100 Posts!

Wow.

When I first started writing here, I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to keep it up. I really created this blog so that when friends back home asked me how things were going and what I was doing, I could just point them here. Turns out that most of my friends back home can’t be bothered to read long-form photoblogs, but I enjoy doing it anyway.

To celebrate 100 posts, I’m going to pull out some firsts from this blog.

First photo

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the very first photo posted on my blog is a photo of Auckland. It was taken with my old Canon Powershot point-and-shoot from North Head in Devonport.

This was not, however, the first photo I took after moving here. That would be this photo here, which I posted in my second entry, City Life:

That’s the view from the IEP / Work NZ offices where I spent my first days in New Zealand as I was looking for an apartment.

But while we’re on the topic of first photos, this one is quite dear to my heart:

I took this photo in the departure lounge of the Los Angeles airport and entitled it “going on an adventure”. I am a grown man, but standing there with my duffel bag full of my worldly possessions looking at that sign, I felt like a kid again.

(While we’re on the subject of firsts, my first “adventure”, Devonport, is all of 370 words and 7 pictures. Mercer Bay is 650 words and 17 pictures. Jury’s still out on whether that’s an improvement or a detriment!)

First waterfall

Just look at that shot of Hunua Falls. If I slapped that on a postcard people would think I had just Photoshopped that rainbow in there. I took this photo August 10, 2015, and I’m not sure to this day that I’ve taken a better photo of a waterfall. In addition to Hunua, I’ve been to Piroa FallsWhangarei FallsNikau FallsKitekite FallsMokoroa FallsTaranaki FallsWhisky FallsWainui FallsHuia Falls, Karekare Falls, and of course Milford Sound, home of more waterfalls than the rest of these combined. There are even more falls that I’ll write about in some upcoming posts. But Hunua Falls still have a special place in my heart.

First bird

My tagging is, it must be confessed, not the greatest. But the first use of the birds tag is the Botanic Gardens, featuring this shot of a lone duck.

Ducks are, indisputably, birds. But they’re kind of…boring. In this Australia post I got a photo of a bush stone-curlew, which is possibly my first proper bird shot (and is also the first time I told the story about my youthful dream of being a bird photographer).

This shot I took at Pukawa is the first properly good bird photo I’ve ever taken. Annoyingly, this bird has resisted my attempts at identifying it, which probably means it’s either super common or it came over from Australia (New Zealand ornithologists are sometimes reluctant to acknowledge that Australian birds exist or that anyone would care about them).

First trip

My first multi-day trip would in fact be my trip out to the West Island for the Gold Coast conference. But that’s kind of boring.

One could, of course, also argue that my three day trip to Wellington and back in 2014 would be my first real trip. But since that whole vacation was really a long trip, I don’t really count that.

The trip that stands out in my mind as being special is my journey up to Whangarei. I guess that’s because it’s the first overnight trip I planned myself. I did have great fun up there!

Since that two-day trip, I have gone camping at Pakiri Beach, stayed in a lake house with several friends, and of course took a two-week-long jaunt out to the South Island. Upcoming posts will cover another amazing overnight trip and also a second trip to Australia.

First Western beach

This one’s kind of tricky. The first Western beach I visited would actually be Piha, which Brendon took me to in 2014 when I first came to New Zealand to visit (yes, this photo is from that trip, and was taken December 3, 2014).

Because of this trip, Piha retains a special place in my heart even though it (along with Muriwai) is probably the most touristy of the Western beaches.

The first Western beach I went to upon my return to NZ in 2015 would be Whatipu. That photo reminds me that I need to go back to Whatipu and spend more time there, since I really enjoyed my trip but didn’t quite give it the treatment it deserved.

First island

New Zealand is, of course, an island (or rather, two large islands and several smaller ones). But “first island in the Hauraki Gulf” is a bit of a mouthful.

Another tricky one, for the same reason. This photo, taken November 27, 2014 shows that the first time I took the ferry into the gulf was to visit Rangitoto.

Upon my return, though, my first ferry trip was to Waiheke to go cycling.

(The day after my 2014 Rangitoto trip, I went to Waiheke. Shortly after my 2015 Waiheke trip with Jordan and his brother, I went to Rangitoto with Tyson and his brother. If you look hard enough you can find weird synchronicities everywhere.)

