Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In a Cave Up in the Hills

There is something primal about being deep inside a cave.  The modern activity is called spelunking and ...NO, I do not spelunk.  That involves fitness and equipment like ropes, helmets and bat repellent.  

But we recently learned there is a significant cave a few hours drive from Nelson where one can have an underwater rafting experience within, and there are glow worms. And who doesn't love glow worms?

So off we went to Charleston to see Jeff, the owner of the operation.  He set us up with full wetsuits, life jackets and helmets with lights.  We hopped on a little bus which took us to a teensy train.  The rails were only about 12 inches apart.  I think it was made by the Lionel company.

The train dropped us off where our guide, Doug, handed each customer a big inner tube and led us up 130 steps to the cave entrance.

This was no Carlsbad Caverns.  This was much more primitive.  It was only discovered in the 60's.  Our light was provided by the helmets and many heads hit many low overhangs, all in a heavy wetsuit and carrying a large flotation device.  

There were many of the stalactites and mites that we all know.  Back in high school my science teacher explained how to tell the difference.  He said to think of  a girl... the tights go down.  Get it?  It has always worked well for me.

Finally we got to the lowest level of the cave and entered the underground river.  It water was not very deep and we were never cold.  But when we all turned off the headlamps, we saw the best glow worm display  ever.

The glow worm is unique to New Zealand.  They are small larvae living in dark wet areas.  They send out "fishing lines" that are sticky and poisonous to small bugs.  To attract the bugs, the worm turns on a light in her ass.  Case closed.

But we, floating along the underground river witnessed the light show.  I never get tired of looking at these little predators.

On leaving the cave, we floated on the river in the bright warm sun back to the little train.  Of course, some of us zoomed along with Doug and enjoyed the ride.

The water level being rather low, I myself choose to get my fat ass stuck on about a million rocks and had to stand up on slippery surfaces only to plop down again while getting attacked by angry sand flies who lost many relatives in the glow worm holocaust... and somehow blamed me!

When I got back to the car, I had to apply many coats of.....

                                   Botanica Scratchy & Itchy Skin Gel

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Get Your Kicks

When I was just a teen, my favourite TV program was Route 66 where 2 young guys travelled across America in a Chevrolet Corvette.  Buzz and Tod were very cool and nobody imagined they were gay, which they certainly were not.  Today, Martin Milner is 81, George Maharis is 84, and I am 66.  When I informed my brother Rick of that number, his reaction was a mix of dismay and sadness.  It sure made me feel much better about the whole thing.

My best present was a visit from Chloe and her parents.  We sent the adults down to Queenstown for New Year's Eve while we kept the kid, who is 6 these days.


She swam in the bay on Rabbit Island, rode horses, ice skated, petted baby goats, played with ducks and eels in the river and laughed, danced and told stories for days.

Plus we had a birthday party with cake and ice cream.  I have been forced to eat what was leftover in addition to the carrot cake which was baked by Kimberly.  So you can imagine what I look like these days.

Then we all went to Golden Bay, the sweetest spot in all of New Zealand.  We had secured a bach on the estuary where we hiked, kayaked, swam and cooked.  By the way, Brandon has an exercise program that was created by Green Berets or Navy Seals.  It was hard to watch his going through the manoeuvres.  But he is in amazing shape.  It is good to see him keeping up my tradition.

The Grove where much time was spent hiding and looking for Hobbits.

Wharariki Beach cave with seal peeping behind the rock.  

This place is wild and natural as when the earth was molded by Jesus.  It is often extremely windy.  But that would not stop us.  We hiked in and as long as Chloe had her sunglasses and was wrapped in a towel, all was cool.

Nearby was a cave so we went down with a group. There were the usual stalagmites and tites, but it was a dry cave, so no glow worms.

Back in Nelson, Chloe met some friends of ours that had a proper collection of stuffed animals.

So to review.... I am way younger than my early heroes   We had lovely visitors.  I am fat.
Some of us are not so lucky.  They are only 57 and planning on living forever.

Lucky for me, this gal is blind.