C is for “Correct”

Plan C was for James to drop me off at Mistletoe Bay where I would follow a track for about 4 hours to a town called Anakiwa. Someone there would pick me up. A beautiful hike was perfect for me today. And I was actually really looking forward to some alone time. Just me on the trail working shit out in my head. Meditating. Enjoying nature. Enjoying some silence. This hike by myself was the perfect Plan C.

Marleen: My back can’t take that kayak again either, I’m coming with you.

Me: OH THANK GOD!

Marleen lives in Colorado. When she’s not mountain biking or skiing with her grandkids she’s volunteering at a Colorado national park taking out hikers. Marleen is a badass granny. My perfect hiking partner.

“I hope you don’t mind that I like to go slow up hills and take breaks to appreciate the journey.” She told me. She just got more perfecter.

James picked us up this morning to take us on a 40 minute drive to our hiking track. Borut was a bit bummed that he lost both me and Marleen to kayak with.

“You know I’m going to see whales today” he said snarkily.

“An orca is going to jump over my kayak and I’m going to fucking FEED it!”

I said, “Borut, if I see you riding in at the end of the day on an orca, I’ll have to kill you.”

James told us that he and Borut were on a mission for mussels today. There are green lipped mussels across the sound that are supposed to be delicious.

“But it may be too windy today, not sure if we will be able to cross easily” James said.

“Oh suck it up and put in a little effort will you? Just paddle harder, jeez!” I told them. How hard can it be for them, two strong men with perfect backs? I’m very good at giving others orders when I myself don’t have to do the work. Just one of my many talents.

We have been traveling in Ernie through the mountains quite a bit on this trip so far and I’m proud to say, I’ve handled these roads like a champ. But today’s road takes the cake for being the windiest road I’ve ever been on. I sat close to the front. I looked straight ahead. I was doing alright until James said,”I hope everyone’s doing ok because this road is about to get super windy.” “Pull over!” I barely made out.

Soon after, Marleen and I were dumped out of the van and we made our way to the Queen Charlotte Track.

Badass Marleen

The trail was stunning and had just the right amount of hills. Nothing gnarly, but still a great workout.

Marlene is an avid gardener and insisted I take a photo of these:

The vistas were absolutely incredible:

We had packed sandwiches at Steve and Linda’s in the morning that were quickly approaching the four hour rule. I had asked Linda where the cooler was and was told that the food will be fine without one. I have a Food Handler’s Safety license and know that after four hours, it’s time to throw food away. And it was really hot out. 30-something degrees Celsius whatever that means. Plus I was getting hungry having hurled up my morning muesli earlier. TMI? See why I need Hubby here to edit?

At lunch I learned how Marleen met Pat, her significant other of ten years. This story is incredible and I have to share it.

One sunny winter day Marleen took her two Boxers out to do a long Colorado hike. After hours of walking, she realized she was lost. Now the weather was turning and it started to snow. It was getting dark. She remembered seeing a cabin around somewhere with a road close by. The more she walked, the colder it got. The more it snowed, the less she could see her landmarks. She finally looked up and realized she had made a complete circle. Marleen, you see, was living The Blair Witch Project. Now her two dogs were shivering and she was up to her waist in snow. Her breathing was labored and she was literally freezing to death in her sweat-soaked clothes. She just stopped in her tracks and cried. She prayed to God to help her get out of this alive. After a good hard cry she put on her Big Girl panties and kept going. And there was the cabin, just up ahead! Being a summer home, no one was there but by some miracle a back door was unlocked. She went in, quickly grabbed blankets off beds and found a coat in the closet. She took off her wet shirts and put on the dry coat. She had to get herself and these dogs warm.

She had a little bit of garlic hummus and crackers left in her pack that she shared with her hungry pooches. Then she lied down on the sofa and covered all three of them with a blanket. And stayed that way until the garlic humus did its job on the dogs. Marleen admits that she almost chose the bitter outdoors over staying alive under that blanket with the dog farts.

The next morning Search and Rescue entered the cabin and found Marleen and the dogs (insert slasher music) facing the corner! No.

The next morning Marleen Macgyvered a blanket by cutting it in half, making foot holes and wrapping a blanket around and around each dog then securing it with twine. These short haired Boxers weren’t going to make it the 8 miles home without blankets. But before she left she wrote a note explaining her situation, apologizing for borrowing the blanket and coat and left her name, number and address.

