Are the holidays coming?


Christmas and Hanukkah are coming and I’m wearing a T-shirt! It’s so hard for me to believe that Christmas is in just 16 days and Hanukkah just three. Usually at about this time back home it’s snowing and here it’s only getting hotter. The summer holidays are in just ten days! The other day the hill we drive along turned brown because it was so hot. Every day at school I long for the 20 minutes we get in the tiny pool. And every day after school I wish we were going to the beach or to a pool. There are just no signs I’m used to that show it’s even December, let alone Christmas and Hanukkah! So many great things are coming at Christmas and you’d think I’d be crazy excited for it but I barely even believe that it is coming. We do have a Christmas tree, so that’s a sign, but it’s only about three feet. Everything’s so different here even the holidays, that have been the exact same all my life, show very little similarity.



Yoda the driving instructor

Driving on “the wrong side” of the road is still a bit of a novelty for me. It’s definitely more enjoyable in rural Scotland than say, the chaos of downtown London. I think we had already left Toronto when we realized that we didn’t even know which side of the road Kiwis drive on.  It turns out it’s the left.


Leaving the Auckland car rental lot Julie coached me through all the turns and roundabouts. I wondered how long it would take before the act of driving on the other side would just ‘flip’ in my brain. I’m 2 months in and it still hasn’t happened. I don’t turn on the windshield washers most days when turning, but I find it curious that I mentally can’t just hit a switch in my brain that takes the existing driving subroutine and just reverses it. I still take a moment before pulling out of the driveway to check in with myself and not pull into oncoming traffic. Every time I come to an intersection I slowly check both ways twice, just to be sure.  You know that feeling when you’ve been driving for half an hour and suddenly realize you’ve been in a trance? Not much of that. Only one small rule has changed in the driving algorithm but I feel like I have to learn a lot of it over again before I can hit autopilot. I must unlearn what I have learned.

Habits are hard to change. Even when your life depends on it. That’s why London sidewalks look like this:


I’m getting there, but I occasionally lapse by approaching the passenger-side, keys in hand and then have to surreptitiously cross over to the driver’s side, hoping nobody noticed. Regardless, I still feel confident enough taking up the role of parent volunteer driver, taking a car-fulls of kids from the girl’s classes on field trips.

Room 3 field trip
Room 3 class trip to the Centre of New Zealand
nz trip.jpg
Room 4 class trip to the Centre of New Zealand
Both Room 3 and 4 going to the pool.

Lyla showed me this cool (8 minute) video from an awesome YouTube channel we watch together called Smarter Every Day.


The basic idea is that the host has a bicycle that turns left when the handlebars turn right and vice-versa. It is impossible to ride. He has never seen an attempt last longer than 2 seconds. Even though his brain could ride a bike with ease, flipping a single variable tipped the whole process into disarray.  There is a metaphor in there somewhere…

Driving is different in more ways than one here.  Here are some of my favourite flips:

Traffic in downtown Motueka
driving 1
Looking for the trailhead
driving 2
Parking at Tata beach
Spotted on the Highway




Be like the nature of phytokarst

When you leave home your head and heart fill with adventure and hopes. You imagine a life filled with the new and exciting, the inspiration of difference. You imagine how changing your environment can change the way you look, feel, and move in the world.


But taking your family to live in a mythical-seeming land on the other side of the world is not all kayaks, sunshine and pavlova.


We have all the regular everyday annoyances: crying over times table practice, fighting over dishes, worries about money.


We go grocery shopping, Joel swears at his computer, the internet sometimes drops out. I still lie awake some nights with discomfiting thoughts: North Korea, sexual predation, and the thing that someone said yesterday at the barbeque that stung. You get it. Life in New Zealand is still life. Last week I had the feeling that the everyday grind was starting to make us all feel a little less magical.

On top of the usual stuff, there are new stressors: trying to fit in, navigating a new, small community with all of its inherent politics, wondering how we will feel when we return, if our lives will be changed for the better or worse.

