Signs of laughter

On this trip we’ve traveled through 8 different countries each with distinct cultures, customs, and means for communication.  Inevitably, we’ve encountered many signs that we thought were humorous so we thought we’d pass them along for your viewing pleasure.

Humurous sign found in elevator
Someone must of actually gotten pinned in the elevator by their recylcing bin for the Portuguese to make this warning sign
Apparently this dog snores
Apparently this dog snores
Seriously, this is a restaurant
Needless to say we skipped this restaurant in Stockholm
read sign closely, makes no sense
Read this closely, they "support child cancer"? That is sick
glad I don't live on this road
Butt Hole Road, Australia
Cougar Collection Clothing line
Target market for this clothing line? COUGARS!
This explains why we've almost been hit multiple times
This explains why we almost got hit multiple times while walking
Only in Oz do you find crocodile warning signs
Horse Poo Anyone?
We couldn't help ourselves- we bought 3 bags
Stop, Hammer time
'nough said
crazy bastards
The Kea are clowns

Two weeks and counting….

It’s almost mid-June and we find ourselves in Noosa, Australia on the Sunshine Coast. The realization that we only have a few more days remaining on our 6-month journey weighs on our mind. Over the past couple weeks our time has become less about sight-seeing and more about personal time. To give you an idea, last week we were in tropical Port Douglas, Australia (aprox. 80 km’s north of Cairns) where we spent six of our seven days on the white-sandy beach in 85-degree weather drifting in and out of naps, our novels, conversation, and the warm water. “It was magic” as the Ausies like to say.

Sunrise @ Port Douglas

What was also magic was our snorkeling trip of the Great Barrier Reef which we did on the other day. Nor Tina and I consider ourselves avid snorkelers but this is a natural wonder not to be missed. It was beyond description (on a side note, back in March I did a post about the Kauri tree’s in the Waipoua Forest, New Zealand. They are thought to be almost 4,000 years old and I asked if anyone knew of any other living organism on earth that could equal their age. We learned in talking with the on-board marine biologist that the Great Barrier Reef, which is both plant, mineral, and animal, is thought to be 6,000 years old. Not to be out done, the living reef in the Coral Sea is millions of years old.)

We snorkeled here, awesome
6,000 year old Great Barrier Reed

This week were are spending on the Sunshine Coast where we are going on walks, kayaking, and bike-riding. That may sound active but I assure you we’re taking it slow.

We are not sad to be returning home. Looking back over the past 6 months we feel extremely fortunate for the various experiences we’ve had. We’ve had the pleasure to explore many different places from urban-Stockholm, Sweden in the winter to seemingly untouched Tapotupotu Bay, New Zealand in summer. We’ve met many friendly people and now have a list of contacts from Insbrook, Austria to bear country, Alaska. We’ve paid witness to classical architecture in Venice, Italy as well as modern designs in Melbourne, Australia. We’ve viewed contemporary art in places like the Tate in London, England as well as the indigenous art of the Maori & Aboriginal people of NZ & Australia. We’ve tasted Tapas in Barcelona and “Fush & Chips” from the docks in Tauranga, New Zealand. There are many more memories that we’ll never forget.

tapas, beers and barcelona
Tapas in Ba"th"elona

But the trip has been valuable for reasons beyond new experiences. Taken out of our normal daily lives and placed into new environments Tina and I have had the unique opportunity to reflect on ourselves as well as each other. In our relationship we’ve discovered more about what is important to each other which will help us become better companions later on. Personally, I’ve had much time to reflect on how I’d like to lead my life and what I can do to take it towards this vision. In this regard the trip has been a blessing.

So although we will miss the thrill of a discovering a new place upon our return to our daily lives we do so with these personal discoveries which is invaluable. In addition, we’re very excited to re-unite with our loved-ones and move back into our own home where we can trade our backpacks for dressers and unfamiliar accommodation for our own bed (where we can dream up our next adventure).