100 posts

Those of you who may recall my original plan will remember that I moved to New Zealand for a year. 100 posts at two posts a week equals nearly a year, though three posts a week for the South Island trip did accelerate things a bit. But through serendipity rather than planning, this post is going up very near the anniversary of my moving here: June 28th. So not only am I celebrating 100 posts to this blog, I’m also celebrating one year of living in New Zealand!

To all of you reading, whether you’re a regular follower (thanks, mom!) or checking this out for the first time, I’m glad you stopped by. As I write this I have no idea where life will take me. But don’t worry. I’m just getting started!

Coromandel, Pt. 3: Cathedral Cove

Cathedral. Cove.

This beautiful bay was the filming location for some of Prince Caspian, and honestly I’m not sure why every movie isn’t shot here.

The place is, understandably, popular. Your first experience will likely be the complete anarchy and chaos that is the carpark. But once you have made your way through the melee and found a spot for your car, possibly in another country, it’s still about a 30 minute walk down to the cove.

This is not a problem, as the walk offers up view after view.

The path itself is wide and mostly gravel. Some of our group chose to go barefoot, a decision which was universally regretted by those who made it. Not that I’m going to name any of them by name.

The path does occasionally fall under slight tree cover. There is also the occasional tree attempting to eat a rock.

The trail, which is for obvious reasons almost entirely downhill on the way to the cove, becomes quite steeply downhill near the end. But then you get to the beach and you don’t care.

We, mostly through luck, timed our arrival well. The sun was making its leisurely way down to the horizon as we made our less leisurely way down to the beach.

One distinctive feature of Cathedral Cove is this natural rock tunnel.

I assume it’s natural, anyway. Either way, I’m glad it’s there since there’s plenty more beach on the other side.

The nice sandy beach does give way to a more rocky shoreline, but the intrepid explorer can climb his or her way out much further than we went.

There’s also trees and driftwood right up on the beach, and Taylor showed off his impressive balance by striking a pose.

Either someone or several someones decided to make an entire village of rock stacks.

Near the archway is this interesting-looking rock formation. Makes me think of Kronk’s head (from The Emperor’s New Groove) (all of Kronk is from The Emperor’s New Groove, not just his head. I’m not sure that I really needed to clarify that, but the phrasing was a little weird).

The rock formation is quite large; here’s Taylor conveniently providing scale.

But you’re not here for the shenanigans, you’re here for the scenery.

Out over the bay at full zoom on the big lens.

Sunset from the top.

Sunset from the bottom.

From inside the archway.

Other side of the rock.

(OK, I may have retouched this photo a bit. Original here for comparison purposes. But it does look quite nice, no?)

From the walk back up. Just wow. What a beautiful country.

I’ve been to many places in New Zealand and seen many beautiful things. I’ve been to spots so secluded I so no other person the entire time I was walking there. And I’ve been to spots so popular I doubted I could add anything of value to the global photographic conversation. And I tell you…Cathedral Cove is the real deal. It is absolutely stunning.

I’m glad that this post falls where it is. Next post will be…a bit special, and a bit different. See you then :)

Coromandel, Pt. 2: Hoffman’s Pool

Jordan told me about a spot in the Coromandel called Hoffman’s Pool, named after the grandfather of one of his co-workers. Since we were going out that way anyway, we decided to stop by.

Type “Hoffman’s Pool” into Google Maps and it takes you to someplace in Oklahoma. A quick web search will find it for you, and it seems to be pretty well known once you actually make it to Kahikatea Valley, but it’s definitely not a Top Spot. Perhaps the absolutely terrible gravel road leading up to it has something to do with that. Fortunately, I was driving someone else’s car. (If you’re confused about why I was driving someone else’s car, you should really read part 1 of the Coromandel posts first).

In any case, it’s just a short walk from the so-called road to the pool, and the pool itself is beautiful. A nice, shaded pebble beach and a picturesque cliff face on the other side.

Off downriver there’s a rockier area where somebody built one of those Piles o’ Rocks(tm) you see around. All in all, a very peaceful spot.

Naturally, we respected this tranquility by leaping off the top of the rock face.

My usage of the word we should not in any way imply that I was involved in said leaping. But I did photograph and film it, so in a way I did take part.

Our mission was to throw a disc up and have someone jump off and catch it in midair.

