John & Anne Wiley

2017/03/28

More Mt. Aspiring

After lots more time poring over topo maps and gMaps, I’m confident that the pic titled “1665 Clouded Majesty” is Mount Aspiring. Here are more pix of it, approaching from the North and passing to the West.

1649 Glaciers & Mt. Aspiring

1649 Glaciers & Mt. Aspiring

I haven’t found a name for that glacial lake, but apparently the peak is flanked on the left by Volta Glacier with Thermal Glacier on the right in this view toward the South. This next pic is like the one in the prior post but closer and with more detail.

1676 Mount Aspiring Peak

1676 Mount Aspiring Peak

Approaching the West flank we got this view revealing how deep the snow is on top.

1732 West Flank

1732 West Flank

Further down that side where North West Ridge meets Shipowner Ridge we spotted the brave red Colin Todd Hut. It’s perched on a rock outcrop between the Bonar Glacier and what’s left of the Iso Glacier.

1739 Colin Todd Hut

1739 Colin Todd Hut

It’s apparently used as a base camp for climbers headed to the summit from this side. In this last wider shot as we passed looking toward the East, you can barely make out that hut at the bottom. Makes the climb look truly daunting, and so different from the comparable elevation 8,847Mount Pinos a mere 40-something miles away from KSBA. That distance is similar to flying direct from Wanaka to Mt. Aspiring, but the active and much more recent glaciers slice rugged terrain that argues for the indirect route we flew.  Here in California that altitude looks like an easy hike even in Winter, but in NZ it looks like Everest.

1769 Aspiring Summer Climb

1769 Aspiring Summer Climb

Christmas Eve on this peak in the Haast Range of New Zealand’s Southern Alps is their Summer, begging the question of what a Winter climb would be like. Anyway, in the next post I’ll share a few pix from the Milford Sound part of this flight.

2017/01/07

Over Under Adventure

If you were wondering why we haven’t posted anything here since Halloween, we have a great excuse: we’ve been Over down-Under (hence the name “Over Under” aka “O U” for this Big Adventure). That is, we had a grand 5-week+ trip that included Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia! It all began with takeoff crammed into a commuter jet from SBA to LAX. [Note: click here to read in sequence, or else you’ll end up struggling with reverse post sequence]

123007 SB High & Fast

123007 SB High & Fast

We prefer Tripp low and slow hereabouts, but it was a change of pace to be instantly above the clouds bidding farewell to Home through plexiglass rather than Tripp’s open windows. But as you’ve guessed, this journey followed our standard 5-step model starting with:

1. The Trip We Plan.

That step began long before Halloween but intensified as departure just after Thanksgiving quickly approached. Even with many months on this step, the last few weeks were increasingly crazy but we managed to board that flight with just two small checked bags and two backpacks.

2. The Trip We Take.

Soon we were zipping out across the Pacific in a much larger jet, to land at HNL and immediately drive our rented car across the airport to Moore Air where I’d pre-arranged a check-ride in a 172. Our plan was to then rent that plane and fly all the Hawaiian Islands. The trip we took was different. Lifting off from HNL the weather was marginal as you can see in this view of Diamond Head.

6745 Distant Diamond

6745 Distant Diamond

It got worse, and the flight instructor’s goal seemed to center on proving that only airline pilots are qualified to rent their island-weathered planes. So my focus quickly shifted from flying to photography, knowing that the plan was out the window (which unlike Tripp’s, would only open a few inches). Even so, the views were thrilling and minutes later we were low over the North Shore.

6814 Oahu North Shore

6814 Oahu North Shore

I’ll probably say this more than once, but it’s puzzling why anyone would visit a beautiful place and not fly in a small plane. Especially with two of us, so that charter and tour prices are more than renting a plane with pilot. Many glorious scenes and countless pix later we were nearing HNL when ATC told us to circle over Ford Island. If you know something about history or aviation, that will have special meaning as it did for us.

6897 Ford Island Tower

6897 Ford Island Tower

The iconic control tower seen in so many WWII movies is next to an excellent aviation museum. Nearby is the somber Pearl Harbor site memorializing the Navy’s losses on Dec. 7, 1941.

