Friday, February 26, 2010


I went to Aoraki, which is also what european settlers call Mount Cook. In terms of the historical and cultural significance to the Maori, I found it quite fascinating. However, as a natural phenomenon, I was a bit underwhelmed. Unfortunately, I have just come from Antarctica, so my expectations are ridiculously high. I think I'm also just a bit overwhelmed with new experiences, and I'm about ready to get home. I hate to say it, but I think I might have to soldier through Sydney. Hawaii will be awesome, though.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Too Much Sun

I looked at myself in the mirror today and resolved to stay indoors until nightfall. I'm a little stir-crazy even though I had a lot of practice doing nothing for the last four months. Anyhoo, I'm going out to Lake Ruataniwha after the sun sets so that I can stargaze. I booked passage to Mount Cook tomorrow, but the bus schedule only allows me to be there for exactly two hours. Hopefully, everything times out well.

Glacier-fed Lakes Are...

Blue. I tried to book accomodation at Lake Tekapo yesterday, but I couldn't find anything. I decided to pick the next stop along the intercity bus route, which is Twizel. Twizel is the closest city to Mount Cook. I want to book passage to Mount Cook, but my internet connection is not cooperating. It's just as well, as I need to give my feet a rest. I walked about 22km today on the Twiizel River Walk. I'm a little disappointed that such a short distance took me about five hours. Also, I found out that the Twizel River has a Didymo infection. This made the river an ugly green instead of the usual clear water. I stopped short of Lake Benmore, as I wanted to make sure I had enough daylight to make it back. I may walk out to Lake Pukaki tomorrow, but I will probably just head to the smaller Lake Ruataniwha. I have plenty of pictures, but no bandwidth. That should change when I get to The Big Island in two weeks.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Maybe Too Light

For next time, I need to remember to pack a bag for when I get off the ice. Christchurch hit 80 today, so I decided to get some shorts and t-shirts. I think I need to switch over to trail runners and flip-flops exclusively because my feet are sweating badly and my boots are suffering from it. Peeeyew! I'm ready for Sydney and Hawaii now. I hope it is warm when I get back into Htown.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Taylor's Mistake

I decided to head out to the beach today, but hanging out on the beach all day didn't really appeal all that much to me. I decided to head out to Sumner and do a walk out to Godley Head defense battery. That didn't pan out because the bus stopped short of where I needed to go. I ended up taking a track off of Evans Pass Road to Taylor's Mistake Beach. The beach was nice, and the Heritage Trail on the way back had some nice views.

On a nerdier note, I'm very happy with my Cradlepoint PHS300. It could have a better battery life, but that deficiency may have been from my four months without use on the Ice. Vodafone charges me by megabyte, so unless I make my way into free Internet, pictures will still have to wait.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Funky Supermarkets

I have visited the Pak ´N Save a couple of times, and I´m not sure what to make of it. I haven´t found anything like a grocery store here in Christchurch. There are either small convenience stores or the Pak ´N Save, which is like an HEB warehouse type of grocery. Kiwis seem to have a LOT less selection than what you would find in the States. Anyways, the point of this post was originally to say how addicted I have become to this Gnutlla knockoff made by Pam´s. I like the hazelnut twist, which is your standard gnutella, but it has something white and sweet mixed in with it. Anyhoo, it is guuuud.

I did laundry today, which was expensive, like everything else in Cheech. I´ve seen and done a lot of cool stuff, but I´m already looking forward to being home with my own stuff.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So Out of Shape

Ok, so I think the Routeburn Track is definitely out of the question, as these day trips at Arthurs Pass have firmly established that I am out of shape. On the other hand, I'm having a blast here. I got in around 5:30pm last night, so I just went up Avalanche Peak as far as I could. Today, I did Devil's Punch Waterfall, Bridal Veil walk, and a good chunk if not all of Bealey Valley Track. I might have stopped short of the end of Bealey Valley, as it was pretty rainy all day, and I didn't want to stay out late in case I turned an ankle or something.

I have to pay per megabyte, so I am holding off picture uploads for a while.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lyttelton and Aorakoa

I caught a ride with a couple of friends from MacTown out to Lyttelton and Aorakoa today. It's the first time I've made it out of Christchurch. I've spent most of the first week off of the Ice saying my goodbyes to friends that I hung out with while on the Ice. I'm ready to try and make it out to the Routeburn Track now.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Back in Cheech

I flew out of MacTown on the airbus, and I'm back in Christchurch now. I have had an amazing season, and I am going to do my best to enjoy myself. This is the first time since my childhood that I haven't had work or school in my life. It is definitely going to be weird.

I wasn't so overwhelmed by the smells, but darkness at night did surprise me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I bought a lot of Patagonia underwear, which I found ridiculously expensive at the time. After being in the underwear for these four months, I have to say that I don't regret paying the extra money at all. It is light, resists odors, and stays dry. It has met or exceeded expectations. That said, my REI gear has held up equally as well, and I probably could have gone with some lesser known brand. I think that brand-name items just take some of the research time out of the equation, which helped with my short deployment notice. For the most part, everything that I brought with me has performed well. My $16 Walmart wranglers were my best buy. I beat the crap out of them.

The one disappointment in my gear bag was the Smartwool socks and glove liners that I bought. They say that they resist odors, but they smell awful when wet. The issue-gear socks that are Wigwam-branded, pure wool performed much better even though they were much bulkier. From my past experience with Wigwam, I think I'll stick to buying them after the Smartwools wear out. Oh, I'm also very happy with the Wigwam sock liners that I bought as well as my very excellent Montrail GoreTex boots that only cost me $86.

In terms of hats, my $10 watch cap from an army surplus store was very good. Well, it was good until the wind picked up. I had to break down and buy an Outdoor Research windstopper hat. It looks silly and makes me feel like I'm putting a shower cap on every time it goes over my head. However, it holds up exceptionally well in strong winds. The combination of watch cap for inside or combined with big red and the OR cap for windy days without big red covered pretty much every situation.

Finally, the standout value was my North Face Apex jacket. Yes, four or five people here had the exact same jacket, but it is great. I got last year's model on closeout for $65, and I've been wearing it a LOT. It is a very versatile jacket that keeps out very stiff winds.