Gagabber

Adventures living as expats in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

America the Beautiful, Home Leave 2015

A few weeks before we left for our summer trip home, we got the official offer to move to Taiwan.  Jeff had been working really hard towards this move and we had both been keeping our fingers crossed that everything would fall into place as hoped.  Knowing that we'd be home in a few weeks, we decided to wait and tell everyone in person so we could celebrate together.  We've been trying to keep expectations reasonable, but all we can talk about is being able to walk around the city (which is not not much of an option in Jakarta) and enjoy hiking in the mountains of Taiwan (again really difficult in Jakarta due to the hours of traffic returning to Jakarta).  We're even planning on getting a dog!!!

I flew home a few days ahead of Jeff so I could spend some extra time with the family.  Being home during the summer is unbeatable and we arrived just before the 4th of July so we wouldn't miss the fireworks and inevitable party.  The family hosted a big barbeque and we all watched the fireworks from the back patio after stuffing ourselves with Dad's famous ribs and my almost famous apple pie.
Great sunset views from the patio. 
Morgan was happy to show off her new bike skills decked out with streamers, horn, basket, and of course a flag.
Morgan was still full of energy the day after the party so we stopped by the carnival.  I jumped on the swings right out of the gate remembering how much I used to love that ride.  Once it got up to speed I realized my mistake and each round seemed to ratchet up the nausea factor.  After that, Jeff was designated as the official carnival ride jockey.   He later had to pull out due to a bumper car whiplash injury, but luckily Morgan was tired out too so we called it a day.
Just before the nausea set in.
Get ready!
Quick trip to Virginia City for some sightseeing and target practice.
The finale for Nevada was riding the famous flume trail in Tahoe.  It involves a very steep 3 mile climb up to the ridge, then 5 or so miles of flat riding with awe inspiring views and adrenaline pumping drop offs.  Jeff made a video that does a much better job explaining than I can.  I walked away with a few scrapes after an ungraceful fall (of course with a few people watching) on the way down, but it was well worth it for the scenery.

What a view!

Next up we headed up to Portland and went to a Hops baseball game with Dalena and Ivan and enjoyed dinner at the ballpark (which included surprisingly tasty Mexican food), beers, and a great sunset view.

After spending a day running errands including the dreaded DMV, we had a family day and enjoyed lunch at a food cart pod and Nike shopping.  In the evening we headed out to Edgefield for a concert on the lawn.  My favorite part was the homemade Oregon marionberry ice cream.   Jeff seemed most excited about all the McMenamin's beers.  Dalena was excited not to be driving for once and splurged on 2 cocktails bringing her 10 year count up to 3.   Ivan was super pumped about seeing his absolute favorite band, The Decemberists (haha jk Ivan).
Of course we haven't been drinking.
On Sunday we had our second annual wine and picnic day with the Smith's and Vanderboms.   We managed to make it to 4 wineries which takes pure stamina and dedication.  Luckily we were all up for the task especially Rachelle who had to watch us drink with envy last year.
White Rose winery
Fancy picnic time - olives, cured meats, local cheeses, Oregon fruit, and of course wine!
Our last winery of the day.  By this time none of us could stop laughing.

Visiting Matt and Adelle

I've become a bit lazy in keeping up with the blog lately, and Jeff brought up how much he likes to read them later on.  Hearing his encouragement gave me a boost of motivation so I'm determined to catch up with the last few posts I've missed.

Our trip to visit Matt and Adelle can best be summarized in fantastic wine, great company, and delicious meals.  Jeff's video below gives an excellent depiction of the trip.