After about twenty fails (not included in the video), Jordan managed to make the catch (the throw was by Taylor). Lukas served the vital role of retrieving the disc when it hit the water (which, as previously mentioned, was frequent) — disc golf discs sink rather than float.

Other things that sink include GoPro cameras, so we had a brief break when Jordan’s GoPro fell off Taylor’s head and sunk something like 7 meters to the bottom of the pool.

I even cut down a sapling (seen here) in the hopes it would be long enough to reach the bottom. No such luck…the pool, though small, is very deep. Sapling, my apologies to you for cutting your life short in a futile attempt to retrieve an expensive adventure cam.

Taylor managed to grab it off the lakebed, though, by diving off the top and swimming down and finding it. Big props to him!

I like this shot because the perspective makes it look at first like Taylor is sitting on the top of the rock. It’s only when you see his shadow you realize he’s in midair.

Contrast with this shot, where it looks like Lukas is striking an improbable pose in midair but is in fact freeclimbing the rock face.

In the middle of all the shenanigans, the rock pile fell down. Being the good citizens we are, we (again by which I mean they, with me photographing) decided to rebuild it.

If you’re interesting in cliff jumping, stunts, or even just a nice picnic spot, Hoffman’s Pool is a beautiful and somewhat hidden gem in the Coromandel that’s worth checking out!

Next time: a not-so-hidden gem in the Coromandel!

Coromandel, Pt. 1: Kauaeranga Valley

In Australia and New Zealand, the 25th of April is ANZAC Day. Much like Memorial Day in the US, ANZAC Day is a day of remembrance for those in the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (hence, ANZAC) who have given their lives in armed conflict.

For many, it is a time of sober reflection and remembrance. For my friends and I, it was an opportunity for a road trip! Myself, Taylor, Jordan, and our Austrian friend Lukas piled into a borrowed car and, along with plenty of camera equipment, set out around the Firth of Thames to the Coromandel Peninsula.

The Coromandel is reachable by ferry or by car, and it sits in that nice butter zone of far enough away to feel like a trip but not so far that the trip becomes tiresome. We had a full itinerary for a day trip, but our first stop was at the Kauaeranga Valley ranger station and visitor center. We checked out some maps, got some advice, and also did a small warm-up walk along the Kahikatea trail.

A kahikatea (formerly, and incorrectly, called the white pine) is a type of tree, which might give you a hint about what we might see along this walk. I also do quite love dams, as I used to work for a hydroelectric power company.

I’m no treeologist, but I think this might be a kauri, not a kahikatea.

The trail is nice, wide, and well-drained. This short stroll proved the perfect warm-up.

A very short while later, we reached a break in the trees and a sign directing us to the dam.

The guys were more interested in figuring out whether the berries of a particular plant were edible or not. I was too busy photographing to hear the verdict, but since nobody died I’m assuming they either chose correctly or cautiously decided not to eat them anyway.

Since this is what I was photographing, you can see why I would have been distracted :)

Back under tree cover, we pass by a murky, slow-moving stream.

And then…the model dam! This model dam is fully functional but not especially useful.

It’s a 1/3 scale model of a larger dam used (I believe) for logging operations. As such, the view from the top is less dizzying than it might otherwise be.

Here’s Taylor examining the mechanism and providing a sense of scale.

Taylor and Lukas climbed down to the other side of the dam, which is also dry (hence my comment that it’s not useful).

Moving on from the dam, there’s some quality stairs leading up to some nice views.

The stream does widen a bit out here, though still not exactly a raging torrent.

A break in the trees also provides a bit more scenery.

From the lookout point, we can see down to the stream and note that it’s even becoming fairly wide.

We can also see this peak, called Maori Chief. I don’t really see the resemblance, but (like North Carolina’s Pilot Mountain) weirdly-shaped mountain peaks were a boon to early explorers because they could serve as landmarks even at great distances.

So that’s the Kahikatea Walk in Kauaeranga Valley. Come back next time for some more epic Coromandel adventures! See you then!

Karekare Beach and Falls

I am, slowly, visiting all the Western beaches. On this trip, I drove out to Karekare. Karekare is between Whatipu and Piha, which are probably my two favorite beaches so far.