A new place sloughs off old identities, but sometimes leaves us with our darkest spots exposed; we are vulnerable here, and it can be lonely. I felt like maybe the stress of being new was starting to outweigh the delight of this gorgeous place we had landed.

Why were we here, exactly?

So, we planned a day out. We would drive over “the hill” to Golden Bay, and hike to the Rawhiti caves, then hit the beach. The day started a little cloudy, but as we drove out of town and up the windy mountain road, the sky cleared. Still, as we started the steep climb on the hike, Lyla complained a lot, Joel got snappy, and Camille and I sighed our way up, wondering why we couldn’t all just get along.


Why was no one noticing the huge Jurassic ferns that lined the trail? The electric blue sky? The simple joy of being on a sunny hike, with nothing to do but move your muscles to the top?


Okay, here they were looking up, at least.

Finally, we made it up the mountain and it seemed worth it. The ancient cave opened its mouth to us, lined with pinkish grey stalactites, like too many weird monster teeth.


As our eyes adjusted to the dark, you could see that some of them curved out of the black pit, making their way towards the light, the way a tree branch might grow towards the sunniest spot of the forest. These were phytokarst, a strange mix of mineral and algae, which gave the rock an almost living quality.


Normally, gravity is the only force acting on the minerals in a stalactite as they form over hundreds of thousands of years. But these are stalactites with a difference! The mineral-laden water that drips to the tip of the rock formation is attracted to the tiny bits of algae on the sun-facing side. Eventually, the mineral hardens, following the path of the algae and creating a light-seeking finger of rock.


It was the kind of thing that screamed out for a metaphor.

We hope that travelling will let a new, more brilliant, better version of ourselves come through. We hope we will gain new perspectives. But we carry our dark bits around with us: our old ugly habits, insecurities and fears. And sometimes, far away from the people and things that shore up our identities, those demons grow, like a shadow slowly growing as the day grows long.

But here were the phytokarsts, growing slowly but surely out of the dark, turning their faces towards the sun.


IMG_20171118_123230On the way back down, Camille was filled with questions about the nature of truth, setting off a philosophical discussion that will last years, I am sure. Lyla led the way back to the car, singing to herself as usual, and only getting into one, short-lived huff.

The cave had reset the energy, brought us back to the wonder of our new home.

The rest of the day was literally golden. Joel found us shelter from the wind on this little private gem of a beach.

Tata panorama.jpgWe ate a smoked salmon pizza, slathered with garlic aioli in a café with cool murals.



We drove home as the sun set into the windows of our trusty car (now with roof racks!)

So we are still here. Doing homework, taking out the garbage, fighting with our darker selves. Trying to keep growing towards the sun.



NZ has a flag problem

Vexillophile (word of the day meaning flag enthusiast) Roman Mars has a great TED talk about bad municipal flag designs. He takes a topic that on the surface most people wouldn’t find compelling and makes a case for why it is. YouTube video of his 18 minute ‘podcast’ on the TED stage here.

In summary he notes that flags are important symbols to humans that take a shortcut to the limbic system and have the ability to inspire pride, in-group loyalty but also ferocious hate.

He points out that a good flag should be designed in a 1 inch x 1.5 inch rectangle which is roughly the proportion of how we see a flag on a pole in the real world. The corporate world has figured this out and most modern logos need to be successful memes or die.  And yet when committees assemble to create a flag that tries to please everyone we get monstrosities like this:

Gross! For bonus points find the 8 flags within this flag.

Here are the rules of good flag design:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Use meaningful symbolism
  3. Use two to three basic colors
  4. No lettering or seals of any kind.
  5. Be distinctive

I have a suggestion for an additional rule:

6. Don’t make it look similar to the flag of the country next door.

aussie vs. nz.jpg

Firstly, it has the Union Jack in the corner so already it is a flag within a flag. Remember rule 1. Flags should be simple not meta. It screams colonial. It says nothing of the Maori or the landscape or the distinctiveness of the kiwi character.

At least it is better than the 1868 version.

