Thursday, September 13, 2007


Sorry about all the griping. Things have improved vastly since my last entry. Back in July, I was very close to packing it up and leaving Queenstown without doing anymore of the local goofy adventure activities. Luckily, I got myself a new job and am back on the road to financial recovery and the occasional bungy jump (more on that later). Sure, my new gig is waiting tables, but it is full time and the place isn’t nearly as intense or pretentious as the last one. I now busy myself shilling ribs and beer at Brazz On The Green. We overlook a nice little park, so I understand the “on the Green” part, but I have no idea what “Brazz” means. Perhaps it is a clever play on “brass,” with Zs (or Zeds) replacing the Ss to juice things up a bit (everyone knows that Z and X are the coolest and edgiest letters of the alphabet). Not important. The people I work with are all very cool so far, and I haven’t once been publicly chewed out by my boss, so it’s a step up.A couple of weeks ago, I got a visit from my Big Bad Sister, Jessi. She was the first person I had seen from home since I left the real world ten months ago, and we had a blast. She bounced around New Zealand for a week before making her way down to Queenstown. Having Jessi around for a few days was the perfect excuse to blow a bunch of money on bizarre near death experiences. Our Sainted Mother made me promise to not take Jessi bungy jumping, so naturally that was our first stop. We caught a bus out to the historic Kawarau Bungy Centre (dating all the way back to 1988), which was the world’s first commercial bungy site. There is a museum there where you can learn all you ever wanted to know about the hallowed traditions of bungy jumping. A Kiwi named AJ Hackett was inspired by the strange rituals of the people of Vanuatu, who jump from towers with vines attached to there ankles to prove their manhood. Being a good Capitalist Honky, Hackett set up multiple bungy sites all over New Zealand and the rest of the world and is a millionaire now. I had already seen all that crap, so we headed strait for the bridge. They had a bunch of classic rock songs on rotation, all of them with words like “jump” and “fly” featured prominently. Jessi was the first to jump, and it was a little unnerving to hear Don MacLean singing “bye-bye, Miss American Pie” while my sister’s ankles were strapped to a cord dangling 142 feet over a river. No matter. She jumped like a champ and survived. So did I. That night, we went to see “Die Hard 4.0” (as it is titled outside the USA), which was goofy but fun.The following day, we went jetboating on the Shotover River, which was freakin’ awesome. Envision being in the fastest speedboat you can imagine going up and down rapids with jagged rocks on both sides of the river while your skipper does twists, turns and spins with spectacular mountain scenery around every corner non-stop for a half an hour and you start to get the picture. It rocked and I had a big goofy grin on my face the whole time. It was better than the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on. Kickass! That night, we took the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak and enjoyed a couple drinks as a snowstorm moved in. Pretty.On Wednesday, we woke up early to catch the bus to Milford Sound. I was a little wary of this since my original trip to Milford was, literally, a washout. Not this time. We had absolutely perfect weather with nary a cloud in the sky. On the same road where I last saw nothing but trees and the bottoms of waterfalls, I now saw the most awesome alpine scenery I have ever encountered. It was magnificent. Superlatives fall away in trying to describe Milford Sound on a clear day. Mitre Peak towers 5,583 feet over the ocean, with sheer rock walls from the snowcapped top to the watermark. All around us were green forests, waterfalls, and amazing rock faces. It is mind-blowing. Just go there, people. Thursday was hang gliding day. Jessi and I were picked up in town and taken halfway up the long, steep dirt road that leads to the Remarkables Ski Field. The hang glider dudes have a take off spot there with terrific views of Frankton, the Kawarau River, Lake Wakatipu and Coronet Peak. They put you in a goofy jumpsuit, harness you to the glider and tell you to run as fast as you can down the hill whilst holding on to the straps on their suits. It was fantastic and funny. Once second, you’re standing on the edge of a mountain, then you’re feeling the exhileration of flight, looking at the ant-like people and cars below, and trying to make idle chitchat with the dude piloting the glider (“so… how long you been in this line of work?”). The coolest part was when my glider dude made us do swooshing turns just above a bunch of trees. I think Jessi’s pilot did a few more of these than mine. Lucky. Landing was a bit less awe-inspiring as we touched down in a field of sheep shit. Poop not withstanding, it was about as cool a five minutes of my life as I can remember. I had to work that nite. No coffee was necessary. I had to work on friday, so Jessi went horseback riding in Glenorchy, which is a gorgeous little town up the lake that I haven’t made my way out to yet. Jessi said goodbye on Saturday morning and headed off to the first of four flights it would take her to get back to Boston. We had an awesome few days together and it was great to have someone from home visit. Now that I have most of these adrenaline junky activities out of my system (or, have they just entered my system…?) I can concentrate on working for the next few weeks. The weather is ever so slightly warming up, so living will be more comfortable. I am not sure what my next step will be, but I will be sure to let you all know. In the meantime, be sure to tune into the Rugby World Cup currently taking place in France, and support the All Blacks.

And no, I didn’t know that there was a Rugby World Cup, either. And Happy Birthday, Jess!!!


Anonymous said...

Fantastic pics!

So great to see Jessi and you risking life and limb
in Kiwiland.

Jeff said...

You adreneline junky you!! I'm glad you were able to see some family, sounds like you guys had a lot of fun.

Keep on with the updates Mike!

Anonymous said...

It was so awesome! Thanks for featuring me in the blog - And thank you for picking great pictures!! It was such a great trip to share with you.
Thanks & I love you,
Big Bad Sister

Douglas Moran said...

Aunt Maureen is going to kill you when you get back, dude.

Nicole Davis said...

What a fantastic and funny blog, Mike. I think I'm addicted. Me & the fam just saw "Auntie Jessi" two weeks ago and she told us what a great time she had in NZ with you.
It's hard to believe I've known you since you were running around the lawn with no clothes on.
Where is the next entry???