Beginning on Thursday night we’ll be back in sight-seeing mode when we get to Sydney. We’ve heard it’s a beautiful city and look forward to exploring what it has to offer. We’re back in Portland on June 24th and look forward to catching up soon!

Don’t ditch the blog yet, there will be some more posts to come.

Down the Great Road to Adelaide

After spending a week in Melbourne we were off on the road again, this time South and West along the Great Ocean Road, one of the great scenic drives in Australia. Our final destination was Adelaide. We were off mid morning in our white tin box car big enough for two and our packs. By afternoon we made it to our first stop at Apollo Bay, a small a village. We found a great YHA backpacker that was eco friendly outfitted with rain water collection, a worm farm to help with composting efforts, and a complete green construction. Very cool.

Despite the rainy cold weather on day two of our drive we were able to see the 12 Apostles, beautiful rock formations along the coast, awesome views and luckily a “mob” (the OZ term for a herd or pack) of Kangaroos along the roadside. We were able to stop and even managed to get a bit of video of the curious animals. Further along the road we arrived in Port Ferry another charming coastal village. We stayed in an old fishing cottage from the early 1900’s that had been completely restored to the Victorian age with beautiful ornamental details.

We had a refreshing run along the coast the next morning just in time for the sunrise and some the most beautiful light we have seen since arriving in OZ. Then we were off to Robe. We arrived in time for a walk along the beach, a beer and a chance to catch a beautiful sunset. We warmed our selves by a fire by night and I beat Evan in “Spite and Malice” once again. (Although he claims this statement is not true, I assure you that I have in fact beat him more than he might think.)

We made our way along the final day of our journey on the longest straight road we have seen since leaving the US. It was beauty in a different sense. Sometimes I began to wonder if we would pass a car along the way or were we the only ones out there. Another insight into the enormity of OZ.

We have spent the last week in Adelaide. We toured the Adelaide hills and visited a German town in called Handorf where we feasted on sausages and sauerkraut. We had several morning runs along the Adelaide waterfront with the white parrots yapping in our ears. We visited the South Australian Museum and learned of Sir Douglas Mawson the well known Australian geologist and explorer and saw the most amazing rock and mineral collection. (Virginia would have thought she had died and gone to heaven.) AND….I entered a new decade and turned the big 30. Evan of course made it very special with a stay in an old Victorian home called the Buxton Mannor built in the early 1900’s (later I gave him a hard time that he was already trying to get me into a nursing home). He handmade for me a very sweet card, cooked me breakfast, took me out for lunch and arranged for a message. It was a great day…the only thing missing was family and friends.

Our journey takes us north today to Port Douglas which is along the Great Barrier Reef, where hopefully we will sun ourselves and not get eaten by a shark.

***Pictures to come when we can get a good internet connection***

Gladwell’s “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”

After recently reading “Outliers”, Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, I was inspired to read “Blink” which was the remaining of his I hadn’t yet read.

I really like Gladwell for two reasons.  First, the subject matter he writes about is both relevant and interesting.  The stuff he covers is right under our nose all day everyday but we don’t take the time to study it.  Second, his style of writing is easy to read.  Although he is teaching the reader a lesson its as if he’s writing a story  rather than academic thesis.

In this book Gladwell explores the role that our unconscious mind plays in how we think, choose, judge, contemplate, and act.  The book goes into great detail exploring how our initial impressions are shaped by our unconscious associations and how these “snap judgments” can lead us to make both poor and positive decisions.

He ascribes the term “thin-slicing” to our unconscious minds ability, “to find patterns in situations and behaviors based on very narrow slices of experience.”  For example, have you ever observed a person’s mannerisms from afar for only a brief period and made a judgment on what kind of person they are?  That is “thin-slicing”.   But how can our mind be so quick to pass judgment on such subjects?

