Monday, December 18, 2006

The Aurora Borealis and other things

Hey. I'm home, been here or a long while, putting off this and just putzing around. It's good to be home, but I already miss New Zealand a lot. I want to be on the road again. I'm really feeling the idea of traveling to Alaska/Yukon territory asap, we'll see when that works out.

Things that have happened:
A fight in the NBA, Basketball practice started, got a laptop for school, began Christmas present buying procedures, Harry, Nick, and Roland back from school, seattle had an enormous wind storm and we lost power for about 48 hours, we purchased a Christmas tree and assembled it in our living room, I got a new mattress, and was motivated to rearrange and clean my room with my great-grandfather's bed frame as my new bed frame. I also saw the new James Bond movie. Thats all I can think of right now.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I'm coming home

Today is November 21st, and my flight leaves at 8pm tonight. I can't really believe I'm going home, it seems like so long since I've been there. The last week has been fun, but spent way too much time on buses and boats and such, It'll be nice to slow down at home. I fly into San Fran, then catch a flight from Oakland to Seattle. The weird thing is that I leave at 8 on the 21st, and my flight gets into Seattle at around 8 on the 21st, so 24 hours will have gone by but not counted for anything. Craziness.
Thanks for reading everyone! I'll post some more pictures on here in the next few weeks, so drop by every once in a while. Hopefully I'll see you all in person soon!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quantum flux, classical music, and a little drizzle

The pics: My faithful shoes, Milford Sound, the sea.

Woooo. So last time I wrote, I was... ah, yeah, Queenstown. So I went kayaking in Milford Sound (which was wet, cold, and incredible), and took buses north for a few days. I spent the night in Picton, the town the ferry launches from, and had an excellent dinner of polenta last night. Wow, comfort food.
Outside the cafe, the rain was falling sideways.
I caught the ferry this morning, had a cloudy crossing, with lots more horizontal, and occasionally upward-falling water. I'm back in Wellington, the capital of NZ. They got a washington state style situation here, with Auckland the biggest city and cultural center (by a factor of 3), and Wellington the capital. I got a haircut earlier, its pretty short now. I went for a really fun run along the water, with waves thundering against the sea-wall beside me and spray soaking me. Its funny how you can forget to be tired when you are surrounded by that kind of energy and power!
So now I've got to go get some dinner, and then I'm off to see the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra play Shostokovitch! Cool! Somehow, I still qualify as a child, so I got a ticket for NZ$10, aka $6.70. Which is just insane. All of the public museums and art galleries are free here, too. Christchurch's art gallery was built 2 years ago and is a gorgeous building that cost $50million, and its still free. Cerazay.
Anyways, this show should be fun. I'm staying one more day here, tying up some loose ends, then taking a bus to Auckland for my last 3 days. Its gonna be overwhelming to be home. See everyone soon!

"We talk a lot about Malcom X and Martin Luther King JR, but It's time to be like them, as strong as them. They were mortal men like us and everyone of us can be like them. I don't want to be a role model. I just want to be someone who says, this is who i am, this is what i do. I say what's on my mind."
Tupac Shakur

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Kwai, Saleum, Allo, Halaw, Kia Ora, Hi!

Hi everyone! Well, my journey is winding to a close. I've spent the past two days, and will spend the next four or so making the long trek north to Auckland, then home on the 21st.
I had a good few days down in Fjordlands NP, a UN World Heritage Area, kayaking in Milford sound beneath towering peaks and thundering waterfalls, among seals and penguins, and, thankfully, away from the cruise boats. I'll post some pictures and give you guys a full update in a few days, in Wellington on the 18th (17th by your reckoning).
Meanwhile, hope everyone is well, and I'm looking forward to home food, basketball, friends and my own bed!
love from NZ...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

On rain, snow, Antarctic fronts, and more....

