Friday, June 27, 2014

New Zealand - 6/21 - 6/22

This was the start of my first full weekend down under.  At this point, the weather was still pretty fair.  Usually it was between 50s and 60s during the day, dropping to a bit over freezing during the day. Our crew was pretty tired at this point.   I on the other hand was doing okay having just got my schedule sort of normalized here.

June 21st - 2014
While I was on more a regular schedule, I was still waking up pretty early.  I knew there was an open house at the airport for our project later in the day and I wanted to see a bit of Christchurch before I had to go in the office.  I took off early in the morning for New Brighton to see the beach.

Sunrise over the beach

It was just after sunrise and a bit chilly near the water.  The winds were blowing but it sure was beautiful.  It's been a while since I've seen the ocean up close, maybe when I went to Daytona Beach a few years ago.

 Another view....

There were quite a few others walking along the beach, so off in the distance I spied the New Brighton pier and decided a walk along the beach was just what the doctor ordered.

 The New Brighton Pier, 300 meters long out into the water.

To pier was pretty impressive.  In the distance I saw quite a few people on it, figuring most must be tourists.  In actuallity I think most were locals that were using it as a fishing and crabbing spot.

Lots of local fishermen working off the pier.

After walking along the pier, I found a little pop up market that happens every Saturday.  Quite a few local business people were there including some farmers, baker, people selling antiques, etc.  I ended up buying some kettle corn that was being made fresh that morning and stopped into a little cafe for some breakfast.

Nice little breakfast at a cafe down by the beach.  Yes, I had the bacon.

I walked on back to my car, went back to the hotel, took a shower and headed over to the open house.

 People lining up to get into our Gulfstream 5 at the open house.

Our open house is where we invite members of the local media, various schools and the public to come by and talk to our scientists about what we are doing.  Usually we invite them to come on board the plane to check it out as well as the instruments on board.  Anyway, this open house was VERY successful.  Probably one of the largest we have had.  Mad props to our E&O person, Alison for arranging it.

Another shot of our plane at sunset.

June 22nd - 2014

I was up bright and early this morning to get my long run in for the week.  I could have just run around the resort but decided that I might as well take the time to really explore Victoria Park and the surrounding trails.  So here I am, probably around 8:00 am or so I'd guess up ready to hit the trails.  A cold front had just come in so the mornings had been pretty frigid.  Maybe 30 degrees F.

 Up early for a "tramp" in the hills.

I think I mentioned this before, but Victoria Park is basically a ski resort for mountain bikes.  There are several trails all rated in difficulty.  Some are just some nice single track, others are bumpy.  There are artificial banks and jumps.   While there were more bikes out today than the previous time I had been here, it still was pretty empty.  I ended up climbing up to the top and then settling on a long traverse over another park, Bowenvale Park.

I call this trail wonderland.

Nearing the top of the set of trails.  I don't really know where I am going, so I just pick another trail and head that way.  You can't really get that lost up here.

Things are getting more interesting....

Woohoo, I found the traverse I was looking for.  This is where my phone started acting up and kept shutting down on me.

Heading out to the traverse between Victoria Park and Bowenvale Park

I'd like to say that it's maybe a mile, maybe a bit less.  This part sort of reminds me of Colorado with how open it is.  By now the mountain bikers started coming out.   They were all really nice and the trails were pretty clear that it was our responsibility to give way to them.

Traverse across right before my phone died.  Lots of mountain bikes out on this trail.

Once I finished this section I headed up to summit rd.   I wish I had my camera for this part because you come to the top of the mountain and can see down into Lyttleton Harbor.  It was one of the most spectacular views I had ever seen.  I stayed on the summit trail for the next few miles until getting up close to Sign of the Kiwi cafe.  The cafe had some major damage during the 2011 earthquake and hasn't reopened since then.  I really hope that eventually it does reopen as it seemed like an important historic building and would be a great place to get a mid-run flat white.

Great run all in all, afterwards I'm sure I went back to work, but the days are rolling into one another.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Marathon Weekend - Full Marathon

I never finished this post about marathon weekend, but since I had the pics in the drafts, I figured I'd post it!  This is from Disney Marathon Weekend 2014, January 12th.

In the corrals at the start.

Mile 15 Pit Stop

Done, great race overall!

Another, "Fuck ya, I did it!" pic.

We are all Dopey, just missing nerd Brad

48.6 Miles finished.
The fin!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

New Zealand - 6/18 - 6/20

Continuing on the journey to the land of the hobbits...

June 18th - 2014

Got out early this morning for a short run around the resort.  It had rained the night before, but the clouds cleared up as the sun came up.  My sleep schedule is still pretty messed up, going to bed at 8:30 PM, waking up at 5:00.  Hoping that it normalizes pretty quickly...