Getting to the carpark requires a fairly intense drive along windy, narrow roads through the mountains. Just prepare yourself beforehand so you don’t arrive stressed from the drive and you’ll be fine :)

First, we’ll visit the beach. Not that this sign makes it sound super appealing! This particular day was a cool Fall day, so getting in the water wasn’t on the menu anyway.

The path to the beach is itself quite nice.

This guy was just chilling on the sand next to the water (like all Waitakere beaches, Karekare is a black sand beach). I think this would be a little shag, called kawaupaka in Maori and little pied cormorant in Australia.

First view of the actual beach.

Since I wasn’t keen on getting wet, navigating my way onto the beach did require some gymnastics to get around the water.

At one point I had to climb up a small ways onto the rock face in order to get around. I took this photo to document my feat (and my feet).

Karekare is not huge, but it’s not as small as one might think either. I was impressed by its stark beauty. Perhaps some warm sunny day I’ll come and enjoy the beach more fully.

Anyway, to get to the falls you actually have to walk out of the carpark, turn right, and head down the road a bit.

There are some helpful signs to guide you in case you’re confused, as I frequently am.

As you start up the trail, you’ll notice this super cool house perched on the hill side. And also…wait…what’s that? Let’s Zoom and Enhance(tm) the right-hand side a bit…

Why, I believe that would be our first glimpse of the falls!

Walking along, we come to this mini-falls along the face of a neat rock formation. And a natural pool has formed! So cool!

If it were summer and maybe 10 degrees warmer, I would totally be up for taking a dip in this little pool!

The trail then bends around under this quite neat looking tree. I’ve been walking for not more than 10 minutes and yet this trail has already yielded so many great things!

One such thing being this shorn tree branch. I’m going to run out of adjectives if I don’t carefully ration them, so I’ll just say that I enjoyed looking at it and move on.

Moving on is a wise choice, because around the next bend is the waterfall itself!

I’m really quite pleased with this shot here. Karekare Falls really do stand out as being quite impressive and beautiful. So much so that I chose this location to sit down and eat lunch.

After eating, I had enough energy to pick my way around the pool to the other side. This is an amazingly restful spot. I could spend all day here!

The falls are impressive, and as we’ll see in a moment they are even more impressive than we can see from this spot.

Hiking on, the trail passes under this super cool natural arch. It then climbs quite steeply, which, perhaps surprisingly, is a good sign…

…because it means we get views like this. Seldom does a single trip result in so many photos that I really like. I hope it’s a sign that my photography skills are improving, but I also think it’s an indication of just how awesome this location truly is.

Hiking a bit further, we can look back at the falls. This view shows how much more there is to Karekare Falls than can be seen up close.

And I will close out the post with a shot that I think shows Karekare Beach in its true glory. Such a lovely hike, such a fantastic spot, and such majestic falls. Certainly worth the drive, and I think anyone willing to do a bit of walking should consider checking it out.

That’s all for now! See you next time :)

Puhinui Reserve

It’s a cloudy day, Summer is winding down, nobody wants to go hiking with me (hopefully just because of the previous two statements)…let’s do some exploring and try to track down some birds! Welcome to Puhinui Reserve.

Puhinui Reserve is in Mangere, near the airport. It borders Matukutūreia, the ziggurat-looking mountain shown here (it was not originally a ziggurat; quarrying activity around the volcanic cone reduced it to its current state). For the amateur wildlife enthusiast, this place had it all: wetlands, forest, shoreline, pasture…let’s see what we can find!

The carpark is this gravel loop; I think we’re meant to park on the grass. With how few people are here on this particular day, though, it was more like park wherever.

I stuck around the carpark at first and took some peeks at the mountain. It makes a good landmark, since the reserve is a little expansive and it’s possible to get out in the weeds a bit.

Apparently this well-paved pathway is actually a part of Te Araroa, which means The Long Pathway. It’s a trail which runs from Cape Reinga on the North tip of the North Island to Bluff on the South tip of the South Island. It’s quite long and requires several months to complete. I, on the other hand, have until sundown. So I guess I won’t be finishing it this particular day.

Just a few stops off the trail and I’ve moved from field to forest! And a nice, well-built bridge to boot!

I decided to proceed through this gate and down to the riverside in pursuit of my nemesis: the rainbow lorikeet. Don’t let the cheerful-sounding name fool you. Well, actually, they are very cute, cheerful-looking birds (you can see a picture of them on my trip to the Auckland Zoo). But they’re also super skittish and I have found them very difficult to photograph in the wild.

