Month Twenty Three of my Digital Nomad Life saw me in three different countries but I would still call it a quiet month of working and largely chilling out.
I started the month with my last weekend in Auckland, catching up with one of my besties in Cornwall Park and visiting my sister’s tree in one of my favorite gardens, Eden Garden.
During my last short week of work, I was training my replacement and tying up loose ends before I finished and the lovely Assistants I worked with took me out for a farewell lunch at a delicious dumpling place too. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone.
It was ANZAC Day on the Tuesday which is a Public Holiday so I headed to the Auckland War Memorial Museum for the Dawn Service and checked out the Museum for a couple of hours afterwards.
Then it was time to say goodbye to New Zealand which, as always, was bittersweet. I loved my time being home so much but I was also so excited to be heading back to my other home: Colorado.
I had three nights on Sydney’s Northern Beaches on the way back to the US where I caught up with a dear friend and explored the area. It was great to be back, even for a short time.
My flights into LA and onto Denver weren’t overly pleasant but I was so glad to be back, and that is where I have been ever since.
Denver is our base for the whole of May with four housesits in different parts of the city. I have been exploring a lot as well as working more on my blog now that I have the time, getting back into an exercise routine, catching up with friends and family, going to new places including Littleton, Santa Fe Arts District, and South Broadway, and doing some hikes in the mountains near the city: It has been awesome!
Overall it has been a great month with a real balance of fun, work and routine: just what I needed.
Now onto the Stats!
Countries visited: New Zealand, Australia, USA
- New Zealand: Auckland
- Australia: Sydney
- USA: Denver, Boulder
Islands visited: Scotland Island, Sydney
National Parks and Monuments visited: None this month
Best meal: A few awesome meals this month but my favorites were the Pineapple, blue cheese, caramelized onion, mushroom, kalamata olive and apricot sauce pizza from Hell Pizza in Auckland, Buddha’s Delight Thai salad with green papaya, pineapple, tofu and crispy egg noodles in a tamarind dressing from Banana Blossom in Manly, Potato and cheese pierogis from the Pierogies Factory Food Truck in Denver, and the cream cheese pie with strawberries from the Yellow Deli in Boulder.
Worst meal: I’d go with the chicken curry I cooked a week ago. It was tasteless and so disappointing.
Best craft beer: I have drunk soooo many craft beers this month and I didn’t really keep track of names. I have particularly been loving the sour beers and definitely one of the more interesting ones I tried was a mango lassi inspired sour beer that I had at Right Coast Pizza in Denver – it doesn’t seem to be on their menu anymore (they change their beer menu frequently) and I wish I had written down the name now as it was very unique and weird – but I loved it. I also really liked the Hanalei Island IPA from Kona Brewing Company with hints of guava, orange and passionfruit – mmm.
- Manly Beach to Shelly Beach in Sydney, Australia 1.5 miles/2.5km return
- Utah Park and Jewel Wetlands in Aurora, Colorado 2 miles/3.25km loop
- Washington Park in Denver, Colorado 2.5 miles/4km loop
- Panorama Point trail in Corwina Park, Colorado 2.7 miles/4.5km return
- North Table Mountain in Golden, Colorado 2 miles/3.25km
Reading: Still haven’t read anything this month either – I really need to get on that.
Watching: Master of None Season 2. I watched the whole second season of Master of None over two evenings – I just love this show! I loved the Italy episodes in the beginning, but I especially loved the Thanksgiving episode at Denise’s Mum’s house which shows Aziz and Denise from when they were kids through to Denise coming out to her Mum, who was initially unaccepting, before the episode ends with her finally starting to accept who Denise is and making an effort with her girlfriend. Watching the show also made me more excited about visiting New York for a week in July – it really does showcase New York well.
ANZAC Day at Auckland Domain
I was so happy to be in New Zealand for ANZAC Day this year as I was yet to attend a Dawn Service in my home country, something I have really wanted to do to honour my Grandad and other New Zealanders who have given their lives to keep our country safe during war.
