Monday, October 4, 2010

Airwalks, Bouncing Bridges, and Shrinking Hallways

Today I had a tour in the Huon Valley. This included an airwalk, which when I heard about this, at first I was like "nu-uh." But if I can't airwalk, I will never be able to hot air balloon, so I looked at it as training. I had my alarm set for 6 am. I figured this would be plenty of time to wake up, allow the shower to heat up, shower, get dressed, and eat something before they picked me up at 7:30am. I let the water in the shower run a good 20 minutes, but there was no improvement whatsoever. I always feel so awful if I do not shower before a full day of activities, so I did my best to wash myself and my hair without actually fully going under the freezing cold stream (yea, it was interesting.) After freezing to death in the shower, I still had plenty of time to ready myself. I went downstairs about 7:15, because you never know if 7:30 am means 7:30 am, 7:15 am, or 7:45 am. I sat out on the front stoop, it wasn't really that cold, so I knew it was good weather for this today. After a few minutes, a red headed girl joined me on the stairs. She was from England, and was traveling in Australia all year; she only had about 2 weeks left. She was catching a tour too, and was actually a tour with the same company, so we were picked up at the same time. She gave me some suggestions of places to see in Western Australia when I explained I needed to narrow down the list. She had been driving around in a camper with another girl that was in Sydney now. We parted once she was instructed to board her bus for Port Arthur, and I met the rest of the people on my tour. There was a couple originally born in Sri Lanka, but were from the UK (but still had thick Sri Lankan accents), a couple from Spain that didn't wait outside their hotel so we had to pick them up later (they spoke almost no English), and a couple from Adelaide, originally from England. So I was on the tour with 3 couples, but it wasn't so bad. I ended up talking to the couple from Adelaide. Their names were John and Lynn. They were very nice, so I spoke to them throughout the trip and had lunch with them during our break. They asked questions about hurricanes and tornadoes in North Carolina. Anyway, I snapped a whole mess of pictures on the way to Huon Valley. It really impossible not to, the views are so amazingly breathtaking, and even though you are wizzing by them in a tour bus, you still are able to capture at least some of the gloriousness of it. We stopped first at a very large and very old tree. When I say very large, it was 87 meters tall, and when I saw very old, it was 800 years old. These trees live to be 1000 years old, and many were chopped down for ship wood or lost in one of three forest fires that affected the area (oh yea, I forgot to mention, this badass tree survived at least 3 forest fires). Anyway, it's just insanely humbling to see a tree that had lived 800 years, and will live at least several hundred more after I die. It took a thousand years to grow a forest of those trees, and men showed up, mumbled "hm, big," and chopped down a lot of them. Yep, sounds about right.
Our next stop was Geeveston, a tiny little town that I didn't even take a picture of. It mostly exists to sell tickets to the airwalk, but it was cute and quaint and had very nice view of the mountains surrounding it. Wee then departed for the airwalk. I saw how high up it was and wondered what I was thinking. For some reason, I think I am not afraid of heights, but I definitely am. I guess I see this as training for the hot air ballooning that will occur on Thanksgiving, haha. Anyway, I walked out on the airwalk, holding bars on both sides, and doing my best to listen to the guide and not look down. Every once in a while, we would be on a more solid surface, and I felt safe enough to detach from the railing and take some pictures. The airwalk ended at the highest point that jutted out over the river. It was a suspension portion, not anchored the same way the rest of the walk was, but hanging. I didn't realize this until I followed my group out onto it and it began swinging around. John stopped dead in front of me. "This feels weird," he said. Me, him, and Lynn managed to make it to another solid platform and watched the rest of the group walk all the way out to the end (insane people). I was wiping sweat from my brow, not from heat or exertion, but from nerves. The people and guide walked back after a few minutes and asked if we were going to go. "I am, I just want to wait for this girl to come in," I said. Other people on the walk was what made it shake. I went out on the highest point with John and took some pictures of the fork in the river and upstream. He told me I needed to not hold onto the rails, it makes it worse. I said, "yeah, but it's like a security thing for me. If something happens to my feet, at least my hands are right there to grab on!" Lynn didn't come out, but I was glad I conquered fear and did it.
The next trail had hanging bridges over the river. We were told these bridges do not swing, but I think the guide was just saying this to us so we would shut up and go. We walked about 20 minutes through woods and trees and finally came upon the first bridge. It wasn't too high, but as soon as you stepped on, it bounced. A sign warned us to stay 10 meters apart, I wondered if this was for safety reasons or so-the-bridge-won't-collapse reasons, but I didn't test it. I did my best to move along the narrow walkway, not thinking about the bouncing or the fact that a thin net of string stood between me and falling sideways into the river. We (me and my crew of elderly Adelaidians) managed to make it over all the bridges, despite the fact that our Sri Lankan friend insisted on stopping every 2 feet on the bridge and taking a series of shots of every single angle of the river, twice over. We finally made it back to the starting point and were given lunch- sandwich, apple, brownie, and apple juice. I was starving and ate all of mine. The sandwich was a half each of two different sandwiches. One was real turkey with lettuce, mayo, and a little red onion. I think I was hungry, but it was delicious. The other was a ham and cheese sandwich with tomato and KETCHUP?? They put that stuff on everything, I swear. But I ate all of that too (did I mention I was hungry?). John and Lynn gave me their juice and apples to take back with me because they said they had apples back at their hotel and didn't care much for juice (or maybe they saw the way I devoured my lunch and assumed I hadn't eaten in days). We loaded up on the bus after lunch and set out for Peppermint Bay. We stopped to take pictures and John let me use his binoculars to see the fishing hatcheries on the river. We then rode back to Hobart; we had made a complete circle around the southern region below Hobart. I told my new friends goodbye and was dropped off in the mall area. I picked up dinner for a couple of days, as well as some rice krispies, yogurt, milk, and bananas for breakfast. I came back to the hostel and was downloading all the pictures from the day when I struck up a conversation with a German girl who had been here about a month as well, but only had a few weeks left. She had been to Perth and rode the train three days to Adelaide. She said it was quite an experience, but she didn't get a lot of sleep. Today was her birthday and she offered me chocolate. I asked if this was her substitute for birthday cake, and she said, "no, I'm going to get one! But I'm too drunk to drive right now." It was about 3:30pm, and she didn't seem drunk at all to me, but whatever. We talked more, and she explained that Australia, at least the region the train went through, has received more rain in the past 2 years than it had in the previous 10, so the red desert one was supposed to see on this train ride was very green.

I wanted to show you all a little of my hostel. These two areas seem to channel specific movies, see if you can guess:

This one is The Shining. I had this thought late one night walking back from the bathroom- not the best time to be thinking that your hostel is a lot like the hotel in The Shining.

This one is Willy Wonka. If you cannot tell, the walls get closer and closer together at the end of my hallway until they are about a body width apart. It's funny to me.

Anyway, looking into going to Cascade brewery tomorrow. I didn't reserve a tour today, but I'm hoping it will not be a problem to call in the morning.

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