The Vagobond Bald Jesus Tarot – Major Arcana

To see the original NFTs of the Vagobond Bald Jesus Tarot and read the card descriptions, you can visit https://opensea.io/collection/baldjesus. This is also where I am selling other Bald Jesus artwork.

A Radical New Direction for Vagobond – Bald Jesus Artist

I’m going to be brutally honest here. Travel, for me, has become stale. Travel was always about the people and while it’s astounding to see new places and ancient sites – famous views and iconic landscapes and architecture – the truth is that we live in a world where that stuff is available to experience as photos, video, virtual-reality, or – for those who still read (not many) in the tales of many other travelers. Social media has opened the entire world up to everyone and in order to go somewhere and actually do something unique, you have to be more adventurous or wealthy than I am at this stage in my life.

Portrait of the Artist as a Bald JesusRecently, I’ve been connecting with a fair number of amazing people. It’s not a big surprise to me that all of these people are – in one form or another – artists. These are original thinkers, outside the box people, multi-potentialities, artists, coders, rule breakers, and radicals. In some cases – these are round people who have fit themselves in square holes. The only term that really unites them is non-linear.

Over these past couple of years, with travel more or less shut down by the pandemic – we’ve all had a lot of time to think. As I’ve reflected on my own travels and adventures – it has become clear that what made them special wasn’t the places so much as the proximity to new people who think outside of the box. Artists is a term that needs to be used to describe them more broadly – from the guys who dressed up as monks and hitched across the USA to the girl who draws comics about menstruation to the person building a castle from found materials to the permaculturists, anarchists, and radicals who are using society as their canvas as they unleash their creativity on the world. It has always been art that has driven me – though, seeing the world was a benefit. More it was about seeing the world through the eyes of other artists. This was what made couch surfing so amazing – to meet new creative friends in Grenada, Quebec, Fez, Istanbul, Brussels, Busan – and then to have them share their world. The most memorable travel experiences were less adventures than ecstatic show and tells as creative people shared their favorite wonders. The statues, the street art, the murals, the off the beaten path galleries, the workshops, the kitchens, the studios of people who make art – most of them not making a living at it, but doing it anyway.

I’ve never considered myself a very good artist. In school, I took some classes but my inability to conform to the standards and guidelines set by the instructors led to low marks and that in turn led to a low sense of self-esteem in terms of what I produce. I’ve always tried to temper my creations with the boxes they told me I should be in and the result has rarely been wonderful. I’ve had some nice work emerge – work that I feel good about, but mostly, I’ve allowed my inhibitions to censor or edit my work before it even hits the canvas or wall. I’ve sold pieces of my art – which still astounds me when I think about it -so I try to tell myself that my art has some value – but there is a nagging voice that yells at me “No, people are just trying to be nice.” My mom has always been my biggest fan – which is both appreciated and embarrassing – Thanks Mom.

For the past decade, one of my annually listed goals has been to make more art. Largely, I’ve failed at that goal creating one or two pieces each year at best. Not spectacular pieces – just pieces. When I had the space – I really really enjoyed getting into oil paint – but man, you really need an artist studio to deal with the smells, the dry time, and more. I don’t have that kind of time or space. Oil pastels have always been a favorite medium. The truth is though – my favorite medium has almost always been abandoned pieces of wood and found paint of any kind. Again, a matter of space.

Earlier this year, like many people, I started digging into the NFT art space. For those unfamiliar, a NFT gives you the ability to create artificial scarcity with digital items. So, for example, you can create a unique piece of art that will then live on the blockchain and can be verified as authentic. Think of it as a way to create first edition/originals in a world that allows for infinite perfect copies. The draw to this space initially was as a writer – I loved the idea of being able to mint books as unique digital objects that would allow authors to earn royalties on secondary sales.

Then, I started to dig into the art. Digital art is something that I rather snootily never paid attention to. A voice in my brain stuck its nose in the air and said ‘it’s not real art’.  I’m happy to say that the NFT space changed my mind about that. Also, I began to pay attention to the drawing and artwork my nine-year-old daughter was doing on her tablet. She was blowing my mind with her skill!