Our first stop after landing in Sydney was to head north to the beach town of Terrigal.  We took a short hike down to the beach at Bouddi National Park where Matt entertained us with his impressive sand art skills.   Terrigal was the perfect place to get sufficiently caught up with Matt and Adelle while basking in the fresh air of Australia.   Jeff and I have a bit of an obsession with Australian slang so we added "Hoon" (fast driver, can be used as a verb too - hooning around) and "Stobie Pole" (telephone pole) to our ever growing vocabulary.
Bouddi National Park hike
Friendly little lorikeet.
Adelle and I ran up to thepoint one morning, what a view!  
Drinks on the beach after a good walk along the coast
After the extended weekend in Terrigal, Matt and Adelle has some work to catch up on so we headed off for a few days in the Blue Mountains.  When we got there the air was cold and crisp and I was super thankful for my down jacket.  We spent a few days shopping around in Leura, riding the gondola at Scenic World, and snuggling up in our B&B cabin.  
Jeff and I ran to the Three Sisters viewpoint.  Jeff is not much of a morning exerciser and he adamantly accused me of ditching him on the way there claiming that he was going at his "top speed".  
From the gondola at Scenic World
On our way out of the Blue Mountain, we stopped at the Jenolan Caves which we both loved.
For our final weekend in Australia, we reconnected with Matt and Adelle and stayed with them in Canberra.  We arrived to the amazing aromas of Matt's famous lamb leg on the barbie.   The next morning Adelle took us to one of my favorite breakfast spot ever.  The coffee was spot on and we sat outside wrapped up in blankets; it almost felt like breakfast in bed with friends.  We spent Friday touring around Canberra including the War Memorial and Museum, The Parliament, and The Portrait Museum.  Our final day included an epic girls run around the lake which ended up being almost 7 miles!  Luckily we went out to a huge brunch afterwards at a cute restaurant / winery where we all devoured our food.  We're already looking forward to a reunion in late December for the Moore-Sugden wedding celebration.  
War Memorial
You can walk on top of the Parliament! 
Brunch at Poacher's Pantry with Helen
Sunset from Matt and Adelle's apartment on our last night.






Monday, April 6, 2015

Appendicitis on vacation

The day after we finished the Routeburn Track, I started getting a pain in my stomach and feeling nauseous.  Having lived in Jakarta for almost 3 years now, this is nothing unusual and Jeff and I have learned to ignore most digestive issues.   I blamed all the freeze dried backpacker food and PB & J sandwiches we'd been eating for the last 4 days.   By the time we left Queenstown to head for Lake Wanaka, the pain was getting pretty bad and I admitted to Jeff that I thought something was really wrong.   After waffling back and forth about whether we should push on to the remote West Coast or see a doctor, we ended up in the urgent care clinic at 9 pm.  The doctor suspected appendicitis and instructed us to head immediately to the nearest hospital with a surgery division.   Jeff powered up on gas station coffee and sugary snacks and we started on the 4 hour journey from Wanaka to Dunedin.

The drive was harrowing - dark, curvy, hilly, and all in the middle of the night with me moaning and groaning about the pain.  At around 1 am, still an hour away from Dunedin, all of the lights on the dashboard started flashing and indicating that we had every mechanical and electrical failure possible.  We crossed our fingers and pushed on luckily without breaking down.  

I spent the night in the ER and went in for surgery the next afternoon.  Although I've never stayed in the hospital anywhere else, the level of care in New Zealand was fantastic.  While I was recovering, I kept thinking how glad I was to be in New Zealand as compared to the other places we've traveled to in the last few years.

Here's the big reveal of Jeff's video from the first week of the trip.

View of Lake Wanaka just before we went to the doctor. 
Not exactly the tastiest breakfast but at that point I was starving after not being able to eat for a day or 2.
Jeff seemed shocked when I told him he couldn't bring his Go-Pro in to "document" our experience. I allowed this one picture of me.
After being released from the hospital, we tried to make the best of the rest of the trip while still taking it easy.  The doctors had stressed that the surgery was minor so I had expected a quick and easy recovery.   Although the pain wasn't too bad, I was really wiped out and ended up spending a ton of time in bed.   Jeff did an amazing job of taking care of me - tracking my schedule for pain meds, keeping me watered and fed, reminding me to take it easy, helping me out of bed, and most heroic of all giving me a shot every day (in the stomach!) to prevent blood clots. 

Jeff found a little farm B&B to recover at, this is the view from bed. 
Lake Tekapo with Mt Cook in the background.
Not exactly a glamour shot of me, but definitely on the mend.
A month later, I'm now fully recovered with my energy levels finally bouncing back and expecially glad to be rid of my appendix.    

