Sunday, July 29, 2007

Changes in the ocean

With the winter not exactly progressing well re. snow falls and an indifferent forecast for the weekend I succumbed to my growing cabin fever, stocked my camper truck and headed east to Oamaru to catch up with friends and family.

I've not done this 3 hour drive for sometime to the east coast, but I was soon reminded that literally every section holds a special memory. I grew up in Oamaru area and my only remaining grand parent, as a child, was up the Waitaki River valley. This superb river begins at Mt Cook, as well as in other equally magnificent mountains, and hits the sea just north of Oamaru.

Speaking of the sea my family have a joinery factory in Oamaru, and they had to evacuate it recently after several days of storm, as the sea, by some quirk of currents and nature has reclaimed much of the land that held up the east wall. The damage has been horrific and it even made national TV news: they caught the first sections tumbling into the sea - namely the toilet block, and it was apparently very spooky after this the next day. Cousin Michael was inside, while outside it was thought there was still a margin [of safety]. He was removing fittings and noted what he thought was a widening hairline crack in the concrete floor, so he put a piece of tape across it, and lo, after a few minutes it showed signs of stress. Then with frightening speed the floor rose, and the whole wall promptly fell in the sea, leaving the roof precariously unsupported.

There is much talk, as we all know, of global warming, but after seeing this coast I'm reminded that maybe we should think "climate change". There used to be a beach for as long as I can recall running south from Oamaru for 40 miles, interspersed with headlands admittedly, that had beaches of golden sand. Well it's all gone - now there is just a brutal landscape of rocks. Today I checked it out and it was wild: just a froth of menacing swells pounding it and the water was simply loaded with silt from the eroding clay and soil that used to be the shoreline for at least the last 60 years plus. The news I've heard from Dunedin city further south, that sandbanks of at least a 100 years standing are vanishing, exposing the densely populated suburbs of St Claire and St Kilda to the sea, took on a new meaning! When I consider that climate in NZ is essentially driven by the sea, then there is change in front of our very eyes!! I've seen the damage and it's highly disturbing - not just what is falling into the sea, but that our long standing ocean currents have changed. Can this be related to our somewhat unusual winter? And I also note that this summer past we had a fleet of 60-70 large icebergs pass by Dunedin and Timaru, an easy helicopter flight distance out to sea [they drove a huge tourist boom]

The duck photo I took recently. I was captivated by the colour and patterns in the water [of L. Wakatipu]

The below one of a wild sea is Oamaru the morning after my visit [thanks Shirley for emailing this to me and allowing me to use it]
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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Winter wonderland

There have been more than the usual photographic opportunities this winter, but work gets in the way some of the time. The photos you see often in this blog are usually far from snap-shots. Most require my mono-pod [one legged tripod] or a very steady pose, and intense concentration. The camera I use has the facility [yet another computer] to join together 2 or 3 frames for the panorama effect, and it's the matching of each frame in relation to each other that is the challenge.

So some days although I might see something special I pass it by, but yesterday [Sat.] the continuing severe winter and a hoar frost made it impossible to ignore the landscape possibilities. The more so as fellow photographer Roger was in town, and since he's now in layout mode for his second book, there was a fair bit of inspiration about.

Dougal has just got new 2nd hand downhill skis, and wanted to try them out so we went up to the Cardrona Ski Area on Sat. at 1pm just in time to be in an awfully cold bit of bad weather, so we looked across the cloud tops of the 2 week long inversion and the Cardrona valley to the Snow Park [a short in vertical ski area of modified terrain, sporting many huge jumps, pipes and rails], and headed there instead. It always gets different weather which is quite amazing, so we bought a couple of hours of sun and fun! Dougal got lots of air, and I tried not to watch! I'd not done any downhill for a few years, but was soon carving my way past getting the feeling back and some stiffness accompanying the first runs. After all skiing is one of the few past times where you play with gravity, so each time some more playfulness should kick in. But my - times have changed: I found myself with a skier in front of me going backwards! This may seem elegant done in the context of a little air and a spin then landing backwards, but I can assure you it's not any easy technique to fulfill the basic needs of navigation, but it could score you a job as a movie camera operator for adventure skiing videos.

Having got the fun bit done we adjourned back home early when the weather finally closed in, and this change meant photo opportunities in the Cardrona valley were plentiful.

