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Exploring Dunedin (Part 2)

Exploring Dunedin (Part 2)

It’s impossible to escape conversations about Lord of the Rings when talking about New Zealand. Although the mention of the series can cause kiwi’s to roll their eyes, the movie franchise is by far the best look the vast majority of people have been given into the country. Because of this it’s easy to think of New Zealand as a mountainous and rocky landscape with giant snowy peaks and sparkling lakes. This is true, but not for all of the country. Dunedin is a city on a hill overlooking a beautiful bay and peninsula. Take a quick drive outside of Dunedin and you’ll find grassy hills covered in sheep for miles. This is the New Zealand that I know best.

This week I was stuck finishing schoolwork and Tra took a short trip with our Dutch friend Luuk to visit Ross Creek Reservoir. Before he left I made sure he grabbed the camera so he could snap some photos along the way. The park is 30 minute walk from our flat but for some reason we’ve never visited it.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music email me.

This week I’ve chosen this dreamy track from the singer sosi. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving her a follow on soundcloud or twitter.

Exploring Dunedin (Part 1)

Exploring Dunedin (Part 1)

People ask me all the time: Emma, how can I ensure that I won’t get audited by the IRS? I always just shrug my shoulders.

“Why are you asking me?” I tell them. “I don’t know anything about the IRS.”

It’s a constant struggle.

Okay, people don’t actually ask me that. What people do ask me is how I like New Zealand, and more specifically how I like Dunedin. I was brought up in a culture where the go-to answer to the common and amazingly broad question ‘how are you doing?’ is almost always ‘good.’ It doesn’t matter what’s going on in my life, if someone wants to know how I’m doing, it’s always good. Imagine the odds! So of course I tell them that Dunedin is good.

Dunedin is a fantastic temporary home. In some ways it feels like a small European city with grand old architecture and a pedestrian friendly city center. Although Dunedin has a population that is slightly smaller than Vancouver, WA, the town has a greater ‘buzz.’ Downtown Dunedin feels busy, but not in an unhealthy way, without losing the sense of community that is often lost in larger cities.

Dunedin’s also similar to home in many ways. The weather is very much like the Pacific Northwest. Cold winters and warm summers. We can definitely experience all four seasons in one day. New Zealand is similar to the States but rooted in British customs. So Kiwi’s drink a lot of tea. But it also has a uniquely Kiwi culture which I love and will miss when I move back home. I will especially miss how friendly and easy-going the people are.

For the next couple of weeks Tra and I will walk around different parts of Dunedin and share our photos along the way. This will give our friends and family a chance to see a bit more of the city we live in.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music email me.

This week I’ve chosen this smooth instrumental from the Vancouver producer Pace Moccasin. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving him a follow on soundcloud or twitter.

Our day with Mia

Our day with Mia

The other day I was walking home alone on a return trip from the dairy listening to one of my favorite podcasts. As I turn onto my street a strange man in dark clothing snickered in my direction. I rushed to the alleyway where my flat is located but before I could get my key in the door the man caught up to me and pulled a gun out of his jacket.

“If you don’t tell me which of Tra’s sisters you like better in the next five seconds I’m going to shoot you in the head,” the man screamed.

“…uh…umm… well I guess…. hmmmm…. I’d probably have to say…. well uhh…”

Boom. The clock expired and the gun blew smoke. The bullet grazed the side of my head and the dripping blood stained my teeth. As I looked down my hands morphed into what I could only describe as mollusk-covered crab claws. I bludgeoned the man with my new crustacean appendage and he disappeared into a cloud of fuchsia smoke.

Okay maybe that didn’t happen. But if someone made me choose between Tra’s two sisters I simply wouldn’t be able to.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say something crazy: life is better when you get along with your partner’s family. Lucky for me I love Tra’s family! They have been so kind and welcoming and couldn’t imagine a better fit. While I could say so many great things about all of his family, I seriously love spending time with his two sisters, Gracie and Mia. We made sure to spend as much time as we could with each of them before we returned to New Zealand. About a week before our return trip home we set up a date with Tra’s younger sister Mia to hang out and maybe shoot some photos.

(Check out our weekend in Orcas Island with Gracie part 1, part 2)

Our first planned stop of the day was to visit Compass Coffee’s new location. Tra’s friend has been a barista for Compass for a couple of years and we try and visit every couple weeks when we’re in Vancouver. The new location is beautiful. While I loved the intimate environment of the old location, it could sometimes feel a bit dark and cramped. The new location is bright and welcoming without losing it’s small business feel. Aesthetics are one thing but the real test is the coffee. And the coffee’s pretty damn great.

Like all 18-year-olds, Mia is still learning about herself. Through this learning process she’s discovered that drinking coffee makes her already anxious self even more anxious. Some people (including me) can’t function without coffee; she has a hard time functioning with coffee. So, like a responsible adult, she chose to order a decaf latte. I’ll admit, I’ve had a hard time understanding why anyone would order decaf coffee. Choosing to order coffee without caffeine is like working as an unpaid intern. It feels like a real job, but without the crucial benefit of the real thing. After hearing Mia’s point of view I find it a lot easier to understand. For a lot of people coffee is comforting.

Before leaving downtown Mia wanted to explore some of the vintage shops. She has a passion for finding hidden gems in her grandparent’s closet and can often be found digging through Goodwill bins for bargain finds. Mia has the uncanny ability to see the potential in clothing that I wouldn’t have given a second glance and rock it like she’s Madonna. To her, vintage shops are home. For me and Tra, a fourth consecutive winter was right around the corner so we tried our best to find some nice warm clothing while Mia was busy networking with the shop owner. Mia left with the woman’s email address and the possible opportunity to model for her company in the future.

