Monday, October 5, 2015

Birthday Sunset Scamper

OK, blast from the past. Well, a year ago, which may as well be ancient history.

Ethel and my dad share a birthday, and we decided to commemorate the occasion last year with a small group scamper up to Mt. Rose for champagne, snacks, and sunset (which is alliterated if you say it out loud [ed. note: I just learned that alliteration counts for sounds, whereas I always thought it was just for the written form]).

ANYhow, our ragtag group includes Luis, Gavin, Sharon, and Lauren, and we make pretty quick work of the always-enjoyable trail as it winds past the waterfall (nearly dry) and then steeply up the ravine to the saddle.'s off to work we go...

Yoga photobomb

We've given ourselves plenty of time to make sunset, so there's no shortage of fun 'n games on the way up. That being said, we don't get too distracted, and we're up top with just enough time to start getting cold from the combination of nearly 11000' elevation, breeze, and low-angle light.

Ten commandments on one of these...which one was it?


So pensive

The biggest lesson of the excursion comes when we discover that a few hours of jostling around in backpacks, plus a massive decrease in air pressure, means that, um, less of the champagne is drinkable than we had counted on.

Not long now

Smoky layers

Nearly there

We while the time away sipping champagne and snacking as the sun approaches the horizon. High altitude sunsets are always extra special, and this one doesn't disappoint. Once the sun dips below our purview, we scrape together a quick group photo, realize that we're freezing our asses off, and make a break for lower stomping grounds.

Sunset party

Veil drops

Moonlit kinda-selfie

We've planned all along to descend under a big moon, and we're also amply prepared with headlamps. Mine, hilariously, decides to no workie, so I let my eyes adjust to the increasing moonlight and find that it's just fine, thanks.

Moonlit fun

Good little fireflies

Streaky glow

Sideways lightning

The rest of our blast down the mountain is punctuated by occasional photos of varying complexity, and the (relative) warmth, lack of wind, and ample moonlight conspire to make it more enjoyable than your average death march.

Thought this was quite cool; 30s of following Murphy's headlamp, handheld

Moon bathes Tahoe basin

We make it back to the parking lot no worse for the wear; night missions aren't always the first thing to spring to mind, but they rarely disappoint!


Monday, September 14, 2015

Sawpit Gully

On a stormy fall day during a great visit from d^2, we pile out to Arrowtown for a little bit of walking in the woods, which has been proven to be good for the soul by 4 out of 5 dentists.

Approaching Arrowtown

One thing that can't be denied is that rainfall on fall colors looks really good, so we know we'll be in for a visual treat, even if the rest of the day sucks, which it doesn't.

Hike starts here

The Sawpit Gully track blasts out the back of Arrowtown and follows the Arrow River for a while before it turns sharply up and left.


Pipeline w/ model

Much yellow

As the track climbs out of the river gorge, we're treated to awesome views, thanks in no small part to steadily improving weather.

View back towards Arrowtown; swollen river!

We then follow a new canyon north for a while until we reach the high point of the track and start to loop back around towards Arrowtown. Somewhere along this new canyon, the storm breaks and we turn around to see an all-time rainbow view. Worse things have happened!



Towards the top of this canyon, the stream has overrun its banks and has chosen the hiking track as its next best course. Keeping feet and legs dry is a valiant effort for about 30 seconds, and then it's simply not worth it.

Awwwww goats

We make a short side-hike at the top of the track for what we hope is a view down into Arrowtown, but it's just a sweet view over Lake Hayes one way and up into the mountains the other way.

Peak to the north

Lake Hayes

Splash of color

As we dive back down towards Arrowtown, we re-enter the brilliant fall colors and do our best to not slip on the muddy track. Guess it's rained a good bit!


Down the path

Cool lichen

While the weather was quite poor earlier in the day, getting out amongst it was by far the wise choice. Usually is!


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Neighborhood Stroll

Getting Samuel Murphy-Drake to NZ was painful, frustrating, expensive, and protracted. However, this is not a post about cats. Sorry?

