Day 3 was relatively uneventful (at least in any bad ways). It was our first good day, despite the beginnings of Lusi. She had started at the North and worked her way south. We also were slowly working south…but at this point we were managing to stay just ahead of her. We only experienced brief bouts of light rain and some gusts of wind that were impressive but not shocking. I will revisit this much more pleasant day later when I start to expound on all the amazing and wondrous things we experienced on this vacation (it really wasn’t all horrifying). The only truly bad thing was when we got to our bed and breakfast, Lusi finally caught up to us and while feeling more of her force, we get a message from the next dive center that our dive was cancelled due to the cyclone. So diving an active volcano was kaboshed.
But otherwise it was the end a much more pleasant day 3.
Day 4 dawns with us still in the midst of Lusi. We begin our alternate itinerary and head south six hours to Wellington for a Lord of the Rings tour. It was another fairly pleasant day and we were beginning to feel fairly optimistic. By the time we get to Wellington, the skies were clearing and so we decided we would FINALLY be able to camp! We have terrible directions from their website and by the time we find the campsite, it’s 7:45. It closes at 8, we’re 20 minutes from the closest civilization, and we haven’t eaten dinner. You see the problem. So we dine on Cliff bars and Stinger Waffles for dinner and then go to set up camp. But of course since Mr. Murphy was involved in this vacation, Lusi returns in full force. We find a little alcove sheltered from the wind on three sides and set up camp. We use the car to try and protect us even more.
We settle in and about a quarter of the way into the night I wake up to gale force winds whipping at our tent…and half the tent collapsing on us. I panic and look at Sir Smiley who is literally holding the tent up with both arms and yelling at me, “Don’t worry! I got it! I got it!”. He manages to bend the tent poles back and the rest of the night we survived without trauma…although I didn’t sleep much. You could hear the 50mph winds sweeping across the canyon before it would even reach us and the roar of the trees whipping around above us.
End day 4.
The wind calms by morning and we have a dry tent when we wake up. We quickly take down camp and head into town. We obviously know little about New Zealand as we thought Wellington was like the other towns we had been to. But this is no town…it’s city…a capital city…with rush hour and traffic. We go to the i-site (their form of a visitor’s center) to meet with the bus for our Lord of the Rings tour. I assumed there would be parking…there was not. We find a parking ramp…it’s closed for construction. This city is a tangled web of one-ways and curvy roads so we loop around and around and around…and ultimately find a place to park that’s about half a mile away. I quickly pay for parking, put the receipt in the dash and we run. We make it there and head inside only to find out we had literally just missed the bus. I was on the verge of a full-fledged panic attack as I had spent over $300 on this tour and we had driven 6 hours to get here and we had just missed it.
But the information desk ladies kindly gave me the company’s number and when I called them, they let me know that the driver had just gone to pick someone else up and then was coming right back. So she picks us up and we enjoy a lovely day…fully embracing my geek side. But, of course, when we got back to our car we discover a parking ticket. Sir Smiley had left the window’s cracked and apparently our receipt had flipped upside down. Awesome. We then camped that night. By now it was dry and pleasant and we again began to have hope for the last part of our vacation. This hope would soon die.
End of day 5
Warning: here we enter the shocking and most horrifying day of all. Day 6 should really be named day 666 for the evil nature of it. It begins well. We wake up refreshed, have a lovely breakfast, and then head out for a long day of hiking. We were headed Tongoriro Crossing. Information about the trek can be found here. It’s about 19km long and probably climbs 1000 feet up. We park at the finish and then catch a shuttle to the start. We arrive at the same time as 2 tour buses full of high school boys. We walk very slowly to let the herds and herds of loud boys go past us so we could enjoy some solitude and peace on this hike. We then catch up to them when they take a break by the “bathrooms” (port-a-potties) so we take a little side trail until they leave.
Then we begin the long trek pretty much straight up a volcano.
For three hours we hike up and up and up and up. We were a little disappointed because clouds had settled on this volcano so we saw pretty much nothing. We were going so high that I’m sure the views would have been amazing…if we could have actually seen them. But we enjoy the mysteriousness of this land shrouded in mist where they had filmed Mordor. We finally reach the summit and pause to grab a quick bite to eat and enjoy the view…..*hysterical laughter
Then we begin our trek downhill from there…relieved to be done with the steep climbs up. The trek down is on deep sandy gravel. I really was more downhill skiing then hiking.
