Tag Archives: hostel

The Black Bear Lodge

It’s pretty rare for us to dedicate a whole post to one place or experience on the trail, the Black Bear Lodge just outside of Hampton, TN happened to be one of those experiences. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe planned on coming in for the night to take a shower, drink a beer and sleep in a bed for the first time in two weeks and ended up getting hit by our first “town vortex” and staying for three whole days!

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Surf Bums and Ski Bums – one in the same

Between leaving the farm and our start date at Mike’s Brewery (more to come on that later), we took a few days to be tourists since we really needed some rest and recuperation after our very stressful 4hrs/day at the farm! We hitched, quite successfully really, to the resort/destination town of Raglan which is situated on the central west coast of the North Island. Raglan is famous not only for its beautiful black sand beaches that are filled with a fine sand loaded in iron and other minerals, but also as a prominent spot for surfing in New Zealand. Raglan is to surfing in NZ what Whistler, BC is to skiing in Canada. We hung out for a couple of days, staying in hostels and practicing how to make the (usually) temporary friend that comes with hosteling. One of the days we attempted to surf which was only moderately successful – we flipped the hostel a couple bucks for a half day rental, they gave us some ratchet straps to hold the boards to the free shuttle, and then gave us the keys… Yes, the “free shuttle” turned out to be a 1989 Subaru Wagon that the most competent driver of the group got to drive to the beach – just be back by 2pm!! Although at the end of the day there wasn’t quite enough snow for either of us to be successful… give me skis any day!

Lindsay and the three others from the hostel that went surfing with us in Raglan
Lindsay and the three others from the hostel that went surfing with us in Raglan

One interesting observation from our first experience in a surf town, especially a touristy surf town, is that ski bums and surf bums are pretty much the same people. They get up at 7am (hungover) to go get at least one run, maybe two if they are lucky, before having to go work and cater to the needs of the tourists with the money. Our hostel was staffed by a team of 5 surf bums, all on a rotating schedule so some could go surf in the morning and others could go surf in the afternoon… quite similar to the guys working in a season rental shop or those making snow up on the mountains. Just like being at the mountain, the locals did their thing and made it quite apparent that they were the locals while the tourists were supposed to stay on their half of the beach and not interfere with the people who A. Knew what they were doing and B. Had earned the right to have the good runs by living there. The locals were out in the deep water where the perfect big waves were….we made sure to be polite and stick to the baby waves that crash into the shoreline most of the day (that’s our excuse anyway)!

Lindsay and I after a day of "surfing"... or trying
Lindsay and I after a day of “surfing”… or trying

All in all, spending two days in surf town ended up being a great experience – another one of the touristy things you must do when you’re traveling. It was just quite interesting to see how similar the culture of Surf Town, NZ and Jackson Hole, WY really were.

We’re so old…

**Disclaimer: A lot of you reading this are about to tell us to shut up and/or go to hell…

4 days in a backpackers hostel with 19 year olds German kids will make you feel old… We are so old. New Zealand is filled with Europeans, mainly German, taking their “gap year” which is a year of holiday and world traveling between high school and university. That also translates to blowing your cash when you get to Auckland on going out partying…

So there we sat one night in our 12 person shared bunk room realizing that we are the old people in this crowd and this is what we came up with:

  • I’m basically the only guy with a beard because I am basically the only one old enough to grow one.
  • They cook ramen in the communal kitchen and buy cases of shit beer, we bought lamb and drank a single craft beer.
  • We’ve been “hooking up” longer than half the kids in our bunk room have been in puberty.
  • The start partying at midnight, we’re asleep by 1030.
  • They buy extra Internet and spend the days in the common room on their laptops, we actually left the hostel but don’t know how to use an iPad.
  • Priorities include buying a car and getting a local cell phone. I bought my first car around the time they bought their first bike and paying car insurance sucks!
  • But worst of all… I actually wanted to get a book and read last night.

Stupid kids…

Auckland, New Zealand. The first few days.

New Zealand! 18 months ago; a wild dream. A year ago; a distant possibility. Six months ago; a legitimate trip. Two days ago; a one way ticket from Los Angeles Airport. We made it across the world, across the equator and onto the volcanic rock the size of Colorado that we will call home for the next four months. Our first couple days, the topic of this post, were spent in a downtown Auckland hostel fighting jet lag and the joys of a 12 person dorm filled with 18 year old German kids (a post lamenting about our old age and time at the hostel is in the days to come).

So once we finally made it to Auckland after about 22 hours of time in an airplane what did we do? Besides sleep you mean? We had a hostel booked for three nights in walking distance to the downtown and we tried to see as much of the city that we could for free. Our first full day led us to buying breakfast groceries from an Indian man named “Eddy” who upon learning we had a friend from Assam gave us a killer deal on our eggs and veg and even hooked us up with a cheap Indian mean from the joint next door that night!

A view of downtown from the highest point in the city, Mt Eden

After a breakfast from Eddy’s Market, we spent day 2 in NZ seeing the downtown, including Lindsay indulging my man crush on sail boats. We also tried to do much of the tourist stuff in the city center like the fish market and the wharf area. The highlight of the day definitely being all of the sailboats, which WILL be my midlife crisis. I just need to learn how to drive one!

Day 3 turned into a bit more of an adventure than we bargained for. A 15km(ish) trail went from one side of the Auckland isthmus to the other, taking a traveler through many of the city’s famous parks. Getting a late start as we normally do, we left the hostel at a bright and early 1030am and not long thereafter I lost the map out of my back pocket and we were on our own. Not to fear, we had a general idea of where to go and a 1.3mil person city couldn’t be THAT big. After getting lost only a few times we connected back to the trail which led through historic districts, national monuments and even a sheep farm. Being good little tourists we took pictures of this for all you nice people to see.

A sheep farm in the middle of the downtown parks… this place is awesome!

An early morning by any standards, 530am wake up and we were out the door on day 4, headed to the bus stop and our wwoofing gig at the Packtrack farm. (Follow the blog for that update!)