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Month Eighty-Nine was a pretty chilled month spent between Colorado, New Mexico, and New Zealand, and was mostly about relaxing and catching up with friends and family after a summer working away in Washington.
I started the month still housesitting in Denver for a little over a week and we used this time to relax, cook, watch a lot of movies, party on Halloween, do some hiking in Golden and Boulder, and catch up with friends and family.
I also finished working on the user manual for the Oasis at the Gorge (yay!) which was my big goal before leaving for New Zealand and provided some much-needed cash flow for a winter of travel.
After leaving our housesit, we drove up to Estes Park for a couple of nights to hike in Rocky Mountain National Park and hang out at the haunted Stanley Hotel then we were back in Denver for another five nights staying with family.
From there we drove Brownie the RV down to his winter home with my father-in-law in Espanola, New Mexico. We stayed four nights and as usual, we had a fun time hanging out and exploring Northern New Mexico.
Then it was back to Colorado for the annual family Outlaw Party weekend in Leadville which was as fun as ever.
My last two nights in the U.S. I spent back in Denver, celebrating my birthday with dinner and drinks with family, hitting up some breweries, Christmas shopping in Idaho Springs, and brunching at Snooze.
I flew to Dallas from there and was meant to then take a night flight to New Zealand, but after an initial short delay, my flight was delayed by another 12 hours so they put us up in a hotel overnight. I was secretly pleased because I hate flying at night and I was already tired so it was great to get a good night’s sleep before my super-long flight.
After a 15-hour flight I landed in New Zealand and that is where I spent the last week of the month, between Auckland and Papamoa. It has been raining every day but it is still great to be home and to see everyone!
Countries Visited: USA, New Zealand
- Colorado: Denver, Boulder, Estes Park, Aurora, Salida, Leadville, Idaho Springs
- New Mexico: Espanola, Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Ojo Caliente
- Texas: Dallas
- New Zealand: Auckland, Papamoa
National and State Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.
Islands Visited: No islands this month.
Days on the Road: 12 days
Best Meals: Masala Paneer with garlic naan from Yak and Yeti in Arvada; Indian Taco from Tocabe in Denver; Margherita and Erborista pizzas from Pizzeria Locale in Boulder; Strawberry shortcake pancakes and breakfast hash with eggs and green chile from Snooze in Denver; Everything bagel with green chile cream cheese from Rosenberg’s at Stanley Marketplace; Mushroom burger from Better Burger in Auckland; Margherita Extra from That’s Amore in Auckland; Potato latkes with apple sauce and matzo ball soup from Federal Deli in Auckland.
Worst Meals: Nothing that comes to mind.
Best Craft Beer: Green Chile Ale from Soulcraft Brewing in Salida and King of the Carrot Flowers from Ratio Beerworks in Denver.
- Red Rocks and Anemone Trail in Boulder, CO 4.5 miles
- Peaks to Plains and Welch Ditch loop in Golden, CO 4.5 miles
- Tennyson and Lakes walk in Denver, CO 5.2 miles
- Bierstadt Lake loop in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO 2.8 miles
- Toll Gate Trail in Aurora, CO 4.7 miles
- Cerro Grande Trail in Bandelier National Monument, NM 4.6 miles
- Auckland City and Harbor Walk in Auckland, New Zealand 6.6 miles
- Mount Eden and Domain Walk in Auckland, New Zealand 6.7 miles
- Papamoa Beach Walk in Papamoa, New Zealand 3.6 miles
Watching: I watched a lot of content this month during our housesits, the best of what I watched was Thirteen Lives, The White Lotus Season Two, Ghosts (original English version), Mister Organ, Upload Season 2, Severance.
Listening: Flightless Bird podcast. I just love everything David Farrier creates.
Reading: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad.
New Posts: I wrote a couple of new posts this month. I wrote a list of Fun Things to do in Koh Lanta for Budget Travelers which made me so excited to head back to Thailand in a couple of months, and 12 Fun Things To Do in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand – I’ve been meaning to write this post about one of my hometowns for a long time and I finally got around to it, just in time for summer.
Visiting Boulder Twice
I always enjoy visiting Boulder and I visited twice this month – once for lunch and a hike with my cousin Anita, and once with Toby for lunch, shopping, and a walk through Boulder Canyon on the way back from Estes Park.
Halloween Party Fun
For the first time since 2019, I actually got to celebrate Halloween! Last year I was working a super-stressful Halloween event and the year before I was in managed isolation in New Zealand so it felt like such a long time since I had fun on Halloween.