A few months later Marleen received a phone call. The woman on the other end was absolutely LIVID.

” How dare you break into my cabin and take the blanket and coat!”

“Well” started Marleen slowly ” It was a life or death situation.”

“Did you steal anything?!” screamed the lady.

“If I were going to steal something why would I leave you my contact information?”

“I’m sending over my forman to pick up the coat and blanket and them I’m going to SUE YOU!” she yelled.

“Go right ahead”.

A few weeks later the foreman showed up for the (clean) jacket and (brand new) blanket. His name was Pat.

“I can’t believe you almost died out there!” I said.

“I know, the cabin saved me. The other time I got lost out in the snow I was hovering in between some boulders until Search and Rescue came. And another time I got lost I had to take shelter inside a log until Search and Rescue got me.” Good thing this hiking trail was a straight shot because I just lost all faith in my “badass” hiking partner.

After hours of hiking, we arrived in the “town” called Anakiwa. My phone app says we did 8.2 miles but Marlene’s pedometer read 9.4. We are going with 9.4. What a truly spectacular day this was!

The entire town of Anakiwa

Now I’m back at our room, showered and….

I’m goin’ to the hot tub cuz I’m

Feelin’ so waaary

Headin’ to the hot tub

Above

(The hot tub is up a big hill that the house is built against)

Hubby would SO edit this part out if he were here!

———-————————————————————————

It turns out that there were no orcas today but SCORE on green lipped mussels! Linda invited us outside for some wine and “snakes” (snacks). Linda steamed the mussels for just four minutes and suggested we have them with lemon and cracked pepper.

Borut with his wild caught mussels and wild caught IPhone

These mussels tasted nothing and I mean nothing like any I’ve ever had before. I don’t even really like the tough little mussels I’ve eaten back home. These were so tender, juicy and fresh, they might be the best thing I’ve ever eaten. EVER!

With a belly full of mussels, plus another feast from Linda, I’m off to bed where I have not ONE, not TWO, not THREE but FOUR pillows in my fluffy bed. Not wishing I was in a stinky freezing hut right now at all. I’ve named the fourth pillow “Steve” because I miss him.

New words for today:

Boy races- teens drag racing

“She plays bowls”- she goes bowling

Tramping- hiking and backpacking

Interesting fact:

By New Zealand law any person who is hungry is allowed to take a lamb off a farm to eat. They just simply have to leave the skin on the fence.

Steps today: 22,387

From Plan A to Plan B to Plan C

4:00am I whispered, ” Honey are you up?” Then a bit louder, ” Hey, you can’t sleep either?” Then I shine my IPhone on him until he stirs. ” Why are you up so early?” I innocently ask. I’ve been up since 3:00am with full force jet lag and I’m bored.

Before I go on, let’s agree on a new rule. I am blogging under extreme conditions of exhaustion and one finger typing on my IPad since Hubby’s work computer that I usually use is locked up for three days. Plus I’m on the opposite side of the equator and that opens up a whole new can of worms as to why it’s hard to English good here. I’ll continue to post, but there will be no judging my horrible speeling or grahmmer at all. I’m bound to spell “you’re” incorrectly and will change tenses wrongly and often. I’ll likely repeat myself and will change tenses wrongly and often. But my editor is staying far far away in a stinky hut right now so your getting this uncensored and first draft and all. Agreede? Thank you!

Tess and Laura had a nice continental breakfast set up for us before it was time to go. I learned that Marmite is in New Zealand and Vegemite is in Australia. They’re both equally inedible but this local Pic’s Peanut Butter was the bomb! Super duper crunchy and easy to stir.

Although this is an Active Adventure trip, we are doing a lot of driving. We will average 3-4 hours of driving a day so we can see the best sights all over the island, mixing in hiking and stuff too. So on days where you don’t see a lot of steps taken, realize we were probably doing a long drive and will make them up tomorrow.

In case you need proof I’m here: sheep

Actually though, New Zealand sheep ain’t what they used to be. As synthetic material is starting to surpass wool, demand is dwindling. Cows are now the new sheep. New Zealand is exporting powdered milk product to China by the buttplug. Now I meant to say “boatload” but I want to check to see how forgiving and nonjudgmental you’re really being about my mistakes.

Many pastures have sheep, cows and horses living together in harmony. Black cows and white cows, big sheep and babies too. They all share. There is peace in the pasture. It brings a tear to my eye. Beautiful, just beautiful.

