupine, kangaroo, 2 tiger snakes (very poisonous, Nadine shouldn't have been playing with them), large lizard, and hundreds of humans.

Our hosts Judy and Dean are some great people and have had some great life experiences. Both are close to my parents age and keep a very busy work schedule farming, cleaning, flying, cooking, maintaining a B&B, washing, and everything in between. Dean also flies planes. On a weekly basis he flies back and forth between Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. Over our time with them, Judy put together some great meals. During the evening, we sat around the fire laughing, talking, and watching tv. There was an English version of the Amazing Race that had travelled to Kangaroo Island and Dean helped fly a few teams around the island and across to the mainland. There were also feautured just a month ago on a television show called, Postcards. It's a show that features interesting parts of Southern Australia. http://www.postcards.sa.com.au/ Click on the title Kangaroo Island Flights and that is there place.

The entire experience of working, sharing, and being with them as a wwoofer was very rewarding. We would do it again in a heartbeat. When it came time to return to Adelaide, we had the unique opportunity of going by Dean's plane. The flight over afforded a fantastic view of Kangaroo Island and the coast line. Dean allowed me to take control of the plane for a bit and maintain the plane level with the horizon. It was also at this point that Dean took control of the plane back and performed a little roller coaster move, pull back on the controls and following it with a dip of the plane which left Nadine screaming and also blaming me for that maneuver.

Answers to last weeks questions

1) Cyclones only happen in the Southern hemisphere while hurricanes take place in the Northern hemisphere. 1A) Makes you wonder why Iowa State is called the Cyclones. I know Nate must be scratching is head about that one.

2) Nadine and I actually saw one of these in the wild recently.

Questions for this week

1) How many of the worlds most deadliest snakes are found in Australia?

2) How many of these did Nadine and I see so far in Australia?

Photos will be added to this entry shortly.


Posted by TulsaTrot 23:16 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (6)

G'day mate, let's put another shrimp on the barbie!!!

Instead of shrimp, let's try a little roo or crocodile.

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Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy. -Benjamin Franklin[i]

A plane has transported us from New Zealand and Lord of the Rings to the massive country of kangaroos, every animal in the world that will kill you immediately, and where everyone adds "[i]ie" to the end of every word. "How about some brekkie this morning? Ah crockie! There isn't any bread left!"

Our time here in Cairns, Australia has one definitive characteristic that is different from New Zealand, it's warm!!! I really do enjoy a little warm weather and I can be in 70 degree solidarity with everyone back in Texas and the rest of the States suffering from the heat wave. I feel your pain, on the beach.

This also marks the point where we are not returning back to school, teenagers, psychological tests, papers to be graded, yet we are continuing our responsibility to travel around the world for another 7 months. We will be thinking of y'all as we sit on a beach reading a good or bad book. Someone has to do it. Crockie, we've been traveling for 2 months already. Time, she is passing by quickly. Alright, enough about the fact we aren't "working," what have we been doing?

There is one thing every person that visits Northern Queensland must do, and that is to visit the Great Barrier Reef! After a few days relaxing, we boarded our sea going vessel, the Super Cat, to transport us to "The Reef". We climbed on the boat that was jam packed with 110 other enthusiastic snorkellers and divers. The ride out to the reef took a little over an hour and the combination of wind, waves, and a rolling Super Cat, sea sickness came to those not able to focus on the horizon. Neither one of us succombed to sea sickness, because we were to busy talking to Deb and Krista on the deck of our super feline. Deb and Krista are two Canadian kindergarten teachers we've run into three times now. So we chatted about the wind, the need of a wetsuit, waves, and the probability of actually running into a great white shark.

Upon reaching the reef, we gladly jumped into the water with a massive, and I do mean massive set of coral under our fins. Nadine and I proceeded to search, discover, and take in this incredible mass of coral reef along with a few of its buddies swimming around. Unfortunately, we never did find Nemo. He must have been busy with interviews for a sequel. We only spent 30 minutes in the water. As we were snorkelling, we were being cooled by cool water and wind passing below and over us. In addition to that, clouds hanging over our dive spot (I really think they began following us as soon as we left the wharf), and Cyclone Larry caused the water to be cloudy. When the sun actually hit the water, it lit up the entire reef full of thousands of colors. Quite impressive.

After our dive, we enjoyed a little gastronomical delight prepared by "Frenchie," the onboard chef for an hour with a Belgian couple, before we continued on to our second sight. At the second sight, we were accompangied by clouds and few of their closest friends. As a result, the colors of the reef and fish weren't as bright. The waves were quite a bit larger and threw us around like New Mexicans at a rodeo. From there we rode back to shore, and as you might have guessed, as soon as we were a decent distance from the reef, the sun revealed itself. Stupid sun! We really don't need the sun. The experience was great, and we were both really felt fortunate to see such an amazing natural wonder.

After the dive, we both decided to visit the tropical Tablelands on a 2 day tour. Bart, our tour guide, picked us up nice and early and ready to take on the day. The beginning of the first day, we visited the Cathedral Fig Tree, which is over 500 years old. What's unique about the tree is that a fig tree has an unique story. When a bird injests a fig and later poops it out on top of a leaf on another tree. What happens is that the fig tree starts growing on top of the tree that it landed on. Over years, the tree grows up and its roots grow down, covering the original host tree, looking for the ground and water. Seeing one of the trees makes you want to climb it and swing around like a kid.

