Tag Archive: family

Lazy days of summer

Since returning from our cycling trip we've been enjoying the beautiful summer weather. I don't remember such a spectular summer in a long time! We clearly weren't sick of biking since 2 days after getting home we were back up in the hills with a couple of friends checking out the newly re-opened road (well, opened to bikes and pedestrians which is awesome!) around Mt Pleasant. Super exciting! It's a bit bumpy for speedy road cycling but it's now officially open and that's the main thing.

There was also a solo excursion up to Trig M from the bottom of Porters Pass while M and his friend were riding the Darfield to Arthur's Pass race. SO hot! One day it would be cool to take the mountain bikes up here although a bit of a grunt. It was hard enough work running/shuffling! From the trig you have a glorious view over Lake Lyndon and towards Craigieburn.

The following day, we headed up towards Mt Aicken, getting most of the way up before deciding to turn back 'cause I wasn't having the best of days up there in amongst all the rock (it is pretty cool how much the vegetation changes from various different beech to scrub to tussock to nothing but rock and scree). The views were spectacular though.

My brother also came down to visit for a little while in the summer for some wind surfing. We took him to Okains Bay for a night and camped amongst the trees. Awesome! Then, after spending the morning splashing around in the water and attempting to steer the paddleboard against the current (way too much hard work for very little progress!) we headed to Akaroa for delicious sorbet.

There was an excursion to Auckland and our beach house for my lovely cousin's wedding somewhere sandwiched between but I don't have any photos of that! It was awesome though! Amongst all this we've been getting in our training for Le Race which is coming up in a week and a half and I've been trying (and slowly succeeding) to get back into running in time for a couple of races coming up. After all the riding we've been doing this summer though it's been hard work!

We also went on an exciting adventure to Mt Owen for Waitangi weekend but that's a story for next time!

The Doctor, Lake Silenceo and "Spoilers!"

For those of you who watch Doctor Who, you probably know that the start of Season 6 is set in America. There was one Skype conversation with my brother, R about where it was filmed and he just casually mentioned that at least some of it was definitely in Utah, like the state he is living in. Then began a bit of fun looking up where each of the locations actually were (if you're interested, this site is very useful). I had a crazy fantasy that perhaps, when we came over, we might actually get to see them but I didn't actually imagine it was going to happen.

So, on the evening of our second night in Yellowstone, when R suggested a 4 day trip to Southern Utah (and Arizona) to check out each of the 4 filming locations, I was so ridiculously excited I went a little bit hyperactive! Before you get the impression that it's only me who's the Whovian in this group though, let me assure you that R and A are also big fans.

So there we were, on the road in search of sunshine and Doctor Who. Unfortunately the weather didn't start off so great and we had a rather wet and cold explore of Canyonlands before retreating to Moab for the night.

Next morning and the real adventure begins. You don't have to drive far out of Moab before you encounter the Hole In The Rock which was a creative and pretty cool detour before onwards to our first site (and possibly the hardest because we forgot to bring any decent pictues with us to check we were in the right place), the Valley of the Gods.

The Valley of the Gods is an isolated area with huge buttes, towering pinnacles and the classic red rock desert barrenness that feels like it stretches on forever. We drove through the windy dirt road in search of site #1, pretending we were chasing down Amy with our SUV. To say it was hot would be an understatement!

Next site, the classic Western shot of Monument Valley. Easy 'cause it's right on the main road.

Then onwards into Monument Valley itself for our first desert campground. As a side note, it's quite hard to get your pegs to stay in properly in a desert. Got car sick on the drive round the buttes so M and I got out and ran instead. We met the others for a desert picnic as the sun went down.

Nice morning for a run round a mitten right?

Site #3, Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, is not something you could miss. It's really quite huge. R even organised us all a tour of the dam. It's super high security so we had to go through metal detectors and empty our pockets and all that to be let through but you do get to stand on the dam itself (and check out some of the inner workings lower down - very worth it).

Quick trip to the Horseshoe Bend...

...then it was on to the 4th and final site, Lone Rock Beach, Lake Powell - or, as we knew it, Lake Silenceo. This place is amazing. It's hard to get your head around the fact you are camping on a beach, in the sand, but you are actually at the edge of a large canyon in the desert that's been turned into a lake by the dam. It's beautiful.

Our drive back to Salt Lake City was along the beautiful Cottonwood Canyon Road before the storm rolled back in. I think on this trip I fell in love with the red deserts. We have nothing even close to this kind of thing at home and to me it looks and feels like another world. I still can't believe it's real. America is amazing!

Desert heat and freezing rain

Jeepers, it's October already and I haven't posted any more of our USA adventures. Too busy with adventures back home (and getting sick...sigh).

Right, well let's get going shall we?

After the rogaine, my brother (R) and his wife (A) took us on a pretty awesome road trip. Firstly we headed over to the Badlands 'cause who doesn't want to see an alien landscape and bask in the intense heat of the desert right?

As an added bonus we got to test out our new tent for the first time (the Big Angus Fly Creek UL2 - nice and lightweight for upcoming cycling adventures but, umm, pretty thin!).

Oh, and see some pretty cool animals. Big horn sheep are definitely more exciting and scary looking than the sheep we have at home!

We also got some brilliant views of the night sky. I was amused during the astromoner talk that night when they were asking us what the most well known constallation in the night sky was. Ummm, the Southern Cross right? Oops, wrong hemisphere!

How about a trip to the Devil's Tower next? You can laze in a hammock too (until you get told to take it down). First time in a hammock too. Awesome. We've been missing out for so long!

Then it's onto more driving, and into the rain too just to make it a little bit more exciting (and a lot colder...to make sure that I get to use all of the far too many clothes that I brought on this trip). A nice wet, dark arrival in Yellowstone is the perfect time to practice putting up your tent with the fly first. Thankfully there are no photos of me crawling around underneath setting it up!

Morning dawns a mixture of rain and delicious icy coldness (possibly sarcasm but one can never be sure) which means it is the perfect day to go animal spotting, geyser wandering, exploring and picnic just as darkness and the storm approached.

Oh yeah, and go run up a little hill to get a better view of the Grand Prismatic Spring (then bush bash down the other side of course).

The weather showed no real signs of abating (despite small patches of sunshine) so after another night in Yellowstone we drove through The Grand Tetons...

...and onwards towards the Doctor.

Burgery goodness

In amongst training, spending up large at Macpac (we went in to get a duffel bag and came out with 2 as well as lots of clothing and other, well, stuff!) and trying to sort out last minute things for our trip we have actually managed to go out and be social...well, once. Sunday lunch we headed to the Cassels & Sons Brewery (or simply The Brewery) in Woolston for M's Dad's birthday.

They have a veggie burger which can be made vegan (it even delightfully says so on the menu which is super nice). Obviously this is what I had since I can't really turn down a burger and fries! I assume they still have a vegan beer they brew as we tried it a couple of years back at the Vegetarian Expo (beer at 10am - not the best idea for someone who hardly ever drinks). It looked like some of the salads in the cabinet could have been vegan as well.

It was big and delicious. I couldn't finish my chips but I was determined to finish the burger. I have definitely had more exciting burgers in other places but this was still pretty good (plus I was hungry by then).

Afterwards we came back to our place for (vegan!!) fruit cake M's Mum had made. I thought it was delicious! But then again I do love fruit cake. What's not to love about spicy, fruity cake? (sorry, I thought I had a picture of it but no such luck)