Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fun at Home --- Durango, May 2013

 I am lucky.  Or maybe just blessed, or some combination of those plus some other good qualities.  I was gone for 4 months and when Tom realized we had 3 found days (he was supposed to have to work, but it got canceled, etc.) we  ran off to Durango for some riding. 
 A little adventure at Horse Gulch on the first and last days.
 And loads of riding in "Phil's World."  That is some good riding.  For me it is just enough challenge to be interesting and "flowy" enough to be incredibly fun.  I know some folks who might think it is not technical enough, but I got lots of good pedaling.

Best part was the green lizards just after the sign that said, "green lizard."

 What I am really hoping for is some folks to contrast this landscape of junipers and rocks with the photos from New Zealand.  Both are amazing and spectacular in their own ways, but what really gets me is how amazingly different they are.  (Tom told me to try to show off my muscles...)
 An attempt at a self portrait.
 Tom and the rocks.  Looking for equal time here...

 Tom and I have found that our favorite pictures are with trail signs.  So here you see, Tom, the Spot, the Black Sheep and the Horse Gulch trail map.  Below, a panoramic view out at Phil's World.  I think we are on the Stinky Springs Return for the panoramic shot.  This definitely makes me want to participate in 12 hours of Mesa Verde next year!

Daily Running

 Its fall and running everyday is good for you, but tough to do.  While in Christchurch, I ran almost every day starting around 6 am, and then 6:30, then 7 and by the end it was usually 7:30.  It is tough to run in the dark.  Lucky for me there was a park nearby.  Two laps made almost 4 miles.  Something about having a daily run has become a necessity for me. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Last Run in the Port Hills

 On Wednesday, I went on my last run (for now!) in the Port Hills on the South side of Christchurch.  Mike Steel met me a a local coffee shop and off we went. 
 We went out on a ridge between Lyttelton and Governor's Bay.  The picture of me was meant to have mountains in the background, but they did not come out in the photo.  O well.  The photo of Mike in the "bath" rock with Lyttelton in the background came out a bit better as did the photo of the ridge we ran.  Mike did a great job with this run, we did a boulder problem to get started and then worked our way to this ridge, climbing over 3 fences (2 on the way out and one on the way back) and there was only the faintest of trails as we navigated this rocky ridge.  Would not be a proper run with Mike, without these.

I realized recently that while I'm now home from New Zealand (arrived in the middle of the night Thursday), that does not mean I won't continue to go on fun outdoor adventures or have new chocolate adventures and I'm thinking about making meat pies.  All good stories to tell on the blog.  Plus, then I can still imagine I am on sabbatical.  The posts are likely to slow down, but not stop. 

Stay tuned. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Last Ride in NZ

 Yesterday, I ran in the Port Hills and ran into Mike Steel.  It was a great day to be out running.  Today, I met up with Alex and Berit to ride up Mt. Pleasant to reach the Greenwood trail, then work our way over to Godley head to finish on the Anaconda trail down to Taylor's mistake (never gets old).  Having Berit and Alex as entertainment made the slog up Mt. Pleasant road bearable, and the reward of Greenwood and Anaconda made it all worth it!

Before we started Alex listed all the mechanicals she might have on this trip --- the list was long.  We all laughed.  Then, we had mechanical round 1.  Broken chain --- not on the list.  Gave me the chance to take the nice panorama photo below.

Shortly after that we had broken chain #2 and wondered if Alex would be able to finish the ride.  But she shifted conservatively and we made it all the way to get these spectacular views of Taylor's mistake (nope, still not old).  Blue sparkling water.  It is May and there is snow on the tops of the mountains, but these photos make it feel like summer. 

 War zone?  On my way home from the MTB ride I passed this building in downtown, I had not seen before. 

And then in the park...Ahhhh Fall.

Somehow last December/January, heading to summer in Christchurch made sense to me and sounded like fun.  However, as fall settles in here, it seems quite odd to me to be returning to summer.  Why is that?

Running in Wollongong

 Anyone who reads the blog regularly might note that I did not include this under the title "Fun in Wollongong."  Running is always fun, but typically me, I turned a totally reasonable event into a ridiculous adventure.   The map I looked at with Jodie suggested that the best way to access the hill trails near their house was via the Rhododendron Park, but that was a bunch of crazy overgrown trails that looked like the picture to the left.

