November 8, 2020

After we went fishing we went to Waipakarau to get a few things and then to Waipawa to dump our grey water tank. The weather got colder and wetter and the laundry I did in the morning was still not dry. I started to get a little worried that Girl would run out of dry clothing in the near future. So when we parked at the Elsthorpe Scenic Reserve we went hunting for sticks to light our fire so we could get our laundry dry. I actually felt rather proud at our effort and enjoyed the adventure of making do with what we could find. We always could just drive up the road the next day to a town laundromat, or even buy a little firewood. But isn’t it a much better story to tell that we hunted for sticks in the dark for our fire and strung a line inside the bus? I think so. If we get tired of that we can always go spend some money on convenience.

November 9, 2020

Most of the clothes were dry in the morning. The fire was a great success. After our morning routine we went outside to check out our surroundings. There was a little bush walk through more podicarp native trees. We found some more dryish wood and went back to to restart our fire.

After lunch we decided to drive back to Waipukurau to buy a small hand saw and a garden sheers to make finding wood a little easier. We already have a little hatchet but it’s not quite enough. The rain is supposed to last a couple more days so they will come in handy.

After parking on a riverbank, Darren had a bath in the river and then came in and read me a text he sent to his dad. He said:

“It’s cold and has been raining non stop since yesterday, things hanging all over the place drying, I’ve got a toasty fire going from sticks we scavenged and I’ve been down the river bed with loppers and a hand saw. I’ve been drying the wood out on a rack on the fire and stacking it up for later, Katherine and the kids are cooking dinner and every half hour I go around with the window vacuum and suck up the condensation running down the windows. The older I get the more convinced I am that the difference between hardship and adventure is mostly attitude.”

If anyone is interested in what I was making with the kids it was these cookie bars.

November 6, 2020

It started raining so we quickly went back to the bus and packed up so we could leave the gravel pit and head to the beach. The weather cleared up soon after that and when we arrived at Porangahau beach we enjoyed a lovely time playing on the beach and setting up camp.

Darren bought a surf casting fishing rod just for this trip so he gave that a go but didn’t catch anything. Without Internet we tried to figure out when high tide and low tide were by looking at a calendar to find when the full moon was and by doing all sorts of mathematical gymnastics.

November 7, 2020

For Sabbath morning, we sang some songs and read the story of Samson. We did a few crafts to go with the story and then took a little walk on the beach. I discovered that my tide calculations were incorrect, so I tried to figure them out again and the new time made more sense.

Boy found an empty bottle so we caught a few sand creatures and put them inside. We came back to the bus and packed a picnic which we enjoyed under some trees. Then we went back out to the beach and played in the sand. Darren enjoyed burying the kids and they found it funny trying to get out. We came back to the bus and cleaned up the sand that had made its way into every nook and cranny of Boy and Girl.

I tried to find things in nature that could make a full rainbow. I think I did pretty good. I couldn’t find blue, but blue is always the hardest. If I could pick a piece of the sky I would. The kids and I took a walk around the little beach town and spotted a few Tuis flying between some trees. It was a lovely and relaxing day. We had dinner and just chilled until bedtime.

November 8, 2020

In the morning I washed a basket full of dirty clothes at the fountain near our site. The kids played in the cold showers outside the toilets. We had lunch and then packed up the bus and went fishing by a bridge. The wind blew off Darren’s hat and we couldn’t retrieve it. Later on the only other fishers at the river brought it back to us. We were so surprised!

Darren helped Boy reel in a kawaii fish. We put it in a bucket of water and it jumped out right away and landed back in the river. We all laughed! Later he reeled in a Spotty, that we through back. After about 2 hours Darren helped Girl reel in a short finned freshwater eel. We got cold so we stopped fishing and headed to our next stop for the night.

November 5, 2020

After leaving the Ferry Scenic Reserve, we stopped in Woodville to top up our water and check out a second hand store. Then we headed towards Dannevirke, where Darren bought a few supplies. From there we headed east to a little campsite called Ngapaeruru Scenic Reserve.

