Monthly Archives: June 2011

Recovering from Time Travel

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether or not I will continue to blog now that I am back in the USA.  The answer is YES!  Admittedly, from now on most of my posts will be themed around wellness rather than life in NZ.  They also might need to be less frequent, especially when school starts again, and they will definitely be less personal.  Now that my life is back to “normal” I don’t feel the need to share every detail anymore.  But I will still share anything influential in my life, because wellness is about so much more than just health and fitness. (And I can promise a new little daily feature of the blog I have a-brewing.  Be on the lookout for that :))

Today I want to chat about recovering my wellness from a 24+ hour journey of time-travel around the world.  The aftermath that has caused me to feel quite out of sorts.


Proof of my restless nights...

I have been waking up in the middle of the night (3:30am), which has caused me to suffer from sleepiness so severe that it resembles narcolepsy!  (I fell asleep in the waiting room before a doctor’s appointment.)  I have imposed strict bedtime rules for the past few nights.  I have to be in bed between 10:30pm and 8:30am whether or not I actually sleep during that time.  No napping!  A few sleepy days are inevitable, and this has helped me quickly get used to this time zone.  Last night marks the first night this week that I slept through the night!


Mom-bought favorites of mine: dates and almond milk!

I am finally eating well consistently, but it’s not sitting well.  My digestive track has been all in a tizzy, which is definitely a result of lack of sleep and the erratic, excessive diet of fat and sugar I’ve been eating for more than 2 weeks straight!  I feel better eating clean, and my digestive system will regulate in time…as long as I stick to eating well!


Reunited with both my Klean Kanteen and yoga mat!

It’s all I have to cling to right now!  I have jumped right back into my religious exercise habits with at least an hour of activity every day.  I’ve been running and spinning, doing pilates and yoga, and I have even done a smidgen of strength training!  It feels really good and feel really right, but it’s been really tiring!  I fell out of shape pretty significantly because of travel and my hip injury, so I’ve been pretty sore. That means lots of yoga for me, and not to wimp out on my cardio!

Mental Functioning

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit psycho lately!  Once again, my life has done a complete 180 and I’m trying to readjust.  For example, I almost had a nervous breakdown in the produce section at Wegmans…it was so overwhelming!  Also, I keep almost driving on the wrong side of the road.  And EVERYTHING reminds me of something NZ-related.


Logged 3 loads already

My time not spent eating, exercising, or sleeping has been spent organizing my life: responding to emails, doing laundry, unpacking, and organizing my room.  Getting my life back to normal has felt very strange, but each little thing I accomplish makes me feel more and more at ease.

Nearly organized!

I have learned that there is not that much you can do to feel healthy again right after something like that.  Just honor your body and things will get better in time.  As per my mother’s advice, I’m actually RELAXING!!!!  Though I’ve been feeling icky and sad to have left New Zealand, the comforts of home make feel better, better, better.

There is just one thing I desperately need to feel all better

Dominique!  (Did you know she has a blog, too???)  Typical to the history of our friendship, when I’m home she’s not!  She’s on vacation with her family this week.

And, as she is my best friend, I REALLY NEED TO SEE HER!!!!

How have you dealt with jetlag?




Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Running, Travel, Yoga

Journey Home from Auckland

Unfortunately, I barely got any sleep my last night in the apartment.  In fact, I was woken up in the middle of the night by a group of guys doing the haka in the courtyard.  I would have been mad if I didn’t feel nostalgic about it being my last live haka, and the fact that something like that would never happen at UVM.

Needless to say, I woke up at 7am to begin the process of my departure.  I got showered, 100% packed,

100% clean, and 100% moved-out.

Check out was at 10am, and a van was there right on time to drive us to the airport.  We went to pick up my family and we all shoved ourselves into the van, remembering what it was like to pick them up from the airport in little Kermit the Car.

Our flights weren’t until the evening, but since we had to be kicked out of our accommodation, we figured it would be smart to get to the airport way early, check in, check our luggage, and then go on one last excursion to a winery near the airport.  Check in went relatively smoothly, except that Hannah and I were both over our luggage weight limits so we had to deal with all that drama.

We got a cab to Villa Maria winery.

