vibrantabyss: (airship)
Been back in the States for a couple of days, albeit in SF visiting with [ profile] eccentrific and [ profile] gorgo in the nice 65 degree weather rather than the snowy mess of home.  A good way to ease back into things from summer.

My last day in NZ started with some lounging around the hostel to say goodbye to folks, then a 450km drive to Christchurch.  Total driving for the trip: 4650 km, which gives me an average self-conducted land speed of about 14kph.  Highlight of the drive back was pulling over and watching a pod of dolphins course back and forth in one small inlet.  Was great to see them as they are not common in the south isle this time of year.

I did not feel like coming home, but everything seemed to just fit.  There is a $25 departure fee to leave New Zealand, which I had forgotten about.  I had $26.30 left in my pockets.  I had requested an aisle seat, confirmed I had ailse all the way through... and when I boarded the long leg in Auckland, found I had been given a center seat.  Ick.  Talked to the concierge, and she changed me to a different, and totally empty row.  So I had choice of widow or ailse at will.  I also had not-quite-enough space to sleep lying down, but better than sitting up.

Of course, when I was transferred from AirNewZealand to their partner United for the leg from LA to SF, they botched the baggage.  The delivery of baggage to my hotel (I flew in on the 14th so was letting my hosts have that night to make special)  was botched.  Eventually I got my stuff tho. 

Dreams have been decidedly vibrant, and weird.  Last night I had three: one which would have to be locked.  The next one, I was fixing up an apartment and seeking five to eight housemates from various ficticious living groups, although the entire cast seemed either suspoid or dslj.  So I seemed to cycle between working on the house, making trips for materials - to something far more amazing than Home Despot, and paying visits to my friends at an old white and green Queen Anne style house with a collapsed second-story porch - tho it had fallen straight down, and folks had just re-seat the plastic furniture on the debris; a four or five story yellowish brick thing that may have been a converted hotel - it certainly had part of one floor that was a restaurant.  I remember remembering the name on the place (which was in blue letters) for about a minute after I woke - then it slid away.

The third was going to a department store to buy an expansion to a video game.  They had two versions, and while I managed to take down the last copy of both basic and deluxe and was pondering which I should get, a stock boy came by and took both of them.  The manager was apologetic, but explained that I took too long to decide.  When I complained, he gave me a "bonus flyer" of completely useless specials.

The prior night's dreaming ended with one about an apartment in a complex which had to be accessed through a set of three hallways at right angles to eachother.  Each with different ceiling heights, and widths, and relative proportions thereof.  The walls were a light bluish grey/  It took me close to two hours after waking up to feel like I was properly parsing space.

Neither night has proven restful, dspite being down close to ten hours each time... *grump*

Yesterday we drove to Monterey and spent the day on Cannery Row and in the Aquarium - best one I've been in ever.  We got to see sea otter both inside and out in the wild, and a bunch of neat displays.  Sadly no sunfish or seaturtles at present - the sunfish keep outgrowing the tank, and then getting refreshed.  The turtles had learned to eat the tank tiling, so are off display until the tank gets renovated this summer so they don't have access to toxic snacks... but it was still well worth the trip.

Today we are heading into the city, with hopes of hitting both the academy (science) museum and managing a walk in Muir Woods.  Then after dinner I get dropped off at the airport to redeye home.
vibrantabyss: (Default)
Yesterday it finally rained, not hard and only for a handful of hours, but at least the ground isn't dry.  I went out for a hike in the rain, mostly along a forest path.  The tree cover was enough to keep me somewhat dry, despite the fact that the rain coming down on the leaves was more than fair competition for the cicadas, and those drone loud enough that I want earplugs in some places - not to sleep, but just to walk through.  I take a side trip through a field and up a ridge line to look down across the tops of the trees, and up to see the clouds tearing on nearby hilltops.  Then I turn around and watch cloud and fog roll in across Nelson, covering the port and some of the barrier strand.  The lighthouse remains in view.

Once more in the woods, I stand in the rain-shadow of a tree, listening.  I can hear three things: rain, wind, and cicadas.  No motors, no voices, not even the sound of my breathing.  I close my eyes and let the purity of it wash over me and through me.  The back to the hostel for a change of clothes.