All of this led to now – first, I decided to use an old domain I had BaldJesus.com as a place to create a funny bunch of art. Using colored pencils, I drew four Bald Jesus characters. I took pictures of them and published them as NFTs on the Wax blockchain. Then, getting some good reaction on a few message boards – I decided it would be more fun to create a collective, a group of people who wanted to draw pictures of Bald Jesus. I invited a few interested people. It was fun. My daughter drew two of the first digital ones. I asked her to teach me how to draw on the apps she uses. She was a great teacher!

The little group of Bald Jesus friends grew. Our Bald Jesus Collective Discord group is now approaching 250 members! There are literally THOUSANDS of people who hold a Bald Jesus in their NFT wallet. I can’t believe this, but it’s true. This whole project only launched a month ago! We’ve done giveaways and people also buy them. There is a secondary market for Bald Jesus art. There are people offering our Bald Jesus art for tens of thousands of dollars. To be fair, the highest sale has been right around $5 – so don’t be too astounded. Still, the fact that they sell at all…it blows my mind.

There are a few different avenues for digital artists to make a living selling NFTs. I’m lucky in that at this point, I don’t have to make a living doing this. I can do this for fun and enjoyment. And…let me be clear – I am getting more fun and enjoyment out of this than anything I can remember with the exception of fatherhood. I’ve taken the photos of all the art that I liked enough to photograph it through the years and I’ve used it to create the Major Arcana of the Vagobond Bald Jesus Tarot. Tarot is another of those things that I’ve found great satisfaction and passion in through the years. Not because it tells the future, but because it gives you a way to read your brain and thoughts and emotions and figure out where you are going. The art of Tarot is as important as the mysticism.

So, let me circle back a bit. Travel has become stale. Art has brought light and joy into my life. I’m still going to be happy to engage in the Art of Travel by meeting with artists, seeing the world through their eyes, and hopefully collaborating. The bottom line though – is that while Vagobond has sort of functioned as a tour and tourism site in the past – those days are over. I’m grateful that I am no longer a tour guide. I hope that I am never in a position where I have to give a tourist tour again – although, I hope that I get to give some of the other kind from time to time to people like me – creative, non-linear, magical people.

I’ll share the Vagobond Major Arcana in another post. For now what you need to know is that moving forward – this site will have a much heavier focus on art and artists. I’m excited about what the future holds.

Everything Has Changed Again…

…and just like that, everything has changed again. After four relatively boring years living in the same bland apartment in the same bland Honolulu neighborhood, our landlord decided that the end of the pandemic was the perfect time to end our tenancy so she could remodel and sell.

It’s not the first time that this has happened to us – and it never seems to come with any warning at all. We managed to find something better, in a neighborhood I’ve been wanting to live in again – though, I have to admit – Hawaii has largely lost it’s luster for me. The lack of tourists during the pandemic year was blissful, though it would have been nice to experience that without a pandemic.

I was fortunate to be able to take a brief trip to Australia in the very earliest days of the pandemic and then a few family trips to the Big Island last summer and a trip to California to finally sell my VW Van – rather than move it to Hawaii. I took one more trip to the Big Island where I was keen to buy a house, but the pandemic real estate boom drove everything above what I wanted or was able to pay. The few that fell in my budget were either vetoed by the bank because of HOA fees or because they were off grid. Homeownership has eluded me for fifty years. Then, as if to rub salt in the wounds, the former landlord rugging us just as rents have gone sky high for summer tourism and due to the state’s ridiculous ‘come work remotely from Hawaii (and drive up rental costs for people who already can’t afford to live here)‘ program. So, as I mentioned, we have found a new place to live, but the lease is six months and frankly, I’m in no way certain that I want to stay in Hawaii any longer.

We’ll be taking a trip back to Oregon to see friends and I will be seeing what kinds of houses we might be able to buy. Everything has changed…I can’t even begin to explain what that means, but just know that it is true.

I never particularly wanted to return to the USA and with travel restrictions finally lifting, maybe it will be time to say sayonara m’salamma to the USA and look for greener pastures. They certainly exist. In particular if it looks like the past administration has any chance of bringing chaos in a new campaign (or god forbid winning the next election). We will see.

In the meantime, I’ve finished bringing my list of famous vagabonds to the site and will start bringing new travel content again starting in July – or at least that’s the plan. We’ll see how it goes.

