Sunday, October 24, 2010

Washington Pictures

Tom and I spent 10 wonderful days in Washington.  We visited North Cascades NP, Mount Rainier NP, Olympic NP and Seattle.  All camping except Seattle where we stayed with an old friend of Tom's.

I was inspired to visit the area after watching the PBS series The National Parks: America's Best Idea.  The mountains and rain forests of the area reminded me of New Zealand.  Tom and I planned the trip ourselves, and this was our first big solo trip since Maine in 2007.  All others since then have been with OASC.  We definitely enjoy traveling with friends, but this time it was nice, like a second honeymoon.  And it allowed flexibility in our schedule.

I will write more about details of the trip as I think of them.  For now, I hope you enjoy the photo album.

The Evergreen State

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Daylily and Wine Festival

Saturday Tom and I went to the Daylily and Wine Festival in Fishersville, VA at the Viette Farm.  I am a big fan of Andre's radio show "In the Garden" and I was excited when our friends invited us to go the the festival with them.  It was a great day of wine tasting, bbq, and climbing in a new Outback (not mine :).  The highlight was listening to Andre speak and walking through his private gardens.  Check out my photo album!  Enjoy.
Daylily Festival

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

 From a sign in a backpacker's lodge in Tauranga, NZ.

We wander for distraction but we travel for fulfillment.
Don't follow you dreams, chase them.
Destiny is not a matter of chance but of choice.
If your ship does not come in, swim out to it.
A good traveler has no plans, and is not intent on arriving.

Believe yesterday is history,
Tomorrow is a mystery,
Today is a gift,
That's why it's called the present.


Monday, June 28, 2010

C'ville Sprint Tri

What a great day to get back into the sport. The weather was great and no flat tires!

0.3 mi swim, 16 mi bike, 3 mi run

I slept only 4 hours before the race, but arrived with plenty of time to set up my bike and transition stuff. Then I asked the nice guys from C'ville Bike and Tri to double check the air pressure in my tires. Amy and Mattie raced too, and Liz was there to cheer us on.

The weather was great. No rain, low humidity, and only a little hot on the run, but we were under the tree cover so that helped a lot.

I ate 1.5-2 hours before the race, but my stomach was very upset by the middle of the swim. Then I threw up as I was leaving the water, but I worked through it and finished with a decent swim time. I just hope the photographer does not post it.

The bike portion was great. I felt confident from all of my bike training for the MS150, and familiar with the route. I knew when the hills were coming and I could mentally prepare myself for them, and I powered through the down-hills. Passing people felt great too, even though most of them were over 40 or under 20 (ages are written on athletes' legs). My stomach calmed down a little, but I could not tolerate the Gatorade more than a small sip at a time.

The run was hard. My stomach was really upset again, but I was not thinking about my legs, which usually feel like lead weights after the bike. Things calmed down by the first mile (thanks to the mile markers on the trail). My asthma kicked in and I used my inhaler at least 4 times. But I felt great being on the trail in the woods and I was transformed back to hiking NZ in my mind. I fell only once, and surprised myself with a great karate spin-side fall, and with nothing hurt, I jumped up and kept running.

I competed in the Athena group, for women over 150 lbs, all ages. Several in my group beat me by only a few minutes which was frustrating. But looking back on my race, I gave it my all, and had a great time.

Word of the day: Don't try anything new for a race until it is tested in
training. Down to the smallest detail.

Swim: 61 00:12:51
T1: 54 00:02:07
Bike: 71 01:08:02
T2: 72 00:01:24
Run: 86 00:36:50
Overall time: 02:01:12
Overall rank: 77/112 women

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cville Sprint Tri

Tomorrow I am racing my first triathlon in almost two years (and since my back injury). The last time I raced this course, the Cville Sprint Tri, was in 2006, my first race ever. I blew my tire and had all the tools to repair it, but could not get the tire off (it was the very stiff Armadillo style tire). It had rained heavily that morning and there was a lot of debris on the road, and I might have under-inflated my tire, causing a pinch-flat. A race volunteer drove me back and I finished the run portion.

From Hampton Triathlon

So now I have a chance to redeem myself, and hopefully improve my times. I am better prepared physically because I have a lot of practice biking on the hills.