As Gladwell says on page 69, “We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem.  We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for.”  For the next few chapters Gladwell looks into how our unconscious mind can be altered which in turn alters how we appraise a person or situation.

In the second chapter he references a couple experiments that demonstrate how a person’s mind-state will impact their future judgment.  For example, two groups of similar people were given trivia questions.  Prior to the experiment one group was told to think about being a college professor while another group was told to concentrate on soccer hooligans.  As you could probably guess the group that thought about college professors outperformed the other group.  Gladwell explains that this mental preparation essentially stimulates the unconscious mind into making future decisions in line with your environment.

In the following chapter he covers physical associations and how they can impact a persons judgment.  On page 76 he writes, “I think that there are facts about people’s appearance- their size or shape or color or sex- that can trigger a very similar set of powerful associations.”  Although few people in our “PC” world care to admit that physical stereotypes play a role in their judgment I think it is safe to say that they are very real.  Gladwell concurs on page 85, “The disturbing thing…is that..our unconscious attitudes may be utterly incompatible with our stated conscious values.”  Don’t think this sentence applies to you?  Test yourself @

At the end of the day Gladwell shows that there are a myriad of things that impact our unconscious mind and in turn impact our initial impressions regarding a situation.  It’s important that as humans we understand that.  When making important decisions we should not only weigh the information that we have available to us but we should also weigh the environmental factors which may also be altering our interpretation of that information.

Furthermore, whenever possible, we should look for ways to minimize the environmental impact of our minds so that we can make more organic decisions.  Of course, this is easier said than done.

Here are some additional notes:

*Importance of support in a healthy relationship- In one of the experiments Gladwell references regarding healthy & unhealthy relationships the psychologist points out that “support” in conversation is crucial to determining whether or not a relationship will work out in the long-run.

*Treat others well: In another study that Gladwell references doctors who treated their patients well were much less likely to be sued for malpractice than doctors who were either unfriendly towards their patients or who displayed superiority.  Lesson: Treat people well and they’ll be more forgiving of your mistakes.

*Lesson for salespeople: Starting on page 88 Gladwell introduces us to Bob Golomb who is a car sales manager in Flemington, New Jersey.  He has been hugely successful throughout his career and he credits his success to one principle- “never to judge anyone on the basis of his or her appearance.  He assumes that everyone who walks in the door has the exact same chance of buying a car.”  In thinking about this I feel as though I am pretty good about not letting my “thin-slices” impact the effort I put forth in helping people in my business.  I think I can thank my mom for that.  She is a very warm and welcoming person no matter what the appearance of a person.  I grew up under her tutelage and I have her to thank.

*In the fourth chapter one of the topics covered is quantity of information.  Sometimes too much information and paralyze your ability to make decisions.  Especially when the decision is one that is typically made in a “blink”.  The example he gives is with buying jam.  A retail store tested jam sales by offering a table with 24 options one time and 6 in another.  Although conventional wisdom would tell us that a consumer with more choice would be more apt to buy, in this instance it was not the case.  When presented with less information the consumer bought more often.  Kind of like blog posts.  When I write too much people are less apt to read the post :).

*Describing an ‘expert’ on page 179: “The first impressions of experts are different (from non-experts)…  When we become an expert in something, our tastes grow more esoteric and complex…  it is really only experts who are able to reliably account for their reactions.”  In other words, when an expert is experiencing in their field of expertise they are conscious of of their unconscious associations.  They can explain why they do or don’t like something with conviction.  In Gladwell’s words on page 183: “Our unconscious reactions come out of a locked room, and we can’t look inside that room.  But with experience we become expert at using our behavior and our training to interpret- and decode- what lies behind our snap judgments and first impressions.

*Facial expressions- On page 199 Gladwell points out that facial expressions which express our thoughts, feelings, etc. are common amongst humans across cultures.

