To lessen the distractions, I joined Tramping Club yesterday... The group has an incredible hiking trip planned most every weekend, and it will very seriously help me to give up all my weekends and not study! Guess that means I'm going to have to adopt late nights and early mornings during the week! The Tramping Club meeting proved to me that kiwis actually do have a sense of humor - contrary to popular conception. Imagine a slide show full of regular men and women in the nude. Now put them in the middle of the NZ bush and take pictures. Throw in a few David Hasselhoff's and a prancing Leonardo DiCaprio, and you pretty much have it.
This weekend, Kaitlin (another Ambassadorial Scholar from Alaska), her flatmate, and I headed out to Island Bay on the rare and absolutely beautiful day that was Saturday. The temperature, perfect - the sun - shining in a cloudless sky. The three of us tramped for a bit, then ended up at a rocky part of the ocean. These rocks are incredible. Rock to rock, mini ecosystems spring up in between them, and one can see hundreds of plant and animal life squeezed in between the small crags. As the waves pull in and out of the rocks, you hear a whooshing sound that is rhythmic enough to lull you to a seat. This siren's song of the ocean is a song that I have quickly become accustomed to, and one I can't imagine not being used to. The ocean has a way of restoring your senses - of waking up your landlocked United States soul.
Post tramp, the three of us headed to the Marine Research Facility of Victoria International. This day was a part of SeaWeek, a yearly event that aims to educate the public about the acquatic environment surrounding them. The Victoria facilities inspire even those who were never interested in marine science. I have been interested in the past, so I was in a candy store. Large open air tanks were constructed and filled with creatures from the marine reserve that is fifteen feet from the front door. A dozen species of starfish, sea sponges, cucumbers, urchins, seahorse, VERY large crayfish, and mollusks were brought in for others to enjoy. I was able to examine each and spend the next bit of time wondering why oh why was I not a marine biologist. A donation of brownies to the visitors comes round, and I was in heaven. Seeing the faces of the children interacting with the animals reminded me again why I love the world we live in. Getting children excited about the ocean and the natural world around us is reinvigorating.
This weekend, there is much on the agenda. I have my first trip outside of Wellington on the books - Tongariro Crossing. It is a day hike, 17 km, and is supposed to be one of the absolute greatest in the world. Here's to hopin I can keep up! Further, here's to prayin I get all my homework done before it's time to go! Between wanderlusting, homeworking, and Rotary (and not necessarily in that order), I've got my hands full!