After a few hours of driving we stopped in Marlborough at the Forrest Vineyard for some local wine tasting. In the morning, before lunch, before another windy mountain drive.

Rosie did our pours and taught us all about the grapes. This is white wine country known especially for their Sauvignon blancs.Honestly I didn’t love any of them but I’m not a wine snob, connoisseur, I mean, like Rich.

” Oh blow, I brought out the wrong wine!” remarked Rosie. Sweet old Rosie! It’s not like she said “blow me” but it was still shocking to hear.

The kids were bored and it was now time for The Kayakers to part ways from The Hikers. Lots of hugs now because I’m not touching them with a 10 foot hiking pole when we meet back up with them in three unshowered days! I felt ok leaving my family, but strangely sad leaving Ernie.

After 40 slightly treacherous minutes driving through the narrow and windy mountain road , we were gearing up for Day 1 of kayaking through the Queen Charlotte Sound. We were told to ” have a squiz through the paperwork” before we could go.

I’ve been kayaking many times before. But not with a sea kayak like this. We had to wear this neoprene bib that locks you into your kayak. Getting the bib on is no picnic. It’s like wearing a Spanx suit that you put on over your head that goes from your waist to your armpits.

Borut came over to me and said, “Wow, I’m really smashed in here.”

I glared at him. “Borut, you don’t even have boobs, you have nothing to complain about!”

He glanced over at Marlene and received death ray eyes. He sheepishly turned and slinked away. Slunked away?

And speaking of boobs, when having ample ones that are being smashed, where do you think they go pretell? Well they don’t go inward! So now one was mashed against my stomach heading south and the other was in my neck and throat. I don’t mean near them. It had infiltrated into my neck and throat and I could barely breath. I had a boob goiter. Needless to say, I pulled everything down and the girls were happy. And that’s all we ever need to discuss about my breasts ever.

We were told that if we flip the kayak, we will need to find the one strap that can pull this bib off. Don’t go for one of the many other dangling straps from your life jacket. Or one of the straps holding your water bottle. Have a clear head while you are airless and upside and choose the right strap. Marlene and I looked at each other and giggled nervously because it was abundantly clear without any words needed that neither of us would stay calm enough upside and and disoriented to pull the right cord. Not a freaking chance. If we flip, we die. So when James, our very experienced kayak guide asked who wants to double with him, I couldn’t get my “Meeee!!!!” Out any faster. Sorry Marlene, and good luck with Borut.

The reason I can kayak with my bad back is because kayaks have awesome back supports and adjustable foot rests to brace against for support. I’ve kayaked in Newport Beach for hours dozens of times- no problemo. BUT NOT SEA KAYAKS. No back support and nothing for your feet. You sit in there all willy-nilly loose, no way to push my back against anything, The minute my life was locked in, my back said, “Oh, hell no BITCH!”

Listen, I’m not here to complain about my back the whole trip. Since spinal fusion I’ve still been able to jump horses, go on roller coasters and ski. There’s so many things I am able to do post-surgeries, I stay thankful for what is. I learned that from my mom. No point in dwelling on what I can’t do when I’m still able to do so much. But sea kayaking isn’t one of them. After 2-3 painful hours of it today, I told James we need Plan C for me for tomorrow.

Let me assure you though that I absolutely loved everything about today’s kayak trip except the kayaking. The beauty here is unreal and I plan on enjoying it to the fullest tomorrow one way or another.

We finished our kayaking and walked up the road to the delightful B&B where we are staying for the next two nights. Did I feel slightly guilty soaking in this glorious hot tub before a gigantic home cooked meal was served AND CLEANED UP for us while my four boys are roughing it in the hut? Nope!

Our hostess, Linda, outdid herself with this feast for dinner

Butterscotch mousse with Hokey Pokey ice cream

New words for today;

Blow!-Darn!

Squiz- a run though? I’m totally guessing here

Garitch- where our bags were waiting for us. Similar to a garage

Steps today: 5683 plus 2-3 hours of sea kayaking in rough water

Moment of Truth

We started our day with a breakfast buffet at our hotel in Christchurch.  If you have never seen BP vs. a buffet, you are missing quite a show.  After only a few minutes of gorging, he was up and back at the buffet again.  “Where did IT go?” inquired Hubby.  “Kellen saw a white area on his plate and totally panicked.” I told him. He came quickly back to the table with a pile of pancakes to fill the void.  Phew!