After the fig tree, we passed by a few volcanic crater lakes and made our way to the Millaa Millaa Falls. As the most photographed falls in Australia, according to Bart, it was a nice little place to photograph AND swim. Swimming in this little pond with the falls pounding on top of rocks is only for those who have a carpe diem spirit. Nadine and I were the only ones to partake and we had to psych ourselves up to swim in the ice cold water. Once again, carpe diemish. We swam around for a good 5 minutes to the waterfall, under the waterfall, and back to shore feeling quite rejuvenated and awake. We also saw a platypus in a creek close to town of Yungaburra....tiny little bugger.


Next day, we enjoyed the country side with some mountain biking and an afternoon of canoeing on Lake Tinaroo. Lake Tinaroo is located over a former town, and people dive to search the houses laying at the bottom of the lake. We continued up a tributary where we did a little face painting with the red ochre rock. Simply wet it, rub it against another rock, and you have a red paint. We reverted back to our time in preschool. On our way out, we were lucky enough to see the timid and shy tree kangaroo. He didn't feel like leaving his tree branches to socialize, but we did see him.

One thing that we have discovered here in Australia is, FOOD! Cadbury chocolate is made here, delicious. There is a type of cookie, or biscuit for non-Americans, called Tim-Tam. Every flavor is awesome. Best cookie I have tried, other than Tracy's chocolate chip cookies of course. The third food I have come to enjoy are hamburgers with the lot. Now what is the lot? Here ya go. In addition to your regular meat, there is a toasted bun, lettuce, tomatoe, onion, the Ozzies add carrot, fried egg, bacon, some type of "special" sauce, pineapple, and for those of you who like beets, they add beets. I have passed on the beets.

Our time here in Cairns, Northern Queensland, is coming to an end, and tomorrow we are flying across the country to Adelaide and the wine country. We are not going to drink and drive, we promise. Instead, we are going to drink and ride a bike. Much safer.

Boots and Hailey, I hope you have a great first day of school.

Congrats to the older Pepper twin for correctly stating the title of this blog before I had even written to it.

It's not a contest to see who can put the most comments on the blog, all it shows us is the person that is our best friend. Nothing big. No pressure. Enjoy the blog, share it with others, but read in moderation please.

Two questions for everyone if you have made it this far in the blog.

Question #1 - What is the difference between a cyclone and a hurricane? Also, why are they called the Iowa State Cyclones?

Question #2 - What is special about the amethystine python?

Answers will be revealed next week. Oh the anticipation.

John and Nadine

Caterpillar: and who are you?
Alice: I hardly know, sir, just as present at least. I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then.
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Posted by TulsaTrot 17:31 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (6)

40 million sheep

And we saw 20 million of them with a couple of Kiwis

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Always in the big woods, when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place, there will be, along with feelings of curiousity and excitement, a little nagging dread. It is an ancient fear of the unknown and it is your first bond with the wilderness you're going into. What you are doing is exploring. You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is an experience of essential loneliness; for nobody can discover the world for anyone else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes a common ground and bond, and we cease to be alone. - Wendell Berry

This blog entry has been moved to www.tulsatrot.com. Please subscribe to this blog where you will find more photos and videos from our escapades around the world.

Greetings all from Christchurch, New Zealand! We have been quite busy driving around the South Island on the left side of the road. We have seen, this is a rough estimate, 20 million of the 40 million sheep in New Zealand. A few were being chased by a few eager male human Kiwis. They said that the "baaahhh" from the sheep means "more." Today is our last day in New Zealand as tomorrow we head to Australia and warm weather.

From Lake Tekapo, Nadine and I headed further south to the town of Wanaka. Our sole goal here was to ski, ski, and then a little more skiing. Nadine had been suffering from a 2 year dry snow spell. We had two ski fields to choose from, Cardrona and Treble Cone. From eager pushing by a wild haired Aussie, we decided to go to the Cardrona Ski Fields first. This was a good choice too. Cardrona turned out to be the easier of the two places.


As we drove to the mountain after having had picked up a Japanese snowboarder hitching a ride, we climbed the steep "35 minute from the bottom to the top" dirt road with no safe barriers to prevent our long fall. It was here that we realized a 4X4 vehicle would be nice compared to our little go kart. BUT, the view from the top was amazing. Nadine and I spent the morning and afternoon tearing up some major green and blue routes on the mountain. It was good for Nadine to be back on skis and good for me not to fall the first day. Now for an American or European, when you think of a place to ski, you think of long ski trails lined with trees that you can ride for a long while. That is not the reality in New Zealand. In New Zealand, the ski trails are short and you have to avoid rocks sticking up out of the snow. Those prove to be more dangerous than the snowboarders flying by. It was a great chance for Nadine to hit the slopes, and a sort of a warm-up for a more challenging day.

The next day, we drove to Treble Cone Ski Resort. Same thing, drive small car up steep dirt road for spectacular views along the way. What was great about this place is that if you purchased a 15 pack of Speights Beer, there was a coupon on the packaging that allowed you to get two ski lift tickets for the price of one. Great deal, plus the beer! Good thing that one of us got in free, that person being me, because this place proved to be more difficult than the previous day. After two runs on greens that had me falling all over, I called it a morning and spent it with some hot cocoa, a camera, some crazy green birds and spectactular views. While I was sipping on some hot drink, Nadine had the freedom to run around all of the runs. She immediately headed over to the blues and blacks. She became so excited, she almost went out of bounds on the other side of the mountain. Fortunately she composed herself and decided to stay on the trails. We finished the afternoon with a couple more runs together on some kiddy runs and greens, and Nadine had had her skiing fix for a "wee" bit. She really wants to get back to the slopes of Colorado.