By the time we arrived, it had begun raining. Darren didn’t like the look of the grass that was available for parking, so we decided to have dinner, have a little walk and then drive to a less boggy spot farther up the road.

Kahikatea Trees

The walk at the scenic reserve was interesting, although quite run down. There was a large grove of Kahikatea trees to walk through which was beautiful. Kahikatea trees are tall and beautiful trees. Their English name is White Pine, although it’s not the same as the white pine in America. Kahikatea trees are endemic to New Zealand. They where nearly all cut down in the 1900s because they made such good boxes for transporting butter due to the fact that they didn’t taint the butter with any flavours from the wood. There are small protected groves of the trees scattered around New Zealand. Kahikatea forests are one of my favourites here.

After our walk we found a gravel pit to park for the night. In the morning we had breakfast and had a little wander around before heading to our next destination. Boy found a tiny egg under a bridge, which was neat. We cracked it open and marveled at the tiny yolk inside.

November 4, 2020

Today we took off in our bus! We have no plans, except a direction in mind. We have had to put our bus travel dreams on hold again and again due to finances, health, lockdowns, dramas, etc…. and we almost forgot about the posibility. Then we got thinking one evening and realised that this was the moment! We have nothing too major left to keep us held up. I am hoping to keep this blog a bit more updated during our travels over then next few weeks. However, I plan to publish a post after we have already left a location.

We plan to find a nice place to park up and explore, and stay until we get tired of it. Then we will move on to the next nice place, with a general direction in mind. We originally wanted to take a trip like this in the South Island, but feel a bit more at ease staying in the North Island right now, due to all the excitement of 2020.

We left home at 5:00 pm and drove over the Manawatu Gorge to the Ferry Scenic Reserve. We have spent the last month getting all of our loose ends tied up and finished. We stuffed every open crevace with food we had stored in our container, and ditched most of our winter clothes.

The kids were very excited to reach our destination for the night and to go throw rocks in the river.

In the evening we noticed that our Emperor Gum moth cacoon had hatched.

November 5, 2020

This morning we had breakfast and went out into the little forest track by the reserve and let the moth go. After lunch and another play in the river, Darren taught me how to tie a good knot for a washing line and I hung out some clothes I had washed in the river. We then decided to pack everything up and head off to our next spot for the night.

Female Emperor Gum Moth

Hello friends and family. My last post had two videos and I can tell that no one has seen them. I just thought I’d remind people that to see the videos you need to click on them. They look like a photo. There are two and they are both videos. No worries if you don’t want to see them, but if you do, now you know! 🙂

A bus time chat

Good evening friends and family. I have made two videos for you to watch of me just chatting and one of a favourite recipe of mine. Enjoy!

Livin the Dream

The essay below was something I wrote in May of this year for someone who was researching why people decide to live in a tiny house. I feel like we are on the cusp of a new chapter and thought I would share this. Some photos from the last few months are sprinkled throughout.

This house bus living we are doing, is definitely a chapter. There was a start to it all, and there will be an end. Somehow, something will eventually end, and close the chapter of this defining experience for us. That end won’t necessarily be the end to tiny house living. We may decide to continue in a new tiny house at some point that fits in with our family dynamic as it changes, or we may move into a more stationary home, but, this chapter has changed how all future chapters will be written. This experience has fundamentally changed us, and freed us from a grip that holds many many people. How did it begin? What factors unlocked the gate that held us bound?

Firstly, my husband and I love adventure. Darren is less fearful than I am, and has less reservations as a result. He quickly is ready to jump at the next idea of exploration and possibility. I on the other hand am more calculated. I consider all things first before diving in, just to make sure it’s a good idea. We began this chapter as young parents, only married for 2 years. We made space to travel and explore with our baby boy (and later daughter) in tow. It wasn’t always easy, but we enjoyed it. The struggles were worth the memories we came home with. We went on one such adventure with some friends to the sea over Christmas and New Years holiday and one of our friends brought their bus. Our friends only used their bus for holidays, and had a normal home as well. But after seeing their bus, we got thinking as we had never considered living in a bus before. The pros were obvious while traveling. You just take your house with you, you don’t have to pack, or unpack, or have a ‘camping kitchen’ as well as a house kitchen, and all the other double ups. You wouldn’t have to worry about feeling homesick or burned out from your travels. Your home was right with you all the time. If you needed to slow down and feel more homey again, just park up for a few weeks at a time. 

