One of the best rules for traveling with friends is that you don’t always have to do everything together. Another good rule for traveling with kids, is that sometimes, after several days of unstructured vacation, they just need to have dinner and go to bed early. By the time we got to Saturday night, it was clear that these rules were just what the doctor ordered. The little kids were getting fussy, and I think Heather and Kevin were feeling the toll of jet lag and little sleep and were looking forward to having a little bit of “normal life” and putting everyone down early.
Taryn, Karl, and I decided to support that effort by getting out of the way — we drove out after dinner to see if we could find some kiwi birds (we didn’t) and failing that, explore one of the city parks known for its volcanic sulfur vents.
Both the evening and the park were really lovely. The weather had cooled down with a fresh breeze, so it was almost chilly as we walked through the lawns and trees in our jackets.
At first it looked like any park, with large reflecting ponds and pretty clumps of trees . . .
. . . but heavy sulfuric miasmas wafted everywhere, rising from thick burping mudpots . . .
. . . and steaming hot pools that seemed not to be very hospitable to plant and animal life but made for a wonderfully eerie atmosphere.
As lovely as it was, it didn’t take long for the novelty of this volcanic park to wear off — the reek of sulfur turned our stomachs and we felt a bit green around the gills as we retreated back to the car and the house on the hill!