Nicole's Tour

A compilation of the experiences that the upcoming year holds for me. Add a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of poetic spirit...and hopefully all will turn out alright.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Another Update

Hmm, I've become pretty inconsistent here. Something's better than nothing though, eh? With the turning of the weather here in NZ, things are quieting down at the shop and I'm quickly losing interest. Boredom is probably one of my least favorite things next to flying and heights which pretty much coincide (one way or another). Other things have taken up my interest though, a new business, a real estate course, continued training, dancing the night away with good friends. My trip home to New York is rapidly approaching and I have much to do before I leave. Five weeks just doesn't seem like enough, but I'll make it work.

Despite sounding a bit flat, the good things in life are abundant right now. I have been thinking a lot (as I do) especially concerning people and their motivation (or lack thereof). I think too many people in this world want something for nothing and that annoys me. The only way to get somewhere is to work hard and I'm slightly fed up with the throngs of people complaining about being stuck in some sort of rut. Do something about it if you're so unhappy! It's definitely not easy to do, but the end result is so worth it. I suppose this musing isn't nearly as entertaining as my past posts back from late 2005 (i was re-reading them and chuckling to myself the other day) but it's important and needs to be put out there.

My most recent observation is this--without putting ideas and plans into action, you get nowhere. All you end up having is an idea or a plan. Even if it's written out 100 times or discussed with everyone you know or thought about until you can't see straight....without actually DOING IT, it's still just a thought. Which is why in this world there are those who let life take them along for the a current in a river or ocean. And then there are those who choose their own direction and map out their own path and MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. Instead of succumbing to the whims of the world and "good luck" and "bad luck", they create their own opportunities, make their own "good luck", and reap the benefits of putting brilliant thoughts into action.

That being said, I'm super-motivated to be a doer, to be a trail-blazer and to ACT towards all of my many goals. I know that with this attitude there is no place for failure. Good things are here right now and I know more great things are to come. The future is certainly very, very bright. :-)


Monday, February 04, 2008


Wow. It has recently been brought to my attention that I am super slack at writing on this web page. Well, to be honest, I meant to be. I didn't really have a hell of a lot to say. I figured, I am living in New Zealand now, so it's no longer a "tour" really, but more of a "life". I just didn't think people would care to read about my everyday boring stuff...getting up, brushing my teeth, what we had for dinner, if we watched a movie, etc. Some things have happened in my life recently, however, that have made it almost imperative that I write a little something down here...but it will probably end up being a pretty big something because it has been nearly two years!

First of all, I am applying for residency. It is currently being processed and should be another few months, but once it has gone through I will be a legal and permanent resident of New Zealand and able to come and go as I please without having to constantly re-apply for visas.

I am still happily working at Penny Cycles but there will be new things in the future. I mean, I don't plan to work at a bike shop for forever!

I think the most key thing is that I am going through what I have been calling my "transitional period" and I am super stoked about it. Lots of things are changing, mostly within myself, and I have a completely new view on life. I think all of this stems from a few recent incidents, including a visit from two unexpected girls from Texas, Alison and Isabelle! Never having met, I sold these two girls bikes to tour around New Zealand and through some very random events, they ended up crashing at our place for a week. Not only did we have a fantastic time, but they helped me through some pretty rough spots like they had known me all their lives! So we got to be friends: they attended my swim race out in the ocean, we went hiking together, out to dinner, just chilled and watched movies and it was fab. They helped me realize that I was clinging too much to the past and not looking forward to the future. Also, having an American sense of humor around for a while was so fantastic as I think most kiwis still don't understand me 100% of the time...though they have caught on a bit.

Along with Isabelle and Alison, I've found another source which has helped to change my life like I never thought possible: I accidentally stumbled upon this website while I was reading an article on and I found that it was exactly what I needed to get my life back on track. Since joining three weeks ago, I've lost 9.5 pounds and have more energy than I have had in years. I've started swimming competitively again (albeit in the ocean) and I'm happy all the time.

