Saturday, July 31, 2010

Two thirds of the way there

Alternative title: I guess I wasn't last

First ever duathlon this morning. I opted for the long course (4.5k run, 21k bike ride, 4.5k run). My transitions were laughably slow, the headwind was brutal, and my legs were rubber by the second run. Total time of 1:36:45, much faster than I had expected, but still slower than the 11 other men on the long course. The guy I beat did not finish...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Ruahines II

Last month, on our first trip into the Ruahines, we chose the Sunrise Hut Track; the most popular place to enter the park. It's a gradual (2+ hour) climb to the top, and if you run into trouble, there will always be someone walking by in the next hour.

Today, I opted for the closest entrance to the Ruahines (about 50k from our house): The Masters Shelter track. This track was more mountain climbing than walking. Aside from Nico (who walked the first 15 minutes with me), I saw no humans during the 3 and a half hour trip.

As the elevations increased, the landscape changed from forest to desert and back to forest again.

I like this picture:

Near the top, it was a bit like walking on a glacier.

A few pictures I shot on the way down:

Trail marker?

Wild goats!
Things I never would have done in the US

Some of you may remember our beautiful walk to the gannets at the end of the summer. Last weekend, the local triathlon club had scheduled an informal run to the same gannets (except that most of the gannets were smart enough to fly north for the winter). 21k (round trip) over sand and rock. What could be better? I'll tell you: Throw in some rain, temporary rivers/waterfalls, and falling rock. [All photos taken by someone else who felt like running in the rain with a camera.]

I could not have dressed worse, and was already pretty damp before we started running.

Seem to have lost a couple of people along the way. I hope it was not in the waist high surf that we had to wade into when the beach disappeared.

After the run, the coffee at the Clifton Bay Cafe was the best I have ever had.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

And the Lord looked down...

And said: "Michael, you may drive your PT Cruiser." And so it is written.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Training for marathon #7

(Or maybe that should be training for marathon #8; I did not run marathon #7, but I did train for it).

18 mile run from our house to the Cape Kidnappers fish and chips place. [Note to any prospective SAG drivers: If I ask you to pick me up at a fish and chips place at the end of an 18 mile run, the following requests should be considered standard: 1) water 2) make sure the fish and chips are ready when I get there, 3) a towel, 4) a change of clothes.]

I had to go the long way (around Te Mata Peak to Tuki Tuki road) to get to 18 miles. The route looked something like this:

It was the most scenic run I have ever undertaken (and not coincidently, is the majority of the Hawke's Bay Marathon). Here's a photo I stole from a winery:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Deco Decanted Day II

We took a little stroll around Napier today. We woke up a little late for the classic car parade, but quite a few old Fords, Plymouths, and Nashes remained. I was struck by how fantastic American cars used to be...

A little further down the street, a Dixie band made Napier sound just like Disneyland.

Nico and I in our less formal deco wear:

We spent the afternoon at Jazzmatazz. Five different bands in five different bars. Among our favourties: the New Mayfair Deconians. If we buy an art deco house [Please purchase a Lasko NZ time share] we'll have them play at our house warming party.

On that note, you can no longer send a "Big Yellow Joint" ecard to your friends.
Art Deco Weekend (Decanted)

In the summer, Napier hosts at Art Deco Weekend, and people come from all over the world to celebrate all things 20s and 30s.

The same thing takes place in the winter, except it's much colder and there are fewer tourists. Nicole was definitely in the spirit, and may have been the best dressed flapper at dinner last night.

I tried to nonchalantly get a picture of the worst toupee I have ever seen. Sorry it's a little blurry.

And in the continuing series, Nicole having a pint:
Buying a house in New Zealand II

[Please see buying a house in New Zealand I for more info.]

Yesterday, Nicole and I attended an auction where this art deco beauty was being sold; or more correctly, it was advertised as if it was to be sold...

[Aside: although the guest bedroom does not have an ocean view, you are welcome to full use of the deck, and it is just across the street from the beach (as previously mentioned, not the best beach in New Zealand). Please take a moment to contribute to the Lasko NZ time share over in the upper left corner.]

The auction was quite crowded, with at least 30 people in attendance. Aside from a very low bid from a guy in front of us, Nicole and I seemed to be the only interested party in the room. We ended up with the highest bid, though just like an ebay auction, the house was being sold with a reserve. Our high bid got us called into a back room, where the real estate agent/auctioneer tried to see how much we were willing to pay for the place. They would not disclose the reserve price, but seemed to imply that we were $100,000 (NZ) short. Perhaps when we have learned more about Kiwi mannerisms, we will know if this was a charade to get us to greatly increase our offer, or if they were genuinely sorry that they could not sell us the house.

An interesting experience all around.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I met her in the mountains, though I lived down by the sea

Alternative title: The North Island's coldest city

Weekend trip to Lake Taupo, as a couple of weeks ago running a completely off road (read: uphill) half marathon sounded like a pretty good idea. This was our first trip to Taupo, save a couple of pass-throughs on the way to/from Auckland.

As we are now poor kiwi folk, we traveled like poor kiwi folk, and stayed in a backpackers. We sprang for a private room/bathroom ($64 ND--around $40 US). Aside from a rather uncomfortable mattress and a cold room (which was our fault for not noticing that the window was open until morning), the place was not too bad.

There seems to be nothing you cannot do in Taupo. Yes, you can hit a golf ball onto a floating putting green without going to Tokyo.

Brilliant sunshine on Saturday, so we hiked along the Waikato River... Huka Falls (New Zealand's most visited natural attraction). The falls were not what I was expecting, but they were still quite impressive.

I thought I'd start a series called: "Nico on a picnic".

Here are a couple of shots of the lake in winter.

And a quick stop at New Zealand's biggest underground wine cellar (Only one room would fit in the frame).

Sunday was race day. Nico finished her first ever 10K, and had enough time to take a picture of me at the end of the half marathon. Official time 2:06 (hey, it was really steep...and -3 degrees at the start).

After the race, we had a soak in the Taupo Hot Springs. Sorry, no photos.

And another series I have just started: "Nico having a pint".

Saturday, July 03, 2010

And on Thanksgiving we'll be lighting fireworks.
She said it's cold. It feels like Independence Day.

Alternative title: The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.

We were planning on actually walking up to said summit (2 hours each way, over private land), but all the no trespassing made us alter our plans a little; we settled for a photo of the 10 metre sign.

Instead we ended up at what I dare say is Hawke's Bay's finest beach.

It looked very surfable, though I am confident that even if I had brought my wet suit and surfboard, Nico would not have rescued me were I to be carried off to Fiji.

As Nico is thinking it will be too hot for Thanksgiving dinner in November, she's currently in the process of cooking Thanksgiving dinner today. Except there are no turkeys in New Zealand (aside from the gaggle of wild turkeys I nearly ran over on the way to Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu) she's going to work some magic on a chicken.

We had considered throwing a 4th of July party, but thought it might not go over very well in a country that was rather opposed to independence from Britain.