Baa baa baa
Bar bar bar
That about sums it up.
The Longer Version
Alright, I'm using Amanda's Choose Your Own Adventure idea for this entry cause it's going to be mega-long. So if you want to read everything, I'll try to make it interesting, but if not, go ahead and pick and choose. I won't be offended--just don't tell me you did it.
So Laura, Sarah, Laura's friend Anne, and I are all on the plane, and Laura is flipping through Time. Their feature article is on the soldiers in Iraq and stuff, and there are a lot of pictures from "the front lines" or whatnot. Laura flips to this one picture and covers a part of it with her hand. It's a soldier with on hand on his forehead as though he's tired or sad or whatever, and Laura says, "What would you be doing if you were him?" Then she uncovers her hand to show him holding a bag of Skittles. And this wasn't an advertisement or anything either, it was a real picture. I laughed, and the first thing I thought of was another soldier I know who would probably have the same thing, with a Pepsi in the other hand.
We flew into Wellington, and by the time we got there and off the plane and through customs and accommadation and shuttles all sorted out, it was about 5. The Te Papa Museum in Wellington (which is where both LOTR movies premiered, there's a big Gollum on the building, it's cool looking) had a LOTR exhibition that was extended until the day before we got back into Wellington, meaning that today would have been the only time we could have gone to see it. The museum closed at 6, however. Anyway, Sarah and Laura and Anne and I powerwalked in the general direction of the museum. I of course could care less about the exhibit; I was starving and tired. So we pass a Burger King, and I tell the others that I'll meet them there. They give me strange looks and go on. Sarah said they made it with about half an hour to spend in the exhibit, but it was soooo worth it. I'm glad she had fun.
When we got into Wellington the first thing we heard was "There's a rugby game in town tonight..." So we thought, cool! and called to see if we could get tickets still. There were some left, so we made our way down to the stadium, and I saw my first Rugby game. It was the New Zealand Hurricanes vs. the Australia Waratahs. I wanted to cheer for the Australians at first out of loyalty but then it soon became clear that they were the underdog, so I cheered for them anyway. They lost 47-26. Anyway, I really enjoyed it. There weren't nearly as many boring stops and lulls as there are in football, it was just as brutal without all that padding (we Americans are whimps, I swear), and I found myself actually enjoying it. I started to catch on to some of the rules as we went along, and all in all I had a fun time (even though I was really cold).
The next day we took the ferry over to the south island, and met the Kiwi Experience bus. This is a travel bus company thing that will drive you all around the island (based on whatever route you pick) and drop you off at your hostels and arrange activities for you and stuff like that. Sarah and I used them for getting around (Laura and her friend were staying longer so they rented a car). When we got on the bus there were almost no seats left, so Sarah sat next to this guy named Mark from the UK and across from Will from CA, and I sat next to someone who never did introduce himself, but I think his name was Phil. Anyway, they chatted with us a lot, and then finally we got to our first stop on the trip, Nelson. Mike and Will made plans to meet everyone they knew on the bus, including their new friends Sarah and Lisa, at the bar that night. Cool, sounded like fun. So Sarah and I get to the hostel and put our stuff away and all that stuff, and we take a walk around Nelson. There are some strangely named bars in NZ. In Wellington there was The Fat Ladies' Arms and in Nelson we saw The Grumpy Mole Club. And the hostel we stayed at was a bar/hostel (which a lot of them were) called Prince Alberts. Anyway, we walked around Nelson and then we got lost and then we figured out where we were going and headed over the The Victorian Rose, where we were meeting Mark and Will.
When Sarah and I got there they weren't there yet, of course, so we ordered tea (and it was SOOOO good. We had it with milk and sugar, which neither of us had tried before, and we think it was English Breakfast. I bought a bunch of different kinds later, but that's for another section). Anyway, by the time we finished our tea Mark and Will got there. They bought us each a beer, and I managed to drink the whole thing with only minimal face distortion. Then they offered us more drinks but we only got Sprite. They told lots of stories about their time in NZ thus far, and about lots of other stuff, and much laughter was shared by all. Because of some mix-up they weren't going to be on the bus with us, but they were renting a car and going to meet the bus down in Queenstown (about 5 days later or so). So we finished our drinks and made plans to meet up in Queenstown. All in all a fun night.
