The Cow Jumped Over the Moon

I have not been using my words lately: they are slow, inadequate, and misspelled. Stuttter.  I have been periodically adding to my NZ Flickr set.  But I should really post more pictures more often.  All I want to do is drink apple cider.

For weeks in New Zealand, I silenced an embarrassing but pressing question.  I was certain that if I asked said question, my status as an adult would be immediately revoked, reducing me to the adorably naive age of four.  My insecurity of sounding like an idiot was more powerful than my interest in solving mysteries of the universe.  Looks are more important than brains.  
And then.
Last week I was in Los Angeles where there is no such thing as a stupid question. In fact, dumb ideas are profitable and appearing young is crucial.  Consistent with the unexpected harmony of the trip, my question was answered without ever having to ask.  I witnessed a wondrous event: the moon set. Cut in half, asleep on its back, it slumbered into the ocean. Red and orange.  Its reflection cast a line in the water, pulling earth and sky together.  It was a peculiar shadow for such a wide grin.  Until a glow, a flicker, a stuck pixel on the screen. 
Now I know where the moon goes at night.

Many moonless nights:


Wharariki Beach, NZ
Here, the [not so] invisible pain of battling a brutal beach storm.  The arsenal of sand travels on currents otherwise unseen.  I knew it was time to leave when I was knocked to my knees by a gust of wind.

 Wharariki Beach, NZ
The tranquil return from Wharariki Beach [being watched].
 
 TranzAlpine Train, NZ
Winter colors travel E - W.

 
 TranzAlpine Train, NZ
Mountains, always.

South Island, NZ
Green water en route to blue water.

 Abel Tasman National Park, NZ
Little living green things.

 Wharariki Beach, NZ
Colorful cave; Safe haven. 

 Abel Tasman National Park, NZ
 Spotted: Spotted Shag.

Doubtful Sound, NZ
Where it ends it also begins.

The Grove, Pohara, NZ
Do you see what I see?

Alucard

Over the weekend, I celebrated both Halloween and Thanksgiving.  October concluded with gluttony, ghoulery, turkey, taffy, a broken computer, and illness.  I was genuinely scared at only one point during the weekend [thought I was having a heart attack], but at many points during the weekend I was genuinely thankful.  I watched It's a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for the first time and was duped by a Wizard, also for the first time.  I ate cranberry sauce, can style, just like I used to as a kid and had the best Halloween costume of my life, without even knowing:
Two guys walking down Valencia: Hey
Joanna + me: Hey
... a few seconds pass ...
Two guys walking down Valencia: Are you her for Halloween?
All: hysterical laughter
Our almost matching navy blue/purple t-shirts transformed an already similar likeness into perfect duplication. Do we really look alike? On Halloween we do. And, we have successfully pulled off the "we are sisters" scenario before with no effort at all. Next time I think we should execute the "we are twins" scheme.

Although Thanksgiving proper is nearly a month away, there are always reasons for thanksgiving. I remember sitting in the living room as a kid, spilling the contents of my Trick-or-Treat bag, assessing my loot, examining the piles collected by my brothers, and negotiating trades. Steve was a Snickers boy; I was a Milky Way girl.  We both liked Kit Kats. And Matt, well, you were too young and we stole your candy. Thank you.   

When my friends gathered around the long table for Saturday's feast,  several people suggested saying grace or "thanks." I stopped paying attention and wandered off into space.  My thoughts rattled like an old projector, flashing back to scenes from the past and forward to scenes from the next. That night, we never said grace, we never went around the room and said what we were thankful for.  I never got to say what I am thankful for.  Maybe next time. The list is neatly rolled up and covered in fairy dust, a homing beacon of obnoxious glitter.  I can't lose it, even if I tried [I tried].


South Island, NZ
I would definitely tell you where this was if I could remember.


Milford Sound, NZ


South Island, NZ
golden landscapes


 
South Island, Pacific Ocean, NZ
the flats


Oh, deer.  I never knew.
CREEPIEST moment of the entire trip. This is a small clip of a large deer pasture, thousands of pairs of eyes and ears following my every movement.