Wow, I've got alot to write. This is gonna be a long one. Check out the pictures in the last post as well.
Ok. I left Christchurch about 7 days ago, and headed up on a shuttle to Arthurs Pass. The pass is a tiny village at about 3000ft. which probably has a population of 10 or so. On the way up, we drove by Castle Hill, and looking out the window, it became very clear to me that I needed to find a way to get down there.
I stayed in Arthurs pass for 2 days, and only did one day hike. It climbed to the top of Avalanche Peak, which looms 6000ft over the village. It was a very cool hike. I made it to the main ridge halfway up by 9:30, and waited to see if the clouds in front of me would develop into some bad weather or what. As I sat, a Kea, the curious and beautiful alpine parrots of NZ, came and kept me company for half an hour, sitting about a foot or two away. At 10, the clouds abruptly lifted, revealing clear blue skies and the beuatiful peaks surrounding me. I climbed the final snow slope to the summit, wrapping my head in a shirt so I was able to see. The views from the top were amazing. I spent about an hour watching avalanches on nearby Mt. Rolleston (~8000ft.).
Anways, the next morning I hitched down to Castle Hill. I wandered around Castle Hill Village, a very wierd place with lots of vacation homes, for an hour until I found a small hidden patch of forest to pitch my tent in. I walked back to the boulders, a 6 mile walk that I repeated twice every day for the next 5 days. I spent the afternoon climbing with a local girl who showed me lots of cool problems, and these two english fellows, Jeff and Tom.
That evening, a french guy, Tivo, and the girl he was traveling with, Toyo from Belgium, brought their campervan back to the village and us and the english blokes spent a nice evening around a fire, swapping climbing stories. Turns out Jeff and Tom are taking a year after they graduated HS to travel around the world climbing. Toyo left the next morning, but Tivo threw up his tent next to mine and is still there now. The next day was cold and overcast, but I got about 3 hours of climbing in.
Castle Hill is just amazing. It is like no other place I have been, the rocks are sculptures. The third day some bad weather closed in. Since Castle Hill has no public shelter whatsoever, me and Tivo spent about 20 hours trapped in the tents, with brief, wet forays to the bathroom. That evening, the rain cleared up a bit, and, seeking fresh air and open spaces, wandered around until we found an empty house and cooked up our dinner on the porch, which we repeated for the next two nights.
The next day was perfect; bright sunshine and a crisp wind combined for sublime temperatures for climbing. Tivo and I had a great morning, sending awesome climbs left and right. At around 2pm, a cloud bank blew in suddenly out of nowhere. This was a southerly, one the storms that crosses the ocean between Antarctica and NZ, picking up water and growing colder before blasting the south island. Temperatures dropped about 20 degrees in 1o minutes, and we spent a very very cold hour in the rain before someone gave us a ride to the village. The next day was the opposite- cold and miserable in the morning, but clearing to perfect temperatures in the afternoon. Tivo, Jeff, Tom, and mostly climbed in our tennis shoes the whole day, finding ridiculous problems and making up our own, having a really fun time.
The weather report called for really bad weather this weekend, so we got out of there that evening. I don't wan't to know what really bad is like after those few days. Those seven days where just incredible. I think I'm gonna have to come back to Castle Hill with crash pads, a camper van, and good friends.
I'm catching the bus down to Te Anau tommorow, which is in the midst of Fjordlands NP, reputed to be utterly gorgeous. Should be fun. I come home in 11 days! Looking foreward to seeing everyone! Maybe I'll have a slideshow or something...
p.s. check out the new book review on the right.

Photos to go with the words

Arthur's Pass, Avalanche Peak, Kea's chewing on my shoes, Toyo, Tivo, Jeff, and Tom, and the bathrooms at castle hill.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


look outside my window.
what do you see?

A lawn
with a garden in the corner.
the chicken's house is there, too.
a rose bush
yields fragrant, beautiful
yellow cream flowers.
Birds peck at Emily's leavings;
a Bluejay struts the rows of lettuce.
The crows that live
at the top of the great cedar
claim their sky raucously.
The cat chases off the squirrels
across the yard
the cherry tree
is a 24/7 all you can eat feeding frenzy;
the blueberries and rasberries are untouched.
You sit
in a blue chair
under a blue sky

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trying to be a hermit...

So the Castle Hill plan is getting a little tenuous. Turns out the closest (legal) accomodation to the hills is 20 minutes away. By car. Seeing as how I don't have one, or even a bike for that matter, it seems a little far. I'm figuring a speed limit of 100kph, which means its a little more than 20 miles. Crap. So I'm trying to work this out. Turmoil in the brain. I think I might just have to do a few day trips up there, which sucks bigtime. Oh well, it'll still be great.

On a lighter note, I ran into Christine on the street today. She's the friend of a friend who I randomly met up with in Auckland. The one person I kindof know in
the whole country, and we are walking down the same street in Christchurch
at three o'clock. We hung out for an hour or so, got some ice cream and smoothies and such.

