An activity-filled weekend is always fun, but it does leave me feeling rather tired on Monday morning.
On Friday Tamara and I met for lunch at the Library. Meeting in the library is great, as it gives me an opportunity to catch up on some of the science journals, and when Tam has her camera it lets her take some candid photos of me doing so.
On cold or windy days we would just go up to the cafe on the mezanine level to eat (first photo), but it was nice on Friday so we went out to eat in the courtyard of civic square. There are very often lunchtime performances held there, and this day it was a bunch of high-schoolers doing some traditional Maori songs. I really like the juxtaposition of the nylon windbreakers and the traditional skirts. Civic square is also the location of the fern-ball, this nifty piece of art that seems to hang suspended in the air(the cables are thin enough to be lost against the blue sky). In this shot you can see the combination of the fern-ball, pyramid, and two palms. A nice composite of art that can be viewed from a couple of angles. Eating outside does tend to attract local birds, each anxious to get their cut. The red-legged gulls are especially amusing, very fractious birds that will chase off interlopers once they have secured a human that will provide bits of bread. Their agressive stances with cawing and head-dipping is hilarious. The final picture in this set is of the car-stops that block cars from driving up into civic square. The fiddle-head motif is very common here, and its use here converts utilitarian poles into pieces of public art.
On Saturday we started by running some errands. We returned FLCL, a very surreal bit of anime, to the video store. When they get episodes we might have to rent another disk, in the hope that it will make more sense. We can hope. We drove up through Silverstream and collected our mail from Chris and Natahsa, which included a delivery card from NZ post. When we went to the local post shop we found that the Monitor had finally arrived! Today I will set it up and make sure it survived the trip. It should be fine, as being shipped surface is exactly what all our other electronics had to endure. By building a second cardboard box around it orginal water-damaged container, and labeling it “used LCD display” I managed to get it in without paying GST. Woo! Previously any package insured for over $200 got hit with the 12.5% GST, which was annoying. I think this is the last of the “expensive” packages I mailed before departing.
After picking this up, along with other important but boring items (cat food and litter), we made our way up the Hutt Valley to Akatarawa. There we stopped and hiked into the Akatarawa Forest, a large nature preserve. The hike began with a quite-reasonable swing bridge. It had a solid floor and rails even! When people come to visit I think we will use this one as “an intro to swing bridges”, as it is not nearly so fraught as the one we hiked across 2 weeks before. It is also shorter, and the ravine not-so deep. The path up the valley started by paralleling a beautiful babbling brook. We clambered down to snap a few pictures, and in the process I managed to slip on wet-moss-covered rock and soak my left foot. Always the best thing to do before a hike. The next two house involved a great deal of “squelch” noises on my part.
At the end of the stream was a dam. Very lovely. We wonder if it serves any purpose now. The water pipes that once ran down the valley are now all corroded away, as is all the metal-work on the dam. Perhaps they leave it there for flood control, or because it would be too difficult to remove? It is a beautiful spot, surrounded by native bush. From there it was a somewhat more laborious climb to the top of one of the hills, but the view over the top portion of the Hutt Valley was worth it. Of course we only hiked one tiny corner of the forest park. We will have to come back on subsequent weekends and venture deeper.
Being at the top of the Hutt valley, we decided to drive over the Akatarawa road to the Kapiti coast. This is one of the two East-West connector roads at the bottom of the island. The next one north is a 2+ hour drive, all the way up at Palmerston North, on the other side of the Tararua range. Akatarawa road is about 33 km long, and took us about an hour to drive across. The middle third was quite exciting, with the road down to one narrow twisty lane, with sheer drops inviting the car to come and take a plunge. The top was reached about 2/3 of the way across, and did provide a stunning view west. It was, however, quite cold at the top with the wind blowing in from the Tasman Sea. We also discovered that the remote top of the road is also a favorite place to dump cars, we counted 9 in the gulley beside the road. Perhaps they were dumped stolen cars? There were some great views coming down the Kapiti coast side. In fact the whole valley was quite picturesque.
That evening we met with a bunch of Bellydancers to plan for a performance sometime in February/March. Should be interesting, as it is going to be a story-telling piece. I of course get the one male role, the King. Woo!
Sunday we spent a few hours at the Wellington Home and Garden show. We picked up many busines cards and information sheets from vendors we might need eventually (paving stones and solar hot water systems in particular). We also talked to the regional council reps about dealing with invasive species. The council will send someone out for free once we get the place and give us suggestions as to which plants are invasive, and how to best deal with them. We will probably also set up traps and bait-stations to try and fight the possum and mustelid populations. We asked to be sure those systems were cat-friendly. Sunday was a good day to be at an indoor show, as it rained all day. We did not want to do archery in the rain two weeks in a row. The rain was part of a wild-weather system that hit the entire country, with Gale-Force winds in Cantebury, snow in some high-country places, and torrential rains in the middle of the North Island. I am glad we were not going anywhere, as many highways were closed after various nasty accidents.