I have a close attachment to Villa Maria because it was the first winery that Hannah and I visited in the South Island on our tour through the Marlborough wine region.  Also, you can often find Villa Maria on wine lists in many restaurants in Auckland.  In fact, mom and I had a glass of their excellent sauvignon blanc at the Sky Tower and we bought a bottle for our last night!  Villa Maria grows most of its grapes in Marlborough but makes most of the wines on the winery in Auckland.

We arrived and were lucky enough to catch up with a tour that was just a few minutes in.  We got to see a lot of their distillation tanks and learned about the right temperature and preservatives for wines.

After the tour, we got to taste a number of their wines (my favorites were the slightly sparkling sauvignon blanc and the pino noir).

We learned a lot about the importance of the right food companion to a bottle of wine.

It’s very scientific!

After our tour, we got a table in the cafe for lunch.

We ordered a bottle of the slightly sparkling sauvignon blac to share, plus two antipasti platters.

After much deliberation, I decided to just go with the soup of the day (roasted pumpkin) and I was glad because it was huge!

We ate and drank like royalty at Villa Maria, and it was a perfect way to end our trip while killing some time before our flights.

We took a cab to the airport, which got sort of screwed up because they send a small car and we had to take two trips.  Either way, we made it through security with some speed bumbs.  Firstly, they said my backpack was too heavy so I had to throw away a bunch of stuff and give other stuff to my mom.  I was mad, though, because most of the weight was due to electronics, which apparently don’t count anyway!  Grrrr, I even threw away the rest of the Anzac biscuits!  As if I wasn’t having enough bad luck, I was chosen for a random body scan by security, which definitely put me on edge a bit.  Then mom got one, too!  I guess we are really suspicious-looking, or maybe the enjoy terrorizing innocent American ladies (I’m being dramatic – it was not really traumatic).  Then I felt even more anxious because they did not announce our gate and I couldn’t find gum anywhere.  Also, all I wanted was a normal sized Whittaker’s bar since it will be my last chance to have it for a while, but they only had huge-ass bars!  Eventually our gate was announced and we parted ways (Hannah and I were on a different flight than my parents) and of course the first shop in our neighborhood of the terminal had regular Whittaker’s bars.  At least it was a good opportunity to spend the rest of my NZ cash!

We waited at the gate for a short while, though the departure was delayed by a little bit.  We boarded the plane and I was able to trade with a woman so that I could sit next to Hannah.  I even got an aisle seat!  It felt really strange to take off.  I even cried a little bit.  So many mixed emotions!  In the end, I will really really miss New Zealand.

Though I had an aisle seat, it only had some perks.  The storage under the seat in front of my was smaller than other seats, so I could barely fit my backpack!  It was very frustrating and resulted in limited legroom on my part.  I was happy once I started watching movies, though!  I got to watch two of the movies on my “to watch” list: Rango and Made in Dagenham.  Rango (an animated movie starring Johnny Depp about a lizard in the Wester dessert) was cute, but not as funny as I thought it would be, but Made in Dagenham was awesome – totally inspiring, may favorite kind of movie!  If you don’t know the premise, it’s about women who hand-sewed the seating in Ford cars in Britain in the ‘60s went on strike for equal pay.  Dinner was really delicious.  I love Air NZ food, it’s always so yummy and feels like an upscale lunchable!  I got curry chicken which was so great!  I also had my last glass of wine for a loooooong time!

After they turned off the lights I tried to sleep but I’m not sure I got more than an hour.  It was painful!  Specifically, my feet swelled up so bad that I could barely squeeze them back into my shoes in the morning!  After breakfast (of white chocolate chip pancakes – hell yeah) I did fall asleep for a bit, but I was jolted awake by our landing in San Francisco.

It felt very strange to be back in America.  It’s a little overwhelming and I’m just trying to take it one step at a time.  First step, going through customs, which is a breeze as an American citizen reetnering the country with nothing but Whittaker’s bars to claim 😉  We did have to re-check our luggage, which was a bit of a hassle, but at least it was exciting!

After finding our gate, we wandered around in search of a Starbucks since Mrs. Pace sent us gift cards a while ago.  We realized that there wasn’t one in the terminal, so I settled for a cup of Pete’s coffee.  I’m so not used to it!  It’s so strong!  But it’s so much better!!! I can’t wait to get my first Starbucks again!  We also got our fill on American food by getting some guacamole and salsa with chips as a snack.  So spicy, so authentic, just what I have been craving for months!  We also shared a mushroom pizza which was less than thrilling, but it did the job.