Vagobond’s House by Vagobond – Our Community Forum in a Yeniverse

I’m experimenting with building a community portal metaverse. You can say hi in the lobby or ask questions with the chat widget below but to access the entire thing, you will need to jump (for now). Here is the link to it:

Vagobond’s House – A House for Vagabonds

Vagobond House? Maybe….Maybe Not

Is this what mid-life crisis feels like? Or is this just what happens when you aren’t wealthy. A vagabond’s options aren’t as vast as someone more conventional…but still there are some options. At least there should be….

Update a few days later: Wow. I’m just flabbergasted by what is happening. I’ve inquired about a dozen properties, most of them with offers over the asking price, most of them from people who have never seen the properties and may never see them. These are people with real excess wealth – so called ‘Giraffe Money’ – as in, “I’ve got so much money I don’t know what to do with it, I guess I’ll buy a giraffe”.

The CEO of Redfin said on an interview the other day that buying a home has become a luxury purchase. That means, essentially, it is a thing only the rich can do. We are quickly entering an even more gross world of extreme wealth disparity where there are wealth-lords and peasants.

Most of us (self included) are delusional in that we think we are just a couple of steps away from financial independence and the joys of wealth. That’s all conditioning to keep people working and being okay with how screwed most of us are. The truth is – and this is a hard thing to admit – most of us have never and will never matter to anyone but a very small group of people who value us personally. Our entire lives could disappear and humanity would never notice. We haven’t made a global difference and we most likely won’t. We don’t matter.

Not only do we not matter to the world – we especially don’t matter to those people who are ‘in it to win it’ which should be read as ‘fuck you, I’m getting mine’. And – at least in America – that’s everyone outside of your small circle of folks who give a shit about you. Your close family, your best friends, maybe customers who rely upon you – but the truth is – if the chips were down – that circle would get much smaller, very quickly. I’ve got about six people in my life that I would make great personal sacrifice for – I feel blessed to have that many. I think around half of those people would do the same for me and again – I count myself lucky. If we all had three people who sincerely care for us as much as they care for themselves – we are beyond fortunate. Especially in this sick society we call America.

We all know the truth – there is no safety net that protects you from falling in America. If you fall, you will probably keep going down unless you are lucky, talented in just the right way, have built your own, or you have someone willing to catch you. From the bottom, you have virtually no chance of getting back up or up at all if that is where you began.

All of this to say that my mission to buy a piece of property or shack or cabin on the Big Island of Hawaii failed. It failed because I don’t have enough money because the trillions of dollars that went out to rescue people during the pandemic largely landed with people who already have everything they need – so they are looking for something to do with that money “Hey let’s buy a giraffe or land in Hawaii”.

So, my family and myself (and millions more like us)are put into the position where we need to continue being renters and being at the mercy of landlords and developers. When I brought us to America (and myself back to America) I was hopeful of opportunities. My time away had convinced me that America really was what it portrays itself to be to the rest of the world – but I fell for the lie – just like all the other hopeful immigrants. We were doing okay out in the big world. We had a comfortable and fun life.

We got here and I quickly realized that in the tech world – at 42, I was already past the expiration date for a new hire without Fortune 500 experience and that living anywhere desirable was out of the question based on our savings. I built a couple of successful small businesses in the small town we moved to because we couldn’t afford Hawaii or San Francisco. Again, we were doing okay. Then, the Racist in Chief created a hostile environment that made racists across America feel comfortable making people of color, non-Christians, and other non-white/non-Christian people feel like their lives were in danger. As the only Muslim family in a town of 3000 where they drove around with confederate flags in the back of trucks and put up at least three chainsaw carved statues of Trump, I really didn’t like to keep my family there. I sold my businesses at a loss and moved my family to Hawaii where we were making things work until the pandemic hit but now with prices going up – any gains we made are worthless. I think most people haven’t realized their savings will now buy about 50% of what it would have six months ago. Not just in real estate but in food and everything else. Wages haven’t gone up, but prices have doubled and tripled.

I’ve gotta be honest – it feels like exactly what it is – we are being squeezed out. The bottom 80% or so of Americans are being turned into serfs who more or less work to pay the company store while the 19% don’t know it but they are next. There is room for lords and serfs in the world America has built – and if you aren’t already a lord, chances are that you can look forward to becoming a serf.