So on top of my own personal improvements, I've also made some amazing friends who I know will be with me through thick and thin. No matter where in the world I end up, these people will always be in my life. And because of my new energy levels, I've been able to spend more time with all of them and solidify what I consider to be extremely important relationships.

Craig and I are doing very well and even though we have yet to buy a house, we are working towards coming home to visit in June and July this year. We are also the proud owners of fish (we can't have furry pets yet) and are still quite successful in our respective businesses.

So I guess that is all that should be updated. I will suggest one last thing...if any of you out there are interested in changing your life, looking to lose some weight, get back on track, have more energy, achieve some sort of goal, check out the website I posted. It is certainly an amazing resource and I just want the whole world to know about it!

Lastly, this post is in honor of my two touring Texans: Shmisabelle and Shmalison, I hope you are alive and well, that you aren't covered in butter and that your racks have not snapped. If you are reading this, we miss you!!! (and more fish have been killed, I found them this morning being sucked through the filter tube!)


ps pictures to come!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I went swimming yesterday and I'm still good at it. Who would have thought?

Yay. I love the pool.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mission Accomplished

Well, it arrived: my approved application for visa renewal. So yippee skippy i get to stay in this country another year. The letter also suggested I apply for residency within the next year so that is encouraging. Something to think about, right?

In sadder news, my uncle passed away recently. I'm not too sure what to feel right now, it is so hard when you're away from home. Of course I had the typical Nicole breakdown, tears, and the like, but this whole situation really started me thinking about how precious life is. I know it sounds cliche and that everyone says that when someone they love dies...then three months later they begin to take things for granted again, but it's the truth. This life is so short...too short to be miserable and not doing the things we love. For those who didn't know my uncle, he was a good person, but unluckily handicapped from childhood and unable to walk without crutches. He suffered from many different illnesses his whole life, never deserving what came his way. It is things like that, people who endure so much, who inspire me to get over the petty issues of day to day life. For instance, I have to get a tooth pulled soon. I was freaking out about it. To be honest, after considering everything my uncle went through, i'd be glad to have my tooth pulled...hell take all of opposed to what he went through. This whole thing also makes me think twice about what i'm doing here, away from my family and home. I'm missing such key times in my life. I'm missing out on seeing people who I may never see again. Missing out on my nieces and nephews growing up. Missing out such precious and crucial time to spend with my parents and other family members. Will I look back thirty years from now and regret missing these times? I guess I just feel so selfish...I feel as though i've abandonned my family. Like I've left them behind. And I hate that, because I think about them every single day, probably more than I did when I saw them every single day. I just hope they are aware of how much I miss them.

How do I follow a paragraph like the above without sounding fruitless and frivolous. I suppose I can't. There are a lot of new things to tell but for now, I suppose the best thing to do would be leave it at that. More to come sometime.


Monday, September 18, 2006

A Hanmer Birthday

Craig and I at the summit of Isobel

What a lovely way to spend my first days of 23. Craig took me up to Hanmer Springs for an incredible hike and relaxing spa pool weekend. Needless to say, after a winter of indoors and inactivity (not completely but close enough) the hike up Mt Isobel was intense. 1300 plus metres of slippery, steeps, rocky track. But it was worth it, because upon reaching the top, the world was ours. We could see mile after mile of mountain range, blanketed in snow, quiet save for a slight breeze. With not a single other person to be found, we played in the snow atop Mt Isobel, ate lunch at the summit and then started the long, even more intense trek down. I think the down was much harder than the up, and it proved so the next day when our thighs were burning when walking down the stairs. After the amazing climb, we had a walk around town, a tasty dinner (almost disrupted by a brief power outage) and then a quiet night in the gorgeous cabin Craig rented. The next day we woke to the birds chirping and, well, nothing else. For once. Usually we wake to the city trucks rumbling outside our house so the peaceful awakening was more than welcome. I know I won't be able to live in a city forever. After packing up, we ate a yummy breakfast, went to the hot pools and put our poor muscles at ease. The pools are amid a sweet thicket of trees and other vegetation, surely planted to give the place the proper atmosphere, but the view of the mountains made me feel like heaven. And there was a strong wind blowing that made it possible to sit in a 40 degree pool without getting too hot (That's celsius mind you). All in all it was a wonderful birthday and one I will remember forever.