I went to one in Australia a couple of years ago and that was great, but going down to the Auckland War Memorial Museum with my Dad for it this year was even more special. As the sun began to rise, there were speeches, poems, and song – including the Australian and New Zealand National Anthems. After the service I checked out the museum for a couple of hours – one of my favorite in the world. I hope I will be back in town for it next year too as I would love to take Toby.
Hanging out on the Northern Beaches
One of my favorite places in Sydney is the chilled out and beautiful Northern Beaches, and luckily for me that is where one of my best friends lives and where I stayed for my three day visit to Sydney. Beck and I checked out the farmers market in Warriewood, wandered the shops, the beach and hit up a brewery in Mona Vale, spent a few hours in my old home base of Manly – walking around to Shelly beach and grabbing an excellent Thai salad, and took the ferry to tiny Scotland Island, an island that I had wanted to visit for years. It was a short but great visit.
Back with Toby and my American Family
I had only initially intended to stay in New Zealand for around 6-7 weeks but when I got an excellent opportunity to work as the EA to the CEO of one of New Zealand’s largest companies, I jumped at the chance, which meant I stayed in New Zealand for an extra month. I really, really enjoyed my time back at home but I missed Toby and my American family so it was so amazing to be reunited with everyone back in Denver. New Zealand will always be home, but you can have more than one home, and Denver is my other one.
Finally Visiting Littleton
I love the little towns with walkable Main Streets like Golden and Olde Town Arvada that make up part of Denver as a whole, and I had heard that Littleton was another town like that. I had wanted to go there for a while but hadn’t quite made it, so it was top of my list for when I got back to Denver this time around. I visited on a beautiful and sunny spring day and instantly loved it.
Littleton is a very pretty town surrounded by parks and riverside walking trails, with lots of great little shops to check out – I ended up buying a new top and shoes from a consignment store and nearly bought everything in another store I discovered. I had tea in the well-stocked and cosy In Tea TeaHouse and took note of all the eateries and cafes I want to check out for next time.
Housesitting in Wash Park
May has been the month of housesitting, with four housesits confirmed for the month in Denver. Our longest sit was also my favorite, looking after my friends’ beautiful house, chickens and dog in one of my favorite Denver neighourhoods – Washington Park. The Park itself is lovely, with walking trails around the ponds and rivers and so much green – spring is the greenest time of year in Denver – along with all of the baby goslings and ducklings that are so damn adorable. I walked around the park almost daily as well as working in the cosy Wash Perk Coffee Shop around the corner from the house, and visiting the cute South Pearl and South Gaylord precincts that have boutique shops and lots of choices of places to eat and drink. It was so nice to be in one place for a while and to get into a bit of a routine, as well as being able to cook which is always a treat for us.
An Awesome Family Wedding
The most important thing on our agenda for May in Denver was Toby’s cousin Nicole’s wedding and they really lucked out on the weather. After some late season snow and a whole lot of rain, I was worried their perfect day would be ruined but the sun came out on the morning of and it could not have been more perfect.
Nicole and her now husband Josh had the ceremony at Red Rocks where there was a dusting of snow on the surrounding mountains, and waterfalls running off the rocks from the snow melting – a rare sight and so pretty. After the ceremony we headed to the reception in Littleton for some great food, family catch ups and a fun time dancing the night away. A definite highlight of month twenty three for me.
Buying a new Home on Wheels
It has been mine and Toby’s dream for a while to buy a van that we can convert into a camper, giving us more freedom and allowing us to road trip more often. Well, we found our perfect little van and Toby flew to Texas and drove it back – we are now the proud owners of a 2013 Ford Transit Connect!
It is definitely on the small side as far as campers go but our priority was to get a newer van that is good on gas and it is definitely that. We didn’t want to deal with the issues that an older van may give us – we have had enough of those with the Subaru – so getting a newer van was the way to go for us, and we got a great deal. Toby will start fitting it out in the next few weeks – we are going to have a fold out double bed, a small pull out kitchen unit and lots of storage space. It’s going to be amazing! I’ll share some photos once the refurb is underway.