I don't know what my plans are. Any suggestions?
I suppose I'll wander down south, try to find a nice campground in the crook of a river to hide away at for a week or two.

Monday, October 30, 2006

That one right there

More pictures.... the ones in the last post are of hiking, rinding the ferry to the south island, the westt face of Travers peak at night, and Christchurch. These last ones are Travers falls, a swingbridge over the Travers river, and flowers in the botanical gardens.

city keeps on going...

Hey everyone. I'm still relaxing from my hike, this time in Christchurch, "the Garden City." They call it that because 1 acre in 3 is designated parkland. Wow. It shows, the city is beautiful and very airy. I haven't really got much to say, I've been taking it easy, getting ready to head up to Castle Hill in a few days. Its gonna be fun up there. I thought I'd post up some old pictures.

Friday, October 27, 2006

down again...

Just got back from my 5 day hike in Nelson Lakes National Park. The Park is comprised of two large lakes, Roititi and Rotoroa, and a range of peaks up to 2900m. The track I took wound along the Travers river into the heart of the park. I made it to John Tait Hut the first night, about 13 miles in, for my first taste of the NZ wilderness. It was windy and cold on the way up, so I was very happy to step into a wood-fire heated, running water, mattress equiped cabin that evening. These things are nice, and for $10nz a night, a bargain.
Inside, I met a group of 9 (more on them later) and two couples, one of them climbers who I had some nice chats with, the other a couple who had been working in Antarctica, at McMurdo station, where my old friend Ian is right now!
I asked them if they knew who he was, and they said no. I mentioned offhand as I trailed off that he had gotten frostbite. "Mittens!" they exclaimed. Apparently thats what everyone has been calling him there days.
The next day took a leisurly 3 hours to get to the next hut, Upper Travers, which is situated in an alpine cirque at 1700m. Took the rest of the day as a rest, lounging in the sun in 70 degree temps. Spent the evening talking and playing cards with the group of nine. Turns out they were with a Christian Organization that organizes these trips. The two leaders, Norm and Christie, where volunteers who had moved over from the states, and the participants were from all over; switzerland, the netherlands, oregon. They were very welcoming, warm, and kind, and we spent an excellent night and morning together before they set off on day 3.
I left most of my gear at the hut and ran the 2 or 3 miles up to the top of the saddle, around 2300m, which was a steep climb on slushy snow. It was reassuring to have my ice axe. The views on the top were spectacular, especially of the east face of Travers Peak. Imposing, to say the least.
I spent the next day and a half descending, and the weather held out just long enough for me. I'm back in Nelson now, off to Christchurch in the morning for a few days, then to Castle Hill. Hope everyone is well!
love, Max

Pics that I missed

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Rain and Photographic madness

So I got rained out of that first tramp. No worries there, I'm about to set off tommorow on a six day romp into the Alpine Lakes Park around Marlborough here. It is a traverse of two alpine saddles and spends much of the time on exposed ridges or following the edges of two giant lakes, Rotoroa, and I forget the name of the other. I'm stocking up on food and such today, making sure I've got it all together. Its gonna be good!
I took the ferry to the south island, which is said to be the most beautiful ride in the world, which I'm, inclined to agree with. The day before in Wellington, the wind was gusting at about 50mph all day long. It made for some amazing surge along the coast. A great day, I walked around for hours! The wind would take the spray from the waves and carry it 20 or 30 feet to drench me and all the people on the waterfront path. Cool!
Well I'm here in Nelson, the largest city in the north of the south island. I've been here only 1 night so far, and it has been rainy and a little crappy. Oh well. I watched the NZ national cup rugby final last night, Wellington vs. Waikato. It was a really exciting game, with the pride of each team on the line. Waikato won in the end.
On my last night in Nelson I took some really cool photos. I was wandering around after the sun had gone down, and was walking along the train tracks when I realized how cool the light had become. I took a photo of myself, but moved the camera before the shutter fully closed. The result is cool, kindof ethereal. I took a few more cool shots that day, too. Hope everyone is well.

Gaagghhhh! Still can't post pictures! Arrrrggg.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

hello from wellington

Hello everyone! I just arrived here in Wellington, the capital of NZed. It has been the first nice day since I got in the country, and it has been really nice. Wellington is located on the tip of the south island, and the roarin' forties are known to bring 70-80mph winds to the harborside area of town. Not today, though! I went for a nice run in the morning, and then had my first taste of the legendary kiwi ice cream, which is as good as it has been rumored to be. Just look at that expression on my face!

