I’m currently reading Blue Mind by Wallace Nichols, which is about “how being near, in, on, or under water” affects the brain. I didn’t find the beginning interesting, but towards the end, Nichols talks about how people feel when they “connect” with nature. Some of these passages really resonated with me. I’m putting them here because I sometimes cannot find the words to describe how full (emotionally?) I feel when I come back from trips, from daily runs to multi-day trips, in nature.
While at the bank last week, I picked up a copy of Travel + Leisure. (At least I think it was that travel magazine. Can’t remember if it was the April or May 2016 issue.) There was an entire spread on traveling eco-friendly. I took a picture and am posting it here. Hopefully this doesn’t violate copyright laws…
While in AUS and NZ, I had quite a bit of time to read. Here’s what kept me occupied and laughing. (When I like an author, I get a bit obsessed.)
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
- Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams
- So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams
- Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams
- Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
- The Lost World (Jurassic Park Book 2) by Michael Crichton
- Sphere by Michael Crichton
- The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton
- The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
- Timeline by Michael Crichton
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Our last stop on the trip: Queenstown (again). This time with Ang! Ang got placed on a project in Auckland and we really wanted to meet up while we were both in NZ. Since she had Good Friday and Easter Monday off, she flew into Queenstown so we could meet. Dad and I met Ang in town for dinner before heading to her AirBnB to play board games. It was so nice to catch up face to face.
Wanaka is like a chilled out Queenstown. After settling in, we walked over to Puzzling World, which is about 3km outside of town. I loved the “tilted house” exhibit in the Room of Illusions, but I felt so dizzy coming out of it. It’s crazy how easy it is to trick the brain.
We walked the 3-D maze (there are bridges that let you go up/down, adding the third dimension to the maze), which was a blast! It was drizzling the whole time we walked through the maze. After Puzzling World, we walked back to town for dinner and picked up some groceries (hello Whittaker’s chocolate!).
New Zealand has 9 Great Walks featuring some of the country’s most spectacular hiking, or tramping as they call it. The Department of Conservation (DOC) owns huts on all of the walks since these are multi-day walks. Freedom walkers, people who go by themselves, must book a bunk in the hut months in advance since camping is not allowed on most tracks. I wanted to walk the Milford Track (33.2 miles over 4 days), one of the 9 Great Walks, but since dad didn’t want to pack all of our own food, water, and equipment (aka bed sheets, blankets, hiking poles), we decided to go on a guided walk. Ultimate Hikes is the only licensed company to take groups on walks on the Milford and Routeburn tracks, and they sure do hiking the posh way. Ultimate Hikes owns their own huts, complete with giant drying rooms for hikers to dry our clothes after hand washing them. They also have a hot room to dry our boots. (These drying rooms were my favorite feature of the Ultimate Hikes huts.) We also had three course meals at the end of the day (they use helis to restock their huts once a week and to take out the trash), electricity from a generator, hot water…Ok, but enough about Ultimate Hikes. Let me jump back to the beginning.
I met dad in Queenstown for the last leg of my trip. Flying into Queenstown was spectacular. I had great views of the Southern Alps and saw some glaciers from the air. After checking in, dad and I walked around the adventure resort town and contemplated what to do the following day.