Archive for November, 2010

30th November
written by Hazel

I had hoped to get a lot more blog posts up before heading out, but it’s time to turn off my computer, pull out the hard drive, and say goodbye to the rest of it.

It’s so hard to leave this place – we love our apartment and our friends and our dog!  The goodbyes have been tough, but wonderful to have such amazing friends.  And now we’re almost on our way.  Tomorrow we set off for a few days in Seattle with family and then on Saturday we fly out.

Thank you California friends!!!!!  We’re really going to miss you!!!

It's so empty!

29th November
written by Justin

This is getting so real!  Had to say farewell to several friends last night and to all of LiveOps today.  Between that and the stuff fleeing to Goodwill it is all getting crazy.  We leave tomorrow!  Vamanos!

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27th November
written by Justin
  • justinandhazel's photo

We decided to go with Allways car rental for our New Zealand campervan.  This company, in addition to having vans when we called (who knew that all of New Zealand is also looking to rent a campervan in the middle of summer), has been really helpful with everything we need.  They had a super cheap deal on their older models going, $65 NZD/day or so, but in order to guarantee an automatic transmission we decided to upgrade to their premium model, the “Ferns” van, for which we could request an automatic.  This also has a stove and a fridge right in the van so making our own meals will be even easier!

25th November
written by Hazel

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Turkey Trotters (minus Justin since he was taking the photo)

We started out the day today by running in the Turkey Trot in downtown San Jose.  We did the 5k, but they also have a 10k and tons of people showed up in the perfect (but chilly) weather.  They were saying that there were 14,500 runners there and it was a very festive atmosphere!  There was a costume contest and the people watching while running made the 53 minutes it took me to run it go a lot faster.  Justin was a champ and finished in 29 minutes!  Our friends do this run every year and if we were sticking around I think we’d add it to our traditions too.  Thanks John and Cynthia for sharing your tradition!

Victory is ours!!! And now the turkey will be too....

24th November
written by Hazel

One week from today we will (hopefully) be arriving at my parents’ house and be completely out of our place in California!  Time is flying by and our house is oh so gradually emptying out.  Here’s somewhat of an update on what we’ve been up to:


  • Dealing with selling/donating/giving away the furniture and other stuff we’ve collected over the years.  If you know anyone who wants anything we still have some stuff for sale.
  • Last swing dance practice with our dance troupe.  Check them out – we’re sad to be leaving!
  • Learning to tango!  This has been wonderful fun and we’re hoping we’ve gotten enough of the basics down that we’ll be able to keep learning in Argentina.
  • An all too brief trip to Sacramento for a visit with an awesome friend.
  • Getting my trusty Subaru set for our drive up to Seattle.  We’re hoping that the recent cold spell up there will not make our trip too treacherous.

What we’re still working on:

  • Finalizing our backpack packing lists.  I’m itching to get some more details up about packing lists, but want to wait until we’re pretty well set.
  • Still have one more booster shot for Japanese Encephalitis.
  • This blog!  We need to figure out photo management while we’re away and how best to display galleries to share with our friends.
  • All the little planning details – so very time consuming.
  • Making the most of our time with friends here.  It’s going to be hard to leave!
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20th November
written by Justin

So we’re doing a bunch of selling on C-list and I thought I’d share a few choice quotes from the buying masses:

I saw your ad on CL and am interested in your bike pump.  What is your best offer? -Iris

Wondering if you missed the price :)

whats up y.ou presently there still? -Marvin
reply i.f you happen to be true -Marvin
post b.ack if your not fake -Marvin
This was actually 3 different messages from the same guy on 2 different ads.  Spam or not, you tell me?
Long story short, selling ain’t easy!
19th November
written by Hazel

On Wednesday my mom flew down from Seattle to spend some time with us before we leave.  Since she’s always wanted to see Yosemite, I hatched a plan for us to go out there for a night.  We had an awesome time hiking and seeing the sights, and now I have some actual travel to blog about.  It was very special for me to go back to Yosemite, because almost exactly a year ago Justin proposed to me there.

