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