Darren knew he wanted to do it straight away. I wasn’t sure, we talked it over, what it would mean, how we’d do it, what we would have to do to prepare, what would we do with our house? How much would it cost? Was I really willing to give up our home of 2 acres we had just started to develop? How would it impact our son (and later our daughter)? Would we regret it? These and more questions bombarded my thoughts. Until one day I realised that while I really liked the idea of the adventure, I was mostly held back by apprehension. I told Darren that I thought if I just shut my eyes, clenched my teeth and took the leap, that we’d be so glad we did it after it was all said and done. Darren agreed, I was probably correct. So, I was the one to give the final ok. I said, let’s jump and see what happens. We rented our house to a friend who was in need (and eventually when she moved on, sold it) and moved into a stationary bus on Darren’s parents farm. Two months later, we found and purchased our bus. 20 months later, we moved in after we had built the insides together from scratch. We have traveled in it to many places in the North Island. And have really enjoyed it. Most of our time is spent on the farm. We envisioned traveling much more than we have, but there have been many hold ups for us, in ways of health, finances, and circumstances, but honestly, I feel that the experiences along the way toward our goal of more consistent travel has been the real journey. We live in a bus and we are indeed journeying, and it has been an adventure, and I am so glad I jumped.

So, what was the who?

Mostly, it was each other, and our kids. I wanted to say yes to Darren’s desire to wander and see where we could go. He has always hated to stay in one place too long. I believe this is in part due to his upbringing of being homeschooled and taking trips with his family as a kid. They did a lot of camping and at one point also lived in a house truck. As for myself, I am an American Expat and just wanted to see New Zealand for all it has to offer. I left all my roots behind me and had nothing at all to lose. We knew that lots of people always talked about how awesome it would be to live in a bus and travel. But most people wait until they are too old to enjoy it with their kids since they grow up before the mortgage and the car are paid off and they can afford the bus. We wanted to enjoy that kind of adventure with our kids while they were still marveled by all the little things that life brings, and before they were held back by school and friends. We wanted them to have memories that were unique as well as inspiring.

The what:

Probably seeing our friends bus and some other buses. We realised how functional they actually were, and the simplicity that was required drew us in. We understood that bus living would challenge us to live with less, but we saw that as a factor that would grow us and make us better people.

The where:

We loved the idea of spending more time with Darren’s family and having the kids grow up near Nana and Papa and Great Nana. The farm has become a beautiful experience of community  and has given us a tight knit village that I think many people have forgotten about including in their lives. Also, our goal was to see all of New Zealand, more specifically the South Island where the other half of Darren’s family live.

The when:

Right now. Stop putting off those bucket list experiences. Don’t wait until you’re too old and sick to enjoy what life has to offer.

The how:

We saved up and bought a gutted bus and did all the building and crafting ourselves. Darren did the woodwork, metalwork, engineering, plumbing and electrical work. I did the curtains, the couch cushions, the floor, and the organising of our belongings into functional reality. We at first gave away or sold 50% of our belongings. Then over the next 2 years, we did the same again. So, currently we have about one quarter of what we started with. We gave up more than extra furniture, decorations, gadgets and clothes, We also gave up a lot of those things you keep on the top shelf of your closet because you’re afraid to let it go. Nostalgic memorabilia can weigh you down just as much as physical stuff. And as we got rid of more and more, we realised we felt lighter and lighter and it almost became a game for us, ‘what else can we do without?’ Our goal was to be able to pick up and leave at any time without wanting to come back and get whatever we had to leave behind. We grasped the concept that this life is a moment. Physical things don’t make life meaningful. They weigh you down. The only things you can really take with you are memories and people. And for us, since we believe in a home in heaven someday, we acknowledge that these are the only things that can be brought with us there. Therefore, everything else is dispensable, and replaceable as we believe that if we need it, it will be provided in the opportunities God presents to us. The transportable space really is not only the bus in the different places you visit, but also the person uninhibited by things in the walk along the opportunities that are taken or let go. And this is why this chapter will affect every chapter to come. We can’t forget these lessons that have changed us and freed us.

