24 August 2007

Final Days...

George and I convoyed with Pierre and Anna from Wanganui to Auckland on Monday.

Our first stop was a small town about an hour and a half north on SH-1. Just like every other crossroad in New Zealand, there was a fabulous cafe serving amazing coffee and pastries. From there, we drove the Dessert Road (think a remote, curvy, mountainous version of I-5 going through Camp Pendleton in San Diego) until we reached Taupo. Lake Taupo is a giant volcanic crater that's now center to a handful of resorts, several adventure sports operations, and a whole lot of other tourist activity. We only had time for lunch at a cafe (surprise, surprise), but I'd like to go back and explore on the next trip. Maybe a bungee jump will be in my future...?

Just past Taupo, we stopped at Huka Falls for a look at 250,000 cubic meters of water falling every second. Perhaps more spectacular than the falls is the rushing gauntlet of water leading to them. This immense white water is caused by the 100m wide river narrowing to 20m.

Just past Huka Falls, we stopped at Craters of the Moon. It's a geothermal park where you can walk along a path and check out the steam and plopping mud all around. It's really bizarre. A sulfuric smell lingers in the air while steam seems to pipe from ordinary-looking ground. While we were there, a light shower came in and provided a beautiful rainbow.

From there, Pierre and Anna continued to Auckland while George and I detoured for a stop in Morrinsville to visit the last of the Sadlier clan. We weren't able to see everyone, but we did get a couple hours to visit with another aunt and uncle and three more cousins before heading for Auckland ourselves. Back in Auckland, Pierre and Anna treated us to the best lemon chicken. Yum!

On Tuesday morning, George and I spent the morning unpacking and repacking until everything fit safely into our bags. We boarded the plane during winter in Auckland at 7:30pm only to arrive in summer in San Francisco at 12noon on the same day. By evening, we were back in Kirkland. It was a fantastic trip and one I wasn't anxious to leave behind. I'll be eagerly awaiting the next time!

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