Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Action Packed Weekends

Sand Dunes
Over Easter weekend we got in the car and drove up to Northland. It was my first time going up to the Northern most point of New Zealand. We hit some horrible traffic out of town and it took us 3 hrs to drive 60km. We stayed at the base of 90 Mile Beach on Friday night. We stayed at a local holiday park. We made it just in time as the sky opened up and it poured like you wouldn't believe. The next morning we walked along part of 90 Mile Beach. Then we drove to Cape Reinga and ran the Sand Dunes. You had the option to rent sleds and rocket down the dunes, but running was plenty fast as it was.

Saturday we went to Paihia and got on The Rock, a converted vehicle ferry boat for a sampling of water activities. We met Renee a student teacher from Ohio and Victoria a vet from Germany who we happened to bunk with. Our first activity was to shoot at a duck decoy being pulled behind the boat with a paintball gun. It was girls against guys and who ever hit the duck the most got a free drink or chocolate bar. You would have thought since I played a fair amount that I could have hit the duck. I put all 3 balls (the amount each person got to shoot) within inches of the dancing duck.

The next activity was fishing for snapper. I was unable to snag anything, but others on the trip were pulling mad numbers of fish. Unfortunately none were big enough to keep. So our dinner was BBQ steaks, sausages, and a bunch of salads. Renee and I shot pool while we waited for the food to be cooked. You can't imagine how difficult it is to shoot straight when the boat is rocking at anchor.

After dinner we went out for a night kayak. We were treated to a cloudless sky before the moon rose and were able to see the Southern Cross as well as lot of glowing algae. Afterwards several people jumped into the Bay of Islands for a swim. Renee and I opted to roast marshmallows in the fire. We got to talking about how Kiwis don't know about smores and proceeded to eat 2 packages before being cut off. The marshmallows don't taste like back home. Afterwards we drank tea and talked until we decided it was time to retire to the bunks. Some people had a trouble sleeping on the boat, but not me. It reminded me of being out sailing.

The next morning I was up to see the sunrise. We had a quick breakfast of porridge and cereal before jumping in the water for a quick snorkel. We went under the water to retrieve sea urchins. Afterwards, we made our way to Robinson Island where we hiked to the top and learned more about the tragic history of the island. It was a place of much confusion between the locals and early settlers. It led to a hanging of a 17 year old. On our ride back to Paihia we caught a fish and had some awesome sashimi and uni for those who wanted to try it. If you happen to be in the Bay of Islands, stop by for a trip and the crew will take care of you.

We debated on staying up North, but Beth had homework and we predicted the holiday traffic would have been horrible on Monday, so we headed back to Auckland on Sunday evening. We said by to our roommates and had some Movenpick before hitting the road. That was how we spent part of our Easter vacation.
Just me in the car

The following week the country gave remembrance of ANZAC Day. We saw our first rugby game. We purchased a groupon that got us tickets to the game, a bus ride, a roast meal, and a drink. We saw the Blues beat down the Waratahs, 21-13. Beth was super excited to receive a Blues flag when we walk in to Eden Park. The next morning, I loaded up our car with both my mountain and road bike. I first headed to Taupo to ride with the Thames crew. We road around into Taupo and then back out to the Huka Falls, and Craters of the Moon. It was pretty awesome, but some of the hills were brutal. There was the very aptly name 'Incline' trail and the Grinder.

After riding for about 4 hrs, we parted ways and I drove to Tauranga and crashed at Martin's. The game plan for Sunday was to ride the Sundee Hundee. This is a weekly ride leaving from Red Bikes in Mount Maunganui that exceeds a 100 km. We started off with a group of 14, but ended with 3. My legs went bust about 2/3rds of the way through the ride. It wasn't unexpected as I haven't been doing large rides. I ended up taking a short cut at the end of Welcome Bay Road as a few riders went the little bit further around the blokart track. The ride was capped off with a date pinwheel from Cafe Blend and it was oh so tasty.

This weekend we have Rotorua Marathon. Beth and I are battling injuries. She took a hard spill running and twisted her ankle. I'm having the lower back issue again. I've got a chiropractor appointment tomorrow to make an adjustment that will hopefully set it straight. She is thinking of dropping down to the half. I will probably be boneheaded and do the whole thing. I haven't made up my mind.

Then the following weekend we are going up North again. We are going with Performance Diver up to Tutukaka for a diving adventure. We'll be doing 2 dives. From the various photos I've found of the dive sites, we'll be in for quite the experience. Beth and I are talking about getting additional certifications so we can go deeper and do different things.

Then next month we head to Brazil!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Quick update

We are moving to a different place on the North Shore. It will be quieter and smoke-free. It's about the same distance to work but the ocean is just down the street and we have a view of Rangitoto. Will post photos later as well as what we have been up to.

Just kidding. Evidently being vetted by property management company and having the 'ok' from the owner that we would be acceptable candidates. We paid the bond as requested prior to signing the lease. When we went to sign the lease, the owner said he wanted to think it over. He also mentioned something about looks during this conversation. Damn me for not being whiter.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Latest adventures

Our group

After two weeks in Malaysia, Beth and I took off to Waitomo for another glow worm experience. We had hit up Lake Karapiro with my dad to see them on kayaks. This time we hit up a guided event with Cave World because of a deal. Beth booked the trip but they set us up on a guided night walk of the cave instead of the black water rafting that we purchased. So we ended up doing the rafting the next day.

The guided night experience was very good. We got to see the cave they excavated and all the bones that they uncovered. We were able to see the glow worms up close and learned a lot. I would recommend this for any one that doesn't want to get cold and in the water. Of course I was excited to get in the water and go rafting and by rafting I mean sitting in a tube. It was like being in a dark lazy river that was lit by the chemical reaction of a larvae.

We came back the next morning and got put into a group with a bunch of University of Waikato students. We were handed wet suits, booties, and a helmet and we jumped into a van for a short ride to the cave property. Then it was a short walk across a paddock, which was hot in the wet suit, but we were soon going to be cooling off as we descended into the darkness. Prior to entering the dark cave we were handed a black inner tube that would be our raft for the laid back meander down the stream. We opted to go through a small tunnel  where we had to crawl through to see the hidden water fall (the picture above).
There were a couple places were we were able to jump down into a lower level of the cave and they even brought in a slide.
We grabbed each others feet to form a train of tubes and stared at the cave ceiling

After the trip to Waitomo, I've been busy with getting certified to go scuba diving. It was 2 weekends in the water, both pool and lake, and 2 long nights in the class. It was a lot of fun and I'm thinking it will be something I could really get into. With the cost of the certification, the entire class gets a free hire so we are planning to go out as a group to  Goat Island. If we are lucky we'll catch some cray fish and do a beach BBQ. What is the next adventure?  I don't know, but the past 2 years have flown by.