*Where a smile on your face: From page 208- “…we take it as a given that first we experience an emotion, and then we may- or may not- express the emotion on our face.  We think of the face as the residue of emotion.  What this research showed though, is that the process works in the opposite direction as well.  Emotion can also start on the face.

*Where we get information: Most of the subconscious information we get to interpret information is from the emotion they display on their face.  Research shows that a person can practice reading faces and become more effective in picking up others emotions/ motivations.

*On page 214 Gladwell provides a very good explanation of what an autistic person experiences.  I don’t know much about autism and found his description very interesting.  Autistic people, “have difficulty interpreting nonverbal cues, such as gestures and facial expressions or putting themselves inside someone elses head or drawing an understanding from anything other than the literal meaning of words.

*In chapter 6 on one the topics covered is the impact stressful situations have on our ability to interpret information.  Essentially, when our heart rate increases under the stress of a difficult situation we do not consciously interpret information.  We react based on what our unconscious mind believes we should do.  However, it is possible to train under high stress situations to improve our decision making capabilities.

Things I will follow up on after reading this book:
-Look for programs to help me improve my ability to read the emotions of others by studying facial expressions.

Kent’s “Healthy Money Healthy Planet: Developing sustainability through new money systems”

While strolling through one of the best second-hand book stores in NZ (Title Book Galleries) I ran across this title from Deirdre Kent, an unknown writer from NZ.  Being that I have an interest in economics as well as sustainability I thought it would be a good one for me to read.

Kent’s premise is that the problems that exist in the global economy (i.e. climate change, depletion of natural resources, income inequality) stem from fractional reserve banking (FRB) systems and interest-bearing debt.  Here is a summary found on page 213:

“…the unhealthy interest-based money system we currently have demands that the money supply keeps growing, and at an exponential rate.  It is therefore clear that interest-charged money is inherently inflationary.”

Or, in this simple example found on page 20:

“Suppose a bank lends out $100 to each of 10 families at 10 per cent interest.  To repay the loan, families are required to grow crops and produce goods to sell.  At the end of the year, each family is expected to pay back their principal of $100, together with $10 interest, a total of $110….There is now $1,000 in circulation, but the system requires $1,100 to be paid back at the end of the year to the bank, hence there is an inescapable shortfall….”

To solve the world’s problems Kent calls for radical monetary changes by drawing on ideas from older economists such as Henry George & Silvio Gesell.  Namely, Kent would like to see local complimentary currencies exist along with national currencies.  In addition, she’d like to see local community banking and interest-free loans (its not yet clear how private banks would make money).  Lastly, she would assign a “hoarding charge” to those people who didn’t spend their currency within a certain timeframe.  The goal of this last initiative is to increase the velocity of money.  Somehow though she would not assign this charge to savings deposits.  But then would that really increase the velocity of money?

Although I did find Kent’s identification of issues in the existing FRB system intriguing, I felt the solutions she proposes in the book lack detail as well as sound economic thinking.

Here are my notes:

*Economics is for everyone- “Economics is for everyone.  We can’t avoid it, as it permeates every field of our lives- work, food, clothing, mortgages, jobs, business, budgets, family, education, investments, wages, savings, housing, and of course, shopping.  Since the discipline involves making value judgments about what is worthwhile and what constitutes progress, it is far too important to be left solely to economists…”

*Power of compound interest: “…if a single penny had been invested at the birth of christ, at a 5 per cent interest rate, it would buy 134 billion balls of gold equal to the weight of the earth at modern gold prices.”

*On page 71-72 Kent outlines 6 reasons why GDP is a poor indicator of economic progress.  Here is an example: “Being pregnant, chasing toddlers and breastfeeding do not add to the GDP, but looking after other people’s children in a daycare centre does.” or on page 81: “…when fish are left in the sea to replenish stocks, they are not considered a monetary “asset” to the economy; only when they are sold in the markets…”

*Islamic finance: “… is based on the belief that the provider of capital and the user of capital should share the risk of business ventures equally, whether these are industries, farms, service companies or simple trade deals.  Translated into banking terms, this means that the depositor, the bank and the borrower should all share the risks and the rewards of financing business ventures.”

