John & Anne Wiley

2017/09/19

Drought Relief?

More and stronger rains came in February, offering the promise of an end to our epic drought.

5538 Promise

5538 Promise

But also a warning that the rains might be so strong that they’d bring flood damage but not the prolonged gentler rain needed to end the drought.

160212 Warning

160212 Warning

Still, it was easiest to focus on the beauty. That rainbow over Tangerine Falls beckoned us to fly up for a closer look at the glorious changes going on in our mountains.

5529 Tangerine Top

5529 Tangerine Top

Atop the falls, ancient stones seemed to be laughing as their lichen grizzled cheeks leapt to life. Looking from that rarely visited top down the full length to the popular pool at the base, we breathed deeply of the moist air.

5542 Tangerine Mist

5542 Tangerine Mist

Even the seldom seen occasional small falls nearby was roaring.

5530 Rare Sight

5530 Rare Sight

Climbing to check SB’s Santa Ynez River water supply, we glimpsed our first snow since New Zealand’s “O.U.” adventure.

5757 Distant Snow

5757 Distant Snow

We delighted to see the dusty riverbed flowing brown amid green.

5683 Earth Colors

5683 Earth Colors

The middle of three dams on the river wore a welcome white veil.

5740 Gibraltar Spill

5740 Gibraltar Spill

Returning from our brief tour, our most popular South slope falls had grown from the prior trickle into leaping torrents.

5557 Leaping Waters

5557 Leaping Waters

Still short of a flood though, there were quiet pools of fresh water in many places.

5843 Refreshing Pause

5843 Refreshing Pause

A possibly accessible spot we’ve seen from the air and been wanting to visit was even more beautiful than usual.

5862 Hidden Haven

5862 Hidden Haven

Back at SBA the integrated estuary seemed to embrace the nourishing water just before it returned to the sea.

5649 Last Stop

5649 Last Stop

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2017/09/07

Happy Home

Even after our incredible “O.U.” adventure to Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia with lots of flying fun, we were still glad to be home. In fact, we started flying here again the very next day.

3745 Happy Home

3745 Happy Home

There had been some rain while we were gone, and things were delightfully green. Up in the hills the town’s most popular waterfalls were flowing.

4049 Popular Pools

4049 Popular Pools

A week later the greening had continued, framing our familiar airport KSBA.

1212 Greener

1212 Greener

The next time we flew, the foothills were a rolling riot of green.

1449 Green Blanket

1449 Green Blanket

Subsequent flights added clearer air for even more spectacular views of our favorite places.

4520 Clear Coast

4520 Clear Coast

Looking up State Street toward the mountains was breathtaking.

4526 Up State

4526 Up State

The placid waters off Goleta Beach were soothing.

4754 Goleta Beach

4754 Goleta Beach

At the end of January, we spotted a less-known creek pool quietly inviting visitors.

4836 Quiet Pool

4836 Quiet Pool

In mid-February there was a big gathering at western Isla Vista.

5049 I.V. Surf Gathering

5049 I.V. Surf Gathering

The U.C.S.B. campus was especially beautiful that day.

5054 U.C. Splendor

5054 U.C. Splendor

Back near town, Shoreline Park offered a sparkling green introduction to Our Town.

5093 Emerald City

5093 Emerald City

Some days there are schools of fish so big they make shifting shapes like this one sheltering near the pier.

1188 School Shape

1188 School Shape

Often the pelicans, gulls and other birds join with dolphins and other predators at such schools for a fish feast.

5109 Feeding Frenzy

5109 Feeding Frenzy

A big storm soon after muddied the water for a major change of scene.

5377 Brown Out

5377 Brown Out

A bridge project downtown was set back when the storm runoff washed away forms just when they were ready for the concrete to be poured into them.

5450 Bridge Setback

5450 Bridge Setback

But local surfers were treated to some memorable rides.

5490 Surf City

5490 Surf City

I’ll continue this catch up with more pix from our flights this year, in the next post. It’s fun to see them again while sharing them here, reminding us yet again how happy we are to be Home.

2017/07/29

High Lights

This trip of a lifetime to Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia brought countless highlights. Having finished our time in Queenstown, NZ we were headed toward the next peak experience: celebrating the New Year with my family back on Maui. Of course, for aviators like us another highlight would be the journey there.

141016 Into The Blue

141016 Into The Blue

Though forecasts said we’d see clouds on the short Auckland hop to catch our night flight to Maui, the airport looked like this. A few minutes after boarding we were looking through a blurry jet window back at Queenstown and all our new memories there.

141019 Queenstown Into Memory

141019 Queenstown Into Memory

Moments later we got this view of the area far across the other side of the lake, where we first spotted Queenstown from that small plane so long ago (a few days).

141021 Both Sides

141021 Both Sides

Soon after, we got a last look back at vanishing Queenstown now far at the end of the other arm of the massive lake.

144424 Looking Back

144424 Looking Back

Despite the gloomy forecast, Aoraki peeked out of the clouds gathering on our path to bid farewell.

150214 Mount Cook

150214 Aoraki (Mount Cook)

Also departing it seemed, were the dwindling glaciers flanking the peak.

150303 Glacier Remnants

150303 Glacier Remnants

Soon we crossed from South Island to North Island and were treated to a cloudless view of distant Ruapehu at the zoom limits of a cell camera through jet plexi.

154608 Ruapehu

154608 Ruapehu

Beneath that solid cloud deck Auckland was inviting in muted colors, with the bustling city tower barely visible in the far distance beyond a quiet cemetery.