After our four days in the Wanaka area, we quickly drove to see Queenstown, "capital of extreme sports" in the country that is "home to all extreme sports." If you wanted to use the word "extreme" for any part of the U.S., you could use it with New Mexico and the fact that they use green chile on all dishes. Cereal included. Now that is extreme! I would like to see anyone from Queenstown try a little green chile on their Weet-Bix in the morning. Wowzers. After our quick visit to Queenstown, we continued our circular driving route up the western coast. Along our way, we passed the impressively calm and dark blue Lake Hawea. A lake similar to this back home would have been built up years ago and full of people. We saw one single boat the entire time.

Our first stop along the Western coast was the town, and they are all towns on the South Island, with the exception of Christchurch with its whooping population of 320,000, of Fox Glacier. It has this name due to the fact that, well, it's at the bottom of a rather large glacier. You could call this the glacier district, because 25 kilometers north is the Franz Josef Glacier. What makes these two glaciers so unique and spectacular is that they have advanced so close to the sea. Both glaciers average about a meter, 3 feet, of downhill descent everyday. On a good day, they may move as much as 15 feet. Imagine this scenario - driving along a two-lane road and seeing a vast sea to your left and a humungous mountain capped in snow on your right and in the ridge of that mountain, a big ol' glacier just hanging out. That is New Zealand for you, full of jaw dropping shots.


The first glacier we visited was the southern Fox Glacier. We hiked through the valley to the terminal face of the glacier. You were miniscule compared to the glacier. It was here that you felt like a Pepper at a dance full of WNBA basketball players. Think of the bright side though, if you were throwing a party, you would have an unlimited amount of ice. Barry! Can you climb up the valley and get some more ice. No dirt this time though.


Posted by TulsaTrot 21:18 Archived in New Zealand Tagged new_zealand south_island round_the_world Comments (7)

Where have all the good underwear gone?

Lesson learned - never wash all your clothes at one time.

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Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
- Herny David Thoreau

Howdy yall! Hope this latest entertaining blog entry finds y'all doing well. Nadine and I are currently here in Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. This little town of a couple of thousand Kiwis is located on the South Island and surrounded by towering mountains covered in snow and a few sheep.

Since our last email from Taupo on the North Island, we have visited Wellington, Christchurch, and now Lake Tekapo. Nadine and I have started a new little tradition. Not the climb to the top of a mountain and take a naked photo, but the day that we leave a city, we take an early morning walk through a park or forest. As we were leaving Taupo, our favorite place on the North Island, we took a nice long walk through a park that ran along side the Waikato River. The Waikato River is the largest and longest river in New Zealand and originates from Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo was created 26,000 years ago, before both Nadine and I were born, my parents might have been kids at the time, when the largest volcanic explosion of all time took place. The result was Lake Taupo, which created Waikato River, which created a perfect place to take a walk during the day. Several miles away from the lake, there is a spot where this mighty river is crammed into an area the size of a Texas sized truck. The result is a mighty, baby blue waterfall that you wouldn't want to kayak on your best day. These falls are called Huka Falls. Have I mentioned that all the water in New Zealand is really clean? If not, the water is clean and tastes so good when it hits your lips.


Anytime that you have an experience with locals that are not involved in the tourist industry, it is always a pleasure. This past Sunday, we had searched for a church, but could not find one in the phonebook, on any maps, until Nadine was luckily able to locate one very close to our hostel. We had no idea how what time it started, so we headed off around 9:25. As we walked up, we learned that church started at 9:30, perfect timing. After mass, we sat in the conference room jabbering with some local Kiwi ladies. This group of ladies that we were talking to were more or less all part of the same family. And this was a big family. The ladies we were talking to were part of a family of 9, and they each had enough kids to form at least a basketball team. Thus, after each question they posed to us, it was hard to get a word in edge wise. Here is a blurp from one of our conversations:

- So where are you heading to next?
- Well, we were . . .
- Hey Lisa, here are two Americans traveling around our clean water country. Where are you going next?
- We were thinking of . . .
- Stop that Margaret, be nice to your little sister.
- thinking of filming the next Lord of the Rings movie and slapping a few sheep around, you know, the usual.
- That sounds great, enjoy your time here.

Come to find out, they gave us the location of a great little diner where we could have a large, greasy breakfast which were craving for a good long time. They also gave us a lift to Brooklyn Cafe.

Throughout the North Island, Nadine and I traveled by bus. We decided to travel the South Island via another mode of transportation, not the scooter of the Cook Islands, brace yourselves, but an actual rental car. It's the first time in our lives of traveling internationally, that we have rented a car, and for two weeks. Identical to the Cook Islands, everyone drives on the left side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the right side of the car. Fortunately, we have an automatic transmission, and if not for that, we would still be in Christchurch a couple of blocks away from the rental facility. From Christchurch, we drove here over a span of 3 hours. Half of that time, Nadine was screaming at me to avoid that concrete barrier, that sheep, as well as that 18 wheeler. The car tends to pull to the left a little more and I am used to, and as a driver, used to being on the left side of the lane when driving, you can understand Nadine's preoccupation with my driving. It's her turn today.