This race is special because the run is all on trails at Walnut Creek Park, mostly flat and well covered with trees. The soft ground is easier on the joints and the shade is nice in the heat. But the trail can be uneven and requires you to pick up your feet more than on the road. But this time I promise not to hold anything back on the bike portion, and let whatever happen on the run.
From MS 150 Rides

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hast du Fernweh?

Have you been bitten by the travel bug? Why yes, yes I have. I just finished reserving campsites in North Cascades, Mt Rainier, and Olympic National Parks, for a 12-day hiking tour of the Pacific Northwest. Tom already booked the plane tickets and hotel in Seattle. Now all that's left is picking the rest of the hikes. I am using a wonderful book called 100 Classic Hikes in Washington: North Cascades, Olympics, Mount Rainer & South Cascades, Alpine Lakes, Glacier Peak The book is worth getting for the pictures alone! I am also using the Lonely Planet guide to Washington, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.

Our new rule is no less than two nights per location after our whirlwind through New Zealand.

Just me and Tom for this one. Sorry friends.

Thunder Ridge Backpacking

I am feeling lazy for this blog entry, so here is Jere's eloquent OASC trip description:
With numerous peaks rising above 4000’, the Central Virginia Blue Ridge mountain range just south of Charlottesville is typically much higher in elevation than the section of the Blue Ridge that runs through Shenandoah National Park (SNP). And the footpaths south of SNP are significantly less crowded, are more remote, and provide one with a greater sense of being in a wilderness environment.

For this weekend point-to-point backpacking trip, our journey will take us along a beautiful 13-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail, where we will be trekking through two US Congress designated “wilderness areas”, experience some breath-taking panoramic scenery from rocky-outcroppings, be witness to a constant kaleidoscope of late-spring colors, and camp in a healthy, diversified hardwood forest alongside a picturesque mountain stream.

This trip reminded me of why I usually hike and camp in the fall/winter/spring. It was HOT. The bugs were not too bad while hiking, but they did bite some while camping. But the rewards were great - wild flowers, butterflies, birds. The campsite was nice, right next to an AT shelter and creek, lots of wildlife (frogs, toads, snakes, turtles, and more birds). The privy was brand new, still smelled like pine.

The first day of hiking was very long, even for me and Tom - 11 miles. Our packs were much heavier than what we carried on the Milford Track in NZ. The second day of hiking was very short and flat, with grand views of the James River Face, a water gap in the Shenandoah Mountains.

We followed up our trip with a buffet lunch at Peaks of Otter. The food was good, but everything tastes good after along weekend of backpacking.
Thunder Ridge
Thanks again Jere for another great walk in the woods.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tour de Vine, Day 2

100 miles in two days. I only rode 25 miles on the second day. I am trying not to be too hard on myself, because the goal was 150, and I hope that I did not let down my supporters. But several things led to my decision to do only 25 miles, and I will try not to make them sound like excuses. I did not get enough sleep, it was already very hot and humid by the decision time (first rest top at 12 miles), and my asthma was acting up (despite being on therapy for two weeks). IT band issues were popping back up, this time in both legs. My seat really hurt, and my arms had issues.

On Saturday the hardest part was the last 15 miles, not because of the heat, but my arms. They went from achy to excruciating in minutes. Not in the joints, but the triceps. I could barely hold on to my handle bars. At the last rest stop, with only 10 miles to go, I was not sure I could finish. A very nice medic gave me some Advil and rubbed some Icy-Hot into my arms and it help A LOT.

On Sunday, after only 12 miles of riding, my arms were acting up again, especially because the Walnut Creek area is very hilly and you have to push with your arms to get up hills. So I did not want a repeat of the previous day with a possibility of getting driven back because of my arms.

After 25 miles, I felt great back at the finish line. And after a shower and nap I even got some house work done. Injury free, that is the important part. Knowing your boundaries. And biking for a good cause.
From MS 150 Rides

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tour de Vine, Day 1

From MS 150 Rides
WOW! what and awesome day of riding.  Great people, great support, great team, great friends.  Liz was a huge help, pacing, encouragement, drafting.  We stopped at most of the rest stops, and Liz kept us on schedule (10 minutes per stop) so we did not cool down tool much.  Started at 7am, ended at 2:30pm, that's 7.5 hours of riding!  Our moving average was 13 mph.  It only felt really hot in the last 2 hours.  Got back before the big thunderstorm, but it cut our after party short.
From MS 150 Rides
Afterward I got a 50-min massage, which was so worth it.  Then off to Amy's post ride pool party which was a lot of fun.

