Monday, July 20, 2009

Long time, No Update


The past couple months have been sort of a blur. The biggest thing to happen is probably my move from New Zealand back to California. It was certainly an interesting transition. Sitting in the airport in Auckland I wasn't sure how to feel. Thinking of traffic, crime, and smog, part of me wanted to run for the hills. Another part of me missed traffic, crime, and smog in a unexplainably sick sort of way. Perhaps this feeling was provoked by the fact that I missed family and friends present in said societal conditions. Regardless, the ticket in my hand said destination Los Angeles, so I went.

After a long, bumpy, wind filled, sleepless air travel experience, we saw land. And the 405 packed with traffic, which made my stomach churn a bit. I was "home," at least for a week and a half, and was happy to catch up with everyone.

Well the week and a half was gone in a blink of an eye, and I was off to the mountains once again. A friend, Joe Barry, and headed up to Yosemite Valley to hike the John Muir Trail.

The John Muir Trail is 211 miles of straight California mountain awesomeness. We climbed passes, traversed snow and ice fields, forded creeks, scrambled across countless moraines, and basically just had an amazing time acting like total mountain man badasses.


Gear List:


Our mission began in Yosemite Valley, roughly 4500ft and the lowest we'd be. We left our car at Tuolumne and shuttled down to the Valley that afternoon to catch some sleep and prepare ourselves for a big first day on the trail. Walking around we came across a bobcat that didn't seem to be in much of a rush. Pretty cool, I'd never seen one before (alive, that is). The bobcat was a mere foreshadowing of the adventure to come when the sun went down.


Joe and I were hangin out in camp when a ranger came over. She told us if our bearcan was out of the bear locker to keep it within arm's reach. Otherwise, make sure it's in the locker and is locked up, she continued. We said okay, whatever, and carried on making dinner. An hour or so later we're packin up a bit and put the bearcan in the locker, along with my pack, and fail to shut the door. We're setting stuff up and about to hit the sack, when I look over to the bear locker about 15ft from me and see the reflection of two big eyes staring back at me. Joe and I start clapping and yelling at the hungry fellow as I step closer and closer to him to scare him off. I probably got within 6-7ft of it before he folded and backed off enough where I was able to shut the box. He disappeared into the night after that. A bear encounter the first night, our adventure was off to a good start!

We rose the next morning at a lazy hour and began our climb out of the Valley. We climbed Yosemite's iconic Half Dome as a little side trip as well. I think we did something like 14-16 miles and 5300ft the first day. Heck yah!

Joe on the rail section.


The next day we made our way toward Tuolumne and the car. We camped just a few miles out along a creek. Joe took out the stitches in my right arm.



Dr. Joe


Healed like a champ.

More words and photos later

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Hooray. I hadn't worked in a couple months, so I quite happily accepted a one day job two hundred kilometers (Imperial is so 2008) away in Palmerston North. Was pleasantly surprised to find myself staying in a one bedroom luxury apartment featuring not one, but two plasma TVs broadcasting nothing worth watching. No worries, grabbed a late night kebab from a Turkish joint and hit the sack. Woke up at 5am the next morning and got to work.

Conditions were lovely.


Other sites I've been to had roofs over their loading docks, this one not so much. I rolled up in jeans and a sweatshirt and quickly found myself soaked.

My title today was Inspector. My duties were to inspect containers bound for Venezuela contain New Zealand Milk Products. Specifically, whole milk powder. Each pallet is sold for 10-13k. I questioned the man in charge, Carl, if there was a shortage of cows in Venezuela. He didn't know.

My job is very technical. I take a photo of the empty container. I take a photo of the half full container. I take a photo of the full container. All while making sure no drugs, guns, or babies find their way into the container.


The pay is good. $20 an hour for the 13 hour day I worked. They also pay $.52/kilometer driven (400k's total), cover travel time, compensate for over night time away from home, and pick up accommodation. Not bad, I reckon.