Hello Internet!

Hello Internet!

And my friends and family that have been wondering how I’ve been. It’s been just shy of 14 months since my last post. That’s the longest interim I’ve had between posts. Last year I told you about the few tracks I had been hiking with my family. I was really excited about it too. Getting out there to see beautiful nature and wilderness is something I really enjoy. Soon after my last post when I hiked the Waitahinga Trails, I had to sell that baby carrier that I was so excited about. It didn’t really agree with my body and sent my rib muscles into some painful spasms for several months. I sold the carrier and haven’t done any long hikes since then.

This is for several reasons. 1. if I can’t carry Girl, I can’t get very far very fast, to explore very much, and 2. My husband Darren has had to put a big stop on any nature walks long or short since June last year. Sadly, he’s had an injury to his back which makes any walking quite uncomfortable, so he keeps it to a minimum now. We are still waiting on seeing the right specialist to find out exactly what the problem is. We are optimistic though, that we can still get out there and do something in the future, maybe on bikes. Time will tell… But, it looks like any hiking on rugged trails up to huts as a family may be out of the question for quite a while, if not forever. Unless I take the kids and leave Darren behind, which isn’t really what my first choice would be.

But why didn’t I keep blogging through all of that? Well, to be honest, I’ve been entirely distracted by a new hobby this past year, that is probably the real reason for my absence. I’ve been designing knitting patterns. It’s been a puzzle, a challenge, a joy, and a frustration all at the same time. I get an idea and have to follow it through to the end, thinking I’ll take a break after the current one, but midway through I’d have another idea… and so forth. I do think I’m beginning to find the balance though. Below are some photos of the patterns I’ve designed.

If you like knitting and would like to see where you can buy any of these patterns, check out my store on Ravelry by clicking here.

All this said, this year has been so completely up in the air for us. We thought we would be travelling in our bus exploring, but we haven’t exactly been in a condition to support that lifestyle this year. We have been rethinking things a little bit. We are still in our bus and are quite happy, and may do a trip to the South Island this year, (when? we don’t know yet). At the same time though, we are thinking we might be best off buying some land in the country to park our bus and start a little homesteading adventure, growing our own food and exploring the area around wherever we land.

I have been thinking of you, my readers, the ones that have expressed an interest in our lives and am sorry I haven’t kept you more up to date. It’s been a whirlwind… I have only touched on several, but not all of the things going on for us this past year. We are all still in good spirits though. We trust the Lord is by our side through it all, teaching us and guiding us. This is our peace. Perhaps the adventure is not entirely about going out and finding it. Life seems to create quite a bit of adventure on it’s own sometimes.

Below is a little slideshow of the past year.

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Waitahinga Trails

Last week, I took the kids to the Waitahinga Trails. This was about 45 minutes north of Whanganui. It was quite the drive, but I needed to pick something up from Whanganui anyway, so thought I’d find somewhere neat to explore in the area. There were a lot of tracks here, but I decided to do the Chicken Run track because it had a nice spot to stop for a picnic lunch and two lookouts of the mountains. It was a loop track whith was a bonus too.

One thing I was surprised by on this track was the difference in the way the trees looked. You truly did need to pay attention to the blue triangles posted along the way because if you lost site of them, it would be quite easy to lose your way and get lost. The track itself didn’t look that much different to the rest of the bush in many places.

Boy did well, carrying his water and some spare clothes. At the end of our walk, Boy dropped off the painted rock that he found on our last hike. He left it with hopes another little boy would find it like he did. I carried Girl, our lunch and more water. The track was a gentle uphill until half way, then down hill on the way back. We were able to see both mountains and the lookouts. Mt. Ruapehu was the most impressive. Mt Taranaki was a little bit hard to see, perhaps because it was not covered in snow.

