Last week you may have noticed a slight decrease in posts. This was due not to a lack of things to post, but of time to post as parents were visiting. To remedy that, we will have a couple picture-heavy posts of the tourism locales we visited.
Location #1 was the Waitakere Ranges just west of Auckland. These are an extremely nice park next to Auckland so it is a must-visit and, as we had a rental car for the parents’ visit, we took advantage and went to the beach. The drive alone was a bit exciting as the roads are a bit on the narrow and windy side and I haven’t driving much in the past couple of months and my mother has not done much mountain driving ever. But we ended up at Karekare Beach without incident for our 8 km walking loop. It was one of the best hikes I have ever done, with only the San Juan’s, Lassen, Crater Lake, and Snoqualmie coming to mind as equal hikes. A little bit of everything on the hike with ocean, mountain, waterfall, thick brush, tall forests, sand dunes, and swamps on a single short track. I would highly recommend it to anyone. My pictures below hardly do it justice.
The first stop looking back down at the beach.
Intrepid hikers making their way down a nominal path for the first half of the hike.
We eventually popped out of the hills and onto some low-lying tidal grasslands.
The pictures started to look nicer as the clouds cleared up. It was a quite nice day by the time we made it back to the beach.
Somewhere I think we took a wrong turn and ended up on another planet.
With our new – new to us at least – bikes, a fair bit more of Auckland opens up to us for day trips. We are still not in great biking shape as it has been a few months since either Jasmine or I owned bikes, so we decided to do a short excursion for the first try, only a 25 km round trip to the beach.
St. Helier Beach is a pleasant bike ride from our house as it is on bike paths for 95% of the trip; the only downside is the large quantity of small hills between here and there. Bleh, I need to get into better biking shape.
The beach itself is quite pleasant. It appears to be mostly a kids’ beach with the slightly closer Kohimarima being a mixed use beach, and the even closer still Mission Bay the more crowded Jersey Shore-esque beach. I think I can get used to living this close to a large number of beaches.
The beach itself with the city in the background. Quite nice white sand. The only issue is the beach is quite flat; you have to go about 100 m out in the water to get to Lloyd height water.
The sailboats were out in force. It is times like this I wish I had a real camera with a real lenses that could magically fit in my pocket. :(
Rangitoto with a tall ship in the foreground. It looked like a 3 master with one large square sail. I think that makes it a Brigantine. Whatever the case, old sailboats are pretty enough that I will always post a picture of them under sail.
Zoomed view of the Brigantine.
And we also got some cliff hiking in because this beach appears to have it all.
I have been a bit behind on birthday presents this year and am finally finishing up some of the gifts for summer (in the Northern hemisphere) birthdays. The first one that I made this year is a scarf for my mom. It is actually the first scarf that I knit – and so far the only one. I know this is a typical first knitting project, but I learned how to crochet first and made, in all seriousness, about a dozen scarves. Consequently when I learned how to knit, I didn’t need any more scarves so I jumped straight into sweater making. Now that I have a few years of experience, I decided to make a cabled scarf with button closure for Mom’s birthday. Not the best choice for someone with a summer birthday, but I knew it would be late and arrive just in time for cooler weather.
The pattern for this scarf comes from one of my current favorite knitting books: Metropolitan Knits. This is the second knitting project that I’ve made from this book and I’m quite happy with the the way both have turned out. I posted on the first project in September and really wanted to jump into a second one. However, I did modify this pattern a bit. The lace in the scarf looked messy to me when I tried it so I left it out. I was a bit concerned at first that this would make the scarf too boring, but the cables gave it enough of a texture to keep it interesting. In general, a successful project!
Me modelling the scarf before I sent it to Mom.
Despite the late posting, I actually made a three course meal for Lloyd on his birthday. I forgot to take a picture of the first course: spinach salad with walnuts and feta. Next came a mushroom risotto, which was made with homemade (by Lloyd, not me) chicken stock. Finally, I finished with ice cream cake for desert. I actually planned ahead and made it the night before so it was my most successful ice cream cake to date. I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe and found some really good vanilla ice cream. Maybe next year I’ll feel more comfortable cutting the cake layers and get a three layer cake rather than this year’s two layers!
My plating skills could be improved, but it was very tasty.
Who needs cake and ice cream when you can have an ice cream cake?
In the continuing quest for novel, for me at least, NZ fruits we tried a Paw-Paw. To me it tasted almost exactly like a papaya, and I was somewhat disappointed to find out that it is just another name for Papaya. Here’s to hoping I find something more exciting next time.
The outer skin was a nice golden, ripe looking colour.
And the flesh was quite ripe, maybe even a bit over ripe. It was tasty but not my favorite fruit.
We have discovered that while Halloween does get celebrated in New Zealand, it’s not as big a deal as it is in the States. Consequently, we made Halloween cards and sent them to our friends in Australia who understand.
I’m pretty happy with how my jack-o-lantern turned out. It’s one of my first watercolours with the watercolour pencils.
Lloyd has had a bit more practice. Nice perspective!
Also, Happy Halloween to everybody on Southwood Ave! We are definitely missing the party.