Last of all, as we sat here relaxing in Lake Tekapo with not much to do other than read, we decided to finally wash our clothes in an actual washing machine. Since we had a room to ourselves, I decided to wash ALL of my clothes aside from a red rainjacket. While our clothes were washing, I played backgammon naked with a fully clothed Nadine. When it came time to put our freshly cleaned clothes into the dryer, Nadine and only Nadine went to do the transfer. Come to find out, the spin cycle did not work at all. Thus, our clean clothes were still sopping wet AND freezing. No worries on my part, I was stuck in the room naked and unable to help. Nadine had to do it alone. Nadine came soon after frustrated that I coulnd't be of clothed assistance. Being the problem solvers that we are, I put on my red raincoat and Nadine's only pair of white longjohns. The result was Nadine laughing like she hadn't laughed before, almost causing a serious asthma attack on her part, but I was able to help now. For the next 2 and a half hours, I was prancing around like an elf at Christmas time. Minus the elf shoes. Did I mention that it was cold?


Life is good, we are heading to Wanaka for some much needed time on the slopes for Nadine. We have added some photos to a few of the previous entries. Enjoy!

The human race has one really affective weapon, and that is laughter.
- Mark Twain

Posted by TulsaTrot 15:04 Archived in New Zealand Tagged new_zealand round_the_world Comments (4)


Lord help us...Skydiving in New Zealand

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Well today you are getting an entry from the other half of this dynamic duo travelling around the world. I feel inspired to write today, as we have done something that was the biggest adrenaline rush either of us has ever felt.

We went crazy and decided to fall out of a tiny plane from 12,000 feet up in the air. We are currently hailing from Taupo, New Zealand, and the opportunity of skydiving presented itself so we did it. I can hardly believe it as I am writing it now. The town of Taupo is right by a huge lake and some huge mountains, so the scenery was fantastic from way up there.

Both John and I were ancy all morning in anticipation of our jump around 12 noon. As we got all suited up there was no turning back. We got on the plane and flew around for a magnificent view for about 20 minutes. John jumped out first with Ollie, a Polish man, strapped to him tightly. I think he was glad to be that close to a man for once. After that it was my turn, strapped to Mike. I was pretty terrified sitting on the edge of the plane, but once we took the dive, it was absolutely surreal. The freefall was 45 seconds, but it felt like 10. After that, the parachute opened and we gracefully glided down towards the airport. The gentle coasting after the freefall was the best part for me since I got to take in all the scenery and my surroundings. John liked the freefall the best, on the contrary.

So now we are back on safe ground and feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to skydive in Taupo, New Zealand.



Posted by TulsaTrot 19:48 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (3)

Mullet, Mullet Man

Does Billy Ray Cyrus live here in New Zealand?

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The road goes ever on and on. Down from the door where it began. Not far ahead the road has gone, And I must follow, if I can. Pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way where many paths and errands meet. And whither then, I cannot say.
- J.R.R. Tolkein - Fellowship of the Rings

Nadine and I have made the successful journey from the Cook Islands, warm islands, to New Zealand, cold islands. Once again, to make it perfectly clear, we are in New Zealand where it is currently winter, and by the temperatures here, I think that that would be the equivalent of being on the North Pole. We are currently in the city of Rotorua which is located in the middle of the North Island. And yes, the mullet is still in style here in New Zealand.

We have found that there are three types of travellers that we keep running into : A) people traveling for a short vacation B) folks taking between 7 months and a couple of years to travel around the world AND C) English teenagers that just graduated from high school and are traveling anywhere Nadine and I are headed. I will let you pick which one has been a big pain in the arse. We've experienced it here in New Zealand and in the Cook Islands, English teenagers get their first taste of freedom, travel to another country, and decide to go plum silly drinking lots of beer and alcohol, being loud, and not really seeing the sights other than the local liquor store run by Ned. Ok, not every English traveler is like that, i.e. Jason and Sarah (currently in Las Vegas), but we have met more than one that is annoying. Which leads us to Auckland.

Thus, our first stay in the land of Lord of the Rings, extreme sports, and friendly folks, we stayed in a crap hole called the Fat Camel. Better yet, call it the Fat, Smelly, Dirty Camel's Butt Hostel full of slime balls. Travel presents different types of people and different views on life by people. Needless to stay, our hostel was "special" in that it was nasty, but it did do one positive thing, it forced us to see Auckland and it's many treasures from the early morning until the late evening.

Don't misinterpret the above paragraphs to mean that we are miserable and not having a great time, quite the contrary. We are having a great time, feel fortunate to be able to travel, and have met loads of great people. Earlier this past week, our credit card was being charged for bus tickets to explore the North Island, and a couple leaned over and said that we could have theirs, for free, and it takes us to the sights we wanted to visit. Talk about a good deed, and the couple wouldn't accept any money from us in exchange for the tickets. I am convinced that there are more good, quality people than bad. I am sure of that.

This past Thursday evening, Nadine and I went to see one of the movies showing at the Auckland International Film Festival, the Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. The movie was quite interesting and the fact that the movie was based in West Texas, not Western New Mexico, made it even better. Odessa was mentioned several times along with a couple of scenes actually filmed in Odessa. There isn't nothing like seeing Odessa when you are in Auckland, New Zealand! Once again, wasn't New Mexico. As intriguing as watching a movie featuring West Texas was the theatre itself, the Civic Theater. This elaborate theatre, used for plays, only shows movies during the film festival. On top of that, while the movie was playing, there was a simulation of the sky, stars, and clouds on the ceiling as they were on April 21st. Pretty cool stuff. I wasn't sure whether to make a wish when the the shooting star passed by.

One of our final excursions in Auckland was a ferry over to the volcanic island of Rangitoto. Rangitoto is a volcanic island that was formed 600 years ago, very young for a volcano, ancient for a human, and is located across the whale, dolphin, and sealife infested Waitemata Harbor. On the black island, we climbed the 260 meter tall cone for another superb view the Auckalnd cityscape and our surroundings.

