Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dinosaurs Underfoot

On Thursday, Amanda and I met up in Wellington, had lunch, and headed over to the Te Papa museum to see the dinosaur exhibit. 

The first thing I learned was that Tyrannosaurs is the family name for many, many different dinosaurs. "Rex" just happens to be part of the family. I think the small ones were just as scary as the big ones.

Don't get me wrong. I also wouldn't want to be eaten by a big one.

I'd always wanted to see real dinosaur bones in person. Finally can cross that off of the bucket list. These bones were on loan.

The biggest skeleton towered above me. I started to get a better sense of why I'd never want to visit Jurassic Park.

There were all sorts of neat displays. At first I just admired how well the bones silhouetted on the wall.

But every once in awhile the shadow would move and do something silly, like fart or pretend to do shadow puppets. Whoever thought of that was quite clever.

As Amanda and I left, we learned that New Zealand is actually overrun by dinosaurs. Stay long enough and you'll find them underfoot.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Otaki Forks

This past Sunday found me at the Otaki Forks with Chris and Ray. We ended up going 12k, or 7.4 miles. 

Back home that would be a bit of a workout, but not too bad. But at home, I'm typically not hopping from rock to rock to pass streams or scrambling up steep slopes, clinging to tree branches in order to avoid falling down where large slips have taken place. So this one took a bit more out of me.

I was told that this was "good track" Much of the track was about a foot wide with a steep drop on one side. I wondered what "bad track" looked like, but was happy to not encounter any.

When we reached one end of the hike, there was a bridge troll there to greet us. By this time we'd been hiking for two hours and Chris and I had been wanting lunch an hour previous. 

Ray finally pronounced us worthy of lunch. But since the view wasn't so great, we hiked back 15 minutes to a clearing we had seen and enjoyed a little break.

By the end of the day we heard thunder in the distance. The view was wonderful, but I was quite happy to return to the car and sit. I think we all felt like we had earned it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Yarn Zealand

The other day I had a day on my own in Wellington. I took the train down and went to visit the weekend underground market. Kiwipurler had tipped me off that Helene of Happy Go Knitty would be there and I ought to go say hi. I am weak though, so a skein of the 100% BFL in the Forget Me Not color way came home with me. Whoops.

I figured out that the Wellington location of the Holland Road Yarn Company was nearby, so I headed over. At first I was just going to get wool wash. Ha! That would requite self control... and fewer yarn fumes. I skein of Ashford 12ply will become a hat that matches my wool coat. Knitsch isn't being dyed as regularly now, so when I saw these skeins of Mad Blood Stirreth, I couldn't say no.

Tash was in, so I was able to show her my Police Box Sox in person. Jenn let me try on her beautiful sweater. I was interested in knitting with the yarn it was made out of. (Anna Gratton's 4 ply) and have largely decided that the yarn is right for my future project.

Meanwhile, I made a decision on what to cast on next. The Stray Cat Socks in the Blue Moon color way seemed like the way to go. I might want more of the yarn and I thought I ought to test it out.

This also means that I finished my Yoga For Elephants socks. I'm so pleased! Just in time to warm my cold tootsies.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rock Climbing And Smoking Desserts

Chris' godson Liam came to visit during his school holidays last week. We picked him up from the airport and I saw a Weta Workshops display that I had missed seeing when I had arrived.

Unfortunately I ended up with a migraine the next day, but the day after we all took the train down to town. (I learned that going into town means going into Wellington) First we gave rock climbing a go. Liam started and Chris was belaying him. It took me a good twenty minutes to muster up the courage to give it a shot. But once I got going I quite enjoyed myself.

I also learned that there are quite a few muscles I don't normally use. It was almost as much work belaying as it was climbing.

Afterwards we took the cable car up to the top of the botanical gardens.

Chris asked Liam if he wanted to have a picture taken, to which Liam said "No." I asked Liam if he would take a jumping shot with me. Chris: 0, Audry: 1.

In the evening we went to Genghis Khan, a Mongolian restaurant, for dinner. The best part is always the smoking desserts, though.

We walked up to the top of Mt. Victoria after dinner to have a look at the city lights. It was only after we got to the top that we realized that we'd missed the lunar eclipse. Ah well. It was still a beautiful night.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mt. Lowry

The adventures continue! Last weekend I went hiking with Chris, Owen, and Ray to the top of Mt. Lowry. I've started to take pictures of the maps just in case I get turned around.

As expected for a mountain, the first half was up. I was informed that I needed to slow down for the rest of them. It worked for me. I took in the view and got a few pictures of the guys coming up while waiting.

The view at the top was less that impressive. I was amused by the sign though.

We walked another 150 meters down the track and were rewarded by a much better view of the harbor.

Owen kindly took a picture of me having a good old time. I was the last person to receive the picture though. Owen sent it to Dad who sent it to Connor who sent it on to me when I asked for it.

