Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Biking Trip Update

Helen and I are in Rotorua tonight. We are about half way through our trip and feeling pretty tired. We spent Christmas Day at the Eskdale Mountain Bike Park outside of Napier. The last two days we were at Wairakei Forest Park, near Taupo. Tomorrow we head to Whakawarewa Forest park, also known as the "Mountain bikers Disney Land". We plan to spend the next two days exploring before working our way back home. On the way we plan to ride the "42nd traverse" which is one of the classic mountain bike rides in New Zealand.

We plan to be home for New Years eve, as Wellington is meant to have a pretty impressive fireworks display and party.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Short Break

I wasn’t able to update the blog yesterday. I had a job interview with Crown Minerals. It went okay, and I will find out tomorrow if I make to the next round.

We found out yesterday that our shipment from Australia is meant to arrive on the 4th of January. It should take a little while to get through customs, but hopefully not more than a week. We have been making due with an air mattress for a bed and a bean bag for a lounge sweet. We also bought an outdoor table and chairs that we have been using for a dining room set.

Helen’s friend Laura is here in Wellington. She’ll be here until Sunday. After we drop her off at the airport, Helen and I are heading off for our road trip. I am not sure how much I will able to update the blog over the next couple weeks. So if I don’t get a chance again let me just wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Makara Peak

Yesterday was another beautiful sunny day. I got all my chores done early so I could have the rest of the afternoon to go for a big ride. I attempted to ride to Makara Peak from home again, this time finding a much better route. There are still some pretty big climbs in there but when you go from pretty much sea level to 412m I guess that is to be expected.

I am getting to know Makara Peak pretty well now, and definitely have some favorite tracks. I am even starting to get a braver in the skills area. Now I don't use the little dirt rolloff from the the step down ramps, I just launch. I still use the brakes too much, but baby steps are the way to go. Especially with a big road trip on the horizon. I am pretty excited to get out and ride some new places!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Weekend Relaxing

Well after a week of beautiful weather we were both tired from our mountain biking, soccer, evening walks and several Christmas parties... I have certainly met a lot of people in the last few weeks, I certainly made myself known at lunch time soccer as I kicked the ball in to the ocean and this very nice french guy stripped off and dove in to rescue the ball. When the sea temperature is about 14 degrees, that makes for a rather refreshing dip, I will have to dress appropriately to jump in next time….

We have certainly made the most of the good weather this last week and so I was almost thankful that the weekend weather wasn’t looking so promising. So we spent the weekend taking it easy and looking at houses. We thought that the number of houses would be dropping off getting closer to Christmas, but it still seems fairly busy and with a few tenders/bids due as late as the 22nd December. We have been told that the market is pretty quiet in January, so I guess people are trying to sell before the end of the year. We’ve been looking at different areas of Wellington over the last few weekends – I have to say there is quite a range of houses and Wellington definitely has it’s fair share of quirky houses. One of the houses we looked at on Sunday you had to climb 5 flights of stairs up the side of the hill to this little wooden house hidden away in the trees. Some of these houses up on the hill have funicular’s going up to them from the garage on the main road. Other houses have these amazing car decks that hang out over the edge of the hill precariously…. Not to mention the houses that hang over the side of the hill hovering in thin air. You never know what you are going to find when you turn up to look at a house. We thought briefly about getting something built but most of the sections for sale are on land that is dipping at greater than 45 degrees. So who knows what we are going to end up with?

Well just a few days before the Christmas holidays start… better start planning our trip around the different mountain biking parks in the north island.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Epic

It was meant to be an epic ride, but something happened and it kind of whimpered out. I set off with hopes of finding a route from home to Makara Peak. I had maps and books and a vague idea of where I was going. I managed to make it through the city and up Aro Gorge to Denton Park. This is where I was meant to leave the city streets and head off on a dirt track following the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary fenceline.

The track went up hill, then up some more, then down a little, then ridiculously up. There was supposed to be some scary downhill somewhere, but I must have missed it. I remembered reading about a fire road to the left and when one came up I followed it. I finally ended up on top of a hill and I was pretty sure it was the wrong one. I spent about 1o minutes studying the book and trying to sort out where I was. I finally figured out that I was on the correct hill and even managed to figure where to go from there.

By the time I made it to the park I was exhausted and realized I didn't bring enough food. I decided I was best off just doing a short loop in the park and heading home. I rode the way we usually drive and made it home pretty quickly.

Next time I will take a slightly different route that will hopefully cut out some of the stupidly steep climbing along the way.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Chore Day

Not too much to write today. Yesterday it was raining in the morning and I needed a day off to let my body rest. I spent most of the morning doing chores. However, by lunchtime the clouds left and the sun came out. When Helen came home we went for a walk up Mount Vic. After dinner we drove by a house that looked kind of interesting and snapped this picture of the Rimutakas and the entrance to Wellington harbor.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lunchtime Ride

Yesterday saw another fine day in Wellington. The sun was out, but so was the wind. I was running the days errands when Helen called and said that the boys from work were going riding at lunch today. I was feeling a bit tired and sore after the last two days of riding, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to get a guided tour of Mount Victoria.