After a short lunch trying to feed ourselves and the small green bird ressembling Tweety, we walked around the lip of the volacno and then on to some caves. At the caves, Robin, an engineer from Maine living in Cali, and I explored the volcanic caves with the aid of a small "Curves" gym light. It started offf somewhat tight but expanded into a tall, circular cave. We were able to see roots hanging from the ceiling. When we came to the end of our cave expedition, we had to climb out of a jagged exit, and our freedom. As soon as we poked our heads out, and Nadine knew that it was doable, she jumped right in and did it herself. She exited with a non-claustrophoby induced smile on her cute little face.


A little side note. New Zealand is very environmentally conscious. You can tell by the way they talk and carry themselves that they are making a genuine effort to protect the environment. As a result of their effort, the place is clean, clean, and clean. As one little boy on a trip back from Minnesota mentioned, this place is "way to green."

From Auckland, we traveled by bus, a free bus trip that is, to Waitomo wiht their famous underground caves and glow worms. Let me drop a little knowledge on y'all. The Maori word Wai means "water,' while "tomo" means hole, cave, or space. Thus Waitomo is the "water hole". This is where you can find hundreds of underground caves to explore by boat, innertube, swimming, upside down, basically anyway that the Kiwis can think up. This is where you will also find the "arachnocampa luminosa," for those of you not as scientifically blessed as myself, those are glowworms, or honestly, "glow maggots," and they are unique to New Zealand. Our trip in an underground river with glow maggots overhead was amazing! It ressembled a bright night sky in West Texas where you can see all the stars, yet this time, they were maggots. I did resist the temptation of placing a few in my mouth and to scare small children. Maybe next time.

The most recent extreme sport we have tried has been zorbing. Zorbing originated here in Rotorua and it is a sport? where you jump inside an oversized plastic ball that is full of water, and you roll down any hill or mountain that is close by. It's not dangerous, because you are in a space that is soft and plastic, which is surrounded by another ball of plastic and you have lots of cushiony air in between the two. It was great fun. That must be how a baby feels for 9 months.

Nadine and I have spent a week here already and been able to experience some great things so far - eating lots of sushi, visit a few volcanoes, Mt. Eden, Achilles Point; free bus tour of the city; try some Hokey Pokey; Nadine talked to her parents, I talked to Tim; be up close to stingrays, sharks, and penguins; reach the top of the Sky Tower (tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere);

Life is good. Over the next 7 days, we hope to skydive!, finish visiting the North Island, travel to the South Island, and find some clean hostels along the way.

Hope all are doing well and enjoying the blog as we globeblog. We hope to get a few more photos on the website at the beginning of August. We are only allowed a certain amount of photos per month.

Peace and love from Rotorua, New Zealand

Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
- Unknown

Posted by TulsaTrot 20:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (3)

The Kindness of Strangers

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During our time in the Cook Islands, that has been a common theme, the kindness of strangers. It appears that everywhere we go, people are always willing to give a helping hand on the islands.

A couple of our goals on this trip was to volunteer in the Cook Islands and to intermittently meet up with different Brothers from the Congregation of Christian Brothers. We weren't too successful on the first one, but we were able to meet the three Brothers living in Rarotonga, Brother John, Vincent, and Ben. We shared dinner with them twice while on the island, and Brother Ben, mid-80's shared some funny stories from when he was studying to become a Brother, back in the late 1930's. This guy has seen quite a bit. It was great to meet up with them.

I mentioned this previously, but the Cook Islanders are very welcoming and generous. A few times around the islands, we were approached by locals asking if we needed any help or wanted a ride somewhere. So if you see a Cook Islander, pat them on the back and thank them on behalf of me for their kindness.

Our last week in the Cook Islands was characterized with quite a bit of lounging by the beach, reading, lying by the pool, and reading a little bit more. The life of a traveler is TOUGH!

There is one activity we did do, a cross island hike. This was a hike that crossed the island from the north to the south, and we had been looking for a chance to do it. We were lucky enough to catch three straight days of sun, which was the first time so far. We quickly jumped out of bed, laced up our running shoes, and headed downtown to begin our "epic" hike. This hike turned out to be one of the most unique and challenging hikes that we had ever attempted. We were following what we thought was the trail to the trailhead until the path was no longer visible. We walked down a couple hundred yards to the road, and three locals said that we were going the correct direction. So we went back to where we stopped, and poked our head into the brush, and there the hike continued. From there on, our hike was under a canopy of trees. Our ascent was full of walking on top of tree roots, grabbing on to tree branches, until we finally we reached the top. From there, we had a panoramic view of the northern and southern beaches and the famous "Needle." The Needle is a large rock sticking out at the top of the mountain. The hike down was twice as tough as the ascent. This way down, the side receives less sun and less hikers, and as a result was muddy, steep, and sleek. Nadine caught herself several times from falling by grabbing a tree branch. It was a challenge. Nadine and I don't have any great desire to do it again, but we felt proud to have climbed it.

Our time in the Cook Islands has ended. We are now in Auckland, New Zealand after heavy fog diverted us to the capital of Wellington before eventually landing in Auckland 6 hours late. Yes, the rain has followed us here. New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere and rather than being the heat of a Texas summer, it is winter and cold. We have four weeks to explore the two islands and we are excited to see what the land of Kiwis has to offer.


