Sunday, April 30, 2006

Quaint English Garden Couple — Yours for $39.99

While passing through Christchurch, we picked up this nice couple. A good price, really. She’s going to make tea and cookies, while he’s going to tell us what World War II was like.

quaint old people in the conservatory

Other sights from the Christchurch gardens:

flowery flower 1

statue in the light

little pickle cactus patch

hanging pitcher plant

And, finally, a New Zealand paradise duck, which reminds me of kabuki for some reason.

especially colorful duck

(We didn’t actually buy the couple.)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

I Can’t Enjoy My Tea!

Creepy mannequins lurk in the Christchurch museum.

eerie mannequin man

Or, to describe the situation more accurately, the museum displays the hapless humans that its staff has abducted and transformed into mannequins. Because that is how mannequins are made.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Three-Hundred Sixty-Five Degrees

Also spotted in Queenstown: some less-than-inspiring emergency directions.

emergency exit instructions

As if the directions didn’t sound complicated enough already, them being scrawled on the sign in marker certainly didn’t help the situation. Had there have been a fire, we sure would have all perished.

Monday, April 24, 2006

“There Is No Duty on Our Opal”

Spotted in Queenstown:

opal duty

I’m sure they are aware of how it would read. I still wouldn’t buy my opals there. Or, I mean, anywhere. But certainly not the opal emporium whose awnings have a poop joke printed on them.

