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Star Robes (With Halcyon)

stories by Kaya:

Survival of The Fittest

Bannana Lessons



Teen Sex Flicks

"Having a Blast"

Buy Me Some Peanuts,
Cracker Jacks, and
Bring Me a Pillow

Older Men Scratching in Tight Pants


Real Audio:
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brother love




Good on ya! Wow -- so much more to say this time than the highlights
as we have been working on a farm in Australia for almost a week now
(more on that later). Going from the very damp climate of NZ to the
hot and dry climate of Australia (they are in the middle of their
worst drought in 100 years. It's very sad, they're killing thousands
of sheep a day due to no food available for them) has been quite a
change. All in all -- we're doing great! Thanks for all your support.

Some highlights...NZ portion to the tune of "Rocky Mountain High" and
the Oz portion to be accompanied by Men at Work's "I Come From a Land
Down Under" played continuously on a loop.

First...to close out NZ
--We had a chance to take a much better look at the glow worms in Te
Anau. Amazing -- hundreds of small green lights on the ceiling of
these massive and intricate, damp caves. The worms produce the
illuminescence (sp?) to lure insects towards them to eat. It truly
looks like staring at the constellations in the sky.

--We took a mellow cruise of Milford Sound, one of the most famous
and picturesque places in NZ. While we prefer to explore things on
our own, the area was remarkable with sharp peaks descending into the
cool water (and, of course, waterfalls EVERYWHERE).

--In Dunedin, we took a tour of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory. It
would be shallow to say this was the highlight of the trip...so I
won't, but chocolate samples sure do give this tour an edge. Although
we saw no Oompa-Loompas, we hear that there are still many living and
working in Dunedin's chocolate factory. We saw candy being produced
and Jim even had to wear a hair net over his face (due to his silly
beard...which has since been shaven).

--The radio stations in NZ are interesting. They seem to play under
the format "Music". I'd like to write ads for them: "Do you like
Music? Well, we play Music!" One minute it's Destiny's Child and the
next it's an old Rod Stewart tune. It's like listening to a mix tape
from an eclectic friend.

--In Omaru, we joined a tour to see the yellow-eyed penguins, the
rarest penguin in the world (about 4000 alive). With our guide (who
has spent the past 22 years with the 40+ penguins in this area and
may or may not be able to speak about anything else, but sure knew a
TON about these penguins) we were able to sit a few feet away and
watch them care for their eggs and baby penguins. Breathtaking and

--While taking a 3 hour hike near Lake Tekapo (glorious turquoise
lake) we had drizzle, sleet, rain, heavy winds, sunshine, hail and
SNOW. It was like living in a documentary on 'Weather'.

--Our final stop was in Christchurch (the biggest city in South
Island and oh-so-subtly named. We looked but we didn't see the cities
of "BuddhaTemple", "AbrahamSynagogue" or "MohammedMosque".) We
cleaned up "Puggy" and prepared to turn her in. It was tough to see
her go (and tougher to wait and see what the charge will be for the
dent in the back). Godspeed Puggy -- thanks for taking care of us.

--We arrived in Sydney which is an amazing but massive city of 4
million people (only 20 million folks in all of Australia). We
enjoyed walking everywhere and exploring this beautiful port city.
Although the drought has left brown grass everywhere, even the golf
courses, it's a nice place with great gardens and wonderful harbors.
We were particulary taken by the thousands of bats we saw. There is
something about a tree filled with sleeping bats to make you want to
walk quietly. Maybe it's too many Anne Rice books, but it just seems
like they'll wake up hungry and go for your jugular.

--We spent a couple of days in the nearby Blue Mountains. The
seemingly billions of eucalyptus trees give off an oil that gets
trapped in the moist air and makes the area seem blue. It's a
beautiful place to hike around. (Although we're a bit more cautious
now that we're in Aus. NZ has no snakes and almost no spiders, while
Australia has all sorts of interesting creepy crawlies). In this
area, they recently found a tree (Morelli) that they thought was
extinct millions of years ago. Somehow, a patch survived and they
figured out what it was by matching it to a fossil of a dinosaur
stepping on this tree. Remarkable.

--Back on the Farm...there is an amazing program called WWOOF
(Willing Workers on Organic Farms) that allows travelers to work on
organic farms in exchange for room and board. There are hundreds of
farms with different specialities around Australia (and the world).
So far, our experience here has been truly amazing. It has been about
so much more than planting seeds and watering crops, but feeling the
connectedness of it all. We've eaten delicious fresh food and learned
so much about taking care of land and ourselves. Our hosts have been
a delight and the experience has been powerful.