BTW it’s “En Zed” not “En Zee”.

Speaking of 1868 this was Canada’s:


And this is Ontario’s flag in 2017!


So boring. In fact I doubt most Ontarians could identify it let alone draw it, so how is it supposed to instill pride? (Answer: it doesn’t) Counter these with what Roman Mars considers the gold standard in flag design:


So in 2014 the National Party of New Zealand proposed changing the flag if elected. They were, and over the next year 10,300 submissions were made and then whittled down to a long-list of 40 by a government appointed panel. Later in the year there was a national referendum that asked the question: “If the New Zealand flag changes, which flag would you prefer?” and it included these 5 shortlisted designs:


My favourites aren’t among the shortlisted but these are miles ahead of the current one.

Option A (which screams compromise) won and in 2016 another referendum was put to the people to choose between the new “Silver Fern” and the old flag. Boring pants won 57% to 43%. It’s time just hadn’t come.

I get it. I live in a country where some Queen of something is on all our money even though I haven’t met a single person under 60 that feels any allegiance to her (even my brother-in-law who had to swear allegiance in front of a judge to become a citizen).

And so I feel that although New Zealand is this exciting new country that is constantly evolving and rich in identity, it is still filled with a generation of people tied to it’s colonial history and not quite ready to make a break with the Blue Ensign.

Failed flag design: “Modern Hundertwasser Koru” by Tomas Cottle

When they do, and I’m sure they eventually will, I hope it will involve a ‘koru’ which is a Maori symbol representing a new unfurling silver fern frond and symbolizing new life, growth, strength and peace. Or two peoples coming together. Or a cloud. Or a wave. Or the tip of a jester’s shoe. Or a hypnotist’s spinning wheel. Or… you get the idea. Sorry, rant done.

Here are a couple of actual submissions that didn’t make the long-list. Don’t laugh too quickly though. Remember: Boaty McBoatFace.

” Gains” 
Designed by: Logan Wu
Sheep and Hokey Pokey 
Designed by: Jesse Gibbs from Canterbury

From Jesse Gibbs submission:
‘This design represents all of NZ because we have lots of sheep and love hokey pokey ice cream. I even included the blue and red to keep all of you naysayers happy.

Changes within and without.

Well now that we’ve slipped into a version of routine I can now take stock of the changes in our life over here. Firstly, they fall into two broad categories. 1) How the place we are in is different from home and 2) how we have changed due to our new circumstance. For example, in the first category I’m constantly amazed at the difference in prices. Some things like food are 2 to 3 times the price here. Doing the grocery shop can be painful for me but ceding control to Julie who doesn’t share my affliction with spending, means that food purchases are based on a meal plan and not on what is on sale.


On the flipside we can go indoor rock climbing until our arms fall off for under $5.


In the second category of change it is us that is different. We have modified our lives to adapt to our new reality.

Some observations of differences in the first category:

People aren’t on their phones as much. In fact we were at a country festival last weekend and I got separated from Julie. I picked up my phone to call her and suddenly felt self-conscious.  I looked around. Despite hundreds of people, young and old, walking around there wasn’t a single person on a device. It creeped me out that that creeped me out.

Phone and data plans are cheaper and simpler in NZ. I’m sure the reasons are complicated but we are paying half as much for our plans here than at home.

Tax and tip are included. Sure the prices are higher but what you see is what you pay. This is good.

No homework on the weekend. Yet.

High and rising minimum wage. $20 by 2021.

Your employer must contribute to your retirement savings and you aren’t allowed to take it out until you retire.

The relationship with the Maori seems based on respect rather than tokenism. This is obviously complicated and will take a long time to absorb properly so I won’t comment further.

Roundabouts. Sure, they eat up a bit more real estate than intersections but they are fun and greatly improve traffic flow.  Cheaper than bridges.

People deal with chilly homes when it is cold. Because our winters require central heating the concept of temperature controlled homes is omnipresent and was something I took for granted.

