Disclaimer: this is a little-known beach in a highly-touristed country. I apologize in advance for any additional traffic I may bring it.
But I was told about it by someone who thought it was worth sharing, and it’s too lovely not to. And it’s not like anybody reading this blog will actually make the substantial out-of-the-way journey to reach it… or will you?
I fell in love with Melbourne in 2008, pretty much from the day I set foot there, when I started a year abroad from UC Berkeley at the University of Melbourne.
I loved the people, I loved the art, I loved the culture, the intellectual challenges, the trams, the pubs, the 24hr debauchery, the excitement, the biking, the urban adventure. In the always-present rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, for me it wasn’t even a question. I had spent a few days in Sydney and knew that Melbourne was my city; THE city. I loved it and it loved me right back.
Happy birthday to me!
I just turned 27, which means I’ve been traveling for a year now. I left San Francisco on my 26th birthday, not knowing how long I’d be gone for or where I’d go, in my deepest consciousness not honestly thinking that I’d still be traveling at this date.
This year, April 23 is special to me only in that I’m going to start listing my age as something different than I was the day before. Usually I have a pretty great party of some sort, but this year… well, honestly I don’t even know what I’ll be doing tomorrow when I wake up. And this year, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When I turned 26 I said goodbye to my beautiful friends, some of my favorite people in the world, boarded my flight, and had no idea what was going to happen in the subsequent days. I’m glad to know that, at least in that last regard, little has changed.
So, I’ve uncorked the wine (a few hours ago; I’ll be real) and a new year begins. I’m not with my friends, I don’t have a celebration planned, but I’m as excited for what April 23 will bring as I’ve ever been. I still don’t know what I’ll be doing or where I’ll go this year, I don’t have any concrete plans or a plane ticket to my name and, like a year ago, I’ll just have to hope for the best. Luckily, it seems like I’m making pretty good decisions at this point in my life. This bathroom selfie included.
Cheers to life. It’s the best.
Alright 27, let’s see what you got.
My time in New Zealand has been characterized by a lack of preparation, research, and planning. Somehow though, it always seems to work out amazingly.
A few days ago I drove from Wanaka to the Fox glacier township (pop: 300). The drive there, like essentially all drives in New Zealand, was distinguished by spectacular scenery:
I didn’t know much/anything about glaciers or why they are tourist draws, or why the ones on the west coast of New Zealand are anything special. I booked a hostel in town and asked the lady at reception what I should do there. I believe my exact words were along the lines of, “So… the glacier? What’s the best thing to um, do with it?” She gave me a rundown of a couple of climbs and hikes I could do. I learned that the Fox glacier was better to hike than the more famous Franz Josef about 30km north, as the latter requires a helicopter to start the hike. Using my legs instead of flying onto the ice would save me about $500.
So I went down to the only tour operator in town and booked an all-day (definitely opt for the full rather than half day if you have the chance) hike for the following day. I had no expectations, which is usually how the most magical experiences start for me. This would be no exception.
This isn’t a flattering photo of me, but I really like it. I’ve been sleeping in my car for a week, in essentially the same single cold-weather outfit I have. In this photo I’m waiting for the yellow-eyed penguins to waddle up onshore on the beach.
I’ve been going to sleep in clothes that ostensibly aren’t for daytime consumption, and then without fail around 5am I’ll wake up freezing cold and don the single hoodie and jacket I have, adding my fingerless gloves and a beanie. Then at 9am I’ll wake up still chilly, make myself get going outside of the warm nest I’ve established by then, crawl up to the front seat (the hatchback can’t be opened from the inside), and move on to my next destination.
So effectively, when I roll up to wherever it is I’m going, I’m wearing the same things I slept in, not taking much care to disguise the fact, and ruddy-faced from the cold. It is a credit to either New Zealanders’ acceptance of diversity or lack of style, that I am not called out on a regular basis. But I’m not, so I keep going. I check into hostels when I feel I need a hot shower, or when I want to charge my devices in a place other than McDonald’s. (and a shoutout to McDonald’s for keeping it real).
There are times when I’ve lived the party life, tried to keep wardrobes that would support my lifestyle, even in those last few weeks in Australia. But for now that time is over, and I’ve switched gears. Not only do I not care if I wear the exact same outfit 4 days (and nights) in a row, I don’t care if you know either. I’m here to explore and learn and adventure, not to pick up.
And ultimately, I feel like that is what this photo represents. It’s not a glamour shot, it’s not for a postcard, but I’m happy and I’m energized and exploring a new part of the world. This is it, and this is good.
So when people learned I was buying a car to travel around New Zealand in, many first reactions were along the lines of, “Damn Laurie, I didn’t know you were a millionaire.” Fair enough - buying a car is usually something that requires at least some amount of disposable income and isn’t usually a drunk decision (except for us millionaires), and really who *buys* a car when you go on vacation? Well as it turns out, more than just the 1%.
what I spent on my ride. not enough to roll around in, unfortunately