6883 Pearl Harbor Memories

6883 Pearl Harbor Memories

Anne’s recently departed Dad and her grandfather both served here as officers during that conflict, so the family is steeped in stories. A reverie settled over us as we circled where Japanese aircraft once did.

6926 Weeping Arizona

6926 Weeping Arizona

The empty gun turret and stream of slowly weeping fuel oil bear silent testimony to the frantic men who met their end beneath these waters.

Times change, with the many Japanese residents, visitors and friends in HI and the U.S. mainland sharing our hope for an ever more peaceful world. On that note, after landing we drove to the iconic Aloha Tower where I shot panoramic videos from the four sides of this free tourist attraction. Here’s a screencap toward Waikiki.

153801 Aloha Tower View

153801 Aloha Tower View

Next we visited the famed Royal Hawaiian where we’d gone together soon after meeting in cold Seattle, for a warm romantic adventure.

6944 Royal Hawaiian

6944 Royal Hawaiian

Now even more dwarfed by the surrounding high-rise towers, it still commands an amazing view from its infinity pool where time seems to stand still as people ride the long waves to shore.

6952 Long Ride

6952 Long Ride

Our own long ride had just begun on this first long and varied day. In coming posts we’ll share some highlights with you. 🙂

2016/11/01

Halloween Fun

One of the many things we love about living here is the annual parade of costumes strolling “Altered” State Street. We try to walk and/or drive the street chatting with people and snapping pix like these. This year we were joined by dear friend Di. Hope you enjoy them too. 🙂

5429 Radiation Survivor & Deer

5429 Radiation Survivor & Deer

One of the simplest costumes was this sweet deer whom we first mistook for a rabbit due to the ears. We gave up guessing about her friend in the beautiful burgundy coat, and when we finally asked she gave a very complex description. As I recall she’s a radiation survivor who grew antlers and wears antique clothing.

5458 Dahlia, Krueger & Friends

5458 Dahlia, Krueger & Friends

This happy family had clearly invested much thought and effort into their costumes, starting with the Black Dahlia who told us a little about her character. Freddy Krueger stood smiling behind her and the whole family was so ebulliently happy we smiled despite the dark themes. The very essence of Halloween perhaps.

5467 Party Bound?

5467 Party Bound?

Some of the people out promenading the scene were probably headed for or perhaps returning from parties, like this happy couple.

5430 Serious Devil

5430 Serious Devil

This young girl may have been the most serious child we saw, so involved in her character we felt a slight chill.

5427 Happy Family

5427 Happy Family

Because we go early there are lots of families going store to store for treats, so it makes for a warm and happy time. Sometimes we stay or return late, and it’s quite a different scene – especially in the three-block bar district on lower State. This year we had to rush back and greet the young grand-daughters of a friend so we moved pretty quickly. Still, we three had time to stop and chat with people.

5440 Rest Break

5440 Rest Break

This tired family had cozied up to rest on a bench, so we paused for a few words.

5434 Costume Cafe

5434 Costume Cafe

Another group had stopped for refreshment in a coffee shop, and when they saw the camera their faces beamed sweetly for me.

5459 Girl's Night

5459 Girl’s Night

It wasn’t just families of course, so we saw young at heart of all ages including some much older than we. This pair had a comfortable closeness.

5452 First Halloween

5452 First Halloween

The young kids like this just melted our hearts, and the proud “scarecrow” Dad’s smile warmed the night.

5449 Red Rat Exec

5449 Red Rat Exec

We didn’t get the story on this outfit, so I came up with the idea of a smiling businessman of the Rattus genus. [We’ve since been informed by our favorite Canadian that this headdress represents the deadmau5 (“Deadmouse”) leet icon of performer Joel Zimmerman.]

5423 Baby Raccoon

5423 Baby Raccoon

This procyonid baby in contrast, is so cute we could barely contain ourselves. 🙂

5424 Sweet Serenity

5424 Sweet Serenity

There was a calm demeanor radiating from this trio that we enjoyed, and the poise with which the blue girl holds her princess dress didn’t waver as she strolled.

