The weakest kind of ammoonition.

Do you think lactose intolerant white supremacists are finally learning about the dangers of intolerance? Also, seriously? You’re gonna make chugging milk an act of hatred now? Cows don’t even know what racism is. You’re using a heavily processed dairy product as a statement of purity. Do you understand how ridiculous that is? This “pure” substance has been collected, separated, fortified, pasturised, homogenised then packaged. It’s like saying you’re really into stealing cars, then playing a game of Second Life where your character plays Second Life, playing a character who plays the PSOne Grand Theft Auto through a PC emulator. There are a lot of filters between you and your message, dude. Also please do a ton of gallon challenges so I can see you vomiting up your corroded vital organs all over your worthless bodies. They’re not doing you or the world any good here. Thanks.

Plus, why use plain milk as a symbol of your pride when it’s not even the most delicious one? Don’t get me wrong, I love me a big glass of milk (oddly enough, growing up on skim milk, I kind of prefer it. It’s what you’re used to, right?). Before I started drinking coffee I’d often order milk at a cafe in lieu of a hot drink. That being said, chocolate milk is the tits! If you neo nazis have a problem with that, I’m pretty sure the entire nation of NZ want to fight you. Strawberry is great too. Banana may be the only flavour that really wouldn’t hold its own, but I’m happy to leave artificial banana out to drown. Fuck artificial banana. Also fuck these bigoted, ignorant, hateful fucks who care so little for others that they’re ruining a quality dairy product for the rest of the world.

The thing they’re missing in this whole dumb (and it started on 4chan, not known for its inspired political idealism (“For the LULZ” doesn’t exactly evoke confidence)) milk as purity thing is that milk is at its absolute best in an assistance role. I love milk, but milk tends to be one mere aspect of a more holistically enjoyable recipe. Chocolate cake uses milk, but it’s how that milk works together with the other ingredients that makes chocolate cake as wondrous, smooth and lovably dense as it is. Pancakes, omelettes, cheesy pasta. Hell, milkshakes aren’t just milk. Things work better with cooperation, when we support one another and help accentuate each other’s skills and expertise. Not trying to kill off the parts of us that are unique and special.

Because frankly, we’re all tired of your bullshit.

A wide berthday.

Well this is 30. It doesn’t feel ultimately different from 29. That’s always the expectation as a kid, that the annual shift will suddenly make itself known as another 365 days turn over to the next. Then as you’re an adult and the passage of time seems smoother, slower you realise it just ain’t like that. I already had the aches and pains that periodically make themselves known. It’s not like I suddenly reached the magical age of “old” and my limbs fell off. I’m also not the bastion of wisdom that comes with age. Still got years to collect it all. Dribs and drabs, drip by drip. Three decades in I’m surprised at how young I feel, but with the knowledge of how young I’m not. The ability to be as reckless as I was ten years ago, but the insight to know that’s unlikely to go well. Drip by drip.

Today’s weather, on the other hand, has not gone drip by drip. We’re away on the Milford Sound tour in a cross between overcast and downpour. Asking our guide if this weather was standard, he cheerfully replied to my friend “oh no, this is the worst weather I’ve seen in years. It was 28 degrees and sunny last week.” Happy Birthday, I guess. Regardless of the wetness, it’s been a pretty rad way to spend the day. Away on an adventure with my girlfriend and best mates. It’s kind of tough to feel hard done by when any shit situation becomes fodder for more jokes. Misery alchemists, turning tragedy into comedy in record time. If my limbs did suddenly fall of at 30, I’ve no doubt they’d help me find the silver lining.

Despite anything nature could throw at us, the scenery has been unbelievable. I’m not sure I’ve used the word “incredible” sincerely quite so many times in one day before. Enormous mountains towing above the clouds. Streams becoming waterfalls. Huge green gorges, gushing rivers and crystal clear lakes. The tour guide has been offering helpful, interesting commentary along the way. Well versed in history about the area, he’s also delivered insight on both flora and fauna. Okay, so now I sound like I’ve aged another 30 years, but it’s bloody fascinating. Apparently the karearea falcon (on the NZ $20 note) can fly at speeds of up to 180km per hour. That’s insane.

