Loving Luxmore and Lackadaisical Last Days

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With less than a month left, I’m finding myself appreciating each “sweet as,” Dunedin sunset, Rob Roy ice cream cone, and even my chilly room a little bit more. Okay, so not that much that last one but all of the other ones are true.

The week started off great, as I got to work with a food stylist on a recipe I’ve been developing throughout the semester. Since I had to give a fifteen-minute presentation on the recipe, I could ramble here but I’ll just leave you with the picture. Beautiful, ain’t it? There’s also a video from a presentation I had to do with a partner. Not my best work in terms of public speaking, but figured the relatives would find it enjoyable.

Vegetable Quinoa Salad

This weekend we were back off again, this time to the Fiordlands. We couldn’t have imagined a more fitting way to spend Luke’s 21st birthday than outdoors until dusk, eventually retreating to a wood-burning stove. The first two hours of the hike were relatively flat, but gradually turned into switchbacks that reminded me the Appalachians a little bit. (B&B-ers, you know what I mean…think Daaz Mountain Road). Max and Dave thought it would be funny to play a trick on the birthday boy, and kept sneaking rocks into his pack throughout the hike. Luke isn’t the type to complain out loud, so he just sort of kept on his way. Prank fail. Once we were above the trees, we were surprised to find out strong the winds were. Our friend, the littlest one in the group, kept losing her balance. Sort of sad, yet pretty hilarious to watch.

Sunny skies

Once we got to the hut we met some other backpackers, including a guy who graduated from Washington U a couple days earlier. I was surprised to have been asked by a Dutch woman if I was German, to which I said no. I think she was sort of disappointed that I yet another American, but oh well. We whipped up burritos in the candlelight, and feasted together as a group of thirteen. This time around, though, we had brownie scramble for dessert. Before you assume that’s some sort of hardly legal concoction, it’s actually just brownie mix stirred up with water. More like brownie goo. Max and I had been brainstorming on the hike up and recited a pretty epic poem for Luke before diving into dessert. After dessert we played a trivia game made up of questions about the group. A sample:

Zoe fell hard on a beach. Spell that beach!
Describe in detail the hats of 7 different people in the group.
Name the spirit animals of four other members of the group.

“From the rolling hills of vermont, to the chaotic streets of Dunedin…”

The next day we took slowly, but managed to eventually make it out to the caves. The night before was torrential down pouring, and winds whipping so hard the bunk beds shook. In the morning, Mother Nature redeemed herself with the biggest rainbow I think I’ve ever seen. We then headed into the caves. With water flowing beneath our feet and each step more slippery than the next, it sort of felt like we were doing some Indiana Jones level stuff. At some points we had to be on our hands and knees, and in other we had to suck in hard and wiggle through. I was a bit out of element without a headlight (that’s what I get for buying the $10 one…) but made it through okay with the help of everyone else. Safe to say that with the headlamps off, I’ve never experienced a colder and darker darkness. Eerie, to say the least.

You can’t see it in my face, but seriously claustrophobic at this point

After basically sprinting out of the caves, we took the hike down pretty quickly.

Quite the motley crew

I separated from the group for a bit and pretended I was Katniss and casually chucked some sticks around and investigated some plants. Sometimes you have to get weird… Anyway, never before have I experienced the forest so close to the water. Sort of a strange but cool phenomenon to have green surrounding you in every direction, yet hear waves in the background. We grabbed some burgers and fish and chips on the way home, in typical Sunday-night-feast-mode. Cheers to the last week of classes, and a possible trip to Wellington this weekend!

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