We waited at the gate for a while, realized we had to get dinner (I grabbed a burrito) and then we realized that we would not be seated together.  I struggled to keep my eyes open during the flight.  I suffered from ADD – gazing out window, reading, logic puzzle, snacking, Harry Potter, blogging, Glee, etc!  Are we there yet?

Once we landed, it was easy.  We got off the plane no problem and met up with Mr. and Mrs. Pace.  It was so good to see them!  They even brought me a snack.  How thoughtful!  We met up with my driver, who was really helpful getting my bags, and then we drove home and it only took about an hour!

I was greeted at the backdoor by Gram L, Paula, and Ghia.  I took the most blissful shower in our newly renovated bathroom and hit the sack.

Even though my ankles are super swollen:

I have cankles!

It feels so good to be home!


Filed under Life

Jenkins Family in Auckland: Friday

I spent the morning of my last full day in Auckland packing, packing, packing away.  I was actually pretty pleased that I got as much packed as I possibly could so that I could relax and enjoy the rest of my day.  Of course, it had to rain on my last day, but it wasn’t too much of a damper since our plan was to go to the Auckland museum.

While waiting for the family to come meet me, I ran over to forte convenience to buy a box of classic NZ breakfast cereal: Weet-Bix.  It’s really popular here, and I realized that I had never given it a try!

I also got a small container of “super trim” milk.  I will miss the milk lingo!

Weet-Bix is packaged in small rectangular bars of wheat.

Stick ’em in a bowl!

And pour some milk on top!

It soaked it up like a sponge!

It was really mushy and didn’t have much flavor – sort of like cold and mushy oatmeal.  I added some cinnamon which made it taste better, and I bet it would be so delicious with fresh fruit!

For breakfast dessert, I had a few Anzac biscuits.

Anzac stands for the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, and apparently they created these coconut-oatmeal-honey cookies when they were sick of gruel.  They are delicious!

Once my family arrived, we walked in the rain to the museum.  That museum is huge and we pretty much got to see all of it!  The first part is a historical part with lots of artifacts from the other native Polynesian islands.  There is also a huge “Maori” court with lots of artifacts from the native Maori people, too.  I love all the carvings.  There is also a gorgeous model Marae.

We had fun at the old school house exhibit!

And the lolly area!

We poked around in a gift shop after lunch, and Dad decided to play dress up like a Maori chief in a faux-kiwi fur coat.

While we were enjoying the natural history portion of the museum, David interrupted us while looking at a moa to go experience the volcanic eruption simulator.

It was similar to the earthquake simulator we experienced in Te Papa, but a lot more suspenseful!

We went back to check out all the beautiful, natural history of the land, coast and sea of New Zealand.

Vintage NZ fashions

Kauri Tree and Kiwi Bird


Blue Penguin ❤

Kauri Tree Gum Sap


Weta - Cave Crickets

To finish our day at the museum, we checked out some of the war and social history of New Zealand.

We all had such a great time at the Auckland Museum, it’s really interactive and has a lot of fantastic and interesting stuff to see!

Re-Created 19th Century Queen Street

We took the bus to the mall to get a few more last-minute souvenirs and then we stopped in Father Ted’s for our last beer.

I spent a LOT of nights there, and I am really going to miss the place!

Our plan for dinner was to get take out and have a picnic in the room. We stopped at forte for some candy bars we can’t get in America and some cheese and crackers appetizers.

It was so sweet saying goodbye to the cashier I’ve made friends with!  We placed our orders for some sushi and Malaysian noodle stir fries.  Then we had a picnic family-style in my apartment!

We also got a bottle of Villa Maria Sauvingon Blanc

to celebrate with dessert.

Toffee Pop Candy Bar

We ended up getting a beer pong tournament started (using water cups of course)

I was really impressed by Sam and Mom’s abilities!

Sam and David made a great team.

Mom and Dad were the champions of the night!

What a fun last night in Auckland!

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Filed under Life

Jenkins Family in Auckland: Thursday

Our original plan for Thursday was to hike Rangitoto, a volcanic island just a ferry ride away with lava caves.  But due to a forecast of rain, we ditched those plans and decided to spend the day shopping and hanging out in Auckland.