The next day Sarah and I had signed up for a half-day kayaking trip. So we went out, and our guide, Steve, was really interesting. Actually the New Zealanders made the trip a lot of fun just by being them. Anyway, we kayaked out to this one little cove with a bunch of rocks and Steve told us the story of the race of giants where were in New Zealand even before the Maori people, and how this one giant George was fishing and anyway, long story short he exploded, and then Steve pointed out different rocks that resembled George's head and rear end. It was fun. Then we paddled around some more, played a "see how many birds you can spot game" where Sarah and I almost won, and then we stopped on a beach for lunch. It was there that Steve taught us the Official Lord of The Rings GameTM, sanctioned by Peter Jackson himself. He drew two lines in the sand, a few feet apart. About 10 feet behind each line was a large ring. The game boiled down to a full-body LOTR version of Paper, Rock, Scissors. In this case the different people you could be were Orcs, Wizards, and Hobbits. Steve had made up different noises and movements that you made for each character. We divided up into two teams and each team secretly chose the character they wanted. Whichever team won the showdown had to tag the other team members before the other team reached the safety of the ring. Anyway, it was lots of fun. After the game we finished eating, explored a cave, and then went back. All in all it was a really good day.
On the way to one of the next places we stopped at this seal colony and watched the seals for awhile. There were about twenty or so of them, and a lot of pups splashing around and stuff. It was cool. We also stopped at The Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, which were a bunch of flat rocks stacked like pancakes on top of each other. There was also a surge pool amidst the rocks, and that was really awesome. It's hard to describe, but it really amazed me. Somewhere between the seals and the next town, I got really sick, like pre-flu head cold. It was awful, and I was miserable for the next four days. And me being me, I of course attempted to make everyone else miserable as well. If there is one thing that should never happen to me while traveling, it is getting sick. But aw, well. Sarah managed to put up with me, how I don't know, but she didn't kill me and that in itself is a miracle. Anyway, we get to the next stop and in that area there was a walk that you could take to see a bunch of glowworms. So Sarah and I along with Kiyoko, cara, and Ian went out to see if we could find them. We found a few at first, and they were pretty cool. Then a few guys drove by in a car, looking for pot. After about five minutes of the five of us telling them that we didn't have any, we finally convinced them and they left. Anyway, then we realized that if we laid down on the ground we could see about a million more worms than if we just crouched down, so we did and there was this stretch of glowworms along the bushes all down the road. It was like a band of stars, but pulled out of the sky and placed only a few feet in front of us. It was so amazing. After a little while we got back up and walked down to the lake. There were so many stars out, we just stood gazing up at them. And it occured to me, that God knew every single star in that sky by name. It was such an awesome feeling.
That same night there was a "fancy dress party" at the bar where we stayed (the hostel/bar was run by this local who was so funny, and totally non-pc, he cracked me up.) The "dress code" for the night was guys in dresses and girls in clothing made out of garbage bags. Those of us on the glowworm walk declined to participate, but a great many other guys and girls got all dolled up for the occassion. And maybe you guys reading this (if anyone is still reading this) can answer this question for me: Why is it that whenever they are given the opportunity to do so and have it be accepted, guys seem to jump at the chance to wear women's clothing? They can't wait to put on a skirt as long as everyone else is too. It just made me and Sarah and Cara laugh.
One of the stops on the way to Franz Josef was The Bushman's Center, which was a museum type of thing that was dedicated to preserving the deer hunting and possum killing that had been done in NZ past, basically. Quick history lesson: NZ never really had any mammals on it; deer and possum and others were introduced by English settlers and they basically started to wipe out native birds and plantlife. So they had to be hunted to keep the land and birds alive, and the Bushman's Center basic message was "If you are an animal right's activist, turn around and leave." They proudly displayed "Vegetarian is an old Indian word for Piss-poor hunter" bumper stickers everywhere and had possum skins padding every seat. It was great. I thoroughly enjoyed the place.
In Franz Josef I bought some shortbread cookies and discovered that somewhere down the line I had picked up a habit of a dear friend of mine. I noticed that while I was eating my cookies I was absentmindedly tapping the crumbs off between bites, as one would tap the ashes off a fine cigar. :)
I forget what this was in reference to, but Sarah was telling me a story and she used the term "vanquished." I asked her what that meant, cause I had a general idea but I couldn't put it in words, and she wouldn't tell me cause she didn't think I was serious. It took like ten minutes of convincing to finally get her to tell me. It was really funny, in my opinion.
Oh, and that same day we saw the only water fall that I saw in NZ. In case you didn't know, I have a thing for water falls. I absolutely adore them; this is either since my family's trip to the UP to see them or my uncle's wedding in Niagara Falls; regardless I just love them. So that was cool.
I'm writing this entry based off a bunch of random notes that I wrote down, and there's one that I can't figure out what it's refering to, it says "Too bad to be good, etc." When I figure it out I'll let you know what it means.
Alright, I've only covered one of three columns and I'm really tired of writing, plus I have a phone call to make, so I'm going to end this entry for now and come back later to finish. I didn't realize how long this was going to take. Anyway, I hope you read at least some of this and find it to be interesting.