Bare feet. Kids go barefoot. Outside, in the streets, in stores. The first day I saw Camille go to school barefoot I asked “Where are your shoes!?” She shrugged “whatever”.


Coffee. There aren’t as many places to get coffee and certainly not cheap coffee but when you do get coffee it is good coffee.

Metal roofs. Everyone has one and they make so much more sense. Why are they so expensive at home! More investigation is needed – stay tuned.

Meth. Also called ‘P’ here. I haven’t see it but many talk about it as if it is a national crisis. All the houses we viewed made sure to get their meth inspection certification. They say it’s easier to obtain than marijuana. Epidemic or puritan over-reaction?

Clear-cutting. You often see patches of hillside that have been stripped bare and the ominous trucks of fresh timber barreling down the narrow roads. Here nature and man live so close together and I can’t help but wonder how sustainable the collision is of this ancient land and the rather new machinations of international economics.

Trees and birds. The trees are prehistorically massive and produce comical shapes to my eye.

Tree-climbing heaven.


The birds are beyond plentiful. They are always singing in the background and often songs that sound more like 8-bit video games than living creatures. A few times they have slammed into our windows. The lucky ones leave an imprint of their squish on the window, the unlucky ones fall to the ground and promptly die.

Halloween is different too. They just aren’t as hard core. The costumes are a slapdash affair and there are no pumpkins (this makes finding the houses that give out candy difficult). Also, it is warm and light out. Weird but more relaxing. I wonder what Christmas on the beach is going to be like.

All of these things seem novel at the moment and it is easy to be rosy when looking at the very surface of a new place. It is much harder to get a deeper look at it’s subtleties. Also, I know I will be leaving and some problems, if I even see them, will only be temporary for me. But this is a problem with all travel and I hope that at least our extended stay will give us a finer-stroked and honest picture of this place.

But equally interesting to these differences is the change that we’ve created for ourselves by taking ourselves out of our Ritchie Avenue rhythm.

In this second category of change it is us that has modified ourselves to adapt to our new reality. To me nothing represents this more than the thinness of my wallet. Not so much that I’m poor but rather it’s contents has been greatly reduced due to our simplified finances. My wallet contains: 1 bank card, 1 loyalty card for the supermarket, 1 health insurance phone number that I hope I never have to use, a $10 bill (it’s largely a cashless economy here), a kid’s tooth and a band-aid. My thin wallet makes me happy. Like a newly cleaned room, it’s simplicity breathes calm into me.

thin wallet
My wallet hasn’t been this thin since I was 12.

Like canoeing across lakes and making jigsaw puzzles, baking bread is one of my favourite activities because I have a Pavlovian response to the fact that I’m doing something that requires a lot more time.


We also bought a cookbook by NZ chef Al Brown and are working our way through various recipes like cottage pie, self-saucing pudding, and butter-date crumpets.

We have less stuff. Like being in a hotel room, I absolutely know where everything is. This has its bad side though. Trying to source a screwdriver becomes a mission rather than a drawer pull. I’m constantly trying to figure out whether I need to buy something or not for the time we are here. For example: our place doesn’t have a blender. Do we just go without a blender for 7 months or do we buy one? (Spoiler alert: we bought a used magic bullet for $1.50) What about bikes? Kayak? Roof rack? Desks for the kids? Egg poacher? Sweatband? Hammock? A whiteboard? Paintbrushes? Waste baskets? Shelves?Oh oh, you can see where this heading…

All in all we are trying to use our time to both try out new things but also create better habits that hopefully we can bring home with us and rely on when the demands of more work and actually having family and friends to share our lives with are added back into the mix.