Earlier in the day we decided to explore Camas. Downtown Camas has that time-capsuley feel and we thought it would be great for photos. Also we don’t visit Camas that often. Sometimes I forget that Camas is a place worth visiting just for fun. I tend to think of the paper mill before I think of the vintage movie theater and small art galleries.

The first shop we visited was an art gallery off of the main street. As soon as we entered the shop the eccentric gallery director was captivated by Mia’s outfit. The woman, who was sporting quite the outfit herself, raved that she loved her patched loose-fitting retro jeans. We sorted through all of the interesting sculptures and paintings and a few other people joined us in the store. After sharing a few laughs with the director we waved goodbye and exited the gallery.

As we were searching for interesting backdrops for a photo shoot we found a little alleyway with old brick on one side and a painted silver wall on the other. We had Mia strike some silly over-the-top model poses and we all laughed. She also tried flipping her hair to show off her lion’s mane, but my camera was having a hard time adjusting to the quick movements. Both Mia and I had entrusted our bags with Tra and he looked like a goof strutting with two purses around his neck.

After exploring a few vintage shops we hopped back in the car and started driving around Camas. We drove through some cute neighborhoods and stopped by a swimming pool that I used to visit every summer as a kid. Mostly though, we just drove. We talked about relationships, goals, our ideas and the past. We sang along to Bon Iver while Tra (unsuccessfully) mimicked his falsetto. When we saw all that we needed to see we just kept driving.

Sometimes driving aimlessly with people you love is the best. There’s something about the confining space of a car whipping through space that creates the best atmosphere for conversation. The best car rides end long after you reach your destination. Sometimes a conversation can feel like a radio program or a podcast that is longer than the actual journey. You can’t be satisfied until you’ve emptied all of your thoughts. So, you continue to talk in the parked car for hours and hours without even realizing your seat belt is still fastened. Getting lost in time with the people you love is a great indicator of a quality relationship. I loved getting lost with Tra and Mia.


Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music email me.

This week I’ve chosen an oldie but goodie that you might not have heard from the local Vancouver artist iiiso. Give it a listen and maybe even consider giving him a follow on Soundcloud or Twitter.

Settling In

Settling In

It’s been far too long since my last blog post. Since then I have moved across the world from my small hometown of Battle Ground, Washington to Dunedin, New Zealand. I arrived in New Zealand in February and was accompanied by my dad and a few suitcases. Thank god for my dad. He was essential in helping me get settled in and was an excellent travel partner those first few weeks.

Semester one is almost complete and I’m looking forward to a few exams later this month… hmmm… actually “looking forward to” is probably not the right phrase. I’ve enjoyed university so far, my classes are interesting and the campus is beautiful. I love living right in town and so close to uni— about a 25 minute walk to school with plenty of coffee shops in between. 🙂

After a few weeks in Dunedin I met another photographer, Michaela. She’s originally from Germany and was traveling  around New Zealand through the summer shooting weddings. We met up for a mentoring session in beautiful St. Clair. The next day she found a couple to photograph at Sandfly Bay on the Otago Peninsula. I learned so much from her, she’s an incredible photographer!! Check out her gorgeous work, click here.

I’ve learned here that I do not have proper “warm” clothes. It can get damn cold here and my thin cotton shirts and acrylic cardigans just aren’t cutting it. I’m hoping I can find some bargain Merino somewhere to snuggle up in. However I’m really lucky that my flat is on the second floor, grabbing free heat from the first floor shops.

In the last ten days we’ve had some crazy weather. Last week it snowed, two days ago we had an earthquake, and yesterday we had flooding in town. Wow! If this is a sign of winter to come, I will definitely need to spring for some gumboots and a hefty umbrella.

I’m so pumped it’s finally June, I’ve been waiting for this month for ages! At the end of this month I’m so excited to welcome my boyfriend, Trā to Dunedin! I absolutely cannot wait to have him here with me. I really miss hanging out with my best friend and I can’t wait for our adventure in New Zealand together. I hope to update this blog more frequently now that I’m all settled in. Thank you for taking the time to read!

Goodbye Long Beach

Goodbye Long Beach

Last weekend I said goodbye to one of my favorite coastal towns: Long Beach, Washington. This is a a great little town about a 2-hours drive from home on a peninsula near Astoria.

This has always felt like a wonderful little escape, my boyfriend’s dad- who happens to have an amazing taste in homes, put us up in one of his rental properties. It’s a gorgeous renovated beach house with beach access and a sense of quiet and peace. I can’t wait to come back.

In about three weeks time I will board a plane heading south, very south actually. I’m moving to Dunedin, New Zealand.  I will finish my degree in the Bachelor of Arts program at the University of Otago. It’s the oldest university in New Zealand, and it’s located near the bottom of the south island. Although I’ve never been, it looks like a charming little town.

(From my lovely mini instax camera- love, love love it!)

I’m so excited for this new journey, but I will miss my family and friends dearly. I’m feeling overwhelmed too; with packing, saying goodbye to friends and ticking everything off of my to-do list. I have exactly 18 days until the move and almost nothing packed- yikes!

This is such a big transition for me, although I’m originally from New Zealand, I have lived in the Pacific Northwest nearly my whole life. I’m anxious knowing I will feel homesick and a bit of culture shock. But I’m sure when I look back on the time I spent away, the homesickness and anxiety will only be a small chapter.

I’m hoping to continue my photography, but I won’t know for sure until I understand my work load. But whether it be a portrait session here and there or just capturing the beautiful landscape I’m looking forward to keeping up a (fairly) regular blog and sharing my thoughts and images. So, check in here every one and read about my new adventure, I’m excited to share it with you!