[Taken 15 July 2006 | Morning Fog on the Wellington Harbor | Wellington, NZ]
Check out my flickr site for my photos of Wellington, New Zealand.
The flight over was long long long. This is the furthest and the longest that I have every traveled… my travel time to New Zealand totaled around 24 hours, and it was even longer on the way home, courtesy of a nine hour layover at LAX. I tried to sleep for a lot of it, but I doubt that I actually succeeded. I wrapped myself in the airline-provided blanket and kept my eyes closed at least. Maybe I dozed a little bit, but if I did it was pretty light and fitful. The food on the flight was surprisingly good… both dinner and breakfast. My choice of white or red wine was served at no charge with dinner.
This is the first time I have flown on a plane that has the flat panel screens on the back of every seat and allows the passengers total control over their entertainment options. I liked it a lot… nicest plane I have ever been on. US airlines suck. Air NZ rules!
Brief panic at Auckland Airport… thought that my bag had been lost or left behind, but it turned out that it was only temporarily mislaid.
T~ from the NLNZ team picked me up at the airport and gave me a mini-tour on the way to the hotel. It felt weird riding in a right-hand drive car. When we got to her car in the parking lot, I walked up to the driver’s side first by mistake. Woops.
The weather Thursday was beautiful. Clear blue skies and crisp wind off of the harbor. My room wasn’t ready right away, and since I got in around 9am, I wasn’t really surprised. It was nice enough to just check in and then sit in the café in the hotel lobby, sipping a latte and reading one of my books while I waited
Tip for ordering coffee in New Zealand – ask for a flat white. This is basically like a latte, and is very very good. They do coffee right over there. My hotel was surrounded by dozens of little coffee shops… New Zealanders are that serious about their coffee consumption.
Here is something that I hate… expensive hotels that charge for in-room internet access. Why the need to be so stingy? Especially when I am playing $200+ a night! Hell, the Holiday Inn gives in-room internet away for free, and they only charge about $70 a night.
After I got my room, had a shower, and felt a little bit livelier, I went out exploring. I took the cable car up to the Botanical Gardens, all of the way at the top of Wellington, and walked down through the gardens back to the city and to the harbor front. I had some lunch at a little café on the water, and then walked up and down the harbor for a little while before wandering into the Te Papa museum and looking around for a little while.
Odd thing I saw: A German, I think, boy who laughed at a dare from his friends and stripped down to his boxers, then jumped off of the wharf and into the water. (I bet that the water was pretty darn cold, it being winter there and all.)
I had Friday and Saturday to tour around and do tourist-type things before my meetings, so, of course, those were the two rainiest days of the entire trip. On Friday, when I went up to coast (literally on the sand in a four-by-four) to a fur seal colony the rain at least had the courtesy to hold off (mostly, though it was very windy) until I got back to the Civic Center from the tour. Saturday I wasn’t so lucky, so all I saw of my tour up the (reputedly) very lovely Kapiti Coast was fog on the mountains and rain on the coast. Oh well. I did get to see some interesting countryside on Saturday – and got to tour a chocolate factory (yum!) and cheese making establishment (yum again! And so many lovely samples!) along with some time spent in the Southward Antique Car Museum, so the rain didn’t dampen everything too much. Though I would like to try the tour again in a better season when the weather is more likely to be cooporative.
I saw a lot of the museums in Wellington – Te Papa Tongarewa and the Wellington Museum of the City and Sea. Hey, what better way to spend time in inclement weather then by wandering around in museums? And they were wonderful museums… I could have easily spend days more in them.
Fun fact about Wellington: it is built directly on a fault line!
The days when the weather was nice – Thursday and Saturday – the weather was beautiful! On Sunday A~ (another member of the NLNZ team) and her husband took me on a morning tour of Wellington. (I had already started out the day rather early by talking a walk along the harbor and watching the morning fog burn off of the mountains while sipping a cup of coffee.) They took me to Old St. Paul’s Cathedral (built in 1865, the oldest church in Wellington), a “plant museum” where I could see a lot of the native plants and trees, the wind turbine (which had a glorious view of the city and harbor), through a couple of neat older neighborhoods, along part of the wild west coast, and finally wound up at one of their favorite cafes for lunch.