I got all of my own souvenir shopping done, plus I got the rest of the gifts I needed to pick up.  It made me feel really sad that I am actually leaving New Zealand where I am not going to have access to the amazing culture, but it also made me really excited to get home and share everything that I have experienced with my loved ones!

We shopped until we dropped, and we dropped ourselves right back into Brew on Quay, the first pub that I took the family to last week!  We got to sit in this really cool wood-paneled room.

We all got some of their fantastic pub food and the boys got a few beers.  Everyone agreed that it was one of their favorite places in New Zealand, what with all the yummy food, great beer selection, and great wine selection, too!

My mom is a simple woman at times.  All she has been asking to do since we got here is go to the grocery store.  We finally made it to one yesterday!  She was so happy to find boxes of Oaty Slices, a type of granola bar they have been giving us in the hotel.  She was also amazed to see that they do not refrigerate their eggs!

We also had fun looking at all of the booze and candy, of course.

After grocery shopping, we stopped by my apartment for a bit to say hello to Hannah who had her last day of school today.  The semester really is over!  We were sad that she couldn’t come along with us, though, because she had to work on an essay for her online summer class.  She’s been working hard her last few weeks here!

We went back to the hotel to relax a bit before dinner.  Our plan was to go to the Auckland Fish Market, which has a few restaurants that stay open late on Thursday nights.  We tried and failed to get the last free shuttle, but we just called a cab and we were there in no time.

Sadly, when we got there the retail market area was closed, so we didn’t get to look at all of the fresh fish that there was to offer.  Also, we observed to fun-looking courtyard, but since it is winter, everyone was seated inside.

There was a traditional Asian restaurant, but we chose to go to the Bistro Cafe because I had my heart set on some paella.

The paella was full to bursting with the freshest fish I have ever tasted!  Mussels, shrimp, crayfish, and these long skinny things that were mysterious yet delicious!

My favorite dishes are made of rice (my favorite grain), veggies (the life-force of my being), seafood (that I could never give up), and a light but creamy and delicious tomato-y sauce!  So  I guess paella is my favorite food?  On top of chocolate?  And bread?  And everything else that I claim to be my favorite food?

We had a good time enjoying our seafood and the live jazz band.

But who really likes mediocre jazz blasting in your ear all night?  The food made up for it though!  Which is all I care about 😉

Can you tell from this picture that I annoy my brother at times?  lol

We took a cab back to the hotel, but stopped in a convenient store to get some ice cream bars, which we enjoyed while watching some pretty horrible TV.

I went back home pretty early (they let me walk, yay!) because I wanted to get some packing done.  And I am pretty much as packed as I could be right now!  My only concern is that my bags may be slightly heavier than they typically allow, but we’ll find out on Saturday I guess~


Filed under Life

Jenkins Family in Auckland: Wednesday

Despite our late night last night, I hit the day running this morning!  I had some errands to run, namely returning library books and making arrangements to close my bank account.  The employees at the National Bank have provided me with the best customer service.  It made my complicated requirements a breeze!

For breakfast, we went to David’s favorite place in New Zealand other than the Coromandel Hot Spring:  PieMania.  The little bakery has little more than pies, but their selection of flavors is anything from minimal!  I got a veggies pie which was full of all different kinds of veggies!  I was wowed!

After our very Kiwi brekkie, we took a bus to One Tree Hill to spend another day with decent weather outside.  After two very helpful bus drivers, we made it to One Tree Hill Domain. Everyone had so much fun feeling like a kid again on the zip line.  It’s really pretty thrilling!

The lucky family got to see some New Zealand sheep in their natural habitat!

Though One Tree Hill is steeper than Mount Head, the path is paved so it was an easy journey to the top.  There were a bunch of runners showing off, passing us on the way up.  I admire them, so!

We made it to the summit of One Tree Hill at our own pace, however, and took in the spectacular views!

Though it was a bit cloudy, we could still get clear views as far as the eye could see!