We saw ducks that dove underwater to find food and keas posing for photos on top of a car. One also walked up to the bus door and started chewing on the insulation. The guide told us it’s pretty common for one kea to attract attention while several other keas, unnoticed, sow disorder. Mischievous little bastards. Dolphins are pretty rare around the Milford sounds, showing up around once every ten days, but we had a big pod jumping and splashing in front of the boat. The driver stopped and we gawked, passengers cooing accordingly. They were pretty damn rad. A cluster of sea lions adorned a large rock, sleeping despite the rugged terrain. Sea lions don’t give a fuck. We passed right by a huge waterfall and it was amazing just how powerful it felt. The gust at the bottom was almost enough to blow us back. We got pretty soaked, but it was worth it to be so cowed by the elements.

Maybe the waterfalls washed off on me, but it’s hard not to gush about how fortunate I feel. I’m 30, celebrating in the time zone of my birth, surrounded by a bunch of my favourite people in the world. I think I’m doing pretty damn well. I even still have all the limbs I was born with.

It was a chip off the ol’ road, that’s for sure.

Alas and a lack of mileage ahead, Roadchip has come to an end. The holiday hasn’t, but we’ve reached Queenstown, our final destination. We waved goodbye to Fox Glacier, with its frozen cove, fitnessy Eurobros and confused aspiring cyclists. We also drove past Mt Aspiring, as well as a multitude of majestic waterfalls, inlets, rocky shores, west coast surf and verdant mountains. We’ve escaped the clutches of price gouging food deserts to arrive in the bounteous lands of a price gouging tourist trap. All the love for our slightly more benevolent dictatorship. I also understand the irony in mocking tourists when that’s exactly what we’re doing. Self-awareness doesn’t afford us a different level of status.

Queenstown, pricey as it is, remains precisely as stunning as I remember. I’ve told people for years “panoramas as far as the eye can see.” Or “everywhere is a postcard.” I’m glad time didn’t make a liar out of me. We came in via Wanaka, which is one rolling hill after another. After taking a hot tip to stop off at the historic Cadrona Hotel, we found ourselves at a rustic old tavern, lovingly preserved. It was a novel pleasure to sit on my first wooden toilet seat in what felt like ten+ years. Grabbed a great pint of saison and ordered a chunky sounding bacon and venison burger. Big as my eyes and stomach were, I didn’t expect what seemed like a tourist trap to deliver a legitimately fantastic burger. A sumptuous, dense patty with crispy bacon, beetroot relish and assorted veges. So gamey, on a bet of crinkle fries. A truly excellent meal.

Bellies fit to burst, we transformed and rolled out of there. Onwards to Queenstown! Through Arrowtown! Incredible vistas over every rise we passed. Pastoral farmland gave way to further mountains and an expansive, azure lake. We arrived at our Air BnB, a pretty, modern looking home. A cheerful face opened the door and showed us around. It may have been a holdover from our primitive accommodations thus far, but once we arrived inside the place was gorgeous. All the comforts of home and then some. A separate floor all to ourselves, shut away from the family who lives there. A comfortable lounge with a television, Sky TV, a cd and book collection and a big cozy couch. A massive bed covered in cushions. A bathroom with washer, dryer and a heated floor. Our hosts left us muesli and milk for breakfast, plus chocolate cookies, small Whittakers chocolates and a selection of teas. Such an amazing place to spend some quiet time together (a rarity on this trip).

My girlfriend went to explore town as I went on a hike with friends (who’ve been here for a few days). Steep, but with a couple of plateaus to rest/stretch. Tiny cairns littering the sides of the walking path gave a real Blair Witch feel. If the hike hadn’t been respiratorially punishing enough, I’d say that the views were breathtaking. It was bloody choice to get out and do a decent walk after so many days spent sitting passively in a car. Every time we thought we’d hit the peak, there was another peak to go. When we finally hit the top, our reward was a 360 degree view instead of a mere 270 degrees or so. Awesome in every sense of the word.