My brother-in-law and sister-in-law held a really fun party at their place and Toby and I dressed as Morticia and Gomez Addams. I had a terrible hangover the next day but it was worth it.
A Short Break to Estes Park
I hadn’t been to Rocky Mountain National Park since 2019 either so we went up and stayed in Estes Park for a couple of nights where we got a great mid-week, off-season deal at a mountain lodge.
We saw a massive herd of elk up close and personal, walked around Estes Lake, did a couple of short hikes and saw a couple of moose in Rocky Mountain National Park, soaked in the hot tub, visited the historic and supposedly haunted Stanley Hotel, and enjoyed seeing the local kids and adults dress up and go trick or treating along the main street during actual Halloween. It was a short but fun trip.
Winter Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park
It was so nice to be back at our local National Park, especially as it was actually quiet there for once due to it being off-season and during the week.
Snow covered a lot of the trails and I don’t have micro spikes so we just stuck to a couple of the easier lake hikes that I hadn’t done before – Sprague Lake and Bierstadt Lake. Both were gorgeous and there were only a handful of people around.
Return to New Mexico
It was great to get back to New Mexico for the first time this year to visit Pa and Dennis. On this visit, I did a hike in Bandelier National Monument to the highest point in the park, visited Los Alamos and the museum there, had lunch and wandered the plaza in Santa Fe, and spent an afternoon soaking at Ojo Caliente – finally reopened after the pandemic and then a fire in the Bathhouse.
Outlaw Party Weekend in Leadville
I was happy I got to attend the Outlaw Party this year because originally I was going to be leaving the U.S. earlier and I would have missed it. For this Outlaw Party weekend, there were nine of us and we rented a beautiful home with gorgeous mountain views and a hot tub in Leadville – the highest city in the U.S.
As usual, the weekend involved lots of drinking, karaoke, board games, and cooking and eating meals together, as well as a crazy costume contest where we had to get dressy outfits for $15 or less from a thrift store (I won!), snowy hikes, and hot tub soaking with an incredible view.
It was a lot of fun and as my birthday fell over that weekend too, I got a birthday cake and some presents.
Birthday Dinner and Drinks in Denver
We left Leadville the morning of my birthday to head back to Denver and after lunch at Stanley Marketplace and brewery hopping in RiNo, we checked into the lovely apartment Toby rented us in LoHi – one of my favorite Denver suburbs.
I had organized a casual dinner and drinks at Happy Camper just around the corner and we were given an area with a campfire and tree stumps to sit on – so fun! I had a really great evening with friends and family, and then a few of us went to Williams and Graham, one of the best speakeasies in the country, for fancy cocktails to round off the evening.
It’s crazy to think that I have now entered my forties but I look at the community I have, all my amazing travel experiences with so many more to come, and a loving husband, and I’m OK with it. I have a feeling it’s going to be a great decade.
Being Back Home in New Zealand
Although it’s been so rainy, I am happy to be back in New Zealand after nearly two years away. Most of my family and friends live here and I miss them when I’m gone.
I’ve been eating all the delicious New Zealand foods I have missed, visiting some of my favorite places in Auckland and Papamoa, and planning for the next couple of months of summer here. It’s going to be a good one!
I Was Finally Approved For a Credit Card
As an immigrant to the U.S., I didn’t have any credit for a number of years but I finally have good enough credit to be approved for a credit card. It only has a small credit limit but it’s nice to get on track to further improve my credit and eventually be able to get the good travel credit cards – I can’t wait till I can travel hack!
I get the absolute worst hangovers these days – one of the many reasons I don’t drink in excess often. I had such a fun night at the Halloween party but man, did I pay for it the next day. I barely left the couch, ate too much junk food, and generally felt sorry for myself.
Uncomfortable Political Discussions
I had a couple of heated discussions with family members this month about politics and religion that I just shouldn’t have indulged because it is almost impossible to change people’s minds and it just made me feel like shit afterward.
A Really Loooong Flight
I hate flying so I was dreading my 15-hour flight from Dallas to Auckland for weeks beforehand. It was meant to be an overnight flight which is the absolute worst for me because I can’t sleep on planes and I freak out when there is turbulence and it is pitch black outside.
Luckily for me, they delayed the flight by 13 hours because a rocket launch was delayed and the detritus of the rocket was going to be dropped somewhere in the Pacific, possibly along our flight route, so to be safe they decided not to fly during that time. Is that the best excuse you have ever heard for a flight delay or what?!
So we were put up in a hotel in Dallas for the night and my flight departed the next day at midday instead. It was actually a pretty good flight with very little turbulence and as it wasn’t overnight, I didn’t really suffer from jetlag. But still, it was soooo long.