Went for a run in the morning around the resort..

Felt pretty good after the run....

After the run, I didn't need to meet my co-worker for training until 3:00 PM.  I headed back to the room, showered and went out for lunch.  There is this great little Chinese place I found that only serves vegetarian and vegan food.  It's not fancy, but it was cheap and plentiful.

Hole in the wall Chinese vegetarian restaurant  

Ramen, really good!

Following lunch, I headed into the ops center.  It looks like mostly our days will be working 6 days a week, approximately noon until 10:00 PM.  Some days I'll be going in earlier, other days later.   It's a good schedule.  The 22nd is the shortest day of the year down here, so with this schedule I'll be able to get up early, get some exploring in while it's light out, and then head into the office.

June 19th - 2014

Another day out exploring.  This time I wanted to check a little cafe on the south end of town up in the hills there.  I left early, 7:15 am and headed up to the Cup Cafe.  When I arrived, they told me no breakfast yet, as the chef hadn't shown up for the day.  No worries, I ordered a Flat White (basically a cappuccino) and sat and admired the view.

Nice cafe I found on the south side of town up in the hills.

Eventually the chef showed up and I ordered a nice plate of pancakes.  One of the biggest differences in New Zealand is eating out.   First, it's more expensive than the states, maybe by 20%.  Second,  portion sizes are smaller, which is probably a good thing.  Tipping isn't the norm (which may make up the price difference) and they rarely bring you the bill, usually you go up to the cash register to pay after each meal (something I only learned by sitting and waiting for about 20 minutes for the meal).  Also, they do love their hollandaise sauce here. :)

View of Christchurch from the cafe at sunrise.

After eating, I had a short run on the books so I headed up to Victoria park for a little exploration.  Victoria park has a series of trails for both hiking (trekking as it's known here) and mountain biking.  It might have been that I was out pretty early, but I didn't see any mountain bikers out and about.  Good for me as I had this mecca of trailrunning all to myself.  There were some step hills, but lots of singletrack.  Some through forest, other parts crossing across fields.   Lots of terrain for the mountain bikers as well (jumps, banked curves, etc).  If I actually did mountain bike, it would be a ton of fun, but instead I ran.

Trailrunning through Victoria park (scouting trip for long run on Sunday)

They even have a terrain park much like snowboarding in a ski park.  

Map of Victoria park.  Reminds me a ski resort with all the trails and terrains for running and mountain biking.

I was nearing the top of the mountain and some pretty intense clouds started to roll in.  Not wanting to be caught out in it, I headed back.  The scouting trip was complete, I knew it would be a good option for Sunday's long run.  

Clouds coming in over the summit of the mountain.  Time to head back down!

On the way back I stopped at a little walk through mall called the Columbo.  They had a dumpling bar I wanted to try.  Seriously great food here.  Not only was there this place, but about 6-7 other little food stalls as well as a few cafes.  I can't wait to come back and try some of the other places in here.

Lunch after running at the Columbo.  Found a little dumpling bar.

Following my normal routine, I headed back to the hotel, showered and headed into work.

June 20th - 2014

I decided that I had been exploring quite a bit, so I wanted to sleep in a bit. Not to mention when I woke up my room was really cold (the heater doesn't work all that well).  Once I dragged myself out of bed and got dressed, I headed out for today's progression run.  My coach had me doing a warmup and then doing a progression run starting slightly below MAF and building up from there (with plenty of rest between intervals).  It was a pretty easy run and one I was looking forward to as she actually let me speed up a bit. There is a wildlife park near the hotel called The Groynes.  Lots of flat trails and roads made it perfect for the intervals I was doing.  

Out for a progression run at the wildlife preserve near our hotel.  Flat trails were perfect for the type of work I was doing.

It was pretty frigid at the start, but warmed up near the end.  I think by now my clock is finally becoming a bit more normal.  

Tired, time for food.

Honestly, the days are starting to blur together. This tends to happen on this type of project.   We are off by one day back home and we aren't sticking to a m-f schedule.  All we do is look out maybe a day or two ahead of us.  Pretty sure I did the normal schedule and showered and headed into work.

To be continued....

Friday, June 20, 2014

New Zealand - Travel and first few days

It's been a while since I've put up any blog posts, but I figured that I'd put this together about my trip to New Zealand.  That way not only am I sharing some of what I am doing down here, but also it's a way for me to journal the trip.

For some background, I work for the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  Right now we are conducting a project in New Zealand called Deepwave. I'm down here for about 3 1/2 weeks for work, and then about 9 days for vacation with my wife.  I usually have about one of these trips a year where I go off supporting scientists.  Sometimes I go to Kansas, other times to places like the Maldives.  It all depends on what projects get approved.