Me at the summit point of Mt Isobel

The above and below pictures are views of the town of Hanmer from the summit of Mt. Isobel

But now I am sick. Again. Damn hayfever and pollen. I just can't kick this cold. Everyone is sick though, so that doesn't make it easy. Anyway, I just wanted to put up some pictures from my amazing birthday trip. They certainly don't do the view from the summit of Mt. Isobel justice.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Mud, Blood and Mountain Biking

Bikes are cool for many reasons but in the past few decades they have become even cooler, mainly because there are so many different types of bikes. One can find a bike to act as a car on the road, or a different type to take you places cars could never go. So while road biking is still very cool because of the challenge it presents and excercise it affords, mountain biking is also very cool. It is technical and requires more than just athleticism. It is scary and gets your adrenaline running. It is the quintessence of being amongst nature, especially when riding through little tunnels made by overhanging pine tree branches. It is also cool because, let's face it, there is nothing more badass than whipping through the forest on two wheels and some metal.

In all honesty, I do not "Whip" through anything just yet. But I'm working up to it.

Every Thursday, which I am now officially dubbing "Craig and Nicole Day", Craig and I take a mountain bike trip to Bottle Lake Forest Park. And every week I fall down and bleed. Bleed bleed bleed. Everywhere. Two weeks ago it was so bad I couldn't wear pants for four days because the open wound would stick to the pants. Eww. That set me back a few steps. I'll get pictures up here soon. I couldn't resist. It was just gaping.

So after the mountain biking and the bleeding, we've started a new "C&N Day" tradition (ok so we've done it once) where we go to one of the local pools called QEII. This complex is simply beautiful and it reminds me of some of the nicest places I've had meets in. Once there I do a few laps in the competition pool (which is set for 50 wretched metres) and then we go off into the recreation pools which are fantastic. There is a lazy river, a huge wave pool, a small wading pool, two spas, a sauna, a steam room and some water slides. It's a good place to just kind of play around and loosen up our legs. Craig is also allowing me to teach him some swimming. I figured that since he's teaching me so much about biking, that I could teach him a little about what I know. He's quite good and can kick in the streamline without breathing for nearly 25 meters. Not bad for a non-fish.

So that is a bit of what "Craig and Nicole day" is like. Usually anywhere from 3-6 hours of fun, healthy exercise. Wow, I'm a tool.

Along with fun days off, I've been having some pretty good days at work. I'm still the top sale's person and I'm getting to quite a high amount for this month. I'm pretty stoked that this is only my second full month and my sales are already in the 6-figure marks. I like this whole selling thing. Not sure if it's my cup of tea for forever, but it's definitely going to help me in my quest to get home (and travel other places) for the next few years.

Speaking of traveling home, my visa is currently being processed and I'm just waiting on a result. I hope it all goes well, though I expect it will. I'll be simply gutted if things don't work out. But if they don't, I'll just find a way to stay here illegally. Maybe I'll sell organs on the black market.

A few more do-dads here and there. Sadly, my parents have decided to sell our home. With good reasons...they'll be able to come see me more!!! So while I am a bit teary-eyed (ok I was in hysterics over it at first) I have seen the silver lining and am hoping that they sell it sooner rather than later. It's funny, but I think they realized much sooner than I did that I was probably not going to be coming home. At least not living at home with them permanently ever again. I've begun to make a little life of my own here, and even if we don't stay in Christchurch forever, I think I've officially "left the nest" or whatever they say. Hell, Craig and I are even looking at getting our own place, mainly for investment purposes, within the next year or so. We're also looking into getting a dog as well, which I can't WAIT for.

I suppose this is the best update I can give for the time being. I've got a lot planned for the next few years so we shall see how things go. I do know that I'm quite happy that I've found my little niche in the cycling world and that New Zealand is treating me so well. America could learn a lot from this country...especially about healthcare and social welfare systems. Maybe I should call up the US and tell them. Hmmm.

