All the huts along the Kepler Track were stunning, but if I had to choose one for an extended stay – it would be Iris Burn. New Zealand is forever famous as the filming location for the Lord of the Rings movies, and I’m positive that if Middle Earth was real, the elves would be living in the very same valley as the Iris Burn hut. Flanked on all sides by temperate rainforest-ed mountains, we fell asleep in our bunks on the valley floor to the sound of water falling – from where we did not know exactly. It wasn’t until the next morning that we would discover the beauty of that place and it’s tall, slender waterfalls. Continue reading “[New Post] Hiking New Zealand’s Kepler Track, Part 3: Iris Burn to Queenstown”→
If you haven’t already, make sure to read Part 1 here!
It was only 7pm, but I was so exhausted from the day’s treck I definitely would have been in bed if it wasn’t for the Ranger program. There were around 50 of us in the hut that night, and we gathered in the common area to listen to the Ranger give us a run-down of tomorrow’s walk. We could hear the wind howling outside, but inside the wood stove was doing its job and keeping us all cozy. At 7 on the dot a sprightly, middle-aged man introduced himself as the ranger. We all quieted to listen. Continue reading “Hiking New Zealand’s Kepler Track, Part 2: Luxmore to Iris Burn”→
I had been staring at the triangular wooden ceiling of our A-Frame cabin for nearly 20 minutes, listening to the wind howl and willing the pressure in my bladder to ease off so I could steal just a little more rest. This would be my last night sharing a room with only my husband for a little while. We were set to head off on the Kepler Track – one of New Zealand’s incredible great walks – in just a few hours’ time. And while we carried our tents on our last great walk on the Abel Tasman, this time we would be spending our nights in the huts, sleeping in dormitories of dozens. We were in the Fiordlands now, and the scene could not have been more different than the white sand beaches of the Abel Tasman. The weather was much harsher in this southern corner of the southern island, and the topography a lot more extreme. Our walk was to take us along steep mountain ridges unsuitable for camping – hence the huts. And so here I was, treasuring what very well might be my last snorer-less sleep for a few nights. Besides, it was a long, dark walk to the toilets. And if the howl of the wind was any indication, it did not sound warm outside. Continue reading “Hiking New Zealand’s Kepler Track, Part 1: The Way to Luxmore Hut”→
I arrived in Granada, Nicaragua in September 2014 via chicken bus. Walking those beautiful, oppressively hot streets in the middle of the day with all of my worldly belongings on my back, I had a feeling this place would change me.
I can say with certainty now that it did. It was there that I met and fell in love with my now husband, and made friends that have become family. It was there that I grew confident in my practice of travel and teaching. It was there that I faced down some of the ugliest realities of white privilege and the legacy of colonization; where I had the experience of being the visible minority; where I fought tooth and nail with deeply ingrained and overt sexism, struggling with my place and role in it all.
It’s there that I first took the stance of activist teacher; and of the importance of instilling self-esteem in students; in helping them to know and understand that they have power and that they can make a difference.
There are a lot of scary things happening in our world right now, but Nicaragua hasn’t received the international news coverage it deserves. To all those who followed my journey on this blog, who enjoyed my writing about my time in that beautiful place, I urge you – please don’t forget Nicaragua.
How we can help
I owe so much to this place, so this is my attempt at paying it back. I have started a GoFundMe page. The organization I moved to Granada to work with – La Esperanza Granada – will be the full beneficiary. They have lost nearly all of their volunteers and are low on funds. Yet their work is more important then ever. They are doing all they can to keep the learning centers they operate open for the children of Granada. Even better, they are attempting to put in place a program where adults who have lost their jobs due to this crisis can work in the learning centers in exchange for basic necessities. Please consider donating to and sharing the campaign. You can do so here.
Alright single reader, I promise this is the last wedding-related post!
The challenge of Tom and my relationship has always been and will always be the distance. Even now that we are together it is a test to decide how to use our hard-earned dollars and vacation time. Do we visit my family or his? Where do we settle? How do we find a compromise when our loved ones are so spread out across the world? Continue reading “Our New Zealand Celebration”→
After 2 jam-packed days on Oahu, we decided to take day 3 of our honeymoon as our official, much needed R&R day. We spent the morning on the beach, the afternoon in the spa, and the evening in the all-you-can eat buffet. It was all heavenly but ultimately… uninteresting to write about. I’ll leave it at this: the facilities at Aulani are truly first class. We were so happy to base our stay there and would HIGHLY recommend any adult doing the same to check out the spa – which features access to a private garden and many different soaking pools that are worth a visit all on their own.
After our back-to-back crater climbs on that first day of our Honeymoon, Tom and I retreated to the beach to rest our shaky legs. Taking in the gorgeous scene from the comfort of my lounger, I overheard a couple nearby discussing the North Shore with some friends. They were saying the biggest waves of the year were predicted for the next day. We hadn’t thought much about how to spend our Sunday, but that eavesdropped conversation stuck with me. By dinner time we had decided the next day’s plan – we wanted to see the famous waves ourselves. Continue reading “Hawaii Honeymoon Part 2: Wave Watching on Oahu’s North Shore”→
I have always wanted to go to Hawaii. But to be honest, we landed on Hawaii as our honeymoon destination without too much thought. My parents gifted us use of their Disney Vacation Club points as a wedding gift, Disney has a resort in Hawaii, and Hawaii was (kind of) on the way back to Melbourne from Colorado. Tom and I briefly experimented with the idea of trying to add some sort of backpacking adventure in South East Asia to the trip, but it wasn’t feasible with the amount of leave we both had from work and the logistics of crossing an ocean with a giant wedding dress (my gown would be needed again for our reception in New Zealand a few months later). So just like that, Hawaii it was. And after saying goodbye to our family and friends who traveled from all over to meet us in Colorado, we packed up and headed towards the Pacific. Continue reading “Hawaii Honeymoon Part 1: Ballistic Missiles, and Craters, and Panic Attacks – Oh my!”→
You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones with the secret Pinterest boards. The ones who binge watch all the wedding reality shows on TV. The ones who dream about their wedding – the dress, the setting, the ring, the guy – their whole lives.