*Local complimentary currencies- Kent does provide a nice summary of complimentary currencies that were recently or are currently in use on pages 128-153 and again on 292-294.  There include Salt Spring Island certificates, Ithaca HOURS, and LETS.  This is interesting stuff.

*Looking at nature to solve economic problems- “…in nature species adapt by conserving what is working and altering what is not; they don’t just suddenly change.”

*High profits=low service- Kent references a study done in the 1990s in NZ which showed that there was an inverse correlation between a banks profits and the level of its customer service.  Does the same hold true in the US?  I wonder.

*Things I’ll research further after reading this book:
a) how money is created under a FRB system
b) alternative measures of economic progress such as the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI by Redefining progress) or Human Development Index (HDI by the UN)
c) ITEX, a commercial trade barter system, which was originally started in Portland in 1982.
d) Silvio Gesell

Old & New in Melbourne

I don’t pretend to know much about architecture nor have I ever paid much attention to the various styles. However, walking through Melbourne for a week one cannot help but notice the coexistence of classic and modern styles.

It’s almost as if the city went on a rapid building binge from its early days up until the 1920s then stopped before picking up again in the 1990s. Throughout the central business district as well as outlying residential neighborhoods classical styles of architecture exist next to structures with modern designs. Here are some photos of some the examples we saw:

The awning of the modern Melb. Museum w/ Royal Exhibition in background
The old post office has been added on with a modern wing and is now a shopping mall
On left is the modern Ian Potter center next to the classic old train station
They litteraly built a modern addition on top of this classic older building
Classic brick on the left next to modern glass at the QV

The N-Zed Vino Report

Prior to arriving in New Zealand Tina and I had a narrow understanding of New Zealand wines. We were familiar with some Sauvignon Blancs from the Marlborough Region but that was the extent of it.

After spending 4 months in the country we had plenty of opportunities to explore additional varietals from various regions. What we learned is that in addition to the “Sauvie-B’s” that the country is well-known for NZ has multiple wine regions which are gaining prominence on the international wine scene.

Especially when you factor in the exchange rate we felt like NZ wines were a GREAT VALUE. Here is a list of the best wines we tasted along with the price we paid for them in NZ$. To convert these amounts into US$ click this link.

Contact your local wine shop to see if you can get your hands on these.

* Boundary Vineyards-“Rapura Rd.”- 2008- $20
* Koura Bay
* Church Road
* Rippon- 2008-
* Ata Rangi- 2008- $25
* Triplebank- 2008- $20
* Anchorage

The rents and I
A couple lovely ladies with Big Mike @ Seresin Winery

*Black Barn- unoaked- 2007

*Brookfields- 2007- $24
*Trinity Hill

*Trinity Hill- 2006- $30

Arneis (ancient Italian wine grape):
*Trinty Hill- 2008- $20

Pinot Noir:
*Drumsara- 2007- $50
*Seresin- “Leah”-2007-$28
* Tirohana-“Leslie”-2008- $50
* Pegasus-
* Akarua- 2006
* Mt. Difficulty- 2007- $45
*Ata Rangi- 2007- $65

bellyin' up to the bar at Ata Rangi
Wine tasting @ Ata Rangi in the Martinborough Region

*Pegasus- “Maestro”- $50
*Herzog- Beardeaux blend-2001- $47
*Benfield & Delemare- 2006- $75
*Ata Rangi- “Celebre”- $32

*Craggy Range-2004-2006- $50

*Unison Vineyards- “Reserve”- 2007- $30

*Trinity Hill-2007- $29

P.S. In talking with the winemaker at Unison Vineyards he advised that the 2009 harvest was poised to be a great one for the Gimblets Gravel region in Hawke’s Bay. This area is known for it’s heavier red wines such as Syrah, Merlot, and Cab-Sav. Keep your eyes open in the future for good 2009 wines from this area.