So, no chance to dance in a summer thunderstorm on the far side of the world.  And now my time here grows short.  Half a day and I will be at the airport getting on a plane to head homewards.  And the last two days I have been feeling more and more torn.  I know I will soon be leaving and part of me wants to stay.  I have found my door into summer, and I do not want to walk back out.  I miss home, my friends, my cat.  But I do not want to leave here, not yet.  There is something magical about this place, like a door into childhood.  I wonder if three months would be enough to make me truly homesick?

Last time was here I think I ripped myself in two with those feelings.  This time it is not so intense, and not driven by ghosts from my last trip.  There is something about this place that draws me.  And I will be back again.

There are so many wonderful experiences that I have not put down in writing, many stories left to tell...
vibrantabyss: (fish)
Had a really great morning dive yesterday.  Two immersions, almost 2 hours under the surface.  It has been far too long since I've done that.  Was good to refresh my skills.  My buoyancy control was shit for the first fifteen minutes or so, both because I'm out of shape and I had forgotten how to breath gently at depth.  Dis-aiding this was the fact that this is only the 2nd day I've worn any sort of wetsuit while diving, so I was buoyant in places I don't normally expect to be.  I suspect I could have managed without, but I would not have been happy.  I am not throwning quite enough heat to cope with 60 minutes in 60 degree water - tho I used to be fine with it.  But that is ramping up, and by the second dive I was unzipping and pulling on the suit to flush in cold water.

First half was a wreck dive in 9-14m of water.  Lots of invertebrate life and a number of small fish.  The star of the show was a lone seahorse - the ones here are mostly nocturnal.  With uncurled tail, it must have been over a foot in length.  With tail curled in it was about 8".  Certainly the largest I've ever seen.  Our guide also found a live scallop, and placed it near a starfish.  It took about 2 seconds for the shellfish to react, open up and pump itself away!

The second dive was in a fish sanctuary, 12-16m, and started out with feeding blue cod.  Highlight this time went to what the guide was sure was a brittle star.  It was under a rock in a thin crack, so we only saw three arms waving.  But they were smooth and I thought most stars were.. feathery.  And the arms were surprisingly mobile for a star - ultra-thin tendrils 8"-10" in length - but too slow to be an octopus, which is the only other thing I could conceive it being.  A nice number of brightly colored fish all through the reserve - which is not usual for water this cold.

Amongst other things, I caught our dive master in making an error on the dive charts to determine our safety limits.  And I haven't bothered consulting them in decades.  I guess he usually relies on a wrist computer, or just knowing the limits on the dives (which he must run 3-5 times a week) that he hasn't used the chart in ages.  Good to know that I still recall how they work.

I failed to significantly taunt the rain with that comment in my last post.  It did spatter as I drove down from Picton post-dive, but no substantial rain.  The north and west are closing in on 20 days with no substantial precipitation, and baby kiwis are dying 'cause the ground is too hard-baked in some areas for their little bills to penetrate.

Last night while I was cooking dinner, our host brought in a baby hedgehog from the garden.  About half-sized, I think.  Cute little fella.  Couldn't take the time to play with him around the hot stove, and messy hands, and animals & food prep don't mix.  But cute little guy.  Seems he gets brought in about once a week to be shown to the guests and doesnt object.  There seems to be no adult around...  Sadly camera is not an easy fix, so no shots of the little guy.
vibrantabyss: (reef)

And used to writing on a sub-laptop sized keyboard, so am having to correct a pile of typoes as I go...

Today was a three hour hike after a late start and long drive out of ChristChurch.  Back, well and tired.  Clock claims it is almost 9pm and it doesnt feel it at all.  Tomorrow I go diving in the morning, then head off for the remains of my stay, which will be in and around Nelson.

+ total cash found is now up to $107.20, $5 went to tip the guide on the glacier walk, and $2 went to support a penguin habitat
+ heard random music out hiking today.  poked around in the bush, and found a cell phone.  managed to get it home to its owner.
- my camera took a fall while offloading dad at the airport.  camera is ok, but lens is comatose, and may be dead - at the very least something popped loose inside.  at worst some plastic housing broke.
+ very not upset about the lens.  discovered this within minutes of finding the cellphone, so just part of the greta give and take of life.
- have spend no time sunning, and need to work on unpastywhitening
+ weather looks to be excellent for that
+ I am a crazy man that goes to a place with 200 days of rain a year, with no raingear.  And never misses it

- My inner asshole came out on the road today.  I car hauling a trailer which I was passing, and about even with his back door, decided that he was going to pass the car in front of him, then and there.  Maybe he forgot he had a trailer, but even without one it would have been a dangerous move.  After I recovered from going off the road I blew by him, and he had to suffer 45 minutes of a car doing 60 in a 100 zone which would not let him pass.