160000 Muted Auckland

160000 Muted Auckland

Making our wait for the connecting flight a delight, we were joined by our new friend we’d shared that glorious Ardmore GA flight with. He’d made a special trip to see us off and chat about our hopes of him coming to the U.S.

175636 Hero John

175636 Hero John

So many wonderful people we’d met in our New Zealand travels, and John is an exemplar. He capped our last moments here, and before long we rode new wings into the night reaching toward the high lights of sparkling stars. Soon memories of our times in this enchanted land faded into the realm of dreams.

213548 Dream Trip

213548 Dream Trip

2017/07/05

On To Qtown

Where was I?

Oh yes, three months ago (!!) I shared pix from the last leg of our spectacular 2nd NZ South Island flight of Christmas Eve 2016. Here’s a last look, on final approach to Wanaka airport looking past the Rodeo Club and campground NNE to Lake Hāwea.

2596 Lk.Hāwea, NZWF Final

2596 Lk.Hāwea, NZWF Final

I mentioned in the April post that our next excitement for that amazing day was the drive from Wanaka to Queenstown.

192732 Over Hill

192732 Over Hill

Cardrona Valley road is beautiful, especially as we were winding down past the Crown Range toward Arrow Junction. The Kawarau River was shimmering into the distant Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu that we’d seen in the air from the other side 2 hours earlier.

193442 Magnificence Immunity

193442 Magnificence Immunity

Several times during our two flights that day and driving before, between and this one afterward, we noticed something. We’d developed temporary immunity to scenes that would normally stimulate our senses with such magnificent beauty. We didn’t even stop much during this drive, and only snapped pix like the above with cellphones! The view from our Queenstown hotel balcony did motivate me to grab the camera.

2607 Queenstown View

2607 Queenstown View

The whole panorama was of course glorious, so here’s another balcony shot across the lake.

2609 View Across Lake

2609 View Across Lake

After an especially romantic sunset meal down in the ground floor restaurant (of singularly expensive and disappointing cuisine), we set out to explore on foot.

215230 Beach Cafe

215230 Beach Cafe

There’s a lovely beach cafe, and despite dire warnings about no Christmas dining (hence the hotel restaurant), we found many other eateries open (most with a variety of great food). We also passed this monument to WWI with a view past the gathering crowd to the mountain top beyond.

215528 Service vs Self?

215528 Service vs Self?

2017/04/15

Peaks & Lakes

Many majestic views of lakes and peaks awaited on the last leg of the last GA flight of our NZ adventure. Strolling the serene ramp at TEU we had no idea that so much delight was minutes away. [Note: click here to read in sequence from the start of this “Over Under” Big Adventure]

2231 TEU to Mountains

2231 TEU to Mountains

Soon after takeoff we turned away from Lake Manapouri for a quick closer look at tiny Lake Henry and Te Anau on the shore of massive Lake Te Anau.

2256 Te Anau

2256 Te Anau

Climbing back toward Wanaka, we saw this silhouette of a person’s head facing left. It’s comical that amid so much spectacular beauty, this shape formed by the North end of South Mavora Lake stood out somehow.

2268 Cartoon Shape

2268 Cartoon Shape

Maybe the human spirit tends toward adaptation to beauty when overwhelmed by such sustained exposure to it. Still, this view along the Von River to Lake Wakatipu found us in silent enjoyment.

2288 Von River

2288 Von River

The rapids next to the lake are thrilling from the air, especially when they evoke the experience of whitewater sports down in that gorge.

2301 Rapids

2301 Rapids

As we continued out onto the bend in Lake Wakatipu, at the North end Glenorchy sheltered among the towering mountains.

2327 Distant Glenorchy

2327 Distant Glenorchy

Across the lake toward the East, colorful scenery continued the amazement that flooded our senses.

2341 Across the Bend

2341 Across the Bend

All along the lake as in every moment of every GA flight, our souls overflowed with the beauty of this land. Of course we have many more pix than can be shared, so how are these few chosen? Why choose this one of rapids among many along our mountainous route up Rees River and Invincible Creek and back East toward Wanaka?

2353 Inexplicable Rapids

2353 Inexplicable Rapids

As if the many stunning peaks like Mt. Aspiring we’d already visited weren’t enough, the grizzled heads of these peaks added to our overwhelm.

2362 Grizzled Peaks

2362 Grizzled Peaks

As always, the pix we share here aren’t just a small fraction of our total but also a tiny slice of the view we swam in. Here’s a larger one.

2387 Bigger Slice

2387 Bigger Slice

Now a few more pix and fewer of the words that pale and fail.

2412 More Peaks 1

2412 Peaks Aplenty 1

2431 Peaks Aplenty 2

2431 Peaks Aplenty 2

2442 Peaks Aplenty 3

2442 Peaks Aplenty 3

Like the U.S. and Canadian Rockies, each of the peaks in this vast expanse of mountains majesty kindles a deep emotional response in the human heart.

Another deep breath comes as we descend back into the green of New Zealand.

2545 Down Into Green

2545 Down Into Green

Even minutes from the end of this amazing flight, Glendhu Bay offered yet another stunning vista.

2571 Glendhu Bay

2571 Glendhu Bay

Continuing our descent across the South end of Lake Wanaka the shallows were reminiscent of our Bahamas flights.

2578 Colorful Shallows

2578 Colorful Shallows

But now Wanaka sprawled toward the airport where we’d begin the scenic drive to Queenstown for yet more memorable moments in this thrill-packed day.

2587 Wanaka Approach

2587 Wanaka Approach

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