Wednesday, 23 October 2013

October 23, 2013
Fun in Auckland                        

Over the weekend of Oct. 11-13, we flew up to Auckland to visit with Mike's sister, Chrissie, and her family  --  husband, Tristan and sons, Sean and Ryan. I have to say that Auckland was not at all what I was expecting.  Of course there is big city traffic, but once out in the 'suburbs' everything is lush and green.

We arrived Friday afternoon and took the scenic route to their home, which included passing a simple sign that said "Tibetan Monastery" with an arrow pointing down a gravel road.  Chrissie cooked and served us a wonderful lemon chicken dinner and we spent some time playing with the boys, who just adore their Uncle Mike.  Then off to bed to get some rest for a long day planned for Saturday.

Saturday morning we were off to the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, because they have kauri trees and I wanted to see them.  At the Visitor's Center, the first thing you see is what looks like an enormous totem pole, but I'm not sure that is what they call it here.

  I wanted to get a picture of it with Heather, Mike and Chrissie standing in front for perspective.  And of course, being Kiwis, Mike and Chrissie got silly and I ended up with this funny, if inappropriate, photo.

I'm not sure if Heather is just shading her eyes or trying to cover her face!!

So on we went for the nature walk to see the giant kauri trees.  We didn't have to go far to see the biggest tree I can remember ever seeing.

11.89 meters to first branch = 39 feet
7.62 meters at center girth = 25 feet, but some have measured 16 meters, or more than 50 feet around 
No measurement for the height of this one, but some do grow to 50 meters, or 160 feet tall.

This is Heather standing at the base of the tree and I can't get the whole tree in the picture.

Heather and Mike posing, with no silliness, for perspective.

And here it is looking straight up.

And later we came across a baby kauri.

It's hard to believe that this tree will eventually (in about 800 years) be as big as the other one!

In addition to the kauri trees, I was also impressed with the tree ferns.  Has anyone in the family noticed the potted fern right next to the front door at Bill and Hope's house?  Heather and Mike gave that to them and if it lived in the tropical climate found around Auckland, it could become a full grown tree - like these.

And here is one from a bridge above the trees which are 15-20 feet tall.


After our nature walk Chrissie and family returned home to prepare for a BBQ dinner they had planned for us and we headed to Mt. Eden, a dormant volcano in the middle of the city.  Mike programmed Mt Eden into his GPS and this is where it took us.

Not exactly what we were looking for!!

But we were able to find our way from there to the top of Mt. Eden, and here is the view from there.

Seriously, this volcano is right in the middle of the city!

And this is part of the crater at the top of the volcano.  Being dormant for a long time, the crater is now all covered with grass.  At the very top of the picture, just to the left of center, you can see two people walking on a small platform of land on the other side of the crater  --  that's how big it is.

And of course, Heather and Mike on top of Mt. Eden.

Sunday morning as we prepared to leave, I got a couple of group pictures.

Chrissie, Sean, Tristan, Ryan, Mike and Heather

And then of course, the obligatory picture of Kiwis being silly.

On our way to the airport, we took a detour up into the mountains to check out that "Tibetan Monastery".  Turns out there really is one up there!

There was no indication that they encouraged visitors, so we just took the pictures and went on our way.

From there we headed out to the beach.

And then we found a little marina/resort called Sandspit.

From there we headed through the city toward the airport and found two New Zealand Navy ships docked in the harbor.

And then the final dash to the airport to catch our plane home.

Tomorrow we are expecting another wind storm.  Weather forecasters are calling for heavy rain and winds gusting to 120-140 kph (75-87 mph).  Not as strong as the last storm, but still strong enough to take down trees and power lines.  We expect to be without power for the next 2 or 3 days.  And of course Mike is out of town all this week on a business trip.  If we lose power, Heather and I get to start the generator!  Good times : )

Thursday, 17 October 2013

October 17, 2013

Over the weekend of October 5-6 we had about a dozen friends working on the clean up.  Most of the work was on the south boundary where many uprooted trees were hung up in the branches of trees that had not fallen, causing a dangerous situation.  Mike has a good friend who works for the forestry service and he came on Saturday to take most of those trees down without anyone getting hurt.  The rest of the crew spent most of their time limbing the remainder of the trees and clearing the brush.  The limbs and brush were loaded onto two trailers that were then driven back and forth from the boundary to the middle of the pasture.  After an enormous pile of brush was stacked in the pasture, Mike poured deisel fuel on it and set it on fire.  It burned most of the afternoon and into the evening.   Heather and I and Jill, another friend, spent all day Saturday chipping branches and brush that we had piled up around the clearing.

I didn't get pictures of the south boundary or the fire, but here are two from the clearing.

Here is the chicken yard before we chipped all the brush and limbs.

. . . . and after the brush piles are gone.

Here is a picture of the crew at dinner on Saturday night.

Front to back on the left: Mike, Heather, Fran, Neil, Mikkel, and Stu
Front to back on the right: Steve, Michelle, Berit, Jill, and Darren

Somewhere there is a picture (I'll see if I can find it to post later) of a raisin stuck to the ceiling, as the result of a raising flipping contest.  Steve was the winner with one raisin skillfully flipped into the light cover over the table.
And yes, we had all had a few drinks!

Mike has also purchased a new chain saw with a 24 inch blade.  Here is a pile of logs that had been stacked last year.

And then Mike got to it with his new saw.

And I finished it off with the splitter!

We'll stack these properly in the wood shed once it is fixed.

Annie and her six chicks are still doing well.  They come up to the front door each morning, along with a few other chickens and a turkey or two, to beg for treats.

The other chicks were out of the picture on the far right exploring the bench that sits on the porch.

Tomorrow, pictures of our weekend in Auckland.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

October 2, 2013
Continuing the Clean Up              

Over the weekend, more friends came to help with the clean up.  Mikkel and Berit came with their gorgeous little girl, Freyja, along with Patrick and Maaike. Here is a picture of Berit and Freyja.


In the morning, Patrick and Mikkel stacked logs in the chicken yard while Mike cut down the trees that were lying on the wood shed.

Here are before and after pictures of the chicken yard.

 This is how it looked at the end of last week after Mike and I had done a lot of limbing and log cutting.

And here is how it looked at the end of the day.

I've been doing a lot more limbing in the area this week, but I haven't taken any pictures yet.  I'll do that for the next post.

In the afternoon, we focused on the south boundary that we share with the dairy farm.  Mike, Patrick, and Mikkel limbed and cut logs and Maaike and I pulled out the branches and made brush piles to load on the trailer.  Mike was going to burn all the brush in the middle of the dairy pasture, but the wind changed direction and we had to delay the burning.

 Here is what the area looked like before we started the clean up.

Mikkel cutting logs and Patrick, Maaike and Mike loading the trailer.

Maaike loading the trailer

Patrick helping out with one of the bigger branches

Maaike securing the branches in the trailer for the ride to the middle of the pasture

Most of the branches taken away and logs waiting to be stacked

And here is the work crew at the end of the day  --  
Heather, Mike, Mikkel, Berit, Maaike and Patrick

The rest of this week, more of the same!!