The bus down here from Auckland was about 10 hours, but on the way we passed these mountains. first was the 2000m mt. Tongariro. then Ruapehu, and up next was... Mt. Dhoom!!!! Aka Mt. Ngauruhoe. Cool. I got really excited seeing these peaks, and I'm leaving tommorow for my first tramp, Mt. Holdsworth Circuit. Cool!

The last picture is of Lake Taupo, which is ridiculously huge and beautiful. I looks like an ocean, with big waves rolling in and gulls winging overhead. Hope everyone is well! Thanks for the comments, too.

edit: Hmm, I can't post pictures right now for some reason. I'll have to get back to you all with those.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

of toilets, trees, and bubbles...

I've only used two toilets down here so far (hard to believe, but true), and both of them had very weird flushing mechanisms, so I can't tell you guys either way if it is true or not.

Its official: New Zealand is the tree climbing capital of the world. I went for a walk in the park near the center of Auckland today, and these arboreal highways are what I found.
The weather here is really eccentric. Today it has been really windy and rainy, and then suddenly the sun will break through and you will be too hot. 5 minutes later its raining hard again.

I saw one of the most incredible things today. At a park near downtown Auckland, there is a fountain that sends water flowing down several cascades before being recycled back to the top. I'd walked by it a few times yesterday, so wasn't planning on stopping to see it during my wandering today. On my way to the library, where I am now, I saw a few people standing above the fountain looking down, confusion written all over their faces. At that moment a strong gust of wind came along, and a strong cloud of bubbles rose into the air.

I walked over to the rail, intrigued, and saw that all of the pools were full of bubbles! somebody had poured detergent into the feed for the fountain, and there were giant, feather-light icebergs of bubbles floating all over the park. I sat and watched for a long time, it was mesmerizing.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Travel and such

I took the train down to San Fransisco on Wednesday, getting into San Fransisco at about 10am on thursday. Met the usual mix of very strange people on the journey, including a man with the largest nostrils I have ever seen. They were like black holes on his face. I also met a girl who is the Illinois state horse jumping champion of the past two years. I spent a while exploring that city, taking photos and stuff, and got on the plane to New Zealand that evening.

The flight was smooth and long, 6,500 miles in 12 hours 29 minutes. Air New Zealand is luxury. They fed us well, have comfortable seats, big thick fleece blankets, and everyone has movies, games, and music on demand on a little screen in front of them. I was asleep most of the flight, because I didn't sleep well on the train. I only saw one empty seat on the plane, and it happened to be between me and the woman to my right! It was nice to be able to spread out a bit. The sun was about to rise as we came into the airport, and a strip eastern sky was illuminated in deep pastel red, fading into green and purple. A nice way to wake up.

Well, I'm here. Auckland, city of sails. I am staying in a hostel with a scottish guy, and have been walking around all afternoon with Ruben, a guy from Arizona that I met on the shuttle from the airport. Auckland is a cool city. I'm ready to get out into the hinterlands, though. I think I'm going to cut my stay on the north island short. Hope everything is well! I can't post pictures at this cafe, I'll find one where I can for the next update.
Much love.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Time is Near...

I leave on wednesday morning for my trip. I'll be posting some pictures and my first impressions of the country in the next few days. Talk to everyone soon!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Me and abby went Kayaking the other day on lake union. Our friend Tim works at NorthWest Outdoor Center, and he snuck a few boats around his boss for us to hop in, and we went all over the bay. It was hot and beautiful, and I got quite a few good pictures. There was awedding going on at Gasworks, complete with brass band and lots of dancing. I think the couple must have rowed over, because we came upon this fearsome looking craft in the shallows. The picture of the flower I took early the next morning.

t-minus 15 days, 4 hours, 34 minutes
364 hours

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

working, toiling, sweating...

I've been working a ton the past couple weeks. I leave in three more! I just picked up the book on tramping (hiking) down there, and I am psyched for some of the areas I'm going to explore!

I stumbled upon my friend Ian's website, he's always been an adventurous guy, but he's outdone himself this time.   he's in Antartica at Mcmurdo station, and some of the pictures are amazing. In his last post, he's excited because of temps forecasted in the positive for the first time since he arrived.

A little eye candy: breakfast in Utah.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Big news!!