(New Zealand ornithologists should read the note at the end of the post on rainbow lorikeets before composing emails or comments.)

I thought that this riverside would be a good place for a stakeout. Also just a nice-looking place in general. If you’re going to hang out somewhere stalking a bird, you might as well hang out somewhere pretty!

I set up next to this tangle of branches and greenish-brown water. I waited for about 30 minutes down here. To what end? You’ll have to wait to see, since I put all the animals in their own section at the end of this post :)

Once I ended my stakeout (yeah, I know, I’m such a tease), I came across this fallen tree. I wonder if it was all the rain that caused it to fall, or if it just flumped over because the soil isn’t conducive to good root development. Whatever it is, I hope it didn’t hit a sheep (or anything else)!

Cresting the hill, I see a field used for various equestrian pursuits (I assume these obstacles are used in what we Americans call “English riding”. I don’t know what the rest of the world calls it; probably just “riding”). Let’s get a closer look at some of th…

…augh! That’s going to haunt my nightmares. OK, maybe not with the looking at creepy equestrian things.

Let’s get a look at the mountain with a mountain-looking thing in the foreground!

Moving on…see that tower on the hill there? Well, if I were in any way competent I would have gotten a closer-up picture of it, because it’s pretty cool (I often get excited about stuff like this and am so engrossed in exploring it I forget to photograph it, which is a bad trait for a photoblogger to have). For whatever reason, the ladder leading up to the stairs is gone.

Even I can do a single chin-up, though, so up I went. Unless people aren’t supposed to go up the tower, in which case I definitely didn’t go up it.

Note my green backpack there blending in with the green boards.

The tower provided some nice views!

It’s a boat!

And…what could that thing be, off in the distance? Is it a bridge?

To make up for teasing you about the birds, I’ll leave out quite a bit of walking and cut to the chase:

It’s a pipeline! I bet it’s related to the water treatment plant which you may recall from my trip out to Puketutu Island, which the more geographically inclined might realize is nearby.

The Wildlife

There’s quite a few sheep around, including what in this photo appears to be either a sheepy abomination or Sleipnir in sheep form but is actually just two black sheep, one behind the other with its head down.

This gang of sheep were loitering on the path trying to look tough, but when I stood my ground they ran off like the sheepy sissies they are.

These pukeko also guarded the path and also did not prove to be difficult adversaries.

These white faced herons similarly failed at guarding the path.

Finally, seen from my stakeout. I’m not great at bird identification, but I think these are some sort of shag; perhaps a black shag? The light isn’t really great in this photo.

I am sad to say, though, that what I did not see on my stakeout were some rainbow lorikeets. So my nemesis they shall remain.

(Rainbow lorikeets are an invasive species and are considered a pest in New Zealand; as such wild sightings are quite rare. Since going to Puhinui I have done more research, and it’s quite plausible that the times I thought I saw a rainbow lorikeet I may have been seeing other, similar birds such as the eastern rosella. But I’m recounting the tale as it happened, and at the time I believed I had a chance of seeing a rainbow lorikeet.)

Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed this trip to Puhinui! Next time we’ll be going to the beach. In the meantime, don’t let the scary horse statue haunt your dreams!

Pakiri Beach

The church held a men’s retreat at a campsite up North at Pakiri Beach, and of course I went along. The retreat was great and I had a fantastic time. I also got a chance to take a photo or two along the way!

As you can see, the skies were a bit gray. But we were so fortunate in that it didn’t really rain at all right up until we had packed everything up and were getting ready to leave. The issue of divine weather control is more theologically complicated than I would like to get into here, but I was grateful!

Pakiri Beach is up a bit north of Tawharanui, not too far from Goat Island. That whole area is characterized heavily by rolling hills right next to lovely white-sand beaches.

We weren’t exactly roughing it, as you can see. This sort of camping is called dump camping, because you just drive up and dump your stuff next to your car. Still fun to do some tenting though!

We arrived about nightfall Friday night. I have a quite handy LED lantern I used to help set up my tent, which is actually Jordan’s tent that I borrowed.

The next morning, I crawled out of the tent and found a white-faced heron landing right next to our campsite!