We Ubered over to the meeting spot for our trip.  Rich’s two volleyball players ended up being Baroot: a young dad from London taking a little family break, Marleen: a woman with grown kids out of the house, leaving her sedentary husband at home, and Laura: a ridiculously smart young lady from DC who has traveled to 42 countries and can tell you everything about them.  Our group is led by Tess, who had to repeat her name five times because none of us could make it out with her thick Kiwi accent. ” Is her name Really Tears?” I asked Hubby who shrugged. She finally spelled it out for us.  There is (another) Laura, who says she has graduated from University but who looks like can’t be much older than Kellen.  And then there is Ernest or “Ernie” now “E-dog (thanks Griffin) who is hauling our carcasses around South Island and “Kermit” or “Kermie” lagging greenly behind with all of our luggage and packs.

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E-Dog pulling Kermie

Today was a driving day.  We needed to get to the Northern part of NZ to start our Active Adventure.  We learned about the earthquake that happened in Christchurch in 2016 killing almost 200 people and injuring thousands more.  The main problem was that  Christchurch was built on a hidden fault line and the buildings didn’t have the infrastructure in place to withstand a 6.2 shaker. The whole town just crumbled.  We saw tons of construction going on trying to fix the broken roads as we crossed the Southern Alps on the east side of the island.  The road was narrow and a bit harry at times with a long cliff hanging off our left side.  More than once I would glance up at Laura, panic and wonder why on God’s green earth wasn’t she looking at the road ahead and having two hands on the wheel at 10 and 2 o’clock!

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Before realizing that Tess, our actual driver, was doing just fine on the right side of the vehicle.  This happened at least 10 times.

With all of the road construction, there were many places where the two lanes went to one lane for a while and we would have to stop for 5-6 minutes to let oncoming traffic through. Every single construction worker we passed smiled and waved enthusiastically at every driver.  It was amazing.  But no one, and I mean NO ONE was a happier bloke enjoying his day more than this guy.

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He smiled so genuinely at every single driver, you would think each person was family.  You know how they say that New Zealand has the friendliest people on earth?  Totally proven true today!

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We stopped off at a park by the beach where Laura and Tess put together our scrumptious lunch.

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The best part were Laura’s Chocolate Cornflake Cookies.  I am not leaving this island without her recipe!

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We found a long cement slide with some cardboard, and Griffin went first.  Not gracefully.  It’s a must-see:

Griffin sliding to his death

From there, the drive down to the Kaikoura Peninsula was breathtaking, and we saw dozens of fur seals.  We arrived at our destination to do an “easy flat walk to stretch our legs” before the real hard stuff coming up we were told.

So now I know that the word “flat” is just a state of mind.  It’s all about perspective.  No this was not a terribly hard or long hike.  But “flat” it was not!  We started off with a really steep hill.  This morning I received some spam email from a company called Inogen, selling portable oxygen tanks.  I was thoroughly insulted.  Jeez, I’m still in my 40’s!  I threw it disgustingly away.  Someone somewhere knew something, because towards the top of that hill all I was thinking about was how thoroughly amazing a portable oxygen tank with a little extra O2 would be.

The beautiful pastures we passed were filled with cows, sheep, deer and Kellens.IMG_0155

View from the top of our “flat” walk.

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Going downhill was great and I kept up with the group like a freaking ROCK STAR.

All of these white rocks were covered up by water until the earthquake two years ago.  Now it’s a beautiful playground.

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Griffin having deep and meaningful conversations with Baroot

We climbed back into Ernie and went to our final destination.  We were told that although there would be a “shout out” at dinner, all other alcohol would be on us.  Rich panicked.  “Could you please take me to the nearest grocery store?” he said. “Well, we are already here at our apartment for the night.  Do you mean you want me to drive back to town and go to a supermarket so you can purchase alcohol?” said an incredulous Tess.  “Thank you” from Rich.  So back on the road we all went.  We decided to see who could find the weirdest food at the store.  BP won with these:

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We finally made it back to the apartments, and were blown away with how fancy they were.  We were told not to get too excited, as not every place will be this nice.

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Tess and Laura prepared  a beautiful dinner of steak, sausages, potatoes, garlic bread and two kinds of green salads.  It was all superb.  The pavlova cake Laura made was divine.

