Holy moly have I been busy. This has been the longest that I haven't blogged, and for that I am sorry. There has been no time! It's getting down to the final days of my stay, and there is so much left to do! I'm only writing this after an evening with some girls at the pub....
Anyways, do I have stories to tell! First off, I have had so many fun times. My last day of work was glorious and to start my freedom, I had a fantastic fish n chips party at Curl's house. The theme was "dig for gold" basically, they ordered about $100 worth of fish n chips, and you had to just dig for the good stuff. We also had Export Gold beer, and "gold" (white) wine along with a home made dessert that was ice cream with chunks of Tim Tams, Squiggles, and Snickers. It was fun, Mitchy did a good job planning it. We had 6 scoops of chips! Let's just say that is A LOT of french fries. A very healthy meal.
Next important news, I survived my first earthquake! It was New Zealand's 2nd largest quake ever, and it was off shore on the south island around a pretty uninhabited place, so no one got hurt which is good. It was a 7.8 on the scale, which is pretty big. I actually didn't know it was an earthquake, though. Sara and I were hanging out with Tracy, Matt, and Moir and Tracy and I both started feeling dizzy. She just brushed it off and was like "Oh, maybe it was an earthquake.." later on to find out it certainly was. It was kind of weird, like the TV was floating away from me or something, but I just thought it was something wrong with my eyes. Ha.. So no harm done, I kind of felt it, and I'm actually happy about it. We live by the ocean so we were on tsunami watch for a few hours also, although I'm not really sure what exactly I would do if a tsunami hit. I'm not really prepared for that kind of natural disaster.
Later on in the week Sara and I had a tourist day of Christchurch. It was very fun, we bought tram passes and went around the city all day long. We saw all the exhibits at the art gallery, which was quite interesting to say the least, and we even went to the history museum. I learned about Maori life and Moas (ancient extinct birds), and lots of fun facts about Christchurch. We also walked around the botanical park and had coffee at a mock-Spanish street called Regents St. We had kumera fries at the Dux Deluxe (the most delicious vegetable that should be everywhere in America...I'm on a mission to find kumera when I get back), and just had a really fun day. I like Christchurch a lot. Good city.
Our next adventure was the West Coast, and it was quite the drive! We went across Arthur's Pass through the Southern Alps to get to the coast. I drove from one shore to the other. It was beautiful. The mountains are now covered with snow, and it just sparkles in the sun. At first on our drive it was cloudy and you could hardly see anything, but at a certain point you get above the clouds and it's all blue sky and sparkling untouched white gleaming snow. Really indescribably beautiful. It was about a 4 hour drive, and we made it just in time before dark to see the cabins that we rented out- they were surrounded by a farm, and on a beach. What a strange combo. There were Sara's favorite shahammels (alpacas), and goats, sheep, pigs, and chickens. We walked up and down the beach and found a bunch of cool rocks that rival ANY rock family I've ever seen (Bridget, I have photos to prove it).
That evening, we walked across the road to see a Glow Worm Dell. That's a little worm that lives in the mountains and lights up at night. It's actually really neat, however, you have to walk up this little deserted train in the pitch black of night just to see all these tiny bugs. We were determined to do it as the good tourists that we were, but the night scared us so we waited outside until a family walked up and we followed them in. It was good fun. I tried to take photos of them but the whole glowing thing doesn't really transfer to a digital camera. Oh well.
The next day it was pouring rain, but we had already booked to go four-wheeling at the Franz-Joseph glacier, so we headed down further south from where we were staying (a little town called Hokitika). We had good spirits, and once we finally were suited up and on our quad bikes it didn't really matter how wet we got, because the dirtier the better. It was really fun, we drove through jungles and glacier rivers, which are the most crystal clear blue color you could imagine. Pure ice water. SO cool. The storm even cleared up and we had a fantastic time. The glaciers are really beautiful and it makes you feel small when you see how much power nature has. This glacier had carved out an entire side of the country. Really neat.
The next day we had to leave, but on our way out we made it up north past Greymouth to Punakaiki to see the Pancake rocks. They are these rocks that have formed into little stacks that look like pancakes, but no scientist can figure out why. The rocks are huge and they spread across an entire beach. There are also blowholes at these rocks that shoot up water when the tide comes in like a little geyser. Once again, nature being awesome. I think this trip has reinstated the word awesome for me, because some of the things I have seen and experienced have really filled me with awe. New Zealand is a wonderfully beautiful and neat country.
On the way home from the trip, Sara and I had the great idea to buy a boogie board and sled down a hill in the mountains. Mission accomplished. It was wonderful....Sara ate it once and got a big scrape on her back, and I was kind of a sledding pro, not to brag or anything...fun times.
Since we've got back from the West Coast, it's been a whirlwind really. The day we got back was a celebration for the girls of Western, because they won the league with like 4 games to go. Pretty impressive. We also house-sitted for Sara's mom, which was fun because she has a really neat apartment and a really cute dog named Ted. We took him to the beach and to the dog park and he was loving every second of it.
Curls and Megan were wonderful and took me to a farm that Curls' uncle used to own at the foot of the Southern Alps. It was so beautiful. We first stopped at a lake that was called Lake Coleridge. It was blue as the ocean and the sand was white as the Pensacola Beach that I spend my summers at. So gorgeous. We then drove over to Lake Ida, a lake that is in the shadows of a mountain so it is completely solid ice. At first it's scary to walk out on a frozen lake, but once you figure out how solid it is it's so much fun! We had Curls' dog Bessie with us and she was hilariously awkward walking on the ice. I tried to do a running dive that didn't really work out, and we had a couple of ice-skating races. It was really a good day. The farm was so neat, I could only dream of growing up in a place like that. So many places to get lost! We did a little four-wheeling action and took on a couple of rivers with the car. Overall, a fantastic day trip.
Yesterday, Sara's friend Georgia had a ingenious idea, and we jumped right on the bandwagon of it: to go for a winter dip. We actually jumped in the ocean. I thought my feet were going to fall off. I couldn't run fast enough out of that water. It was so cold!!! I am, however, glad to say that I've done it. Most of you who know me would understand how big of a thing that was, because I don't even get into most water unless it's the bathtub-warm ocean water of the Gulf on Pensacola Beach. I'm a wuss when it comes to being cold. It was certainly fun though.
Tomorrow's a big big day....I get to go whale watching! I'm so pumped. It's fun to be a tourist. And expensive. I suppose you only live once, so I'm taking my chances as they come, and I can't imagine a better time to go whale watching in New Zealand. I'll surely update the blog with those adventures.
My time is running short now, and I'm getting sad. I've gotten kind of used to my lovely little life here in Christchurch. It's so beautiful. That is really the best way to describe it. With the expiration dates on the milk starting to show my departure date, I'm trying to stretch my days and make them last as long as possible!
Start the countdown now, though. I will be home very, very soon.
I still miss everyone at home, and I'm already starting to miss everyone here. I'm beginning to think that I'm going to always be missing people and places now. I guess that's not always a bad thing, though. Good to have something to miss :)