It’s been a little over a month since we disembarked from a plane at Burlington International Airport, looking about as bad as we felt after 30 hours of travel time. Despite the idyllic green image of home we held onto for our 16 months away, we were greeted by tired, wet, brown, mid-spring surroundings—a truly disheartening time of year.
But, home would not be home without our friends and family, and good times have been had. The world is now green and beautiful, our garden is partly planted, and our wiffle ball field has already seen plenty of use. It is good to be home.
There are days when it seems we might never have left, like we’ve awoken from a dream. But others bring back memories from lands far away, such as the lupines blooming along our driveway. Along that vein, we thought we’d share the whole collection of title page banners that we used rather like calendar photos along the way. Viewed together they present some beautiful contrasts that capture a bit of what travel is like.
We are not quite done posting to this blog and we’re also cutting together hours of video into a short film for entry into some film festivals later this summer. Until then, enjoy the photos. Click the pictures to see the related post.
The relentless snowfall of Hokkaido, Japan. January, 2011.
Frosted peaks in Daisetsuzan National Park. January 2011.
Birch trees clinging to steep slopes on Yarigatake, Hakuba, Japan. February 2011.
Windows into old Japan, Kyoto. February 2011.
Close up on the Buddhist temples dotting Luang Prabang, Laos. March 2011.
Burning rice fields cloud the Nam Hou river, Laos. March 2011.
The best beach ever. El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. April 2011.
Lush eucalypt forest along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. May 2011.
First light on the Tasman Sea. Croajingolong National Park, Victoria. May 2011.
Mandarin harvest, South Australia. May 2011.
Watching over Uluru. Australia’s red center. June 2011.
Floodplains at Ubirr, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory. June 2011.
Filtered sun through fan palms, Daintree, Queensland. July 2011.
A sea of vines, Marlborough, New Zealand. August 2011.
The Kaikoura Peninsula, New Zealand. September 2011.
Tree fern silhouette, Abel Tasman, New Zealand. October 2011.
Glacial meltwater, Fiordland, New Zealand. November 2011.
Lupines. Omarama, New Zealand. December 2011.
Vine leaf, Marlbourough New Zealand. January 2012.
The dry and golden Wither Hills, Blenhiem, New Zealand. February 2012.
Morning light on a distant glacier, Aspiring National Park, New Zealand. March 2012.
Ferns in the kauri forest, Northland, New Zealand. April 2012.
As a way to say goodbye to the South Island that we’ve called home for over 7 months, we recently made the full day’s drive down to Wanaka for one more mountain adventure. The beautiful West Matukituki Valley lies in the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park, which has captivated us time and time again with beech forest, tumbling glaciers, and mountain meadows. The chance to spend two days high above and encircled by the Southern Alps proved the perfect farewell.
Ascending 4,000 feet in just 2 miles, the route from Aspiring Hut to the north ridge of Mount Tyndall is a punishing ascent through snow grass and precipitous crags.
But the view helps take the mind off burning legs and lungs.
A small hollow at the top of the ridge makes for a perfect campsite: just enough protection from a stiff east wind, and incredible views across the valley to Mount Aspiring. (more…)
Just beyond the leafy green hedge out back and past a noisy lamb next door, our small home in Renwick is besieged on all sides by vines. Hedged to perfection, and now carrying ripening grapes, row upon row makes for a mesmerizing ride every time we drive into town.
When else might we be living in the heart of one of the world’s great wine regions? Ignoring the wineries just down the road would be a crime, akin to skipping sushi during a trip to Japan. So, late one morning, we set off on the two trusty bikes parked in our garage, armed with a vineyard map and picnic lunch.
It was a perfect day for biking. A late summer sun shone down onto infinite vines, the rising temperature tempered by fluffy clouds and a light breeze. It took all of three minutes to roll up to the first cellar door at Gibson Bridge.
There are dozens of small, family-run vineyards scattered across the map, producing small vintages that never make it to the States. Marlborough is famous for its sauvignon blanc, though most wineries offer or even specialize in other varietals: pinot gris, gewurztraminer, chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir. It is all good. A far cry from the ubiquitous box wine we drank in Australia, it is pleasantly surprising to be able to relate to the detailed and pretentious tasting descriptions. Some of this wine actually did have slight flavors of mango and pineapple, while others were peppery or had a hint of citrus. It didn’t take long to be able to navigate the wine lists and figure out our favorites.