I will be back with updates on my visa renewal so all you people who hoped I'd never return to the states can know whether or not to start the party. :-)


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Long Rambling Update That Is Neither Interesting Nor Boring...You Decide

It has been entirely too long since my last post. I've found that when life picks up, changes, or shifts even slightly from the norm, the routine things fall to the wayside, making room for the mind to accommodate new stresses. Unfortunately my writing is one of those things left so carelessly aside. I'm a bit rusty, but there's plenty to tell, so let the story begin.

We last left off with moi, dealing with the near hopeless immigration policies of the New Zealand government. In all fairness, they are much more lenient than other places, but until one tries to actually move to a new country, one has no IDEA just how difficult it can be. But in the end, all fees have been paid, all tests have been done and all (ok most) letters have been written. I've compiled a filing cabinet-sized folder of information about me, my qualifications, my disposition, personal history, medical tests, police records (the FBI is actually still working on that one), relationship details, pictures, letters of support, proof of education and intelligence, bank records, proof of occupation, right down to the valentine's day cards Craig and I exchanged this past February. It was a hassle, yes and no. Most of it was quite easily obtained...some of it was harder. I had some trouble with one of the blood tests. Apparently, for one of the blood tests, they test three different ways. The two first (and most reliable) ways came out negative, the third, a weakly responsive. Meaning I had to have the test redone. Of course, I was more concerned that I had some sort of blood poisoning and it seemed that no one could really inform me about what was going on. Well, after nearly two weeks of mucking around, my doctor finally informed me that the test arrived back negative this time (as she expected it should) and that there must have been some sort of protein or something in my blood to tweak it off. Apparently this happens a lot. Apparently they shouldn't even bother with this test.

That being said, it seems that all is in order for me to remain in this lovely country down under for a bit longer. Let's put it this way, they've let worse characters than me stay here for much longer.

Other news...the job is going wonderfully. I still love going to work and I have made quite a little saleswoman of myself. In my first month I was the top salesperson by nearly $9000 and because of my good work, my boss and manager decided to put me onto commission straight away (normally there is a three month trial period). I think leaving my job at the swim school was quite possibly the best move I ever made. I may not be earning as much at first glance, but in reality once you subtract the cost of gas to get out there, I am much more ahead than I was before. It is a fantastic feeling to walk into a store and say "ooo, what a nice shirt, I think I'll buy it" instead of "ooo what a nice shirt, wish I had the money for it." Security is an amazing thing, and even though I pride myself on NOT becoming one of those people mortgaged to the hilt and spending heaps of money they don't have, I definitely enjoy a bit of cozier living now and again. Hell, for the first time in a nearly a year I had my hair cut by an actual professional at a hair salon instead of the students at the academy. And it cost me $100. And I don't friggen care! Ha! I don't think I've ever spent that much on my hair...ever. And it was great.

While on the topic of hair, I should mention that I went with my new friend Lisa who is just a darling. She is actually the wife of my manager, and no I'm not trying to get on the boss' good side. Lisa and I are now going to try to do some fun girlie things every once in a while on our days off. We're looking into spas and massage therapy and we've found a pretty decent homeopathic place quite near to where I'm living. When did I become so pampered? Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be living like this.

On top of having met Lisa, I've also gotten on quite well with my coworkers. There is definitely more to the story than that, but it is too much to get into.

Things with Craig are going well, including his business. I am so unbelievably proud of him and all that he's achieved. He is getting some thing laser cut for his frames in the next few weeks and I'm looking forward to seeing how they turn out.

All in all life is grand. Of course I still miss home (will I ever stop?) but after some calculations by Craig tonight, we figured I would be able to save up at least enough money to go home three times a year, without even pushing my budget too much. That is certainly exciting. Once every four months should be PLENTY for the Knapp family. But that's the beautiful thing about my new job...I can always work overtime and make more money, where out at the swim school, I couldn't.

Finally, the most grand news is probably that Sarah is coming to visit. I'm sure I mentioned this before, but it's kind of my Christmas and New Years present. I can't wait to see her. It has been much too long.

