Monday, February 23, 2009

It's the BEST job in the world...

...and we've applied!

The shameless self-promotion has begun...

(click the above picture or right here to view our video application).

Haven't heard of 'The Best Job in the World"? Then watch this...

The 34,000 applicants (!!!) will be narrowed down to FIFTY (bless those poor Tourism Queensland folk who have THAT overwhelming job) on March 2nd. Then the world gets to vote for ONE video (at which point we will be harassing each and every one of you), and Tourism Queensland picks 10.

The top 11 will then go to Queensland for a 3 day interview...

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. First things first... WE NEED TO BE ON THAT SHORTLIST! So feel free to view the bejeebies out of our application video and rate us as you see fit (hint: 5 stars).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Triwoman... that's me!

I could've been devoured by a shark in the ocean. But I wasn't.
I could've been thrown off my bike by a car. But I wasn't.
I could've broken my toe on a pylon. But I didn't.

I survived the final triathlon of NZ’s annual triwoman series... with no injuries to boot!

In the days leading up to the event, I was a bit nervous about the forecast for race day as Auckland's atmospheric conditions have been somewhat unpredictable lately. Several days ago, Auckland experienced record heat with 100% humidity. Two days later, we were curled up with a blanket on the couch watching the torrential downpour through the window. Since then, the weather has been unforeseeable.

Turned out the weather was PERFECT. Not too hot. Not too cold. Very little rain. NO WIND.

And look at the view from the transition area... no complaints there!

(The view (not all visible in this photo) includes the Harbour Bridge, the Sky Tower, and Rangitoto).

Lowell, my official photographer, was so thorough with his ‘detail shots’ that he even documented the port-a-loos... the site of the compulsory PRP. A woman observing him commented, “Isn’t that kind of purvey?”

Well TECHNICALLY, yes… but not really.


So, let’s set up my transition area already!

(Note the lack of people thus far. We’re such keeners!)

Annnnd it’s 8am.
Time to see the first wave of swimmers off.

23 minutes later... my turn!

Atrocious hair? Check. Bug eyes? Check.

Then let’s SWIM!

It was probably the best swim I’ve ever participated in. The water was warmish, I wasn’t being constantly kneed/elbowed by hoards of medal-hungry triathletes, and it was a one-way, STRAIGHT swim parallel to the shore. All these things together dulled the memory that I hadn’t even swam once in preparation for this race. Sure, I’ve boogy boarded and frolicked in waves… but I hadn’t SWAM. At all. Too much other kiwi adventuring (and not to mention WORK) going on for this girl!

After a painfully slow transition from the swim (apparently I’m a little rusty), I started the bike.

A colleague of mine—bless her soul—lent me the bike. My buttock graced it’s seat for the first time early last week, and the PAIN. Oh the pain. Some ladies at work came to my rescue and provided me with two squares of foam (from the OT supply room!) and a gel-padded seat cover.

Bike seat before...

(Oooo, the nerves in my bum start dying just LOOKING at this picture!)

Bike seat after...

(Sure, it looks like it's been cursed with multiple tumors, but I cruised through the entire bike route without a single thought of my rear, so I consider the foam-stuffed gel pad a rousing SUCCESS!)

And finally for the last leg of the triathlon... the run.

My little tootsies flew over the finish line in under 50 minutes.

(Wow, I didn’t FEEL like I looked that intense. Apparently I was pretty focused on the finish line. Yikes- don't mess with ME!)

The whole experience was a LOT more low key than previous triathlons I’ve competed in. Like- you don’t have to wear a swim cap (neither were they PROVIDED, and I hadn't toted any of my 15 from Canada), nothing is CHECKED, nothing is strictly marshaled, and they don’t announce the winners. It’s all about promoting general good health for women. Which is great I suppose… but the competitive side of me wants RESULTS….NOW!!!

According to the website, I crossed the finish line at 47:10 and placed 32 out of 814. Not too shabby for not training... but it's a little disconcerting that had I been TEN SECONDS faster (darn those transitions), I would've come in 25th. Bah!

(PS- there is NO WAY I could have finished an Olympic distance triathlon in that time. It was a mini triathlon, and the distances were as follows: Swim: 300m; Bike: 10km; run: 3km).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chock up another bungy for the "crazies"!

Monday was our last day in Queenstown with Marc & Kylie, and we ended on a high note. A very high note in fact... 134 meters high!

Marc, Lowell and I hurled ourselves off the famed 134 meter platform referred to as "Nevis". It's the second highest bungy jump in the world. (It was THE highest until South Africa swooped in and made one twice the size).

Again, this activity does not come under the umbrella of a "Kylie Activity", so she became the official photographer for the event.

We were taken by bus up to the 'Nevis station' where they secured our harnesses, gave us instructions, and sent us on a flying crate to the giant floating gondola car.

From here, there was nothing else to do.... but jump. Jump into the intimidating canyon below us.

Jumping order was heaviest to lightest. I was the only girl in the pack of wild men, and also the lightest... so I had the pleasure of waiting for about 10 people to jump ahead of me.

Of our little posse, Lowell was first. After his feet were tied up, he took a leap of faith.

Lowell expressed that he didn't get dropped low enough. He felt like he had plenty of time before his cranium began scraping against rocks.

The Nevis was one of the main reasons why Lowell wanted to come to NZ in the first place. When he returned from his leap, he said "We can go home now."

Uh... yeah right. There are a FEW more things I'd like to do while we're on the other end of the world here, honey.

Next from our posse was Marc...

I think he liked it...

And FINALLY, it was my turn, and I was cool as a cucumber. I do believe that launching myself off of the weeny 34-meter platform in December (the 'Ledge') gave me the calm and confidence I needed to spring off this one.

