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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Top Speeds and Big Burgers

February 13. I woke up with my computer not working, and I just spent over 2 hours trying to fix it. Ben woke up with me and immediately took up the challenge in helping me fix it. He knows how important blogging is to me and without him I don’t think I could have fixed it. It’s almost been 2 weeks with the group and I can’t believe how close we have become. It’s the perfect amount of people, with everyone contributing in some way or another to make it the perfect group. I also realized I’m starting to run low on money, the $500 I had when the trip started is dwindling, but I think I can make it through the month if I budget correctly. I’m really proud that I haven’t lost anything so far; I used to lose countless items when I was younger.
 We have 2 more nights here in Queenstown, but there is so much to do. Our time here is all optional free time, allowing us to do whatever we want. Everyone here is so friendly, and it is a gorgeous town surrounded by a gorgeous landscape. There is usually live music playing outside our hostel window, and it’s all great music. A bunch of us are thinking about taking a tour of the Lord of the Rings landscape, but it’s expensive and might not work out. It rains on and off here a lot, so that might make for an unenjoyable trip. We might just visit the Lord of the Rings store in town to make up for the journey, but we’ll see.
Today Steran, Caitie, Jade, and I are luging. It’s not like the luging in the states, where you lay on a skateboard with a high chance of a fatal accident. This type is a kind of cart, where you sit in an open plastic seat with three wheels and a steering wheel. You pull the handle towards you to go, and away from you to brake or stop. It’s simple, but so much fun. I’ve only done it once before, at Beaver Creek.
The four of us hiked to the top of the town, where there was a gondola. Along the way we saw a car with a huge lizard on it and we took a picture (click my slideshow if you would like to see it). We took the gondola up to the top. We bought three rides each for only $20. We got on helmets and were instructed that we had to take the scenic track before we drove on the advanced track. The scenic track was fun, and we all raced each other to the bottom. It became more competitive as we drove down, with us kicking each other carts and crashing into each other. Jade ending up winning the first race, but we vowed for revenge.
The next two races were, you have probably guessed, on the advanced track. The turns banked so hard that Steran and I were literally riding on two wheels half to time. There were also huge drops where the cart would leave the ground entirely. The girls took this one a bit slower, so Steran and I were head to head the entire time, crashing into each other to gain a lead. I finally was able to pull ahead after a good shove to the side and come out with a win. Tempers were flaring before the next race. The girls were ready for a comeback. Steran and I thought it would be prudent to team up together. Both girls had lost their fear of the course and sped down as fast as me and Steran. We kept the girls off for a while, until Steran crashed headlong into a pile of tires. Caitie made a break for it and streaked off towards the finish line, bellowing her triumph. It was an exciting race, but the girls got us in the end.
After we gathered up Steran we walked to the photo shop. We saw all of our faces during the race. Steran and I were making ridiculous expressions, more like barbarians roaring than anything else. Jade’s face was screwed up in concentration, but Caitie’s was the most priceless. Her face was expressionless. She looked almost bored. It was hilarious to see how we were all excited and screaming, but her face made it seem like it was just another dull day at the luge track.
 At 3pm we walked home, wanting to take a power nap. We actually didn’t realize how tired we were and slept until 6pm! We only had 30 minutes to get ready for dinner, but luckily we ate in today. We had massive burgers from a restaurant called Ferberger. I could barely finish mine even though I had eaten nothing all day (because I was too busy with my computer and luging). We lay around the lounge of the hostel afterwards, nursing our food babies and laughing about the day’s events. The others had hiked around the landscape all day and they told us of about the awesome scenery. Then Steran popped in a movie (X-men 3) and we all huddled around the TV. Yet again they went out partying afterwards, and yet again I’m here blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fussed in the slightest. I’m happy to have some alone time after a day with everyone. I’m having the time of my life.


February 12. A long drive to Queenstown is what we have to look forward to today. I had to take a hot tub after I woke up this morning because my muscles were still sore. I couldn’t muster up the energy to go for a run so I was forced to have breakfast and pack. At the moment, I’m waiting for everyone to wake up to get on the road. I’m betting that today won’t be nearly as exciting as yesterday, but I want to address a question that readers have frequently asked.
