Monthly Archives: May 2015

House in Greenlane, pt 1

Jasmine and I finally moved into a new house in Auckland and we are very excited about it. It is a large home with 3 bedrooms and a pretty serious kitchen and living room downstairs. We are sharing with a nice couple and having flatmates has been quite pleasant so far. We just need to work up some furniture as the place came only partially furnished. So checkout the pictures below and tomorrow I’ll add in some information about the backyard garden and brewery.

Frontyard. It was used as a parking lot for a while so we'll see you the grass recovers.

Frontyard. It was used as a parking lot for a while so we’ll see if the grass recovers.

The kind of bare living room. Some quilted cushion might be nice - I smell a project.

The kind of bare living room. Some quilted cushions might be nice – I smell a project.

Our bedroom, in its fuzzy glory.

Our bedroom – in its fuzzy glory.

The kitchen - gas burners rule!

The kitchen – gas burners rule!

Coffee Coozie

At my new job, there is a coffee maker that is free for the staff to use. I was pretty excited about this (although more excited about the free tea) and went and got myself a mason jar to use as a mug. However, since glass gets pretty hot, I also knit myself a coozie to insulate my hand from the heat. I used some of the yarn from the sweater I’m knitting and a pattern from Vogue Stitchionary. I chose the lace rib pattern because it reminded me a bit of vines. The ribbing also provides a bit of stretch so I can get a snug fit on the jar. It took me about half an hour to knit, but I’m pretty happy with the result.

The finished coffee mug sitting in front of the window in my physics office.

The finished coffee mug sitting in front of the window in my physics office.

However, I don’t think using mason jars as glasses is very common here. People seem a bit confused by this mug. Maybe it’s the coozie. It doesn’t do a very good job keeping drinks warm, but it does do a good job keeping my hands unburnt.

Upper Nihotupu Reservoir (36°54’S 174°32’E)

Jasmine and I finally got out into the woods for real this weekend with a hike a bit to the southwest of Auckland in the Waitakere Ranges. We still don’t have a car so it was a bit of an interesting trip. We took the train out of Auckland as close as we could get to the forest, then walked through town for 4 km and then through the countryside for another 5 km before we made the park proper. Then, of course, we went hiking all over the place so we ended up with a solid ~35 km that day in around 8 hours; we were a bit tired and hungry by the end.

But it was a very beautiful hike, through mountains pretty similar to the Cascades or the middle of the Appalachians and through some forests full of Kauri, a tree native to New Zealand. We also got a little bit of water in with a reservoir at the peak of the hike and rain on and off throughout the day. I think there is every reason to believe we will be back to the range to try to get a good grasp of our closest bit of wilderness.

Below are a couple of pictures of the trip. Some are a little hazy due to the mist and drizzle.

The start of the hike through town.

The start of the hike through town.

More or less this is what much of the hike in the forest looked like. There was also a lot of very wet mud with roots all over on the flatter parts.

More or less this is what much of the hike in the forest looked like. There was also a lot of very wet mud with roots all over on the flatter parts.

Jasmine next to a larger Kauri tree. This on was about 3m diameter, some of the largest ones off of the trail look around 4-5m diameter.

Jasmine next to a larger Kauri tree. This one was about 2.5 m diameter; some of the largest ones off of the trail looked around 4 m in diameter.

The trails had many fords over streams. We made it fine over all of them with only some very damp feet as casualties.

The trails had many fords over streams. We made it fine over all of them with only some very soaked feet as casualties.

Fairy Fall. Stunning set of 3 waterfalls, of which this picture is of the lowest.

Fairy Falls. Stunning set of 3 waterfalls, of which this picture is of the lowest.

Lloyd’s Shorts

This is actually a project I did before we left California but, with the move, we got a bit distracted and forgot to take a picture of Lloyd wearing the shorts until recently. So a slightly delayed post.