Next, we walked over to Cornwall Park, another reserved area of nature on the other side of the park.  Mom kept marveling at how this little bit of nature looked just like the English countryside but with wonky trees could be right by the Auckland CBD!  (What does CBD stand for, anywho?)  I had originally planned to go for a light lunch at the historic tea house in the middle of the park, but unluckily for us, they were not offering their light menu while we were there.  We stopped in the information center for some directions, but we were pleasantly surprised when she offered us a glass of water and a chance to watch their historical video on the area.  It was a great time to refresh and learn a bit!

We took the bus to the Brickhouse, the cafe I took David to as soon as he got to Auckland.  The family thought it was a really cool place, too, and I got the most darling little soy capuccino:

After our little lunch (I had a ginger loaf slice and a chocolate chip cookie :)) we got ready for our big night: dinner in the Sky Tower!  I changed my outfit twice, but it’s not everyday you dine in a fine restaurant at the top of the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere!

When we arrived at the Sky Tower, we made our way 50+ stories up to the main observation deck.  We took in the spectacular views as the sun went down.

We could see for miles and miles, in all directions. We were pretty lucky because right when we got there, we got to see someone jump!  You can pay to get dropped down from the top of the tower, but it’s not as cool as bungy jumping 😉

Parts of the floor were glass!  It’s a long way down!

When our reservation was ready, we made our way up to the Orbit Revolving Restaurant.  We were seated on the outer edge of the restaurant,t which revolved around once per hour.  Basically, it was awesome.

I was excited to see Villa Maria wine on the menu, the very first winery I went to!  Mom and I got a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, which was delightfully fruity!

We also got a few appetizers.  This grilled calamari wasn’t battered and fried like it normally is, and I loved the light, fresh flavor.

We also got some kind of cheese in filo:

And Dad shared some of his mussels with me:

But the real star of the show was my dinner.  I was so happy to not only see vegetarian meals clearly labeled, but vegan meals clearly labeled!  I went with the vegan shitake and oyster mushroom risotto, with a pea salad on top.  It was to die for!

The view to the left of our table wasn’t bad either.  Look at my city all alight at night!

I wasn’t going to get dessert, but when I saw a vegan rhubarb and apple crisp, with coconut oat crumble and rasperry blood orange sorbet, I just couldn’t say no.

We all had such amazing meals and we will NEVER forget what a cool restaurant experience it was.  A once-in-a-lifetime deal, for sure!

After poking around the gift shop…


the family let me walk to my apartment.  I am having such a wonderful time with my family, but I am also really super anxious to get home!


Filed under Life

Jenkins Family in Auckland: Monday & Tuesday

It just keeps getting better, even though the weather just keeps getting worse!  We woke up to yet another day of rain, but it wasn’t too much of a downer since we had planned on spending most of the day in the Aquarium.

Instead of attempting to get lunch in the Aquarium Cafe like we did at the zoo, I picked up some Subway sandwiches for us all to have in the aquarium.  After a quick mooched breakfast from the hotel, we headed over to the Sky Tower to pick up the free Shark Bus shuttle to the aquarium.

The aquarium was smaller than we had expected, but it had a lot of really nice exhibits!  One of the main attractions is the Antarctic exhibit.  They had a sample of the water, which you could stick your hand in and see how long you could keep it in there.  It was freaking freezing!

Guess who lived in the Antarctic exhibit!  Penguins, of course!

After learning a bit about what it was like to explore Antarctica back in the day (it was really hard)…

We got to hop in a Snow Cat mobile and take a ride through Antarctica to visit the penguins!

They have created a habitat just like the real natural Antarctic environment with not only sunrises and sunsets, but seasonal shifts as well!  This keeps the penguins happy, healthy, and mating 😉

After we saw the penguins, it was nearly time for the Stingray Encounter.  An aquarium lady came into the stingray tank to feed the 3 stingrays, which were 2-meters big!  They were so cute, swimming up to her because they knew she had treats, especially the biggest one, Phoebe.  The science lady told us about how stingray get a really bad rap because of their huge, painful stingers, but really they are quite passive and only attack when they feel threatened.  They looked so graceful flapping along in the water, too.

The Aquarium is built underwater. Here is a lookout onto rainy Misison's Bay!

I know it is built mainly for kids, but some of my best memories from the aquarium took place in the Interactive room.  We had some pretty hilarious photo shoots:

We’re going down together!

Why do some of my family members seemed to have accepted their fate?

I also challenged Sam to a penguin waddle race.