Tonight’s an early rest before spending my 30th birthday on an all-day trip out to Milford Sound. If all I wanted for my birthday was a six hour bus, two hour boat tour and four hour return bus, I couldn’t have asked for a better option (I sort of agreed to the trip expecting around four hours total). Who knows? It’s pretty popular, quite possibly for a reason.

So tonight, much like Roadchip, has come to an end. Goodnight Kiwis.

A positive vignette result.

Today was a day composed of odd little scenes. At times it seemed we were heading for an undesirable outcome, then circumstances turned and everything came up Milhouse. I guess I had this odd notion in my head that travel on the road would be more of an overarching adventure and less a cluster of vignettes.

Last night was a difficult one to sleep through. Thankfully the endless swarms of flies were trapped outside the inner sanctum of our tent. Instead they roamed the layer between our safe seclusion and the awning. Winds blustered, we could hear them blowing through the trees around us. A few beats later the sides of the tent would creak and bow, the walls bending in on us. A second later they’d snap back to normal, as if nothing had happened. None of us slept well, but still somehow we all woke up later than intended. We boned up, packed out and GTFO.

In our haste to escape, we forgot to grab breakfast. Spying a small cafe en route, we stopped in. I’d been dreaming of another small bakery, as I’d found in Matamata. Enormous filled rolls and slices for cheap as. Sadly, I’m still yet to find their like on this Roadchip. Settling for my overpriced chicken sandwich and totally fine mocha, I went to the bathroom. When I came back, the table was seemingly vacated. Drat, Roadchip over. Truly though, everyone had run outside for the appearance of a kea. Known as “the clown of the mountains”, they’re clever little birds who seem closer to canine than canary. We all marveled as it hopped around, keeping our food close. Some patrons had just sat down as it hopped over to them. They laughed and turned their heads, it seized opportunity. Darting in, it grabbed a butter sachet and flew across the road, hiding under a van. As the rest of the cafe collectively lost its shit, this little canary tore off the seal and dug into its prized butter, stains all over its beak.

We’d arrived at our Fox Glacier hostel with the intention of hiking up to see the glacier itself. Thing is, the weather was all kinds of shit. Bucketing down, we sat around glumly in our Ivory Tower (the literal name of the hostel) wondering what to do. There was a hot tub, a sauna, board games, etc. We could watch a movie, sit around and hang out. Or we could go hike to the glacier with minimal (or none in my case) wet weather gear. It was a nice little hike, but due to the rain, there were gushing streams impeding our progress. It became like a game, hopping over stones to clear the streams. We were human Froggers, heading towards a large icy shelf. As with the rest of the countryside, the natural formations were gorgeous. Waterfalls, a rushing river, smooth stones as far as the eye could see. We climbed to the top (even with the few “no stopping 400m” signs cracking the whip behind us), looked for a couple of minutes, took some photos and began our descent, pretty glad to have made the trek.

While we were eating dinner, a bounteous spread of cheeses and dips, plus salad, a commotion was going on outside. A bunch of European bros were working out, doing push ups, dips and whatnot on the picnic tables. No harm done, but some of the form was pretty dodgy. A few of them grabbed a table and flipped it upside down while the other one lay underneath. Bench presses with a literal bench and table. An elderly Asian man came over, took off his jacket, lay down and took a turn bench pressing. He then challenged a Eurobro to an arm wrestle, which he sadly lost despite our internal cheering. I liked his moxie,

In the background, another scene unfolded. A group of tourists were borrowing some bikes to take out, but it quickly became apparent that they possibly had never seen a bike before, let alone ridden one. They struggled to get on top of the seat and refused the help of the staff member woefully trailing them and obviously worrying about the condition of the bikes upon their return. One of the tourists had their helmet on backwards and was never corrected. All that was missing was the Benny Hill music. As if to justify our disbelief and hysterical laughter, one of them fell off as he started to bike away. He walked his bike out of our line of sight and we cackled uproariously. I snorted whiskey and ginger beer out of my nose.