Meeting Other Digital Nomads
I always love meeting other people with alternative lifestyles so I arranged a meet up with a couple of ladies on a Facebook group that I am a part of – Digital Nomad Girls. We met at a coffeeshop in Wash Park for chats and coffee and it was really fun. I ended up meeting up with one of the girls, Jacqueline, and her husband Tim a week later and we went to Boulder together for the Startup crawl – more on that below. I am definitely going to reach out to the DN Community more, especially in towns or cities where we are travelling to and don’t know anyone, as it is such a great way to meet new friends.
Back into the Mountains
Denver is a great city but it is the mountains that I love most about Colorado. My first chance to get into the mountains was a hike we were invited to in Corwina Park, near the town of Morrison in the front range. The hike wasn’t a long one, but it was beautiful, especially the viewpoint – Panorama Point – that we were rewarded with at the end. The smell of pine, the fresh mountain breeze and the gorgeous mountain scenery made me burst with happiness and a sense of belonging. It felt so good to be back home in the mountains.
A Night of Startups in Boulder
It was Boulder Startup Week last week and I was invited by a new friend to go with her and her husband to the Startup crawl on Tuesday evening. We were also meant to do an organised hike in Chautauqua Park but unfortunately a thunderstorm rolled in so we ended up giving it a miss.
The Startup crawl involved picking which startups on the list that we were interested in visiting and learning more about, and then visiting them between 4-7pm in which ever order we desired. We met some cool people, ate canapes, drunk beer and were just generally inspired by some of the amazing startups that we visited.
I particularly loved Humanwire – a website where you can support a refugee directly by contacting them through their online profile and purchasing items they need through the site. You can also talk to them on Skype and really see the difference you are making – such a cool idea!
Further Exploring Denver’s Food and Beer Scenes
It’s been great being based in Denver for most of the month as I usually only stay here for a few days or a week at a time – being here for a longer period has meant I have been able to explore more of the city’s excellent dining and craft beer scene which has taken me to delicious ethnic food trucks and restaurants, old skool diners, lots of great pizza places, awesome cafes and lots and lots of breweries. This has been one happy month for my stomach.
Jetlag and Flight Delays on my Return to the US
Urgh my flight back to the US was rough on me. It was a day flight so I couldn’t sleep and every minute on that flying metal shoebox felt like an hour. I just wanted to get there already. When I finally did land in LAX I was given a hard time entering on my visitor visa and questioned on whether I was living in the US – I knew it would start getting harder to get in as time goes by as I do spend a lot of time here. Then my flight to Denver was delayed by two hours, and by this time I was completely and utterly exhausted and felt like absolute crap.
My flight to Denver was pretty bumpy coming over the Rockies and I was so glad to finally land and be able to get some sleep. And to see Toby of course who greeted me with a massive smile and a big bunch of flowers. It made it all worth it.
Credit Card Hacked
On my second day in Denver I checked my credit card statement and realised there were a couple of fraudulent charges on there – so frustrating as my replacement card had to be sent to my friend’s place in Australia, then sent on to me here. That was three weeks ago and it still hasn’t arrived. The charges are yet to be wiped off my card too. It just adds to the stress really as I don’t have lots of money as it is, and having a credit card was a great backup. I’m crossing my fingers I get it in time for my trip to Canada as I need it to rent a car.
Toby Away for Work
I had only been back with Toby for two days after 2.5 months apart when he had to take off to work for a week at a Festival in Texas. The timing wasn’t great but this is his job so he had to do it. I had two housesits I did when he was gone which was rather lonely by myself, and I was still feeling jet-lagged so that didn’t help.
I experienced a bit of culture shock when I got back to the US from New Zealand after being away for months. The US is so much more consumer driven than New Zealand and there are so many more strip malls, fast food outlets, and multi-lane highways that it was all a bit overwhelming after being in little old clean and green New Zealand. I actually don’t like this side of the US but I generally get used to it and accept it after being here for a while, which I have done now, and just appreciate all the things I do love about this country. It just takes a week or so.