So yeah, that's the update. For those of you who know more of what is going's probably not much new. For those of you just tuning in, well, that's a lot in a very tiny nutshell. Let's just say (in case I've forgotten to say it before) as scary as it was to come here all alone, I could not be happier with my decision. I've found a niche, a job I love, a man I adore, and nature's playground at my fingertips. What more could one ask for?? And with modern tech these days, I still get to have my family in my life.

It truly is a beautiful world.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Operation renew Visa Day 2

In all fairness, I can't think of a single country that would want a sick or unhealthy individual moving in and sucking off their health-care systems. Unfortunately, it does happen and that is why I was sent on the other-worldly quest I experienced yesterday. Ok ok, it wasn't THAT big of a deal and I was impressed with the speed in which all of the medical places (count 'em, 3) responded to my requests. In other words, I would NEVER have had such a short wait in an American hospital or lab as I did here in New Zealand's. Choice.

So the day began early with a trip to the photographers. There are very few photographers open at 8:00 am who can take a passport photo and process it in ten minutes. Hell, if this were America, I'd have no fear, for Walmart would be there. After some phonebook searching I did manage to find just such a place (minus the Wal-martesque blue vests) and in no time, I had my passport sized photographs. Only here in New Zealand, you're not allowed to smile...for anything related to official documentations. So it was more of a mug shot, though I tried to raise up my eyebrows a bit, which made me look like I really really wanted to smile.

Annnnyway-from there I was off to my doctor. Who incidentally was the doctor I acquired (can you acquire a doctor?) while I was working out in the country...cheaper, rates, better service. So I liked her so much I've officially made her my doc, completely ignoring the half hour drive to get there. Two thoughts on this one- it takes me a half hour to get to my doc at home and I don't want to get sick very often!

I arrive and they start doing all this know, standard physical stuff, height, weight (lost 1.5kgs!) eye tests (i had a small panic attack because I thought my eyes were going because I couldn't read the bottom line as well as I used to be able to---but the nurse told me most people can't read it at all so i felt better. They also did ear, nose and throat checks and my doctor filled out all the information on the questionnaire that she needed to. And for all this, they lightened my pocket of a cool $200. Yes you are not reading that wrong. $200 bucks for what they used to do for sports physicals back in high school. Fuck me. (and yes that is secretly what i whispered under my breath as I pulled out my atm card). The best part is that I still had two thirds of the medical stuff to do!

So the nurses at my doc's helped me locate a place to get my chest X-Ray. They also helped me find a place to get the necessary bloodwork done because apparently NZ immigration has made the test so official that no regular doctors can do it anymore. I headed back into town, towards the center, to complete this lovely process. I was still pleasantly surprised to realize that I would be able to get everything done in one fell swoop.

When I arrived at the medlab for bloodwork, they took me in immediately. Charged me the $96 for sticking me with a needle, and then poked me. In a flash it was over and I was gone. And poorer. I did notice (as I always have) that the woman drawing blood are typically really really nice and good at conversation. Probably a quality they look for when hiring so if someone seems the type to freak out they can deal with it well.

From there I went down the street to the X-Ray lab at the southern cross hospital (why do hospitals always have something churchy in their name...though this is probably because of the southern cross in the night sky. Just a query). My appointment was for 3:45, but the bloodwork required no waiting and I was out of there by 2:45. So I thought, 'may as well see if they can take me earlier'. And holy crap they did. This would NEVER happen in the US. If you show up an hour early to an appointment, they don't say "oh come on in". They say, "please take a seat (and wait your turn you overenthusiastic hypochondriac.)" And bam, it was done. Five minutes, maybe ten. One small chest X-Ray and another $78. My medical day was over by 3:30. Well done New Zealand medical.

Which brings me to this conclusion. Of course this country is going to want healthy people coming in. They want to keep their medical services running efficiently.