Sunday, March 29, 2015

New Zealand - Hiking the Routeburn Track and Queenstown

When you compare the island of Java to the South Island of New Zealand you  really can't get much further in contrast.  Java, the most populous island on Earth, has 143 million inhabitants with just over 128,000 square km, while the South Island has 1 million residents and takes up about 151,000 square km.  To put this into perspective, Java's population density is around 1,120 people per square km while the South Island hosts around 6.5 people per square km.

Before moving to Jakarta, Jeff and I loved hiking and backpacking during the warm summer months in Oregon so the first booking we made while travel planning for New Zealand was the Routeburn Track, a 20 mile hike featuring incredible views of the Southern Alps and surrounding valleys.  Considering that our fitness levels have been on a steady decline since moving to Jakarta, I was a bit apprehensive and convinced Jeff to do the hike in 4 days rather than the typical 3 days the most able bodied people opt for.  New Zealand has an amazing set-up for all of the Great Walks which includes huts to sleep in and cooking stoves to use.  Its was so nice to have a cosy bed and warm dinner to look forward to after a day of hiking.   You're sharing the huts with about 50 other people so earplugs and eye masks are a must, but it sure beats carrying a tent and thermarest.

Our first day of the trek was the shortest segment and a great starter to ease ourselves into the hike.  We were dropped off at The Divide and took a small detour up to Key Summit to enjoy our picnic lunch and get our first taste of the scenery we would enjoy for the next 3 days.

Our picnic view at the top of Key Summit 
My handsome mountain man 
Our reward after all the "strenuous" hiking
View of Lake Howden - where we stayed our first night
The second day brought us past a lot of waterfalls including Earland Falls where we stopped for lunch.  Jeff spent a lot of the hike today filming his documentary using his new gadget - a generic Go Pro camera and selfie stick.  After expending all of my patience stopping every 3 minutes for the first few miles, I threatened to sabotage his camera when he wasn't looking.  He really picked up the pace from there on and after seeing a sneak peak, I'm glad I put up with the endless videos!  The video is in final edits and I'm hoping to post it on the next blog post.
Jeff had his selfie stick and camera ready at all times
Earland Falls

Lake Mackenzie - Jeff couldn't resist going for a swim in several icy lakes including this one.
Our hut the second night.
It started raining that night and continued on the next morning so we bundled ourselves up in our rain gear and kept our fingers crossed it would clear up.  Luck was on our side and by the time that we got to the top of Harris Saddle we had clear views with just a few clouds rolling through.  Jeff convinced me to take a side trip up to Conical Hill which provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.  Even though my fear of heights kicked in half way up, I was glad he convinced me to make the extra effort.

Beautiful rainbow as the fog cleared.
On our way up Conical Hill
New Facebook picture? 

We took so many pictures along this section of the trail - if I had to choose a favorite, this would be it.

The view from the Routeburn Falls Hut - just a few days back in nature and it seems like we both get our sparkle back.  
After finishing up the hike the next day, we headed back towards Queenstown only to be delayed by a herd of escaped sheep running every which way.  After a few minutes, the sheep dogs came along and set them straight but it sure provided some welcome comic relief during the drive when all we could think about was what we were going to eat once we got back to Queenstown.   We picked up our home on wheels that afternoon, grabbed some lamb shoulder take-out at Pedro's House of Lamb, settled into our campsite, and cracked open a bottle of Pinot Noir.  The next day was filled with lunch at the famous Fergburger, wine tasting, and a bit of sightseeing around town.

Jeff and I found the sheep crossing hilarious.
Our campervan for the rest of the trip. 
Burgers the size of our heads.
Cheers!
Vineyards in any country always make us nostalgic for Oregon wine along with friends and family back home.

Our first week in New Zealand was exactly what we had hoped for - nature, scenery, relaxing, and wine tasting.  We had a dramatic change of plans the second week due me getting appendicitis.  Since this post has become way too long, I'll write more about that in the next installment.