Posted by: monsonmadness | June 2, 2012

Temple, conference, gondola, luge, geysers, mud pools, wood carving and traditional Maori dance performance

Day 6 – Saturday 2nd June

This morning we got up at 5am so that we could Skype with Daniel. It was his 6th birthday. We weren’t supposed to be gone over his birthday, but they changed the day that Michael was speaking in the conference and we had no choice. When I explained it all to him, we made some special arrangements and he was over the moon. We decided that he would have a “double birthday” this year. On Friday, the day of his birthday, he would have birthday cake, and open two presents; a toy to play with and a movie to watch. After school, the babysitter would take all of the kids out to MacDonald’s for dinner and then to play in the play center. After that, back home for treats and the new movie. I promised him that when we got back on Saturday, we would do all of his presents and celebrate his birthday properly. Like any other 6 year old, he was thrilled with the idea of a double birthday, so now I don’t feel quite as bad.

Skyping before Daniel went to school with the time difference meant that we had to set the alarm on the phone and crawl out of bed into a freezing cold room, put more clothes on (we slept fully clothed in the dorm and were still too cold. Michael even slept with a hat on) and go outside into the frosty dark night air so that we could drive over to the student center and hope that we could pick up a wireless signal from outside in the car. With layers and layers of clothing on, and wearing three hoodies, I was able to sing Happy Birthday to my sweet boy. Phew.

Breakfast was at 7am, and then I left Michael to attend his conference while I went back to the temple again. The fog was thick and the whole sky was white and frosty.

After the temple I went back to the dorm to take a 30 minute hot shower! I shared my shower with two big spiders, but they didn’t move and I’m a lot more experienced with critters these days! I cleaned up and got all packed and then went over to the conference in time to hear Michael present. He did a wonderful job. He was very articulate and organized and gave great examples to illustrate his points so that even a non-legal minded moron like me could understand what he was saying.

When he was finished, we grabbed a sack lunch and headed out for our short trip to Rotorua. It was a 1 ½ hour drive and we’d only have 3 hours there to enjoy it. There are a billion things to do there, so we had to choose carefully.

We started with a gondola ride up the side of Mt Ngongotaha and then took a three wheel cart down the luge though the redwood forest.

These luges were better than the alpine slides that we’re used to in the Utah ski resorts because they only control speed, but we were controlling speed AND direction.

It was so much fun, and yes, I screamed like a child on Christmas morning as we were coming down the hill!

Next we decided to go to Te Puia, a Maori cultural center with gushing waters, steaming vents, boiling mud pools, and spectacular geysers. We got to see a real Kiwi bird (much bigger than we thought), and smell the gross sulphur coming from the ground. We got to look inside a carving and weaving school to see how the Maori’s make their traditional wood carvings and dance costumes. It was a lot of fun.

We raced back across the beautiful countryside seeing wild turkeys and deer and got back just in time to change into our nicer clothes for the conference dinner and entertainment. They had the runner up winner of “New Zealand’s Got Talent” as our singer, and then they had traditional Polynesian dancers and singers as well. It was really neat. The food was good, especially all of the delicious deserts. I found a new friend at my table and we decided to go halves on all the desserts so that we could try more. Michael didn’t even have dessert; he just went back for another helping of Indian food!

At 9pm, we ducked out early and got in the car to drive to our hotel at the Auckland airport. We arrived just before 11pm and set our wake up call for 4am the next morning. It was time to go home…

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