Flannery’s “The Eternal Frontier”

Over the past 4 months in NZ Tina and I have spent much of our waking moments immersed in the natural beauty which makes this country such a special place to visit.  As it does with traveling to foreign places it got me thinking about the natural treasures which are close to home that I have yet to explore.  Furthermore, I’ve come to realize that I am ignorant about the natural forces that have shaped the very environment in which we live.

It just so happened that while I was exploring another one of my favorite environments, a used book store, I came across a book by Tim Flannery entitled, “The Eternal Frontier: An ecological history of North America and its Peoples“.  Perfect.

Flannery’s book takes the reader back 65 million years when an asteroid, now known as ‘Chicxulub’, struck North America thus brining “modern” ecological history into being up to the present day where he focuses on the human impact on the environment.

For me, the first 64,999,500 years of the book were a little slow.  However, there were two themes that struck a chord with me.  First, it is remarkable how detailed of a history modern day scientists are able to create based on the limited remnants of ancient history they are given to work with.

Second, it is humbling to compare our concept of time, which is heavily influenced by the length of a human life, in the perspective of “modern” ecological history which spans 65 million years.  Even if you live long enough to call yourself a centurion you will only witness .00015% of North America’s modern ecological history.

In the last 500 years of the book Flannery focuses on the impact that humans have had on the North American environment.  Much like Friedman’s, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded the story he writes is not pretty.  BUT, he also ends on a hopeful note which leaves the reader with a positive feeling about the future.

Especially interesting was the sociological insight he borrowed from the turn of the 18th-century lecturer Frederick Jackson Turner who characterized US society as a “Frontier” society in which pioneers continually push the edge of the frontier, exploiting natural resources (which are plentiful on a frontier), all the while furthering economic development (see page 292).

When viewed in this context it is not entirely surprising that the US has developed into the world super-power given that human immigrants acting within a free market economy have benefitted from a very rich ecological base over the past few hundred years.  The cornucopia of natural resources has allowed our “frontier society” to consume almost without end all the while becoming the wealthiest country on earth.  But  the environment is beginning to show signs of our “frontier” existence.  As Flannery suggests, the environment is beginning to place natural limits on our ability to live and exist as we have in the past.

I was left thinking that “The Eternal Frontier” will be twofold.  First, it will involve developing technologies that will allow our society to “do more with less” (AKA efficiency).  However, it will also likely have to involve a cultural shift away from valuing more (AKA consumption) towards valuing a simpler existence.

Here are some of my notes from the book:

*The land-mass that is today North America was formed many millions of years ago when two smaller land-masses with very different environments separated by the Bearpaw Sea merged.

*Miraculously, some species of trees have survived and evolved over 65 million years when the Chicxulub struck North America to today.  These are the Houn Pine, Kauri, Araucaria Pine, and Wollemia Noblis and some others listed on page 33.

*Trees that grow into the shape of a cone have evolved from polar conditions where the sunlight is flat.  By having a cone shape they are able to optimize light coming from both flat and vertical angles.

*The existence of trees today that were around before the Chicxulub struck means that it likely struck in the winter.  This is because darkness engulfed the planet for many months after the asteroid struck.  Trees would have been able to survive because they would have already lost their leaves for the winter.  When they lose their leaves they absorb the nutrients for the dark months.

*This rule of biology can also apply to other forms of competition-

“One of biology’s more iron-clad rules seems to be that the inhabitants of larger lands are likely to be more successful immigrants than those of smaller ones.”

*The topographic makeup of North America creates a “climactic trumpet” which intensifies climatic shift on the continent.  This trumpet is created by two land features.  First, the up-side-down pyramid shape of the continent that is created by the wide reaches of Alaska-Greenland in the North and the tip of the Mexican Peninsula in the South.  Second, the fact that North America’s coasts have North-South running Mountain ranges.  Therefore, in the winter cold air surges south through the funnel that is created and vice-versa in the summer.  As a result, temperature changes are more extreme in North American relative to other continents.

