Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hall Family Vacation: First Edition

WOW! It seems like things have been going and going and going lately. Will and I just attended the Assembly (Baptist Conference of New Zealand), which was held in the South Island. We had such a wonderful, relaxing time together. I soon found out that the scenery on the South Island is much different than the North Island where Otorohanga is located. Traveling to the South Island together was a first for us, so although we went for *work*, we took a few days extra to allow ourselves some tourists fun and adventure...and enjoy our FIRST *Hall Family Vacation.* And we did just that!! 
We flew on a small (and I mean VERY small) plane. Would you believe the airport had no screening security? Does anyone remember the daytime show Wings? Remember that small Nantucket Airport that serviced only one or two flights at a time? That was the size of airport we departed from. A new adventure. I almost felt like a celebrity in hiding, leaving on my private jet.... ok ok , not really--- ! :) But you get the idea.

The views from the plane were simply gorgeous. Im sure some passengers thought Will and I were silly as we pressed firmly our little digital camera to the window trying to get the perfect picture! Oh, but little do they know what pictures we have! :) Would they still count us silly now?! 
This is Mt. Taranaki located in New Plymouth. Im not sure exactly the height of it, but this picture was taken at cruising altitude and you can see the picture! Not such a shabby mountain, aye? 

After landing in Christchurch (where we would soon return), we rented a car and drove MANY hours (ok so it was only 6, but thats alot of driving!) to Castle Rock. What a neat formation of Rocks, naturally placed on a hill in a gorgeous setting. I had only seen such beauty in magazines and on postcards, but to see it in person almost leaves you breathless. Speechless. In awe! 
Here is another picture of some views we saw while driving through the Southern Alps, mountain range(s). Good times, awesome views.

This one is actually a view of a river. The underbrush and sand make an awesome looking design. 
This is just a *country scene* of the mountains as we drove past. Will said I was asleep, I dont think so..... Ha! 

On our trip we stayed in Backpackers. Its common for travelers to stay in such places. This would be a place that might supply you with your own room and toilet and then have a common kitchen area to cook. I was in charge of the cooking and food for the trip. I was excited as I wanted to make sure my hubby ate well and stayed fed, even on vacation/holiday. I had all the meals planned out for the first part of the trip (spaghetti one night and homemade pizza the next) Easy yet filling, right! 
Wait, did I forget to tell you that sometimes they call their ingredients different names here? Lets keep that in mind! 
Im in the grocery and picking up what is needed to make the meals. I grab the things for a hawiian pizza (yummy) and then the spaghetti. I go to the sauce aisle and pick up the tomato sauce. Everything is in check. Ready to make dinner and spaghetti is up first.
Noodles are done and we are both hungry. Garlic bread is ready to be heated. After pouring the Tomato sauce on the noodles, I realize that I just poured Ketchup on them, not *pasta sauce*!! Tomato sauce =ketchup! I could have kicked myself a thousand times! I shredded cheese to try and *fix the mistake. Nope. It was the *sweetest spaghetti I ever had. Needless to say I didnt eat much of it, or any dinner that night. Thank goodness my sweet husband will eat whatever I fix him!

Dont think our journey ended with my horrible spaghetti flop! Will was able to spend a day on Fox Glacier while I was pampered watching TV (yes, I say pampered since I do not have a TV in my home)!  We both went on a walk later that day to see the face of Fox Glacier. To give you an idea exactly how big it is.... the black specks behind us are people.  It is truly an amazing sight to see. 
This is a picture of Will standing on Fox. He had the time of his life! :) 
Will and I far off from the face of Fox. Can you see the black specks (people) behind us? Imagine how big that glacier REALLY is! 

Now, on to the Tasman Sea were we stayed in yet, another Backpackers (although each one is a little different I am learning). Oh the stories I have to tell dad---- hahaha! Off the Tasman Sea we went to Punataki (the Pancake Rocks). These formations were the coolest thing! Surrounding a portion of the sea were rock formations that looked like pancakes, along with blowholes. The waves from the ocean were fierce in certain areas-- which was even more awesome (almost like waves after a thunderstorm off the coast of Panama City Beach).  But the most breathtaking view was the Tasman Sea at sunset. The natural, rustic, untouched seaside cascaded with the glow of the setting sun! 
Leaving the Punataki area, we left to go to the Assembly for a few days in Rangiora. We stayed with the sweetest couple, the Edmeades. I learned alot from the way churches are handled in New Zealand compared to how they are in the states. Overall, I was greatly surprised at the welcome I received there. I was also excited about winning (for the first time) the Candy guess (where you guess how many candies are in a jar)-- I was off by 1!! 

No, our journey isnt over yet!! The assemby lasted 4 days. They were long but we ate well. Ok ok! Im a Baptist... we eat when we get together so we are supposed to say something about the food right? Oh, and the worship was good too! 

Arriving in Christchurch, again..... another backpackers! yay-- this one was once an old hotel back in the day, Im sure of it! It had class and style but no elevator and we were on the second floor (but two flights of stairs per floor)!! Its very hard to carry a rolling suitcase up two floors. Bell Hop anyone? Oh wait, this is New Zealand! 
Man did we ever act like tourist in Christchurch. Our accomadations were located behind the Christchurch Cathedral. The Cathedral was gorgeous, along with other structures surrounding the city. People were playing life size chess in the square and riding the trolly to their next location. We also road the trolly several times, mostly to stay warm for a few minutes before venturing out again.  You can see us here, huddled up in the cab of this trolly as it strolls through the city of Christchurch. 

Will and I loved the Cathedral. We went there twice, I think. I told Will they were really smart to make the only exit from the cathedral to be through their gift shop. Of course that worked on us. We bit the bait and bought something! No pictures are allowed inside the Cathedral. You can imagine my excitement when I saw my first REAL LIVE NUN walking around. I had to tell Will. Of course he was shocked that I hadnt seen one earlier. Umm, Hello... Im Baptist! :) 
I watched her walk to the back of the Cathedral and a bigger grin came to my face! 
"Will, she's leaving! She's leaving! Quick, give me the camera. I can take her picture now!!!"
I exited through the entrance since going through the gift shop would only take me to the other side of the church and I would miss my window of opportunity. The doors opened, I stepped through and *SNAP* my first picture of the first nun I ever saw. A moment of pure joy and pride. Why? I have no idea.... I guess I just liked the movie Sister Act!

Will and just really wanted to enjoy the surroundings of the city and relax. What better way to  do that than to go Punting on the Avalon River through the Park. It was a 30 minute Punt, just the two of us. A sunny, breezing, chilly (ok ok COLD) day but I have really come to enjoy doing the things that I would never get to do anywhere else and what better person to do them with than my sweet Will! 
This is a picture I took the first day in Christchurch of another group of people punting along the river. So peaceful!

Will and I are currently getting ready to come back to the states for a short visit. We are excited about Barry and Dusti's upcoming wedding and the joy and excitement it brings. Everyone here is excited for the opportunity that we have to go back and revisit family and for the upcoming wedding!! We cant wait. :) 

Sometimes when you are in a far away place or in another country, God can send the smallest thing (or animal) to remind you of home or your family and those who love you!    This is a little cat I saw at a coffee shop that looked just like Max, my dad's cat.  Of course Im a daddy's girl so anything that reminds me of my daddy makes me smile! 
 This concludes my wonderful first family vacation as a newly married wife! I cant wait to go on the next one and the many more to come! 
One more week! FAMILY and FLORIDA here we come!! Please keep us in your prayers as we travel many long hours and days (flying). 

Love you all so much. God is so good!