Hello my beautiful friends, family!
Life has been a bit busier the last few days as I am finishing up all of my work for the first half of the semester. But everything is going very well and I am right on schedule to finish up the last things today. With enough time to pack up my expedition pack and fly out tomorrow morning to Queenstown with two of my good friends Justin and David! Then we will spend the next two weeks backpacking through a couple national forests there, but more about that in my next post.
What have I been up to in the last few weeks you ask? Well let me tell you. It has been full of adventure, schoolwork, trippy nature experiences, tasty craft beer and even a visit to the hospital (don’t worry all is well)!
A few weeks ago a few friends and I went to a nearby nature reserve called Red Rocks in search of beautiful scenery and a huge seal colony. We hopped on a city bus and after only 15 minutes we pulled into a small town called Owhiro bay. It felt like a sleepy beach town with little coffee shops and very few people. It baffles me how quickly you can completely get out of the city. We walked a couple kilometers to the Red Rocks trailhead along the rocky beach collecting abalone shells. We checked the map and it said roughly a 5-kilometer walk to the seal colony. There were massive rocks ligning the beach and waves would break magnificently around them spraying water high into the air. There was the most incredible seaweed. It was 1 to 2 cm thick and dark leather brown in color. Each plant was flat and some branched as long as 4 or 5 meters in length. It felt almost rubbery with a worked leather texture and was unbelievably strong, I could not rip it. It was attached to rocks directly in the waves and with each break would move in tangled unison with the water slithering and glistening as though hundreds of snakes were in the surf. We hopped from boulder to boulder and stopped for lunch on a huge rock just beyond the break line. Our perch would split each wave like the bow of a ship. The water would splash up and barely mist me. The waves were quite large and just out in front of us were 4 surfers gliding along these waves as they perfectly broke and pulled them along the rocks edge.
We checked out some starfish in small rock pools on our way back to the beach area and then continued on. After a km or two we came to a small creek that came down the shrubby rock face that jutted up directly from the sand. We decided to jog straight up the mountainside and stopped near the top in thick comfy grass to soak in the view and some sun. Here the beach sprawled out in a horseshoe shape in front of us. We could watch sets of waves come in from the horizon and break right in front of us. The wind was so intense that as the waves began to curl it would blow the top of the wave up into a misty cloud that would catch the sun and form a rainbow the length of each wave.
At this point two of our friends decided to turn back but Justin Maggie and I were determined to reach the seal colony. We walked for what seemed to be far longer than the 5 km listed to the colony. The intense wind whipped stinging sand at us as we slipped our way through the coarse sand. We were close to turning back due to exhaustion when we saw a point of land that had to be the colony! When we got there it was full huge boulders covered in sun bathing seals. They were adorable. And would let us get about 5 meters away before they would wiggle off. You could also barely make out the south island off in the distance.
After hanging out with the seals we decided to head back. We entered a hiking zone on the way back silently moving through the deep sand. We finally made it back, exhausted. Our friend Alexa made us burritos and we all were stunned by how tired we were. I was skeptical about the 5 km measurement and decided to map our route. Come to find out we did not do 5km in and 5 out we actually did 13.1 each way meaning we walked 26.2 kilometers through the sand! We all felt much better about our level of exhaustion after finding this out!
Magic bubble fountain!
One night a few friends and I went down to the waterfront to see some fireworks and on our way back we passed the huge sculptural fountain. Above the water there were 1 to 2 meters of the tiniest bubbles creating a blanket over the surrounding area. We immediately ran up and began to play with it. You could chop off giant chunks of bubbles and they would hold their form while not adhere to anything. I could place a chunk on someone’s head and it would rest there and then simply roll off leaving no trace. The bubbles smelled so fresh and so clean clean. It felt like we had walked into a fairytale. The bay was to one side the waterfront ahead and the only light was from streetlamps and the moon. A few of our friends left but Maggie and I played in the bubbles for an hour and a half or so. Tossing chunks into the air and letting the light breeze carry them far away. Grabbing exercise ball sized mounds and blowing tunnels through them. It was like magic. One of my favorite parts was watching people pass and seeing their external persona melt away into childlike glee as they interacted with the bubbles and other strangers. We sat back in awe of the whole scene wondering how this came to be. The crowd faded and when the fountain was empty a tall slender young man looked around and walked up to the fountain stepping into the foam. He then quickly walked off and turned back looking over his shoulder. This man was the bubble wizard. We ran after him and caught him. He was a banker named Andy who studied religion and music in wellington. We spoke with him for roughly half an hour. He was an incredible person. He said he had wanted to go out but his friends just wanted to play video games so he decided to head out alone and simply create an environment to bring people together he said he had done it at least 20 times. He then walked off and disappeared into the night leaving us with his creation.
There is a tree up on top of a hill near the botanical gardens overlooking all of wellington called the trippy tree. This tree has massive branches perfectly manicured into a cylinder reaching up 8 to 10 meters. It is fenced off but at night you can slip through the fence and into the center and climb its huge branches to the canopy. The thing that makes the trippy tree unique is that the branches are so strong and thick that the top of the cylinder is almost solid with soft evergreen foliage and you can push through and comfortably lay on top like a giant piney-fresh lazy boy overlooking the city and waterfront. I can’t even describe how amazing of a feeling it was to be held by so many little branches tilted ever so slightly down allowing everything to be in view with a sky of stars and thin clouds whipping by. I will certainly be spending more nights atop the trippy tree.
A friend of mine found out about a wellington craft brewery pub-crawl. You get a map of 15 bars and breweries and if you get a beer you get a stamp. When all 15 stamps have been collected you send it off and get a free t-shirt. We have 5 stamps currently and this has been such an incredible experience. Not only do we get to try incredible beer, but we are also finding some of the most amazing little hole in the wall bars with incredible atmospheres. If anyone comes to Wellington I recommend grabbing a map and checking out all you can.
This story begins a few weeks ago when my friend Maggie asked if I had something in my eye. Turns out there was a little white fleck about the size of an uncooked grain of quinoa on the bottom part of my iris. She said she had seen it over a week ago but thought it was a reflection. It was strange because it didn’t hurt at all. I went to the campus doctor and she numbed my eye and tried to remove it but it wouldn’t budge. She said it was probably no big deal but that I should go to the hospital and make sure. The next day I had an appointment at 1:30 I showed up at 1:15 was called back at 1:25 and was done by 1:45. Most efficient hospital experience I have ever had. The doctor numbed my eye and told me to look at a single spot and not move as he brought a needle towards my eye. And a few seconds later he said all right we are done. He told me he thinks it was a piece of sand that was embedded into my eye (probably from Red Rocks) and that my eye had already grown over it and healed it in. The body is amazing. I then went to check on all the paperwork I would have to send to my insurance and turns out the hospital deals directly with the insurance company and they pay for it in full. So I was free to go!
Well that about sums it up for now. I am off to work trying to finish off my last final then pack up my bag to prep for my trip tomorrow! Then off to the south island!
As always thank you for showing an interest in my life I hope life is beautiful for you. I will write an update when I return from the south island late in April.
Love you all!
View of Red Rocks next to the seal colony.
Walk back in Red Rocks.
A couple seals soakin' up the sun.