Posted by TulsaTrot 00:01 Archived in Cook Islands Tagged round_the_world Comments (3)

Surviving Probst's Aitutaki

Sneaking onto the set of Survivor

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Hold a true friend with both your hands.
-Nigerian Proverb

Our first two weeks here in the Cook Islands have been great. A week ago, we took a short early morning flight from the main island of Rarotonga north to the small island of Aitutaki. We thought that the lagoon surrounding Rarotonga was nice, the one surrounding Aitutaki was superb.


The highlight for both of us on this trip so far, even though we just started was the lagoon cruise that we took midweek. We woke up quite early to make reservations for a cruise to Honeymoon Island and the motu Maina. Nadine and I were accompanied by our two English friends, Sarah and Jason. I am able to communicate in Spanish and French, but this English English takes a little getting used to. We got a ride up to the wharf where our barge was set to depart. Upon our sea-going vessel, we had tables with chairs all around it so we could eat, drink, be merry, and watch the blue water as we sailed on by. Along the way, we stopped to snorkle in 20 foot deep water as we sailed over puffer fish and clams the size of a scooter. These were the biggest clams I have ever seen. I am now identical to Jeremy Pepper in that when I went to pick the clam's nose, it shut, chopped my finger off, and I now only have 9 fingers. It makes it easier to swim in circles now. Mom, I was just joking about that.

We followed our snorkeling with a huge lunch of fruit and yellow fin tuna. This tuna rivals all of the salmon I have had in my life, good eating! We then visited Honeymoon Island which houses the rare red beak bird. I killed one to take home with me and show everyone back in the States. Another joke mom. We finished off our motu visiting with Maina. Here we were able to learn how to effectively open a coconut, get our passport stamped again, and do a bit more snorkeling along with some of the bread that I took from lunch. It was great just watching fish fly by.


On our way back to the wharf, Nadine, Jason, Sarah, and I were part of a sarong wearing demonstration. I think that this was because we were the youngest folks on the boat. The rest were folks coming from the main island for the day, thus they were all blue hairs. The entire day proved to be the highlight of our trip so far.

The people of Aitutaki have to be some of the warmest, most welcoming people we have met so far. They are Polenesian Texans. Anytime that we were walking around the island, several people would stop and offer to give us a ride. One evening, I stopped, chatted with a local guy whose name I couldn't understand. He chopped down a few coconuts, pulled a few bananas, showed me his land crabs (ladies beware!), and I played soccer between four coconut trees with him and his two kids and a young girl from next door. I helped him bring his boat ashore. This type of experience reaffirms your faith in humankind and the joy and blessing of being able to travel. Everyone should try it!

After we booked our flight for our around the world trip, we learned that Survivor was going to be filming at the exact same time that we were going to be there. The entire island of Aitutaki seems to be geared for the show. There are several parts of the island that we can't actually get to because of filming. One day, Nadine and I went over to a part of the lagoon which houses a luxury resort. As we were standing there, I looked over and there was Jeff Probst, the host of Survivor. I went over immediately and told him he needs to replace one of the current Survivor contestants with me. Actually, Nadine and I talked with him for a good 5 minutes. He seems to be a pretty good guy from the Midwest. It was nice to meet him and talk with him for a bit. I told him that I would run into again in about a year and a half when I'm on the show.

One of the more amusing things to happen to us so far is renting a scooter to explore the island. The fun part is that neither Nadine nor I have actually driven a scooter and everyone here drives on the left side of the road. That provided for two challenging obstacles. Fortunately we started with an automatic little gray crotch rocket. Initially I had an ackward time getting used to driving it as Nadine continually laughed and yelled at me to drive on the left side of the road, not the right as we're accustomed to. No animals, humans, or plants were injured during this expedition. Actually, a few Cook Islanders were laughing pretty hard when they saw me have a hell of a time trying to turn the scooter but really just driving onto peoples' yards. We are not quite sure the condition of their spleen at this time.


We are currently have another week here in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands before we continue on to New Zealand on July 17th where they have been having quite a bit of snow.

We are having a great time and wish everyone continued health. [/i]Akeeta! [i]

We hope to add many of our great photos in the next week.

Peace from the Cook Islands!

John and Nadine

You learn alot while traveling, butt nuggets of information.
- Sarah (our British traveling partner in the Cooks)


Posted by TulsaTrot 14:06 Archived in Cook Islands Tagged round_the_world Comments (6)

Kia Orana Rarotonga

Our first destination - the Cook Islands

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Hello yall! Nadine and I finally arrived to Rarotonga and the Cook Islands last Monday and we are happy to be in a rainy paradise. Quite a bit has happened since we arrived to the tiny island, so we will let you know what has been happening.


First of all, if you are not familiar with our locale, here is the 411. The Cook Islands are located in the South Pacific west of Tahiti, east of Fiji, and very far due south of Hawaii. It's a tropical climate. There are two groups of islands, the northern group, hardly inhabited, and the southern group which contains Rarotonga and Aitutaki, the two islands we are visiting. We picked these set of islands over Fiji and Tahiti due to A) the fact that we wouldn't expect there to be many visitors, which there aren't, B) a little cheaper, which it isn't, compared to American prices, and C) it would be beautiful, no doubt about that.

June 22nd we flew to L.A. to meet up with some old college friends before going to our first international destination. Upon arriving to L.A. our goal was simple, relax. Previously we had been packing, moving, and making sure our apartment was empty before our first flight. Chrissie was Nadine's roommate at TU and we stayed with her and her roommate Vola. It was great riding down to Venice Beach where I could lift weights and constantly ask where the gym was in front of a big crowd. I also met up with Van Schaick, one of my college roommates. He is a big lawyer in Hollywood now, so if you ever watch COPS, he is responsible for making sure the show is not breaking the law themselves. Quite ironic! It was a great time of laying around, watching World Cup soocer, and repacking our bags.