A big thanks to Jenny and Jere and Tom who manned our team tent at the event.  Thank you to Liz who rode with me all day.  Thank you to the team for pitching in for Amy's gift.  Thank you to Amy for leading such a great team!

Good night and ready to do more tomorrow.  Probably will only do 25 or 50 miles, we will see how I feel in the morning.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another Beautiful Sunset

This is Millington Road, along the Free Union loop I have done four times (different variations), the last two after work with my new friend and team mate Liz.  We are about the same ability and we are planning on riding the tour together.  I am glad to know that I will have a constant companion on the long ride, and we can encourage each other and draft too.

Only four days to go.  I am very excited.  My total mileage for the season is 330.  I read in the tour handbook that you should get up to 500 miles before the date, but I feel ready.  The plan is 75 miles on the first day, and then wait and see how I feel on the second day, but at least 25 or 50.

Monday, May 31, 2010

High Altitude Training

Ok, so maybe not mile-high training.  Today we biked Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, from Loft Mt Wayside to Big Meadows and back.  The park is high enough elevation to feel considerable cooler than Charlottesville, and the tree cover is beautiful and shady. 

From MS 150 Rides
The plan was for 60 miles (30 out, 30 back), but at Swift Run Gap I stopped and asked and Amy pick me up on her way out of the park. I felt like a quitter, but considering everything I did this weekend it did not seem too bad.  I still did 43 miles, and it was the largest climb in one ride for me - 1300'.
From MS 150 Rides

Me and Amy at Big Meadows Visitor Center on Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park. She beat me up the mountain by 45 minutes! I was glad to finish, and beat the thunderstorm looming in the background.
From MS 150 Rides
Saturday I rode 53 miles and the climb was 700'.  96 miles in one weekend.  Not bad.  And I feel pretty good.  A little sore and tired, but no major muscle or joint issues.

From MS 150 Rides

Friday, May 28, 2010

From Blogger Pictures

A big thanks to our wonderful friends Amy and Mattie for kitten-sitting over the weekend! The cats adjusted fine to their new environment, and Amy and Mattie did a great job. Billy and Miley say, "Thank you for hosting us, so we did not have to stay at home, bored and alone!"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Aniversary, Billy Ray and Miley

A year ago today I brought home two sick foster kittens from the SPCA.  They had eye infections and upper-respitory illness.  Someone at the SPCA named them Billy Ray and Miley.  I had to force-feed them with a syringe because they were underweight and uninterested in eating (especially Billy). 

From Our Kittens

Before long they were feeling better and I realized how special they were.  We had 10 foster kittens before them, and although it was hard giving them back, I was able to do it.  With these guys I became very attached very quickly.  And maybe it was because they were so sick and we nursed them back to health.  But they were very well behaved (as well as kittens can be) and loving. 

From Our Kittens

We travel a lot, and it took me a lot to convince Tom to keep them.  My parents have been wonderful in cat-sitting for our long trips (especially to New Zealand), and the kittens don't seem to mind too much (but Smokey does).  We got them used to traveling at an early age.

From Our Kittens

 Tom is a very good Kitty Daddy and performs all feeding duties, including the 6am meal every morning when Billy scratches our bedroom door. They are very spoiled and get fed every 3-5 hours because we can't leave the food out our else Billy gorges himself on his and Miley's food after she walks away when full.  I perform all litter-scooping duties, a less glamorous job, but rewarded when Miley insists on leaving me a present every time I am in the middle of scooping.  I have coined the terms "Food Czar" for Tom, and "Poo Czar" for me. 

From Kittens: Growing Up Schultz

These two guys have a special place in our hearts, and look forward to many more years with them.

Our Kittens

Kittens: Growing Up Schultz

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Today's Ride - 35 miles

Except for the shady sections, it was a hot ride today, and a little windy towards the end, but it felt great to get back out there.  I took a long warm-up and stopped to stretch several times, plus before and after the ride.  I am sill feeling a little scared to push my speed for fear of hurting my leg again, which is still a little stiff.  Thank you Amy and Mattie for organizing the ride and staying with me. 

34.4 miles went by pretty quickly.  And even though I stopped a lot, my average speed was a good 12 mph.

From MS 150 Rides

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Back in the saddle.

