Monday, October 13, 2008

Day 5: Rotorua

Sept 25th

Logan woke up at 5:30am but went back to sleep from about 6:30-8:30am. So Jon and I both got a much better night's rest and the opportunity to shower without having to juggle babysitting duties. The travel must have been catching up to me, since my back was really achy and hurting a lot that morning. :( Our shower was actually pretty cool! It was a corner stall shower but had a rounded door to give a bit more room, and a "ceiling" which kept my hot shower nice and steamy warm.

We all ate a nice breakfast (Jon and I not forgetting to carb up, of course) and took off for the Waimangu Volcanic Valley to do a morning hike. On the car ride to our hike, Eric wondered out loud if Logan's chattiness was actually him learning how to talk. Yes, and at full volume. ;-) He was VERY chatty this trip, but it was also the most time he's ever spent in his car seat/on the road, which has been hard for him. I suppose talking with us is less boring than being mellow and quiet.

The volcanic valley we visited had many craters and natural hot springs -- it was very pretty and we spent about 2.5 hrs hiking all through, up, down and around it. Some parts (like Frying Pan Lake) were particularly eery, with wispy steam swirling around on top of the water surfaces.

Logan did GREAT in his backpack carrier with Daddy. He spent most of the hike just chillin' and watching the foliage pass him by. He started to drift to sleep and just at that moment, Jon tripped and lunged forward, causing Logan to bite his lip (or tongue, we're not sure).... so much for his peaceful slumber. He immediately started crying while I wiped up the bit of blood from the accident and calmed him down. He didn't seem too hurt however, just a little cranky and mad that we had disturbed the trance he was in. He fell asleep shortly after. :)

On our way back into town, we saw the THIRD cop that we had seen (thus far) on the entire trip. Eric commented that 2/3 of the New Zealand police force must be stationed in Rotorua, based on our observations so far. :)

Back in town, we took a gondola up to the top of a local mountain to take in beautiful views of the city below us. At the top of the mountain, you can buy tickets to ride on a luge down a windy path along the mountain side. We decided to get in our Kiwi thrill and signed up. I took Logan with me over to the operators (he was in my Ergo carrier) and asked if it'd be okay for him to ride with me down the luge. They took a look at him and said "I don't see why not". The supervisor told me as long as we could find a helmet that fit his head, she'd let him come down with me. So, she went and found one of the smaller helmets, clipped it on, moved it back and forth on his head a couple of times (he looked adorable, but there was A LOT of wiggle room and he was drowning in it), and then said "Looks good! You're all set!"

Ahhhh, good ol' Kiwis. Never could we get away with that in the States! ;-)

So, I took Logan with me down the first run (we could go down the mountain 3x). When I got into the little cart on wheels, I suddenly realized that there was nothing to strap Logan into, no seatbelts or even a little wimpy strap to put across his legs. Hmmmmm. This will be interesting. And, the Beginner track, which I was planning on taking, was under construction, so I had to start off on the Intermediate track.

With a baby. Crap. What the fuck did I just get myself into??

So, I did what any mother (who's insane enough to take their baby on a luge ride with them) would do. I went reaaaaaally reaaaaaaaally slow. :) So slow, in fact, that Logan started crawling all over the place, using my legs as leverage and hoisting himself into a standing position, trying to LEAN OVER the side of the cart to touch the trees whisking by, the ground flying past us. Who knows what goes thru that kid's head? We were going slow, but not THAT slow. And, I couldn't hold him with one arm, since you really needed both hands to steer, brake, etc. So anytime he was getting a little too close to toppling over, I'd have to pull off to the side of the track, stop completely, and reposition him between my legs again, telling him to stay put (as if he totally understood what I was telling him).

Jon took Logan with him the second time around. And, apparently Jon's solution to keeping a squirmy baby, who's trying to climb off the cart, IN the cart, is to go FASTER. I had started out ahead of them and pulled over positioning myself to take a great photo of them coming around a turn. They screamed past me - so fast that, not only did I not get a picture of them, but I also NEVER CAUGHT UP (and I was going pretty damn fast since I was now by myself).


However, Jon was onto something. Because he was going much faster, Logan didn't have a chance to lean forward and climb out. He was holding on for dear life plastered back into his dad's chest. So, I took the cue and went down much faster with Logan our third and last time for the day. It was actually MUCH better and we had a blast. :)

We cut it real close coming home, arriving just a couple minutes before 4pm, when our shuttle was supposed to pick us up for a Maori show and dinner that night. We had a really crabby stressed out driver (so much for the relaxed Kiwi attitude!) because we were running behind and he had two pickups scheduled at 4pm (not our fault, but I didn't get a chance to snip back at him since I was too busy grabbing a change of clothes and didn't hear about the mix up until later). So, we crammed into the shuttle quickly and set off for the Te Puia Maori Village.

When we arrived, I realized we had forgotten not only our camera (boo!) but our Ergo carrier as well (panic!!). Eric had his camera, so that really didn't bother me as much as forgetting the Ergo carrier, which turned out to be a really awful mistake on our part, since Logan hadn't napped all afternoon and was SUPER cranky and tired and my back wasn't up to carrying him around all night long. :(

Our night started out with a guided tour around the village - it was so-so. I missed a lot of the tour since I was trying to distract and quiet Logan down most of the time (away from the rest of the tour group so he wouldn't ruin their night). We did see a live Kiwi bird, a spouting geyser (a couple actually), mud pools, etc. I finally got Logan to fall asleep and then carried him around the village. The hostesses saw my dilemma and were super nice and got us a blanket for him (since it was VERY cold outside). Thank goodness for baby crazy Maori women!

Amazingly, Logan slept through the entire Maori song and dance performance (amazing because it was very loud). It was very interesting and entertaining! When it was time for dinner, the same kind Maori women pulled me aside and let me into the banquet hall early to lay Logan down on a sofa that they had pulled up next to our table so I'd be able to enjoy the dinner without holding him all night long. BLESS THEM.

The food was cooked the traditional Maori way, on hot stones in a sunken oven in the ground (called a Hangi). The guys were actually a little disappointed with the meat, but the veggies were soft and tender and, I thought, very tasty. :) We went crazy trying out all the different desserts they had laid out (so much for my diet).

After dinner was over, we all went back out to the village to see the main geysers going off like fireworks while we enjoyed hot chocolate, sat on hot stone benches and listened to more Maori stories before ending the night. That half hour or so toward the end of the evening was the only time we spent apart from Logan our entire trip, as those SAME Maori women, again, told me they'd keep an eye on Logan sleeping on the sofa inside the dining room so I could enjoy the rest of the show outside without him. :)

Logan *did* wake up when we got back to the B&B and, for some reason, couldn't sleep in his tent (kept waking up, very restless, etc.), so we kept him in bed with us which made us a little bit more tired and grumpy than usual that night. :(


Kim said...

First the luge and then the shuttle... I'm guessing they didn't make you bring his car seat in the shuttle, huh? Some countries... ;-)

Unknown said...

Wow, what a tale!
We at ERGObaby loved your story about riding the luge with the carrier, and want to send you a Gently Used carrier to replace your forgotten one!
Email me your shipping information and name, if you are interested, and we will be glad to provide you with another one, hopefully before your next adventure!