Our flight from L.A. to Rarotonga left at 11:45 in the evening. The entire way, Nadine had the middle row to herself where she remarkably slept a solid 5 hours on the plane before our arrival into our layover spot of Papeete, Tahiti. Myself, I had two seats to myself where I curled up like a baby and slept like an old man. The actual arrival into Rarotonga was pretty nice. Instead of just landing onto the single runway, we flew by the island at a low altitude to land from the opposite direction because of the wind blowing off of the Pacific. The view of the entire island was amazing.

The first four days of our time on the island consisted of reading, writing, staring out the window praying for the rain to stop. Yes, our first days in paradise were restricted because of the rain.

After several days of non-stop rain, Nadine was content staying in the hostel reading her book, myself, I had to get out of the hostel, so I jumped on the bus and headed to Muri Beach to just see another part of the island. When I got there, I found a nice little place to rent a kayak and the rain let up and the sun had actually peeked its head out along with Sabrina, our German friend from our hostel, so we rented two kayaks. As soon as we put it in the water, the clouds clouded over, wind picked up, and the rain began to fall again. Since I paid for the kayak, I was determined to use it. Kayaking in the rain across the blue lagoon was refreshing in the choppy Pacific Ocean water. After we landed and searched the first motu, Sabrina decided to head back to the beach, because she was cold. I on the other hand figured I might as well visit the other motu born of volcanic rock. As I paddled over, the waves and wind were blowing me and my kayak around like Matthew Pepper in high school, so at that moment I decided it might be wise to go back to shore. I did live to see another day.

Once the rain really stopped on Friday, Nadine and I traveled back over to Muri Beach to try our hand at kayaking. From the beach, we manuevered our bright, plastic kayaks around motus, the name for the little islands, as waves crashed in the far distance against the reef that surrounds the island. When it came time to return our kayaks, we paddled against a powerful headwind. As a result of our kayaking, the next morning, Nadine had some sore shoulders and back.

Saturday started off as a sunny day and we had high hopes. Snorkeling was our goal. We rented some snorkeling gear and walked south down the island road. We found a secluded spot on the beach and dropped our stuff there. As we headed out towards the reef, the water wasn't that deep, so we had to avoid running into it. After a few trips around the reef among parrot fish, several of the fish that you saw in "Finding Nemo," we decided to try another spot further down the beach noted for great snorkeling. This next spot was the perfect spot for snorkeling. In front of the Rarotongan Resort, there was deep water with 10 times as many fish as the previous spot. The entire sensation felt like we were swimming among all types of fish one would find in an aquarium. It was awesome!


Sunday, July 2nd, a very important day in American history, my 29th birthday, we attended mass at a church close to our hostel. In the Cook Islands, people are known for two things, their dansing and their singing. The singing at mass was lively, unique, and in Maori. After mass, we were invited to join in the monthly tea. Basically, everyone brought some type of food to go along with either tea, coffee, and juice after mass. It was a good time as we talked with folks from the island.

To celebrate my birthday, we went to eat at an Indian restaurant for a buffet the night before as well as a day of renting bikes and circling the 20 mile road circling around the island. It was a great way to see the island.

So there has been a few interesting things that have happened here, just some quick notes. At the Indian restaurant, I walked into the restroom, and instead of seeing a trash can for your paper towels, there was a very large crab eating the paper in its place. I jumped back when I saw it. You would hate to have him bite your butt while you were going to the loo.

Another item of interest, we have learned that you have to wash your clothes everyday or two, not three or four, because, as is the case with our clothes, they begin to stink quite a bit in the humid weather.

We actually went to an "Island Night." Different Cook Islanders perform their native danse. It was great to see the folks in their native attire. At the end when it came time for people in the crowd to danse with the dansers, Nadine hurriedly hid behind me. Unfortunately, they didn't pick her.

It has been fun here on Rarotonga. We are now heading to Aitutaki where they are currently filming Survivor. I am going to sneek onto the island. Hope all is well.

Peace from the Cooks - John and Nadine

Posted by TulsaTrot 00:31 Archived in Cook Islands Tagged round_the_world Comments (3)

And Off We Go!!!

Ready or not, here we go.

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A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.
Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Walk besides me and be my friend.
- Albert Camus

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After much preparation, planning, and packing, we have finally left San Antonio for Los Angeles to begin our much anticipated around the world trip. We didn't have enough time to get excited since we were trying to figure out how to properly fit all of our stuff from the apartment into a closet that is 5 feet by 9 feet. With lots of help from Nate, Randy, and Tim, we were finally able to carefully balance our bed, dresser, and armoire in such a position that it fits in our little closet-sized storage, as long as a couple of spiders don't jump on it simultaneously.

In prep for our trip, we were lucky enough to have several opportunities to see friends and family. One of the first get-togethers was having friends come across and down to San Antonio for our "International Beer Party." Everyone brought their own beers from several continents, and they all were quite tasty. We had friends from TU (University of Tulsa) and friends from TU (Trinity University) who came over. The day after the party, we went up to New Braunfels to float the Comal river for a day and tried not to scrap our butts on the bottom. Great weekend!