She won, but I think it’s because I forgot my wings 😉

The next best part of the museum was the other main attraction, the tunnel through the shark tank…with moving sidewalk!!!

We saw a few different variations of sharks, and also a few different views of those sharks.  For the record, shark teeth are scary, and shark butts are gross.

There were a few other more conventional fish tanks with enormous lobsters, wimpy-whimsical sea horses, piranhas which are capable of reducing a horse to a skeleton in one minute, colorful fish straight out of Nemo.

After enjoying our Subways in the cafe, we waited in the freezing rain for the shuttle.  Welcome to sunny Aotearoa, Sam!

Our crew:

Once back in Auckland, even though we were frozen to the bone, we set off to find my family some Hokey Pokey to try.  Hokey Pokey is a flavor of ice cream in New Zealand with a butterscotch swirl and toffee balls.  I don’t even like it, but when you come to New Zealand, you have to try it.  We stopped in one hoity-toity place that didn’t have it, then another gelato place that was waaaay overpriced, so we decided to stick with what you know and find the place Hannah and I originally tried it, even though we knew it didn’t have an inside.  It is a small shop near the cruise ship pier owned by a very sweet old Asian woman.  She gave us huge cups of the stuff (well, I got cookies and cream).

Dad, David, and Hannah all went back home, while Mom, Sam, and I ventured on to K’Rd to do some thrift shopping.  K’Rd is short for Karangahape Road which is the heart of the hipster part of town.  They have a lot of consignment stores, or “op shops” as they call them, and since my mom is a vintage pyrex treasure hunter and my sister is a funky vintage clothing fanatic, we hit up every single op shop of K’Rd.

I was not expecting to, but I actually got three shirts!  At Paper Bag Princess, everything is always buy two, get one free.  I found a hilarious tshirt that I will share next time I wear it, and two funky-flowy tops that will be great for transforming my yoga clothes into street clothes.

Sadly for my mom, she didn’t find a single piece of pyrex!  Pyrex has an Australian version called Aggie, so we thought she might be able to find some since NZ is closer to Australia than Philadelphia is, but no dice 😦  We still had a lot of fun looking around!

After a long day of shopping, I needed another feijoa spritzer…

…before taking a cab to Joy Bong Thai for dinner (Miranda, I think it was you who recommended this place to me!)

It was a really nice thai restaurant and we basically had the place to ourselves!  We got a few appetizers to start.  I loved the vegetarian spring rolls and coconut shrimp, but I wasn’t too crazy about the money bags (they were too meaty). Also, everything was deep-fried, which I felts was unnecessary, but the flavors were light and zesty and the sauces were great, too!

Mom and I got a glass of Sauv Blanc.  I think she likes it, too!

(She’s not drunk, she just doesn’t know how to pose for pictures ;))

We each chose a meal as our own, but also dedicated ourselves to a family-style policy – all plates went in the center, and all meals were tried and shared!

I got a ginger veggies stir-fry, which was my favorite dish on the table!  I love tofu when it’s cooked right 🙂  David got a spicy green curry that was just delightful.  Mom got prawn pad thai, which had great flavor, but seriously needed some more veggies.  Dad didn’t choose something from the menu – he just asked if they could make him lemongrass beef, which of course they could.  Though I don’t like beef, it had great flavor!  I can’t even remember what Sam got, but I know that it came with Thai sticky rice, which is wrapped in rice paper.  It was quite yummy!

Interesting chairs, huh?  I loved the restaurant, which was so much bigger than I had originally thought!  It had a huge bar and two fireplaces in the back!  We did learn that it’s not Joy Bong Thai anymore – it’s Monarchy.  Whatever the name, it was a great place to go for dinner!

After dinner, we went to the Thirsty Dog, a pub one block away that I had often run by.  We realized that it was open mic night, and I remembered getting a recommendation back in Burlington to go there just for open mic nights!  Serendipity!!!   We all agreed that our time spent in Thirsty Dog listening to the musicians will be one of our most cherished memories from the trip.

About 20 musicians of all ages and makes sat in a circle with a plethora of instruments: guitars, Celtic flutes, drums, cellos, fiddles, ukeleles, etc.  Each musician took a turn performing a song, and if anyone else knew it, they were welcome to chime in.  Mostly, they played folk music with an Irish twist 🙂  They were so collaborative and it was a such a good community of musicians.  It was beautiful and relaxing.  I could have stayed there forever.

