Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sailing the Open Seas

Alright, we had a great day of sailing the not-so-high seas today. It really was an amazing experience, from the weather to the scenery to the great food and friends and even sailing and crewing the boat ourselves! We signed up for a 6 hour tour on the Gungha II captained by Mike. We were picked up at the wharf in Russell a little after 10:00 and Courtney almost immediately took the wheel while a few of us others raised the main sail and got us moving. Mike let us do a lot of the work, which was fun and not really work – raising, lowering and adjusting the sails, steering, etc... We weren't but 30 minutes out when we encountered our first pod of playful dolphins! There wasn't much in the way of acrobatics, but they're still amazing and entertaining to watch. The whole pod, 5 or 6 of them, would swim along with us right under the bow of the boat. It was really cool being only a few feet away! We saw a second pod a little while later too. We anchored up in a beautiful bay and went ashore for a hike up to the top of one of the islands for amazing views. We got to kayak around a little bit before lunch back on the boat and then we started to make our way back to town. Mike was a great guy to talk to. He and his wife are expats from Victoria, BC that have been running these day sailing trips in NZ for 16 years now. He typically runs from October to May in NZ and then hops up to Fiji for the off season. Not a bad way to spend your time I suppose – I'm thinking of a future career...

Who's the Boss?

Scene: Courtney and Jeremy walking down Ponsonby Road in Auckland, making their way back to the hostel one afternoon.

Jeremy: OK, I think we need to make sure that we're both paying attention as we walk around. I've been doing all of the navigating and you're not even paying attention. I think you should be in charge for a while.

Courtney: Ok, give me the map and I'll be the boss.

Jeremy: Here you go.

Courtney: Call me Tony Danza!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fun with Foreigners, Part 1 of Many...

Here we are in Russell for a few nights, which is a sleepy coastal town in Northland, packed with charm and beautiful views. So far we've stayed at three holiday parks, which are like big, fancy trailer parks. They range from simple, grassy lots with basic kitchens, toilets, and tent sites, to sprawling, meticulously landscaped grounds with pools, hot tubs, flat screen TV lounges, and anything else you can imagine. So far all have cabins and condo type spaces you can rent in addition to tent sites, and many house permanent residents in their 'caravans' which could be a shabby trailer or a pimped out RV.

Our first night out on the open road led us to a holiday park in Mangawhai. We found a beautiful spot to pitch our tent, right on the river and surrounded by flowers and bushes. It was very peaceful and quiet but WET!! It feels like we're still in Oregon with the amount of spring rain we've been getting. Each day gets warmer and sunnier though....summer is definitely on its way. The lush landscape reminds us a bit of home as well, but with a touch of tropical Hawaiian flora and fauna thrown in. It's breathtaking.

We continued up the east coast toward the Bay of Islands and spent the last two nights in Waitangi, near the Waitangi National Reserve. We met several fun friends at the holiday park there, played cards each night and taught them all how to play Asshole (you Oregon Staters know that game!!). We drank far too much wine but had a blast with them for a few days. There were several people from Holland, a few Germans, a funny Irish guy, and a hilarious girl from the Czech Republic. They were all several years younger but have traveled so much! So hey to Erik, Monique, Dan, Meerka, Sebastian, Irina, Luuk and Frank! It's amazing to hear, at typically only 23 or 24 years old, about the experiences they've already had. It was also invigorating to get a perspective from them on the world view of America. No more late night politics talks though! We hope to run into them again as we continue our travels.

We've been doing quite a bit of hiking through all sorts of terrain....into caves, up and down to waterfalls, through Mangrove forests at low tide....to fields where calalillies grow wild and get enormous! We'll include a few pics below but will try and get more onto Flickr soon. Tomorrow we take a sailing trip around the Bay of Islands. More to come on that soon!

Our Newest Addition

We'd like to introduce our new family member! His name is Ernie P. Dodger (pronounced Dodja). Ernie for when he's being cute, Dodja for when he's sassy, and the P comes from his license plate. He's a Toyota Platz (anyone ever heard of such a model??) and he's very spunky. We've both gotten accustomed to driving on the opposite side of the car, but driving on the opposite side of the road is another story completely. No scrapes yet, but only after a few attempts from Jer to drive us off the road. He's having a hard time getting used to his bodily position being so far to the right in terms of the lane. (I, on the other hand, have a perfect driving record but I won't let him proof this before posting as he may say otherwise!) Driving in the country is no problem since you're just going, going, but handling all the traffic and roundabouts in the towns and cities really gets the blood flowing!

Ernie will be a part of the family for the next month as we continue to tour both islands. He's packed to the brim with groceries and gear, and we've gotten lazy enough that we set up the tent next to him and use his boot as our closet!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I think I can get used to this....