A few yards down and I start to feel something. You ladies know this feeling. I had a pad on just in case but hadn’t actually been having a period…but here it started and it was very heavy. I nab Sir Smiley and drag him away from the adolescent males and warn him we shouldn’t pause or take breaks because I was bleeding now and the next bathroom was an hour and a half hike away from where we were. So we start hiking/skiing more briskly when a few minutes later I feel massive clots of blood exiting. Probably about three of them. Now I’m starting to feel a bit panicked. Would I make it to the bathroom? The answer came right then…something very solid slowly began working its way out of me. I truly was freaked out now. Did I somehow manage to get pregnant and now was losing a baby? No…highly illogical as I had a tubal and an IUD. A was it a cyst or something that had broken loose and worked it’s way out? Possibly. At this point I again grab Sir Smiley and simply say in a freaked out voice, “Something solid is coming out!”. He just stares at me, undoubtedly trying to figure out how best to react. I was informed later he wanted to rant about the absurdity of this all and this vacation but knew I was so freaked out that it wouldn’t have been a good idea. So he then points to a large rock just off the trail…right on the edge of the abyss. “Want to go behind that to figure out what’s going on?”. Did I want to to disrobe and examine myself on the edge of a cliff when I have questionable balance and coordination? No way I was going to risk a half naked death for this, so we hiked a few minutes down to the emerald pools and find an alcove of rocks. I then proceed to strip from the waste down and Sir Smiley gives me some toilet paper he has in his bag (for emergencies) so I can clean up a bit. That’s when we discover that I had given birth to my IUD on the side of a volcano. Of course. Sure, it’s supposed to last for five years and then be removed by a physician but mine decides to just mosey on out when I’m miles and hours away from any type of civilization…on the side of an active volcano…surrounded by teenage boys…armed with one spare pad.
I clean up, we put the “biohazard waste” into an empty juice box container and then continue our trek. I was feeling hopeful that the worst was over. But then…of course…proceeded to bleed clot after clot after clot. We get to the bathrooms and Sir Smiley gives me a handkerchief to use, as my womanly supplies had now run out. So girded like it was the 1930s, I then begin the long trek back to the car…another 2-2.5 hours from that rest stop. Still bleeding large quantities of blood, it starts pouring rain. I start sobbing about how I’m now wet in places where the rain can’t reach and how I was wet everywhere else from the rain. I wail about how there is no redeeming quality of this day and I deserve to be miserable. I finally whimper that Mount Doom was so aptly named. At this point it occurs to Sir Smiley that the prospect of camping that night at a campsite with no showers or running water was probably distressing me then assures me we will get a hotel. In relief I just sob and say, “Good, because I need a shower so bad!”
I want to make this into a shirt…no one needs to know that’s not really lava flowing down the volcano…
We get down the mountain and then have to hike another hour through woods before we even reach the parking lot. We make it to the end and snap a picture of victory. Only then we notice that this was not our parking lot. We apparently have to hike another mile or two down the road to get to our car.
We make it to the car, I grab a towel and sit on it, and we head for the nearest town. I grab some clean clothes and go to clean up in a gas station…as by this time I “looked like I had slaughtered a chicken in my lap” (Sir Smiley’s words…not mine). I had some fish and chips to cheer me up and then we proceeded to find a hotel.
I did bleed a lot over the next several days and by the time I got home I struggled a lot with feelings of lethargy and fatigue. Undoubtedly I was a tad bit anemic… added to the joys of jet lag.
The only other adventure after that was when we checked into our final hotel. We got there only to discover they had no parking left so we had to park a couple blocks away and then haul our bags from there. Also, our hotel room was on the third floor which did not have an elevator straight through. We took one elevator to the second floor, then had to walk across the hotel to the other side and took another elevator to the third. The second elevator squealed and jerked like it may plummet at any moment. By this point I felt any paranoia was highly justified. I’m only grateful there were no stairs. When we got to our room, we discovered there was no AC so we opened the windows and fell asleep to the hot air oppressing us and the serene sounds of drunk people, sirens, and garbage trucks.
Overall, our vacation was an adventure. There were definitely some horrifying moments that never had entered my brain even remotely in the realm of possibilities. But there were amazing sights and adventures that brought us great joy. I will begin with those tomorrow.