Today was the first perfect day for weeks so we stayed at home to relax, but it's still cold. Terre, a client/friend called in and where she lives on the Omarama side of the Lindis Pass, they've had 5 conservative days recently of minus 16. That's cold by NZ standards, but it makes for very unique photo opportunities as well as frozen plumbing!
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Monday, July 16, 2007

School holidays over

The week, the last of the school holidays, went by in a flurry of work and cross country skiing, with a steady influx of old friends to catch up with. I'd get away most days up the hill with Dougal at just after 1 pm feeling a bit stressed after trying to do everything before going, but that would soon evaporate as I settled into doing some serious Kms up there: I went to the new Meadow Hut [see photo] each day, and beyond. There was just enough snow for a great time, but the skiing was not the mindless sort as grooming has been confined to that which can be done by skidoo, as there is not enough cover to support the perfection an 8 ton machine can can bring, so constant concentration was required to keep everything pointing in the right direction.

Yesterday the house work tasks had accumulated so I stayed at home [under the cloud of a serious and grey inversion], quite happy to potter about. We should get some more snow this week. In the meantime work now needs a shove along, and I have a dental appointment this pm.
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Monday, July 9, 2007

Family trees, airports and skiing

sunset on a snow retention fence - Snow Farm NZ

My cousin Deirdre who lives up north Canterbury, has for many years had a keen interest in the Lousley family tree. This has bought her into contact with a number off distant relations in far off lands, and unearthed some unholy stories. I'm going to be building her a blog, or web log, soon, but in the meantime [since us Lousleys are so rare and precious] she has given this blog address out to them, perhaps with the concept of publishing as to how this small branch of the family lives in far off New Zealand. So.... welcome to any new family readers!

There was a lot of interest in the fire in my camper truck last week so thanks for that. Suffice to say damage was minimal and we've got wheels again for this important week that Dougal is with me for one of the two weeks of his high school holidays.

I had my first real day of cross skiing yesterday afternoon. The snow was lovely and cold, dry and squeaky, and the sun was warm on the body and mind. Within a few minutes of my first lap of Highlander I had a chat with the Prime Minister [she is a regular x/c skier visitor every year]. An interesting start to the season for me!

On the Fri. and Sat. of the week since my last post I've been to Queenstown twice to deliver my good friend, Peppers' boy Riley, to the airport, so he could get back to her in Canada. Riley is 14 and spent a lot of time with myself and Dougal - it's sad to see him go, as Canada may again become his more permanent home. We had to make the snowy trip over the hill twice as the first flight was cancelled due to lack of light. I've spent a lot of time at the airport there over the years and it gets tedious, however this is mitigated by his great company, knowing a few folk who work there [so it's good to catch up with a chat], and there is always the lake front nearby to wander along and picnic by.
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Sunday, July 1, 2007

A fiery time - or a tricky way to get warm in winter

What a crazy winter it's been. Today was like spring and just to see what was going on Dougal and I drove up to the Snow Farm to check out the cross country skiing. Weell.... it was better last Thurs. when I at least skied on fluffy snow in parts! Today it was water, still we enjoyed the outing and I had a fulfilling photo shoot for 20 mins. or so [the shot you see here - looking across the Cardrona Valley].

The real adventure of the day was however back here in town early evening when my camper truck caught fire. I'd just dropped Dougal off at a meeting and was on a brief foray to pick up some projection gear, and there was this smell of burning! At an intersection close to the entry into town I decided it was a good idea to head for the fire station. I duly arrived and found the truck was locked in 4wd, however there was enough grit on the road to turn to a halt OK. There was a small amount of alarming smoke coming out of the front of the bonnet so gingerly I lifted the hood [mindful of what an in-rush of air can do], and lo there was a merry little blaze by the front headlight. I dropped the lid and rushed to get my extinguisher out of the back kitchen area. I fumbled with the first release strap hoping like crazy it'd be simple. It was, then back by the lid I wondered how to pull the next trigger release and that went well too, so I lifted the lid and tried my best aim at the base of the flames, which to my relief promptly went out. Like a surviving Jessie James I waited an indeterminate moment for the victim to twitch with my finger ready, but nothing stirred!

The order in which you do things is I find critical in some situations, and maybe I should have yelled for help as I pondered ringing 111, or disconnecting the batteries. I opted for the former. The service was amazing - the woman took scant details, I hung up and next minute the siren went. I had to block my ears. It was so funny as the few people about were oblivious to the event. The first car to arrive had Wanaka's first female fire fighter, and it kinda threw her and her male mates that the fire was right outside the station door!

Soon many male heads and hands were under the bonnet finding the burnt wires and disconnecting the batteries. At this point all thought I was from out-of-town then the Police arrived and to my relief it was my old neighbour Sean. We tided up, I gathered my valuables and he whisked me off in the squad car just narrowly beating the press [I wondered what his hurry was!]. Next I was back at the meeting where folk were almost disbelieving of my story.

I was told once by a fire fighter that most folk who carry extinguishers use them on someone else's car, but not me. It was a good investment, but for a replacement I think I'll buy a larger one!
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