The bike saddle, that is.  After two weeks of moderate rest after I hurt my leg, I ramped up my riding.  I have been riding my bike to work almost every day, which is a great way to wake up in the morning and wind down in the afternoon. 

I was traveling for the last five days to Ohio for my brother-in-law's graduation from U. of Toledo Law School.  We also stopped at the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the Heinz Museum in Pittsburg.  I tried to exercise as much as I could at the hotel gyms.

This weekend it's back to training with the MS150 Team. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A little bump in the road

So I think I overdid it. My right thigh has been hurting for three days now, I think it is the IT Band. I have not done anything since Thursday, except ride to and from work on Friday and house work, but the muscle spasms are not going away. And it hurts to sit in a chair at work too. Jeesh. I found a box and elevated my monitor and keyboard and stood all day at work, rocking out to my tunes while doing SoildWorks. It worked pretty good, because standing (and moving) is less painful than sitting (and not moving). I have been icing it and taking ibuprofen. Looks like I will be out all week.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wednesday's Ride

Springtime is known for it's temperature swings, and we have had some for sure. Just two weeks ago we had 80-90 degree days for several days, but Wednesday's after work ride started around 58, and ended at 49 degrees. Now I am used to hiking in the cold-20 degrees is cold for hiking, and well 49 is cold for biking. I am still getting used to the difference between biking and hiking temperatures! By the end of the ride, my hands and toes were numb!

Luckily the MS150 tour is in the summer, and we are progressively getting warmer, or I would need to get some more warm riding clothes (something that stops the wind and does not flap).

This time I took a shorter route than the rest of the team because of the cold and creeping darkness. I knew the route and I was ok riding by myself, besides, except for a small shortcut, I was on the same roads as the group. But, on the way back I missed the turn from Plank Rd onto Old Lynchburg Rd, which added 2 miles to my trip, but I made it back ok. On the upside, during my side trip I rode past a little bog with lots of spring peepers (frogs) chirping loudly.

MS 150 Rides

Today's Ride and Cookout for MS150

Today we had a cookout at Amy's house, our fearless MS150 Team Leader.  Beforehand some of us did the same loop we did last week.  Compared to the Walnut Creek area rides, the loop was very flat, and my average speed went up quite a bit.  This made me very happy.  And I was faster than last week! 

Here are my training rides to date:

DATE  LOCATION    Dist(mi) Time(hr) Avg Spd(mpg)
3/31 Earlysville     13.5  1.00     13.5
4/4  Standardsville  14.7  1.20     12.
4/7  Candlewyck      13.7  1.25     11.
4/10 Walnut Intl Tri 22.4  2.00     11.
4/14 Walnut Sprint   19.4  1.75     11.
4/15 Candlewyck      13.7  0.92     15.
        total miles: 97.4 

Note my average speed 4/7 versus 4/15.

The cookout was a big success and I think we got some more people to join the team, and a few more people to volunteer at the OASC tent on the first day of event (June 12).

I forgot the gps at home, but I timed the hike, and the loop was the same as last week.

From MS 150 Rides

Sunday's Hike

So I am a little behind on my outdoor activity blog posting, but I am diligently blogging away. This hike was last Sunday 4/14, a lovely spring day.

Day hike with Jere/OASC.
Wildcat Ridge-Riprap SNP
9.5 mi
average speed 2mph
elevation gain approx 2000ft
Weather: clear, sunny, hazy, average temperature 70F.

A little crowded from Chimney Rock to AT, otherwise light traffic. Nice lunch near a pool with rock slide/waterfall (note:come back in August!). Water was very cold, but Roland jumped in anyway! Three dachshunds barked loudly at us while walking by un-leashed with their owners. I got sunburned on the right side of my neck.

Jere lead us on a side trail to a 'cave' that was not much more than a rocky overhang with a rock wall that someone built around it. A black vulture found the cave to be very good for a nest however, and was spooked by our arrival.
Wildcat Ridge-Riprap SNP

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Trying not to overdo it.

Things have been very busy here. My mind has finally returned to this world (and country, time zone, etc), and I am in full gear training mode. The spring weather is good for the mood, but hard on the sinuses. I seem to have a perpetual sore throat from the pollen too. But I still love springtime in central Virginia.

