Feeling grateful.

Happy New Year everyone. 2017…wow, where did 2016 go? Time, please sss…lll….ooo…www down!

My sisters and their families left New Zealand Jan 5th and Jan 6th after spending 3 weeks in this glorious country. My heart felt heavy as those dates approached as I just adore my sisters and their families and love every minute of time we have together, which is not often enough living in 2 different countries.

Honestly I had been so looking forward to their visit, I hadn’t given much thought to plans for our trip after they left. Their departures truly left me a little blue and maybe feeling a little lost and took some wind out of my sails. I don’t think I was the only one feeling this, as Becca said to me, ” I wish I could back with them to Canada and you guys can pick me up on your way home to Idaho”. The time with their cousins was really special. Friendships developed, family bonds strengthened and for a kid, it was so great to have other kids around to play with.

But then something happened to us on Sunday January 8th, 2017 that shook me out of this funk. As we traveled down State Highway 2 in New Zealand towards a town called Whakatane, on our way to meet my brother and sister in law for a camping trip, a driver in the oncoming traffic fell asleep at the wheel and traveled at 100 km/hr into our lane. If it wasn’t for Evan and his incredible defensive driving and our guardian angels, we surely could ┬áhave been killed. Miraculously it was only the driver’s rear side of our car that was hit as the driver of the other car traveled, without breaking, into the farmers field on our side of the road crashing into and completely destroying a power pole. We all, including the other driver, walked away from the accident frightened, but not injured. Grateful.

our car, after coming to stop along the farmer’s fence, with half of the bumper bent backward
the other driver’s car…incredible he was able to walk away. Airbags and seatbelts save lives!

 

What a wake up call. What a lesson to learn. Talk about feeling grateful. We are all alive, we are healthy. We are so lucky to be on this adventure. We still managed to get to Ohiwa where we had 3 great days camping with our New Zealand family before our car completely died in the grocery store parking lot in Opotiki, New Zealand where our friends Dave and Collette live. Sure our car is no longer driveable. Big deal. We can replace that. Again, so grateful as it could have broken down in the middle of no where…

I was blown away by the kindness and compassion of the NZ folks who stopped to assist us after the accident, as well as the paramedics and the firefighters who were dispatched to the accident. The farmer whose field we crashed into pulled out our car with his tractor, no questions asked, happily helping us get back on our way. Days later, after our car gave up the ghost, Ev’s brother Aaron picked us up in Opotiki and drove us back to Auckland with his car fully loaded down with our camping gear…the car was so packed, we had to tie Ev’s guitar onto the roof. We pretended we were a touring rock band, called “Aaron and the carless”…at least we can laugh about it all now. So grateful for all of the help and kindness received.

rescued by Aaron, with Ev’s guitar on the roof!

This accident reminded me that whenever I am feeling drowsy behind the wheel, pull over. It was also an amazing reminder of keeping your eyes on the road, at all times. Let our accident serve as a reminder to all of you so you will stay safe as well. I am grateful to have you in our lives.

So now we are back in Auckland at Ev’s mom’s place, planning our next moves and figuring out our car situation. Evan’s brother Tim is here for one week visiting from Thailand so it is wonderful to catch up with him. We will likely head back up north to see the very top of the country for the next few weeks. We have a friend that we will house sit for in Kerikeri while he is away with his daughter for a few weeks. Grateful for a warm home to come back to in Auckland while we plan our next moves, grateful for safe travels for Tim and for us to have a great home to house sit when we visit the Far North.

lovely gorgeous New Zealand
like hamsters in a wheel, having so much fun at the playground in Opotiki.

Crazy that I was feeling sorry for myself. We are so blessed!

lots of love,

Nicola

Sand in our toes

Ah New Zealand, you never fail to disappoint. We have just had 2 wonderful weeks spent exploring around Kerikeri, the Northland of New Zealand and then on to the Coromandel Peninsula for Christmas and New Years with my sisters and their families. I am so thankful to have been able to spend this amount of time with my sisters. It has been years since we were together for Christmas, and all of our kids had an absolute blast celebrating the holidays “kiwi” style.

Gorgeous Kerikeri
travelling to Russell, New Zealand
pre Christmas dinner with Nana
Jamey and Becca with their cousins, Christmas morning

We played in the surf, played on the beach, hiked to beautiful Cathedral Cove. We slept in, ate wonderful meals, kids played tag around and through the wonderful home we rented. We hiked, we kayaked, we read. We enjoyed listening to great concerts at the park in the evening. We fished, played mini golf, enjoyed fish and chips on the beach with Ev’s brother Aaron. Our kids loved the quaint seaside town of Whangamata where town was only a 5 minute walk away as well as the beach. Ev and I loved having more kids around for Jamey and Becca as well as different adults to spend time with. After 4 months with each other pretty much 24/7 we were thankful to spend time with our extended families.

Kiwi Christmas on the beach!
enjoying fish and chips on the beach, watching the ocean from where the fish was caught…
Aaron and I catching a wave

A fun day was had with our 3 New Zealand nephews and my brother and sister in law adding to the fun at a “beach dig for prizes” (see the pic). I was so happy to spend time with my friend Julie and her husband Mat and their kids Emily and Sam as well. Julie and I traveled to New Zealand 20 years ago (wow!!) this month to begin work at Starship Chidren’s Hospital and little did we know how that decision would change the course of both of our lives.

Cousins on the beach
Tristan and Damon
Beach dig for treasures…hard work, so many laughs (and some sand in the eyes!)
my friend Julie, my travel partner to New Zealand 20 years ago

We celebrated New Years Eve with a wonderful meal of steak and New Zealand green mussels, and cheese fondue for the kids. We watched the sun go down on the last day of 2016 playing on the beach and in the waves. This morning, after packing up after 8 wonderful days and nights together, Evan, Becca, my brother in law Greg and I decided it was time to continue with Ev’s tradition of the Polar Plunge…but lucky us, jumping in the Pacific Ocean in the Southern Hemisphere, with warm sand in our toes and the warm sun on our shoulders.

Luke and Greg, enjoying a gorgeous hike together
New Zealand green mussels, we can never get enough!
saying good bye to the sun for 2016
pre plunge!
warm sand, cool water

After 8 days and nights together, I was sad to say good bye to Jen and her family after our Polar Plunge as she and her family headed further south to see more of New Zealand. We are now back up in Auckland to spend time with Melissa and her family for a few days before they head home to Canada.

I will never forget this Christmas and New Years Eve holiday. It was sunny, and sandy and messy and funny. We all lost it from time to time as we tripped over crumpled towels and swim suits left in piles by busy kids, but the memories that have been made are priceless.

It has been wonderful sharing New Zealand with my family. I am so very thankful that Melissa and Darren, Lexi, Bobby, Katie and Izzy and Jennifer, Greg, Luke, Brodie and Noah traveled all this way to see this amazing place while we were here. It compounds the joy when you share it with people you love.

Happy New Year, here’s to an interesting, healthy and adventurous 2017!

 

Love always,

Nicola