5448 Enigmatic Dancer

5448 Enigmatic Dancer

After passing this wandering solo dancer with quiet indigeonous music emanating from somewhere inside the costume, we talked for a while about what it might represent. Like many of the characters we saw, the ubiquitous cellphone in one hand was a talisman of our time.

5472 Waiting

5472 Waiting

Finally, here’s a moment I like that captures the origin of the Waiter job title. Hope you had a Happy Halloween!

2016/09/23

More SJC->SBA

Here are a few more pix I like from our San Jose to Santa Barbara flight. First up, this smoky but still (to me) interesting look at the dotted clouds and dappled shadows somewhere near the tiny town of Marina, looking toward Salinas.

3734 Marina to Salinas

3734 Marina to Salinas

Then another angle on the so far unbeatable Soberanes Fire showing how smoke clinging to valleys accents the different hills and mountains.

3735 Smoke Variations

3735 Smoke Variations

Meanwhile the main plume charges off across the valley to darken the day of people in that direction. Note the pattern at the bottom-right corner, and then ponder with me what created this apparently man-made feature.

3739 Sand Barcode

3739 Sand Barcode

Later down the Big Sur Coast we got this view of Nepenthe showing how the fire was stopped before crossing the first high ridge up from the beach. We’re glad to know one of our favorite stops along that enchanting drive will be awaiting our return.

3783 Nepenthe Spared

3783 Nepenthe Spared

Soon we’d all but passed Big Sur, reaching the San Simeon area with this rock outcrop that somehow invites climbing and exploration.

3822 Caves In Rock

3822 Caves In Rock

As for Hearst Castle itself, here’s another angle showing the still empty iconic swimming pool and you might be able to make out some of the tourists wandering the grounds.

3854 Hearst Castle Reopened

3854 Hearst Castle Reopened

Do you share my fascination with the patterns of kelp created by currents in the waters off Cayucos?

3882 Kelp Art

3882 Kelp Art

Speaking of which, here’s a look at the town and nearby reservoir again revealing the smoky valley beyond the now dwindling Santa Lucia mountains.

3885 Cayucos

3885 Cayucos

Last for today a zoom pic of Morro Rock, where native peoples have long climbed up to hold sacred events amid the Peregrine nests.

3896 Morro Rock

3896 Morro Rock

2016/09/22

Beauty & Beast

The beauty of the Big Sur Coast greeted our Wednesday flight from SJC to SBA. But look at the mountains just above the coast and you see the ashen scars of the beast named the Soberanes Fire, still pumping smoke all over the lower half of CA. According to the LA Times it’s the most expensive firefighting effort in U.S. history, and it’s still going strong as you can see.

3767 The Soberanes Beast

3767 The Soberanes Beast

We decided to try the coast, since at takeoff from SJC it looked like the thickest smoke was over Salinas Valley. Bingo! Though both fuzzy with coastal humidity dotted by clinging clouds, and hazy with the lingering smoke that spews in one direction and then another, views like this at Point Sur were refreshing after so many smoky months.

3769 Hwy.1 Spared

3769 Hwy.1 Spared

Unlike prior Big Sur fires we didn’t notice any places where fire had reached the road, though it’s been closed sometimes for firefighter access. Traffic was relatively light, but plenty of people were touring this enchanted coast. Not far South another monster named the Chimney Fire got this close to the popular Hearst Castle.

3861 Hearst Castle Saved

3861 Hearst Castle Saved

That’s the “castle” at the bottom-left, and the red along that grassy ridge is where they stopped the flames. Thanks to valiant efforts by fire crews, there were able to save the landmark and we saw tour buses carrying visitors on the road from San Simeon. A few minutes later we started seeing thicker smoke from the Canyon Fire at VAFB, cloaking the feet of the Sisters range from Morro Bay to SLO.

3889 Shrouded Sisters

3889 Shrouded Sisters

We were happy that the plume had been knocked down so that we could fly in relatively clear air across the Santa Ynez range (peeking above the distant smoke) and glide into SBA and the gentle greeting of Our Town.

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