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Over the next three days we will be split into two groups: The kayakers and The Hikers. After dinner our guides had a debriefing with the 6 of us hikers ( Clarks, Rich and Laura) about the details.

Tess “I’m not going to sugarcoat this guys, the next three days are going to be tough, but totally worth it.” We’ll that’s very reassuring for someone who’s been a giant ball of stress for months over this.  NOT!

Tess went over how to pack our (huge) backpacks we rented with all the gear we would need. She kept talking about the importance of our rain gear ( we had some, not all) and our very warm clothes ( we thought sweatshirts were good enough, it’s summer here right?) and the dangers of cotton. We brought cotton. It’s not like they didn’t send us a packing list before we left, but we took it as more as a suggestion rather than necessity. When I questioned Hubby months earlier about all the ” Quick Dry” clothes it said to bring his response was, ” this is just a standard packing list they use all year round. We won’t need most of this stuff, it’s summer” turns out he was wrong.

Tess, “You’re heavy fleece (which none of us had) will make a good pillow. Now stop right there. Did she just say to use our clothing as a pillow?

Me,” What’s wrong with the pillows in the hut?” You already know the answer.

I’m a three pillow sleeper, and no ordinary three pillows will do. I need my head pillow that is so dense and heavy I can barely move it. Having said that, I love it so much I really almost brought it on this trip. My next pillow is a special foam one I bought from Chiropractic Lifecenter on Encinitas Blvd. (worthy plug) to use between my knees for back support. And the third is my hugging pillow which can be almost any pillow as long as it’s thick and firm. So not almost any pillow. My fleece top that I didn’t pack is just not an option, that is barbaric.

Oh and these cute rustic huts that were given NO details in the brochure, are not private sleeping areas with en-suite restrooms. It is one big bare room where we lay mattress pads on the ground and sleep with all of the other snoring backpackers that will be there. No electricity. The outhouse is a ways away. But there’s no guarantee we will even get spots in this hut so we have to bring tents too just in case. This is NOT the semi luxurious Glamping sold to me by Hubby, who was getting my Evil Eye so hard I thought he may burst into flames. This is straight out hard core backpacking and camping. In the freezing cold and probable rain. I did tons of this shit in my teens. I’m about to pull 50 and am so not there anymore. I like beds, warmth and pillows. Three pillows, did I mention that?

“Where should we pack our towels?” I asked Tess.

“You don’t need towels” was the answer I did not want to hear.

“So after all of this hiking and sweating we have no showers for three days?” OMG!!!!!  Can you imagine what that hut with all those other backpackers is going to smell like?  And if we are in a tent, will it be worse?

Tess continued,” Day One is a pretty flat hike (sure it is)  that’s just over 6 miles.” Ok, I can do that.

“Day two is where things get really hard Guys” informed Tess. ” We’re going straight up for 6-8 hours.” Something like 3500 ft. Since my training hikes have been about 1000 ft with no pack, I started shvitzing.

Hubby noticed the terror in my face and whispered, ” don’t worry. Remember the Kaanapoli Trail we hiked in Kauaii for your 30th birthday?   That was probably a 7 hour hike.” So I’m freaking out over nothing because apparently I already trained for this hike 20 years ago.

“Day 3 is going to be quite rough as well.  The trail gets very rocky and we will be doing a lot of bouldering.” What I heard was, “If Kori isn’t dead afer Day 2, Day 3 will most certainly do her in”.  I have had two back surgeries from horse falls.  I am fused at Level L5-S1 and there are metal plates still holding things together.  After the last surgery my doctor said, “No yoga and never go bouldering or do any hiking with a pack.  Never sleep on a floor and always use three pillows.” He may not have actually said the last few things, but I for sure have a get-out-of -jail -free pass for never having to do yoga.   I’m not going to lie, as my kids were jumping up and down at the thought of a ridiculously challenging hike that includes bouldering with large packs, tears were streaming down my face.

I walked back to my room in a shell-shocked daze.  After a few minutes there was a knock on our door and an extremely kind and understanding Tess came in.  Seeing my tears and look of doom she gently said, “You know, there are other options.”  The kayak trip.  I wanted to hug her.  A wave of relief came over me so fast I thought I heard angels singing.