Back in Taranaki now. Thunder, rain, and hail, oh my. Debating whether or not to hike up the mountain and enjoy the storm from a high altitude vantage point or hang out at sea level drinking tea and reading books. You may say that I could bring the tea and books up the mountain with me. That is a good point, friend, and perhaps what is going to happen.

Also, my favorite jeans died today. If you've ever seen me, chances are you've seen the jeans. They are (They were?) grey. A few months ago I tore a hole in the crotch, but I still wore 'em no worries. My mum patched the hole and they were as good as new. After thousands of miles of walking and bike riding, the entire butt section wore paper thin and silky soft. I knew it was only a matter of time. They met their demise today. Oh how I wish I could go back to 1980's Spain and grab another pair. They were my greatest thrift store find to date. Sad day.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Traveler Chatter

Save it, thanks. I'm sick and tired of traveler chatter. That is, single serving conversations with fellow "travelers" (I hate that classification) about travel experiences past, present, and future. It seems they all start out the same, with where have you gone and what have you done in New Zealand. Then on to where else you've been. Then to where you want to go. It's all superficial really. An act. Rehearsed night after night, hostel after hostel. The stories are all the same just told in different accents and with different characters. "Got so drunk" this, "one night stand" that, etc. I don't care, but of course I play along for a while. Most of the people I've encountered have nothing interesting to say. I reckon many travel just so they can talk about traveling to others who travel. You see, it's a never ending pissing contest about who travels more, who got the most lost, and who got drunk in the most obscure scenario. Perhaps I'll interrupt mid-sentence with a "hey didn't you tell this story last night?" They'll retort with some sort of denial. But I'll know. And he'll know that I know. Victory is imminent at that point.

Perhaps I'm weird. Yeah, I am weird, I can say it. I'm quite happy being me though and I'm happy doing the things that make me happy. Booyah.

Tongariro River

Went back to the Tongariro River again to chase trouts. Had a good couple hours a few weeks ago so I thought I'd give it another go. It's not really my style of fishing per se, but it's fun enough. I'm more of a spot, stalk, cast kinda guy where as this is a chuck heavy nymphs into deep pools kinda place. The fishing wasn't anything to write home about (ha), but it was enough to keep me interested. I got a bit of advice as to where to catch browns (I'd trade a dozen rainbows for a single brown) so that's where I spent most of my time. Being primarily a rainbow trout fishery, I was quite satisfied getting two browns. They weren't legendary double digit Taupo run trophies, but I ain't complainin'.



Dawn break and dusk saw me chest deep in the river chucking flies. Duck season just started, so I was fortunate enough to have an alarm clock in the form of a shotgun shell exploding each morning.



I eat lots of PB&J's. Too many, probably. After six or seven meals in a row I get a bit tired of them. In the end it works out though. The scenery and experiences more than make up for my food woes.

Cookie cutter rainbow


I caught a bunch around this size, about 20". I think I was getting comparably lucky, as I didn't see too many others catching. The trick was the power mend!

Back in Stratford now. Not sure where to next.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fishing today

Went out with my uncle today on his boat. Rough seas but we putted around the sheltered sides of the islands and found loads of willing kahwai. I think I got 7-8 on the fly casting into the boils. My uncle worked the bottom picking off the bottom scavenging snapper. What turned an awesome day into an epic day was when we spotted kingfish/yellowtail holding at the surface to a bit of structure. My uncle moved me into position and I made cast after cast and just couldn't get them to take. They would follow it, even fight over it, yet they didn't take. My uncle had an idea, he would cast out his rod rigged with a bit of gulp (a synthetic soft bait that's sorta blown up down here) and I'd swing the boat around the structure while he reeled in as fast as he could. Second cast he got nailed, and landed this beauty.


I was up again. Switched flies to this yellow guy my buddy Justin tied for me. Second cast I landed right near the structure as a kingfish was moving around it. He turned around and straight nailed it right in front of our eyes. Seeing the take is what fly fishing is all about. It was flippin' AWESOME. Within seconds I was down to my backing. We chased the fish down and I reckon just under ten minutes later we had it to the boat.

Auckland Harbor
6wt fly rod


The Tools