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It's The Down Under Update!
February 12, 1991

Dear Friends,

How are you?? Well, enough about you, letís move on to me. Iím so happy. I finally get to play on a computer. Iíve been having a craving to for the longest time. Iím sitting in a computer lab at a place called Bond University near Surferís Paradise in Australia. Iím way happy.

I apologize for the form letter, but considering that I happened on this computer and how many people I would like to write to, and how much Iíd like to say, this seems like a good way to go.

New Zealand was really a great place - spectacular scenery. I had travelled north of Aucklund first, to a place called the Bay of Islands, then went south to Rotorua, where there is a lot of geothermal activity. Went river-rafting there, and met two Canadian girls that I travelled with for the next couple of weeks. We headed by bus, train, and ferry to the South Island and went on a three day trek on the coast in the Abel Tasman Park. We went down the west coast, stopping at Fox Glacier on Christmas Eve. Fortunately for us travelers-away-from-home, Christmas isnít celebrated much over here, so it wasnít too bad. Went on a beautiful hike on Christmas Day through rain forest (believe it or not) up to a viewpoint overlooking that glacier.

I got a ride with some other people from there down to Queenstown, which is really beautiful. The hostel is across the street from a lake and overlooks a spectacular mountain range. I stayed there almost a week and was there for New Yearís Eve, which was pretty wild. It stays light til 10:00 p.m., and it was a beautiful night. Thousands of people out on the street and a live band. Great fun.

Went from there on two amazing treks, each four days and three nights. I was traveling with an American named Rick and a Canadian named Bre. The scenery was really great, and we were fortunate with the weather.

We had to go back to Queenstown, and when we left, we tried hitch-hiking to the town of Dunedin. There were three of us and even though we split up, we just couldnít get a ride. We tried everything - jumping up and down, acting really stupid (I really got good at it), showing our legs. I was holding a sign across my shorts, so it looked like I was naked. I got some appreciative looks and some laughs, but no ride. Rick got a ride, but after three hours Bre and I had to take the bus.

In Dunedin we stayed with a family we had met on one of the hikes. They were the nicest people, and they had a beautiful house. They made us a barbecued scallop dinner and gave us wine and beer. The next morning when we woke up, he said, get up, weíre going fishing on a 50-foot yacht. I said, "I can do that." There were two divers on board who dove for lobster, which they cooked there and we had on sandwiches. Tons of food and beer (the owner of the boat also owned the brewery) and everyone went fishing. Nice people and a great day. That night we had lobster bisque and barbecued sausages.

We stayed there two nights, then started hitching to Christchurch. Same luck hitching there. Bre got a ride, but Rick and I waited for the longest time. After about four hours we finally got a ride with a guy. He was stopping at friends, who we went in the them and drank some beer and talked about pig hunting, among other things. Really nice people. After a couple more rides we got left in the middle of nowhere at 10:00 at night and were planning on sleeping in a grass field off the side of the highway when some farmers asked if we wanted to "crash" at their place. We ended up staying there for three days and two nights. We worked on their farm. They had 4,000 sheep and 400 deer. We helped then cut the antlers (they call them felt) from deer. They sell them for about $25 per pound to the Asians as an aphrodisiac. Pretty bloody affair, but fascinating. Rick got one of the deer in a headlock, and I had one almost run , me over trying to get out of the pen. He had been drugged, but not enough. I went out and herded him back into the pen using a three-wheel motorcycle. I was flying across this paddock on the motorcycle. It was really fun. I gave Rick a ride on the motorcycle and almost crashed. He got his foot caught under the wheel and almost broke his ankle. Thank goodness it wasnít my foot; that would hurt.

Why was it that a sheep-herded invented Levi 501ís? Because the sound of a zipper will cause sheep to stampede. Rick and I were looking at a sheep crossing the road, and I said "I wish that was a beautiful girl," and Rick said, "I wish it was dark." Enough already.

That afternoon we hauled some bales of hay and cleaned out a barn. It was pretty funny. Rick has an MBA, too, and we thought it was so funny to be doing this kind of work, especially without planning to do it. We were laughing the whole time. We herded some sheep, also on the motorcycle, and that was pretty comical . Rick was running and waving his arms and I was riding the bike. We ate with the family, big farming-type meals.

The next day one of the sons arranged a tour of a sheep-slaughtering house, called a freezing works. They gave us their car and directions and said make sure you come back. The tour was really amazing. They process 10,000 sheep per day. The sheep start out alive on one end of this big chain, and about one or two minutes later itís just a carcass. It was a fascinating tour, but not for the weak-of-heart.

Because they sell a lot of sheep to Iran and other Moslem countries, those guys insist that the sheep be facing Mecca and have their throats slit by a Moslem. There is actually an arrow on the wall pointing to Mecca and a Moslem guy cutting the throat. We had to tell the manager of the plant that we had family in farming, because they donít normally give tours, It was just the plant manager taking Rick and I around.

On the last day there one of the sons gave us a lift to Christchurch, where we were supposed to have been days earlier. We checked into the hostel and went to have pizza and sat next to a guy wearing a 49íers shirt. We started talking to him and his wife (Paddy and Karen) and they invited us out after. We went to a pub and they invited us over for dinner the next night. When they came and got us, they invited us to stay. I was planning on staying in Christchurch for two days, but I stayed with them for a week and a half. I canceled two flights that I had scheduled.

They were so great. They treated us just like family. They included us in everything they did, and started talking right away about us staying for a month. We went out a lot at night, and in the day when they worked, they had bicycles and lived close to town, so we could go there easily. Paddy had lived on a farm just north of the city, and we went up there and stayed for a few days. We were doing a lot of herding cattle, including one day when I went out with Paddyís brother, Woody, and we herded cattle on horseback for two hours in the morning and FOUR hours in the afternoon. Six hours on a horse is a little too much. Other stuff we did with these guys and their friends was go to harness racing, a moto-cross race (really exciting), and a wild animal park.

I finally decided to leave New Zealand, after staying seven weeks when I had only planned on four . Flew to Sydney, Australia and stayed there for a week. I stayed half the time with a Canadian guy Iíd met in Fiji. We went to a free open-air classical music concert that was attended by 120,000 people. I had said goodbye to Rick in New Zealand, but we ran into each other in Sydney.

Since I left Sydney I went to a place called Byron Bay. Really nice beaches and a great hostel, but pretty quiet. Came north from there and Rick and I are staying with a friend of someone we met in New Zealand. Her name is Christene, Actually from Fiji but living in Australia for six years. Her boyfriend is a professional baseball player in Australia.

Last night Rick and I went into town and went out with two girls that I had been traveling with in New Zealand for a couple of weeks before Christmas, and he was with them before I started traveling with him. Small world. The four of us are headed soon to a place called Frasier Island where a group of people rent four-wheel drives and camp on this island that is basically just sand dunes. You can drive anywhere you want; supposed to be really fun. Iím kind of anxious to get doing something more active than what Iíve done for the last month or so.

I took an aerobics class last night! It was great. Itís hard to stay in shape when youíre traveling. I had gained some weight in New Zealand, but Iíve lost a little since.

Anyways, I think Iíll get going. Iíve been typing for hours and hours. It has been fun, though. Iíve really had this urge lately to be productive. Iíve been lounging around for so long that I just want to do something.

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