FiNZ 43 – The Wild West

How’s everyone doing back in New England and along the east coast? My parents sent me a photo of what life is currently like in Massachusetts–

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Definitely makes me appreciate enjoying the warmer climate after a year of winter!

As for our past weekend (that did NOT involve shoveling snow), we finally got out to the west coast. We’ve been saving a trip to the west coast for some time (more like 9 months!), mainly because it tends to always be rainy over there. But otherwise its a fairly easy 3 hour scenic drive over to the other side of the country.

Lucky? for us Keith volunteered me for his coworker’s marathon relay team when their female team member wasn’t able to participate. Keith and I drove to the tiny town of Reefton Friday night, picked up another hitchhiker from Germany along the way, and stayed at a lovely little hostel that used to be an old bakery…pretty much a typical start to journey in New Zealand. The Buller Gorge Marathon was the next morning, each of the 4 of us had a 10.66km leg and the other team members drove the course in a van to cheer the runner on. It was a lot of fun and our team placed 7th out of 36 mixed relay teams!

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Since the day was still young, Keith and I hoped in the car and “did” the west coast for the rest of the day before meeting back with my teammates for dinner. Our first stop was Charming Creek Walkway. We were told this walk was quite “charming,” and it definitely was! The west coast has their population mainly thanks to the mining industry. This walk took us along an old mining track–through tunnels, along a river, and along some old fun relics.

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Railway tunnels and Waterfalls!

At points it was a bit of a wanna-be horror movie setting, but quite cute in the daylight!

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Watsons Mill Abandoned Camp

Then we drove south along the coastal scenic route. It was GORGEOUS. I can’t believe I never made it out here my first trip to New Zealand. SO BEAUTIFUL! It reminded me a lot of Great Ocean Road in Australia, with less people. We stopped at the ever-popular Pancake Rocks to grab some obligatory photos. You’ll see the rocks are formed into tall stacks that sort of look like pancakes. No one really knows why…

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Then it was off to a typical Kiwi bach for the weekend! A bach is the kiwi’s word for a holiday home or vacation house. They could be cabins in the woods or extravagant houses. Keith’s coworker’s family had one on a beautiful lake with the southern alps beyond. That night we thoroughly enjoyed fresh pork, sausage, and lamb, that were all literally from one of my relay-mates farms (another “only in New Zealand” moment).

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Lake Brunner

The next morning it was time for some boating and waterskiing. Keith couldn’t pass up waterskiing at this beautiful spot, and in February nonetheless–

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While we waited on shore a weka came to visit. Weka are a threatened species of flightless bird in New Zealand, yet still more prevalent than kiwi birds. This is probably the closest we’ll ever come to a “sort-of kiwi” bird. So obviously Keith had to chase it down…

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You can’t catch me!

To make this post even more random, I’ll conclude with Christchurch’s celebratory Cricket World Cup fireworks! We kicked off the competition last week with a very large opening ceremony right in the nearby park. It was definitely a fun experience and likely a “once-in-a-lifetime” type event! When will I ever have a world cup opening ceremony in my backyard again?! I know most of my friends & family have no idea what cricket is or how it’s played, but to give you some perspective, the opening ceremonies were predicted to have over 1 BILLION viewers.

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Fireworks over Hagley

This weekend is going to be a little more relaxed than normal. A few of our friends are flying in next week and we’ll have hectic plans for those next three weekends so I think it may be time for a break…maybe…

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Grad Lesson #9 – Avoid Saying “Wicked” Around Your Non-Massachusetts Project Partners

It finally slipped.  Somehow I managed to hold in my use of the word “wicked” for the entire first semester of grad school.  Through countless wing nights, project meetings, exclamatory statements, it managed to never expose itself…until last night.

Thursdays, at least for my peers and I, are our “off night.”  This typically involves going to wing night at Dinos and showing up at Dunbar’s far too early making us the only group of people present till around 11:30 or 12, but why would we care?–more fresh breathable air for us.

Last night may have been a little atypical. Mainly because Dinos was replaced by the Nines Pizza, lots of ice skating was involved, and we arrived at Dunbars perfectly fashionably late, so late in fact that we were eventually kicked out. Maybe this out-of-the-norm Thursday is why my vocabulary slipped, who knows? Anyways, we were sitting down at the Nines and I don’t even remember what I said, probably something along the lines of–

“This (insert noun) blah blah blah, it’s wicked awesome!”

Within a couple seconds I realized what I had done, mainly because Pennsylvania friend Brandon started cracking up.  Staton Island friend Denis had no clue what was going on and then upon realizing, explained that his brain translator automatically caused him to hear “really” versus “wicked” within his head.

Of course, now that I said it once, I continued to slip a few times throughout the rest of the night. Not to say I’m bashing my Mass heritage, I love that I can say crazy random things like “wicked,” deal with all this cold & snowy weather, and despite my lack of any Boston accent, my peers continue to say I sound a bit like Julianne Moore from 30 Rock.  But whatever. It’s interesting to be on the other side of the fence.

Leaving you w/ some skating photos from last night:

Guys at the Rink

Gals at the Rink