Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Glow worms and endless turns


Yes, we are on a ski trip...so why am I writing about glow worms?  We decided to break up a four hour drive to the Auckland airport by stopping at the Waitomo Caves.  A typical privately owned tourist site, the tour bagan with an embellished history of the discovery of the caves followed by how the completely natural cave formations (stalagmites) formed over thousands of years through complex chemical reactions look like an ideallic family complete with dog chasing a cat.  In a particularly large cavern the guide insisted the group sing "Silent Night" to demonstrate the free-air reflection coefficient of a 5 GigaPascel compressibility limestone (ok, she didn't say that...I just wanted to make it geophysically interesting).  This was followed by an individual of the crowd particularly keen on serenading the rest of us in a solo.  With eyerolls, I wandered farther into the cave.  So...what made this interesting?  This cave features a fly whose life cycle includes a phosphorescent larval stage.  They hang from the ceiling and, when the lights are extinguished, glow bright green.  We then walked to the lowest portion of the cave and boarded boats to exit the cave.  Along the way we entered a pitch-dark chamber with the ceiling speckled with glowing worms.  We all looked upward with our mouths open in awe at the starry-night appearance, which may not have been a good idea considering there were thousands of worms attached only by a tiny thread above us.  We emerged into a river bed deep in a limestone ravine.  We departed and climbed up to the secondary cave in such a tour: the gift shop.  We escaped with our wallets intact and enjoyed some lunch down the road.

The next two hours were spent making some incredible turns.  Not on snow, but on some of the most incredible roads I've been on.  In nearly 80 km there was never a straight-away longer than 300 m (1000 feet for the conversion-challenged).  At points it was more than 30 continuous left-right turns stringed together.  Praise the engineer who didn't own a ruler!  The Subaru Forester was put through its paces complete with burnt brakes.  Top Gear seriously needs to come to New Zealand for they have the best roads of anywhere I've seen

PS, this post was made in the arabic form of google and blogspot, which prefers text be written right to left.  Who knows how it turns out!

.Scott emerges from Waitomo Caves
A "straight" section of road in New Zealand. 

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