Bananafish and the Sea Robin

Okay, so I know. I’ve been in California for more than a week, and during this time my blog has sat here, unattended by its keeper and only experiencing a surge in traffic because people have been suddenly able to locate this one provocative picture of indie chanteuse Neko Case on Google image search that I posted some time back. (They don’t remain on the site long.) I guess I had to take a break from posting at this blog because for the past six weeks, it serves as a travel diary and a way for me to keep in touch with people I knew back at home. However, once I set foot again in my homeland, the blog seemed temporarily irrelevant and in need of a reinvention — or at least a quick change back to its form before I left: a web log, or a log of the silly and inconsequential things I do and find on the web. But here’s the problem. In light of the subjects of recent posts — surviving the terrors of the sea and hugging kangaroos, for example — the little things that would have been post-worthy two months ago seemed too trite to mention. It’s a bit of dilemma, you see. After a few days of deliberation, I’ve decided that the best way to continue the life of the Back of the Cereal Box would be to make one more NZ/OZ-related post to cap off the whole trip and close the book on this vacation portion of my life. Thus, I give you the definitive post for all manner of tidbits related to the big NZ/OZ. My ten most-played songs, according to iTunes:
  1. The Features - "The Idea of Growing Old”
  2. A-Ha - "The Sun Always Shines on TV”
  3. The Clash - "Lost in the Supermarket"
  4. Nada Surf - “Indochine”
  5. Teenage Fanclub - “Cells”
  6. Gorillaz - “Dare”
  7. Scissor Sisters - “Laura”
  8. Stephen Malkmus - “Kindling for the Master”
  9. Father Bingo - “Ginger Prince Is Not Shirley Temple”
  10. Aimee Mann - “Pavlov’s Bell”
And, as a contrast, my ten most-played songs before I left, according to an earlier post:
  1. Scissor Sisters - "Laura"
  2. The Bravery - "Hot Pursuit"
  3. Stephen Malkmus - "Kindling for the Master"
  4. Gorillaz - "Dirty Harry"
  5. Yaz - "Situation"
  6. Beck - "Bad Cartridge"
  7. Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra - "Some Velvet Morning"
  8. Soviet - "Candy Girl"
  9. Scissor Sisters - "The Skins"
  10. Electric Six - "Danger! High Voltage"
Songs that I, for better or worse, will now always associate with Australia and New Zealand:
  • “My Humps,” by the Black Eyed Peas
  • “In the Summertime,” by Mungo Jerry
  • “Wonderwall,” by any one with a guitar, apparently
  • “By the Devil (I Was Tempted),” by Blue Mink
  • “Knock Three Times,” by Tony Orlando and Dawn
  • “Hooked on a Feeling,” by Blue Swede
  • “Groove Is in the Heart,” by Deee-Lite, technically, but for the purposes of this list by the Kransky Sisters
  • “Pop Muzik,” by M, but in the same manner by the Kransky Sisters
  • "The Grapefruit Song," by Allen and Grier
Strange, Down Under-specific animals I saw while I was gone:
  • Kangaroos
  • Wallabies
  • PademelonsA single platypus
  • Three or four echidnas
  • Three kiwi birds, plus one kiwi hatchlingMany, many koalas
  • A quoll, which is not to be confused with the koalas
  • A single cassowary
  • a Maori wrasse
  • The most horrifying spider I’ve ever seen
  • My first-ever confirmed cockroach
  • Dingos
  • A wombat named Wilhelmina
  • A tree kangaroo
  • A joey — or at least the arm of one, grasping for life from within his mother’s womb
Animals I did not see, though I have ample proof that they were there:
  • Bedbugs
Animals people asked me to bring back as a present:
  • A duck-billed platypus (for Josh)
  • A sloth (for Sanam, even though I don’t think sloths live in Australia or New Zealand)
  • A sloth bear (for Hasan, even though I don’t think sloth bears live Down Under, either)
  • A wallaby (for Kat)
  • A kangaroo (for April)
  • Not a sloth (for Nate)
[definitely not a sloth ]
  • And for Spencer, the long-promised and long-awaited Wooliam
Here you go, guys. Enjoy. Animal I was most impressed with: Animal I was least impressed with:
  • The bedbugs
Strange animals I ate while I was gone:
  • Kangaroo
  • Crocodile
  • Emu (in burger form)
  • Many types of strange shellfish, some not readily identifiable
Strange British-ish ice cream flavors (ice-cream flavours) I tasted: Strange and amusing place names we drove by or through:
(North Island, New Zealand)
    • Ramarama
    • Tapapa
    • Whakapapa
    • Meanee
    • Mangateretere
    • Waipawa (Don’t say it out loud, you racist.)
(South Island, New Zealand)
    • Hinds
    • Geraldine Flat (who I think I may have gone to high school with)
    • Beautiful Valley
    • Middle Valley (neighbor of Beautiful Valley)
    • Cricklewood
    • Twizel
    • Omarama
    • Bendigo
    • Lower Shotover
    • The Forks
    • Inchbonnie
(Sydney to Blue Mountains area, Australia)
    • Parramatta
    • Blacktown
    • Emu Plains
    • Lapstone (Think about it.)
    • Blaxland
    • Warrimoo
    • Bullaburra
    • Katoomba
    • Zig Zag
(Around the Whitsundays, Australia)
    • Proserpine
    • Bird Island
    • Black Island
    • Dent Island
    • Dumbell Island
    • Dungarra Island
    • Esk Island
    • Fitzalan Island
    • Long Island
    • Lupton Island
    • Perserverance Island
    • Plum Pudding Island
    • Titan Island
    • Wirrainbela Island
(On the drive from Townsville to Carins, Australia)
    • Magnetic Island
    • Frosty Mango (not an actual town, but marked on the map as if it were)
    • Paronella Park
    • Mareemba
    • Mossman (Batman’s long-forgotten archenemy
An amusing place name we did not, sadly, go by:
  • Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu
Places I did not see, regardless of what geography challenged travelmates may have thought:
  • Austria
Ten best things:
  1. Scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef
  2. Bungee jumping at the K Bridge
  3. Hugging the kangaroo
  4. Seeing cousins being more grown-up than I remember them being
  5. Actually seeing things at the Sydney Opera House
  6. Ankle-deep sand at Whitehaven Beach
  7. Larry’s cat, Rat Baby
  8. One word: “Zorb”
  9. The stormy night on the Pacific Star
  10. Mud bath at Hell’s Gate in Rotorua

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I Did What I Did for Maria

No real theme here, but some worthwhile snapshots nonetheless. This is us between Rotorua and Waipukurau. But why do I even give context when your eyes have already drifted down from the text to the photos below?

fantail falls

burnt-out old car 2

kristen driving at sunset

sunset in napier

large ape climbing over a building

And to close off this mismatch, here’s a park fountain that looks like a birthday cake.

