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The Adventures of the Allycat

Welcome to Ally's travel page! Here you will find an account of all my adventures with my friend Laura. The intended destinations are: The Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, East coast of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and USA. Please read the stories, look at the pictures and leave messages. Enjoy!

Diary Entries

Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Location: Los Angeles, USA

Hello 2006! Whistler rocked. We partied hard before and during New Years....and then everyone got sick - really sick! So what an anticlimax. Everyone has recovered now.

We have spent the last week in LA getting frustrated with the crazy traffic here. I hate driving! Now I'll be able to escape this big city for awhile. We're driving up to San Francisco today. Laura's super excited to go there and she flies out of San Francisco airport on Saturday - back to the UK. I'm gonna stick around for a couple weeks more so I can go to Arizona and see my sisters.

So more partying to be done in Frisco - I haven't had a chance to properly explore the city, so I'm looking forward to the next few days.

Catch ya later!

Monday, 26 December 2005

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Hey Everyone!

What a whirlwind xmas! Laura and I arrived in LA the afternoon of the 24th. That evening we made our way down to Laguna Beach to spend Xmas eve with my Uncle Severin's side of the family.

On Sunday we were going back and forth across LA visiting family members. In the evening we were back at LA airport to pick up my mom who had been in Arizona. Early Monday morning we were back at the airport to catch our flight to Vancouver. So it feels like so far we've seen more of the airport than anything else.

We'll be spending New Years Eve in Whistler - its only a 2 hour drive from Vancouver. I hope to get some snowboarding in too.

I wish you all a very happy new year!

Wednesday, 21 December 2005

Location: Nananu-i-Ra Island, Fiji

Bula everyone!

Fiji is amazing. I love it here. The people are so friendly and helpful, everyone has a smile for you, and the islands are beautiful. Each place that I visit, I become so sad when I have to leave.

We flew into Nadi and spent 2 nights there to sort out our travel arrangements. There's nothing much to do in Nadi and not pretty at all. It pretty much serves as a transport hub.

Then we spent 3 nights on Mana island which is part of the Mamanuca group. Very basic facilities, but lovely people. Made coconut jewellery, explored the island and went island hopping.

Then we spent 4 nights on the Coral Coast in a backpacker resort called The Beachhouse. This place is amazing! I couldve stayed there for my whole time in Fiji. Everyday there was an activity to do, from snorkeling, to a jungle trek, to basket weaving. The people there were so nice. Everyday there was free tea with scones. And afterwards we would have a serious volleyball session until the sun went down.

Then we made our way to Colo-i-Suva and stayed at the Raintree Lodge. There is a forest park there that we hiked through. You feel like Indianana Jones. I had to grab a big stick to swing through the air and get rid of the giant cobwebs. The best part were the lower pools. A sequence of freshwater pools with rope swings and stone steps. It was like our own private paradise since now one else was there.

Now we're in Nananu-i-Ra island which is off the north of Viti Levu the main island.

We're flying off to LA on Sat so I'll probably catch up with you all there.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, 09 December 2005

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Goodbye New Zealand! Laura and I are flying to Fiji today. I don't know how good the internet is over there, so it might be awhile before I update this page again.

For anyone reading this - come to New Zealand! It's amazing and beautiful here!

A big thanks to Craig for letting us crash at his place and eat his yummy ham. xxx

If you want to check out any photos from the past week, go to Laura's webpage:

www.planetranger.com/lulu

Wednesday, 07 December 2005

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

We are nearing the end of our time in NZ. How sad! I really love this place.

Since the sky dive we've been busy as usual.

After Taupo we headed to Rotorua. Underneath the area is an extremely active thermal field. There are lots of spas and natural mud pools to see. The whole place stinks of sulphur. I don't know how the locals get used to it.

Our first night there we got a taste of Maori culture. We went to a hangi & concert. A hangi is a feast, where the food is prepared under the earth. We were taken by bus to a recreated Maori village. At the entrance to the village we were met by Maori warriors who did an intimidating 'friend or foe' ritual. We were sternly told not to laugh or imitate any of the warriors gestures as it would be interpreted as extremely rude or as a challenge to the warriors. It was pretty hard not to laugh though, not so much because it was funny, but because of nervousness. It was an intimdating experience - which is the whole point. The warriors stick their tongues out at you, roll back their eyes and bulge their eyes, slap their chests, advance and shout a Maori chant at you. Once the warriors have determined that you come in peace, they let you enter the village.