Then there were the nettles (stung until the next day!)
 And then I'd find signs like this one, suggesting a gate to a trail linking to those that went up the hill.  HA! Silly girl. 
 I did get to see 2 kookaburra's, a kangaroo, and two dark brown birds with orange circles on their heads that were the shape of a cockatoos/parrot, but weren't --- still don't know what they were.  Of course, around town I saw lots of cockatoos, including a mass migration from "town" to the "bush" as I returned to the house. 

Long story short, I eventually left the park after about an hour and had the idea to head down the road a bit where I found a trail head for all the trails --- good ones --- up in the hills.  Since I didn't feel like I had ran much, I took off to do about 10 km in the hills.  Good idea, but I gave my hosts a bit of a fright as I was out for much longer than planned by any of us.  Fortunately, I had told them about my first run in NZ and they figured something like that had happened and I would be back before dark.  I was. 

This photo has the same lighthouse in it as a photo from my other Wollongong post.  Cool to see it from such different locations. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Fun in Wollongong

 It is simply fun to say, Wollongong.  Thanks to the Spark family for hosting me!  Day one was a short tour of Sydney with a trip up their version of a "sky tower."  All things are more fun with a 3.25 and 6 year old.  These two are particularly great and made everything more fun!

Day two "the girls" went for a beach walk to the playground and then played in the tide pools.  I am a huge fan of tide pools --- they make me feel like I'm 4 again and I never miss the opportunity. Exploring the pools with a near 4 year-old made it that much more special.  Crabs, fish, tons of snails a sea urchin and some bright purple plants/animals I could not identify. 

Above is one of the many "swimming pools" they have along the beaches near Wollongong.  Full of  ocean water, but with some structure so you can swim laps without waves.  Very cool idea.  Below is just a nice shot of the head where we walked to for our morning adventure. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Running to work

Turns out that there is a mountain with good trails between Barbara's house and the University of Tasmania, but I just had to do the beach run on my not way there, one last time...
 In keeping with crazy runs while abroad, I got started, weather looked like it was clearing up so I did not bring a rain jacket.  Silly me.  Ended up back at the house, getting better clothes and then continuing on. 

The trail up Mt. Nelson.  Amazing that most of the native trees around Hobart are eucalyptus of one kind or another.  This photo does not do it justice.

I took a pile of photos from the top of Mt. Nelson, these are just two.  Great view of the city to the right.
A view of the university as I finished my run.  I got to run the house to campus trip over Mt. Nelson twice and finished on Friday with a mountain bike ride.  Thanks to Karen for use of her bike and Vic for being a fantastic guide!  I only had one near endo, flats do have their advantages.

Thanks to the Hobart crew for an outstanding trip and I am definitely looking forward to a return trip!

Wildlife at Bonorong

Barbara took me to feed the kangaroos/wallabies at the Bonorong wildlife center.  I had great wildlife in Tasmania and Wollongong.  Added to the Tasmania list are alpine ravens, pademelons (both in the wild while running and biking) and piles of other birds I can't name.
The joey gets to eat too!  They are totally not interested in our food.  If you look carefully above you can see a joey's head sticking out.  When we first saw that combo only the joey's leg was sticking out and it looked like the kangaroo was a mutant.
 The Tasmanian devils were extra active that night.  I got to hear them scream at each other.  They look completely cuddly until that moment.  Unfortunately, the large numbers at Bonorong are in part due to a contagious face cancer they are suffering from.   Marsupials.  I suppose if you grow up with them you are used to it, but for me they raise all kinds of interesting evolutionary questions, like why aren't more mammals marsupials or, on the other hand, why are there any at all?
 These tawny frogmouths are so cool.  We almost missed them as they were sitting all together and were well camoyflaged with the trees.  But then we got lucky and got to watch them eat dinner.  Saying "just cool" repeatedly is not so great for you as the reader, but that's what I want to do.

And we finish with an albino possum.  Possums are bad news in New Zealand, but loved in Australia and an albino one is pretty cool.