+/- Lots of ghosts coming up for me, all going well though.

Image from the walk today: 

Treetrunks tossed like toothpick bones on the narrow strand of beach below, as a school of sails tack in time, avoiding an unseen hunter.

vibrantabyss: (Default)
Dropped dad off at the airport a hair after midnight. Time to go find trouble!

And these have been getting long so
more behind the cut )
vibrantabyss: (reef)
Long day of driving today, with minimal excitement. Managed to run with the fuel light on for about 40k before finding an open gas station - noon on Sunday is standard closing time?! yikes

Up to almost 6 Gig of photos (almost typoed that as photons) and that is after tossing ones that weren't good. I foresee a long period of editing and uploading once I return home.

Lunch was at a cute little place called Kink 'n' the Road Cafe. I chose it for the name. I stayed for the antique/vintage car enthusiast gathering that was happening in their parking lot.

Odometer topped 3000 km. I will be glad to turn in the car when I drop my dad off, and then just make my way around on a bus.

Stopped in at a wine cellar for the first time this trip. Gibbston Valley has damn nice pinots, but they don't export to the US. Bringing a couple home with me.
vibrantabyss: (bike)
Yesterday was rafting, and Dad loved it. It was a class 2 to class 3-, nothing hard, but a nice 2 hours on the water. Got tossed about a bit, but the only swims anyone in my boat took were voluntary. Best bit was the end, 170m of tunnel followed by a sharp drop and turn.

In the afternoon, I busted hump driving 160k to a hiketo Rob Roy glacier, 3-4 hours listed. We got there at 6pm. Zoom we went up. Didn't make the trail end before the sun dipped behind the mountains, and allowed common sense to turn us around. Got some damn nice photos on the way tho.

Woke up this morning and had a nice 2 hour hike up one of the ridges overlooking Queenstown, then hustled 50k to a nice ranch and spent the afternoon on a low HP vehicle. Mine was about 10 years old, just under 18 hands, and answered to Jaffa. We were out for a little over two hours, and while most of it was at a walking pace, I did get to try and enjoy second and third gear. (that would be trot and canter...)

Sadly we had a quad from china with us, all women, who knew nothing of horses and little enough English, so we had several spills, one onto a rock riverbed, and a mini-stampede when two let their mounts get up to a gallop. With all that, we didn't up to speed as much as I would have liked, and the little Danish girl (maybe age 6, but already posting quite well) and her mother were rather incensed.

Dad had a blast, as he hadn't been riding in *cough* 50 or 60 years. But he still remembered enough that he handled his skittish ride well, and could read his mount's attitude and body language very well. He saw the ear twitches of his mount and had him reined in hard even before the two gallopers had gotten up to steam.

To keep things easy on the guides, they only referred to us by the horses names, so I was Jaffa for the afternoon :-) The guide I rode with was Jules, but I was reciprocating and calling her Charlie by the end of the ride. I also got to act as hitching post each time she had to dismount and dust off one of our disasters, since Charlie and Jaffa got along well.

Tomorrow we start towards Christchurch to get my dad on a plane. Then I have five days to play around on my own. Do I head back to Nelson in the north, Queenstown in the south, or try for some place new. Very likely that I will drop the car and just travel by bus as that is a lot cheaper for a single...
vibrantabyss: (love)
We have decided to stay and explore around here rather than traveling on to Te Anau. Over the next two day we will have whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and several hikes, as well as evening activities. Tonight we went to see a traveling circus that has set up in town, Zirka Circus - a mostly Chinese troop of fairly accomplished acrobats. Certainly nothing as good as Cirque, but a nice evening, and several acts I will write more about when I have time - running on paid net now and only 7 min before I need to buy another day. The diabolo act was very nice, as were several others. More details on the circus when I manage to upload photos - likely after I return home... They had one toy that I thought was possible, but had never seen, so time to make me one and start playing with it.

Very much enjoyed the Gibbston Pinot Noir we had with dinner, best local wine I've had in the south.

Time to post it or lose it...


vibrantabyss: (Default)

June 2017



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