Wednesday was a great training ride (for the MS150 Tour), this time from Amy's house (our team leader). The route lead us past some nice houses, country churches, farms, country clubs, and the Foxfield horse race track. I am really enjoying these rides because I am seeing some parts of the area that I have never seen or appreciated before. You absorb your surrounding so much more on a bike than when you drive fast in a car. I wish I could have taken pictures along the way.
From MS 150 Rides

Thursday was me and Tom at BeerRun with Jere and the club. A spring thunderstorm made things interesting. We got an awesome bottle of Pinot Noir from Central Otago, NZ, a region we visited near Queenstown.

Friday was a great Karate practice. I spent the first hour teaching Basic One to a pair of 10-year-old white belts. The next 1-1/2 hours I spent working on my One-Steps and knife defenses with Amir (sp?), an awesome black belt whom I had not worked with much before now.

Saturday morning was another successful training ride. We rode 22 miles from Walnut Creek Park, the route of the Charlottesville Triathlon International Distance. My longest ride yet, and I managed to keep up my previous average speed. Again the scenery was beautiful with the trees in full bloom. We drove past several creeks along the side of the road that were flowing well due to the recent spring showers. The road itself was in bad shape and made for a rough ride. I felt pretty good afterward, and thought, "Maybe I can do the International Distance Triathlon," but then I would have to now run 7 miles, and that does not sound like fun.
From MS 150 Rides

Saturday night Tom and I went to wine tasting (NZ wines), a club event, and sushi afterward.

Sunday was a 10 mile hike in the Shenandoah, but those pictures will have to wait for another day.

Today was an easy swim in the pool.

A small summary of my last 5 days. I am getting tired just writing about it. Time to get some well deserved sleep.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Old Rag Day Hike

Tom and I had Good Friday off from work, so we decided to go hiking with OASC leader Brian B. Old Rag is one of the most crowded hikes in the Shenandoah National Park, and we were hoping that not to many other people had Friday off too. This was my second trip along the Ridge Trail, but Tom's first and I think he had a lot of fun. Here's our group at the summit, near where we ate lunch, with us facing east.
From Old Rag Mt from Berry Hollow

The weather was hot and sunny, and as you can see from the picture, hazy, but nice. It seems that we just skipped over spring and went straight to summer! But it was good to see all the signs of spring on the forest floor, and due to the elevation of this area, I think it's all a few weeks behind from where we live.
From Old Rag Mt from Berry Hollow
Brian usually likes to eat lunch at this rocky area because it is less crowded, but we voted to find more shade because it was so hot!
From Old Rag Mt from Berry Hollow

I was surprised to see how "smooth" this track is, just a steady up and down, without too many "bumps."
From Old Rag Mt from Berry Hollow

I just learned how to view the gps tracks in Google Earth. The view of Old Rag is particularly interesting, because the rocks are so big and non-tree-covered that they show on the satellite picture!
From Old Rag Mt from Berry Hollow

This route is the secret "back door" to Old Rag, especially good if you are coming in from the south.
From Old Rag Mt from Berry Hollow

You can view the OASC group's photos, and all of the photos I took in the link below.
Old Rag Mt from Berry Hollow

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Today's bike ride

Today was the first of my MS150 Tour De Vine training rides.  It was with the OASC team and they were very nice to stay with me even though I was a little slow.  We went 13.5 miles, and my average speed was 13 mph.  The last hill was hard, but I managed it just fine without stopping.  The ride made me realize how easy my commute really is!  I still have a way to go for training, but I am committed to completing the tour.

Thanks James for letting me borrow your GPS.

From MS 150 Rides

From MS 150 Rides
Please consider sponsoring my bike tour by donating to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  Your help is much appreciated. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Zealand Photo Album

It's time to unveil my photo album for our trip to New Zealand. So here it is, I hope you enjoy it.  I spent many hours sorting, correcting, captioning and geotagging.  I took over 1,700 exposures over 25 days, and condensed it down to 130.

New Zealand

I still have a few rolls of film to develop from my waterproof point-and-shoot camera.  Check back soon for those, I will have them digitized and will post them in the above album.

Sadly, I lost my beloved handheld gps unit on the trip, so I had to geotag all the photos manually, and I can't post all of the awesome elevation profiles I hiked.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I am currently working on captioning and geotagging my photos. The recovery of the bad SD card was successful, and here is one from the Milford Track.
Posted by Picasa

Fresh Off the Plane

24 hours of flying.  And now I am wide awake (it's 8pm nz time).  Time changed tonight for DST in our favor, but for only one hour out of twelve.   Do I dare start sorting through the pile of email and photos? No, I would rather blog at the moment.  Patience my friends.  Photos will come in due time.

