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Travel and Inspirational Blogs

Mussels in Totaranui

#newzealand #totarnui #explore #travel

We planned to camp at Totaranui beach, which is in a remote part of Able Tasman National Park in New Zealand’s South Island. We pulled into Totaranui in the early afternoon. My heart fluttered when I first saw the smooth curve of the golden coast. The water so clear it perfectly reflected the sky. The sand virgin, only our foot prints marred its perfection.  I had seen beautiful beaches in New Zealand, but this particular beach took my breath away. I felt as if I had found a paradise lost, a vision so surreal it felt otherworldly.

#newzealand #travel #explore

#newzealand #abletasman #travel #beach

We camped in the Spring time, so the campground was sparsely populated,  with maybe three or four other campers for the entire bay. We found an idyllic spot for our camper van next to an inlet running down from the mountain to the sea. After we set up camp, we decided to explore the rocks around the west side of the bay. We frolicked like children of nature. As we were clambered over the rocks, we discovered the rocks were generously populated with mussels. Someone decided, we can’t remember who, suggested we harvest some mussels and eat them for dinner. In our tribe of four, we had a few foodies and traveled about with great ingredients so we we knew could throw together a decent meal.

So we hiked around the rocks, timidly at first, scared of getting scrapped and cut, and tried to figure out how to harvest mussels. The trick was twisting and turning the mussels and gently pulling towards you. It was fun to have such a hands on experience with our dinner. After we harvested half a of a bucket full, we took them back to our campsite and began to clean them with a small knife by scraping the barnacles and sea life off of the midnight blue shells. This took a lot longer than I expected – after an hour my hands were frozen numb and I wasn’t sure what I was working up more:  my appetite  or my level of annoyance at the tedious process. Preparing your your food from scratch gives you a new appreciation for your consumption of resources, “take only what you need” has a whole new meaning.

After thoroughly scrubbing the mussels so clean that they gleamed, we steamed them. We transferred them to a chicken stock, white wine, shallot and parsley broth we threw together on a camp stove. For added measure we threw some potatoes in tinfoil and set them to cook on the fire.

The result is almost too difficult to put into words. “Fresh” was redefined for me. The mussels were perfectly tender, slightly sweet and amazingly flavorful. The sea satisfied our palates. The broth was aromatic and paired perfectly with richness of the garlic roasted potatoes. The surrounding of our incredible meal was nature. A restaurant could not replicate the brilliance of the atmosphere that night. The night sky unsullied by pollution and light, blanketed us in its shinning embrace. Birds softly cooed and serenaded us. I felt utterly charmed by the universe. I was full and fulfilled, in mind, body and soul.

Not only was the meal of fresh spring mussels one of the best of my life, the overall experience is something I will never forget. Happiness can truly be found in the simplest things.

#newzealand #cooking #foodie #camping

 

#newzealand #abletasman #outdoors #femaletraveller #camping

Categories
Travel and Inspirational Blogs

A Quest for Zion

One of the true gems of the South West is Zion National Park located in Southwestern Utah. Bestowed National Park status in 1919 the park is one of the most unusual and incredible natural landmarks in the world. Jagged peaks, slot canyons and incredible rock formations all presented in a bold mixture of colors render one breathless. Visiting Zion feels like you’ve watched black and white television your whole life and for the first time you are able to see color television. Blues never have seemed so azure, reds are so vibrant they are almost violent in their daring; add the various shades of intrepid green plants growing out of the rock face and you have a truly rare and bold palette. Zion was formed by the water and sedimentation of the Virgin River; the plateaus and rocks jut out proudly creating a home for a diverse ecosystem that includes many different types of plants, birds, mammals and reptiles. There are four different type of geographic regions ensconced within Zion, making the park something you will want to spend days exploring. Zion is a place for contemplation, a place to quiet your soul and connect with nature at its grandest presentation.

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Zion is Hebrew for “heaven as the final gathering place for believers.” Sheer rock walls hundreds of feet high, seep water, as if the rocks were crying out. Small secluded pools and grottos whisper secrets of people and times bygone. Every trail is a different experience and to visit Zion is a small taste of heaven on earth.

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Visiting Zion demonstrated to me the power of persistence, if water can cut through sheer sandstone and rock and make such monolithic change in the landscape, how much do our daily actions cut through and determine the course of our lives? We are an impatient people, a people who thrive off grandiose displays and immediacy – have we lost the appreciation and understanding of how simple forces shape the courses of our lives? For me, I have spent so many years looking for a grand sign of which direction I should go. I have misunderstood the importance of going with the flow of my soul and recognizing the fact the smaller day-to-day choices is what really determines the course of my life.

I’ve wasted my time looking for a tsunami when really it is the still small stream that is guiding my life. The best part about quitting my job – it’s now been a full week since I’ve been jobless, is that I have more time to listen to that still small voice. To allow the stream to guide me in small days every day. Visiting Zion made me realize the juxtaposition of the big and small victories in my life. The massive, towering achievements, and the small persistent choices I have made in spite of adversity. The sum is the whole of the various parts that make up me and my life, and I am grateful for it all. Now that I am done and off my philosophical rock so to speak, here are some tips on visiting Zion that should make your trip a little more enjoyable.

Tips: There are many different trails of varying degrees of difficulties making it attractive to the most novice of explorers to the most advanced. Bring sturdy hiking boots, plenty of water and a sense of adventure and let the park guide you. The park hosts over 2 million people yearly, be aware of the peak tourist season as the park can be full at times. Do your research ahead of time by visiting http://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm.

Lastly, there is no more beautiful an artist than nature.

“But the artist appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom; to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition – and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives: `to sense our of pity and beauty, and pain.” ~ Joseph Conrad

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