Meet a Traveling Couple: Jo & Logan

I've said it before and I'll say it again - one of my favorite things about traveling is meeting new people. Recently, through our job at the fruit packhouse, Emmett and I have gotten to know some pretty rad folks, two of them being Jo & Logan. They're fellow Americans (rare here in NZ) who are also East Coasters (even more rare!) and we were delighted to find that we had plenty in common beyond just our homeland. I think it's fair to say that Jo and Logan are some of the coolest people we know, hands down. They're both incredibly witty, have fabulous music taste, are ultimate foodies in the best way possible, and avid hikers. ...Basically, they're everything Emmett and I wish we were.

I really enjoyed spending time with them both whether we were sitting together at lunch (and two night shift dinners), making a vegetarian meal for ourselves at the work barbecue, or hanging out during a few precious one-day weekends. They have been sorely missed since they left our crappy job just over a week ago. Who else will think up endlessly entertaining questions to get us through yet another long shift, throw kiwifruit stems at me when I'm not looking, or share their "Mr. Number One" hot sauce with us? No one.

Now it's your turn to get to know the incomparable New Englanders:

photo courtesy of Joanna Fortier

photo courtesy of Joanna Fortier

Bio: Joanna & Logan, both 27 and from the United States. Joanna is from Hopkinton, New Hampshire. Logan is from Burlington, Vermont. "We live together in Burlington/Winooski, VT when not in a van or DOC hut."

What’s something people might not know about Vermont/New Hampshire? 
Vermont has a great community of small farms, which makes getting awesome veg and meats pretty easy compared to most other states. Also, awesome cheese and maple syrup.
New Hampshire has the best hiking in the Northeast. For how small the state is, it has dozens of mountains, and heaps of birch trees.

What’s the best thing about living in New England? 
Definitely the seasons. We love hiking, and there’s always a cool river swimming spot or beautiful old mountain to hike relatively close by. Each season brings a definite change in scenery and feeling. As every year goes by, you get a a sense of nostalgia for the feelings each season brings, but you also discover something new about each change as it happens.

How long have you been together? 
Since Winter of 2015/16, so two and a half years so far!

What did you guys do for work stateside? 
Logan helped open a restaurant in 2012, still running. Work is mostly management type stuff for front of house. Jo worked for a small organic juice company. She created a raw foods menu, including healthy, alternative food options. In the evenings she also bartends.

What are five things you miss most about the States?
1. Family. We both have many siblings, and parents that live pretty close. Jo has a few new nieces and nephews which we can’t wait to get to see after their first birthdays!
2. Friends. "Joanna is sick of my jokes." 
3. Cooking. While we’ve gotten pretty darn good at making curries and things in our Trangia alcohol stove, it’s quite limiting. Food is very important to us, so we are excited to return home to a proper kitchen.
4. Bicycles. We love riding around our hometown in the afternoons, or down to a market.
5. Privacy. Feeling like you can actually be alone to relax and unwind in your own bed at night.

How long have you been in NZ? 
Since February.

Why New Zealand? 
Tramping, mostly. Also, scenery is absolutely spectacular. It has a reputation for being easy to travel around, which was good for us newbie travelers.

What are your top three favorite things you've done in NZ so far? 
1. Our first few days here, we were greeted by some dear friends, (Jo’s cousin was living here for a time) they showed us the ropes, and took us for an awesome first hike up to Mt. Arthur in Kahurangi National Park. The drive up was absurd, but the views along the ridge were stunning. It was such a perfect way to feel welcome to the Southern Hemisphere.
2. When we were in the Catlins, we spent an afternoon checking out the Curio Bay petrified forest. When we were there, a really nice older DOC volunteer took us pretty close to a yellow-eyed penguin nesting there. He let us use his binoculars and told us a bit about the ones living there, and it was an amazing first penguin sighting for us.
3. When we got back to Glenorchy after finishing the Routeburn/Greenstone Track, we found out the Rees-Dart had just been reopened after years of rerouting where a giant avalanche took out the track. We changed our plans to fit in the five-day loop, and on the last day came to the place where the avalanche had created a lake out of the Dart River, which drowned dozens of trees. What’s left is this spooky forest with a blue-green pool underneath and silver-coated trees. Very surreal.

Has traveling together long-term affected your relationship? 
We are certainly more comfortable with each others’ bodily functions/hygiene! But seriously, we’ve gotten more constructive with resolving any issues, rather than just letting them “work themselves out.”

Any advice for other traveling couples? 
Be patient, and don’t let little things bother you. Find some little ways to allow space here and there.

What’s your favorite thing about traveling? 
Seeing new places. Being in the woods in another part of the world is both spectacular and new, but also can feel familiar. Seeing more makes the world feel bigger and smaller at once.

What do you like most about traveling in NZ?
Meeting cool people from all over the world on the trails. Especially in some of the back-country huts, you meet people from places you want to go, places you don’t really know about, and also cool locals who want to share their homeland with you.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on this trip so far?
Nothing too weird has happened. We met this young backpacker from Lithuania who we ran into in about five different times in and around the South Island. We also named our van, and the first mouse we had in the van, by chance after Logan’s great-grandparents (Odessa and Franklin).

Which items in your backpacks would each of you be most sad to lose?
At this point, our laptop has all of our photo backups on it. We intend to back them up separately to ensure their safety. Also, our Feathered Friends sleeping bags, which zip together to make the coziest camping bed ever. We love them and intend to use them for quite a long time.

Where to next?
Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, with a brief stopover in Melbourne. Then we come back to Auckland for a few days before our flight back to US.

What are you most looking forward to in Southeast Asia?
Street food. Weekend markets, weekday markets, night markets, floating markets. All the markets. We also hear there’s a crazy coffee scene in Chiang Mai!