So that was my day. I became nearly $400 poorer, and a few steps closer to gaining a longer standing visa. Everyone keeps asking why I don't apply for residency. Well, a) I haven't lived here long enough to do so and b) I will someday. Just not yet.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Operation Renew Visa Day 1

I don't want to call it a hassle because compared to what the US expects, the requirements for staying here in New Zealand are probably the equivalent to cutting the crust off a peanut butter sandwich and pouring a proper glass of milk. What peanut butter sandwiches and milk have to do with New Zealand immigration, I don't know...maybe I'm just hungry because it's nearly lunch.

All in all, however, there is still a lot to be done. After finally finding the correct bureau of immigration (because there is the official government one and then there are lots of little private ones that make you pay for their help) I received answers to a lot of questions I had concerning the application, what I should be applying for, etc. I'm sure there will be more to come. You see, because I have been here nearly a year (eek!) and I plan to stay on for at least another year (eek eek!) I need to have a number of special forms and things filled out in order to pass the application process. For instance, I need to have a chest x-ray and medical exam done, and I need to pass it. Ok, fair enough, they don't want sick people in their country. So I get this done by my doctor and voila, I'm in. Right? Wrong.

Next I need to get police records from my home country. And since my home country is the US, we all know who I get to deal with next. That would be the FBI. Yay. I mean, other than the fact that they probably have ten million other better things to do than get my police records, I have a feeling that they may be a bit, shall we say, swamped. So I expect this to take a while. So I call the FBI up and ask for my records to be sent half way across the world, right? Wrong.

I have to apply to have my own records sent to me. And I have to pay. You can't even get your own personal information for free anymore. Pretty soon we'll have to pay to have a birthday or something. But along with the application and processing fee, I have to provide fingerprints. So I have to go to the New Zealand police station and get prints done up, for forty bucks.

This is not a cheap affair.

And after I pay the money and attempt to get the prints done, the cop comes and tells me "we don't have time to do prints today, we had 30 prisoners come in this morning." Must have been some sort of drug bust. So i have to go back tomorrow. It's never easy, is it folks?

But I did manage to make copies of pictures and cards and sweet little things Craig and I have given to each other. We need those to prove we are in a committed and loving relationship. We also need letters of support from family and friends, so those are currently being written and on their way here.

All in all, today wasn't a complete waste of time, and I think it goes without saying (though I will say it anyway) I am SO glad I started this process now, as opposed to two weeks before my permit expires.

In reality I've dreaded this whole situation. Not because I don't want to stay, but because it is always such an amazing challenge to deal with the government. And this time I'm dealing with TWO governments, one being, in my opinion, the most difficult government in the world. So we've got twice the challenge.

I figure that if I can make it through four years of college, moving to a foreign place, and all those other wonderful things, I can take on New Zealand and the United States.

Bring it.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Greasy Fingers

I used to come home at night with wet hair, dry skin and the stink of chlorine radiating from my body. I now come home with dirt under my nails and the leftovers of bike grease on my hands. And it's the best!

I've been working at the bike shop for a week now and I've already sold a pretty pricey road bike. I've also sold some kids bikes and some other random stuff. And I've learned HEAPS. Yes, Heaps. The kiwi version of "shitload". In other words, really really really a lot. And there continues to be more to learn. Frame sizes, wheel sizes, tire pressure, front derailleur, rear derailleur, Shimano vs SRAM, front suspension, full suspension, Hayes Sole, Hayes Nine, hydraulic vs cable, and that is just the beginning. It's like school all over again, except everything is so fricken cool!

But enough about the immense amount of knowledge I need to import into my, as of late, anything but studious brain. How about my co-workers. Yeah? So cool. It's like, hellooooo niche! Nine months in and I finally found you. Woohoo. It just fits. And yeah, I'm making shit money. And yeah I'm not entitled to full benefits yet (which is sooo not cool in the bike industry) but whoa I'm stoked to get up in the morning and bike to work (it takes a full nine minutes IF that). And hey, I'm cool to wander the city streets on my lunch hour, meet my man for a quick bite or get a movie for later from my fave vid store (which incidentally is just about next door to my shop). And I call it my shop, not because I own it (OBVIOUSLY) but because I feel like it's, well, just me. I've already begun perving at a sweet little piece of eye candy known as the KONA Caldera. Let's see if i can get the owner to budge on my employee discount just this once. I'll bat my eyelashes and be all sweet....the guy looks like he'd give into a daughter-type. Hell, he made the guys clean the bathroom bc there is now a "lady" working in the store. He clearly has me read allllll wrong. Ha.

