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Hi.

Welcome to the last thing I have keeping me looped into the digital word! Im taking my first "mini retirement" and trading my desk for a van with ocean views - how millennial of me. 

Living For Today

Living For Today

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” -Marcel Proust

Big Beach Tiny Me
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When I first started traveling, everything was so new. A new country, a new lifestyle, and a new sense of freedom that I wasn’t used to. Upon arriving, getting the van ready to go was a huge project. We spent days planning, googling and mostly wasting money in hardware stores to ensure Lucy was as close to perfect as possible. With so much to focus on and so many places to see, the first few months flew by. Now, we have been on the road for over 7 months and things have really slowed down. Has it been relaxing? No doubt, but I have also found myself teetering on the verge of restlessness more than once. I am so used to throwing myself into my work and taking on several (probably too many) projects at once that just being still is pretty unfamiliar. Overcoming that need to always be thinking or doing and replacing those actions with looking, seeing, and feeling is something that I'm working on.

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Over the past few weeks, we left the rainy Westcoast behind us and started exploring the last parts of the South Island that we have yet to see. I will miss how small I feel here in comparison to the jaw dropping landscapes. Some of the most amazing beaches I have ever seen were at the base of painfully long dirt roads that don't even show up on google maps. The narrow winding roads through rolling hills, covered in sheep that look like popcorn, overlooking dramatic cliffs and crashing waves is something so unique it can’t be explained but has to be seen. Sometimes the cliffs are so steep, it’s unfathomable that the sheep are able to wander freely. 

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Just when I thought I had seen the best of the South Island, we found ourselves in Golden Bay. Golden Bay is a tiny piece of perfect on the northern tip of the South Island that stretches into the Tasman Sea. The beaches to the north are covered in millions of pristine seashells stained in shades of pastels while the southern beaches are quiet and full of protected pools offering a safe haven to hundreds of seal pups. I spent a lot of time playing with the curious little babies who find all of the amusement they need in about 6 feet of water. In addition to seals, we have seen sting rays the size of coffee tables, baby octopi, shrimp, several species of fish, a few sharks and numerous pods of dolphins. 

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However, like they always say…the people make the place and the locals who live in the small town of Takaka, which is at the base of Golden Bay, are a true testament to that. Everyone we spoke to, from the  vegetable stand owner at the farmers market to the local pubs bartender, was warm and welcoming. The funky bohemian town is covered in colorful murals and is home to several artists, hippies and wanderers. If anyone reading this ever finds themselves in the area, I highly suggest you spend a night listening to live music by the fire at Mussel Inn, a cozy little venue that sells the most DELICIOUS homemade Feijoa cider. *Insider tip* A Feijoa is this strange little fruit that is most commonly grown in Brazil but has a small season here in New Zealand. It’s not as tasty as a Kiwi, but the cider is something special.  

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Once we chatted with a few more locals and read up on the area, we took a trip to Anatori River. Another little dot on the map with amazing reviews from hundreds of travelers. Tucked beneath the side of a mountain, each group of campers had made their home next to the sea. Some had built fire pits, others had large canopies and some looked like they had been there for months. Over the next few days we camped, warmed our feet up by the fire, drank a lot of wine (standard), dove for abalone, and ate what would have been hundreds of dollars worth of seafood.  I typically don't have the best of luck while fishing but lately...I've been crushing it. My best haul so far has been 9 fish and 1 shark in about 2 hours...beginners luck I guess. There's something really humbling about being able to catch, cook and eat your own food in a place as pure as New Zealand. When it comes down to it, we need very little to feel full, happy and satisfied and eating healthy is so much simpler than we are conditioned to think.

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Our month of being strictly paleo has ended but neither of us want to go back to the way we were eating before. I have always been a conscious food shopper - organic, free-range, hormone free yada yada yada - but when you start reading the labels on the foods you never would have second guessed...its hard to go back. I am and always have been a condiment freak. I put ketchup or barbecue sauce on almost everything and go through an alarming amount of hot sauce, so you can imagine how distraught I was when I realized how much shit is in them. Even a jar of pickles has wheat extract in it! So naturally, I got on Pinterest and started making every paleo sauce recipe I could find to fill the void. Long story short, it worked. I can now make all of my favorite condiments with a variety of spices and they taste even yummier than Heinz. WHO KNEW!? 

The only downside has been the cost. Natural ingredients and alternatives to processed foods and oils are not very affordable here. If it has the word coconut on it, its double the price and if it also says organic...well just forget about it. After saving all of our receipts from the entire month of May, we spent $2,304.34. It sounds like a lot at first (which it is) but that's all in. Food, gas, camping fees, laundry costs, rain gear and so on. Once broken down and split in half, $1,152.17 per person really isn't that bad. I mean thats less than my rent in California...how scary is that. Had we not been paleo, I assume our grocery costs would have decreased by about $200 each which is pretty significant when we are trying to travel on a budget but since I'm me, I had to buy all sorts of weird specialty items to cook with haha. I realized I forgot to add my Chicken Tikka Masala recipe to the end of my last post so you can find it below with a few other favorites of mine. If you make any, leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Although most days sound very adventurous, they're not all action packed. I spend hours reading, thinking and jotting down ideas of all sorts of things I would like to see in my future. Spending time away from the hustle and bustle of life, especially in a place like this has made every creative bone in my body happy.  While all of the sight-seeing and exploring has been incredible, I am most thankful for the push this trip has given me. I am learning to let go and enjoy every moment. I am beginning to understand the value of staying in the present each and every day. I am telling myself to take more chances and expanding my interests. This might sound silly, but when I first read the above quote by Marcel Proust, I thought of sunglasses. The frame is like my life - and the lenses are my experiences...each set a different shade slightly affecting the way I see the world. Traveling has opened my eyes and New Zealand has stolen my heart. 

Best,

Dinah 

 

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Smells yummy!

A few of my favorite recipes while living in the van.

 

 

Life's A Beach - Enjoy The Waves

Life's A Beach - Enjoy The Waves

Finding The Groove

Finding The Groove