Who does that?

Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
Trip End Oct 01, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Thursday, April 3, 2008

I meet up with Nikki and Anna and we take off towards Taupo via the geothermal parks of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.  The moon-like terrain is amazing and seems like the perfect place to conduct a 4th grade science class, which we see going on during our hour long hike through the craziest landscape I've ever seen.  There is a geyser, Lady Knox Geyser, which is ignominiously induced to go off but I still am amazed at the "natural" wonders.  Interestingly enough, the geyser was discovered when local prisoners attempted to do their laundry in the warm waters around the geyser and the soap suds reduced the water's surface tension, releasing the superheated steam and water in a jet that reaches about 40 ft high.  Pretty cool stuff.

The rest of the walk includes gurgling mud pools, steaming waterfalls, hot lakes, bubbling pools, and various other naturally alien evidence of the most active volcanic region in the world.  The names of the various sites include Devil's Ink-Pots, Artist's Palette, Devil's Home, Thunder Crater, Frying Pan Flat, Oyster Pool, Inferno Crater, Champagne Pool  and Devil's Bath... see the trend? 

Fluorescent colors are present everywhere and each represents the presence of a different mineral elements (Green/yellow - sulfur, Orange - Antimony, White - Silica, Purple - Manganese Oxide, Red-Brown - Iron Oxide, Black - Carbon).  This place is not on the same earth as I know...  I'm amazed at the colors, the level of thermal activity and sheer magnitude of the volcanic eruptions that have created such foreign conditions.

Advancing to Taupo, we find accommodation and we meet a Swedish girl who wants to go bungy jumping and needs another for the free DVD.  I am having so much fun that I decide to join her and book the package on a whim.  We show up and it all becomes way too real when I see the ~150 drop.  Before seeing anyone else go, I am laced up and I hurl myself off the platform only to get a mere foot from the water before being rudely tossed back up into the sky.  It is easily one of the best rushes I've ever had as well as one of the biggest fears I've ever conquered!  I'm pumped and ready to try it again before I realize how crazy that was.  The Irish girls decide that I've motivated them enough to try a sky dive and we all book it right away and head for the airport.

Before I have a chance to think about what I just did, I have a flight suit on and am heading up to 15,000 feet for a sky dive!!!! I must be crazy... This outdoes the feeling of the bungy as I'm literally scared out of my mind before flipping, spinning, twirling, and diving towards the earth at ungodly speeds and ridiculous heights. 

It is 10x scarier, but also 10x more rewarding than the bungy and I will have trouble putting it into words.  Lucky enough I have a dvd of both experiences so you can see it for yourself when the trip is over (not going to work to post them to the blog unfortunately).

One of the cooler things I learn about Taupo is that the lake I sky dove over was actually a crater from a volcano that erupted in 186 AD.  The volume of the ash and debris released by the eruption was at least 10 times more than Krakatoa and Mt. St. Helens, combined!  The Chinese noted a blackening of the sky and the Romans recorded that the heavens turned blood-red after the eruption.  Today, the rage of the volcano is only evidenced by an absolutely gorgeous landscape surrounding a peaceful lake.

Dinner is taken with a huge adrenaline rush still in effect and I'm asleep early as we have signed up for a hike up Mt. Doom in the morning.
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