Hello Nelson, Goodbye Nelson

Many months ago instead of dutifully watching my girls enter their school I turned to Jeremy (fellow drop-off dad and kiwi insider) and said “Hey, where in New Zealand should I live?”. He knew nothing of the plan but responded “Nelson, it’s the sunniest place in the country, it’s surrounded by 3 national parks and vineyards. Also, there is a burgeoning craft beer industry”.  Well that was easy. From then on we decided that the town of Nelson, NZ was going to be our destination.

sunny nz.jpg

Cut to the day before our arrival in Nelson. Despite months of looking and weeks of intense scrolling and emailing we still had not found a place to stay – nor had any leads. Staying in a motel was our only option and even those were packed because apparently the “World of Wearable Art Festival” is a thing and lots of people travel to attend. Then, finally, during dinner at a Thai Restaurant with atrocious wallpaper (see below and spot their logo for bonus points) our first lead panned out.


A small but furnished temporary flat was made available to us for a couple weeks while we searched in earnest for our ‘permanent’ home.

And so we pulled into Nelson the following day with an actual destination to feed Google Maps. We’ve been learning to be wary of Googs since arriving but we found the place just fine. It was miserable out. Raining, chilly, and Lyla was pale from car-sickness.  Surprisingly it was the same temperature inside as it was outside, 8C or 46F. I scanned the wall in vain for a thermostat. Jeremy hadn’t mentioned the part about kiwis being in denial regarding winter.  The funny thing is we Canadians think of ourselves as hardy folk, and for the most part we are, but it really only applies to being outside. Single digits indoors means power outage to us. Sure we can brave -40 with toques and parkas but we need to return to a temperature controlled house – as any civilized human would expect. That night the girls slept with 4 layers on, 2 comforters and 2 blankets.

Even though we had arrived we still hadn’t settled. We now poured all our energy into finding the perfect place.  As the days passed the perfect place became a place, and then anything with a roof. Apparently Jeremys the world over were recommending Nelson to their friends. Nelson is a popular place to live. Because it is built in amongst hills, bordered by mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, cheap sprawling suburbs aren’t an option, and the town council has restrictions on new housing. The result is a property shortage.  This was compounded by the fact that we didn’t need a place for a full year and it had to be near a school that accepts international students. I could go on but it would be equal parts boring and bourgeois. We were at the point where we were considering moving on from Nelson, not just to the outlying towns but anywhere in New Zealand. Then, I’ll admit it, for the first time we were wondering if maybe we had made a mistake. But the night is always darkest before the dawn.

We got the magical email from a house owner one evening and the next morning we jumped in the car and drove north to check out a small rural property 45 minutes away. The previous day we had acquired a 2-disc CD from the Salvation Army titled: On the Road Again – Songs for Roadtripping.  We popped it in and let Willie Nelson and Roger Miller serenade us as Nelson faded out behind us and we headed into sheep country proper. We were afraid to be too confident but Spring was in their air and you know how that goes…

So goodbye Nelson. We weren’t fond of your single glazed windows but loved your quaint strip, gardens, your insanely beautiful beach and the several little hikes originating from downtown (including one to the ‘Centre of New Zealand’.



And here is us leaving our temporary flat in Nelson where every night Lyla prepared fancy deserts and we watched movies about either New Zealanders or Marvel superheroes. (Spiderman Homecoming, The Fastest Indian and Boy were stand-outs).

bye bye

So now, finally, we have arrived and are settling in.

We have a perfect little house amongst towering gum trees, fields of hops, grapes and frolicking lambs.  We are halfway between a tiny village called Upper Moutere (quixotically pronounced Moo-tree) and another tinier hamlet called Lower Moutere. We even have doubled glazed windows and a thermostat!


The girls have bright bedrooms on the main floor and can watch the sheep from their beds.


Julie’s office:


My office: (where I am currently typing this)


There is one more ‘room’ in the house that Lyla wants to share with you but you will have to wait for that.

For the first time in my life I am living in a place that isn’t walking distance to anywhere but at least it isn’t too far a drive. The girls’ school is a 5 minute drive away but we’ll save more about that place for another post. The Riverside cafe where we get our fresh raw milk and proper coffees is 8 minutes away. Most importantly ping pong at the Upper Moutere Community Centre is 5 minutes away and squash (both the sport with courts and the produce at the grocery store) in Motueka is just 13 minutes away.