I feel like I’m ready to give up on America again. Sometimes I feel like I’m ready to give up on everything but then I look at my daughter’s face and I know that I have to keep going and I’ll never give up on trying to build a better life for her.

So – here I am. No Vagabond’s House unless you want me to say that I’m in Vagabond’s House right now – and right now I’m in a hotel. I’ll keep looking and I’ll start exploring further options. I’m not ready to give up.

 

 

Wedding in Bali – Planning an Extravagant International Wedding in Bali

Planning an Extravagant International Wedding in Bali? You Will be Glad you Budgeted for It!

If you plan on having an international wedding in Bali, budget is an important factor to consider. Whether you plan to have an extravagant wedding or you look to have a small intimate ceremony, your budget plan could break or make the dreams you have for your big day. 

Sometimes couples may not want to spare any expense when planning for their big day. However, having a destination wedding in Bali could turn out to be a very expensive affair. Budgeting not only keeps you out of debt but also ensures that there is enough money left for your romantic honeymoon plans. 

Is it Necessary to Have a Budget Plan for an Extravagant International Wedding?

When you are not on a tight budget, Bali offers many destination weddings options to choose from. Couples can have their wedding on the beach, mountain resorts, private villas, exquisite vocational rentals, vineyards, remote countryside locations, historic mansions, or stand-alone banquet halls. 

Sometimes it is not so much about money than a chance to spin beautiful lifetime memories with the person you love most in the world. However, Bali’s tranquil wedding experience could cost a fortune, and therefore, it is inevitable to have extra planning.  

There is no laid-out blueprint to a perfect wedding plan. The planning process is often marred with huddles that could potentially ruin a perfect day. Couples often make hasty decisions that they regret later on. 

For instance, if you are looking for an expensive venue for your wedding in Bali, you might be required to pay a non-refundable deposit immediately. If, later on, you came across a venue with a better wedding package, it could be difficult to change your venue location. Having a budget, therefore, prevents extravagant couples from making decisions on impulse. 

Having a budget enables couples to discuss all aspects of the wedding with suppliers before signing any contract. They therefore save more for the things they consider more important.

How Do I Prepare an International Wedding Budget?

The last thing you want to have as a couple that is just about to tie the knot is an argument about money. The first step towards budgeting for your wedding in Bali is to agree on the amount of money you and your significant other are willing to spend on the wedding preparations. 

You can then choose a location, agree on the guest count, and choose the cuisine you would like for the wedding together. It is always good to make your checklist with approximate costs before meeting with a wedding planner. This allows you to make informative vendor comparisons before settling on the wedding package that best fits your budget and plan. 

Preparing for a wedding in Bali could force a couple to make several overseas trips, especially if they are very particular about their wedding plan. However, a couple could work closely with a wedding planner in Bali or one provided by the resort. The latter option requires a lot of faith in the planner as the couple may not have a chance to evaluate or make approvals until the set date. 

How do I Choose the Best Wedding Planner in Bali?

Selecting a good wedding planner is one of the most effective ways of sticking to your budget. However, many international couples seeking to have their dream wedding in Bali have little knowledge of Bali’s best wedding planners. They are often bombarded with numerous honey-coated options on the internet that makes decision-making a daunting task.

When selecting a planner for your wedding in Bali, choose one that has managed many international weddings before, and that has an established network of suppliers.

Although you may have the fortune to spend on your special day, having a budgeting plan for your international wedding in Bali could save you a lot of unnecessary expenses. It also helps you to save plenty of money for a rainy day after the wedding.  

James Michener’s Hawaii (Movie starring Julie Andrews) Reviewed by a 9-year-old

I thought it would be a good idea to have my 9-year-old watch Hawaii (the movie based on Michener’s novel Hawaii) since we live here. I’d never seen the movie but read the book some years ago. While I admit that the movie wasn’t anywhere close to as good as the book – my daughter’s review is like a totally different film than I watched sitting right next to her – but she’s not wrong. Here’s a full link to the film if you want to watch it after reading her review. 