In the past week, here are some things we've done (or do daily):
-Plant corn, pick string beans, water plants, learn about
permaculture and organic farming, feed cows and a calf from a bottle,
dig up garlic, swim in a dam, go to a dairy and get fresh milk, pick
onions, mulch, prepare compost heaps, watch the full moon rise and
sing songs, pick tomatoes, learn the Aboriginal intstrument
didjeridoo, chop down banana trees, plant banana trees, shovel
manure, feed chickens, collect chicken eggs, move hay with a
pitchfork, cook, paint signs for the little produce stand, clean and
braid garlic strands, go to the beach, plant herbs and have
fascinating talks about life, love and produce.

Sorry for the long list, but it's been a real eye-opening experience.
We'll probably go to a few other farms as we extend our Australian
portion of our trip. ;)

Life is good, even if there are roughly a dozen flies on our face at
any given time and cow manure under our fingernails -- it's been a
treat. Sending much love back home.

-Farmer Jen and Farmer Jim




Nov. 5
Hello! We've enjoyed our time in NZ so much we extended our trip here for an additional week. We'll leave for Australia on Nov. 14. We're currently in Queenstown and resting from a challenging 3-day hike (more on that in the 'highlights'). Also, we'd love to hear from YOU -- so, if you have a free minute we'd love to hear how our friends/family are doing. THANKS!

Time for more highlights -- recommended music "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head", "I Saw You Walking in the Rain", "Blame it on the Rain", or "You Can't Stop the Rain".

--In Greymouth we went on a caving adventure that was spectacular! We were geared up in wetsuits and helmets and went climbing through icy water to check out amazing stalagtites/mites and wild formations (which Jen likened to hiking through the "stomach of a giant beast"). We also innertubed in the dark and saw the fascinating blue light of the glow worms. A vigorous and worthwhile excursion. It was quite humbling to see rock 'sculptures' that have taken thousands of years to form.

--We next headed to the Franz Josef Glacier to hike up it. Wow. The glacier is massive and in case walking over ladders above 150 foot crevasses isn't enough, hiking in ice boots (big metal spikes) and an ice axe reminds you of the seriousness of the climb. The blue ice and the remarkable ice formations were breathtaking. The glacier is always moving (either advancing if there is more snow added/compacted before it melts on the bottom end or retreating if vice versa) and can move up to 5 meters a day! A great day and now we both think it would be cool to carry an ice axe around all the time.

--Jim's wrist is slowly healing and the doctor gave such a detailed description of what happened that he only remembers that it had something to do with the tendons...or ligaments. However, he still hasn't gotten out of any daily chores.

--We've had some wonderful stops and short hikes among the rich scenery of NZ. The ferns that are everywhere and singing birds and waterfalls are particularly spectacular. Walking through rainforest estuaries, we are truly appreciating the interconnectedness of it all.

--When driving to the picturesque city of Wanaka (everything looks like it should be in a postcard) we almost stopped every 5 minutes to admire the scenery. Truly this is an amazing place. Snow capped mountains everywhere, lakes everywhere, rivers everywhere, lush forests everywhere, waterfalls EVERYwhere...oh my. I guess lots of mountains and tons of rain will create some beautiful spots. Oh, and how it rains. We've learned that "rainproof" is a relative term.

--Poor Puggy (our Swiss-Army Knife of a campervan), we got stuck in a ford while trying to reach the start of a hike. Wheels spinning, rocks shooting, Jim and Jen pushing in an ice cold stream...but we were STUCK. To make a long story short, we were pushed out by a 4x4 truck and narrowly avoided a cracked window, but Puggy did get a little reminder dent of our afternoon. She may have a refrigerator and stove, but she's not much for off-roading.

--We just returned from hiking the Greenstone/Caples trail. This turned out to be an extremely challenging adventure for us. (Quick side note: The DOC (Department of Conservation) in NZ is amazing and they have a time table for all hikes. On the 10 to 15 short and long hikes we've done we learned that we took about 1/2 to 3/4 of the time they said a hike would take. HOWEVER, this is the only place (other hikers agreed) that the times were extremely accurate. As a result we WAY overestimated how fast we'd get through the trail.)

--With a tent in tow we hiked through some wonderfully dense beech forests. Exposed roots acted like steps through the muddy trails. On our first night, we camped among the mossy trees and swarms of sandflies. There were so many that it sounded like rain hitting our tent as hundreds of these biting locals tapped above us. The Maori (the first inhabitants of NZ) legends say the sandflies of Fiordland are there to prevent humans from becoming complacent while admiring the beauty of the area. Done and done. ;)

--Realizing that we had a tough timeline to meet our transport at 2pm of our third day, we hiked furiously for 2 days. Day two involved over 8 hours of solid hiking. We had to ring out our socks from so much water in our boots (this was BEFORE it rained). Jen misjudged a patch and went down to her waist in water (and mud) and Jim thought he was stepping on a rock and ended up knee deep in sludge. Despite some tough spots, it really was beautiful!