I know that the view of tree ferns is a bit less impressive to the regular New Zealand hikers, but I think it is my favorite bit every time we go out. Something about standing underneath giant ferns make me feel like I've gone back in time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hit The Ground Running - NZ Edition

It's been a busy time since I landed in New Zealand a week and a half ago. The first thing I did when reaching Auckland was replace my sim card. This turned out to be fortuitous, because when I walked over to the domestic terminal, I discovered that I had printed the wrong papers for my connecting flight. Luckily I was able to get into my email to get the right ones! (But not until after having trouble getting into my email... of course.)
After landing in Wellington, not 5 minutes after being in the car with Chris, he got a call asking for help to move furniture. I didn't mind. But it was tough work moving furniture for an hour after having travelled for 18 hours!
Later on in the day Chris' brother John joined us and we walked up Mt Kaukau. Doing this hike on the same day as landing in New Zealand seems to have turned into a tradition.

The next day I went hiking with Chris and his friend Rodger to check traps around one of the wildlife sanctuaries. They kill the mice, rats, stoats, and other nonnative species to help preserve the native birds. Before we went Chris told me how terrible it was to get a hedgehog because they get all mushy when they die. Sure enough, one of the traps had a hedgehog and Rodger said something to the effect that he hated getting hedgehogs because they get all mushy. Luckily this one was freshly dead and easily removed. I can now take "see hedgehog" off the bucket list, but add "see live hedgehog" to it. We climbed to the top of a rather steep trail and saw an enormous yellow bush called Golden Tainui.

A few days later I joined my friend kiwipurler for a day around Wellington. We went to a saturday craft market. Anna Gratton was there. I didn't buy any yarn, but I did take a picture of the yarn I was thinking about buying. Once I figure out the amounts I need, some of that yarn will be mine. (Note: it's 912 yds for $18NZ!)

The day was so lovely. We walked along the waterfront and talked about life stuff. It's always fun to catch up with a friend.

As it turns out, she had a surprise in store for me. The only problem I have is, which do I knit up first?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Get Lucky In Kentucky

I am clearly a crazy person because I week before leaving for New Zealand, I travelled out to Kentucky. It all came about after Connor said, "It's too bad you can't meet my family before you go to New Zealand." And I said, "I've got a weekend."
When we landed in Kentucky, I noticed that the Kentucky themed shirts were printed with the words, "Get lucky in Kentucky." There was an outline of the state and a horseshoe. I imagine they were talking about horse races.

The three days we were there were packed. Connor's sister picked us up and we went to a Crackerbarrel where I ate catfish for the first time. I quite like catfish. We then went to his parents' house, which was built a bit before and after the American Civil War. It even has a name: Mount Lookout.

After visiting with his parents, we took a walk around the farm. I've always wanted to climb up one of those round hay bales, but never had the chance... until now! Connor was kind enough to show me the method of getting up. I'm a bit shorter than him, so it took me a few tries to get up. A few, rather undignified tries. Eventually I got up.

Being from California, most fire related things are off limits because everything is so dry. But that night, Connor's brother, Mason, and cousin, Keenan, came over and we had a bonfire. There isn't a good sense of scale in this photo, but the fire was much taller than me. Afterwards there was a discussion about fireworks. Fireworks were procured. Connor and I watched Mason and Keenan lean over the box, mutter to each other, then take some over to where we would launch them, mutter some more, ending with, "Good enough." It was an excellent night.

The next day I visited with people a bit more. But in the afternoon Mason, Keenan, Connor, and I went canoeing up the creek that is by their house. We paddled up, dragged the canoes over various obstacles, like cattle gates, until we couldn't go any further. Then we grounded the canoes and walked up the creek some more. We came upon crayfish battling. It was then that I realized that I was the only one with open toe shoes and there were lots of large crayfish around. I asked for a piggyback ride to safety.
On our way down I caught a few frogs and Mason pointed out buckeyes. I started to collect them and Connor asked, "Are you collecting them because they are pretty?" Me: "No, I want to throw them at Mason and Keenan. Is that ok?" Connor: "Yes." The mission was dubbed Operation Buck You In The Eye. After all the boys helped pull the canoes over the last cattle gate, Keenan and Mason got a better start than Connor and I, so he and I paddled like hell to catch up. After ramming their canoe with our own, we started hurling buckeyes at them. There will be a rematch in the future. But for now, Connor and I hold the upper hand.
We all smelled like frog afterwards, so showers were had before going out for dinner.
This is where we put in the canoes

The last full day in Kentucky, I met Connor's best friend Joe. We went to a Steak And Shake. (Another thing that isn't in California) Connor said it was "their" restaurant. I asked if they ever split milkshakes. We all laughed about how Joe liked the Strawberry, Connor like the "Nana" and when their straws touched they had a moment. We talked about life stuff well into the evening. Later on Connor said that it took having Joe and I in the same room to realize how similar we were.

On the way to the airport the next day, Mason was kind enough to take a Bourbon County jumping picture for me. This is the county where Bourbon was invented. (The liquor was named after the county) and I thought it was pretty neat that the creek that ran by Connor's parents house was used for the first Bourbon.

All in all, it was an excellent trip. I hope to go out again in the near future. It will have to wait, though. Today I arrived in New Zealand.
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