chilling feet

chilling feet

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New Zealand is Better with Miriam and Gordon!!

(Yes we look silly but we could not resist taking a pic
in this chair carved right out of a tree.  This bad boy is
just sitting right on a trail.  Not only is it quite a nice
rest option, but it also provides entertainment!)
If you have read our previous posts you already know that Queenstown is a magical place, but now it holds for us an even more special allure.

For just over a month and a few days now, Miriam (Sarah's sister) and Gordon (her most handsome man friend) have been living in Queenstown, NZ and we have been unable to go see them!  It has been quite unusual to have family living here in the same country (and only two hours away) and combining that knowledge with the fact that we have yet to see them - strange indeed!

Well no longer!  Sarah had four days off from work so we packed up some gear and headed up to see our beloved Miriam and Gordon (and it was about time too).  And they have done a great job at settling into the community there, making friends, getting jobs, and investigating much of the mountain trails this area has to offer.  No sooner than we had arrived, we threw on our walking attire and headed up a mountain Miriam had chosen for our first hike together.  So much fun!

It is an absolute pleasure to see people you love and like, but to also do things that you love with those same people is a true blessing.  Our days with Miriam and Gordon were spent traversing amazing trails in the beautiful mountains surrounding
(For our first hike Miriam and Gordon took it easy on us but it still
pretty much kicked our butts - literally.  We were pretty sore from the
hike.  But how can you complain with views like this?)
Qtown, tasting some of the best wines NZ has to offer (everyone calm down - even Jesus drank wine and if for some reason you don't think so it's because you're reading your Bible wrong - see we can laugh), eating at some very fine establishments, listening to amazing music, and having some much needed conversation with our friends.  We cannot really find the words to describe how truly wonderful it was to see Miriam and Gordon and spend this time with them.  Not long after we had decided to move to NZ, Miriam called Sarah and asked if we minded her "crashing our adventure."  We laughed, not only because we have no rights to this truly amazing place, but because (as the blog title suggests) we love love love the idea of family and/or friends being here with us (and we like Miriam more than most...and Gordon, but don't tell them as it might go to their heads).
(These two really love one another.  Sarah is always so much happier
when we are around Miriam.  I am not sure if Miriam knows just how
much she is loved by her big sister.  I suppose it's hard to see b/c she
cannot see a Miriam-less version of her sister!)

Such a fun four days!  As usual we will show most of our adventure in photos because they speak so loudly. I will add some captions to each photo to explain where we were and what we were doing, as most of them have stories worth an entire blog post... but seriously who is going to read them!  Ha. And this is very few of the photos taken.  We hope you enjoy looking through them even 1/4 as much as we enjoyed taking them. If you click on one of the photos it should enlarge the shot and then allow you to scroll through one at a time if you should so desire. Happy day from NZ everyone!!
(While near such wonderful mountains I was able to steal away for a few runs with my new friend Ben - a co-worker of Sarah's who loves to run mountains and such.  He came and stayed with us while we were in Qtown.  Ben took me on some crazy runs - you can hear more about that by clicking anywhere on these words and it will take you to another blog my brother and I write about our running called - Baddrunners.  Get it?  Pretty awesome views though.  This is us running up Ben Lomond, the highest peak nearby.  Miriam and Gordon summited this peak a few weeks ago - it's tough.  Good on them!)
(Taken by Ben during our run, I'm finally learning how to use some of the amazing qualities our camera has!  Be on the look out for some stellar shots in the future thanks to some of the teaching Ben is giving me.  He fortunately has the very same camera.)