She got into the San Jose airport (after a minor delay) in the middle of the day and we headed straight to the park.  The drive was fairly uneventful, although there was some crazy smoke/smog/fog around Merced.  It was like driving with really dirty windows.  It disappeared once we got into the mountains though and we managed to make it to the park just after sunset.

Half Dome at Sunset as we Arrived

We stayed in a heated tent cabin in the Curry Village Campground and even though it got down to about 27 degrees Fahrenheit we were fairly warm and comfy all night.

Mom at the Pizza Place for Dinner

Me Excited with the Map

Inside our Cosy Tent Cabin

Reviews online were pretty mixed about this campground – apparently, it can be noisy, spiders have been sighted, and the blankets are wool so they are itchy.  We really liked it.  It’s right next to Half Dome, has hot water, heaters, and the beds were pretty comfortable.  It also has a handy bear locker right outside your tent so you can keep all your food from being stolen by a bear.  Apparently bears are a pretty huge problem as they break into cars and tents to get at the people food.  We didn’t see one though.

Our Cute Cabin

We were up with the sun at about 6 a.m. and started out on a hike right away.  The first stop was Mirror Lake and we got some sweet views along the way.  You can click on any of these pictures for a bigger version.

Yosemite Falls at Sunrise

Frozen Meadow with Fall Colors

Exploring the Trails

It was very, very cold, but very, very beautiful.  This was my first chance to check out how my trip clothes would perform in really cold weather and I’m glad to say, it went very well.  I brought an extra scarf and mittens, but aside from that I got by just with layering things from my backpack.  Good to know that I can be ok hiking at those kinds of temperatures with the clothes I’m planning on bringing!

Reflections in Mirror Lake

Around 10 a.m. we were starving so we splurged and had the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Ahwahnee Hotel.  So yummy and I definitely ate too much.  But after several cups of coffee and at least 5 pieces of bacon I was ready to hike again!

We checked out the gift shop:

Dancing bear?!

And the Visitors’ Center (this had some really good exhibits):


And then headed to the waterfalls.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

According to the Visitors’ Center these are the highest falls in the U.S.  and are usually dried up at this time of year.  We were lucky to have awesome views of them and I spent a lot of time taking pictures.  In fact, most of the rest of the day was spent hiking around this area and snapping photos of the incredible views.  It’s really hard to decide which ones to post since I got a lot of good shots.  Hopefully in a day or two we will have worked out how to get photo galleries up and then I can post them all and not clutter up my blog posts as much.  But, because I like them, here are a few more of my Yosemite shots:

Upper Yosemite Falls

Beautiful Fall Leaves


Half Dome

El Capitan

I’ll try to put the rest up in a gallery soon.  Today is a frantic getasmuchworkdoneonthehouseaspossible day, so I’d better get to it.

16th November
written by Hazel

How did they know?

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15th November
written by Hazel

We’ve been busy getting details worked out for the first stop on our trip – New Zealand!

So far we have booked a hostel for our first night in Auckland.  We’ll head there and crash the first night and then the next day we will pick up our sleepervan which will be our home for the next 6.5 weeks.  We will be cruising around in the “ferns” van which we can park at campgrounds and sleep and cook in.  There’s lots of great hiking, beaches, and scenery, so I don’t think we’ll be getting bored!  We’re also going to use our driving time to listen to tons of Spanish language tapes to get prepared for our next couple of stops.

We’ll have about a week on the North Island and then take the ferry over to the South Island.  The plan is to spend Christmas in Christchurch and this is the one place we’ve made camping reservations ahead of time.  There’s a place to camp just a few blocks from the Cathedral in downtown Christchurch, so we figured we’d give it a go.  This location also provides computer access, so we know for sure we can get some blog posts up at that point.

After a month on the South Island we’ll head back up north for another week and a half before we go back to Auckland for our flight to South America.  Pretty flexible all in all, but it’s nice to know that we have all of the important details set now.

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