So now with all the bureaucracy of moving to a new place done we can finally start living in it. We are reveling in this gorgeous bizzarro Game of Thrones world. Summer is coming…

Photo copier

Yesterday we had a no screens day and Lyla and I came up with a super fun game. The game we made up is called photo copier. We find a photo in a magazine and copy the photo. Here are some examples. We try to find the closest clothing to the picture.

Then we get objects similar to the one in the picture.

Then finally we try to find the background that matches the most.

This game is super duper fun to play, we’ll be playing this all year!


When I pictured our time in New Zealand, I always saw us in a big ole truck or a dusty campervan. You know what I mean: something soulful and beaten, that had seen some miles and could handle a rough road.

When we landed in Auckland we had two days to buy a car. We had six grand, seven suitcases, four people, and a need for a third row.

I scoured the huge used car lot for my soulful ride. One that we could use to blast tunes, climb mountains, park beside our tent in the remote corners of the country. Joel followed me around discussing fuel economy and practical details. Some of you may recognize this familiar dynamic in our relationship. Ah, marriage.

Impractical choice, girls.impractical

After hours of searching, and getting trapped in the backseat of an old station wagon, I had to concede defeat.

We were actually trapped. Damn you, child locks!trappedinacar

Unfortunately, folks, big ole trucks guzzle expensive New Zealand gas. And campervans are so filled up with equipment and stories from past adventures, they they can’t hold seven suitcases and two rambunctious children. So, what we got was a 2005 Toyota Wish.


She’s silver and lived the first 12 years of her life in Japan, like many of the used cars here. (To be clear, it is not her Japanese origin that I object to, although this does prove to be a challenge later on. I loved the big old clunky Isuzu Pajeros that lined the lot). But the Wish is good on gas, and the trunk fits all of our suitcases when the third row is folded down.

She is so practical. And so boring.

I don’t really like her face. She is that kind of car that looks too aerodynamic, all smooth lines and rounded edges. Despite being 12 years old, her interior is so clean that she feels like she was driven by a ghost, or some Dexter-like serial killer. She has a navigation/stereo system that is entirely in Japanese and loaded with a strange mix of Fleetwood Mac, French jazz, and Christian rock (live concert). This wouldn’t actually be so bad, except that the songs play in no discernible order, and after every third song a person comes on and says some things in Japanese, then ends with the words: Music Stylist! in a very loud, cheesy radio DJ voice. I’m sure that in 2005 it was the hottest piece of car stereo tech going, but we have very little idea how to control the system, despite much earnest button pushing. My one year of introductory Japanese at university is not helping.

The navigational map shows the car in Japan, so that’s interesting. There is a helpful little puppy (our car’s icon, I guess?) that sits on the screen, waiting to scamper around Japan, which of course, is a lovely island country, but the wrong island country, and thus, entirely unhelpful.

The cigarette lighter doesn’t work, which means we can’t charge our phones, or smoke expensive imported cigars on the road. The Toyota Wish didn’t come with a manual, and apparently it doesn’t exist anywhere online. Well, maybe it does, but we don’t know how to download it because the website is in Japanese. Needless to say, our relationship did not begin well.

But. Lyla has smushed some peanut butter chocolate into the backseat.

And. The car has carried us safely along the windiest, skinniest mountain road we have ever driven. As usual, during the scary part we were too scared to take any photos.

The Wish was also there when our booking fell through and we had to stay in the motel owner’s trailer for the night.


In the wee hours of the morning she helped us board the Interislander ferry in Picton…


Ferry Time Lapse

…and she waited patiently for us until we drove off onto the South Island. She took this sign in stride.

southern roads

She is waiting faithfully for us every morning when we leave our slightly dingy temporary apartment to find ourselves a New Zealand home.

The French jazz album is actually awesome, when it plays, and we found some good used CDs in the charity shop that our Wish will play when she’s feeling kind.

I am coming around.

A wise man once told me that when things don’t work out, just smile and sing Little Birdie. The song says: “Got a short time to stay here, and a long time to be gone”. So who cares about a car with soul? We’ve got it in spades already.