But of course, we called a cab home.  We had a wonderfully friendly driver, Meipo, from Samoa.  She was such a good woman and chatted with us all the way home.  My Dad gave her 20 bucks after she dropped them off, but by the time we got to my apartment, the meter read $21.  I tried to give her two dollars, but she straight-up refused.  I wanted to give her a hug goodbye!  What a sweetheart!

On Tuesday, we woke up to the most beautiful weather since my family got here!  It was sunny and crisp, a perfect day for a day trip to Devonport, my favorite satellite town just a ferry ride away.  Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that my camera battery was dead, so I’m sorry but I have no pictures from Tuesday!  I hope my words paint a picture.

When we arrived in Devonport, we spent some time exploring the town’s shops.  There are some great home devour and jewelry stores with really unique and beautiful things in them.  After shopping for a bit, we went to the Stone Oven for lunch.  It’s a lovely bakery and cafe, which resulted in me panicking with indecisiveness over what to order!  I settled with a mushroom and spinach pie – I’m trying to eat as much stuff that I know I won’t be able to get in the USA, like pies!  After lunch, we took a trip over to Devonport Chocolates to try a few for dessert.  I got the chocolate of the month, which was an almond and date white chocolate, as well as an almond cream.  It’s not the best chocolate in the world, but enjoying the flavorful truffles by the beach in New Zealand with my family wasn’t too bad 😉

Next, I dragged my family on our first hike!  We explored Mount Head and all of the spooky tunnels and caves.  My Dad thought it was really interesting and he really enjoyed it!  I was glad because it was Father’s Day in the US, after all!  We got some great pictures that may or may not appear on the Christmas card, as well as some hilarious jumping shots.  They never get old. After descending the hill, which the family agrees what not so bad, we checked out the Navy Museum.  My mom’s dad was in the Navy, so I knew she would enjoy looking around.  The NZ Navy has such an interesting, peaceful yet powerful history.

Once back in the city, we stopped at a little diner-y cafe for a pick-me-up before getting ready to meet Hannah for dinner.  We had plans to got to Elliot Stables, which is essentially an upscale food court.  It was great because everyone could find something that interested them!  A new Indian place had opened there, which had so many great vegetarian and even vegan options.  Hannah and I split a peanut tofu dish with sweet thai chili sauce.  We also split a bruscetta from an Italian place with artichokes, roasted red peppers, arugula, and mushrooms on some herb ricotta spread.  Sammy was happy with a crepe, mom was  pleased with her tomato veggie Risotto, and the boys got some German sausages and mashed potatoes.  Oh!  And all us big kids shared a pitcher of sangria from the Spanish place.

But our night was just warming up!  It was trivia night and the “Modern Family” had their eyes on the prize!  We did pretty well, but I was mostly impressed with my families ability to stay out so late!  But really, the questions were pretty hard, but it’s always worth it for those ones you can figure out!  It was also Hannah and my last night of trivia, so we were pretty nostalgic.  We had such a great time all those weeks.  I am really going to miss it!

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Jenkins Family in Auckland: Sunday

After enjoying more hotel breakfast, we climbed onto a bus heading to Auckland Zoo for a day of animalia – despite the rainy forecast.

We wasted no time once entering the zoo – we made a bee line for the Kiwi habitat to get a glimpse of the native bird. I think we were really lucky because we saw not one, but TWO kiwis in the habitat!  And one was running around along the glass like crazy!  Kiwis are not only nocturnal, they are endangered, so seeing one in the wild is extremely rare.  Some people think they are a bit silly, which they are, but I think those almost-hairy, chicken-like, flightless cuties are precious.  It’s pretty special that the fam got to see the official bird of New Zealand!

After checking off “kiwi sighting” from everyone’s New Zealand bucket list, we headed towards the Africa habitat, which was really beautiful.

The walkway is built above the field, so you are able to look down upon the giraffes, zebra, and ostriches as they roam around their prideland.  David has always held a grudge against me since I got to feed a giraffe once, but he decided to continue exploring rather than waiting in the huge queue with a bunch of toddlers 😉


We saw a lot of other African animals, like lions, tigers, and cheetahs, but we also saw less vicious ones, like flamingos!  I have a soft spot for these guess since they are so naturally spunky and good at balancing.  They would make great yoga buddies.