--When we reached the end of the hike in time, we felt a huge sense of accomplishment. We were physically and mentally exhausted but we had an amazing journey. We rewarded ourselves to a campervan park with a jacuzzi and ate as many cookies as we wanted. Still, nothing beats Jen's special "Ramen and Tuna Fish Camping Delight". Hmm-hmm, good stuff.

We hope that everyone is doing well and we send big hugs to you all. Thanks for taking the time to read this!

(Hopefully more pictures will be up soon!)


Oct. 24
How ya goin'? We're currently in the South Island of New Zealand in Marahau near the Abel Tasman National Park. We are fairly well adjusted to living in our camper van and are cruising along in this amazing country. The people continue to be the nicest we've ever encountered. It's like being in an old movie -- we can't believe anyone is this friendly. It's wonderful.

The latest highlights: (recommended music: Soundtrack to "Lord of the Rings"...if there is one)

--Roturua is a fairly touristy but spectacular city. There are many thermal areas in the area and floating steam and the lovely stench of sulphur are never very far away. Our most memorable thermal experience was at "Hell's Gate". George Bernard Shaw remarked about this area, "I wished I'd never come here so I wouldn't have seen what
theologians say await me." It really was eerie. Huge sulphur ponds gurgling, rank aroma in the air, bubbling mud and mist overhead. The huge pools of boiling mud were creepy and beautiful.

--In Roturua we also did some downhill luge (on a cement track) and 'Zorbing'. Neither of us have laughed so hard as we did while Zorbing. Zorbing involves us going inside a huge inflated ball in our swimsuits. They tossed in some warm water and some laundry soap and pushed us down a hill. Like being in a washing machine (I guess) we
splashed around and slipped and slided down the hill. It was a riot! We'd do it again in a second. We'll have to post some pics of it later...

--We also went to a sheep shearing show. Although we've seen nearly all of the 30 million sheep in New Zealand while driving around, we got an interesting lesson on sheep used for wool and sheep used for meat in a demonstration that discussed the 19 varieties of sheep they have in NZ. It was...interesting...and something we can check off our
list. Jen still wants to take home a baby sheep. Jim doesn't think this will happen.

--We had a windy drive to Whakapapa (pronounced "Faka-papa"...say that without giggling) to get to the Tongariro National Forest. Driving a thin but very tall campervan in the wind definitely adds to the adventure of driving a stick shift on the left hand side of the road. Add in a few narrow bridges and logging trucks and who needs extreme sports? Adventures are everywhere...

--We went on a big day hike called the "Tongariro Crossing", which is often considered the most beautiful day hike in NZ. However, the weather is unpredictable and our day adventure led us to buy water proof pants a few days later. We did the 7 hour hike much quicker out of necessity. The beginning of our hike was glorious: snow capped
mountains, clear streams, beautiful clouds -- it felt like we were in the "Lord of the Rings" movie. Then it began to rain...and snow...and we had to lower our center of gravity as we walked past massive craters left from volcanoes and we creeped along snow covered peaks. It was an amazing day, but definitely challenging.

--Jen and Jim celebrated 2 years together and splurged on a night away from "Puggy the Campervan" and stayed in a room in Wanganui (and even watched some TV!). Even after Jim bumped the overhang of their hotel with the TALL roof of the campervan, the hosts welcomed us in and couldn't have been nicer to us. The people here are amazing.

--News concerning Bali has been tough to read about. Our trip is supposed to take us there in about 6 weeks so we'll keep an eye on what's going on. We are hoping the world can become a safer place and we can continue to be smiling ambassadors and world citizens.

--After we took a breathtaking ferry ride from the North Island into the less populated (and considered to be more beautiful) South Island of NZ, we took a hike from Picton and saw the most amazing rainbow. We are now "Rainbow Hunters" and are always on the lookout.

--We just returned from a 3 day adventure in the Abel Tasman National Park. We kayaked for 2 days and hiked for one along the lush forest and golden beaches of the park. Kayaking...hmmm...kayaking is like horseback riding for us (there are unfortunate riding tales for Jen in Costa Rica and Jim in Brazil) in that it's an activity that we've
tried and don't need to spend more time doing. That sounds polite enough. ;) Unfortunately, the sea acted up a bit and in our efforts to get past a tough section of coast, we completely overshot our stopping point and on our first day and went WAY past where we were supposed to end on our SECOND day. We were exhausted and a bit frustrated. Fortunately, we had camping gear and camped at an amazing site and got to watch the full moon rise over Tonga Island (a marine reserve for a seal colony which we kayaked around the next day. Jen still wants to take home a baby seal. Jim doesn't think that will happen). It turned out to be a tiring, but gorgeous mistake. When we
were back on land (ah land, good old reliable land) we had a great hike to finish off our trip. The beaches and forests truly were beautiful. Unfortunately, Jim hurt his wrist but it's unusual creaking sounds that it makes is a potentially profitable freakish talent.

Sending you all big hugs.

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Kaya photos by Julian