chilling feet

chilling feet

Friday, March 14, 2014

When Family Comes to Visit

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, "Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life."  Recently we have been rejoicing with our family in the beautiful land of New Zealand.  Sarah's parents were able to come and visit us for a good long stay in the month of February, and we were so thankful to have them here with us.  It was refreshing to see familiar faces, share this wonderful country with people we love, and to make some fantastic memories!  You can see more about their visit by clicking on this link in a previous post or by watching this extremely long video (click here for video) I made for them after they left (it's long because it's for them, not for you, but I think you might still enjoy it).
(Grandmother Miriam and Brett in the
crazy slanted room in Puzzling World,
it was really puzzling!)

Recently Sarah's Grandmother and her Aunt and Uncle came to visit us down under, and so we were able to take the opportunity to explore more of this country.  We also went many places we had already been, because lets be honest, when you have penguins not only do you not care about going again, but you are looking for any excuse to go!  Most of this post will have pictures to show you the experiences, because as always it is just the best way to describe things, but I will try to make longer captions because of this.

Sarah and I have loved living in New Zealand so much.  The main drawback has been from the start that this country is just so darn far away from those we love.  Not being close to family is difficult, to say the least.  Watching nieces and nephews growing up via Facebook photos sort of makes one sick to the stomach, and getting the news that a family member is "all-clear" from medical tests by text message is a little weak.  But as with all things we count our blessings and hope that this time here will be worth the sacrifice of time apart from family.  I can say three things on this:

1.  It sure does make you appreciate those who you most likely took for granted.  We spend so much time with family that often times we forget just how precious they are to us.

2.  It certainly makes visits from those folks surreal and a blessing.  Not many can make it this far and so we know not only is it super special to receive such a visit, but it is also a major sacrifice on the part of those who come.  Each time I share a post like this about those who can I shudder for those who cannot make it down who might be reading the post.  But I know that everyone would come if they could!  And so we rejoice even the more knowing we are loved by so many.  

3.  It makes one reaffirm the commitment to make sure the time spent away is spent in adventure and in experiencing life to the fullest.  Even tomorrow morning Sarah and I head out to do the infamous (that's for you +Gordon Paulson and +Miriam Williamson) Milford Trek.  We will have one heck of a report when we get back for you all.
But for now, more photos!  Hopefully you will enjoy peeking through the amazing shots.  And thank you to Grandmother Miriam, Uncle Donald, and Aunt Lois for making the extremely long trek to come and visit us.  We so appreciate your time with us and hope you enjoyed your New Zealand experience as much as we did having you here with us!  What a great adventure and we will cherish it all the more because you are a big part of it now.

(Miriam and Gordon with Grandmother Miriam on the Doubtful Sound Cruise)
(Puzzling world was a workout for the mind!  Every turn had some new mystery and illusion that left my mind completely exhausted.  The entire experience ended with a maze that took an hour and a half to complete if you did it the "hard" way.  We made it a competition of course.  Very cool and definitely worth a visit) 
(In the backyard of the Cardrona Hotel where we went to have a celebratory combined dinner for Sarah and Miriam's birthdays.  Miriam is a March baby and Sarah April, so one big dinner for both - and the rest of us just luck into great food on their behalf.  Sweet.  What a great dinner and fun time.  We even met the man who started it all!)
(Our bus ride down from Queenstown to tour the Doubtful Sound.  Look at how excited Sarah is to sit with Grandmother Miriam!!) 
(So somehow I had no idea that on our tour was an underground visit to the Meridian water power plant!  We traveled 2000 meters down into the mountain and toured part of their facility which was pretty awesome.  Not only is it amazing to know what human beings have accomplished, it was just crazy to do it.  We felt as though we were in about nine different major movies/stories all at the same time as went down down down into the mountain!  Cool.) 
(Doubtful Sound as seen from reportedly the most expensive road in the world.  This road is landlocked and can only be reached by boat.  It connects two bodies of water and was created by the water power plant to transport goods.  We used it to reach the Doubtful Sound for a boat tour - how amazing!) 
(Our tour of the Doubtful Sound took us all the way out to the Tasmen Sea where these seals were all lounging around on this giant rock!  Some where moving around and some of the young were playing down in the water.  It is truly spectacular to see wild life like this out in the wild!)
(The view back into the Sound!)
(Sarah and Grandmother Miriam show off that they are not afraid to go out on the top deck during the tour even if it was a little windy and somewhat chilly out there.) 
(Pausing in Queenstown for a photo shoot.  Look how beautiful our guests were!  This was such a great trip!) 
(We went to see a Kiwi bird in real life, and we did.  But we also got so much more!  This is a shot of a live bird show performed for us.  The birds flew so close it was terrifying but fun at the same time.  REALLY fun times here.)
(And they even had the Tuatara there too!  Look how medieval and prehistoric that dude looks.  I think he was trying to fight me.)
(And then we toured many other birds in the park as well)
(We went to eat at Miriam's restaurant.  It was great food but the help was a little bit... lacking.  Just kidding.  Miriam never ceases to impress with her skills.)
(Queenstown lakefront shot!)
(Experiencing the legendary Patagonia ice cream - yep, it's that good.) 
(Sometimes the girls would go shopping.  Donald and I would sit and chat it up about life.  But sometimes they were shopping for a really really long time.  Phew.  Good thing I had Donald with me.) 
(Walking around the Arrowtown) 
(We were able to tour a NZ Navy sloop!  That was pretty fun to do.)
(Alpaca... one of Sarah's co-workers raises these guys.  Come on, now that's pretty cute.)
(We had to make one of our chicken pot pies for our guests)
(Ok, I was having fun with this one but you can see why.  Sea Lions!!  Awesome) 
(We also saw the penguins again, though this time we saw 6 or 7 in one sitting!  And this guy stood so close were were able to take many amazing photos of him/her.  Many of the shots lend themselves to fun little saying like this - so I had fun making a few fun clips like this one.  But come on, tell me he doesn't look like he's ushering someone into the back of a cop car or something!)