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New Zealand: The Second Time

13 Feb

NZ 2.0 was a road trip with Pops this past December.  We rented a camper van and drove a one-camper-van sprint car race around NZ (3,706 kms in 16 days on one-lane, windy, and at times unpaved, NZ roads).


Our camper van at one of our camp sites. Yup, just pulled right off the road.

My Dad would wake up atbefore the crack of dawn and get on the road while I remained conked out in the back.  I was able to sleep through the turns he took at mach 2, which propelled me across the back of the van from one window to the other.  But I did wake up, at least twice, to heated conversation from the front.  Both times, I popped my head up to discover that my Dad had picked up some hippie, multiply-pierced, rainbow-colored-mophead hitchhiker wearing those pants with the ankle-level crotches.  The first guy had a freaking ice ax (presumably for climbing?!).  [But hey, homeless hatchet-wielding hitchhikers have been saving the day lately.]  And the second chick had a bull ring through her nose.  My Dad was able to convince neither of the dangers inherent in socialism.

Other than picking up hitchhikers, we did bunches of low-key activities, like luging, swimming with the seals, alpine horse trekking, canyon jetboating, helicoptering over glaciers, and blackwater rafting (i.e., whitewater rafting in a cave).  We also did some snoozer activities (gondola-riding, geothermal wonderland, whale watching, wine tasting, stargazing, street markets, and swing bridge-ing).






I road a bumpy-butt boat for 3 1/2 hours to get this shot.

I rode a bumpy-butt boat for 3 1/2 hours to get this shot.




What is my Dad — the little white speck on the left — doing in this picture?

This was another of our camp sites.

This was another of our camp sites.

NZ 3.0 will be taking place circa 2017.  We are planning a camper van caravan with my family (the Van Damme clan) and John Spicer.  All are welcome!

New Zealand: The First Time

13 Feb

Last December, my Dad and I road tripped New Zealand.  But it wasn’t my first time around the place.

My first time was 5 years ago.  I spent 9 weeks there, the best 4 of which were with my cuz Kellie.  We had the time of our lives.

Kellie's New Zealand! 034p

Kellie and I both journaled religiously, but I’m too scared to crack that baby open.  So let’s just review my pictures, shall we?

I jumped off a bridge:


We bought a car (a 1984 Nissan Bluebird).  Which we ultimately crashed:

Kellie's New Zealand! 229

Kellie's New Zealand! 228

We e-mailed home from our iPhones sketchy old-school internet cafes:

Kellie's New Zealand! 129

We went to a bar/club (?) called “Scruffy’s” (?), apparently multiple times:

Kellie's New Zealand! 198p

We learned how to go #2:

Kellie's New Zealand! 040

We saw our first pet deer:

Kellie's New Zealand! 235p

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My Dad Was a Fighter Pilot, Okay?!

5 Feb

Does anyone remember the huge-ass, incredibly-scary suspension bridge that I crossed when I was all by myself on the freaking Tibet-Nepal border?

The one that stretched over a 200-meter gorge?!

And was strung with prayer flags so the Nepalese people would dare cross it?!

In case you need a refresher:

For the record: I crossed this bridge on my first attempt.

See the bridge in the distance?  That gorge is pretty deep, huh.


Sure glad we have those prayer flags.


For the record, I crossed this bridge on my first attempt.

Okay, well I spent this past December in New Zealand, where my Dad joined me for a 16-day, >3,000 kilometer road trip.  At one point, we stopped at a teeny-weeny little swing bridge.  And this is what happened:

After the tape stopped rolling, things got even funnier.  A guy behind me, who was waiting to get on the bridge,  asked me what was going on.  Of course, I helpfully was like, “Oh sorry, my Dad is just scared of the bridge.  This is his third attempted crossing.  I’m hoping he makes it by Christmas.”

To which my Dad puffs up his chest, looks him straight in the eyeballs, and gruffly — and entirely seriously – snarls at him: “I was a fighter pilot, okay?!”


I then fell overboard.

Proof that my Dad was a fighter pilot.

Proof that my Dad was a fighter pilot, okay.

My Dad (far right) in Desert Storm.  Note the sign on the chalkboard: "Do not eat any ham slice MRE.  No Good."

Additional proof from Desert Storm.  The blue note on the chalkboard, left by “Carbo” says: “Do not eat any ham slice MRE. No Good.”  Sounds like an important part of the mission brief.

P.S. As I’m writing this post, I mention it to my Dad across the room.  He is now ranting about the consequences if I “skewer [him] as some farcical character in [my] stupid-dog-ass blog.”  Oops.