Saturday, January 10, 2015

Happy New Year! Hello 2015.

Greetings and Happy New Year to all.
We wish you a very healthy and happy 2015.

The end of the year just flew by - as we knew it would. With all the travel, Hobbit festivities, and the holidays it was a whirlwind.

We managed to squeeze in an early Thanksgiving Dinner with our Ex-pat friends before heading out to our various destinations. Sweet Potatoes and Pumpkin Pie are always the highlights.

All of Eric's travel went as expected. Even with the demonstrations(riots) in Mexico City, they managed to get it all done, and the Premiere there was a big success. They even had a day off to explore Teotihuacan.

Eric was then off to Korea for the last pack down there.

                 Korean dinner - you won't see this too often in the states (thanks OSHA)

As for my trip to Brisbane, it also went well. Overall the weather was nice and warm. The only exception being the freak storm cell that came through while we were setting up for the show on Thursday. It only lasted about 20 minutes, but it was a storm like I had never before seen or experienced - It was unbelievable. Hurricane force winds and golf ball size hail. Windows were smashed, cars were dented, and there was lots of flooding. We watched it all through the large glass windows of the convention hall. I stood back a bit, and was surprised at how many people were close to the windows just to watch. We were very lucky that the leaking roof of the convention center did not reach our booth. Our friends at Popcultcha were not as fortunate, but the show opened on time and was a good fun.

Then we were on to Hobbit fun!
Our friends Cassie and Chris have joined us here in Wellington. They will be staying with us for a bit and are now working at Weta Workshop.We all attended the Red Carpet Tour Costume Party at the Roxy theater and Midnight Screening. Eric and I had already seen the film once at the cast & crew screening a few days earlier. Chris had seen it in spanish in Mexico. So Cassie was the only one seeing it for the first time. But it did not matter as we all enjoyed it. It was great to see Eric's name up on the screen again. And it was only slightly bittersweet to know that it was now all coming to an end.

The following week we had the Weta Workshop holiday party and Eric and I had tickets to a performance of Jethro Tull here in a small venue. It was a great treat. Unfortunately the theater did not have working air condition and it got uncomfortably hot inside. But other than the heat, we really enjoyed the show.We had seen them many times before over the years and this was likely the last time they will tour. The show was great. Ian Anderson can still play that flute like nobodies business, but he can't quite get his voice to do 2 hours of lyrics. They had an additional performer -Ryan O'Donnell that helped out on vocals and he sounded identical to Ian when he was younger. You had to watch carefully to be able to discern when one stopped and the other started singing.

We had a small (just the 4 of us) Xmas Eve dinner -round two of the sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie and a simple Xmas morning opening stockings and gifts.

In the afternoon we headed over to our friends house and had a nice potluck meal. The weather was not as nice as we had hoped for, but it was dry so we sat outside in the front yard enjoying everyone's company.

FINALLY! Lewis Road Chocolate Milk! We managed to luck out at the market and get a hold of the ever elusive bottles of Chocolate Milk. This is the chocolate milk that has been the latest craze. And we finally managed to be at the store when the new stock had just arrived. Limit 2 per customer! This milk is very rich in flavor and almost has a malt thickness to it. It is delicious!

On a separate note those "flat white" coffees that are now all the craze back home… they  have been here for a very long time and are nothing new. - LOL

We had a few days to rest, gather ourselves and pack for our trip.We were very much ready to get away for a week… And what a week it was!

Our room was great - quiet and private. and with air conditioning. NO wifi/internet!
the staff and fijian people were incredibly friendly. They all spoke english, but we soon learned that they did not quite always understand it as well. But they always tried to be helpful.

This was our little place, Garden Bure #6

The traditional Fiji Greeting. (hello)

...with indoor/outdoor shower

Apparently falling coconuts can be dangerous.

The diving was also wonderful. We cannot say enough great things about KoroSun Dive. Janine and Collin were fabulous hosts as was their great staff - Steven, Lai, Sarah and Kate. The conditions unfortunately were not as ideal as we were hoping for, but that was out of everyone's control. Water temp was a bit cooler than the norm for this time of year, but I was still quite comfortable in my wetsuit. Mostly, it was the rougher ocean currents and lower visibility that were the issues. We did get in all 4 of our days of diving -2 dives each day. We saw turtles, sharks (white tip reef, and faint shadows of hammerheads off in the distance), a moray eel, some other varieties of small eels, and an incredible amount of beautiful coral as well as plenty of tropical fish. Here are just a few of the highlights...

The dive boat.

The food was very hit and miss. Our best meal was the dinner for Eric's birthday. Even if they had timing issues… Okay, so I had tried to surprise Eric with a romantic dinner for 2 on his birthday. I had emailed the resort prior to our arrival and had arranged the dinner. They had described the romantic garden setting that included dining on mats. I explained that we would prefer a table with chairs that had back support and was told that that could be arranged. I also tried to arrange the menu complete with chocolate cake but was told to finalize that with the chef once we were on site.

Managed to even do that without Eric finding out about the surprise. Unfortunately, the night before, one of the dining room staff slipped and Eric figure out I was planning the surprise. He was a bit concerned with the heat and the bugs that the "outdoor" dinner might not be ideal for a b-day dinner, so we asked the staff to show us where we would be dining. It was a nice little hut in the middle of a lilly pond -they called it "Orchid Island." It was apparently featured in an episode of The Bachelorette.

Anyway, so much for table and chairs with backs. - more of a low padded sofa type seat. But Eric was a trooper and said it would be fine (once we sprayed down with bug repellent). We were to meet the staff at 7:00pm to then be escorted to the hut. You know what they say about island time… so at about 7:45 we were escorted to our hut where we sat for another 15-20 minutes watching the sunset while we waited for our food. The salads arrived and they were very good. We then waited another 10 -15 minutes for them to come clear the plates away. We are now sitting in the mostly dark except for the table lanterns waiting for our entrees, when the lovely singers and cake arrive. Apparently they were not notified that the meal was running behind (LOL)
So we had cake! - "Life is short - eat dessert first" must also be the motto here in Fiji.

They finally brought out the entrees which were also delicious - the best food we had had there.
All in all, it was a very nice evening and we laughed a lot. (I think Eric enjoyed it too - I did!! It will certainly be memorable.)

What's next?
We are off again - this time to Seattle/Portland…Looking forward to catching up with some family and friends, and running the Weta Workshop Booth at the Wizard World Show in Portland Jan. 23-25.

We are looking forward to whatever adventures 2015 will bring.
Hope to see many of you at some point this year.

Love & Hugs
Stacy & Eric