Alternating between uneventful and overly eventful, it was at most times unexpected. Oh Kea, you didn’t just steal that butter, you stole our hearts.

This is what I get for listening to too much Lenny Kravitz

Wow, am I ever on edge. We’ve set up our camp right by the river side. It’s a beautiful, nay idyllic sight (like almost everything nature has thrown our way on this trip). The grass is soft and loamy. The trees alternate between lush canopies and lovely clearings. The area is also swarming with midge flies and I’m losing my mind. If there’s a German compound word for a combination of miserable and furious it’d be a perfect fit.

I wish I was exaggerating, but I’ve already experienced mild dissociation. We’ve arrived in this stunning location (albeit with the wind and rain setting in) and the only thought in my mind is of 16 hours time when we can leave. We’re safely nestled in our tent (thanks to fly screens and the rain shell), both my skin and clothes are smothered in bug spray, but I can’t stop thinking of the endless swarms waiting just outside. It’s ridiculous and more than a little petulant. I understand this logically, but emotionally I’m overwhelmed and incapable of succumbing to rational thought. I didn’t even know this was such a huge issue for me. Bruises and scrapes, physical exhaustion, etc I’d probably be fine with. I’m having difficulty thinking of anything else. I don’t want to move, I’m dreading having to leave the tent to go to the toilet or eat dinner. My body has even started creating phantom itches all over. Between my legs, on my scalp, the hand I’m typing with (where I can see no visible bites), my face, behind my ear. It’s insane. You’d think I was having a bad meth reaction.

By swiveling my head around the tent I can see at least 60 on the layer outside ours. Sitting there, waiting for us to make a move. As time has gone on they’ve increased in numbers. It feels like a zombie contagion, they’re all out there with a taste for blood, awaiting critical mass. If there’s one little hole they’ll be able to burst in and we’re fucked. Then the next week is a bust, an itchy waste. The rest of an otherwise amazing holiday tainted.

I’m also angry at myself for having this reaction, which doesn’t help anything. I don’t know what to do to salvage the situation. I assume that I’ll do the usual: hit breaking point, meltdown, let it out and let it go. I’d love to avoid the usual, but I’m not sure how. I know my girlfriend and friends would love to help, but right now I’ve got very little to access, let alone offer as suggestion. You know something’s up when my strategy is to want to sleep for 15 hours and basically skip a day. I’m not a big fan of sleep or anything that precludes you from doing stuff. Who knows, maaan? Maybe we’ll get attacked by zombies and I’ll be given something more pressing to worry about. Perspective is a gift. A guy can dream, can’t he?

I guess I can look on the bright side. After writing this there are only 15.5 hours left to go.

Edit: Sex. Sex helped.

I deserve some kind of gold ribbin’ for this entry.

We’re about to leave Wellington on an early 8am ferry ride. It’s been a breezy trip through our nation’s capital, which is why I didn’t end up contacting friends during our stay. I was gracious enough to pass on the cold/flu that gripped me during the wedding, so my girlfriend could enjoy its many graces. She’s spent the last few days leaking copiously from the nose, sneezing enough to leave her with a sore back and possessing a general spaciness of the brain. It’s shitty to be sick on holiday but honestly, if she had to be sick, a day and a half where we had zero obligations to anyone else was the best possible time. If it’d been two days later we’d be weaving through the twists and turns of South Island mountainscapes. That’s gotta be a special kind of hell inside the ninth sphere.

We traveled at a breezy pace, doing what we could while we could manage it. Best coffee we found (and currently leading for the trip overall) was at the Flight Coffee Hangar downtown. We’ve been wandering the city drinking coffee, eating well (made the customary trip to Sweet Mother’s Kitchen). I got up early for a morning jog around the waterfront and this afternoon we returned to the scene of the crime. We checked out Te Papa Museum. Visited a very cool exhibit all about bugs, with giant models all designed by Weta Workshops (though surprisingly no giant weta models). There was a hell of a lot to learn with fun interactive exhibits. Let’s see what I can remember.

