Red Rover, Red Rover, we call our friends over

Sun, Dec 23, 2018, 7:25 PM

Greetings from a cafe across from our beachside campsite in Onemana! It’s been almost 1.5 weeks since we arrived in New Zealand and….we haven’t seen any of the promised nature yet.What did we do during this time? We mostly established ourselves as New Zealanders – started a bank account, got a phone number, registered as a tax citizen, and most importantly, got our van!

We set out on this journey with the expectation that we’d be extremely frugal and live a hippie nomadic lifestyle in a van, at free campsites, maybe even eating vegetarian. #RealityCheck #SpoiledbySF

We spent the first 3 nights at a hostel, something we had booked before arriving. After that time was up, we decided to get a studio Airbnb with a gym and pool in downtown Auckland. Both of our parents laughed saying “Guess you guys can’t rough it anymore.”

We justified this Airbnb stay because we were waiting for our van to get some mechanical work done and for Owen’s birthday – where we went for a wine tasting tour on Waiheke Island.
Here’s a photo of birthday boy

Finally, our van was ready! We were extremely excited to get it, so we paid in cash to avoid waiting for international money transfer lag time.

That’s 2 months of SF 1-bedroom rent in a pile of NZD 50’s.

Our first night, we drove to a remote beach, where we were the only car in the parking lot.

Owen achieved superhero status by driving manual, on the left hand side, in the dark, in a storm, on narrow, winding, gravel roads. Ivy did not breathe the whole time.

Ivy tried to make the van more homey by adding fairy lights, but as soon as we lay down to sleep, Owen said, “I wish these sheets had higher thread count.” Ivy learned that day what thread count is and that $10 USD sheets bought at Kmart only gets you scratchy 180 thread count.

Owen learned that day he became more bougie than he expected in the last year as he had survived India just fine in 2017. Along with the issues with the sheets, he also had complaints about the mosquitoes, heat, and dampness in the van – a phenomenon caused by a lack of circulation of air, and temperature differences between the outside and inside of the van.

So…after that night, we got another Airbnb. So that we can fix our problems, you know? During this time we performed more upgrades, like getting 500 thread count sheets, a fan, and a mosquito net.

Finally, our van is complete! Introducing Red Rover — named after the game calling our friends to come to us and rove meaning to travel with no set destination.

Names Owen loved that Ivy vehemently rejected: Red Sheervan and Chairvan Mao.

Propaganda photo courtesy of Jamie.

Next up – a tour of Red Rover

Red Rover is a 2003 Mitsubishi L300. With no AC, no AUX, no Autolock, and one of 2 windows not rolling up properly

BUT he fits everything that we need. He has a toilet, a kitchen (that Owen wished was much much bigger), a couch, a desk, a bed, and even enough storage for all our possessions.

To Ivy’s germaphobe friends (you know who you are): we use different sheets for day and night time

That’s all for us, let us know how your holiday seasons are going, what you’re up to! Hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!Onwards,
Ivy & Owen

And We’re Off!

Greetings from Mama and Papa Wang’s couch in Raleigh, NC!

Thanks for signing up for our newsletter and welcome to the first edition. Today we finally embark on our journey for realsies, leaving for New Zealand in a few short hours.

What have we been up to until now?
Vacated our SF homes

Bags on bags on bags of donations + sold a few things at Wasteland, Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads. (The inside of the car is also filled. 90% of this is Ivy’s)
Stored some things at Tommy’s
(Everything in front is Owen’s, Ivy’s just got the one suitcase)
Got our Japan and New Zealand visas!
…Except Owen didn’t for New Zealand
Just as Ivy was laughing at Owen, she saw that she too made a mistake, though hers was remedied within a day while Owen went through several stages of additional background checks, hours of waiting on customer support with New Zealand Immigration, and days of waiting on an unresponsive case officer (literally her average response rate was once every 9 days).
Had our last SF date
Ivy wrote about some of her favorite views for our friends still in the Bay, check it out!
Scratched Jon’s car
A mistake worth about 7 months rent in Bali 😦

We’ve screwed up a couple of other times recently, making this move quite a costly one…
But we made it out on Thanksgiving Day and went on to Ottawa, where Owen won the approval of Ivy’s mom and dog
And we took a pilgrimage to Lisgar Collegiate Institute, a school that contributed much to Owen’s life, producing his prodigious girlfriend and two of his best friends
All this time, we shopped online for camping and travel gear, and it was all waiting for us at our next destination: Raleigh, North Carolina
…and so were Owen’s parents, and a sudden 1 inch snow “storm” that caused a state of emergency and 300k people to experience blackouts across NC and its neighboring states.

Can you spot us in this picture?
With abundant time house-bound by the storm, we were able to sort through our remaining life possessions. If you want details on everything we’re bringing with us, you can read about that here
In case you forgot, Owen still had not received his New Zealand visa yet. With our flight coming up, we applied for working holiday visas to Australia as a back-up and received those within 4 hours. 

We heard Sydney has the best fireworks for New Years Eve, so we debated booking tickets there straight off our flight to Auckland. Just as we were thinking about pulling the trigger… Owen received his visa last night, literally the day before we leave.

And with that we’ve wrapped up all the logistics necessary before we’re off! Let us know what you want to hear from these newsletters, if this format and length is enjoyable for you, etc. And while you’re replying, also let us know if you have any friends in the area or if you want to come visit 🙂 We’ll be in New Zealand at least until mid-March.

Many people have asked how we’re feeling. Up until now, there’s mostly just been stress from meeting the parents and taking care of logistics, but now the excitement is starting to hit us! There’s still a lot to figure out once we actually get there, but for now we’re just daydreaming about the epic nature ahead, which we’ll leave you with a picture of.

Ivy & Owen