The flights went well.  All on time, full, friendly.  Slept about 8 of the 12 hours of the trans-pacific flight, briefly waking only two times.  I am getting good at this?

Before we left Auckland, we attended the Pasifika Festival.  Like a state fair, but so much better.  Many South Pacific Islands represented with food, singing, dancing, arts, crafts, and other events.  Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Tahiti, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Tangata Whenua (New Zealand Maori).  Needs pictures and video to do justice, coming soon.  It was great to mingle with the locals, and not stand out so much as tourists (we were all wearing hats and cameras). 

I miss New Zealand already, but it is so good to be home.  Pet the cats, shower in my own bathroom, sleep in my own quiet comfortable bed....Aaahhh.....

Friday, March 12, 2010

sad to be leaving nz

sad to be leaving nz in 24 hrs. enjoying Auckland, climbed another volcano today, Pasifika fest tomorrow.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

One week to go.

The last several days have been very long and tiring but fun.  After Franz Joseph Glacier we visited Arthur's Pass.  I gave Avalance peak a good try but just did not make it, not because of stamina but time restraint (we were given only 6 hours to comlete the hike, and then drive 5 more hours).  So I made it about two thirds of the way up, and Tom made it to the top.  It was the hardest single-day hike I have ever done, with un-relenting uphill and rock climbing on all fours. 

The Kiakoura Coast Track was very nice, a three-day hike through farms with mountain views and on the beach.  Saw some sea lions and dolphins.  The itenery was only 8 miles per day, and our stuff was shuttled for us, so the hike seemed very easy compaired to the Milford Track. 

About halfway through on the first day of the Kiakoura, I was stung by a bee on the inside of my left arm.  It hurt quite a bit, and it has been a long time since I was stung and forgot how much it hurt.  I slept poorly that night from the itching, and by morning it formed a 4"x2" rash, hot and swollen.

I pushed through the second day of the Kiakoura, careful to protect the rash from the sun, but in a daze from the Benedryl I took to try to control the itching and swelling.  By the next morning, the rash was from my armpit to my elbow, and my hand was starting to feel tight and tingly.  I was taking the max dose of Benedryl and it seemed to be doing nothing but make me tired.

I had had enough and decided to ask for a ride to the car, and forgo my final day of hiking track. The nice farmers gave us directions to the nearst town of Kiakoura, 45 minutes away.  Luckly, Helen-Marie drove me to town since I did not have authoriziation to use the rental car.  We had only 2 hours to drive 45 min, see a doctor, get an Rx filled, and get back to pick up the rest of the group.

We found a nice family practice and I explained to the receptionist the situation.  Within 15 min I was talking to a doctor, and he wrote me an Rx for Prednezone.  He said it had something to do with the fact that it was a foreign bee, which you can react to more easily.  Also, the doc gave me the go-ahead to kayak the next day.  So we filled the Rx and got back to the rest of the group with 30 min to spare!

The Prednezone helped a lot and within a few hours the redness and itching went down.  It is still very sensitive to the sun so I have been wearing long sleves even in the hot times. 

Today we went sea kayaking in Tasman Bay in Abel Tasman Natial Park.  The weather was sunny and calm, ideal for paddling.  Brought back lots of memeries of my wonderful Everglades trip.  Tom was my kayak partner and he did well for his first time, with minimal arguing between us. 

The 3-hr ferry ride from Picton to Wellington was beautiful through the sounds.  Most of the group was passed out on the couches in the lounge of the ship by the end of the ride.  Wish I could post pictures for you but I really need to go to bed, it is 2am here!  Tomorrow is TePapa Meusum and dinner at Helen-Marie's cousin's house!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Glacier Trecking in Franz Joseph

Just spent the day glacier trecking on the west coast of the south island of New Zealand.  It was a short drive and hike to the base of the glacier.  From there we strapped on our crampons (ice spikes that attach to your boots) and headed straight up the rocks and ice.  Then our guide (Branden) led us through crevaces and tunnels for a total of 1500' elevation ascent.  Around lunchtime we sat and had lunch on the glacier tucked away from the wind.  After lunch we explored some more of the ice including giant "waves" of ice that towered at least 20' high and wide.  The final challenge was down and through a steep and tight crevace measuring about 30' deep and 18" wide (good thing ice is slippery).  We used ropes connected to spikes in the ice to walk safely off of the ice back down the glacier valley.