There was a pretty vicious (both pretty and vicious) mantis known as the orchid mantis. With a vaguely translucent body capable of a certain amount of colour change, it hides among orchids and attracts its prey with bodily luminescence. As the prey draws near, it lashes out, grabbing it in its strong claws, then rips it apart with sharp mandibles. The slow motion video depicted a scene none to dissimilar to how I eat ribs. Brutal, just brutal.

There’s an awesome wasp that turns cockroaches into its zombie slaves. Sorta. The wasp confronts the cockroach and injects its venom into the wasp’s nervous system, paralysing its front legs. It then injects it again, paralysing its antennae and disabling its ability to navigate, It creates a nest and preps it for the arrival of a host. Bringing the cockroach to the next, it lays its eggs inside, then seals off the entrance to the nest. The new wasp emerges, chest burster style, from the now dead cockroach host. None too dissimilar to how my stomach feels after I eat too many ribs. Brutal just brutal.

The Japanese honey bees were fucking wicked. Their nests are often set upon by large wasps. Physically superior creatures, the wasps rampage through the hives, leaving dismembered bees everywhere. The bees are able to collaborate and work together to repel the invasion. I don’t know how they figured this out, but the Japanese honey bees can stand temperatures a few degrees higher than the wasps can. The bees band together around their foe in a little bee ball. They then flap their wings aggressively, heating up their little bodies. The wasp, unable to handle the temperature increase, dies. I’m not sure if it suffocates, melts or has some kind of painful brain explosion, but whatever the result, I’m sure the wasp realises it’s bitten off more than it can chew only when it’s too late. None to dissimilar to me at an all you can eat ribs night, Brutal, just brutal.

A few rad displays talked about evolutionary developments in insects and how human technology seeks to replicate it. One of these is the exoskeleton, which is finally being developed for assistance with accessibility challenged people. Augmented strength or limbs will one day be able to, say, help individuals with spinal cord injuries walk again. Spider silk is uncannily strong for its weight. One thread wrapped around the circumference of the Earth would only weigh half a kilo. Military technology is looking to adopt this strength to weight ratio in new and improved kevlar armour. Other future tech involves swarm-esque nanobots controlled by a central source (think Big Hero 6), and termite-ish machines working together to build large structures or clean up waste spills. I can certainly think of a few scenarios they’d be handy for. None to dissimilar for the clean up crew required after my body processes the aftermath of an all you can eat ribs night. Brutal, just brutal.

Who else is craving ribs right now?

Socrates would’ve gone mad for Yahoo Answers.

Some questions:
  • How do dogs feel about Wasabi?
  • Is there a competitive Hamburglar mascot scene?
  • Why is it normal to have an exposed penis in a men’s bathroom, but not an exposed chest?
  • Which song has been playing in the background of the most deaths?
  • Trainspotting is a thing, but has anyone ever done spots (weed) on a train?
  • How did people discover that fugu was edible?
  • What is the most valuable, lightest item?
  • Who has the shortest work week in the world? How long is it?
  • What is the oldest VCR recording from television?
  • What is the longest traffic light in the world? The shortest?
  • Has anyone ever died from a banana peel slip?
  • Does the fastest oyster shucker in the world know of their talent?
  • Which person throughout history created the most words in any language?
  • Is there anyone who’s not allergic to pork, but is allergic to bacon?
  • What is Insane Clown Posse’s opinion of glue?
  • Do onions have an amazing use that we still haven’t figured out?
  • Kangaroos can box, but do they have the dexterity and mental faculties to wrap gifts?
  • Does Santa have a moral grey area?
  • Is there anyone with a fetish for frosting?
  • What is the stretchiest substance in the world?
  • Is there anyone who can sing loud empty or at a pitch that can dent metal?
  • Could a human get strong enough to punch someone’s head off?

An inquiring mind wants to know.