These birds are quite common to New Zealand, but they’re very cool looking. Novice birdwatchers might be tempted to confuse the white-faced heron with a pied shag, but even an amateur such as myself can see the difference with a clear shot.

I caught another one looking majestic in mid-flight. But wait…is that a horse rider in the background?

Yes, yes it is. So much to see in the morning on Pakiri Beach.

Later on that Saturday, Jordan and I decided to take a walk along the dunes.

The Poutawa Stream comes right off the Northwestern bit of the Hauraki Gulf, both of which Pakiri Beach borders. This is a small offshoot of the main stream, which can get fairly wide. This bridge does not inspire much confidence, but as I was in my swimwear I was not bothered.

It is a very nice walk along the stream (I wish I had photographed the map of the place hanging in one of the offices, as I would be more tempted to call this bit an estuary).

Pakiri Beach adjoins some private property so as we walked along we were careful to respect fence lines.

I’m not sure what this is hanging from the tree. I’m not sure I want to know.

Jordan and I decided to do some action shots. Here he is taking a leap off a dune!

Graceful landing, too….

Just kidding! The landing turned into a successful action roll, and he reached the bottom upright (but sandy).

The beach transitions fairly abruptly into pasture land. I love the sand dunes right up next to the green hills!

More rolling pastures.

So that’s Pakiri Beach. It was a great weekend camping trip, and a very pretty area!

Mercer Bay

Friends, it is time for a joyful reunion! You may recall Taylor from some previous hikes we’ve done. Well, his brother (and my friend) Tyson has returned from the United States to be with us (and, perhaps more importantly from his perspective, his fiancee, now wife). On his first full day back in the country, the three of us decided to go for a hike. Well, more like a climb, as you will see.

Taylor is wearing the straw hat he found at Duder Park! The hat looks so good on him it almost distracts from the fantastic view :)

Mercer Bay is in the Waitakere Ranges between Piha and Karekare (we haven’t visited Karekare yet, but that will be rectified soon enough). It’s known for utterly fantastic views as well as some cool sea caves, which are really only accessible at low tide.

If you see these buildings, you know you’re at the right carpark.

The walk itself is quite straightforward and easy, leading through a bit of brush but mostly open.

The openness is good because one you go over a small ridge, there are some utterly fantastic views.

Oh hey, there’s Piha beach. You can tell because that’s Lion Rock!

And that’s the peninsula around which we walked to get to White’s Beach. I’ve done so much hiking in the Waitakeres that every view brings back memories now :)

The view out from the top of Mercer Bay. But wait, where’s the Bay itself (I was naively wondering)?

Need to get around this ridge first. There’s Karekare in the background.

Wow, that water is beautiful! I just love that blue color. But…that looks a little steep? I thought we were going down to a beach?

Oh, there’s the beach. But, um, I can’t help but notice that we’re quite a bit above it. How do we get down?

It turns out that there’s a barely-visible path that turns off from the main track. If you go down that path for just a little way, you come to something that can really only be described as a drop.

If Tyson is looking concerned in this photo, it’s probably because he’s worried that I’m going to have a panic attack after looking down the cliff face we need to descend :)

But the beach looks amazing, and there’s that cool rock with the moss growing on it that looks like a face. We called the rock Lapras because we played Pokemon growing up.

Fortunately, there’s some ropes that we can use to descend the cliff face in reasonable safety.

Fun story: Tyson actually asked his now-wife Chloe to be his girlfriend down at Mercer Bay. He did so through a treasure hunt, so he and our friend Jordan (whom you may remember from our return to Mokoroa Falls) carried a treasure chest down (and, subsequently, back up) this cliff. That’s what I told myself whenever the going got dodgy: Tyson did this while carrying a treasure chest, so I can do it unencumbered.

We did get down to the beach safely, after which I turned around and took a picture of where we just climbed down. I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from doing something that’s challenging like this. I wish I could say that I loved it while I was doing it, but that would be not entirely true :)

Here’s Lapras from sea level.

Annoyingly, the tide chart we had used was mislabeled, so we didn’t get to fully explore the caves.

We did squeeze in and explore the smaller one, but I didn’t bring my camera because there was a lot of water involved.

So that would be Mercer Bay. Starkly beautiful and also quite exhilarating! Next time we will go on another fun adventure which, after this one, might seem a little tame. But I had a blast, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it. Stay tuned!