*Trees are an excellent example of a self-sustaining organism-
“…little is lost to the tree when it sheds its leaves, for a leaf loosed into the… air has a 99 per cent chance of landing within twenty to thirty meters of its source.  As its leaves rot in spring, it’s quite likely that the tree will be able to recoup whatever investment in nutrients it put into making the leaf, just at a time when it needs it most.”

*On page 147-148 Flannery provides an excellent explanation of an ice age & glacial periods.

*Because of the North American “climate trumpet” we should actually be the MOST worried about climate change around the world because the effects will be most dramatic on our continent.

*Animal behavior & genetics: “The behaviors animals use to avoid predators are both genetically based and learned.”

*I always thought that complex societies grew into existence at the same time as agriculture.  However, Flannery points out that in pre-Columbian North America large societies evolved in California even though many still ate on hunting & gathering methods.

*When the Spanish arrived in Mexico around 1520 they came across an Aztec society which was far more advanced than anything they’d ever seen in Europe.  In fact, Tenochtitlan covered 13 square km’s and had a population of about 200,000, five times larger than London.  A detailed description is written on page 251.

*On page 267 Flannery explains that English settlers were “inept colonizers”.  However, what ultimately allowed them to overcome French settlers as the dominant ethnic group in the new colony was their “character of… frontier..of the soil”.  They expanded the frontier and controlled more soil.

*Flannery suggests that two myths exist regarding pilgrims of the Mayflower.  First, that Plymouth Rock is likely NOT the location at which they set foot in America.  AND, that the pilgrims were not seeking religious freedom.  His argument is laid out on page 270-271.

*Frederick Jackson Turner believes that the challenges of the frontier had a “cultural-stripping” effect on the pioneers which helped to shape the modern ‘American’.

*A sad piece of US history- “By 1871…the United States had made more than 370 individual treaties with various Indian groups, every one of which had been violated…”

*On page 320 Flannery explains the importance of mega-fauna (large mammals) on the health of grasslands.  Essentially, they eat the grass and store the nutrients in their stomachs and digestive systems then dole it out in their waste.  Without mega-fauna these nutrients are washed away during the rainy season.

*On page 324 Flannery explains that many animals evolved in herds or flocks because congregating in large numbers made identifying stealth predators easier (multiple sets of eyes are better than one set).  However, in 19th century America it ultimately led to their downfall because human predators were hunting with guns.  He goes into detail about the Great Plains bison.

*“…mussels are important indicators of ecosystem health.”

*Scary stuff- “In 1990 the Nature Conservancy summarized the losses and depletions from this rich realm (N.A. ecosystem).  They reported that four out of every ten species of North American freshwater fish were either extinct or vulnerable to extinction.  Half of the continent’s crayfish species were similarly affected, while nearly 70 per cent of its freshwater mussels were in danger.”

*More scary stuff on page 336- “By the 1950s North Americans had eliminated about four-fifths of the continent’s wildlife, cut more than half its timber, all but destroyed its native cultures, dammed most of its rivers, destroyed its most productive freshwater fisheries and depleted a good proportion of its soils.”

*On page 345 Flannery calls for a holistic approach to natural conservancy.  He goes as far to suggest reintroducing mega-fauna such as jaguars and lions may be needed in Yellowstone.

T & E’s Best of New Zealand

As we enjoy the last few days of our NZED adventure we can’t help but reflect on the things we have enjoyed during our time here. We have compiled a list of our favorites below…

Favorite Places….

