Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chicken with a view.

Alternative title was: I'd like to know what a five-dollar shake tastes like.

First day at work. Felt like any other first day of work in a hospital, with the exception of nearly every drug having some other name...and my reference books are in a container, or possibly in storage, so I'll have to fake it for a little while longer.

Dinner in Ahuriri at the Hot Chick. So far, the best restaurant I've eaten at in Hawke's Bay; well, if not the best restaurant, at least the one I enjoyed the most. Sorry I have no photos to post tonight; please believe me when I tell you: The view from our table is unrivaled in California...and the deep fried banana was exquisite.

For dessert: My first NZ thick shake. I'm not quite sure what a thick shake is, except that one cost more than a milk shake. Extra thick shakes are even more expensive than thick shakes. Mine was not terribly thick, and I was left a bit time I'll spring for the extra thick shake.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Drive my car into the ocean

For those of you who might have been worried about us, if a Tsunami hit Napier, it was not much noticed by us locals. Apparently three cruise ships stayed out at sea, which left plenty of room for our picnic in front of the Bay Cities' Symphonic Band. The bandstand is right on the beach, though it appears to be a few feet above sea level. I'm told downtown Napier is below sea level.

Nico and I used to drive around during Hurricane warnings in Indianapolis, so what could be better than a trip to Ocean Beach (which is supposed to be amongst Hawke's Bay's finest) during a Tsunami warning. We made it most of the 30k through beautiful rolling pastures and vineyards, but were turned away by a closed road near the end of the trip.

A little exploring led us to Te Mata Peak, where crazy people were jumping off a mountain.

Back in Napier, we took a look at the local sailing scene.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Homeless, homeless
Moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake

I have been having trouble taking a photograph that accurately captures Napier. I'm guessing I need a wider lens, or perhaps I just need more practice with the lens I have. Here's a typical street in the Central Business District (CBD).

This is a downtown Napier beach. The bike path goes on forever.

And here's Nico at the Warehouse. The Warehouse is best described as a combination of Walmart and Big Lots. Still, like most of New Zealand, it's enough like the US to be livable. Look at all those toothbrushes.

On to the important stuff. It appears we've found a home to let, though we won't know until Monday when the current tenant will be vacating. It's in the town of Havelock North, which we had not considered before arriving in NZ because it is 10 clicks from the water. However, after driving around Hawke's Bay for a few hours, we both agreed it is one of the nicest cities we've seen in NZ. Also, there are not a lot of other options available for rent at the moment.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When you're alone, and life is making you lonely, you can always go...

Three days in country today. A brief update for those of you who are keeping score.

Here's the car we bought in Auckland. It's a 2004 Subaru Forester LL Bean. We are the first NZ owners, which means the last person to own it was Japanese. He put a bit of work into it, including a fairly high end TV/DVD/Navigator/Back up cam/who knows what else. Unfortunately, the thing only speaks Japanese, so it is not of much use for us.

During our two days in Auckland, we happened upon what's left of the original cemetary. Nico did not think this was even a little funny, and got mad at me for taking the picture.

And a quick stop at the Auckland zoo. I do not quite get the kiwi sense of humour. Tortoises however, are the same all over.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Things accomplished (so far) on day one in New Zealand:
1) Cleared immigration/customs
2) Checked tandem at airport because it was unlikely to fit in rental car
3) Bought cell phone (actually just a sim card for an old cell phone)
4) Rented car
5) Dropped luggage off at hotel
6) Opened bank account
7) Won Car!!! (okay, it was at an auction)
8) Returned rental car
9) Picked up tandem at airport
10) Checked into hotel
11) Found Justice of the Peace to witness pharmacist application
12) Mailed pharmacist application via overnight courier to Pharmacy Council
13) Enjoyed a Mac's Gold.

Dinner with our Kiwi friends tonight; taking tomorrow off

Kiwi Mike is far more productive than USA Mike

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I thought I’d take a chance and forget about the States

[I started writing this a week ago, but never got around to finishing it...sorry if some of the tenses are off.]

"Why are you moving to New Zealand?" (or perhaps the slightly funnier, at least to the non-Kiwi: "Why are you moving to Australia?") is a question I have been asked more times than I care to count. I am certain I had a much better answer eleven and a half months ago when we started to seriously plan this move...and the question comes so frequently now, that any answer I could provide would undoubtedly sound canned.

If you have some time on your hands, pick up a copy Slipping into Paradise: Why I Love New Zealand. The book is not very good, but in the first few pages the author sums up why we're making this move; or at least why I'm making this move...I am sure Nico is getting asked enough about why she would do something crazy like move halfway around the world by all of you, and does not need to hear it again from me. Anyway, put the book down after the first chapter; except for some very good reasons to not move to Australia, the rest of it is not worth reading.

So why do I want to move to New Zealand? I could easily tell you how the idea got planted in my head: I somehow started getting letters from New Zealand's Department of Labour telling me about a huge pharmacist shortage, a climate identical to that of the west coast of the US (only in reverse), and beach houses for <$200,000 (US). Friends tell me I started talking about moving to New Zealand in 2006, but I really can't remember.

After a vacation/reconnaissance last year, the question that was becoming even harder to answer was: "Why are you not moving to New Zealand?"

Keep reading...maybe I'll have an answer to both questions in the future.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

One of the last weekends in the OC

Jazz sextet at the Laguna Coffee Company (drummer and keyboardist are obscured).

There is no beach in Laguna at high tide.

Khanh...caught in a rare moment of not being at work.

Perhaps the Great Park will be a little better the next time we are there.
This would be a better picture if I were not too lazy to photoshop it.

This would be a better picture if it looked more like the first one.