December 08, 2008

I'm back!

Building 155 icicles, McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

I'm back in New Zealand after a 2+ month contract working down at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Just so you don't think I took a vacation from blogging instead of working at a remote Antarctic research station, here's this photo.

I was busy down there, and I mean busy. I really, honestly didn't have the time to update my blog. I often worked late and the last thing I wanted to do after being in front of a computer all day, was to be in front of a computer doing anything, including updating the blog. So I hope you can understand this lapse.

Blogging seems to be a big commitment, doesn't it? I like sharing my life, but I know there will be times when I may not be communicative. I just blame it on being human; or perhaps a mercurial artist. I don't always like the idea of sitting in front of a computer all day, when there's so much other cool stuff to do.

When I showed up on the white continent, I was reunited with my darling Anthony who sported 8 months of impressive beard and hair growth, the result of The Company not having hired a hairdresser for the long dark season. Click here to see.

My time on the ice was productive and fun too. I got to spend time with good friends, even made some new friends and did a lot of knitting. I finished several hats, including this hat I designed for myself. I used Excel to map out the leaf pattern and threw in a few bobbles, some decorative braids and a tassle complete with a hand-knitted leaf.

Best part was I used up bits and pieces of yarn I already had.

This morning dawned grey and overcast and now it has broken into rain, which turns my mood into a happy one. I'm not sure why rain makes me feel so good. Maybe it's the idea that not much is expected of you on a rainy day and it gives you license to do something fun and not necessarily all that productive. Or you can just curl up with a good book or movie and not feel the least bit bad about it.

It also feels wonderful to have gotten all the laundry off the line before the rain started up!

Fiordlands, New Zealand

Anthony and I just returned from a week-long trip down south to the Fiordlands area of New Zealand, specifially Milford Sound (which really isn't a sound at all apparently, but a mis-named Fjord). Fjords are ancient glacial valleys with water in them and Sounds are ancient river valleys with water in them.

What is really funny is that to compensate for the mistake in naming Milford Sound, they declared the area "Fiordland," but they didn't realize they misspelled it. Fjord is spelled with a j, not an i. But the name has stuck and makes it unique in the places in the world and besides it's too late to change all the maps.

Photos definitely speak better than words in this part of the big blue globe. All along the road to Te Anau (say 'tay ann-ow'), the roads and river banks were overflowing with brilliant lupine blossoms in a eye-popping array of purples, blues and pinks.

See them all on the far bank of the river?

At a view stop, we were greeted by a friendly and inquisitive Kea, who was most certainly waiting for a tasty morsel or for us to walk far enough away from the car so it could attack the rubber seals around the windows (yes, Kea's are known for these antics). Or perhaps he was just waiting for his close-up.

Kea's are a member of the parrot family, known for their intelligence and ability to solve simple problems or work in teams to achieve a goal.

The road from lake Te Anau to Milford is in the top 3 on my list of most beautiful roads. I put it up there with Going to the Sun at Waterton-Glacier National Park and the bit of road from Prince Rupert to Vancouver, British Colombia.

Rivers of water cascading down the near vertical surfaces of ancient glacier-carved canyon walls.

The entrance to Milford Sound is breathtaking, regardless of the weather conditions.

We spent a day there and took an afternoon boat tour that took us up close and personal to many of the rock faces of the sound and even right underneath a waterfall.

During my time around Te Anau, I day-hiked a section of the world-famous Kepler track through old Beech forest and fairytale fern grottos.

On our way back to Christchurch, we took a different road that took us up past Queenstown and the most famous mountain in New Zealand, Aoraki Mount Cook. Here is Queenstown's lovely wharf.

Mt. Cook is the tallest in the photo.

Sometimes the color of the water in the lakes of New Zealand can only be described as fluorescent aqua.

It's good to be back.