February 28, 2005
Hellllo! I'm in New Zealand. And I'd forgotten my password to this account, because I have it programmed into my computer and never have to type it in. So here, finally, I am. On blog.
I arrived to Christchurch on schedule, had a late dinner with friends, went to bed. Spent a few more days in Christchurch. Activities included lounging in the park, eating, chatting, shopping, sending stuff north, and rafting the Avon. The Avon is the sluggish stream which winds leisurely through the city. It's not really raftable. It's puntable, for those familiar with punting. So really, we just floated the Avon in cheat inflatable 1-2 person rafts. It was fun. Sorry no pictures.
Some friends were going to a town called Hanmer for the night to soak in some hot springs, so I went along. We soaked ("Look," said Ann, as several boys approached the pool we were soaking in, "they're even whiter than us." They must have been on holiday from the UK or the like. Ann and I high-fived.) and made dinner and drank pina coladas and watched "Spiderman" because it was on TV.
I was quite sad to return to the city the next day, but Kim had to get back. She was going to start a hike with some others.
I decided to get quickly out of town and go to the nearby beach town, Sumner. I was excited. I took the bus. It was cheap. It was easy. See how cheap and easy this is! I exclaimed to myself. I walked to the one backpacker in town. I'm sorry, said the man behind the desk, we're booked through tomorrow night.
I got back on the bus and went back to Christchurch with my backpack. I didn't want to have to find accomodation in the city. I checked the time. I was half an hour too late to catch an afternoon bus headed out towards any of a number of other destinations. I sat in the square and chatted with my friend Burmy. I motivated to walk toward the Y and shared my plight on the way with my friend Brian. It's impossible to walk in that part of town without running into someone else from the ice at that time of year. Brian offered to let me stay in his extra bed at the Y if I got in a bind. There were no rooms available at the Y. Hooray for Brian.
I had a marvelous dinner of sushi that night with some other friends I ran into, and afterwards went on a grocery shopping spree to prepare for the coming week. I'd decided: I was going on retreat.
I had happened to read a little blurb about a YHA (a type of youth hostal) on the west coast which described itself as a retreat and which appeared to be both close to the coase and nested in rain forest. On Tuesday morning, I hopped on a bus and was on my way. Personal retreat, here I come.
The place was close to the beach. It was also nested into rain forest, alive and whirring tremendously loud with cicadas. But it just wasn't right. I enjoyed two days in the area with my new friend Lou, who arrived and left on the same buses. Lou is a lovely young woman from London. Lou didn't love the place either. But together, we enjoyed the sunset at the beach and a walk through the rainforest and a couple drinks in a nearby pub.
I've been doing a pretty good job of keeping track of the day of the week, but not such a good job of keeping track of the date. When I realized on Wednesday that it was the 23rd instead of the 24th, I was elated. I had needed desperately to get away from everyone from Antarctica, and now I needed desperatly to be with people I knew. So I booked the last bed at a hostel near the town of Takaka called Shambhala, and I booked a seat on the bus headed that way, and headed north on Thursday. I made it to Takaka in time to meet up with a herd of folks from the ice and see friends Shawn and Quinn play at a great pub called the Muscle Inn.
From there, it's been moving with the flow. I've spent the past few days doing close to nothing to speak of. I have had some wonderful conversations, have done a good bit of ready, have gotten some quality naps in, and have jumped from a great rope swing into an equally great swimming hole in a river.
Now, I'm hoping to meet up with friends who have organized the renting of a house near Takaka for a week. After camping the last few days (only stayed one night at the hostel--which, by the way, I highly reccommend) I'm looking forward to a comfortable atmosphere for lounging, cooking, and ... well, more of the same, just in a shared house. The only trick (since I accidentally deleted the directions from my computer) is finding the place. I'll let you know how it goes!
Sorry no pictures to attach at this time. I've got some nice ones, too...
I did indeed make it to the house. And stayed there all week. Thank goodness for a small town--I ran into Kim and Anne May on their way in, and didn't have to sweat too much over finding the place.
One of the days, we took a break from relaxation to day-hike in nearby Abel Tasman.
[Last shot of the crew, including my friends Aga (left front) and Ico (right front), who I know from Boulder and who I spent the next several days with, eating fresh food from the garden and learning about grapes on Ico's father's vineyard.]
February 15, 2005
The End is Near
It's time. I'm scheduled to leave the continent tomorrow, along with 100 or so others. It's the end of the season, the resupply vessel has come and gone, and they're trying to get everyone out, out, out. The last flight is scheduled for February 26.
The light is amazingly rich right now. For down here, anyway. It's 1:10 AM, and the sun is quite, quite low in the sky. It's doing something I've never seen before. The sky is clear, but the position of the sun is such that it is shining directly only on the sea ice and ice shelf out a ways over the sound, so that there is just a thin strip of pink underlining Mt. Discovery and fading off under the mountains to the north. Unfortunately, I didn't bring a camera to the lab with me. I'll have to just try to remember. The light coming into the office is a thinck orange-yellow, the type you can almost taste.
February 13, 2005
Well, I'm pretty much done packing up the yellow and gray boxes to ship north, and now I'm on to inventory of and packing up the office. It feels like it will never end, but chances are it will, and in just a few days I'll find myself sipping brightly-colored tea near the Art Center in Christchurch, New Zealand. A little hard to believe, but at the same time, it's nothing new. I mean, it will be pretty new, but it's nothing I haven't experienced before. Though these things are different every time.
The weather here has been quite nice. Pretty warm today, although it's been overcast. I'm having trouble lately distinguishing dream events from true events, but I'm pretty sure that I looked out my window late last night, at 1 or 2 AM, and saw pink in the sky. Pink in the sky, in the clouds and then also on the top of Mt. Discovery, where it's usually white, and then pink also reflected into the patch of open water carved out by the icebreakers just offshore. First sunset is well on its way. I believe it is the 20th, or maybe the 22nd. I will already have seen darkness and (hopefully) stars by that time, but I imagine it will be a treat for anyone who's still around. Darkness won't come for a bit still, but dusk is near. The night colors are getting more and more intense.
All right. I'll let you get back to whatever you were doing, and I will do the same.
February 10, 2005
Yellow Boxes. I'm surrounded by them. It never ends. Yellow boxes. I am organizing to go north, trying to put all the pieces back in the boxes they came down in. There are a lot of pieces.
I'm scheduled to head north on Feb 16, this coming Wednesday. Hooray! So long as I can get everything done. I don't want tasks pending for a month, so I can arrive back to Boulder to learn that I've forgotten everything. So I can vacation in peace. New Zealand! So much I want to do!
February 2, 2005
February 2 Check-in
...and kittens and green leafy vegetables and warm weather and strolls along sidewalks and green growing leafy barky things, and roses in the botanical gardens and little insects that pollinate things, and ginger toms (ginger beer...mmmm, ginger...) out on the patio in the sun (hopefully) at Dux Deluxe, and wine and good cheeses and the smell of soil and good Thai food (ooooooh, yum....) and sushi and all the everything anything that we can eat, humidity... and did I mention kittens?