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***

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.”

Italy is best with friends!


A week has passed already and as they say… time flies when you are having fun. We have been fortunate to see Italy though an intimate lens thanks to our dear Italian friends Edoardo and Odile.

The week began, just outside of Venice in Odile’s home town of Mogilano. We were fortunate to meet Odile’s family who shared their home with us for most of our time in Italy. We spent a half day in Venice roaming the streets amongst the mass of “touristas”, with Odile as our guide. We lunched with a friend of Edoardo’s, a resident of Venice in his home (built in the 1500’s) near the grand canal. By night we did the “Bacari” tour which involves hopping from one bar to the next and having a bite and a glass at each stop. That evening Jet-lag-ed and wined we slept like babies.

Edorado, Odile, Letta and Ivan

The following day we visited Padova, the university town where Edoardo and Odile met. Edoardo shared stories of shenanigans he and his friends pulled and Edoardo and Odile reminisced upon their first date and favorite college memories. We roamed the streets and saw some of the most amazing food markets I have ever seen. In experiencing the markets you can understand why food is such a part of the culture in Italy. Little did we know our culinary tour had only just begun.

We spent New Year’s eve with some friends of Edoardo’s from his university days in a quintessential Italian villa in the hills near Tiene. The evening was complete with course after course of homemade Italian dishes, kids, fireworks, “disco inferno”, dancing, several inches of snow and of course prosecco, prosecco and more prosecco.


Cavizzanna was our next stop, a tiny village nestled in the Val di Sol “Sun Valley” on the edge of the Dolomites (fitting for this Idaho girl). The village of Cavizzanna was where Edoardo grew up and where Edoardo and Odile were married. We spent two days with the Rizzi family and feasted on food that Edoardo’s mother prepared. The food was amazing most of which was harvested from the land nearby including the apple orchards that Edoardo worked as a young boy. The highlight for Tina was the making of homemade Polenta on a wood burning stove.


We have said good-bye to our Italian friends for now and will head to Spain tomorrow. It has been a wonderful adventure so far and has been so because we have been among friends. We have them to thank for the experiences and memories that we have gained thus far. Ciao Italy!

See more photos here and here.

Evan’s 6-month sabbatical!

For those who haven’t heard the story before, it’s worth retelling:

After graduating from Linfield College, I set out to travel the world for a few months. I started in Seoul, South Korea, and gradually made my way to China. From China, I rode the Trans-Mongolian railway from Beijing to Moscow via Mongolia and Siberia. From Moscow, I traveled west through Eastern Europe into Poland, Austria, Italy, and into Southern France.

It was in a small town called La Ciotat that I went to stay with a college friend who was living there teaching English. It was that weekend that changed my life forever.

It just so happened that my friend’s college roommate was staying with her on the weekend that I arrived. Over $5 bottles of Bordeaux wine and fresh seafood, I had met my future wife. And the rest is history….

So what is the point of this story? The point is to illustrate that embedded in my wife and me is a desire to travel and experience new places.

On that note, I’ve announced that my wife and I are taking a six-month sabbatical beginning on December 28, 2008, returning June 24, 2009. Over the course of the next six months, my wife and I will spend time in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, but the bulk of our time will be in New Zealand.

Our plan to take an extended trip has been in the works for a couple of years, and we are very excited to finally realize the experience.

That said, I have taken steps in the office to ensure that in my absence the professionalism, expertise, and proactive service that you’ve come to expect from the Swanson & Johnston Lending Team will persist.

Aaron and I have worked closely over the past four years so that he would be ready to assume the responsibility of my desk during this time. I am very confident that he will do a great job. In fact, he and I have joked that, upon my return, I may find that the loyalties of my valued past clients and professional partners have shifted to him because of the extraordinary care he will have displayed while I am abroad.

So don’t be surprised to hear from Aaron over the course of the next few months. If you have questions about your mortgage, potentially refinancing, or buying a new home, do not hesitate to contact him. Furthermore, I would encourage you to refer your colleagues, friends, and family directly to Aaron while I’m away. His contact information is shown here:

Aaron Johnston

Office: 503.282.5626 xt. 413


Thank you for your support!