Inside the village, we saw people carrying on activities that supposedly would be typical in an ancient Maori village, like games or practicing moves for battles.

Then we were led into a concert hall where the 'family' performed songs for us. They also performed the legendary haka, which is like a 'war dance'. It is used to pump up the warriors before battle and to intimidate their opponents. When the warriors stick out their tongues, they are saying, 'I want to eat you". It was kind of scary seeing the haka upclose. I had to look at the ground a few times because I didn't want to look at any of the warriors in the eye. If they catch your eye they deliberatly stare at you and become more ferocious in their actions.

After the concert we ate a massive feast. It was yummy!

The next day we went to the Waitomo caves. We donned wetsuits, helmets and funny looking white boots and headed into Raukuri Cave which has a river flowing through it. We were given inner tubes so we could float down the deep sections. At 2 points, we had to jump over waterfalls - great fun! But the best part, without a doubt, was seeing the glowworms. There were thousands of them, hanging above us, like stars in the sky. At one point, we turned off our lights and sang a song. The vibrations of our voices made the glowworms glow brighter. They think that it is an approaching 'meal'.

Our next destination was the Bay of Islands, which is in the northern part of New Zealand. Our first day we went to Ngawha mud pools which are supposed to be very therapuetic and healing. I guess you'd have to be pretty sick to get into those things as they looked like boiling cess pools. We weren't sick, but since we were there we decided to give it a go anyways. At first we didn't even want to sit down, but after awhile we were fully into it and were rubbing the mud over our bodies and trying out the different pools. There were about 8 in total and each one has a different tempterature. Some were mild and others felt like they were boiling hot. We stank so bad afterwards! I had to scrub and scrub my skin to fully get rid of the smell. My bikini will never recover. At least I had the sense to wear one I didn't care much about.

We spent 4 days in the Bay of Islands, just chilling out. The weather was pretty changeable and we couldn't tell whether it was going to rain or not, but we managed to squeeze in a few activities before the rain hit. Probably the best activity was our 2 hour kayak through the mangrove trees and to one of the offshore islands. Kayaking through the trees was really peaceful and beautiful. We even saw a spotted jellyfish floating in the water. Back in the open sea, our kayaking adventure became more challenging. The wind had picked up quite a bit and we really had to battle to get ourselves across to the island. When we finally got to the island we only had 5 mins to rest before we had to turn around to return the kayaks.

Now we're in Auckland, staying with my mate Craig. It's nice to be in a home again. Today will probably be full of lounging in pyjamas and doing our mountain of washing.

Sunday, 27 November 2005

Location: Taupo, New Zealand

After a week spent in Queenstown, Laura & I headed out early on Tuesday morning for Christchurch. The drive took nearly all day. Along the way we stopped at Lake Wakatipu - a glacial lake with a brilliant blue colour. As the glacier moved and gouged out the lake's basin, it crushed the rock into a fine, flour-like powder - 'rock flour'. The rock particles float in the water and give the water a milky quality which refracts the sunlight and creates the brilliant blue colour. For lunch we stopped at a Lake Tekapo, also a glacial lake by the town of the same name.

In the evening we were back in Christchurch and staying in a hostel called Country Cottage. It's about a 15-20 min walk from the city centre, but very home-like and comfortable. The only bad thing about the place was that it was absolutely freezing inside!

On Thursday we were off again and headed for Kaikoura where you can swim with the dolphins. However, the bad weather continued to persist and the dolphin swimming was called off because of a rough sea. There was the option to go on a waiting list to swim with the dolphins at 5.30am the next day but I really couldn't be bothered with that. So for the rest of the day we hung around the hostel playing cards and reading. There was no TV which was nice for a change because people made an effort to talk to each other and play games. The day was quite entertaining purely because of the funny group of people that we met on the Kiwi bus that day. They were always making jokes and doing Little Britain impersonations.

