Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cornwall Bank Holiday

We had a few days where we could go on a quick holiday, so we decided to head down to Cornwall.  We had never been, so decided to make the trek.  It took a good 6 hours to drive there.  We made a few stops along the way to break up the drive. 

Porter hadn't been to Avebury Henge, it's the largest henge with a kilometer diameter.  Also, you can touch the stones!!!  Porter loved it.

Porter boosted me up to take this photo.

After a long drive, lots of traffic around Bristol, several rest stops and 2 bags of peanut M&M's later we made it to Newquay.  We stayed at Dewolf Guest House.  It was a cute little B&B ran by a couple who own Siberian Huskies.  They were very sweet and the location was good.

The first stop was St. Michaels Mount.  It's a town with a castle on this little island by Penzance (yes, like in Pirates of Penzance) that is only accessible at low tide via causeway.  We looked at the tidal schedule and got there right before low tide. 

Walking along the path was pretty fun.  

 There were also a bunch of big rocks along way you could climb on.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the island we found out it was closed on Saturdays.  So Porter snapped this picture.  We walked around for a few minutes then headed back along the pathway.

On our way back to the car we ran into a market where we had the best macaroons ever!  They were better than any I've had from France.  The best flavors were the chocolate and the salted caramel.

Our next stop of the day was: Land's End.  
It's the farthest point out one can go on England.  Next stop, New York!

 This is the little cafe out on the cliff.

We also stopped at St. Ives.  You know the shampoo brand, it's an actual place, and it's beautiful!  However, I advise you to park before getting into the town center.  We didn't realize this and before we knew it, we were in the middle of the town on tiny cobblestone roads with pedestrians everywhere.  Porter was not happy.  After a few minutes of chaos and some pretty strong language we made out in one piece.  We had to loop the the whole city again to get to the parking areas.  But it was totally worth it.

After our crazy driving adventure we relaxed with a Cornish Strawberry Cream Tea.  

This cheeky little guy was popping up trying to climb on board peoples boats.

We went crabbing and while I was out near the deep end the seal swam right by me!  Also in this picture the tide was coming

I was pretty excited!  I was hoping he would swim up next to me on the cement.  

Our final stop of the day was at Healey's Cider Farm.  It's adorable.  You can tour the entire farm, see the orchards, looks at the farm animals, and see how they process their juices and ciders.  Porter made sure to inspect their products very carefully.

The main reason for us wanting to visit Cornwall was to see Tintagel Castle.  It did not disappoint, probably one of my favorite castles ever.  We loved it!

Once part of the castle from the coast.

A view of the caves from the castle.

A view of the castle from Merlin's Cave!

Porter was loving the castle.  This would have been the great hall.

We loved walking along the cliffs, they were epic.  I pretty much felt like I was on the edge of the world.

There was this fabulous pasty shop in the town of Tintagel.  Porter had been dying to have a real Cornish Pasty, so we had to stop.  Pengenna Pasties are amazing!  Their flapjacks were the best I've ever tasted.

It was huge, but Porter was up to the challenge.

While we were in the area we stopped at Port Issac where the British drama "Doc Martin" is filmed.  It was the cutest little port town.  We hiked up to get a view of it.

Up on the hill we found a bench with a sweet inscription:
"What we keep in memory is ours forever."

 Isn't this the cutest little bus stop?!  

Also we found this sign.  It's nice to find little pieces of kindness.

 Doc Martin's House.

This is a picture of our room at our B&B.

On our way home we stopped at the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary.  I've been wanting to go here since I learned about it.  They save donkeys.  You can read all about them on that link, plus they have cameras so you can watch the donkeys in real time.  I think they have over 200 donkeys at this location.

This guy just wanted his rump scratched.
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These ones were adorable! 

Donkey Selfie

D'artagnan was this big boy and I loved him.  But again, all these donkey's wanted was their butt scratched, ha!

This pretty much sums up how we felt about our trip!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

New Zealand: Blackwater Rafting and Volcano Climbing

One of the highlights of the trip for us was our trip to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves.  We had arranged to go Black Water Rafting in the morning.  But first we had to get checked into our hotel.  This was probably the nicest hotel we stayed at, however, upon arrival the receptionist let us know that it was one of the most haunted hotels in New Zealand....great.  Just great, now wonder it was such a good deal.  I of course had images of blood dripping down the walls in the middle of the night, creatures lurking beneath my bed, and decapitated ghosts in the bath tub.  Yep, that's where my mind goes.  

This was a picture on the wall that was depicting people in the caves, but it looked rather ominous.

I found the fire!  I'm super good at that.  If there is a nice hot fire any around and you don't know where I am, odds are I'm snuggled up right next to it.

The next morning we got up at the crack of dawn (no ghosts during the night, whew!) and headed for the caves.  Black Water Rafting Co.  is a company that takes groups on caving tours through the glow worm caves.  Porter and I signed up to do the Black Abyss tour which consists of repelling into a cave 40 meters, zip lining through the dark, jumping off a ledge into freezing cold water on an inner tube, and then riding that tube on an underground river while looking at the glow worms.  There is also a fair bit of spelunking as well. 

We wore lots of gear that was extremely flattering for our figures.

Our Group before we left.

Practicing our repelling technique 

I made Porter go first, he was so excited!

 I look happy, but inside I was a wee bit nervous to lower myself into a little dark, black hole.

There we go!

 Jumping into the freezing water.  It was not a graceful landing.

While floating in the caves they had me sing a song that went really loud and high.  When the glow worms feel vibrations they turn their lights out momentarily.  It definitely gave them vibrations, and the acoustics were super cool as well.

 We did this with the lamps on our helmets and our plastic water cups.

Cecil the eel that was swimming along with us in the cave.

To leave the cave we had to climb up 2 waterfalls.  It's true, we may be a little bada$$.  Haha!  The truth is we had awesome guides who were fantastic.

After our 6 hour caving adventure, we relaxed!

After this day, you would think that we had the adventure bug out of our system.  Which would be true, unless your travel buddy decided he wanted to climb a volcano before we flew home.  We found a mountain sanctuary that had an old volcano we could hike.  Porter told me there were 2 paths, the old path which was medium/hard and then the new path which was easy. 

We started hiking.  The two paths sort of came together a few times, so we tried the harder path.  It seemed steep, and really damp, but nothing too hard.  So when we had the chance to jump back on the new path, we said 'no thank you.' Remember we had just come off our crazy cave adventure the day before and were feeling super hard core. 

As we kept going, the trail started getting steeper to the point where we had to help each other and hang on to rocks and roots.  Then the path disappeared and all that was left were these little orange triangles nailed to trees that were growing out of rocks that went straight up.  We thought, "oh, we just have to climb up a rock, then the path will reappear."  By the 5th time this happened and the path disappeared completely with only orange triangles remaining we were a little freaked out, at least I was.  The awful thing was we couldn't turn back because the rocks and roots were so wet and slippery we were afraid to fall.  We spent a good few hours working our way up.  I wanted to sit down and cry, but I knew that wouldn't help anything and just stress Porter out.  So I held it together.  And finally we made it to the top!  

But all that crap we had to climb up, we had to go down on the other side.  Luckily, the easy path met up with this path a ways down so we could take the easy back.  This is how I felt about the little orange arrows.

Do not be fooled by how pretty this path looks, it is treacherous. 

On our last day we drove around Auckland.  

We found some cool tide pools at low tide.

Peace out NZ, you were wild, and pretty cool, I will miss you.