Launceston, Australia
41° 27' S 147° 10' E
May 19, 2008 18:28
Distance 2426km

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Text written in: English

Starting to Travel Again

Hey everyone!!  I hope y'all are doing great!  I know I have mostly fallen off the face of the earth the last many months. Surprisingly, all the scientist are wrong and the world is, in fact, flat.  It took me awhile to crawl back on.  My last update was when I was just arriving in New Zealand after the long sail across the Pacific.  This update finds me moving on for the first time and I wanted to update everyone on where I am and my upcoming plans.


I arrived in New Zealand and tried working as a barman in a town on the north island called Whangerei (pronounced fung-er-ay).  Wages in New Zealand are notoriously low.  There was no way to save on what I was making so I decided to just travel around the country until something caught my interest.  I spent a month traveling the north island by campervan with a friend I met from Switzerland.  The north island is amazing with great wineries, whole cities of hot springs with colors that don't look natural, and of course SHEEP!  They really are everywhere.  All of New Zealand only has 4 million people, but about 40 million sheep.


Lisa, my old roommate from Chicago, came to travel with me for a few weeks.  We met up in Wellington (south side of the north island) to watch some rugby and party until dawn before heading on the ferry to the south island.  Wow, is it amazing on this island.  Towering mountains called the Southern Alps combined with ever changing forests of scenery.  Even though the south island is half the size of England (with its 60 million people) only 1 million people live here.  It is an outdoors-man's dream come true.


While we were traveling along the stormy and impressive west coast I found where I would ultimately work for the next six and a half months; as a Glacier Guide on the Franz Josef Glacier.  It would seem I have absolutely no qualifications for this kind of alpine-ish job, other then my good looks and ability to speak with anyone.  Luckily, that is all they required since they give you a month of paid training before anyone can entrust their life to you.


After traveling around the rest of the south island for a couple months I returned to the little town of Franz Josef (population supposedly somewhere between 300 and 1500) to settle in for the southern summer.  As a guide I was walking (sometimes with a 45 pound pack) around 7-10 miles everyday while swinging a miners pick ax (we called them ice axes) about 1000 times.  Very physically demanding, but a ton of fun.  Through many of my co-workers I got into ice climbing, rock climbing, flying over the handle bars while downhill mountain biking, and even minor mountaineering.  After about 4 months I even knocked off my first true mountaineering feat by climbing Mount Maltke using glacier travel, an alpine hut, and scrambling up some very steep rock chutes.


I even started dating a great young lady named Katelin.  Yes, I did travel half way around the world to meet a girl from the states.  We met in the dorm room when I first arrived in Auckland, but didn't really lead anywhere until Wellington.  Even then, it was many months before I convinced her to join me in Franz Josef  to see how things would go.


Some of you may know I always wanted to include a trip to Antarctica during these travels, but found the cost to be prohibitive.  After talking with a client of mine a trip I found a new way to get down there; by working on the US scientific base, McMurdo Station.  They need support personnel and I thought I would try throwing my hat in for one of these highly competitive positions for next (southern hemisphere) summer.  I was selected!  I will deploy as a General Assistant (essentially cover the chef by cooking if he is sick or sweep the steps of snow after a big storm; whatever is needed) in either September or October.  This, of course, leaves me with very little (on my scale) time to travel before having to work again.


I now find myself starting my travels again in the home of one my favorite Looney Toones characters, the Tasmanian Devil.  So I have just arrived in Tasmania, Australia.  I plan to travel here for a week before shooting up the east coast of Australia to meet back up with Katelin somewhere near Sydney.  I really want to experience some new cultures so my tour of Oz will be a short one month.  When we get to Darwin on the north coast we will try and get a sail boat out to Indonesia.  From there I will just have to see how far I make it into Southeast Asia before having to return to New Zealand to deploy WAY down under.


Since it is pretty clear that I will not be getting back to writing about Central America I will start unlocking the photos I have from back then.  I can only hope I will soon get a chance to upload the amazing photos from sailing the South Pacific and New Zealand.  You can also see some more recent photos on my account if you join the service and add me as a friend.