Long story short, promptly after getting the fur-face here, he went and disappeared for three days. In between being genuinely concerned for his sense of "home" after the long journey and bouts of swearing to wring his neck should I find him, I spent several hours each day canvassing the neighborhood looking for His Highness.

Finally, these walks started to feel like formalities, so I took my camera along.

Perhaps these photos were a subconscious effort to calm my mind; I'll admit to being pretty worried for the little bugger's welfare. And of course, he came back in the middle of the third night like nothing had happened. Bastard.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Blast to Wellington

A few months ago, Murphy and I make a weekend escape up to Wellington to coincide with a visit from our friend Amber from the US. Amber is over to race in the Tour of New Zealand, and while we are unable to catch the race, it's worth our while to explore the city for the weekend and at least spend half a day with Amber and her teammate Courteney.

Contained herein is a haphazard record of our various wanderings around this grand capitol city. The visit becomes our standard model of coffee-meal-cocktail-rinse-repeat, which is still a damn fine way to see a city no matter what anyone says.

We've got almost exactly 48 hours to burn, and we've arrived in the evening, so we begin with the harbor and see how the night develops.

People frequently get in trouble for diving off this


There happens to be a pop-up art show along the harbor that weekend, so we have a nice wander into many of the shipping containers that are serving as impromptu display/performance space.

Live art

If you're interested, this woman has started with a perfect circle, some ~1.5m in diameter, and is tracing the inside boundary over and over and over again. The inevitable imperfections become amplified, so she's been left with something that's only generally round. She figures she's got another 8 hours to go from here, at which point she'll go crush walnuts with her right hand or something equally impressive.

Windswept and purple Murphy

And then this bizarre discovery through a peephole:

Um, OK

Harbor view

And of course, there's always time for a pint. First stop is Mac's Brewbar, right along the harbor.


Lampshade factory

Or a rad cocktail. We find a fantastic example (or two?) at Matterhorn, along with equally impressive barmen.

Fancy bar

We're staying at a hostel in the CBD, and it's awesome to be able to walk to so much in such a small space.

Old 'n new

The next day dawns with uncharacteristically good weather, mirroring that of the day before, for which we count our lucky stars about a dozen times over. Wellington has a penchant for being windy, top on the list of weather ailments that may plague it on any given day, so to have two calm days in a row is almost eerie.

So we celebrate with a few coffees, bookending a delicious breakfast at Leuven.

Flight Coffee Hangar, replete with loitering dandy

While I'm generally not the biggest fan of museums, we do spend a couple hours in Te Papa, which is New Zealand's national museum. It's got a bunch of exhibits of NZ history, flora, fauna, and more, but I get distracted by a big room full of light bulbs.



Handheld tilt-shift goodness, #thankyouverymuch

And ceilings.

Te Papa ceiling


Back out into the stunning weather, we continue our perennial search for calories and counteracting doses of caffeine and alcohol.

More harbor

As this day wanes, it's time for Ethel and travel buddy NoƩmie to have their turn with the Stormtrooper.

Stormtrooper up close

And our wander back to the hostel finds us this nightmare-worthy gem. Not sure why, but something about standing toddler mannequins in harsh light just creeps me out.

Creepy much?

On our final day, we're graced once again with stunning weather, and we take another museum lap, this time through the City Gallery. Many very cool photo exhibits, but other distractions prevail.

City Gallery overhead

Patient model

We finally hook up with our bike idols, and in addition to a little bit of a driving tour, we have a brilliantly delicious and out-of-the-way lunch at the Chocolate Fish Cafe, a welcome reprieve after two days in the bustling metropolis (pop. 204,000).

Finally, our time is up. After sharing the back seat of the car with a couple race bikes, we're deposited graciously at the airport to head home. We have to connect back through Christchurch instead of having a direct flight, but this just means more sightseeing over the South Island.

ATR-72 detail

Rakaia River in all its splendor


More ATR

Central Otago

More Central

Too short, as always, but a great escape! As I write this, it's painfully obvious that we've spent too much time exploring outside of NZ instead of on its shores (#firstworldproblems, I know), and we've vowed to rectify this.


Past Detritus