Well, we made it!! Survived the 22 hours of traveling and ended up in pretty good shape. Lookin' a little haggard, but in good spirits. We've both managed to escape jet lag it seems...though we've joined my dad in the old fogies club since we've been in bed by 9pm both nights! I'm really loving the pace of life so far though....we wake up naturally with no alarm, get cleaned up and make breakfast, venture out for the day... Take a break from walking around to sit in the park and smell the flowers while we watch the field get prepped for what we think is a cricket match. Or sip coffee in a cute little cafe and people watch or write in our journals. It's all so leisurely and relaxing. I guess that's how vacation is supposed to be!

Tonight is our last night in Auckland. We pick up our Welly (rental car) tomorrow morning and hit the road, heading north toward the Bay of Islands. We were sure to get one with a boot (trunk) so that our backpacks won't be exposed and entice any sticky fingers. I'm very excited that we chose the Summer Combo package which includes a table and chairs, a hammock, a solar shower, and a chilly bin (cooler). We'll be all set! But I'm definitely going to miss our cozy hostel with the comfy queen sized bed, in-room fireplace, and blazing hot showers! The roughing it begins...

We've been learning the language quickly here in New Zealand....one of my favorites is trundler (shopping cart). We've found the holy land of grocery stores in Auckland and plan to fill our trundler to the brim tomorrow before heading out (then tranferring our loot to the chilly bin, of course). We've been eating well so far with the highlight being the fresh fish we picked up from the local fish market: Tarakihi and Gurnard. Both sweet and flaky and fantastic!

We've explored all over Auckland and its neighborhoods, but it really is just like any other big city. I was definitely surprised to find that the majority of people are Asian! Didn't expect that. It'll be all Kiwi surfer types once we hit the coast, right??

Attaching some hilarious shots of campaign posters near our hostel...we have two verandahs overlooking a gorgeous park....we wake up to chirping birds each morning, and then we have these next door. They don't seem to take their campaigning nearly as serious as in the US!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Off off and away!

Hello friends and family!

As most of you have heard by now, we are planning a year plus excursion around the world. We've been talking about it for years and are actually making it happen! Tickets are purchased, house is rented, backpacks ready for stuffing. The big departure is set for October 7th at 7:15pm. AAHHHH! Just under a week to go until we're dirty and smelly and seeing amazing sights!

We've set up a travel blog where you can track our progress, view pictures, and send us messages. We'll post pictures and written updates, as well as a map showing our whereabouts....where in the world are Courtney and Jeremy?? The address is www.buddsabroad.com. If you want to contact us directly, we'll be checking email regularly: jeremy.buddress@gmail.com and courtney.buddress@gmail.com. We've also set up a Skype account for those of you techy types to keep up with us on....we have yet to figure out how to use it though!

To answer the usual questions we've been getting....we've rented the house to a mother and daughter who just moved to town from Ashland. We're confident that they will take great care of things and that the house will be in good hands. Our cat Sasha will be temporarily adopted by our friends Tanan and Michael, who have an older male cat. We're sure they will get along swimmingly! Courtney's car (2005 Acura TL - great shape, low miles - SHAMLESS PLUG!) is yet to sell - unfortunate timing with our economy - so let us know if you're interested! Our last day of work was last Friday, the 26th. It's so crazy to think we're off the grid for at least a year! The plan is to be gone for 12 months and possibly as long as 15. If we can manage to make the funds last that long, we'll meet up with family and friends for Christmas/New Year's in Paris!

The first stop is New Zealand. We have a one way ticket to Auckland, the first 3 nights booked at a nice family-run hostel, and a car rented for touring the country for about a month. From there we'll move on to Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, SE Asia, China, India, maybe down into Africa, a little bit of the Middle East, and all over Eastern Europe. We'll dip into Western Europe just a bit, meeting up with Courtney's family in France at the end of June. Our itinerary is pretty bare-bones so that we have the freedom to take other travelers' advice, veer off course, stay longer if we fall in love with a place, or just go wherever the wind takes us! We'll stay in hostels and camp most of the time, but will splurge a bit in places where the dollar still holds value. :)

We'd love to have visitors along the way, so let us know if you're interested in meeting up somewhere exotic! We also welcome any advice on places to stay/things to see/friends to meet up with/couches to crash on, etc! Other than that, we've officially changed our address so that mail goes to Jeremy's parents (Lee and Jan Buddress) at:

8 Offenbach Place
Lake Oswego, OR 97035

We hope you'll all be well in the coming year... We'll miss you and if we don't see you in a foreign land, we'll have MANY pictures to share in 2010!!

Much love,
Courtney & Jeremy