When we were about to leave the first lookout, a friendly lady showed up and was able to take our picture. I would like to come back sometime and check out the other trails in this area. The walk took us about 2.5 hours.

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We bought the hiking pack that Girl sits in a month or so ago and used it on our last big hike as well as this one. It’s been really handy being able to carry a little bit more of the essentials because we can go farther, safer. However, I don’t think my back has liked the way the weight has been dispersed on my body with Girl up so high in the back. It’s taken a while to find my normal again after these hikes and I will be selling the pack on to someone else.

I’m a bit dissapointed but I think it will be better to wait until Girl is another 6 months to a year older and walking better on her own to do any longer hikes. I can always take her in my other baby carrier which I have no trouble with and do shorter walks, and I can also push her in the pram (stroller), on flatter, or paved tracks. This will not stop us, just change some of the things we do for a while.

Darren and I have been itching to get out to a hut with the kids. So, yesterday morning, after looking for this weeks forcast, we decided that it was time. We got out of bed and packed our bags with spare clothes, food for all meals plus a reserve, water, and sleeping bags. Then we headed out toward Rangiwahia, about an hour drive north. Below is a topographic map of the track we did. The red line is the portion that we did, up to the hut. There is a bigger loop track shown on the map that returns back to the starting point as well as to other huts. We really would like to do these someday when the kids are older and spend several days to complete it.

When the track was first put in, it was a pretty gentle climb up to the bridge, then much steeper up to the hut from there. Since then, a slip has occured and the track has been remade to go up and over the slip. This has almost doubled the length of the track before the bridge and has made it much steeper, since you must go up and over to find a solid, safe path. It’s interesting looking back across the valley to where the slip is, once you have passed over the bridge, because you can see markings of where the original track went.

Anyway, like our last hike, Boy carried his own water in his new pack, and this time he also carried his own clothes, and plate. It was about 4.4 km to the hut, which was projected to take 2 hours. It took us 5 hours and we were so glad to finally see the hut come into view. My favourite part of the journey was seeing the change in foilage as you get higher in elevation. Boy needed a bit of encouragment, such as a promised meusli bar at the bridge and at the hut, but overall he did great! He was all along looking forward to getting to pick out his bed when we got there. We enjoyed speculating what colour the mattresses would be. Girl did get a little grumpy near the end as she wanted to get out and play, but did well too. She enjoyed waving leaves and bits of grass we found along the way.

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We were the only people to stay in the hut that night, with one other man camping outside the hut as he didn’t make a booking. He had a lovely Weimaraner dog along with him to the delight of Girl, who loves any animal. We enjoyed a nice fire before bed as well as a meal of noodles with peas, and tuna. In the morning, we had some meusli with coconut milk and hot water, then cleaned up and headed back down. Boy was a little apprehensive and said, ‘My legs are going to hurt again…’ So, we told him all about how sometimes pain is a good thing, like when your muscles are working hard and getting stronger.

Going down was faster, and we arrived back at the car in 3.5 hours. Just before the bridge, we took Girl out and she walked over the bridge with us. She thought this was so much fun. She kept walking for about 100 m, then was happy to return to my pack. The clouds covered the mountain quite a good way down so much of our journey out was amidst fog. This gave things a whimsical and magical feeling. It was really quite cool.

All in all, it was a great first hut experience for the family. We look forward to doing more, and also to taking what we learned and making the next trip better. Some things we would do differently: Bring soap, rubbish bags, ziplock bags, more meusli bars for snacks, and a sheet for Girls bed. (she slept in her sleep sack, and didn’t like the cold plastic mattress on her face).

Oh, and an interesting side note are these alpine daisies. Aparrently, they were used by the Maori people to make weatherproof cloaks. Also, the early mountaineers in the early 1900s would pick the leaves and stuff them into the legs of their pants for insulation. Quite cool!

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