We had picked up a wine touring book at the library which included a list of other notes and flavors we might come across on an afternoon of tasting. Thankfully, we have yet to sample wine with hints of leather, cigar box, coffee, or — why not? — manure.
After several months of cheap living, it was wonderful to feel like a tourist again. We parked our bikes next to white limousines, pretended to be interested in $60 bottles, played petanque on a court surrounded by roses. Best of all, there are enough wineries within pedaling distance of our house that several more days could be filled in the same manner.
Between some lazy days enjoying our idyllic back yard and the late summer sunshine, we’ve finally been able to catch up on some editing. This is the first of two videos covering our 82 days and 10,000 miles across Australia.
Strung around the outskirts of a vast, empty interior, Australia boasts a captivating array of landscapes— lush rainforest, snowcapped mountains, miles and miles of rugged coastline, towering gum trees, some of the world’s finest swimming holes, the beautiful city of Sydney. And, of course, in the middle of it all, the most famous rock in the world…
In the months and weeks before we left home, reading how other travelers have packed for round-the-world trips helped our preparation immensely. We scribbled countless shopping, packing, and to-do lists and took over an entire room for our “staging area.” Now, for those of you setting off in the near or not-so-near future, we can return the favor and help you remember the obvious items (pants; your passport), the small, forgettable items (nail clippers; headlamp) and everything in between.
But first, we thought we’d share some of the more obscure pieces of gear that we’ve found immeasurably useful. Some of these are rather specific and if you’re using an iPhone for a camera or if you hate the outdoors you can probably ignore half this list. Regardless, here are a few of our favorite possessions:
Mini extension cord/splitter – These days, most people travel with at least one piece of electronic gadgetry (ipod/laptop/cellphone), and if you add in a camera with batteries to charge a cord such as this one will prove useful time and time again. Ours is six feet long and splits one socket into three, meaning we can charge everything from the comfort of a nearby table instead of crawling around on the floor. No joke, this might be the most useful item in our backpack.
Outdoor Research PL Base Gloves – After years of putting up with numb hands on winter video shoots, we finally found a fix for our month of skiing in Japan. These liner gloves are perfect for shooting photos out in the cold. Just thin enough that you can still feel every button and lens ring, and warm enough to take the bite out of the winter wind.
LaCie 500GB Rugged Drive – These are far and away the best hard drives for steady travel. While a flash drive may suffice for a shorter trip, if you’re going to be taking a few hundred GB (or in our case, several TB) worth of photos or videos, look no further. These drives are small, light, and, appropriately, quite rugged— I once saw a co-worker drop one to the floor from waist height, plug it in, and continue his work. As an added bonus, they’re powered through the computer via Firewire or USB, so there’s no need to trip over more cords or use up another power outlet.
Dakine Sequence Camera Backpack– This backpack has been used and abused every day since we left home, on top of three years worth of use beforehand. It’s awesome. It has a snug and stable fit, and is protective enough that you can ski or ride full tilt and not worry about crushing your gear in a fall. The internal camera block is removable, which we carry along on multi-day hiking trips inside our larger backpacking packs. A perfect pack for travel or action sports photography. Steph has a Dakine Heli-Pro ski/snowboard pack, which is equally excellent in its own right.
500mL Nalgene screw-top containers – Nothing beats this 16-oz container for food storage on a backpacking trip. Fill it with snacks during the day, eat dinner out of it at night, store leftovers or wash it out and brew a hot drink. It’s rigid so your food doesn’t get crushed, has a solid screw on lid, and it’s just the right size. Plus, it’s cheap—no need for anything fancy. Find them at any good outdoor store.
Pacsafe antitheft bag – We brought this to curb the nagging paranoia that comes with carting around lots of expensive camera gear. This 35L model is a metallic mesh that fits over our bag of camera and computer gear and locks around anything solid (bathroom pipes or the bed, usually) in a hostel room. While it’s hard to tell if it ever thwarted any thieves, the piece of mind it provided made us glad we had it along. Definitely recommended if you’re bringing along a DSLR, a laptop, or any large valuables and don’t want to bring them everywhere you go.
25L Dry bags – We kept our clothes in these, and put the camera in one during kayaking trips. They double as compression sacks and it’s quite nice knowing that even if it starts pouring you’ll have dry clothes at the end of the day. We’d recommend buying one with a transparent window so you can see where your things are instead of digging around blindly for the right t-shirt. (more…)