Early morning departure
Golden Bay

Town » Wanaka
Suburb » Port Chalmers, Dunedin
National Park » Mt. Aspiring
Body of Water » Golden Bay
Surf Spot » Raglan
Neighborhood » Ponsonby, Auckland
Accommodation » Billy Browns, Port Chalmers

Favorite Food and Drink…

Kaikoura Seafood BBQ
Kaikoura Seafood BBQ

Restaurant Dining »The White House, Wanaka
Fine Dining Experience » Herzog Winery Restaurant
Roadside Dining » Kaikoura Seafood BBQ
Fish and Chips » Fresh Fish Market in Tauranga
Favorite NZED dish » Evan, Green Lipped Mussels »Tina, Pumpkin Soup
Wine » (the list is long, refer to our favorite NZED Wine Post…coming soon)
Brewer » Mac’s
Beer » Renaissance American Pale Ale
Bar » Smash Palace, Gisbone
Coffee shop » Agnes Curran, Ponsonby, Auckland
Juice » Charlie’s Honest Fejoia Smoothie
Gelato » Patagonia, Queenstown
Cheese » Whitestone, Tina, Monte Cristo Evan, Winsor Blue
Trailside snack » RJ’s Licorice and Cantebury Biltong Beef Jerky
Farmer’s Market » Matakana

Favorite Outdoor Adventures

Tapotupotu Bay Beach
Tapotupotu Bay, Northland

Drive » Milford Road
One Day Hike » Rob Roy Glacier, outside Wanaka
Muli-Day Trek » Kepler
View » Summit of Alex Knob Trek, Franz Josef Glaicer area
Camping Spot » Tapotupotu Bay, Northland
Place to Swim » “The Cove” at Red Beach
Beach for Walking/Running » Mt. Maunganui
Botanical Gardens » Christchurch
Golf Course » Wairakei Golf Course

Favorite Kiwi-ana Culture

Close up
Brick Bay Sculpture Trail

Tour » Footprints Waipoua (Night tour of the Kauri Forest)
Museum » Te Papa, Wellington
Movie » Topp Twins Documentary
Artists » Evan, Craig Potton Tina, Ingrid Anderson
Art Exhibit » Brick Bay Sculpture Trail
Sayings » “Sweet As…”

Favorite “Mike-isms” (because we can’t resist…)

* A term that we coined while spending a few weeks with Mike McBride to describe the funny things he would say.

Tasting the grapes
The man, the myth, the legend

Commenting on gal who appeared to have had plastic sugury on her face, my dad said “she looked as though she had kissed the side of a freight-train.”

A tribute to the Hoon

It is with both sadness and joyous relief that I hereby report the following news: THE HOON HAS BEEN SOLD! Indeed, what a relief it is, especially after the broo-ha-ha we went through to sell it. If you have a spare 4 hours sometime I’ll tell you the entire story. The quick and dirty version is that we ran into one problem after another in trying to repair a small leak in the power-steering pump and it escalated into the ignition & alarm system. All the while I was courting two Argentinian buyers who barely spoke English and by the way I barely speak Spanish.

However, at the end of the day it all worked out and now Julian & Ignosio join the long list of owners who will have the pleasure of adventuring around NZ in the Hoon. If the Hoon could tell what stories it would tell. We had the Hoon for only 1/24th of it’s current life-span. It took us over 10,000 km’s (6,200 miles for all you non-metric understanding peep’s) from the Northland on the North Island all the way to Invercargill on the South Island and back.

Over mountains, through river fords, on ferries, or in the city the Hoon performed beautifully. Here is a photo-tribute to the Hoon meant to thank this fine vehicle for all its hard work during the time we owned it:

classy huh?
The un-stately Hoon parked in front of the stately Mission Winery in Hawkes Bay
Tina Trecker
Tina flexing with the Hoon in the background- somewhere on the Coromandel Peninsula
Packing the HOON
Big Mike utterly amazed at the amount of luggage the Hoon can hold
Amy and Adam
Previous owners Adam & Amy with the Hoon
The Hoon is probably a descendent of this car we saw in Napier