My Travel Map

My Travel Map

30 January 2006

Christchurch, NZ: Round 2

Back in Christchurch on the way home. I got to spend 2.5 more days in New Zealand and once again, I LOVED IT! Here is another shot of Cathedral Square.

The market at Cathedral Square where you can get a bunch of New Zealand goods like sheep skins, wool and leather goods, native jewelry and tons of other stuff.

Here is yet another picture of the Avon River and its beauty. Remember, this flows right through Christchurch and it is lined with parks along the entire way...beautiful. When the sun comes out, locals and tourists all lounge along the grassy banks...sooo cool.

I figured I would give the hostel life a try while I was there (and get a taste of what to look forward to with the round the world). This was Base Backpackers right accross from the Cathedral in Cathedral square. I am SO glad I decided to spend a night here! In the lounge, I met Jordan from Saskatchewan, Canada (yea go Canada!), Nina from Denmark, and Mike from England. We all hit it off right away and ended up wandering around town looking for a fish and chips joint, hitting up an Irish pub (Nina had NEVER been to one!) and talking about our travels and homes the entire time! We then went back to Base where some of the Kiwis that worked at the hostel invited us to a party they were having. The party was awesome as it was comprised mostly of people from the hostel and everyone had great stories about their travels and places seen. My Everglades endeavour went over very well with everyone there. They had a sweet karaoke system that hooked up to the Playstation allowing people to have "sing off's" against each other...and trust me, EVERY party should have this as it got everyone to shake off any worries and just have fun! We also found out that the house we were partying in used to be a brothel! It was wild, and they even had the old warning to client stickers on the walls informing "clients" of the brothel about how to avoid STD's and sharing drug paraphernalia...crazy night!

So the next day I woke up early to catch a shuttle bus out of town to the Akaroa Peninsula. Yes, New Zealand is this beautiful, and the picture BARELY does justice. The peninsula was formed millions of years ago by three volcanoes that are now very dead. They left behind this amazing hills and harbours that make up the peninsula that juts out of the otherwise amazingly flat Canterbury Plains. The harbours in the peninsula are teaming with wildlife and small fishing towns amongst a beautiful other words, my form of Heaven on Earth.

Looking at the fishing/tourist town of Akaroa. Very quaint, and small town, despite the busy summer-tourist season going on. I wandered around town for the first half of the day before my wildlife boat tour. The views here are indescribable...I loved the grassy hills coming right down to the harbour all around. I also ate what is definately the best fish I have ever tasted for lunch.

Looking away from town out towards the harbour. I walked up to the lighthouse as well...and I know I am going to be returning to Akaroa at a later time in my life. I really loved the place. My wildlife cruise went well. We saw plenty of birds (but no penguins which is why I signed up for it in the first place!). We also saw A LOT of Hector's dolphins, the world's rarest and smallest dolphins. They are only 4' 6" max size and are really cool. None of my pics turned out too nice as they were too fast for my shutter! But I did get to see quite a good bit of them as they were not at all afraid of coming up to the boat. It was almost as if they knew we were getting a kick out of seeing them and were playing up for the show!

Good bye Christchurch! Christchurch and the start of the plains as seen from my plane. You can see the Pacific Ocean to the left back and the start of the Akaroa Peninsula to the center and right back, with Christchurch in the middle, and the farmers fields that make up the majority of the Canterbury Plains at the bottom. I love New Zealand.

Leaving Antarctica...

McMurdo Station once again. This is a sweet shot of the station from Observation Hill (well named eh?), which we climbed on our delay day at the station. McMurdo houses about 1000 people during the summer months. It is a very busy station and the food is NOTHING compared to that at Pole. Still, the mountains and ice shelf make for very nice scenery!

This is a picture of the ice dock (where the ice breaker comes into) and Hut Point. Hut Point has a memorial cross and Scott's Hut on it. Back in 1902, the hut was built to house Scott's expedition when their ship was caught in the ice and they were forced to winter over (that would SUCK back then). The hut was used in later years for other expeditions. It is really cool too because the wood on the hut looks like it is brand new. The extra cold weather has let it keep very well.