Meet our car, Little Birdie. She’s our practical Wish.


P.S. Joel is, of course, trying to fix the cigarette lighter. If you know anyone who has the time and skill to read a car manual in Japanese, let us know.



Phase One Complete

Dear friends,

We know our blogging is ridiculously slow and not really in chronological order. Forgive us. We are new to blogging and sometimes we have no wifi. Plus we are sort of living out of a van or airplane or trailer or tent. But we are now in Nelson, NZ, settled temporarily in a (slightly chilly) flat and have some time and space to reflect on what has transpired over the last few weeks.

There were so many good and funny and fabulously beautiful times on our road trip across the States. Here are some of the best moments, in photos.

Roadtripping is hungry work. (alternate title: 75 chins)IMG_20170915_130222

This was Joel’s favourite rock formation. It’s called Mexican Hat and it’s huge.IMG_20170915_164431

Location: The spot where Forrest Gump stopped running. Stop Forrest, stop.IMG_20170915_171726

The girls got a kick out of crossing the Arizona-Utah border several times in one minute.IMG_20170915_174216

Our campsite in Monument Valley (named after the popular ipad app). IMG_20170915_185804

Sunrise with a canine friend.IMG_20170916_072456

The best lunch stops are always off of dirt roads. Improvised hike to the Colorado River.IMG_20170916_131143

Swimming in the Colorado with the Glen Canyon Dam (Page, Arizona) in the distance.IMG_20170916_140032

Secret picnic

Vermillion cliffs. (Thanks Andrew Paul for the pro tip)IMG_20170916_153106

Hiking down into the Grand Canyon from the North Rim. Julie is standing at the top of a sheer drop-off similar to the one on the upper right. This was a big deal for her.IMG_20170917_153032

2.63 complaints per minute.IMG_20170917_155857

Crazy views.PANO_20170917_134450We found a charming couple in their sixties during a water break. When we told them we were headed to New Zealand – they showed us their NZ jade wedding rings – they were married in Nelson! Good omen if ever there was one. IMG_20170917_161513

Wide, deer-filled meadows and big sky in the Kaibab National Forest.IMG_20170917_164125

Camping outside the North Rim.IMG_20170917_183214

Chilly mornings. Our water froze overnight!IMG_20170918_085844

Later that day…. (we actually found a hotel without a casino in Vegas)IMG_20170918_173022

Getting our kicks.IMG_20170919_123745


Random public art in the desert.IMG_20170919_124928


Salt flats in the Mojave. Ain’t no thin Oreo.IMG_20170919_131049


Hiking in Joshua Tree. 360 immersive photo here.IMG_20170920_110236

Escaping the heat.IMG_20170920_111011

Classic Americana Roadtrip scene.joshua tree bbq

Very small pool but Julie is making the best of it.tub read

Good morning Joshua Tree.sunrise in jt

Yet another gratuitous roadtrip shot. roadripper

Arrival in L.A. Thanks to Rob and Georgie for Oasis Jalilicutty.jalil pool

Phase one complete.  From here on out we live in the future.


It’s cool and it’s also cool.

Burst_Cover_GIF_Action_20170922131514 Have you ever tried ice cream almost as cold as space? Well we have! We went to a part of LA called Old Pasadena and we found nitrogen ice cream.


It was the creamiest ice cream I’ve ever tasted and you had the ability to make your own flavour of ice cream from scratch. There were three steps. First, you had to choose your type of milk. We chose coconut milk because Cammy feels sick sometimes when she has regular milk. Second step is to choose your flavour of ice cream. We chose butter cookie dough and they put that with the coconut milk. Third step is to choose your toppings inside or on top. We chose Twix and got them to mix it inside. Then they flash freeze it with nitrogen ice cream – I mean liquid nitrogen. 🤣🤗 They put it in a special machine and smoke fills the room.


The ice cream is awesome, it might be hard to find but it’s totally worth it. And my Dad even promised that we should go back when we are back in town. Punch-line finish!