                I haven’t described my group thoroughly enough, nor my relationship with them, which is crucial knowledge for all you readers. So we’ll start with the guy I met first, Andrew. I traveled with him from LAX and I immediately got the impression of a smart, hilarious gentleman. He spits out jokes like quick draw McGraw, but in a subtle, serious manner that leaves you wondering if you should laugh or not. I’ve learned by now to almost never take him seriously. He never makes jokes about you, however, but always at the expense of himself, which makes me respect him more. He’s a nice guy who I talk to frequently and is one of my closer friends on this trip.
                David (we call him Steran) is another of my close friends on this trip. He parties hard, but is one of the nicest guys on this trip. He always makes the effort to include me when they party, even though I can’t drink. He never judges anyone and cracking Family Guy jokes is our favorite past time. Steran and another guy, Brian, were in Australia last month together. Brian is a sport crazy guy. He knows everything about any sport. He is full of testosterone and definitely gets rambunctious sometimes. He does, however, treat everyone fairly and is a great conversationalist. Olivia was with Steran and Brian on their last trip, but she sticks mainly with her other two friends, Claire and Ariana. Olivia is a Cali-girl. She does have an attitude, but for the most part is kind and friendly. She’s another great conversationalist and has a million stories. I haven’t gotten to know much about Claire or Ariana because they attach themselves to Olivia. Even on our long road trips they separate themselves. Ariana, Claire, Olivia, and Elise drive in the car, while the rest of our group follows them in the van. It is somewhat like a high school clique scenario, but I’m not fussed. Our van group is already too much fun.
                So the other David, who we actually call David, is another great addition to our group. He gets a little cocky and has a sarcastic humor, but is always ready to whip out a story about any subject. I’m not sure if they are all true, but he seems to know and have a story about everything. He has a passion for music and is our D.J. for the trip. He never plays the same song twice, yet every song he plays is a good one. He has also signed up for the China trip with me.
                Ben is the oldest on our trip. 21 and in college, he acts like a wise old man, teaching us lessons in life. He seems to yearn for appraisal because he always buys people lunch and drinks or is the first person to loan you money. He’s also the cheerleader in our group, always making sure everyone is happy. He listens to whatever problems you have and either fixes them or erases them from your mind with a few good jokes.
                There are two other girls in our “van group.” Jade, who arrived with Olivia, is a down-to-earth girl with one of the nicest personalities. She’s the person that makes everyone feel good. She always compliments you and spreads herself around the group. Even if you have a terrible joke that nobody laughs at, she laughs just to make you not feel like an idiot. Caitie is the last girl in our group. She finds guy humor hilarious and almost never hangs out with the other girls (except for Jade). She has a quiet, subtle humor that I can’t help smiling at, no matter the joke. She’s another great conversationalist, and it’s always good to get a break from the guys and talk with her for a bit.
                Elise and Erik are great leaders. Erik is a wilderness guy, loves adventure, and meeting new people. He enjoys culture and has been to almost every country. He’s not much of a conversationalist, but when you can get him to talk, he rambles on about every experience he had in some part of the world. He keeps the group in line and makes sure the others don’t blackout from partying too much. Elise is another story. She has a sarcastic humor, with a slight attitude, but it’s all in good fun. She loves to party with the others, yet she doesn’t party too hard. She loves her job and doesn’t let anything come between it and her. I don’t know if she loves culture as much as she just loves traveling and being around younger people, but she does love the experiences.
                So I hope this clears up any confusion in my writing, but if it doesn’t please comment and I’ll be happy to answer any more inquiries. We are almost ready to go now, and yet again I don’t have Wi-Fi, but I’ll post this as soon as I do.
From left to right: Steran, Jade, Claire, Olivia, Ariana, David (on tree), Me, Andrew, Caitie, Elise. Bottom: Ben and Brian