I bought my plane ticket yesterday! I'm going to find some crazy way to get to San Fransisco (or just take the train), and fly out Oct. 12th at 9:30pm. I'll leave NZ from Auckland, the largest city at 8pm on the 21st and arrive back in San Fransisco at 11:15am the same day. I'll recover almost 9 hours. Weird.

Its a 13 hour flight and 6,500 miles (10,500 km) each way. Crazy.

Mount Si hike

Me and my mate Otis climbed Mount Si on Tuesday, just before he started at Garfield again. We got up with the sun, left Seattle around 7:15, hit some traffic across the bridge and on the eastside, and started up the trail at about 8:15. We summited around 10, spent about 45 minutes eating and enjoying the view, and ran down the trail, arriving back at our car at 11:54 sharp.

Mount Si has a big frickin' pile of rock that makes up the true summit, which requires a bit of a scramble to get to the top of. Called the Haystack, most of the people who make the hike (probably 99% of them, and Si is rumored to be the most climbed mountain in the US) stop about 500 yards short of the base. A 200 foot scramble later, and you are treated to 360° views of Snoqualmie Valley, Seattle, and the Cascades. Its really very cool. The steepness of the west side of the mountain gives you an almost vertical 3500ft drop to the town of North Bend. Cool! Afterwards, we soaked in the river for a while. Good day.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Alaska in July

These are some pics from Alaska. My dad took these from his kayak in 2001.The snow melt made waterfalls like this everywhere, and the birds nesting around them made it only more spectacular! Click for the bigger version to get the full effect.

Google Maps Pedometer...

Ever find something random that you can play with for hours, with no goal or particular reason? Well, check this out. Google Maps pedometer. You click anywhere on the map of the world to make a waypoint, then click somewhere else to measure the distance between the two spots. You can create very complex paths. Cool...


Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq closed this month. The 3,000 prisoners were transferred to other jails. Link.

Check out this photo. This was taken by the Landsat 7 Satellite on September 11, 2001. What an amazing photo. Really gives you a sense of scale.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Wisdom Teeth

I had my wisdom teeth removed today. I remember going into the office after taking the pill they gave me, watching my heart rate and blood pressure on the monitor, and then not much else for about 4 hours. Apparently I was doing a Godfather impression in the recovery room, something Harry was telling me about doing when he got his out a couple weeks ago. "I'm gonna make ya an offer ya can't refuse."

Another Cool photo

Check out this photo from our ascent of Mt. Triumph. On the descent, we were looking to the NE, and saw these ominous formations building. We made it down fine, and the weather stayed good until we went to bed. The next morning we woke up inside a cloud, so thick we couldn't see more than 30 ft. and with the wind tearing through the col. We packed up, ate breakfast, and booked out of there fast! Photo credit to Tom Unger.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

NZ Planning

I've been doing alot of planning in the last couple of weeks for my trip. So far, my plan is to fly into Auckland around October 10th, spend about a week touring the city, then start making my way south. The capital, Wellington, is on the southern tip of the north island, in a huge harbor. There is a ferry that makes the crossing to Picton in 3 hours, and its supposed to be gorgeous. I got into contact with an American woman who has lived in NZ for 3 years, in a town called Takaka (known for its wine, surfing, and national parks), and she invited me to stay with her for a couple days, so I may head a couple hours up the road and stay there for a while.

After that, I'm going to head down to Christchurch, on the east coast. I'm gonna hang around there for a while, doing parkour and exploring, then head to Castle Hill (previous post) for bouldering for a week or so! Then, I'm going to spend the last part of my trip exploring the Southern Alps, Milford Sound (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the glaciated slopes of Mt. Cook and her neighbors. There is a pretty decent exchange rate ($1 US=$1.59 NZ), so I'm on track financially. Plane ticket is about 1200 though, ouch. Yahoo!

Monday, August 14, 2006

PK from eastern Europe

This is the video that started it all...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Bainbridge II

This is the beginning of the breakfast we had at Charles'. It was an amazing feast!

This second shot is Brendan, as we're all sitting around on saturday afternoon.

This is Ko, poleing out to the raft (which had floated away) this morning.
Nick caught a big Rainbow trout after about 15 minutes. We wanted to let it go, but the hook got in the gills and it died, so people ate it for lunch. They said it was delicious. That evening, though, David threw a cast out and caught a smaller fish in, literally, 15 seconds. Posted by Picasa