So, strap me up, and let me go!

See I'm calm. Calm as a sleeping baby. No misgivings here!

Tee hee. Me likey.

And I also likey the woman's gravity defying dress on the door of the ladies bathroom...

Now that I have two bungy jumps under my belt, I think I'm good. Good as gold.

Raging Adrenaline

The first of our MANY planned activities on Saturday was LUGING.

We were ready to ride up the Gondola as soon as the luging opened at 9am.

In order to get to the chair lift from the gondola, one must walk down a rather steep path. Kylie and my legs did NOT appreciate this (as a result of the 6.5 hour grueling hike 2 days previous) as they stumbled their way down the hill using Lowell and Marc as crutches. It. HURT.

We selected a helmet from the stash o' sanitary (??) helmets, and were ready to rock and roll!

On our way up the chairlift...

The chairlifts are awkward to get off at the best of times, but throw half-functioning legs into the mix and it's downright painful.

Kylie LOVED the controllability of this activity, and luging was coined a "Kylie Adventure".

When we completed our 5 turns each, we shed a few tears then took pictures of the view...

And Kylie took the opportunity to show off her sultriness...

Next we headed to the famed FERGBURGER joint for some lunch.

Those burgers were huge... and scrumptious.

The burgers put us into a beef/veggie-induced coma, so after our nap, Marc, Lowell and I went to meet the crew at 'Serious Fun'. We were going RIVER SURFING!!

Let me tell you a little bit about river surfing. Basically, you boogy board down white water rapids while wearing a wet suit, life jacket, flippers, and a helmet.

After viewing some footage of river surfing, Kylie determined that it was NOT a "Kylie Adventure" and opted to peruse the shops and cafes around Queenstown instead.

Here's our group ready for a serious ADVENTURE...

The guides warned us several times that the part of the water we'd be starting in was the coldest part, but we were MORE than happy to immerse ourselves in half frozen water as the little river surfing outfits made for some very hot and sweaty people.

When we first hopped in the water, we were given instructions and meant to practise a few moves. Wow, were we ever EXCITED!

And then we were off (and still awfully excited)...

Lowell very casually sat on his board during the down times...

Check this out: I'm spinning in a little whirlpool using the proper learned technique...

You should know that the river surfing guides were EXTREMELY strong. Even the little lady! If anyone- big or small- was being pulled to the side of the river by an Eddie, a guide would effortlessly cruise to your aid, drag you out of the current, and literally THROW you to where you should be. It was remarkable! Here the girl is coming to save me (and I'm apparently very happy and relaxed about it)...

Surprise surprise, part of Lord of the Rings was also filmed here!! Let me show you. Okay, here's a picture of Pillars of the Kings (also known as The Gates of Argonath) from LOTR:

FRODO WAS HERE!! And so were we (although the 3D animated pillars somehow disappeared)...

(the real-life version is slightly pathetic in comparison, isn't it?)

Here's Lowell showing off his 'sitting' skills again..

The coolest (and most tricky) part of river surfing is the actual SURFING in the river. The guide made it look soooo easy:

Then it was our turn to try. Here's Lowell...

And here's me...

The guides helped us in our attempts. On one of my tries, I actually GOT it, but then promptly flipped OFF my board. Grrrr...

Let's take a gander at what the sun looked like during our ride:

The sky was orangey-purple and filled with a smoky haze that blew over from Australia's nasty bushfires.

The photographer was keen to take Lowell and my picture, and I said "WAIT! And Marc too!" He looked at me with an arched eyebrow and questioned, "The THREE of you?"

Yes please! Me and da boys...

Near the end of the ride was the biggest of the rapids- reportedly a class 4 rapid referred to as the "Chinese Dog Leg". Prior to boarding down the rapid, the guides took us up on the rocks and continued to scare the bejeebies out of us. I nearly peed my wet suit in fact... nearly. (We were specifically instructed NOT to urinate in the company-provided wet suits).

I was expecting giant white caps to engulf me and toss me around, but it was just plum fun. No fear... just pure excitement.

WHEW- what a rush.

Next we booted it to Top 10 to set up camp for the night and EAT. While me and the boys were out being "crazy" (as Kylie would say), Kylie picked up the goods for chicken fajitas, and man were they deeeeeeelish.

At this point, we all craved a hot tub in an attempt to soothe the throbbing pain in our legs (again, from hiking Avalanche Peak 2 days prior). This particular Top 10 did not have a hot tub (as many do), but we heard a rumour that there were some delightful hot pools only minutes away.

We phoned Onsen Hot Pools and they picked us up with their complimentary shuttle service (brilliant!), and brought us to some of the best hot pools we've been to. Before dipping into the blissful heated liquid, we took a gander at the view.

Then we were escorted to our own personal hot pool.

Let's get that little garage-like door open!

WOW... now LET'S GET IN!!

While we were in there, Marc started the little trend of taking a FREEZING COLD shower until the water no longer felt freezing, then sinking into the hot pool. Marc & Lowell handled the cold shower impressively well, but Kylie and I did not!

It's a very wiggy (and rather satisfying) feeling going from numbingly freezing to hot hot HOT!

When the couple running the hot pools took us back to our campsite, they gave us a bit of backround on the business. Apparently their son and his wife sailed for 13 months from San Fransisco to Queenstown for a holiday. When he found out there were no hot pools in Queenstown, his innovative business-sense kicked in and Onsen Hot pools was born.

The hot pools, followed by Tim Tam Slams (yet again) and Kiwi chocolate bars was an excellent way to end an extremely jam-packed day-o-fun!