I am not an addict.

If I had the capital, I would open Clif Company, NZ.  I would integrate the same business model, recipes, and environmental messages into a socially conscious infrastructure designed specifically for the people of New Zealand.

I started to compose this email in my head during the second week of my six week trip.  Professing my love to an energy bar does sound a little strange, but it is tough to hold back when the passion is strong:

Hi,

I just returned from a six-week epic adventure through the magical lands of New Zealand. I feel compelled to write and let you know how much I love the Clif Company -- the hero of health, hunger, and habitat. I am sure you receive tons and tons and tons of emails that clog your inbox with all sorts of ridiculous yet practical musings, so here is one more:

I purchased my first Clif Bar in 2000 from the Cornell Campus Store.  You had me at Carrot Cake.  I am vegan, and have been since 1997, so I was beyond excited at the arrival of portable healthy, delicious food at a university that valued its impact on the world but offered little for its starving, studious, library-living vegan students. Since that first unveiling in the middle of Ho Plaza, the Clif Company has always been there for me: through 7.5 years of undergrad + grad school, a USA/Canada music tour with destinations too punk rock for healthy food, the San Francisco Marathon + many other races, travels to Europe and the Middle East, and most recently, my trip to New Zealand.

Because of the length of my New Zealand trip and the minimal amount of baggage I traveled with, my Clif Z Bar supplies (for kids? No way!) ran out in less than two weeks. The adventurer in me was not worried. I thought it would be fun to try some crazy foreign energy bars in a country that embraces nationwide sustainable practices; prioritizes the current/future well-being of its land, culture, and people; publicly supports small farms, local industry, and organic agriculture; and is the birthplace of bungy jumping.  I traveled both the North and South Island and had the best time ever! But I cannot begin to describe how much I missed every single product you sell.  On every hike, on every long drive, on every fiord, I missed the Clif Company. 

In New Zealand, you can amp up on Powerade and Red Bull, throw yourself out of an airplane, hike 3,754 meters to the top of Mount Cook, save beached whales, and then eat a muesli bar. That's right, the only bars they sell are of the muesli/granola/breakfast variety. One day, devastated and hungry, I  recognized the bright sparkling wrapper of a Larabar. I bought it for $4.50 (NZ) ... not the same.

I will be traveling back to New Zealand at the end of the year and staying for a few months. I will go to all lengths to obtain an address where I can receive shipments of Clif Bars, Luna Bars, Z Bars ... and I will spread the word to anyone who will listen.

Have you ever considered selling your products in New Zealand? I see from your website that you have established markets in both Canada and the UK, but in my humble opinion, New Zealand is a country waiting for the introduction of an energy bar as amazing as yours.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Jessica Wolkoff
San Francisco, CA

After sending Clif this email last week, I wondered how much money I have given them in my lifetime... 
Let's say I have been eating these bars for 10 years or about 3,650 days.  There have been days/weeks I have gone without bars and there have been days/weeks I eat two, or four, a day.  To make it simple, I average a bar a day.  I know, totally absurd haha, it's not like that's really the case or anything.

3,650 bars. 

Estimating the cost is a little more confusing. The Z bars I buy are usually $.49 but I have purchased Clif Bars and Luna Bars for as much as $2.00, sometimes more! Usually though, they seem to hover around $.99 to $1.50.  
Average, round, add, add, add, add, divide, equals about $1/bar -- oh wait, that is the easiest math ever!

There is no doubt in my mind that I have given the Clif Company $3,650 in the last 10 years. I also have no doubt that number is a gross underestimate.

Milford Road, NZ
Snow, mountain, avalanche. This is why Milford Road is often closed. [Taken from inside the bus]


Milford Road, NZ
I wanted to run to the mountains, as usual, but was not allowed, as usual. 


Mirror Lake, NZ
On the way to Milford Sound, the bus driver let us out for exactly ten minutes. This was barely enough time to fight other tourists for the perfect view.


Queenstown, NZ
Chaffinch, my bird. I probably have 100,000,000 photos of chaffinches I met along the way.


Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, NZ
tufts


South Island, NZ
A few branches.