Now that we are here in L.A., where the smog begins 30 minutes before you land at LAX, we have been able to take an entire day to do nothing, relax, and just "be" for awhile. Today, we walked to the beach and rode a bike from Santa Monica's beach down to Venice beach. As I walked around Venice Beach with our TU friend Chrissy and her roommate Vola, I asked everyone at the beach where the gym was as I grunted and flexed with my chest puffed up. What has been most surprising to me about L.A. is that the weather here is quite cool and the people aren't as odd as I thought they would be. They're actually quite normal in their fancy clothes.

Tomorrow evening we fly from LAX to Rarotonga, Cook Islands, our first stop in our trip around the world. I hope to update our blog at least every two weeks along with photos. If you need to email me, drop me a note at jwhit003@gmail.com.

Peace, JW

Life is an adventure: risk it.
Life is a challeng: face it.
Life is a hymn: sing it.
- Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Posted by TulsaTrot 15:12 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (5)

Disaster Strikes!!!

Never talk trash to students before playing basketball 7 weeks before you leave on your RTW trip.

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Roughly 2 and a half weeks ago, during warmups of a student vs. faculty basketball game, I jumped to shoot and a ball rolled under my left foot from behind me from the other side of the court. I hit the floor, looked at my rapidly swelling ankle and immediately asked myself, "Why hadn't I bought my traveller's insurance yet?" Nadine looked perplexed and asked, "what is it this time?" I was worried that I wouldn't be healthy for the beginning of our trip in Mid-June, and we wouldn't be able to leave on our scheduled date.

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The result of this little ordeal was a severly sprained ankle, bruised ego, fractured ankle, and a walking cast to "boot" for 3 weeks. Fortunately, we will not have to postpone our date of departure. Nadine will begin her trip with a partner with two different sized legs, but who will definitely be leaving with her in June to the Cook Islands.


4 weeks from departure, we do not yet have everything in order. I am pretty sure we will be running around like chickens with our heads cut off a week before we leave. Which insurance do we finally want to go with? Who is taking the car? Storage, oh yeah, we need that too! All the joys of planning a trip of this magnitude. If our planning was all on Nadine's shoulders, everything would already be carefully planned out and secured. If our planning was all on my shoulders, we would dream for a year of the places that we are going to go, and the day before we leave, take care of the necessities. Good thing both of us are planning, Nadine the realistic and practical one, while I remain dreaming of our stay on the beach.

Nevertheless, it is an exciting time for us. We are going to have a solid 10 months to "be" and to travel without time constraints, other than catching the next flight. That's what is great about traveling, freedom to explore, seeing new places, people, customs, and languages on a daily basis, challenging one's self with directions, dialects, hand signals. As always, we require us to practice our ability to be patient, laugh at ourselves, and be flexible. It will be an interesting 10 months.

So we are about to leave a great situation where we have great jobs surrounded with great family, friends, students, and comfort. It will be tough to leave these people for the unknown, yet in order to have this great adventure and challenge ourselves, we have to remove ourselves from our comfort and hit the road.


Posted by TulsaTrot 16:00 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (4)

We took the first step in buying the tickets

And we HAVE to go now!

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After much deliberation, thought, comparing various companies, making changes to dates, and anticipation, those around the world plane tickets have been purchased and we have to go now. Shucks, someone has to do it. Since you are reading this, we would gladly accept any donations to the John and Nadine travel the world fund. Any denominations would be accepted. Honestly, this is the largest single purchase I have ever made personally. I mean as long as you don't take into account the student loans that I incurred as a young 20 something and I didn't truly understand what the loans meant. Sure, I would be able to pay that off in a couple of months.

Our route and dates have been set.
June - Los Angeles to Rarotonga, Cook Islands;
July - Rarotonga, Cook Islands - Auckland, New Zealand;
August - Christchurch, New Zealand - Cairns, Australia;
September - Adelaide, Australia - Singapore;
February - Hong Kong, China - Joburg, South Africa;
March - Joburg, South Africa - Rome, Italia.
March/April - Europe - San Antonio, Texas

Anyone wanting to meet up with us anywhere on the trip is more than welcome. The more the merrier.

Posted by TulsaTrot 13:59 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Just the Beginning

Prepping for the big RTW

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***I am now moving the majority of my blog over to www.tulsatrot.com. Please subscribe to that blog.***

As we sit here 4 months from our departure to the great blue wander, Nadine and I have been planning this 9 month trip for a good 16 months. Whew, we could have completed the trip twice given the time we been planning it. I know I have done it a couple of times in my dreams during all of research we've done between Borders and Barnes & Noble.

We definitely sit here excited, anxious, nervous, should I got that immunization, really? what are the chances dogs are going to bite me, do we really want to go there, but we could fit a week in there, mosquitoes won't be that bad, but among all of the feelings that we experience, we are definitely anticipating the beginning of our journey.

We've had several dream itineraries - San Antonio - Guatemala (language school) - L.A. - Tahiti - Fiji - Cook Islands - 2 months in New Zealand - 2 months in Australia - Bali all the way to Hong Kong - India - Africa from tip to the north - all of Europe - back to the States. The itinerary has changed dramastically (drastically + dramactically) for several reasons. Nadine doesn't want to be a grandma by the time we actually complete the trip, or funds have dictated that I will be selling a kidney in Thailand to continue traveling.

Our current travel itinerary consists of a departure in June of 2006 which includes: Cook Islands, New Zealand, Australia, overland from Singapore to Hong Kong (South East Asia), South Africa for a month, up to Portugal and wherever the wind blows and money allows us to be blown in Europe, before we make the return trip home to begin another adventure involving little bambinos.

First entry is down, hope all enjoy our travels as much as we do!



Posted by TulsaTrot 14:38 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

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