Tomorrow is a 4 hour drive to Arthur's Pass where we'll do a challenging hike the following day (3500' up over 3mi) called Avalanche Peak.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

First week in NZ

Blogcasting live from Queenstown, NZ, internet cafe.  noon here.  currently loading pics from D90 to picasa web album, only that sd card is working at the moment.  Pics of the Kiwi Bird Park in qt.  All pics of backpacking trip were taken with p/s and card is not working now!  But the pics seem safe on the card, just won't download, so I won't be able to see them until I get home and can recover them.

Great trip so far.  the flights were all on time for our group and set out for Te Anau where we spent the night at a very nice backpackers lodge on the lake.  left our cars at the lodge and walked to the ferry that took us north up the lake to the beginning of the Milford Track.  Boat ride was georgous and great weathe with mild wind and deep blue skys.  The locals drink directly from the lake without treating it and are very proud of it. 

First day on the Milford Track was 3 miles through nice hardwood forest with ferns blanketing the ground.  All nights stayed in huts with running water! propane cookers and wood fireplace in common area.  nice group of mostly europeans hiked with us all 3 days. 

Second day on milford was 11 miles, through valley with waterfalls off 2000' cliffs either side.  I set out at 7am to beat the crowd and see birds, which I was greatly rewarded.  Birds here in the wild are very trusting of people and curious.  Don't fly away like they do back home so you can get a good look at them.  Tom saw a rare blue duck and got it on video. 

Third day was the rain and wind and McKinnon pass was a blistry storm, challenging but fun to conquer (no spell check on the computer!)    1500' up, 3000' down, very steep.  Everyone in our group did well and no injuries (can't say the same for the other hikers on the trail that day staying in our hut!).  Tom and I did the side hike to Sutherland Falls and it was well worth the trip, the highest falls in NZ.  Another 12 miles for this day.  Feet are sore by the point but feeling good.

Forth day was the time buster.  11 miles, and needed to catch the ferry from Sandfly point to town of Milford where we had a cruise scheduled around Milford Sound.  Rain let up by then, and the hiking was a bit hotter, bugs a bit more bite-e-r, but good day of hiking overall.  Set out at 7:30am, and once we were a few miles out we slowed our pace so we would  not have to hang out too long at Sandfly Point (aptly named).  But it turned out the wind was good at the point and no sandflies.  Got our pic taken at the famous 'completion' sign. 

Cruise around Milford Sound was nice, wonderful weather, nice to sit for a change and rest your feet while taking in scenery.

Last few days in Queenstown have been relaxing.  Tom and I have our own room here in the hostel, primitive but comfortable, quiet with earplugs.  Visited the birdpark and saw a kiwi and a lot of other birds I saw on the milford track.  Learned about Maori life.  Nicely constructed park, well worth the time and money. 

Tom is currently on the Shotover Jetboat (I was not interested), I will be exploring the gardens and hiking around the lake here in QT.  Tomorrow is Arrowtown, Wanaka, and wine country. 


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

just off milford track. in

just off milford track. in queenstown now. had great time backpacking. only 1 day of rain. nice cruise around milford sound.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Trip Overview, Part 3

Then we drive 2.5 hours north to the Rotorua area for some strolls to and through volcanic geological formations, taking a dip in a natural hot water pool, and Zorb.
Then drive 1.5 hours to Tauranga, where we’ll have the option of enjoying a sunset kayaking tour to go see an abundance of glow worms after dark.

The final leg of our trip is Auckland, including a hike on the volcanic island of Rangitoto.

Trip Overview, Part 2

After the Kiakoura Coast Track, we drive 4.5 north through Marlborough wine region,
on our way to Marahau, just outside Abel Tasman National Park, where we will be kayaking.

We then take a ferry from the South to the North Island from Picton to Wellington through Cook Strait.

We will be spending a day exploring Wellington, including the Te Papa Museum. Then drive 3 hours north to the west coast of the north island to canoe the Whanganui River.

Then drive 2 hours north to Tongariro National Park stay at a lodge in Whakapapa Village.  The Tongariro Crossing hike will be one of our most difficult at 10 miles, ascend 2250 feet, descend 3700 feet, rated the best day tramp by Lonely Planet.