The memorial cross at Hutt Point. This was for a sailor that fell into a crack in the ice near the point and died. There were also some seals on the ice when I was here. They were pretty boring, however, as they just layed on the ice flicking the odd flipper every now and then. I guess I wouldn't be too active either if I were that awkward out of the water...

This is a picture of Observation Hill. People climb this to get some great views of McMurdo Sound, Ross Island, and the mountains accross the ice shelf. On our delay day, we climbed this, then hiked over to the Kiwi station: Scott Base. Scott was awesome! Very cozy inside with the usual friendly Kiwis all over. Their bar/game room was the best. They had a stuffed kiwi bird and maps from all over the world, plus darts and an old pool table. Very comfortable base those Kiwis have going on!

Here I am at the top of Ob Hill. The background didn't turn out too detailed, but it was beautiful up there.

This is a sweet shot of McMurdo Sound with Mt. Erebus in the background. McMurdo is right in the center (we are far from it and it is quite hard to make out, but trust me, in the center where the ice meets the rocks is that huge, 1000 person station. Ob Hill is the little one in the very front right). Mt. Erebus is a massive (12000+ feet) ACTIVE VOLCANO! Yea, that smoke coming out of the top is not a cloud folks! It and its neighbor, Mt. Terror (how sweet of a name is that for a mountain!) make up the bulk of Ross Island. This picture was taken from the larger airport on the ice shelf: Pegassus. It lies quite a distance (as you can see here) from the station and is the station used for C-17 flights. I got my last glimpses of the frozen continent from here, and with such a clear, sunny day, they were unbelievable!

11 January 2006

South Pole: Day Twenty-something...

Ok, I messed the order up on these...but oh well. This is one of the crazy solar effects here at the South Pole. It is called a "false dawn." You cant see it in this picture, but the sun was really up in the sky when this was taken. I don't know if this is because of the ice crystals in the air, like the sun dog, but whatever causes it, the sun gets this reflection on the horizon directly below it, making it look like a second sun is rising directly underneath the normal one!

This is a shot taken from the air of the entire station. You might have to get out a magnifying glass...but you can make out ARO (where our instruments are) at the very bottom left (the little spot). The New Station is the biggest building (left-center) with the dome as the dark splotch next to it. "Summer camp" is that large stretch of buildings and whatnot that lie above the station in the picture. The ice runway runs down the center of the shot and to the right of that is the dark sector where the telescopes and IceCube (the nuetrino detector) are. Notice that the walk to ARO is really long (somewhere between a quarter and third of a mile). I'll get to that in a few.

This is another of the amazing and crazy things that the sun does at the South Pole. It is called a "sun dog," and it is a lovely spectacle that occurs because of the ice crystals in the air. As you can tell, the sun gets those halos around it and bright points form at various points throughout the halo....really really neat!

Speaking of that long walk to ARO, here's Neal and I just getting in: notice the frost on our beard hair. The moisture in our breath freezes to pretty much anything it touches...yes, it is that cold here.

And here is Dr. Azeem, Dr. McEwen (in the doorway), and myself, obviously very hard at work.

07 January 2006

Distinguished Visitors at SP

Today, Jan 7th, South Pole Station had some special visitors. Two senators and several congressmen traveled to the pole to take a tour of the station. They were all on committees dedicated to the National Science Foundation, and were therefore very interested in the science and station here at the South Pole.

Yes, Senator John McCain was one of the two senators to visit, and I even got to talk with him! He knew of Embry-Riddle (from reputation as well as the campus in Prescott, AZ). He thanked Dr. Azeem and I personally for the research we were doing, and I must say that was pretty cool coming from a very possible candidate for US Presidency in 2008. I then thanked him for his work in the Senate, of which I am very much a fan.

This is from a totally different day; but notice the Canadian flags on the tails of these "twin otters:" small planes used for flights around both poles. These were from a Canadian company that specialized in flying to very cold, remote areas, and I thought it was just nice to see some Canadian presence (especially considering we don't have a flag down here!!!).