The Hail Storm from Hell
I was hanging out at Toby’s brother’s place a couple of weeks ago and suddenly we started hearing this clunking noise outside. It started out slow but quickly became deafening – it was baseball sized hail stones falling from the sky and causing a mass of destruction. It was pretty cool to see as I have never seen anything like it before, but it destroyed the Subaru, and just before we were looking to sell it. Now there are dents and chipped paint all over it, and the windshield also smashed.
Fo and Afor’s roof and siding on their garage was damaged and driving around the neighbourhood afterwards we saw a load of beat up cars, smashed windows and destroyed siding. It was Biblical.
A Late Season Cold Snap
Along with the crazy hailstorm, we also had a crazy cold snap including a day when it snowed all day long! Most of my warm clothes were at Toby’s Mum’s place in Brighton so I wasn’t exactly warm when I had to go outside, and we were looking after my friend’s dog so I had to take her for a walk around the park – I was a popsicle. It has gotten warmer in the past week but still not as warm as I would like, especially in the evenings.
Obviously very high but considering we bought a van and I had to get a new camera this month. No big purchases on the horizon for next month so it should be much lower.
No accommodation costs this month as I was either staying with friends, family or housesitting.
Food and Drink $440.50
Pretty standard for me – I do love to eat out. We also cooked a lot this month too as we were housesitting a lot and had a kitchen which is always a treat.
- Skirt $15
- Leggings $22.50
- Summer Top $22
- Shoes for Wedding $20
- Hoodie $26.50
- Summer Skirt $20
I went a little nuts when I first got back but that should be it now for a while as far as new clothes go.
- Public Transport Sydney $22.50
- Return ferry to Scotland Island $11
- Flight LA to Denver $114
- Petrol $50
- Public Transport Denver $4
No activity costs this month as I was mostly just exploring Denver.
- Toiletries $17
- Gifts for Colorado Family $19.50
- Buttons to revamp an old jacket $21
- Bracelet $9
- Monthly Phone Plan $45
- Camera $190
- Makeup $7.50
- My half of the Van $3000
What’s in Store for Next Month:
The first week of month twenty four will see us still in Denver, staying at Toby’s Mum’s in Brighton for a couple of nights then doing a housesit down in Aurora over Memorial Day Weekend.
I plan on getting back to Boulder to do some hiking, and hopefully to attend the Boulder Creek Festival, as well as more brewery visits and Digital Nomad Meet-ups.
We want to escape the city for a few days for our first camping trip in our new van, but we aren’t sure how long we can go for yet – it depends if Toby will be working or not. Wherever we do choose to go, the trip will include mountains, hiking, hot springs and beer: all the elements of a great Colorado road trip.
Then it’s back to Denver for a few days to attend Toby’s second cousin’s Christening, and to get our stuff in order before Toby heads out to two weeks of work at back to back events, and I go to Canada for two weeks!
I am super excited to be heading to the Canadian Rockies for my first week back in my favourite country, where I will be staying with my lovely friend Paulina and her husband Darren in their new place in Field, the tiny village I lived in for six weeks in 2015.
I plan on lots of hiking in Yoho and Banff National Parks, visiting Banff and Canmore townships and maybe somewhere a bit further afield like Revelstoke and Glacier National Park (the Canadian one) – but we will see. Hopefully the weather will be nicer for me this time around as there was so much rain last time.
My second week in Canada will be split between my beloved Vancouver and a new destination for me: Salt Spring Island.
Vancouver will be all about the food, catching up with friends and re-visiting my favorite spots like Stanley Park, Kits, Mount Pleasant and Granville Island. I can’t wait!
I am really excited to finally get to Salt Spring Island – I have visited four other Gulf Islands and love them all so I am looking forward to seeing how Salt Spring measures up to them. I booked a converted camper-bus for my two nights on the island that just looks amazing and I want to walk all around the island, checking out the beaches, town centre and everything in between.
The very end of month twenty four will see me in Vegas where we are staying for a week to celebrate Toby’s cousin Ticia’s 40th birthday with the family – I can forsee a crazy few days!
Next month is looking epic!
To read additional Monthly Round Ups, you can find them here