On Friday it was back on the bus and off to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Wellington is on the North Island, so it was bye bye South Island. We drove from Kaikoura to Picton and from Picton we rode the ferry to the North Island. The scenery on the drive out of Kaikoura was beautiful. On our right hand side was the ocean, and on the left hand side was green vegetation, with snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Wellington isn't a pretty city, but it does have a good night life. That night the Foo Fighters were playing, so all the hostels were packed out. Laura & I had to shell out quite a bit more dosh than we would normally pay for a room that night.

On Saturday it was another early start for Taupo. We didn't stop in any place of great interest, but the scenery as we entered Taupo was very different from anything I've ever seen before. (Unfortunately, I couldnt take any pix because I think I left my camera in Kaikoura.) About 40 mins from Taupo is the Tongariro National Park which is New Zealand's 1st national park, established in 1887. It is a sacred place to the Maori and in order to preserve it, a Maori chief offered it to the NZ government as a gift, on the conditions that they turn it into a national park. The park contains three volcanoes, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. The name Tongariro comes from 'tonga' (south wind) and 'riro' (carred away). According to Maori legend, a priest was stuck on the summit and had almost perished from the cold. He called to his sisters in Hawaiki for fire, saying he was being 'carried away by the south wind'. As the sisters approached they ignited the volcanoes. All three volcanoes in the park are still active. Ruapehu erupted in 1995 and again in 1996. Both Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe were used in the Lord of the Rings films to represent Mt Doom. According to our Lonely Planet guidebook, Ngauruhoe is the one which most resembles the Mt Doom we see in the movie, but I can't validate that fact because its been so cloudy that I haven't seen the volcanoes yet.

The land that we drove through had no trees growing in the area, only tufts of straw-coloured grass on knobby ground. In the cuttings made to create the highway you can see the different layers formed from the lava flows. Then as we drove closer to Taupo, the landscape changed into pine forests. About 10km outside of Taupo we ran into a bicycle race which goes around Lake Taupo. This is 160km race! Our driver became very stressed out while driving behind all the cyclists. Some of them paid no attention whatsoever to the bright green bus behind them and would swerve about on the road.

Lake Taupo is NZ's largest lake and was formed by 'one of the greatest volcanic explosions of all time'! I quote lonely planet here. The explosion which formed the huge hole which is now filled by Lake Taupo took place 26,500 years ago and was like Krakatoa and Mt St Helens combined and then multiplied by 80.

A lot of travellers that we have met did their skydives in Taupo as its the cheapest place to do it. The 3 skydiving companies are having a price war at the moment, so it was even cheaper than usual. So before we checked into our hostel, we stopped off at one of the sky dive companies to book our sky dive for the next day. Because the weather has been so changeable we had to call the sky diving company the next morning to check if the jump was going or not.

When we called the next morning we were told that it was on hold for the moment and that we should check back in an hour. So I was taking my time with my breakfast and coffee and talking to a lady from Yorkshire about skydiving. She had booked one for later on that afternoon. Then Laura came and got me and said, "We're gonna do our skydive now - they're here to pick us up!" I was pretty sure in my head that the skydive was going to be called off so I was feeling quite calm that morning. But I got nervous as we quickly grabbed our things and piled into the minibus.

Since we were doing a tandem skydive, there wasn't much preparation to be done. As we walked in, the guys were packing up the parachutes. We filled out some papers, put on our jumpsuits and harnesses and met the guys who would be going tandem with us. It took about 15 minutes for this to happen. Then we boarded the plane and took off. We were in the plane for another 15 minutes until we levelled off and could jump. Since Laura & I were the first ones in the plane, we were the last ones to jump. I was the very last person. Jumping out of the plane happened quickly too. They give you no time to reconsider your decision. Once you were on that plane, you were committed. Jason, the guy strapped to my back pushed me to the open door, I smiled at the camera man as he jumped out and then whoosh, we were out of the plane. My stomach jumped into my chest, just like it did in the canyon swing, but the sensation left quickly and was replaced with a weightlessness. All I could hear was the wind rushing in my ear and me screaming. At first I was afraid to move my arms about, but then I got used to the wind rushing against my body and started doing some moves for the camera. The freefall lasted for 45 seconds. During that time we fell at 200km an hour. It's hard to explain, but It happened both fast and not fast. It was a long 45 seconds, but also over before I wanted it to be over. Before I boarded the plane I asked Jason if we could do some flips and I think we did one before he pulled the chute. After he pulled the chute I could take in my surroundings and then I noticed that we were falling through a cloud. When we broke through the cloud I could see Lake Taupo and the land below me. Jason started turning the chute so that we would spiral down, which was really fun. I could see the other jumpers below me, floating to the landing site. The landing was quite easy. I was expecting it to be harsh, but it was very soft. Jason told me to pull my legs up to my knees. As he touched the ground, I put my legs down and we were standing. I had the biggest smile on my face.