The Hawaii Movie•

There was a woman who was at her home, and she was going to marry this man, and then there was another man, who was also another one she was MAYBE going to marry, and over time they started to like each other, and then they got married. The man she married was a Christain, and I honestly thought that he was CRAZY, which he was. They decided to move to Hawaii, and so they went. About half way, there was a big storm and the water was going everywhere inside the lower deck. She was telling him to just let her die but he wouldn’t. When they got there, there were people swimming out to the boat and waving like “ hiiii hiiii LOOK AT MEEEE hiiiii” and it was actually kind of funny. So then there was a guy with all the people on the ship, and one of them was related to, like, the bosses around there. So he went and hugged them. Then the old woman who was the boss said welcome, and she was hugging all the women. She liked the man’s wife, so she said “ she’s staying here. You All can go :)”. The man said “ no you can’t take her.”. The old woman said “ Okay you her husband???? You stay too >:)”. Then the lady ( who was the young woman aka new wife of that guy) was teaching the old woman more English. “ she said we can begin tomorrow.” and the old woman said, “ NO!!! We begin NOW.” and so they did. The old woman is very bossy UnU. There was another ship that came, but they were not on the side of the first ones. They were at this party, and were trying to take some of the hawaiian women so they could ____ them. ( I would rather not say what it is because it is inappropriate. But the husband guy saved the woman and beat the others with a stick. Then the wife came and noticed that the guy that was the leader of all those people was her ex.the weird thing was that he had waited for her for so long and said that he “missed” and “loved” her, when he was going to ____ ALL THOSE OTHER hawaiian women. LIKE HOW IS THAT LOVE?! Okay so then the christian guy aka husband built a church. Then he and his wife had a baby. The baby was a boy, and it was VERY cute. ( I am just writing down things that I remember so if I skip then it is because I do not remember some 🙁 ))))))))) Okay so then what I remember is them finding a child sleeping in this house, and they adopted her as their own. Then I remember him baptising her into a christian and the husband and wife’s baby was about a few years old and holding the thing they do the water thing with. Then, in my memory, the people that came on the first ship made the old woman make laws and they chose the laws for Hawaii. The people on the second ship didn’t like the laws so they were trying to burn down everything and they did, but at least the things didn’t get burnt too much. The only thing they burnt was the church. Then The hawaiians chased them out of their territory, but then the little child that the husband and wife adopted got tricked by the leader of the second ship. When he came to get her, they dumped him off the ship and there was a shark. Luckily the shark was on the side of the hawaiians ( they said and in the movie it didn’t attack them) so it didn’t get him. But he didn’t get the girl back. The old woman was dying. She was married to her brother ( EW) and she had to divorce him to become christian. So she did. And then she died…. The brother tried to kill himself, so he knocked his teeth out, and then found a sharp stick and plucked his eye out. Luckily he did not die. Then it forwarded years later and the husband and wife had three children. Then in my memory, they saved a baby with a big birthmark from dying. But then there as another, but that, they could not save. The husband found the blanket wiped up on shore of the baby they could not save. I felt so bad for that poor baby 🙁 . Then  I remember that the husband was alive and his wife died. He was involved in the sugar companies, and then he had to say bye to his three kids, in which one of them was an adult, and the other 2 were like late teenagers. Then he found the baby that was saved by the wife and husband, and he was an adult by then. He was so excited. When he went to tell his wife, he then remembered that she had died :(. Then it was basically the end. 

THE END

 

 

Welcome to 2021 – Aloha to the World!

We made it through what may have been the most difficult year of our lives. Here we are.

This year, I’m going to change my focus on Vagobond a bit. My intent is to publish 1-2 articles per week.

Since I’m not traveling much these days – (and who is?) I’m going to start out 2020 by looking at some  of the great Vagabonds of the past for inspiration on the many reasons we travel. I wrote a book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point”  about the great vagabonds several years ago. It’s still available as an ebook for kindle on Amazon for just $3.99. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of those characters from the past (and present).

Vagabonds

Last year my publication schedule was Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – but this year – let’s switch it up to Tuesday and Thursday.

 

Preparing To Move Abroad: The Basics


Whether you have a life-long love of travel or simply want to try something new, moving abroad can be a defining moment in your life. It presents you with a new world of opportunities, but as with any move, there is an element of risk involved. You don’t know exactly what lies ahead or what life will be like for you in your new country. However, you can minimize that risk by being suitably prepared.

 

With that in mind, here are some things you can do to prepare you for the big move!

Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

 

Research, research, research.

 

Although you won’t truly discover your new city until you live there, you need to get your hands on as much information about the area as possible. This means you need to do more than a cursory google search. Try and figure out as much information as you can. Ask the following questions.

 

  • What is the culture like?
  • What kind of lifestyle do the locals live?
  • What amenities are in the area?
  • What is the surrounding area like?
  • Is the location remote or busy?
  • What is the cost of living?
  • What is the average salary?
  • What is the average cost of rent?
  • Do I need a different VISA to work and live here?
  • What is the weather like?

 

Chose your new destination carefully. Despite your lust for adventure, you do not need to live near one of the wonders of the world. Instead, you need to find a place that you can call home – even if it is entirely different from the home you currently live in. Think about the kind of lifestyle you want to live, the work you do, and how you want to spend your time.

 

Get your paperwork together.

 

Once you’ve chosen your destination, you need to ensure you have everything you need on hand to make the move as smooth and stress-free as possible. For example, you will need to obtain a specific VISA and other documents to grant you residency. This can take a lot of time, especially as you have to communicate with officials in different countries, so you should give yourself sufficient time to complete this step of the process. Don’t rush – as mistakes can lead to your VISA being rejected, which will push back your move even further. 

 

Find somewhere to live first.

 

Sometimes, when moving country, a person may take the leap and simply head overseas without securing a home. However, it is far safer and more practical to at least have an idea of the property you want to rent/purchase before moving. This will save you a lot of undue stress, and you can get any documentation ready ahead of time. Therefore, once you have decided upon your destination, start searching for properties.

 

Website such as PropertyGuru can make this easy. For example, you simply need to write the name of your chosen destination, such as trefoil setia alam, into their search bar. They will provide you with information on the various properties available in that area.

 

Learn the language.

 

If you are moving to a country where the language is different from your current language, you will need to learn quickly. While this does not mean you need to be fluent before you get on the plane, you should make a conscious effort to get to grips with the basics of the language so that you can hold a basic conversation on arrival. Apps such as Duolingo are excellent at guiding you through the process of learning a new language. 

 

Saying goodbye.

 

Moving to another country is a significant change – and you are sure to be leaving a lot behind. Your friends, your family, your work, and more. Therefore, it is also essential that you give yourself time to process this change and say goodbye – otherwise, you may find yourself grieving for your old home in unsuspecting ways. Although you are starting a new book, you have to finish the chapter of the one you are currently reading. Throw yourself an epic goodbye party, visit your favorite bakery one last time and treat yourself to one or two treats, then make plans for your next visit. Remember, you don’t have to leave forever – you’re just going on a long adventure, and you can always come back if you don’t like it.

 

Once you’ve said goodbye, you’re ready to set off on your journey. This means it’s time to get excited about all the memories you are set to make.

 

 

 

Vagobond Travel Museum: The Amtrak Amtrek Across the USA

Back in 2008, I left Hawaii and set out on an adventure that took me across the USA by Amtrak train, I called it the Amtrek. This week, for the Vagobond Travel Museum, I bring you the collected articles and videos from that trip. The trip began in Honolulu and then went to Portland, Oregon from where I crossed the country and ended in New York City with a one way flight to Barcelona – the truth is, the trip has never ended since I’ve never gone home.

Along the way, I couch-surfed and asked my hosts the same set of questions, those videos are below and worth watching. Keep in mind, this was before couch-surfing had gone mainstream.

Here are the ten lessons I learned on that trip:

  1. The trains through the Rocky Mountains have the most incredible viewing cars for enjoying the magnificent landscape.
  2. Sacramento is a lot cooler than I thought it would be and the train museum is a must see..
  3. Utah is an incredibly rugged and scenic state filled with some very cool folks in Salt Lake City.
  4. I want to travel by train to Austin, Texas and Detroit, Nashville, and New Orleans. I’ve still never been to those cities.
  5. I love New York and Boston – taking a train to them was the way to go. People in these cities rock.
  6. Philly and Chicago are both incredibly cold in winter, but the people I met in them were pretty great.
  7. It’s better not to hurry, a 14 day rail pass was too short for a true American experience.
  8. Too many museums in too short a time can’t be appreciated – so get a longer rail pass.
  9. Libraries are havens of free wifi and peaceful places to work – trains should always have wifi and should have libraries for passengers.
  10. Making the wrong friend can suck out part of your enjoyment of life and destroy a train trip – the right friends can make a boring stretch very exciting.