The pattern for the shorts is the same as the pattern I’ve been using to make Lloyd’s cargo pants. This is the first time I’ve used the pattern to make shorts, but all of Lloyd’s shorts were getting a bit ratty and it was time for a new pair. For the shorts, I applied some of the lessons learned about clothing construction in general and clothing construction for Lloyd specifically. Here are the highlights:

First of all, I started with rip-stop nylon for the pocket fabric. This should hold up a lot better to the Lloyd-wear-and-tear test.

First of all, I started with rip-stop nylon for the pocket fabric. This should hold up a lot better in the Lloyd-wear-and-tear test.

I also learned some fly construction techniques from a pair shorts I bought. It looks a lot more finished.

I also learned some fly construction techniques from a pair shorts I bought. It looks a lot more finished.

After some failures in previous zipper attempts, I also learned that the zipper should be installed so that the raw edges are above the edge of the fabric. That way, they'll be inside the waistband.

After some failures in previous zipper attempts, I also learned that the zipper should be installed so that the raw edges are above the edge of the fabric. That way, they’ll be inside the waistband.

I made sure all of Lloyd's belts could fit through the belt loops before I sewed any in and made sure they were spread out evenly.

I made sure all of Lloyd’s belts could fit through the belt loops before I sewed any in and made sure they were spread out evenly.

The shorts worked out well, even if they did get a bit wrinkled in transit.

The shorts worked out well, even if they did get a bit wrinkled in transit.

Now Lloyd has a pair of nice shorts. Just in time to get put away for winter in New Zealand. At least they’ll be ready when the weather warms up!

Mt. Eden (36 52.6’S 174 45.9’E)

On Sunday, we decided to walk on up to the high point in Auckland: Mt. Eden. As it turns out, it was not that long of a hike, and cars can drive right up to the top, so it was a bit silly to think that it would be our entire afternoon activity, but that is what happens when you don’t really plan anything.

It turns out that it was quite the tourist trap at the peak with about 100 people up there all of the time, but it was a quite nice place to see the city so it was worth the small walk in any case.

There was a pretty awesome bronze plaque map at the peak.

There was a pretty awesome bronze plaque map at the peak.

View to the south.

View to the south.

View to the west, you can see the Blues Rugby stadium i the midground.

View to the west; you can see the Blues Rugby stadium in the midground.

And a view to the north. The panorama looks a little weird because a cloud occluded the sun in the middle of the picture

And a view to the north. The panorama lighting looks a little weird because a cloud occluded the sun in the middle of the picture

From the caldera at the top the volcanic nature is rather apparent.

From the caldera at the top, the volcanic nature is rather apparent.

Blues Rugby

As new Aucklanders, we decided we had to go watch a SuperRugby match while they were still in season. The local team is the Blues and they are quite bad this year; as of Friday, they were in the gutter of the league, going a solid 2-10.

The game was played on a rainy, windy day against the Bulls, who are from South Africa. It was an ugly game, partially because the teams didn’t play well and partially because of the rain making fumbles happen all of the time. But on the plus side, the Blues won, so we must be good luck. Now if they win out, they might make it up to 6-10 and still miss out on the playoffs quite badly.

A bit of a blurry picture, but you can see that a losing team on a rainy night is not  a big draw.

A bit of a blurry picture, but you can see that a losing team on a rainy night is not a big draw.

The game in session.

The game in session. The Bulls are about to kick-off after a Blues try. 

Sketches pt 2

I have been keeping up with my sketching in NZ and, lacking other things that I am building, I thought I would share the sketches. I can’t wait to get moved into a house so I have access to crafts and building again.

Random Seabird at the beach. And yes it did have a weird mashed head like that.

Random seabird at the beach. And, yes, it did have a weird mashed head like that.

A sailboat and a moored tug from Herne bay.

A sailboat and a moored tug from Herne Bay.

A rugby pitch from the match we watched on TV last week. I think it was a Highlander's match.

A rugby pitch from a match we watched on TV last week. I think it was a Highlander’s match.

It is not really about NZ but I liked the random rocket to the moon.

It is not really about NZ, but I liked the random rocket to the moon.

Sky Tower in Auckland. I am not really a big fan of the building but it is the tallest around.