When I started this trip I never intended to skydive. I couldn't understand why someone would want to intentionally jump out of a plane. Also, I hate those rides that have a vertical drop - I don't like the feeling it gives you in your stomach. However, I met so many people in NZ that said their skydive was so amazing, and some of them had been really scared to do it, but were so glad that they had. They also told me that you don't get the feeling of your stomach jumping into your throat. So that's why I decided to give it a go. I'm so glad I did. It really has been the highlight so far. After I jumped I felt like nothing else could top the experience I just had. I want to do it again!!!!

Monday, 21 November 2005

Location: Queenstown, New Zealand

Canyon Swing - holy crap!!!!!!! Laura and I were swingers baby, ya! Check out the photos under the title "AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!"


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Recent Messages

From yacine
hi girls what's new, where are you now ? is't the end of your trip ?
kiss Laura, good luck
Response: Hey Yacine! Trip is over, I am back in London. Write me at my yahoo email address. Bisous!
From Paul
Hi Ally, keep on travelling - you must be tempted- like I said, come back to Australia!. Hope you have a fantastic time in Arizona. I'm off to Singapore then on to Japan. Look forward to hearing more soon. Love always xxx
Response: To be perfectly honest, I'm sick of travelling now. I miss my home comforts. I'm looking forward to getting back to my life in London. Have a good time in Singapore & Japan. Actually, Japan is one of those places that resurrects the travelling bug. We'll see! Take care, Allyson
From shanna
hello dearest!!!!
nice pictures wow you really ha a good time... ei i don't look good in our picture hehehe, but i like you more with you THAI PRINCESS, send me a picture of that okey ill show it to my friends that i have PRINCESS CUZIN ayayay!!!
ciao c yah!! mwah loveyou sweetie... miss yah!

