Page 2 of heckmantis Travel Blog Posts

Oceania » Australia » South Australia » Coober Pedy October 24th 2015

Continued from previous entry... Day 4: We “sleep in” till about 9 in the van. It’ still raining so we decide to get outta here and head north towards the desert, assuming it won’t be raining up there. Our destination for today is Flinders Ranges National Park, about 2.5 hours north of where we are now. We hit the road and drive through a little bit of rain before arriving in the little town of Quorn. Sounds like “corn.” Nimarta has spent two nights here before on her previous trip to the Outback. In fact she celebrated her New Year’s 2012 here. It’s a bit more vibrant than the other little towns we passed through yesterday, but still not much going on. We use the public bathrooms to wash up, fill up on gas, and get ... read more

Oceania » Australia » South Australia » Clare October 23rd 2015

Day 1: Melbourne to Grampians National park After goodbye’s with our Melbourne friends Yamuna, Ankit, and Ari we load into the van to begin our great 6000km Australian road trip. We have one big suitcase, one small suitcase, one large backpack, and two small backpacks for our journey. We loaded up on food yesterday at the grocery store and Yamuna grilled us some Tandoori chicken to take with us so we are good to go. Next stop: Grampians National Park! Gas in Melbourne is $1.19/liter. Coming from New Zealand we find this amazing. We fill up the van for less than $60 and we are off. Not long after getting on the highway, though, we pull over. There are signs for a fruit stand: 10 mangoes for $10! It’s busy and we wait in line but ... read more

With a 4 month vacation and an impending move to The Netherlands coming up we figured we couldn’t leave New Zealand without one last trip to the South Island. Before flying off to Australia we rented a campervan from Juicy in Queenstown for four nights. Our last New Zealand experience. We had to make the best of it. It’s Nimarta’s birthday when we touch down in Queenstown. She’s a young 31. It’s a beautifully sunny day and we hurry over to Juicy to get our campervan. She still thinks we are spending her birthday eating noodles out of the back of our campervan. After a quick shopping stop at New World I tell her it’s time to head to the hotel. “What!?” she says. “Yes, babe. You think I was gonna let you spend your birthday ... read more

For the first part of this trip see "3 Days on Kauai." After an incredible start to our vacation on Kauai we hop on the plane early Sunday morning to head to Hilo, the largest city on the Big Island of Hawaii. After changing planes in Honolulu we are off towards one of the only land masses in the world that is constantly getting bigger. Ponder that for a while if you don't already know. It's a cloudy day but as we're flying above the clouds I see a huge mountain peak sticking up above the clouds. It's red and barren and has numerous patches of snow. This is Mount Kea. At 13,796 feet in elevation, it is the tallest mountain in Hawaii and one of the tallest in the US not in Alaska, Colorado, or ... read more
The Caldera
Lava Field
Playing on the Lava Rock

North America » United States » Hawaii » Kaua'i May 5th 2014

Deciding what islands to visit on an 8 day trip to Hawaii is no easy task. After a lot of research we decided to spend the first three days of our trip on the small island of Kauai. With a population of barely 20,000 it's the quietest of the four major Hawaiian islands. It is, however, a major tourist destination due to some incredible scenic wonders. They filmed Jurassic Park here, as well as dozens of other movies. Clearly Hollywood knows what's up. Time to discover for ourselves what they have always known. We almost don't get out of New Zealand due to crappy weather. Half the flights from Wellington are cancelled. Luckily our plane takes off only an hour late and we make it to Auckland in time to board our Hawaiian Air flight to ... read more
Surfers, it is Hawaii After all
Some Amazing Coastline
Sunset over Popui

For the prequel to this trip please see NZ South Island Road Trip Part 1: Picton to Queenstown. Queenstown is the self-proclaimed adventure capital of the world. It's a thrill seekers paradise. Bungy jumping was commercialized here. There are hundreds of other adventure options as well, from swinging on a rope through a canyon to riding a jetboat a million miles an hour on the lake. The population of the town is only about 8,000 people, and all 8,000 apparently work in the tourism or service industry because there is not much other industry in town. At any given time the town has far more tourists than residents. This leads to an abundance of hotels and restaurants to choose from though. We are staying at the Copthorne Millennium Hotel and Apartments. We have booked a two ... read more
Routeburn Track
First Glimpse of the Peaks
Mitre Peak

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Queenstown March 17th 2014

Six months of living in New Zealand and I've only been to the South Island once, and just for a long weekend! Not to take anything away from the beautiful Mt. Cook National Park, but I definitely couldn't let that be my only South Island experience. Good thing I've got a bad ass road trip planned for when my mom comes to town. My friend Julia from DC will also be coming to New Zealand this week and joining us for the adventure. Nimarta will be joining us in Christchurch for the very end of this trip and her mom will be joining us in Queenstown for the second half of the trip. One big happy family. Mom has already been exploring Wellington for a few days by the time Julia arrives late on a Friday ... read more
Marlborough Sounds
Marlborough Sounds
Nelson Lakes

See "Great American Road Trip Part 2: The Redwoods to Boise" for the prequel to this story I wake up Friday morning with a throbbing hangover. I used to never get hangovers, but at this age no matter how much water I chug before bed I still get hangovers. And this isn't exactly the best day to have a hangover. I have almost 400 miles to go to reach my final destination for the day: Grant Teton National Park. But first I am taking a slight detour to a unique geological site in bumfuck, Idaho. Craters of the Moon National Monument is about 170 miles from Boise down Highway 20. I turn off I-84 in Mountain Home and I'm one of the loneliest roads in America. It's me and a few bikers and we are going ... read more

Almost four months of living in New Zealand and I still haven't been to the South Island. Hell, I can see it from Wellington. So close yet so far. Good thing Nimarta and I have booked an Air New Zealand grab-a-seat deal to Christchurch for the Wellington Anniversary weekend in January. Flight to Christchurch on a holiday weekend for $98 round trip. Yes, please! I don't even have to leave work early, since the flight is 6:45 from Wellington. We are trying something new today. The bus from the city to the airport takes a while and costs $9 each way and parking at the airport is highway robbery. So we are going to park in a neighborhood near the airport and walk to the airport. Brilliant, right? Actually, it is brilliant. We find a road ... read more
Container City
Road to the Southern Alps
Towards Arthur's Pass

Oceania » Australia » Victoria » Great Ocean Road » Torquay February 10th 2014

December 20, 2013. The summer solstice is just a day away. This is weird for me since I'm used to that date being June 21, not December 21st. I'm not complaining though. I spent June 21 in the US so this is my second summer in a row. Last night it was light till about 9:35 in Wellington. We are pretty far south. I'm going to miss the longest day of the year here though. I'll be spending it in Melbourne. I've been to Melbourne before. Maybe one day I'll write about my first time there. It was an odd experience, but I've decided to give it another shot. I'll be meeting my friend Steve from Las Vegas there. He is coming to the southern hemisphere for three weeks in Australia and New Zealand. He'll be ... read more

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