If you have a dairy allergy, you might want to bypass this first section because things are about to get cheesy…
This Thanksgiving, I can only skim the surface of all the things I’m thankful for, specifically regarding this adventure I’m on. I’m thankful for my adventurous sister, who in yet another move of pure awesomeness decided to move to New Zealand, putting this crazy thought in my mind in the first place. I’m thankful to be with such a great guy who encouraged me and wanted to join me, and without whom I wouldn’t be doing this. I’m thankful for loving and supportive parents and grandparents who have done nothing but remind me that if this is something I want to do, they’re happy for me and have my back. I’m thankful for all the wonderful friends back home, especially my amazing roomie who is saving a spot in our home for when I return. I’m thankful that Gordon and I both landed jobs we enjoy in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I’m thankful for the cool and unique people from all across the world that we are meeting on a regular basis here in New Zealand.
Now onto some dairy-free subjects…
Don’t get me wrong, I was very bummed to miss my family Thanksgiving this year. I love the feast, the activities surrounding it, and all the family time. But Gordon and I found a way to make this year uniquely awesome. We opted for Friday, since it would be when everyone back home is eating, and lucky for us, these crazy kiwis don’t know what they’re missing, so we were both able to take the day off easily.
Cooking a Thanksgiving meal for my first time was already pretty intimidating. Gordon and I are both food lovers, so I wanted it to be awesome. Cooking a Thanksgiving meal for my first time when the grocery store has only about 1/3 of the ingredients I’m seeking and I’m cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen, with unfamiliar temperatures and gadgets – also lacking much of what I need – was entirely daunting. But we were determined to have our big feast.
Things like pumpkin, turkey (probably wouldn’t have fit in our oven anyway), and corn bread (for the stuffing) are impossible to find here. So we found substitutes – caramel and chocolate dessert instead of pumpkin, chicken instead of turkey (it’s still a bird!), and my first so-so attempt at homemade corn bread. Overall, the meal was a success and I’m thoroughly stuffed. Plus, we each got a chance to speak with our families!
Another tradition for me is some sort of turkey trot. Last year, it was a half marathon. Since they don’t have any races to celebrate American holidays here, Gordon and I chose today to do Ben Lomond, a hike (listed as 8 hours) up to a summit near town. It started on the Tiki Trail then just kept going. It. Was. Brutal. After dragging ourselves up for 2 hours, we hit a “1 more hour” sign leading us out onto the ridge, where the wind picked up and a few rain sprinkles started. Luckily the heavy rain held out until we were almost back to the base. It took us about five hours up and back, with a short hangout at the top. We’re both ultimate gassed and in some pain, but overall it was worth it and I hope we’ll do it again in some nicer weather.
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