We woke up to the bluest of blues, which is a mighty fine way to start any day. About five miles down the road and we found ourselves in a thick fog. Maddox said it looked like we were in the olden days with everything in black and white. And the smoke billowing out of the chimneys of every little country home we passed felt Little House on the Prairie-esque. It just hit me as funny that one person would wake up and think what a gorgeous day it was and then their neighbor down the road would wake up to a gray sky and think what a crummy day it was. Then I spent the next 10 miles having deep thoughts about perspective. Because what else do you do when driving besides take an unhealthy amount of tree pictures and create life metaphors. And eat salt and vinegar chips. But my meditating also led me to realize that there can be beauty in the crummy too, I mean, foggy landscapes are just downright delicious.
As much as I was enjoying the fog, I was glad to see blue skies once we got back to the east coast. Jason and I loved the jet boat ride in Queenstown so we decided to let the older kids go with Jessica in Hanmer Springs. But really we just found a good coupon, I mean we loved it but not full priced loved it. They were a little nervous but had the best time, it's quite the thrill as they get within a foot of the cliff face and spin on a dime. The little guys were sad they couldn't go, but they got a sucker so ya know, it was pretty much even.
We went to the hot springs afterwards. Despite the sunshine it was still so cold outside, I mean I showed up in a swimsuit, flip flops, and a long wool winter coat. And the whitest legs known to man. I think I turned a few heads, but not for the normal reasons that you would turn heads at a swimming pool. The hot water was heavenly, but you couldn't fully enjoy it because you knew in the back of your mind that eventually you had to get out and eminent death was waiting. And because the sulfur pools smelled like you were sitting in the middle of an egg salad sandwich. Maddox and Jayden both happened to find their good friends from school here and had the best time hanging out with them. Eventually we did have to get out and I swear it took two whole days before we finally warmed up. The place we stayed at was less than stellar with its cold cinder block walls and dated rooms. No one dared lay down and relax on the furniture so we spent the evening with all of us lined up on the edge of the bed watching The Voice. And then we were kept up all night by the man coughing on the other side of the wall. You win some, you lose some. On the spectrum of places we've stayed, I would say this falls somewhere between the "butt bed" cabin and the haunted attic where we put all the porcelain dolls in a separate room while we slept. It's all part of the adventure.
But a trip to Kaikoura can cure any bad night's sleep. We've been here a few times already, but seeing the seal pups swimming and playing in the stream and waterfall is something that can never get old. It is unbelievably unbelievable.
We pulled off to the side of the road and had a picnic. Thankfully the scenery dulls the taste of your third straight day of PB&J. It's hard to convince the boys to stop exploring long enough to eat, so Jason usually ends up following after them and feeding them bites in between shell finding and cave exploring.
The peninsula walk is one of my favorites. Gorgeous views on top and teeming with wildlife on the bottom.
Just look at all those seals down below. The only problem is that they're just not quite as cute and cuddly as their baby counterparts. But it is still pretty amazing to see wild life out in the wild, even if they are smelly and grumpy and growl at you if you walk too close or give them the wonk eye. So don't give a seal the wonk eye.
My favorite tree, I have like ten pictures of this tree. Or so Jason says.
To say we had a good time with Jessica would be an understatement. It was so fun to have her here on our turf, sharing this amazing country and growing just a little bit closer (maybe closer than she would have liked at times :), and we loved the excuse for a repeat visit to some of our favorite spots. It's always sad to say good bye, but knowing that we'll see her in a month when we go back to the states for a visit made it a little bit easier!