I met up with Helen and her boss, Geoffroy, at the NIWA parking lot. Geoffroy took off like a rocket; Helen and I struggled to follow him down the road. After a few zigs and zags we finally hit the trail. We had a pretty good downhill run towards what looked like a dirt wall. Geoffroy didn’t show any signs of slowing, so I stayed off the brakes and followed him. Luckily, the wall had a really good transition at the bottom, which shot you right up it. A couple more short tracks led us to track that went around the velodrome. It looks a lot nicer the than one in Canberra. It is still concrete by the walls aren’t nearly as steep and the transition from corner to straight is much more gradual. After the velodrome we turned up hill and climbed a very steep rocky track to the ridgeline. We followed the ridge to the summit grinding up and over this ridiculous hill. We all made it and Geoffroy admitted at the top that he was hoping one of us would put a foot down so he could as well.

I was a little nervous about getting down from the summit, as most of the tracks Helen and I had seen when walking were really steep. In the end it wasn’t too bad. The tracks were covered in roots and got pretty steep in places, but the only person that came off was Geoffroy. He managed to go over the bars on a rooty downhill and did this amazing slow motion somersault while trying to stop himself. We all made it back to NIWA safely, and I had a bit of battle riding home against the wind. I look forward to doing some more exploring around Mount Victoria. It’s great that it is right in my backyard.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another Sunny Day

Yesterday I went to Crown Minerals to chat with a guy a I met at conference a week ago. They have a position open that I am interested in applying for. He kept trying to discourage me from applying because it is basically a data entry position and not something for someone with a PhD. I kept trying to explain to him that I was looking for something totally different and didn't mind. Plus it would give me some time to sort things out and give me the opportunity to pick up some new skills that could useful later on.

With that out of the way, the sunny skies urged me up into the hills. One of the deciding factors for where we buy a house is bicycle accessibility. Can we ride to work? More importantly, can we ride to Makara Peak? It just so happens that the Skyline Track runs along the top of a ridge line that forms the western boundary of the Wellington suburbs. It can only be accessed from certain spots though. I went to explore some of these access points so that we could make more informed home buying decisions.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Shopping and Biking

That pretty much sums up our weekend. Saturday, the wind was blowing a gale and the rain was pissing down. We decided it would be a good day to venture forth and find Bunnings (equivalent to Home Depot). We were after a few things to make the flat a bit homier. We even managed to find a beanbag chair at Kmart. By afternoon the rain had stopped and we went for a walk into town.

Sunday, the weather took a turn for the better and we decided to head out to Makara Peak for a ride. So did quite a few other people and we had a bit of traffic on the climb up Koru. We stopped off at the skills area on the way and had a bit of play on a few of the things there. Helen successfully attempted the horseshoe and the other North Shore style bit. I also got her to go off one of the wooden drop offs because we would be hitting it on the way back down (pics of the skills area can be found at After the skills area we continued on up towards the top. The tracks roll a lot and even when you are climbing you get some good down hill bits to keep you on your toes. We passed a few more folks on Missing Link and then stopped for a rest before continuing up Aratihi. We turned off before the summit to check out a couple tracks we hadn’t been on before. Leaping Lizard was pretty cool, it basically had a bunch of water bars that were spaced far enough apart that you could launch off one, have a second to compose yourself, then launch off the next. We then turned onto Nikau Valley, which was pretty steep and tricky in places with a few rocks and switchbacks. One I chickened out on and had to walk. We hooked back onto Missing Link for a Dave Osmond “mostly down hill from here” run to the top of Ridgeline Extension. This a pretty nice bit of track, a little rocky but definitely fast in spots. The picture is of Helen lining up a little chute on the way down. Magic Carpet took us back through the skills area where we hit the drop off and then continued on down Livewires. This track has a nice little see saw on which Helen rode with no worries. She didn’t even stop to check it out; she just hit it like it was a normal part of the track. A few more nasty bits saw us return safely to the car park.

Here’s hoping that we have more days like Sunday and less like Saturday in the coming months.

Friday, December 8, 2006

We started a blog

Well, I threatened to start a blog before Helen and I left Australia. Now, I have been reminded of that threat. So, here you go. My first post on the new blog. Pretty exciting isn't it? Hopefully this thing will grow as I learn how to use it. So stop on by every now and then to see if anything new has been posted.

Here are a few pictures. Some of which you may have seen all ready.

Wellington CBD. Our flat is just obscured by the green trees near the clock tower.

The summit of Makara Peak - the local mountain bike park.

Our new car a Toyota Carib. It looks a lot like a Subaru Outback.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Random Alaska pictures

Turnagain Arm, Cook Inlet, Anchorage, Alaska

Alaska mountains

More mountains

Helen and Gill

Friday, July 14, 2006

Ocean cruise from Seward, Alaska

We sailed out of Seward and into Resurrection Bay. From there we turned westward and headed into Aialik Bay and up to the terminus of the Holgate Glacier

Bear Glacier

Holgate Glacier


Seals or sea lions


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Exit Glacier, Alaska

Kenai Fjords national Park

Exit Glacier terminus

Exit Glacier and Harding Icefield


Nunataks on the Harding Icefield

We were there

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Zion National Park

Zion cliffs from Angels Landing

Looking south

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Cedar Breaks and Bryce Canyon, Utah

Cedar Breaks (note Helen for scale)

Bryce Canyon Overlook

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Monday, July 3, 2006

Brianhead, Utah

Aaron, Helen, Stan, and Hillairy at the summit of Brianhead Peak

Stan descending Bunker Creek

Aspens on the Dark Hollow Track