 

Art at the Met and Thoughts Before Leaving the USA

Exploring Chicago in the Cold

The Host Videos
Couch Questions in Hawaii

Lost. ;(

Christmas in Portland

Couch Questions in Portland

Couch Questions with MJ in Sacramento

Couch Questions in Salt Lake City

Couch QUestions in Chicago

Couch Questions in Boston

Couch Questions in Providence

Couch Questions in New York City

Hawkes Bay, New Zealand – 6 Things Not to Miss!

Story and Photos by Katherine Rodeghier

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Mission Estate is New Zealand’s oldest winery, founded by French missionaries.Mother Nature practiced her own brand of “tough love” on Hawke’s Bay, but this fishhook-shaped stretch of land along the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island is all the better for it.

First, she changed the course of a river leaving gravel beds behind. But the stony surface proved beneficial for growing grapes, forcing the vines to send their roots deep into the earth to seek nutrients. That gave the wine produced from them extra character. Hawke’s Bay became New Zealand’s oldest wine region, now yielding 70 percent of the nation’s red wine.

Then in 1931 she sent a 7.8 magnitude earthquake unleashing death and destruction. But in the 40 seconds the quake shook, 8,500 acres of land rose from the bay and stayed above water, a fertile tract of new real estate locals call “The Gift.” The quake flattened the nearby city of Napier, but residents rallied to quickly rebuild in the style of the day. Napier now proclaims itself “The Art Deco Capital of the World.”

Don’t be mad at Mother Nature. She blesses Hawke’s Bay with a mild Mediterranean climate and ample sunshine, so you’ll find plenty to do in any season. Don’t miss:

Wine: The Hawke’s Bay region boasts 170 vineyards and more than 70 wineries, 40 of them with cellar doors for tastings. You won’t find many of these wines outside New Zealand, so your only chance to sip them might be right at the winery.

Mission Estate, New Zealand’s oldest winery, was established in 1851 by pioneering French missionaries in the Gimblett Gravels wine-growing district. It still employs winemaking techniques brought from Bordeaux. At Church Road Winery try for a hard-to-get taste of its famous Tom McDonald reds, named for the father of New Zealand’s red wines. Afterward, visit the Tom McDonald Cellar, the nation’s only wine museum. Twilight is the best time to visit Craggy Range winery because the view of rosy light on Te Mata Peak from a table on the patio is one you won’t soon forget. See Elephant Hill Winery in broad daylight when the light green contemporary building mirrors the Pacific Ocean across the road.

Art Deco: Art Deco is not unusual, but an entire town of Art Deco is unique. Napier has 140 original Art Deco buildings as well as many in the 1930s Spanish mission, stripped classical and jazz-age styles.

Make your way to the Art Deco Shop to buy a brochure for a self-guided tour or join one of the daily guided walks of one or two hours given by the Art Deco Trust, formed in the 1980s to preserve these buildings. The Trust also has hop-on, hop -off bus tours and vintage car tours if you want to tool around town in a Packard. Among the most notable buildings are the National Tobacco Co., a mixture of Art Deco and Art Nouveau, and the Dome with copper cupola and clock tower above a former insurance company building that’s been converted into four luxury apartments you can book for overnight stays.

On the third weekend in February, modern vehicles are banned on the main streets and nearly everyone dresses in 1930s attire for an Art Deco Weekend of parades, music and dancing.

Cape Kidnappers: When Captain Cook landed off the cape in 1769, the local Maori tribe thought his Tahitian cabin boy was one of their own and snatched him. The kidnapped lad escaped and made it back to the ship, but not before forever giving the cape its name.

A 6,000-acre sheep and cattle station operates on the cape on Hawke’s Bay, but its most famous animals are the 20,000 gannets who spend October to April gathered in 100-bird clusters of noisy nesting pairs. Not only is this the largest mainland colony of these rare birds, but the most accessible. Gannet Safaris takes you within a few feet of the white birds—related to the booby family—for a close-up view of their black eye markings and toasted marshmallow crowns.