birthday cake fountain

This is a backdated post that I wrote in 2010. After putting up the photos from my 2010 trip to New Zealand, I realize that I’d neglected to put up any photos from my 2006 trip. So now I’m putting them up, for posterity’s sake, or something. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Peabirds

Another thing New Zealand had was peacocks — specifically in parking lots. And I’m not too proud to admit that they were as entertaining as anything they paid to see.

peacock 1

peacock 2

peacock chick

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This is a backdated post that I wrote in 2010. After putting up the photos from my 2010 trip to New Zealand, I realize that I’d neglected to put up any photos from my 2006 trip. So now I’m putting them up, for posterity’s sake, or something. Enjoy.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Snapshots from the End of the World

The appropriately named Hell’s Gate offered us scenic beauty, if you take “scenic beauty” to meat sulfur-scorched earth the likes of which you’d normal expect to see in a scifi movie.

hell's gate 1

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hell's gate 2

hell's rock formations

cracked mud

See? If we had been in a video game, I would have said we would been coming up on the last boss. But that’s not to say that the people who try to market this netherworld-on-earth don’t have a sense of humor about it.

sign at hell's gate

In the below image, I have to call attention to the fact that that no trespassers was spared the wrath of the boiling mud, not even the parent and child who dared to stray from the path.

morbid warning sign

Mud says “blorp.”

blurp

And trees grow upside-down, apparently.

upside-down tree

NOTE: This is a backdated post that I wrote in 2010. After putting up the photos from my 2010 trip to New Zealand, I realize that I’d neglected to put up any photos from my 2006 trip. So now I’m putting them up, for posterity’s sake, or something. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

More Wool Than a Norsewear Fashion Show

The highlights of our trip to the Agrodome in Rotorua, all of which are sheep-related.

i am a dorset

i am a merino

dogs riding sheep!

drooling sheepdog

dina and her soulmate

cute, bundled sheep

Clearly, I saved the best for last.

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No wait, this one is the best, because he can appreciate good photography.

This is a backdated post that I wrote in 2010. After putting up the photos from my 2010 trip to New Zealand, I realize that I’d neglected to put up any photos from my 2006 trip. So now I’m putting them up, for posterity’s sake, or something. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Metal Appreciation 101 (Non-Musical Sense)

This is a backdated post that I wrote in 2010. After putting up the photos from my 2010 trip to New Zealand, I realize that I’d neglected to put up any photos from my 2006 trip. So now I’m putting them up, for posterity’s sake, or something. Enjoy.

And then there are worthwhile things that tourists do, like gawking at the corrugated metal weirdness that is Tirau.

giant dog in tirau

the metal shepherd

two girls, one giant metal sheep

I’ll say one thing about the good people of Tirau: They really like their corrugated metal. Like, really. Bonus points for the non-metal tongue hanging out of the dog’s mouth.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mr. Tarlton’s Mild Ride

This is a backdated post that I wrote in 2010. After putting up the photos from my 2010 trip to New Zealand, I realize that I’d neglected to put up any photos from my 2006 trip. So now I’m putting them up, for posterity’s sake, or something. Enjoy.

Yes, we were sucka tourists and went to Kelly Tarlton’s. I suppose it wouldn’t have seemed like such a tourist trap had KrisDina and I not grown up in Northern California and therefore had ready access to the Monterey Bar Aquarium. But we did and all other places to view underwater life were basically spoiled as a result. Nontheless, some pictures:

A pufferfish says hello.

(profile) attempt at pufferfish 2

A male seahorse nearly collapses under the weight of the babies his wife tricked him into carrying.

pregant male sea horse

A notable advantage that Kelly Tarlton’s has over the aquarium in Monterey, of course, is that the former has penguins. Actually, Monterey may have them to, but seeing them waddling around in a simulation of their natural frosty habitat was fun. PENGUINS!

hug the penguin

look at the penguin

mas penguinos!

The same day as Kelly Tarlton’s, we went out to seafood in the Viaduct Basin. And though it was good, we were a little surprised and confused to find a tiny crab hitchhiking in one of our mussels. We did eat the mussel. We did not eat the crab.

tiny crab

tiny crab, again

The pincher, pinched.

pincher, pinched

In general, I prefer my shellfish edibles to come one-to-a-shell.