Lets journey back a few weeks to the weekend of September 25, 2010 (I know this is a little outdated, but better late then never!). Friday evening, after an afternoon full of group project work (always a thrill *sarcasm*) I left with Sam, Erika for a much needed escape to Tauranga (the hometown of both the boys!). As I've mentioned before, we happened to make best friends with the two people who cannot leave Bryant hall at the same time (as they are the bosses - the senior R.A.s). Therefore, we had to leave Gabe behind for the night. But no worries, we reunited with him the next day... phew! We stayed at Sam's dad's house and had a fabulous meal prepared on the BBQ - sausages, chicken and other delicacies. Then, spent the evening hanging out, watching some rugby on TV, and got to meet his dad, step mom and little brother!
In the morning, Gabe met us bright and early at Sam's for round two - breakfast on the barbie (the grill, not Ken's gal), which included sausages, hash browns, bacon, eggs... the whole she-bang. Unfortunately, similar to the last time we came on a weekend visit to TGA, the weather was uncooperative, angry skies all the way. We had made ambitious plans to visit Kiwifruit country in nearby Te Puke, where, apparently, you can take tours of the kiwifruit orchards, climb a giant kiwifruit, and see "magical illusion taps" that looks like water is flowing upside down (no clue what people mean by this, seeing as didn't actually get to go).
Next, we had hoped to accompany Gabe to the BloKart track, where, after he and his brother had an interview with the local newspaper about their upcoming trip to the BloKart World Champs in Europe, we would be able to try BloKarting (since last time pretty much consisted of Gabe pushing us all around on a windless Raglan beach). Neither of these weather-dependent plans came to fruition, BUT we did have a lovely, lazy morning. Instead, Sam took us on a spontaneous driving tour of TGA. We stopped to watch some elderly folks play English lawn bowls, clad in their traditional white attire, visited TGA's historic village (a small colonial main street lined with the old, restored buildings), and another historic site: a "Pa" (battle site).
Fun fact (courtesy of Sam): The Maori people were the first to develop trenches! Atop the hill, where a battle plaque describes the mid-19th century clash between English settlers and Maori natives that took place there, you can see where the Maori used "Punga" (a prickly tree, similar to a spikier palm tree trunk) to line the sides of a trench, making it impassable by the enemy.
Erika and Sam doin' what they do best... lookin' creeepayy:
We finished off the afternoon with some hot chocolates for Sam and Erika and a flat white for me at a local cafe by the beach and delicious ice creams from Copenhagen Cones. I must say, we tend to have ice cream at the most inappropriate times. The gale winds and drizzle made it a bit chilly and threatened to make my ice cream gritty.
We were back by the late afternoon, in time to change and off to the rugby game that evening! Sam, as a referee for the Waikato Rugby Union, was invited to the flash Life Member function before the match, where he enjoyed a mean food spread and was excited by his name badge. I hitched a ride with Sam, arriving at the field at 5 pm before the 7:30 pm kick-off to meet up with the media/events management staff. Danelle, the events co-ordinator for the union, had spoken to a group of us MCSA (management communication) students a few weeks earlier about her job search and current position. She mentioned that anyone interested in her gig should feel free to contact her to attend a game and see how they run things on game night. I was interested.
Before the game, Danelle gave me a tour of the stadium, where I flashed my "all access" pass to see the whole venue, from press and print media rooms, to the announcer's booth, ritzy private function viewing boxes, and even the stadium entrance tunnel by the locker rooms etc.
Posing with Kate, another Waikato uni girl who currently has an internship with the rugby union:
During the game, I shadowed Danelle and her team, running around on the edge of the field, watching as they coordianted the pre-game show and half-time events, making sure that it all matched up with the TV crew's cues. At half-time, three fans from the "green zone" (aka the cheap seats, on the sloping grassy hill behind one of the end zones) were chosen to shoot t-shirts out of a potato-gun type canon. The person to land their rolled up shirt closest to a Waikato flag in the center of the field wins. Erika and Gabe had gone to the game as fans - two of the most spirited I must say. Since it was a rainy night, the green zone was pretty empty, but their lit it up with their painted faces and bubbly attitudes :).
Erika and Gabe, looking amazing! Go Waikato!
When Danelle mentioned choosing people from the crowd to shoot the canon, I mentioned my crazy face-painted friends. Gabe got a chance to shoot the cannon and won!! My favourite part was when the radio host interviewing him asked: "So Gabe, did you get any tips from watching the other two guys shoot the canon before you?" Gabe's reply: "shoot it UP." Hahah hmm... good idea. Also, when the gun backfired and Danelle jumped so high I thought she had a heart attack.
Gabe kicking some canon-shooting ass:
Long story short, the game was a blast. The media folks were fun to hang out with for the evening and Danelle was SO nice to show me around while she was trying to work at the same time! Sam looked fabulous in his suit and got to "shmooze" with rugby's elite. Erika looked amazing (albeit a bit cold, since it was freezing outside and she was in sandals!!) Gabe was very happy - and who wouldn't be after winning 2 free t-shirts and 3, 24-boxes worth of Waikato Draught beer. The night was a success! We got back before 10 pm, got ready, and had a fun time out on the town, where we danced until the lights came on :).