Response: Ok Cuz! I'll send you a copy along with your lipstick and union jack t-shirt. Love ya! xx
From Charli
Hey! Belated Season's Greetings....hope you had a great new year celebrating in Whistler! and enjoyed skiing/boarding, it's the nicest place to ski i've been - when are you due back? really hope everything is well with you al..missing you and thinking of you..huge love...cX
Response: Hi hun! We had a great time skiing in Whistler. The runs are great, even though there wasn't much snow. I would love to do it again. Everything is going really well. Its so fun to be back with my family. But I'm looking forward to getting back to the UK and seeing all my friends. I miss you guys! Hope everythings good with you. Lots of love, Alxx
From Monroe Burch
YO, PLANET RANGER IS SO AWESOME. I ALMOST CRIED WHEN I SAY THESE WICKED AWESOME PHOTOS. ROCK ON BROS!!!!
Response: Hahaha!! Very funny, glad you enjoyed the photos. If you want to check out Laura's go to: www.planetranger.com/lulu
Hope you're having fun in Oakland.
From yacine
happy new year ally :)
Response: Happy New Year Yacine! I hope 2006 brings you much love, happiness & prosperity.
From tamika!
hey manna!! what's up@@ nothing much here sorry i couldnt' talk to you much on new years!!!! it was really crowded!! well happy new years
Response: That's ok baby. Happy new year to you too. I love you! xxx
From Jess
Hey Ally!!
I hope you are having a great time!! I miss you and Laura like crazy and I'm so glad that you are having a blast! I tried emailing you and I think I have the wrong email address or something so could you send me your email address so we can keep in touch?! I love you and I miss you and hopefully sometime when I make it to England I'll come and visit you!!
Much love,
Jess
Response: Hi Jess! Happy New Year sweetie! It's so good to hear from you. I've been meaning to email you ever since we did the canyon jump. I'm terrible, I know. I hope you've had a great holiday season and that uni is going well for you. Lots of love, Ally
From Ify
Hey Ally,
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!
Your trip sounds amazing!!! and you jumped I can't believe it. I had dinner with Milly, Mel, Chiz and Kate last night we really missed you! I'm planning elective at the moment and trying to decide where to go for the second month... where is your favourite place so far??
Love you loads
Ifyxx
Response: Hello Babes! Im so jealous that I wasn't there for the dinner. I can't wait to see you all again. My favs so far, definitely NZ and Fiji. Maybe I'll try to sneak away with you. ;-) Merry Christmas babe! xxx
From Paul
Hi Ally,
Hope you have a wonderful xmas and new year. I'm off to the COLD uk tomorrow for a week. I was in India last week,amazing - I think you should add that to your next trip! Take care
Love always. xxx
Response: Hope you have a wonderful time with your family. A big hug for Annabel. I'll have to catch up with you and hear all about your trip to India. Happy Holidays!
From Charli
Hey!! wow....cannot believe all you've been up to and squeezing into your time! And you jumped! really great pictures - NZ looks so beautiful and filled with light, really hope you are well and getting excited as your Hollywood Christmas draws nearer! thinking of you lots -
huge love to you AlX
Response: Hi Sweetie! Hope you have a wonderful xmas and new years. xxx
From anna and mike
Hi Ally,
I don't think our previous message got posted-so here goes again-
Mike and I spent yesterday reading and looking over everything you've done in NZ and we're so impressed by the photos and Mike can't believe how good your knowledge is of everwhere you've been. Mike's so homesick now and I can't believe I haven't been to Queenstown yet!
Enjoy your time in Fiji and am really looking forward to meeting up in London when you get home. Lots of love, Anna
Response: Hi you two! I got the other message but haven't been able to access internet for the past 2 weeks. Im impressed that Mike's impressed! That's so cool. I loved NZ so much - definitely want to go back. But Im loving Fiji too - its so lovely here! Looking forward to seeing you both in Cambridge. Happy Holidays! xx
From Anna & Mike
Wow!!! We just looked at your photos and read all about your experiences in NZ, Mikey's homesick now! We're both so jealous. I love this website, your photos are beautiful. Looking forward to meeting up in London when you come home. xx anna
From Olivia
Hi babes!!!
No other words than WOW!
I'm sitting in my office and I'm looking at pictures of you bunjy jumping and sky diving and around this mind blowing beautiful lake in NZ... Just WOW!
You are incredible!
Gros gros gros bisous
Olivia
Response: Hello sweets! Congrats on the job. You must email me soon and tell me all about it. Lots of love, Ally
From Jewelle
HOLY.....HAHAHHHAAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAH- AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA omg my fav pic is the one of u sky diving for sure..ahaaaha i wish i was there ..Poooo :( im missing u loads hunny...cant wait to see u when u get back...... and tell me where that glow on ur face has come from :)
Response: hahaha....I look so stupid in the photos - good laughing material. See you in Jan sweetie pie! Love you! xx
From Paul
Hi Ally,
WOW, So impressed by the skydive. Your both so brave and the photos are hysterical, love the hat!Summer officially started in Australia 2 days ago, no more rain! Are you sure you can't be convinced to travel back this direction after your time in the USA?.Hope everything is great and you have now learnt the Hakka and are swinging the Poi! Love always Xxx
Response: Hello! I'm writing this msg from Craig's PC! He's doing good. Sorry, can't go back, although it is tempting! It would just be prolonging the inevitable return to the UK...brrrr! xx
From yacine
snif and re-snif ;"'( me to, i want to make a sam jame like you, and i want to say AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA- AAH too :)
Response: Hehe....your father will have a heart attack! Maybe you can do it on your travels in Europe. ;-)
From Mommy
Hey sweeti!
My stomach was shrinking as I watch you fall in that picture. You are so crazy!!!! You definitely did not get that daredevil personality from me!
If you've been wondering that no text from me.....well, I lost my phone in Vancouver last Thursday. It seems that evrytime we go to this one club we end up losing something. We are not going there again!!!!
Well, don't get too crazy with your adventures! I want to see you in one piece.