Due to some bad luck, I just happened to go into the dentist a week before my trip for a routine cleanup and found out that I needed to get an emergency root canal.  So ya..that happened 2 days before flying.  More on this later...

Saturday - 6/14/2014 through 6/16/2014
Then, by total choice, I had a bunch of friends heading down to the ren faire the same day I was leaving.  Knowing I'd be without friends close by for a few weeks, I was excited to spend the day with my wife and my friends.  It was a perfect day at the ren faire, not too hot, and a slight breeze.

Chilling at the Ren Faire with Rivervale and Friends

Since I'm being flown down by work, we are restricted on our travel by what is called the Fly America Act.  For that reason I left on 6/14/2014.  I left at 6:15 PM and flew to San Francisco.  I had a few hours layover there and then got on the long haul flight to Australia.  It was 14 hours overnight to Sydney.  Because of the direction that we flew, and leaving at 10:00 PM, the entire flight stayed in darkness until just before we landed.   I was pretty lucky overall for a few reasons on this flight.  First, my work was nice enough to provide Economy Plus seating for us, meaning we had a few inches of extra legroom.  Also with how it worked out, I had a window seat and I had a seat between myself and the person on the aisle free.  The person on the aisle was a fairly nice chap and I quickly learned that he was from Orlando and worked for Disney.  Not only did he work for Disney, he was an Adventures by Disney Travel guide and was heading to Australia to lead a 12 day tour.  Being the Disney geek that I am, I of course quizzed him about his job and the experience of working for the Disney company.   We had a grand old time chatting throughout the long flight over.  
My travelmate hooked me up with an ABD pin you only get if you go on one of their tours.

Because of my dental work (root canal through the jawbone) I was in a bit of pain on the flight over there.  A quick dose of hydrocodone made things quite better and I got to sleep a total of maybe 8 hours of the 14 hour flight.  Made it very bearable.  I did get to try out united's vegetarian options for meals on the way over.  I opted for their Asian vegetarian.  We got fed a dinner an hour into the flight or so, which was a curry.  Then we had a snack somewhere in the middle, and then a breakfast right before we landed, also curry.  It looked sort of disgusting, but actually had a decent flavor to it.

After landing in Sydney the next morning, because we had crossed the international date line, it went from being the 14th when we left, to the 16th.  We had a 3 hour layover in the airport in which I was able to get some coffee and relax a bit with a few co-workers that were on the same flight.  Then we were off from Sydney to Christchurch.

This flight wasn't United but instead Air New Zealand.  We happened to get something called "The Works" which meant a second breakfast (fitting that we were heading to the land of the hobbits) and some in-flight entertainment.  It was only a 3 hour flight, but eventually landed in Christchurch, made it through customs and to the hotel.

Waiting in line at customs in Christchurch

Arriving at the hotel I was pretty wiped out, even though I got some decent sleep on the plane.  I think my entire transit time including layovers was something like 28 hours.  Luckily we were staying at the Peppers Clearwater Resort.  Normally a golf resort, since we were there in their winter, it wasn't entirely full.  Our PMs did a pretty good job of negotiating a great rate for us.   The rooms were fairly large, and very nice.  Heated floors in the bathroom, heated towel racks, comfy beds and most of all they opened up to the lake on the golf course.  Below is the view I get to wake up to every morning.  I had dinner with a co-workers and drifted off to sleep.

My view at the Peppers Clearwater Resort.
Tuesday - June 17th
Not surprising with how early I went to sleep, I was up at 4 am the next morning.  I knew it would take my body a few days to adjust, so I just stayed in bed relaxing until the sun came up.  Once I saw the skies getting a bit lighter I threw on my running clothes and headed out.  My coach Katie had an hour run on the books for me.  Looking at google maps I saw that north of the hotel was a river with what looked like a bunch of trails around it.  I just took off in that direction knowing eventually I'd find it.

I have a bunch of my photos of that first run on my facebook here.

Finishing up the run I found a nice little cafe, maybe 10 minutes from the hotel where I got a long black coffee (you order coffee very differently here than in the states).  I find that it's really nice to have a place like a local cafe on these long field campaigns.  It gives you a chance to have some feeling of roots, something comfortable that you can come back to over.

After a quick cup of joe, a stop at the supermarket and a trip to the dentist (to get my root canal looked at and the stitches removed) I was running low on energy.  I stopped in at the ops center for a few hours of training from the other sys admin that was down here and then headed home to sleep.

Cosy Cafe in Christchurch

More to follow....