Regardless, I'm happy. I haven't enjoyed work this much since...dare I say? The park. yeah. But now I don't even miss it. Not one bit. Not the drama, not the cold. Ok Ok, I do miss the sun. I'm pasty as a pastry right now. Although pastry aren't really pasty at all...just sounded good. but you get the point. I'm happy, I'm learning, I'm improving on the things I've wanted to improve on. Maybe that little shop in Colorado may be possible someday. Nic's Cycles. Has a nice ring to it. Ah well...first things first. Need to get those student loans paid off, earn about $200,000 and then we'll see.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Big 100!!!

You are all witnesses. This is the 100th post of my blog! A big moment, eh?

Yeah right.

But it is fitting that this milestone is accompanied by yet another big change in my life. I am officially done with my job as a swim teacher! Like I have said in the past, it was very rewarding, but DAMN i'm glad to be getting out of the water for a while. And I am proud to say that in two days I begin my job at Penny Sport Cycles. I have finally broken new ground and managed to tear myself away from the pool...maybe not forever, but for the time being. This should be quite an experience.

That being said I will miss the this is a tribute to them and all the fun times we shared:

Thomas, Francis, Callun, Isla and Joel

Nathan and Conor

Georgia, Nikki, Laura, Anna

Mya, Katie, Amber and Zoe

Chiara, Emily, Ethan and Jessica


Charlotte and Sophie


Ryan, Tayla, Alex and Bradley

Joel making it an interesting last day...that's his sister headed into the pool on the left.

James, Douglas, Nicolas, Anastasia and Grace

My littlies playing around.

Awesome Olivia

One of my aquacize classes (they will kill me when they see this photo online).

Emily, Chiara, Ethan and Jess with their bros Thomas and Maxwell (what a thug).

Oh Ethan

Me: "Jessica let's get a picture!" Jessica: "Umm you're weird." hahaha.

Amber, shivering as usual

Caitlin and Ian

And now it's off to the bike shop (!!!


Monday, June 12, 2006


As the past four days have been so summer-like it seems only natural that this morning I awoke to giant snowflakes drifting down into our backyard. Yes, just as nature intended.

But regardless it is snowing and I am pumped. I have not seen snow in...let's year and about three months. And boy is this a big one. The alarm went off and I hear the DJ mention something about "it's just bucketing down out there". So i run to the window, like a little girl on Christmas. And then I run back into the bedroom and shake Craig awake. He of course thinks there is someone trying to rob our house or murder me, but once I assure him nothing is wrong and the reason for my frantic excitement is nothing more than the winter wonderland outside our door, he comes to join in the viewing. And according to him this is "one of the biggest snows that he has seen since living in Christchurch". And he has lived here 9 years.

It really feels like I should be at home...or last in a home with a fireplace. Sitting curled up on the couch with a big cup of hot cocoa, watching some Christmas movie rerun. It's weird to know that no holiday season is coming with the snow. But that's ok. It's better than nothing.

So, strange days are upon us when one can go hiking or biking in shorts and tank tops for four days straight and then wake to a snow storm. But these are the times in which we we may as well enjoy the good bits, regardless of when they come.


Friday, June 09, 2006

One Week And Counting...

Sun-blinded, Craig and I try and pose for a self-potrait. Look how PALE we are!

It has been an exceptionally beautiful past three days here in the city of Christchurch, but other than that, it seems as though things are uneventful. We went hiking in the hills two days ago and then out for a tasty bakery lunch. Yesterday was spent basking in the sun with our french doors open, playing chess (and pouting as it were) until I had to leave for work.

