How short life is has never hit home harder than with the recent, incredibly tragic, loss of Mrs. Carol Hardman, a second mother to us and countless others. For me, she was a culinary inspiration with whom I'd talk great lengths to about cooking methods, traditional southern cuisine, and recipes that we each had discovered
. I never have and probably never will, taste Shrimp n Grits better than hers and the beef jerky she prepared was something they write stories about! My friends and I would spend almost every weekend at the Hardman Farm, driving trucks through the mud, shooting guns, fishing, boating, sitting around roaring campfires with good friends, and looking up to a blanket of stars on the nights sky, loving life. Every morning Mrs. Hardman would be there to hear about our adventures for the previous day over an unbelievable breakfast feast she had prepared for us. We then would listen to her stories about growing up in the Johns Island farming world and all about the Civil War Re-enactments she proudly too part in, mesmerized at how she could cook such feasts on the standard issue small wooden stoves they used. We were so blessed to get to know such a great person and she will be forever missed.
We spent Christmas in the great town of Nelson and attended the local cathedral; for a wonderful Christmas Eve service. It was the first time being away from the whole family, but we were lucky to have each other and also the group of friends we've made here. One of the most important things we wanted out of this trip was to meet people of different backgrounds and broaden our horizons. Our friend Uzzie has provided such valuable insight to what Muslim life is like and the discipline he has towards daily prayer and abstaining from pork and alcohol
. Almost all of the people we've met and have made friends with are from other countries around the world, and its been a whirlwind understanding thick accents, cultural tendencies, personality traits, and views on life. We've met Germans, English, Irish, Scottish, Dutch, Kiwi, Aussie, Swedish, Fin, Chinese, French, Singaporean, Canadian, Colombian, and more!
New Years we spent in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. Dreams about the infamous Fergburger restaurant were realized, and we dined constantly on the vast array of choices from this hole in the wall burger joint. The amount of business this place does is staggering, and it's only closed for 4 hours from 5am to 9am, yet you almost never have to wait more than 10 to 15 minutes for a delicious burger concoction they've conjured up from the kitchens.
New Zealand for me is an adrenaline junkies dream, but equally a tree huggers fantasy, and if you're both than you'll never leave this place. Rafting down a frigid river in an underground, pitch black cave system, while gazing up above to the brilliant neon blue display of glow worms covering the cave ceiling is something I'll never forget. We've hiked alongside active volcanoes on the Tongariro Crossing, a 7 hour hike through screaming winds then breathless, frigid air then scorching, to conquer what is considered the best one day hike in all New Zealand
. We've strapped on boots and spikes to explore the dominating Franz Joseph Glacier, a massive block of jagged blue ice that has bored its way through two mountains creating the Glacier Valley it sits in. We've smelled the freshest air on Earth in a beautiful Redwood forest and also the worst air on earth in the volcanically active town of Rotorua, where the lakes boil and the mud burps sulfur gas into the air. We've helped a bus driver change a flat tire in the rain, getting completely greasy and loving every minute of working on a truck again. We've bathed in super heated waterfalls, meet giant seals, climbed volcanoes, hitchhiked, played hackysack on the beach, tried every Kebab imaginable, and sampled the world famous Blenheim white wine.
We've tried to appreciate every God given moment we've been blessed with and use our time wisely. New Zealand has chewed us up and spit us back out, loving everything Kiwi, but ready for Asia. Thank you for reading everyone and I hope you enjoyed it. Take care
Brayden and Austin Pitcairn
Life moves pretty fast doesn't it! We all can agree on this and have all felt the disbelief in moments of our lives when the realization sets in and we find ourselves thinking, "Where did the last month or so go?" New Zealand has chewed us up in a mix of adrenaline thrills and break taking back country majesty and spit us out wanting more, stunned at how fast the 6 weeks flashed by. From boarding down giant sand dunes to trekking across a blue glacier, free falling to Earth from 15,000 feet to cave explorations deep below, we have tried to take advantage of every opportunity we've been blessed with.