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Geothermalness! (end of Jan - Part 2)

semi-overcast 22 °C

On Wednesday I made my way to West Coast Swing dancing on the North Shore. It was really far, like an hour bus ride, but Brenda kindly offered to drive me there. I caught a taxi back, but unfortunately I think I need to get a ride for it to be feasible. The class was actually really awesome. Everyone could tell I was a dancer of some sort. It was a lot of fun. Too bad it's so far away... :(

Over the past week, this guy I met at the D&D game with Courtney and Evan, had been texting Courtney about me, and I had been doing the same about him... he was really cute. Nice eyes. :P Anyways, he finally worked up the courage, got my number from Courtney, and texted me himself. His name is Joel... and we went out for drinks (first date!) after the game on Thursday! It was great! We hit it off waaaayyy better than I expected. Downside is that he's 31 and separated with kids. But really, that doesn't bother me that much. There were sparks. And yes, I KNOW I'm not supposed to fall for anyone here, mom! Haha, but I'm not going to avoid opportunities. We went for sake, then beers... and live music and Guinness... I didn't get home until 4am! But it was worth it. He kept saying how he didn't want a relationship, but really would like to take me on a second date, and I figured that's fine -- I enjoy spending time with him, and I'm not going to do anything I'll regret. Period.

On Friday I went shopping and got ready for my weekend trip to Rotorua with Courtney and Evan! I was feeling kinda tired (obviously). Joel texted me after he was done work saying his plans for the evening got cancelled, so would I like to go see a movie? We went and had pizza then went to see King's Speech. It was good -- witty. It was raining when we got out. Then we went and bought some cheap wine and headed back to my place where we listened to music and talked on the floor of the living room until all hours of the night, with the rain pouring down outside. :D :D It was great! He was genuinely interested in me, and I taught him basics in a number of dances. Because of his martial arts training, Joel is actually a REALLY good natural lead... maybe I can teach him more! :) So excited. He really liked the idea of WCS too! By the end of our second date we were getting along so well that Joel changed his mind -- I guess I'm in a relationship now. :P

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On Saturday, Evan and Courtney and I packed up and drove to Rotorua. It was my first time out of the city, really, and it was so neat! Lots of llamas, sheep, cows, etc. This country is crazy beautiful! There are so many hills and valleys and little nooks and crannies. Haha, Evan and I were talking about how it seems like New Zealand has a much higher frequency than North America. :P The first stop on our way into Rotorua was ZORB (of course!). SOOOOOOO much fun! You jump inside this giant ball with a little bit of water in it and then roll down the hill. It's like a crazy waterslide, but not a slide... ya. :D Next stop was Hell's Gate with is a geothermal park and spa. As soon as we got out of the car, the smell of sulphur made me gag. Oh wonderful. ALL of Rotorua smelt like sulphur! Yuck. Anyways, I got used to it... First we went on a walk around the park: lots of bubbling mud and sulphur lined steam vents. The Maori used to consider the hot water pools caused in this geothermal area sacred, and used to use them for cooking food. (How handy is that!?!?! Naturally boiling water!) Afterwards we went to the spa area where we got to soak in a mineral pool, and then a mud bath! The mud was really fine-grained and kinda reminded me of bentonite, but darker. It's supposed to cure all ailments or something ridiculous like that so we spent twenty minutes turning each other into mud-creatures. :P Lol.

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After camping at the Holiday Park, and waking up with very very cold feet, we went to Wia-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland. :) This one was famous for the Champagne Pool -- which has stunning colourful edges caused by arsenic deposits! So cool. All the bubbling water, mud, crystallized minerals, etc. was so cool! I'm such a geology nerd. :P I definitely need to read more about things like this. I'm sooooo thankful for Courtney doing such an amazing job planning out this weekend!

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Sunday evening we went to Rotorua Skyline Skyrides. We took the sky Gondola up the hill and Courtney was very scared (heights) but made it! Once we were at the top Evan and I went luging -- not like the winter sport we have at home -- it was like riding GT toboggans, that had wheels, down a concrete race track and then taking a ski lift back up again. So cool! We also went on the sky swing. OMG. Best ride ever!!!!!!!!! Very very scary though. You get lifted up until you're facing the ground, torso parallel to it, being held in by just the restraining device, and then you get to pull a cord which releases the swing forward and you fly out over a beautiful view of Rotorua. It's crazy! As we were being raised I was swearing and freaking out -- and then Evan says "Okay, ready?" and pulls the cord. BEFORE giving me a chance to answer. Bugger! Haha. We've got the DVD. :P Somehow we randomly drove to Taupo for dinner that night, and found a "Forest of Screams" along the way, which was really just a bunch of rusting vehicles and tarps and dolls scattered around. Lol.

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Monday we checked out of our campground and drove through the Hidden Valley to Orakei Korako Geothermal Park. It was definitely the best one! The park is on an island, so you have to take a boat to get across to it. There are beautiful silica rock flats, crazy vegetation, gurgling mud pools, gysers, steam vents... soooo COOL! Lol or hot... :P I was hyper so I spent a couple hours running around the park talking geology-nerd-speak, pretending to be a raptor in Jurassic Park, making jokes about how volcanoes get me hot... etc. We saw someone undies beside the path at one point... like really?!?!?! Haha, so funny. Even in the dense bush you could hear mud pools gurgling and bubbling all around. One of the highlights was Ruatapu Cave (or Aladdin's Cave if you prefer) which is 120ft deep and ends with the pool of mirrors -- a still, clear, hot water pool. It was beautiful. :D

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And of course, being as childish as we are... (and because Courtney enjoyed the fact that Evan and I were so eager to pose for ridiculous photos...)

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Posted by mtlewis 14:07 Archived in New Zealand

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