Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Life back in NZ

Back in NZ

It was a bit of a last minute shock for both Amy and I when we had to swiftly book a departing flight for me back to New Zealand. We no realistic visa option for us to apply for and with only days remaining on my current visa, the decision was made for us. So once again there I was commuting across the globe with all my possessions in-tow. This now including my Stand Up Paddle board.

I made it back to the familiar Christchurch on a gloomy day. Fish and chips and a trip to New Brighton was in order right off the 27 hour journey. I tell you what, I have never felt so confused in my life. Such a dramatic transition from normal life in America with my fiancee, to being back in NZ all on my own.

I occupied and entertained myself by visiting friends and keeping busy. I jumped up to Mt. Hutt for a day snowboarding with my mate Andrew, and I took Gran out to dinner at Cassel's and Sons, treated by Amy's grandfather.

I headed down south to Queenstown to hang out with John, do some snowboarding and coincidentally be Kel's carer after her accident. I enjoyed being in the company of family and Queenstown turned it on with a month straight of sunny days. Not great for the snowboarding, but fantastic for other activities. We did hit up the mountain a few days. I didn't have a pass, so I just hiked up to the terrain park and would walk laps of the jumps and rails. But I was most stoked to get out playing disc golf. I loved the new course at Tucker Beach on the side of the Shotover River and while there did an Ice Bucket Challenge in the river. I took a nice mountain bike out to Arrowtown as well, and had some good walks round into town and round the lake. We all cruised for a few drives, one to Glenorcy for a game of golf (real golf) and a milkshake, and out to The Fork and Tap in Arrowtown for some pints and bites.

A string of job offers led me back to Christchurch where I have now set myself up in a sleep-out room in a big flat in Fendalton. I have embraced a slice of normality taking a team leader position landscaping. Ute and smartphone and all. I am enjoying work, good hard stuff that it is, but I do hold some authority so I can delegate wisely.

So I have been busy spending my salary on craft ales and water sport toys. I get out and about every week night just keeping busy till Amy arrives. I play a lot of evening golf at Hagley, I went to my first BBQ of Summer, I always get out on my bike, even up mountain biking in the Port hills this weekend. I've got out to Sumner on my SUP and actually caught some good water on it. Played my first round of disc golf at the Jelly Park course and I have committed to learning and mastering windsurfing, having a slow but successful first outing on the estuary. As usual I have been enjoying cooking and eating mostly vegetarian food and entertaining my ears with good bass music.

Lastly, I participated in the first Christchurch Parkrun in North Hagley Park. I bettered my time each run getting into the low 20 minutes winning my age category and finishing in the top 10. I would say my lifestyle is "active" and I'm loving it. Just really need my darling fiancee Amy back in my life ASAP.

Our Hot Air Balloon Ride!

Sunrise hot air balloon ride over Connecticut
For our birthdays, my mom and I got tickets for a sunset hot air balloon ride. We tried to schedule it in a few times, but each time it got cancelled due to the weather. Finally, I made the executive decision to do an early morning sunrise ride, in hopes that the weather would hold out and we'd be able to do our ride before I left. We got lucky, and had chose a perfect Autumn day in October.

So my mom and I got dressed in extra warm layers, and left the house before 6am for the dark drive north to the launch site. We arrived 20 minutes before sunrise and to our surprise, were asked to help the crew of local churchgoer volunteers set up!

Sunrise from the balloon
With the experienced pilot and one other couple, we hopped into the tiny basket, were told to wrap our arms around one of the 4 posts and to hold on! The balloon lifted off the ground and we soared above the trees as the sun was rising in the sky. The group of volunteers jumped into their cars, and become 'balloon chasers,' driving around on the ground chasing our balloon in the sky in order to be there whenever we landed, wherever the wind took us.

Looking down at a lake and treetops

We had spectacular views of the New England foliage, and our hour long flight took us both high up in the air, and sometimes even low enough to touch the tree tops. We flew over Lake Compounce, one of America's oldest amusement parks, and saw the old, historic, wooden roller coasters and all the modern ones as well. The edge of the basket was about at my waist, and I was nervous that if I leaned over too much, I'd just fall out. There were no problems though, even as we awkwardly switched places and moved about the cramped basket.

It was an incredibly exhilarating experience, floating above the sleepy little towns, as the sky got lighter, and the wind took us in whichever direction it wished. We had views out for miles and on the horizon we saw the surrounding cities in the distance. It wasn't too much of an adrenaline rush, but it was peaceful and lovely, and the view was spectacular.

Amy on board

We finally started to lose altitude, and our balloon started to float down over a golf course! Golfers below were baffled and intrigued and took photos of us coming down, and then ran over to tell us that a tournament was going on and we'd have to leave ASAP! So one of the guests on board our balloon was asked to 'walk the balloon'. We didn't know what this meant, but he jumped out, took hold of a rope and pulled us off the fairway.

'walking' the balloon off the golf course

We had to help pack the balloon back up, as it took the volunteers forever to find us. They finally arrived, got the gear on the back of the truck, and drove us back to our cars, which was four towns over, where we started. Once we were there, they offered us champagne, cheese, crackers and cookies and we all talked about the ride and how beautiful a morning it was. To be able to fulfill my mother's dream of hot air ballooning, and share the experience with her was the best part of all. 

Me and my mommy