Tag Archives: Adventure

Love at First Hike

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“Oh my gosh, guys! Look at this! No seriously, look at it! Are you looking?” We were still eight minutes away from getting dropped off at the foot of the trail that would lead us up Mount Cargill, and I already had my face pressed up against the car window. I may have been slightly enthusiastic about the views, because Megan finally pulled the car over and let me jump out to take a photo.

View of Blueskin Bay through the trees

View of Blueskin Bay through the tree

“No seriously guys, I think this is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen!” I declared for maybe the one-hundredth time in the last five minutes.

“Alyssa, we haven’t even started hiking yet!” Hira and Taylor reminded me with a laugh as we all piled back into the car. No matter, I was still supremely impressed and quite certain that the views could not possibly get any more beautiful than they already were.

A few short minutes into our hike, and I realized that I couldn’t have been more mistaken. Steep wooden steps led us through a mesh of ferns and crowds of leafy green shrubs. Trees arched towards each other overhead, bent in an embrace that filtered the sun into soft patches of light that speckled our path. Every few minutes, the covering of trees would thin and the vegetation would fall away just enough for us to catch glimpses of Blueskin Bay’s majestic mountains draped in silver fog.

As the trail finally subsided into a more gradual ascent towards the summit, I could feel my excitement mounting and my pace begin to quicken. Suddenly, the path forked in different directions, with the branch to the left leading towards the Organ Pipe Rocks, and the other heading towards the top of the mountain. Although it could take us four days to decide what kind of food we wanted to eat for dinner, it took us only a matter of seconds to decide that a detour to the Organ Pipes was a must. From our rocky vantage point, we were able to soak in uninterrupted views of what lay below us. Fueled by our desire to see more, we eventually pushed onwards towards the top of the mountain.

Hira and I at the Organ Pipe Rocks

Hira and I at the Organ Pipe Rocks

When Hira and Taylor stopped for some quick photos, I fervently scurried ahead. As the path bent towards the right, I spotted a small, faded sign subtly pointing in the opposite direction towards Butters Peak. Although the path was overgrown, the openness of the rocks at the top promised another clear view of all of our surroundings.

“Hira! Taylor! I’m going up the trail to the left!” I shouted, already bushwhacking my way through to the top. A few moments later, Hira and Taylor had made their way up behind me, and we found ourselves with a 360 degree view of our surroundings. The Blueskin Bay was once again revealed to us, and the Otago Peninsula finally came into sight.

Otago Peninsula from Butters Peak

Panorama of the Otago Peninsula from Butters Peak

Standing at the top of the Peak, the wind whipping around us as we took in Dunedin in all its glory, I was hit suddenly by the full force of an emotion that I had only been catching snippets of for the past few weeks. It was what I had felt for a brief moment when I first glimpsed the snowcapped mountains towering over the fields of sheep as we zoomed along on the train. It was what I had felt as I sat around the table with my flatmates, eating tacos and laughing so hard that I lost my breath. And it was what I had felt at every gap in the trees as we scaled the mountain. But here, on Butters Peak, I finally knew what it was. It was love.

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Panorama of Blueskin Bay from Butters Peak

It was the kind of love that made me feel completely content when I was home in Boston, and the kind of love that made me thrilled to return to Richmond each semester. It was the kind of love that makes someone happy despite the challenges. It was the kind of love that takes a place and makes it a home. I couldn’t claim that I would never again feel frustrated by a pad of Sticky notes that cost $8.99 rather than $2.49, or that I would never get sick of rolling out of bed when it is only 27 degrees inside, but I became certain of one thing: I will miss New Zealand when it is time for me to go. My hope is that, at the end of it all, I will look back and know that I cherished my moments here, and made the most of everything that came my way.

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Standing on Butters Peak

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No Train, No Gain

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The New Zealand flag at the foot of the mountains in Middlemarch

The New Zealand flag at the foot of the mountains in Middlemarch

The buzz of my alarm clock shattered the morning calm that lay like a protective glass windowpane between me and the busyness of the waking world. Although I wanted nothing more than to roll over in my sleeping bag and pretend that the frigid air permeating my bedroom did not exist, this morning I could not delay the inevitable. Confronting the cold, I slid out of bed and padded to the kitchen in search of breakfast.

Once my body acclimated to the chill, the pace of my morning routine began to accelerate. Soon, I was out the door, my feet propelling me in the direction of Taylor and Hira’s flat. After a week of being in Dunedin, we had decided it was time to see some of the countryside.

The railroad behind our train

The railroad behind our train

We made the twenty-minute trek to the Dunedin Train Station, where we caught the Taeri Gorge Railway train which was taking us to Middlemarch, a town at the base of the snowcapped mountains where Lord of the Rings was filmed.

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We rolled through miles and miles of sheep-speckled plains and hills canvassed in yellow wildflowers. We passed over gorgeous flowing rivers and under long stone tunnels. We let the wind whip our hair, and we froze our hands taking pictures off the back deck. But it wasn’t until the snowcapped mountains came into full view that reality hit: I was in New Zealand.

The snowcapped mountains coming into view

The snowcapped mountains coming into view

Without any language barrier to overcome or extreme cultural differences to tackle, it sometimes feels like I could be anywhere in the U.S. Yet, out there, seeing what I had only seen before in pictures of this place, I felt the full, invigorating force of being halfway around the world. It was magnificent.

After another three hours of train travel back to Dunedin, our desire for glorious views was fully satisfied. The walk back to our flats flew by as Taylor, Hira and I talked about all of the wonderful travel possibilities that we would soon have the opportunity to experience. We began to wonder if there was even enough time to do everything that we wanted to do.