So Much Rain
New Zealand has been seeing a crazy amount of rain this year because of El Niño and it has rained at least part of every day since I have been back. I really hope it clears up soon because I was really looking forward to a sunny summer.
Not Feeling Great
I haven’t been feeling great since I’ve been back in New Zealand. I’m not sure what it is, I just don’t feel 100% and my head feels like it is swimming at times during the day. Hopefully whatever it is passes soon.
Fraud on My New Bank Card
I literally just got my new debit card and then a few days into being back in New Zealand there was some fraudulent activity on my account and they had to cancel my card. Luckily my bank is able to courier my new card to New Zealand and I should receive it soon.
Possible Skin Cancer
I got my first skin check in three years and unfortunately, I have a couple of areas that need a biopsy as they may be pre-cancerous or cancerous. The one on the back of my knee is so small the biopsy of it will actually remove it all, but the area on my back is larger and I will need to either get a cream to treat it or worst case, have it cut out.
I really hope I can treat it with a cream otherwise I may need to come back to New Zealand from Asia, cutting my trip short. We will see what happens.
Club Q Shooting
Another day, another shooting. This one hit close to home for me because my Auckland community revolves around my best friend and his bar which is a fixture in the LGBTQI+ community in Auckland.
I have considered myself an ally for a long time and I am so sick of the hate toward this marginalized community that is so loving and accepting. When will it end?
A lot of these costs are my half with Toby paying the other half. I also don’t include international flights in my recaps.
I love how cheap my month was this month! I actually wasn’t expecting this but I will take it. With how good the exchange rate is for the US dollar in New Zealand right now and the fact I will mostly be staying with family and friends, next month should come in under $2000 too.
My four nights of paid accommodation for the month consisted of two nights at a lodge in Estes Park, and two nights at a vacation home in Leadville.
My 27 nights of unpaid accommodation for the month consisted of eights nights housesitting in Denver, five nights with family in Aurora, four nights with my Father-in-law in Espanola, New Mexico, two nights in an apartment in Denver (Toby paid for my birthday), one night in a motel in Dallas (paid for by airline), one night lost in transit to New Zealand, four nights at my Dad’s in Auckland, and two nights at my Mum’s in Papamoa.
Food and Drink $818
Another expensive month of eating out a lot with a larger number of expensive cocktails thrown in than usual because of my birthday.
- 2 x dresses $53
- Leggings $34
- Dress $30
- Outlaw Party costume $15
- Boots $55
- Gas $120
- Parking $5
As I stated above, I don’t include international flight costs in my monthly recap because they can be expensive and really skew my total spend. But, I do want to mention that my one-way flight from Denver to Auckland was only $444! Such a bargain.
- Movie Ticket for Armageddon Now at Alamo Draft House $10
- Entry to Ojo Caliente Hot Springs $48.50
- Donation for Entry into Pah Homestead $3.50
- Two Movie tickets for Mister Organ in Auckland $13
- Hulu $8.50
- Phone plan $35
- Spotify $10.50
- Toiletries $76
- COVID tests $23
- Donations $14.50
- Earrings $21
- Gifts $12
- Skin check at Doctor $74.50
Website Costs $12
- Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
Van/RV Costs $37
- Van Insurance $37
What’s in Store for Next Month
I will be spending the next month in New Zealand which I am really excited about!
The first five days of the month I will be staying with my Mum and Step-Dad in Papamoa. I plan to get outside to walk on the beach, walk up and around the Mount, and hang out with friends as much as I can. We will be going for dinner for my Mum and Step-Dad’s birthday once my brother flies up in a few days too.
From Papamoa, I will be heading to Rotorua for a couple of nights. While I’m there I want to soak at Polynesian Spa and visit Waimangu Volcanic Valley for the first time – I have seen the world’s second-largest boiling lake and now I want to see the largest.
I’ll be visiting one of my besties in Hamilton for a couple of nights after Rotorua and maybe visiting Raglan for a quick trip, then it’s back to Auckland to get my biopsy done and hang out with friends and my Dad.
I want to try using the gym and pool at my Dad’s apartment most days I’m there as well as going on lots of walking adventures including to the Waitakeres and Mahurangi Regional Park, a new Auckland park for me.
Me and another one of my besties are planning a four-day trip up to Cape Reinga and to do the Cape Brett track at some point before I head back to Papamoa – possibly via Pauanui on the Coromandel Peninsula – for the last few days of the month.
To read additional Monthly Recaps, you can find them here