I was embarrassed to tell Rich I was bailing on the 3-Day and told him I cried when I heard the details.  But Rich told me he totally gets it and that he almost cried too.  Rich.  Strong Rich.  Canyoneering, super outdoorsie, very physically fit Rich.  Thank you for that validation.  Thank you for almost crying too.

So I will part ways from my four boys tomorrow, and join Marleen and Baroot on a three day kayak trip that includes no packs and comfy beds at night.  I will miss my mangy crew but couldn’t be more relieved.

New words for today:

Sunnies- sunglasses

Jangles- flip flops

Scroggin- trail mix

shout- free drink as in  “I’m going to shout you one tonight but that’s the last one.”

Steps today: 10,316

 

 

Big Lines and Big Hair

I would document the day, but who the hell knows what day it is?  Traveling over the equator and the international date line totally messes up your sense of time, space, and direction.  Everything is backwards like driving on the other side of the road, and the need to sleep on the opposite side of the bed.

I won’t bore you with stories of our airport travels.  Lots of waiting.  Lots of turbulence.  Hubby and Griffin slept like logs.  Kellen and I white knuckled it for 13 hours.  Blah blah blah.

I took my friend Jennifer’s advice and started reading a book so funny she laughed out loud on a plane called “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson.  I, too, laughed out loud on the plane.

When we arrived in Auckland we had plenty of time to get through customs and switch planes. We had to choose the “Something to Declare” line because I made a ton of granola for us to have on our hikes.  Granola has dried fruit and it needs to be declared.

“I declare your granola to be delicious!” announced Hubby, yet they still made us go through the longer line. 

We also were told ahead of time to have our hiking boots clean for inspection.  New Zealand is VERY uptight about foreign contaminants.  The adults had their boots cleaned fine, but the two teenagers did a half-ass job on theirs and we got redirected to the “YOU SUCK AND WILL PAY FOR IT” line.  It took an extra hour to get through the inspection, which included a kindly old man literally washing the boys’ shoes, which is more than I would ever do for them, obviously.  This delay made for a mad dash to catch our next flight.  We barely made it and we were hot, sweaty, tired and stinky.  Man I felt bad for the other travelers around us.

The only other thing worth commenting on is that I may or may not have run right past Top Chef Michael Voltaggio in the airport.  I really wanted to stop and ask if it was him but we were literally running at top speed to catch our flight.  Plus my family hates when I stop to ask strangers if they are famous because I am almost always wrong and I totally embarrass them.  But I still do it.  Often.

We landed safely in Christchurch and met up with Rich, our family friend who goes on most of our trips with us.  Rich is a professional traveler and arrived in Christchurch rested, fed and properly buzzed from The Admiral’s Club.  He arrived much fresher than The Clarks.

We checked into our hotel and took much needed showers.  Then we headed out for a beautiful walk to town for dinner.  We bought Rich the best shirt ever.

Can we please address the elephant in the room?  Griffin’s hair.  For weeks and weeks I have been suggesting, encouraging, pleading, begging, bribing and nagging him to death to get a haircut.  Being 17, he’s way past the point of wanting my opinion.  Plus his girlfriend likes it long.  The problem is that male Clark hair doesn’t get long.  It just gets BIG.  And this thing is now so BIG and poofy I’m surprised they didn’t make us pay for an extra seat on the plane.  He is now finally in agreement that it needs to be cut.  But it’s a day short and a continent too late.  Good luck trying to find a barber on our trek!  We agreed that we are more likely to find a sheep herder who, for a few bucks, may sheer him.  So that’s our plan: to get this thing shorn before we get home.

We chose a nice looking restaurant for dinner, “Original Sin“.

I was intrigued with the menu item that included “eggplant textures” and regret not ordering it.  I may never know what eggplant textures are and I’m sure they’re awesome.

We ordered some Truffle Fries for the table.  They were served with mayo- blech!  I will also add that no actual truffles were harmed in the making of these Truffle Fries.

Kellen (also referred to as Bottomless Pit or BP) inhaled his Fish and Chips.  Why are they called “fries” when they are “truffled”, but “chips” when served with fried fish?  Head scratcher.  They served his “chips” with, not mustard, but yellow curry!  Now this I can get on-board with -yum!

The rest of us ordered the Fresh Fish plate.  If you chose to order fresh fish over the other menu items like lamb or burgers, you are probably doing it to stay light and healthy, right?  Here, they smoother the fresh fish with chorizo.  Another head scratcher.