My Aunt Paula told me that I had better see some Kangaroos, and though I think she was confusing New Zealand with Australia, I made sure to go in the Aussie Walkabout section of the zoo.   I let David take most of the good photos since he had that really nice camera, but I did get this shot of a bright blue bird we befriended.  Seriously, we were talking to him!  He was gabbering on about something, and other birds were reciprocating our “hello”s.  It was really cool!  Plus, they were squawking so loudly that it hurt my ears!

But the birds weren’t the only ones making a racket!  We saw some seriously territorial monkeys screeching and yelling so loudly.  Apparently you can hear them from a kilometer away!  The amazing thing is that their throats expand like a bubble to make louder sounds, and we got up-close and personal with the thing.  It actually started to make me anxious, it was so powerful!  But we saw cute moneys, too, lots of adorable little babies!  Plus we saw little spider monkeys playing in their natural playground, and huge orangutangs snuggling under blankets.  The oldest resident at the zoo is a chimpanzee who was born in the ’50s!  I could tell by watching her spoon out food from a jar that she was very wise 😉

Another famous resident of the zoo was their one and only elephant.  We saw them taking her for a walk around the grounds.  Isn’t that crazy????  But not only elephants walk around the grounds, plenty of chickens, roosters, and pukekos run around the grounds.  It felt like a farm-meets-zoo!  Though we got rained on for a good part of the day (there was a perfect storm mid-day: a huge downpour right a lunchtime.  It was like a zoo in the cafeteria, and only by some miracle were we able to get a table!) our trip to the zoo was superb.  Not only did we get to see so many different animals, and see them doing so many interesting things, but we got to interact with them, too!

After a stop in the gift shop, we took the bus home and said bye to Hannah for the day.  We rested for a bit in the hotel while watching Avatar, which I had never seen, and actually reminded me a lot of New Zealand!  We also broke into one of the fruit liquors we had bought in Coromandel.  We made feijoa wine spritzers.  YUMMY!

We had planned on hiking Mount Eden for the views and the sacred, symmetrical crater, but we scrapped that idea due to the rain (and some sleepy family members).  We mostly wanted to hike Mount Eden for it’s proximity to Galbraiths’ Alehouse, a microbrewery that David had found online and had caught my eye many times while passing it.  So we took a cab there anyway.

One of my dreams came true at Galbraiths, I got a tasting tray!!!

I loved getting to taste them all, and my favorites were a really malty bitter and organic pilsner.  I ordered the pilsner with my dinner since its a bit lighter in the belly and I’m afraid my beer belly is growing!  They had a good-sounding menu, and I was amazed to see tofu as an appetizer!  I knew right away that I would hardly ever find tofu in a pub again, so of course I ordered it.

The sesame-soy tofu was great with tempura veggies on top.  The family seemed to enjoy their meals, too.  My Dad even said their fries were among the top-10 best ever in his life!  And that’s saying something!  The service was great and we loved the no-frills yet quality atmosphere.  It was a really fun night!  Everyone was happy, including me!

After dinner, we took a cab home and stopped into the convenice store for some Cookie Time cookies.  The original flavor boasts “New Zealand’s favorite cookie” and I happen to love them warmed up!

We got one of each flavor: white chocolate, triple chocolate, original chocolate chunk, and oat apricot.  Mom prepared the cookies by nuking them in the microwave and cutting them into 5 even pieces.

She’s gotten good at that over the years.  David hadn’t complained enough today due to the awesome zoo and alehouse, lol, so he complained about the cookies but everyone else loved them.  I was in heaven with my hot Cookie Time cookie slices while watching Happy Go Lucky on TV, one of my favorite movies about a quirky British primary school teacher learning to drive.

I insisted on walking home, but since my Mom and Dad love me to a seriosuly-protective state, they forced me into a cab.  It feels good to be loved so much!  Also, it was Father’s Day here in New Zealand and though we didn’t do anything all that special just for him, I think my Dad has some pretty seriously unforgettable memories of Father’s Day 2011 🙂  ❤  Thank you for everything, Daddy!  I LOVE YOU!!!!

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