Well, this was just a travel day! Peter and Gemina told us that we would be traveling for four hours. FALSE! Four hours translated into six and a half! That’s a lot of time in the bus!
But it’s okay, I guess, because I have not gotten carsick the last couple of days. I think that earlier, I was only getting motion sickness because of the jet lag.
I sat in the front of the bus, as usual. It was amazing to see the scenery change right before my eyes. First, we traveled through this plain-area, but then, all of a sudden, we were in a rainforest! Which was quite ironic, considering that we had to travel through a rainforest to get to a glacier. The juxtaposition of New Zealand never fails to impress me.
We stopped for lunch in this teeny tiny town right next to this mountain range. Well, it’s New Zealand. Everything is next to a mountain range. Anyway, I got a toasted sandwich with ham, pineapple, tomato, and cheese with chips (fries). Delicious!
After driving for a bit more through the winding rainforest roads, we stopped at this beach where people from all over the world had written on rocks and put them up by the road. It put me in a meditative, pensive mood to just see what everyone was thinking when they passed by this beach. Most people said something similar to “What a beautiful place!” or “I’ll definitely be coming back!” but the most moving rocks commemorated the dead. I just think it’s such an incredible thing to be honored in such a beautiful place.
After visiting the beach, we all headed down to Franz Josef (where the glacier was) and, lo and behold, found out that we were staying in yet another Top Ten Holiday Park! My roomies this time around are Alee and Kelsey. Jeez, Kelsey and I room together like all the time! But I’m not complaining. She’s cool.
Dinner time! We headed to this sports bar down the road. Carson and I split a Chicken, Bacon, and Brie Burger as well as Hawaiian Pizza. So good. Carson just knows how to order the best stuff. I need to share with her more often!
We had a pow wow again when we got back to the Holiday Park. I can’t even remember the question of the day, but I know it was a good one. Then Gemina showed us some pictures of her glacier hike from a couple years ago and it made me really excited and scared at the same time!
So we got the glacier tour hub building and it turns out that we were signed up for a half-day glacier hike instead of the full day one, which was fine, in my opinion. While we were waiting for it to be our time to get prepared, a big group of us (Alex, Sarah, Van, and Brittany, I think) played this game called Pterodactyl. It involved covering your teeth with your lips (so you look like a dinosaur), then turning to the person next to you and saying “Pterodactyl!” without laughing. You can also change the direction by doing some sort of mating call. We were all rolling on the floor afterjust less than a minute after this game.
Anywho! Glacier time! So, I decided to join the slow group so I could take a whole bunch of pictures. Nooot the best idea. Our guide, Rob, was fantastic, but this Indian family joined us and kinda ruined our trip. These two young girls in the Indian family decided after we had hiked through the valley to the glacier that they did not want to hike the glacier anymore. So, Rob had to call up another glacier leader guy to pick them up and take them back to camp. So we had to sit there in the valley and wait as more groups passed us up.
After that whole thing was taken care of, and we hiked up the hill to get to the front of the visible glacier, though, I think that the trip improved by heaps. We strapped on our crampons and Rob, our guide, told us a lot about the glacier while we were waiting. I know that some people reading are interested about this stuff because it is closely tied to geology cough Mom, Dad, and Pops cough so I’ll go ahead and repeat what he said.
The Franz Josef glacier is very unique because of the fact that it sits right next to the rainforest. A glacier formed there because it simply rains so much in that area, and the ice freezes up in between these two mountains. The glacier itself is pretty much right on a fault line, and you can see semi-horizontal cracks in the mountains surrounding it. The whole valley is made up of sedimentary rock, and on the mountains around the glacier; however, the lines from the rock being pushed together are actually vertical after being pushed up by the collision of two tectonic plates. Even though there are so many earthquakes over there, the glacier remains in tact. Some of the ice is constantly melting and seeping down underneath the glacier as more snow falls and freezes on top, creating more of the glacier. This means that the glacier actually sits on a layer of water, so when an earthquake hits, the glacier just floats back and forth slowly along the surface of the water until it reestablishes stability. The whole formation is just a miracle in itself. It was truly an honor to be able to see and walk on it.
Walking on ice with crampons is actually pretty difficult. Especially walking downhill. Every step, I was just unsure of myself. And considering that we had to walk with our feet apart like Texas cowboys (phrase courtesy of Rob after he found out where we were from) on two-foot wide steps, it was a little bit nervous-making. Once I got the hang of it though, I found that I really enjoyed it. Oh, I got to eat lunch on the glacier. (:
We got back to our little Holiday Park and I immediately took a shower. I was laying on my bed in clean clothes with a towel around my hair when Gemina knocked on our door and told us that we were going to the glacier hot springs. Awesome! I had just washed my hair and we were going to a public pool! That was sarcastic, by the way.
But I really shouldn’t complain. There were three hot pools, 36, 38 and 40 degrees Celsius. I clustered with a group of girls and we jumped from one pool the other with each other. After we pruned up for a good two hours, we went back to the same sports bar that we ate at last night (there are not a lot of food options over here in Franz Josef). I shared with Carson again! We ordered the Surf n Turf. The steak was really good and I loved the shrimp. The mussels were a little fishy though, and even though I loved them, the fishiness was just a little bit too much for Carson.
When we got back to our lodge, we had a little dance party (which was just all of us watching Van show off her moves from Spring Hoods) and then our pow wow. It was Alex’s time to present a question, which was a little bit confusing at first, but ended up making sense. It was about how we prepared for the trip. I, Ms. Procrastinator, did not prepare until literally the last day. That considered, I have gotten a lot out of this trip relative to the effort that I put into preparing for it!
Today has been a very chill day so far. We were planning on going out to take pictures of some lake, but the forecast was (accurately) rainy, so we just decided to stay in and chill in the common room, catching up on our pictures and on our blogs. It’s about noon New Zealand time, which means that it’s about seven pm for you guys back in Houston. It’s kinda weird to think that I will be eating lunch at about the same time y’all are eating dinner.
As I sit here in the rain, I hope that y’all are doing something really fun! I miss you guys! Please comment!