Tomorrow morning, we meet up with our tour group.  We heard that there are two other people signed up to join our Active Adventures group who will travel with us over the next two weeks.  All we know about them is that they are women.  Rich ordered two Swedish, mid-forties, volleyball players.  We will see.

Steps today: 13,700 not too shabby for a travel day!

Airport Time

Having checked in for our flight 3 hours early like good little Clarks, We had some time on our hands. I finally decided to read some of the material Active Adventures sent us.

There’s a section called “Get Fit For Your Active Adventure” I’ve been avoiding. Kind of ironic to be reading this now while mowing through the bag of Bit-O-Honey Tracy bought me for the airport. She knows they’re my favorite. But it’s good to get rid of them now before I start my super healthy eating tomorrow when our trip officially starts. Here is what I read:

By the time you embark on your adventure, you should be able to:

* Comfortably hike 15 kilometres (9.5 miles) in hilly terrain with a daypack.

* Be comfortable hiking up to 6 hours a day with an elevation gain of 1000metres (3000 feet)

* Have done at least one set of back to back long hikes. E.g. two days in a row of 6-hour hikes.

Wait… WHAT?? I have not completed anything like that, not even close!

That’s not to say I haven’t been training because I have. I kill it at Orangetheory 3 days a week. By “it” I’m referring to me not the workout. I’ve been killing myself  3 days a week at Orangetheory. I’m the giant pile of liquid goo smeared on the floor the “regular” Orangetheorists have to step over at the end of each workout. But I also take Steve’s wicked hard spin class twice a week. Sure it’s only 50 minutes, but it’s hard as hell so should be equated to a 9.5 mile hilly hike, right? Same?

When I think of New Zealand, I picture two things: sheep (more sheep than humans I hear) and Nigel. Nigel was the oh-so-dreamy private ski instructor From NZ my dad hired for us kids at Vail when I was 14. My sisters and I would fight with each other about who gets to ride the chair lift with him. He called me “Love” and my toes curled. I’m not saying I’m going to actually run into Nigel on this trip or anything, but if I do, I have a “free pass” with Hubby. He gets Catherine Zeta Jones and I get Nigel. And David Beckham. No not at the same time! Wait. Hmmm…

The Journey Begins: New Zealand 2/15/19

2 weeks to go

Hubby and I have always dreamed of going to South Island New Zealand but needed to wait until our boys were old enough to make it worthwhile.  Worthwhile for us I mean, not them.  They needed to be old enough to stick their faces into their electronics for a 13 hour flight without a “Mom I need a….” Or “Dad, how much longer?” Forget that.  They needed to be able to carry their own crap, eat what was offered to them and suck it up when things get tough.  Because on this trip, things will.

We chose to do a 14-day adventure trip with a company called Active Adventures.  Why you ask?  Because 12 months ago when we started planning this trip I had big plans.  I would work out like crazy, eat perfectly clean, and look like this when February arrived:

fit woman

Let’s just say, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. After almost 50 years on this planet, I just can not accept the fact that even if you work out, you still can’t eat everything you want. Makes zero sense.  I just love to eat way too much.

So….I’m nervous.  I’m nervous that this trip is going to kick my ass cleanly across all of South Island New Zealand.  It will launch me over to Australia where I will surely be gobbled up by salt water crocodiles who will be only too pleased that there is so much of me to go around.  I’m scared I won’t make it past Day 3 when we are supposed to do a 3280 ft. elevation gain hike, when the highest I have done is maybe half that. And that hike nearly did me in.  I’m nervous that  I am going to make my boys miserable by having them constantly wait for the weak link to catch up.  I’m afraid of the hours of mountain biking we signed up to do because the only bike I ride is one connected to the ground at the YMCA.  When the hill gets too steep there, you manually lower it. It’s a beautiful thing.  And why do I think that 6 hours of kayaking won’t be a problem when the last time I was in a kayak at all was at least three years ago?

And I am going to painfully miss these guys.

dogs together

But enough bitching.  I am super excited and so incredibly lucky to travel to what I know will the most beautiful place I have ever been.  With my oldest getting ready to leave for college, I will treasure the quality time we will all have together as a family on the long  trails.  Because my kids are both at an age where I actually like them.  Finally.

Just wondering, is it possible to lose 30-40 pounds in two weeks?  I’ll start tomorrow.  Oh wait, then it’s Super Bowl Sunday.  So after that.  Immediately after that.