Love,
MOM
Response: Hey momma! Ok, I was wondering why you weren't answering my txts.

hehe....I didn't intend to do something like that, but because we won it, I felt like it would be a waste not to take the opportunity. I'm still in one piece - don't worry! Love you!! xxx
From Paul
Happy Thanks Giving,Indiana.
That seems more appropriate after the Canyon Swing. Your smile up to the camera made me laugh. Perfect. xxx
Response: =) hehe....I was pretty excited and nervous at that point. I think I wanted to get it over & done with. I wish you could see the video footage my friend took. It is so funny. As soon as I jump off you hear a high-pitched scream and see me flailing my arms about as if I was trying to fly. Hahaha!
From Ryan
Hey again girls!! Oh my god the photos of New Zealand are absolutely amazing! Still studying hard so im able to experience some of what you have! Will definitely be picking your brains about what youve seen and done!! Keep having fun!! P.S. yeah seen some pretty good gigs, is a lot of good music around at the moment!! Oh and finally got to see Kings Of Leon!! haha
Response: Hello!!! I can't believe you saw Kings of Leon without me....=( Bastard! I'm gonna try to see Foo Fighters in Wellington. Fingers crossed!

You have to come to New Zealand. It's stunning here. Take care!!
From Your Best sister in
Hi manna how have you been wow your pictures are soo pretty i love where you were with the ice stuff. well i hope that you have been safe!! and i guess you still have 3 months for you to end this adventure! i love you and my fiend brittany says hi and that you are pretty! bee safe hope to see you soon!!!!!
Response: Hello Baby! Everything is going fine. I'm glad you like the pictures. They look pretty, but it was so cold! I love you so much and I will see you in January. Hello to Brittany. MUAH!!!!!!
From Paul
Hi Ally,
The Glacier trip looked amazing, but I couldn't tell which one of you was Hillary and which was Tensing. Well done for surviving!.
Cant wait to see a picture of whoever does the Canyon Swing but maybe you could try to add sound to that so we can hear the scream that accompanies it! Go girl. Love always. xxx
Response: Haha...well it wasn't quite like Everest but I feel for any arctic explorer. I guess I would be Tenzing eh? Laura & I did a coin toss and I won the canyon swing, so I'm doing it tomorrow....aaah! Take care. x
From Chiz
Ally!
My goodness, your pictures are amazing!! Seems like you've done alot more since I last tuned in. Absolutely, loving the look of New Zealand...stunning beaches! Oh, what I would do be hanging out at beach right now.... (sob)
Hope all is peachy? Remain safe, have fun and hope to hear more, more, more...
Love ya mucho,
Chiz xx :)
Response: Hey Chizo! Ya, we've done a lot so far. And there's more to come! NZ is beautiful. You have to come here one day! Love you xx
From Mommy
Everytime I read what you have written in your adventures, I just crack-up laughing. It's like reading a comic book! It always cheer me up! I can just picture your pretty face in some of those awful situations that you encounter! Ha ha
Response: =) I'm glad that I'm giving you a good laugh. Ive collected quite a few good stories by now. I'm sure there will be plenty more. Hehe!
From PRINCESS SARAH
hi my wonderful sis, you know i am soooooo sorry that i lost your e mail thingy. lol well we just got off the phone and it is now 11 00, but that is ok because it just gives me a great excuse to sleep through all my classes tomarrow!!!!!!!!!! no i still have a crapload of hw but hey thats what government class is for, not like i ever pay attention n e ways. well i better go got to get up early and run, then eat, thats how my days go, wake up eat run, eat, study maybe, hang out with ANDREW! basketball practice, eat, yoga, shower (once a month) lol and sleep. now ally dont go and get frozen now in wherever the heck you are!!!! love you lots and what do you want for x mas!!!!!!!!
Response: FINALLY!!! My long lost sis writes to me...hehe...never mind, it was really good to speak to you. Brought a big smile to my face. Don't get detention for falling asleep in class! I'll think about my xmas pressie....what do you want? Maybe a stairmaster? hahaha! Love you sis! xxxxxxxxxxxx