Sky Tower in Auckland. I am not really a big fan of the building, but it is the tallest around.

Rangitoto (36 47.2’S 174 51.47’E)

Now that Jasmine and I have a place to stay, we can actually get to some real exploring! The first step was where pretty much everyone suggested: the Island of Rangitoto. It is a volcanic island in the Auckland bay and, as it formed about 600 years ago, it is still pretty volcanic looking. There were tons of igneous rocks on the less traveled trails; I am glad I had some sturdy boots as those rocks are sharp.

For being only about 600 years old, the forests are pretty thick if a little weird looking, probably because it is full of only native NZ plants which are mostly ferns with some random trees. Also, they appear to be very serious about biosecurity here to the point of asking you to wipe off your shoes before getting on the boat to the island. As they just killed off all of the non native animals (read possums, rats, stoats, etc), I guess that is quite understandable.

All in all, we had a very fun hike and a nice dunking my head in the ocean afterwards as it was a little cold to get all of the way in. I hope we enjoy all of our hikes down here as much as this one.

The obligatory tourist selfie with Auckland in the background

The obligatory tourist selfie with Auckland in the background.

Some really cool causeways and bridges on the hike, I just liked how this one looked

Some really cool causeways and bridges on the hike; I just liked how this one looked.

This is where we took a little bit of a dip in the ocean. Now with extra

This is where we took a little bit of a dip in the ocean. Now with extra rainbow!

And this is what most of the hike looked like

And this is what most of the hike looked like. Yes, there is a trail there.

And a panorama from the beach. You have to open it up full screen to appreciate.

And a panorama from the beach. You have to open it up full screen to appreciate.

Auckland, NZ

Jasmine and I just moved to New Zealand! And now that we have been here for almost a week, I thought I should catch up with the blogosphere and do a post on the new town. Bottom line is we don’t know much about it yet other than we walked 3 ways from tomorrow trying to find a place to live.

Also the food here is really good – well for the most part. Awesome coffee, super tasty pastries, and amazing fish and chips are the highlights so far. The worst of the lowlights – pizza. It was so bad I wanted to cry and then go to the back to show the man how to make pizza. The only plus side is that I do know how to make pizza so when we are out of the hotel and into a house that is on the docket.

So all you get now is a quick photodump; we should go somewhere exciting this weekend and have a nice post from that. Cheers! :)

The view from our hotel room isn't bad at all. I always find the views with sea container cranes.

The view from our hotel room isn’t bad at all. I always find the views with sea container cranes.

From Mission bay loking west into the city. You can just see Sky Tower, the hideous main attraction of the skyline.

From Mission Bay looking west into the city. You can just see Sky Tower, the hideous main attraction of the skyline.

This is literaly th eflow of the bay. The tide is pretty serious here. also mussels -mmmm

This is literally the flow of the bay. The tide is pretty serious here. Also mussels – mmmm.

The parks here have some crazy big trees, mostly out unlike our old friends the redwoods which were up. I'm still trying to learn what exactly grows here.

The parks here have some crazy big trees; they mostly grow out unlike our old friends the redwoods which grow up. I’m still trying to learn what exactly grows here.

And they have some lovely botanical gardens in the Auckland Domain that we just happened by.

And they have some lovely botanical gardens in the Auckland Domain that we just happened by.

Seven Lakes, NC

So one final post from our East Coast road trip. We stopped back in North Carolina for a couple of days before our flight overseas and it was a nice and relaxing weekend. The neighbors probably think that we are crazy though since we were swimming in the lake when it was only 65-68 degrees in the water. But since we are used to low 60’s in the warmest part of the year for the ocean by San Francisco, it was quite balmy for us. Here are a couple final pictures to see the US out.

A view of the lake from the dock. I makes me want to get started with some watercolors again.

A view of the lake from the dock. It makes me want to get started with some watercolors again.

And a view of the house from the lake. It looks pretty now but I'm sure as the landscaping  gets a few years older it will get nicer.

And a view of the house from the lake. It looks pretty now, but I’m sure as the landscaping gets a few years older it will get nicer.