Fun fact about the Karori Bird Sanctuary just outside of Wellington: because a lot of the island’s native birds are flightless, the sanctuary is surrounded by a 15-foot fence which is built with a mesh so fine that not even a mouse could squeeze through. The fence also extends two feet underground and bends out (underground) in a sort of an “L” shape to discourage burrowers. The trees and shrubs to either side are also cleared back six feet on each side to make it difficult for anything to clear the fence by leaping over from tree to tree. It must be really expensive to maintain…
My business meetings et al at the NLNZ the following week went very well, in my opinion, and I think that we got an awful lot done. And everything that we got done just resulted in yet more work for me. Whee!
Fun fact about the National Library on New Zealand: the next time an earthquake hits, you will be best off if you hug the stacks. The building is especially designed so that in the event of an earthquake, it will collapse outward, thus safely preserving the precious archives… but too bad for the person walking by on the sidewalk at the time!
A week back, and there is already discussion of when the next trip out there will be…
[Taken 4 July 2006 | Celebration 2 | Dayton, OH]
Even though it rained through most of the 4th, there was a break in the downpours long enough for Centerville to hold its fireworks show at the high school. Of course, they had to start the show early, under threat of impending rain, had to "condense" the show, also under threat of impending rain, and it started to rain again about halfway through the show. But there were fireworks! And as I had brought a big umbrella, and since John and I had a plastic tarp to put down underneath our blanket, we weren't too inconvenienced.
The 5th was John's birthday. We went to Jay's Seafood to celebrate, and where there were several other groups also celebrating birthdays.
On Sunday we went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dean Man's Chest. Not a bad movie, though it did suffer from the usual trials of a movie that is in the middle of a trilogy. Namely, it started up a whole bunch of new plotlines, resolved nothing, and left us with a surprise/cliffhanger ending. Which of course is just supposed to make us all the more likely to see the next Pirates movie when it comes out.
On the way to the movie we - by which I mean John - spotted a box turtle meandering its way accross the road in our neighborhood. Naturally we had to stop to pick it up, and then make a slight detour so that we could drop it off in the safety of the Cos Arboretum. It was a cute turtle...
Today I leave for New Zealand (business). It will be a solid day's worth of travel... 24 hours in airports and airplanes. This will be my longest and furthest trip to date...
Be back in a week or so.
[Taken 3 July 2006 | Celebration | Dayton, OH]
One of the things that I like about Dayton is that if you know what you are doing and where to go, you can see fireworks shows several days in a row around the 4th. Of course, the weather needs to be cooperative. It has been a rather dissapointing 4th so far today... torrential rain this morning, tapering off into sporadic drizzles and overcast skies as the afternoon progresses... Right now it is not raining, and there are even the occasional patches of blue sky. Hopefully, the rain will continue to hold off and the ground will dry out a little bit so that John and I can go to see the fireworks at the Centerville high school tonight.
Last night we went downtown to watch the fireworks show over the Miami River. We got some really good spots on the bridge right accross from the launch site. (I got some good photos.) There were some people standing behind us who got a bit... overly excited by the whole display, and kept screaming out stuff like "Go Dayton! Dayton rocks! We love you, Dayton!" Ahh... drunken rednecks... The provided quite a bit of entertainment to us and the whole group of people standing around us.
The fireworks over the river is the culmination of a three-day festival in the Riverscape park downtown. John and I didn't go to the fesitval itself - we tried it out last year and it wasn't as interesting as we had hoped it would be. Good food, but you can only eat pulled pork and funnel cake for so long before you get really tired of it, so we only went to the fireworks portion of the festivities this year.
[Taken 2 July 2006 | Bumblebees | Dayton, OH]
The theme for today's little photo excursion to the Cox Arboretum might as well have been "bumblebees". They were everywhere... just swarming over just about all of the flowers.
Aside from thr difficulty of catching them when they are (briefly) holding still on a flower, I really like taking photos of bumblebees. I have also never worried about getting stung. Bumblebees are amazingly docile, for stinging insects, and are generally too focused on getting all of the necter that they can to notice someone with a camera.