(It is staying light now until around about 10pm in NZ.  In Qtown this offers some amazing views as the sun starts heading behind some mountains.  Sarah was taking some great shots of the landscape this weekend and this is one of them)
(I am sorry Miriam that I did not have a better pic of this occasion but thems the breaks.  We went to have some dessert at Miriam's restaurant Sasso - well she does not own it but she does work there.  It's quite nice but the help is really the best part!  If you're in Queenstown head by Sasso and ask for Miriam.)
(The area around Qtown is riddled with some quite tasty wineries that should not be missed when in the area.  The people were knowledgable, clearly loved making and being around wine, and the wine itself was superb.  Having lived in VA for a few years and spent plenty of time investigating the wineries of that great state, Sarah and I were both very happy with what NZ has to offer in the way of wines!)
(I warned you that I would be trying to get fancy with our camera.  One winery we visited focused on making "the bubbly" or sparkling wine - can't call it champagne because of the French rules.  But we learned a lot about the process of making the bubbly that we did not know.  Quite informative.  These bottles, and there were many, have to be turned by hand one quarter turn twice a day for the process to work.  Wow.  I still prefer no bubbles but Sarah likes the bubbly.)
(We visited Cromwell while seeking out various wineries.  It was a pretty little town with a fantastic pizzeria where we ate lunch.  And then there is Old Cromwell which has been maintained to look like it did when first settled - pretty cool.  This shot is taken on the water down by Old Cromwell.  I love shots like this of Sarah and me.  I still have no idea how a clown like me is holding a princess like her, but I'm not letting go!)
(Old Cromwell at a shot - the horse is not real.  It really was pretty neat seeing this place as it might have looked back in the day.  Sarah and I might just have to come back and give Old Cromwell one more looking over when we have time.)
(Well Farmer Gordon has cashed in his crops and is ready to drive in off the land for the day but Lady Miriam has halted his progress by jumping on his tractor... sorry, couldn't come up with anything good there.  A winery with a tractor, so we had to take a photo or two.)
(This grill you see before you is for anyone's use - pretty cool public option.  While we were taking advantage of said grill, this visiting family came up and were enamored by our goings ons, so much so they began taking photos of it. Well we were pretty excited, as you can see, by their excitement and had to document the whole ordeal with some photo taking of our own.  The lamb burgers Gordon cooked came out quite delicious, as did our times with our friends pictured here!)
(Taken right off of the banks where we were grilling, we had a mesmerizing view for our dinner.  With all of this going on our friends were still more interested in our grilling out than these views!  Ha.  But in all seriousness this is the kind of shot that belongs in a magazine - Qtown never disappoints.  Ok, it did rain one day we were there but it was still pretty.) 
(With all of the views that Qtown had to offer this is by far the best.  I know I am biassed when it comes to the beauty of my wife, but just look at that face.  I remember when I was peering into those beautiful green eyes just over six years ago in Germantown Methodist Church at our wedding.  It's pretty hard not to smile when looking at her isn't it?)
(Ok, now this guy is talented.  Gordon met him while working outside of his place of employment, which is actually not too far from this exact spot.  Graeme James (you can click on his name for his FB page) will play an entire song we all know and love by himself.  He begins by playing one instrument into a looping machine, then the next, and so on until he plays them all back together.  With perfect timing, amazing dexterity, and mad skills he plays some pretty fantastic music.  We stayed and listened to him until 2 in the morning one night - that's how good he is!)
(These girls love to hike and be outdoors.  This is part of the hike Miriam took us on the last day we were there.  Gordon unfortunately had to work.  This monster of a hike head up to a restaurant up the mountain.  It's so high up that a gondola can be used to get there instead if one so chooses.  But then you would miss sites like this, and wonderful photo ops.)
(Taken right after the shot above, the water in this area is just so beautiful.  Clean, clear, rippling over the mountains... awesome.  Also, still working on my camera but I think this one came out well.)
(When we reached the restaurant/gift shop area at the top of our hike, we were inclined to stop for a Flat White, which is basically a latte of sorts.  Usually folks will put a heart into the top of the foam but this guy showed real skill!  The fern leaf, which you can see in the foam, is a huge symbol here in NZ.  This is talent, perhaps wasted on my flat white, but appreciated nonetheless.)
(What a great trip!  We love being active.  We love Qtown.  We love tasting wines. We love seeing Miriam and Gordon. Just a good ole' time.  And just look at the weather we had that last day - really three out of four days were pretty accommodating to our outdoor desires.  Thanks to Miriam and Gordon for a great few days!)