What I do know, however, is that this small taste of what New Zealand has to offer left me thoroughly ready for more. And I am certain that whatever we pack into our days and weeks will lead to wonderful months filled with jaw-dropping views and exceptional memories.

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My Adventures as a Kiwi

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Originally, I was thinking that I would just give my KDL followers a few teaser posts as I made the transition over to The Wonderful World of the Wanderer for the semester, but after returning to the United States, I have decided that  ought to share my adventures here too. While I enjoyed changing it up for a bit, KDL is still my blogging home base, and I’m excited to share my semester with you all!

The Green Dragon in Hobbiton, New Zealand

The Green Dragon in Hobbiton, New Zealand

Cheers!

The Knee Deep Life: A Makeover

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The miscreant pie responsible for keeping me away from you

The miscreant pie responsible for keeping me away from you

I know it’s been a slow start back into my blogging career, but there are some things that you just have to ease into, like yoga or a pair of jeans after your fifth slice of pie. While pie certainly has contributed to distracting me from my blogging goals, I’ve been M.I.A. mainly because I realized I have been falling out of love. Falling out of love with the idea of a Bucket List, that is.

Don’t get me wrong; there are many unforgettable reasons why I fell in love with the Bucket List to begin with. I love that it has pushed me to have new experiences and to try crazy things. I love that it has dared me to escape from my comfort zone and to fight my fears. I love how it made life feel exciting and rich with adventure. But there are are some things that I don’t love about it.

Despite the great strengths of a Bucket List, it has definite drawbacks, the first being that it tends to revolve around the idea of “checking things off”. Sometimes a Bucket List causes you to do something with the underlying temptation of being able to check it off the list–such as standing for eight hours in the world’s most uncomfortable shoes to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower despite your claustrophobia and fear of heights–instead of focusing on the good that comes out of the event itself. Worse yet, the opposite happens, and the Bucket List gives the impression that an activity was completed in order to receive the satisfaction of checking it off. I don’t want to do something nice for someone in order to check it off my list; I want to do something nice for the sake of doing something nice.

And what about the serendipitous things in life? What about the adventures that were unplanned and unexpected? Flying in a helicopter, climbing in a volcano, cutting my own hair, holding an alligator, going sledding on dining trays; these things and many, many more that I have blogged about were in fact completed long before I even wrote a Bucket List or even had the intention of writing one. So if many of the things I have blogged about weren’t even originally on the list, what about the things that are important that never even make it to the list? What about the everyday moments that fill us with the happiness, light, and laughter that we most value in life?

The truth is, at least in my eyes, the Bucket List falls short on all of those fronts. While there are things that I want to do in order to live a good life, none of them come down to a checkbox on a list. While a Bucket List can help motivate me to live big, ultimately it’s not the basis for my life, nor is it what I want as the basis of my blog. But can I be turning my back on a Bucket List lifestyle completely? The answer is no. There are too many things I value about the Bucket List for that to be the case. And while the Bucket List fails to capture the full picture of happiness, it’s still a part of that picture. So this year, I’m simply taking a wider stance.

What can you expect from The Knee Deep Life in 2014? Still some good old Bucket List achievements, but ultimately you can expect a fuller image of adventure, happiness, and life.

May your 2014 be all that you hope for, and may you be Knee Deep in the wonder of it all!

KDL’s year in review as told by pictures:

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(Friday) Up To Speed

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What’s New:

Black, it turns out, is the new black. Every other color has decided to stop trying to be “the new black” and just be themselves. And I’m also leaving for a trip with one of my classes to the Dominican Republic tomorrow at 4:00AM. Surprise! No posts from me this week; my apologies.

What’s Not New:

You should still try to send a “Thank You” letter no later than 48 hours after the event, and you should still never stick a cat in a washing machine.

What I’ve Posted:

How Do You Like ‘Dem Apples

“I Didn’t Say ‘Cake’…I Said Let them Eat ‘Steak'”

Inspiration For Your Day

Inspiration For Your Day

What I’m Planning on Posting:

You’ll have to wait and see!

And I Leave You With These Quotes:

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” ~ Martin Buber

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception” –Aldous Huxley

“It all begins and ends in your mind. What you give power to, has power over you, if you allow it.” –Anonymous

Bucket List Challenge of the Day

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Hey you on the Internet! Yeah you. Come here, I’ve got something I want to share with you. No, it’s not candy or puppies, it’s the Bucket List Challenge of the Day! “What on earth could this possibly be?!” you ask?

The challenge is as simple or as complicated as you choose to make it: Go knock something off your Bucket List. Today? Yeah, today. (Okay, fine, you have one week. But next time this challenge crops up, don’t expect to be so lucky). I know, I know, you have work you have to finish for tomorrow. You’re too tired. You have to create a plan for world domination using only paper clips and small leaves. There are obligations everywhere you turn, and you will always be able to find reasons to put off what you really want to do.

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Inspiration for Your Day

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“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean

6409_1224659740623_456984_nYes, I know that publishing this at 10:20 at night might seem to defeat the purpose of “Inspiration for Your Day,” but I prefer to take the glass-half-full approach and simply suggest that this still works wonderfully for people halfway around the world in China who are just starting their days, or perhaps even the people in Hawaii, for whom the day is still young. Even if you’re about to hit the hay, it might not be such a bad idea to fall asleep contemplating this notion of wind and sails.

When I read Dean’s words, I think of volleyball. And no, it’s not because I once tried to use a sail as a net and it kept getting blown over so I had to incessantly readjust it. It’s because we have a phrase in the sport that’s called “better the ball”. It means that the ball isn’t always going to come right to you, or land just where you want it to, but you have to do the best with what you’re given. In the same vein, the wind doesn’t always make things easy for you when you’re out on the ocean, and life doesn’t always propel you from one magical circumstance to the next.

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