Today was another strangely sunny day which I took every advantage of to go for a little tramp, solo except for my ipod. For some reason it feels more like spring that winter right about now. There is water rushing everywhere, little streams all over the hills and MUD. Oh the mud that is out in full force right now made for an interesting hike up the bowenvale track today. My usually very grippy boots did not make many good connections with the earth, rather I ended up doing a dance that looked something like the uphill running man. Going out at 3:30 allowed for nothing but the most dazzling sun, setting behing the silouhetted southern alps. And I grew so warm on the climb up that I (as I had hoped) was able to strip down to my tank top and let my pale-as-a-dead-fish skin soak up some of the delicious (and sadly harmful) rays of the New Zealand sun.

View of Christchurch from the can see the smog. Ugh.

Probably the best part about getting up into the hills is the breath of fresh air it affords me. Literally. The smog of this city is stifling. It burns your lungs and sears your nostrils. But the hills are like breathing the fresh air of Clinton New York or even Brotzman Road. Like cleaning out your entire respiratory system. The air is cool and damp and fresh and it floats through your nostrils like some sort of natural remedy; some nature-made baked good. In the hills I cease to feel like a smoker and begin to breathe like me again. So much for the movie biz---I could never live in LA.


And all in all, if this is winter, I think I can handle it. But judging by the sight of our breath inside the house most nights, I think all this sun is a just a tease.

And speaking of handling things, next week is going to be my last week of teaching at the swim school. Which is great and sad at the same time. I'm sure I've gone over this before, but there always seems to be a mix of emotions when making almost any changes in life. I'm glad to be moving on to something new, closer to town, more "legit" I suppose you could say. But I'm sorry to be leaving the kids. The kids who have taken to calling me adorable versions of my name because they can't pronounce "Nicole" properly. Kids who push themselves to the very limit to achieve what are, to them, quite extraordinary feats. Why this week I had 9 different kids swim the entire pool length, something none of them had even thought possible. Times like that are very rewarding. But the headaches I come home with (both actual and metaphorical) have just become too much to handle.

But now it's the weekend. And hopefully the warm weather will continue on to allow for bike rides and walks and simply warmer bodies.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Weight off my Shoulders

I'm glad to report that I officially have a job. Two weeks from now, when I finish working at my current swim school, I will begin working in a bike shop. Finally. Since I came here I have been hoping to find work in a bike shop. And interestingly enough when i initially arrived, no one wanted to hire me.

Story--->Well, this past weekend, despite having numerous applications out and waiting around town, Craig suggested I still get the weekend paper that contains all the job vaccancies. I reluctantly agreed wondering what on earth else I would be able to find other than a lot of frustration and disappointment. Strangely enough there was an ad for a salesperson in this bike shop. It was described as pretty much the exact job I've wanted and I couldn't believe my luck. I decided to get my resume and references together and instead of mailing in the my application I visited the shop the very next day. And maybe ten or fifteen minutes into talking with the manager, he hired me. The only problem was that Craig works in a shop literally a block down the road and the manager had to check with the owner to make sure there was no conflict of interest. And he called today to tell me there wasn't and that the job was still mine!!! Woohoo!!!!

So I'm rather excited about the future. I won't be making as much money as I do right now, and I'll be working much more, but I'm not going to be in the water. I'm going to be working with people. Oh people. How I've missed working with people. I'm going to be working with and learning about bikes, which was my original intent in coming here. And I'll be working in town, near everything. It's just going to be lovely.

In other news, my dear dear Sarah Mae is coming to visit sometime in the next few months. I think we're trying for October, November or December. Regardless I am so excited. I've not seen her in so long. It'll be a crazy time for the kiwis with the two of us together again. Look out.

Finally I've got some photos to put up now. I hope you enjoy. They are from Owen's visit, Victoria's b-day, Craig and I on a mini-picnic hike, and some other shots from our trip round the south island,


Owen in the Port Hills

Craig and I at Halswell Rock Quarry Park

Victoria and I at her 21st

View from the Alex Knob trail in Franz Josef

Picnic tables we ate at from high above the quarry

Lake Tekapo (I think) and the Southern Alps

View from Lake Matheson (better than when my Dad came but still a bit cloudy)

More views of the Southern Lakes

Some of them are a sky blue like I've never seen before

The pictures just don't do them justice