Monday March 11, 2013
It feels like summer\'s definitely on its last legs. While today is cold from the southerlies and dull, grey and overcast like only a Monday could be, yesterday was magnificently warm and sunny.
I took a chance. Yesterday was the southern hemisphere\'s last chance at seeing Comet Panstarrs in the sky. I knew it would be very low in the horizon and we still might not be able to see it through the twilight brilliance, but I recruited a crew and we bundled a picnic dinner in my car and headed back to Makara.
We went up Opau Bay Road to check out the wind turbine farm first. The area boasts some fantastic westward views of the South Island and the vast sea beyond. If you head out on the Short Turbine Walk, you\'ll walk past a lone turbine standing guard over the ridge between Opau Bay and Makara Beach. From here, you can look back at the turbine farm and get a sense of their majesty; a true representation of how technology and nature can be harmonious. There\'s not much else to do at that side and the gates close at 6pm during summer, so we headed off. One day we might return when it\'s really windy to see what it\'s like...
Down at Makara, there were plenty of other beachgoers taking advantage of the great weather. We unloaded our food and began our walk on the track to embattlements. We arrived with good time, and after dinner, Jordan guarded base camp and read his book while Mitchell, Chloe and I went for a quick explore around the hill. We found a lot of sheep poop.
Sunset was at 7.50pm yesterday, and in amongst the self-photographs, we watched as the sun dipped behind the mountains of the South Island. The glow of dusk began to illuminate the hills around us, but this soon gave way as the first star of the night, Sirius, became visible. Looking to the west, the horizon was still too bright to see any signs of Panstarrs. By now, several more stars were appearing in the night sky - Orion and Taurus in the north with Jupiter, the Southern Cross out to the east above the aura of Wellington\'s light pollution, and the dim fuzziness of the Milky Way becoming more prominent as time passed.
And then came...our first shooting star of the night!
Oh the magic of shooting stars.
We saw another two during our time there. It would have been around 9.30pm when we decided to call it a night and we began the drive back to Wellington. Much to Jordan\'s bemusement, a wild possum appeared in the middle of the road and I stopped the car so he could try and photograph it. It looked him timidly, and then scurried off along the ditch by the road. He tried to follow it, but it eventually clambered up the hill to safety, away from the intrusive paparazzi lens.
What a nice way to spend a Sunday.
Wednesday March 6, 2013
A year older, a year wiser?
The days are shortening and the southerlies are definitely more noticeable. Summer has paved the way for autumn, though we may still see some more of that warm sunshine that we were blessed with this year.
Comet Pan-STARRS has been supposedly visible in southern hemisphere skies for the past week or so. Always in search for an adventure, I recruited Mitchell, Chloe and Hayden (while he was down here) and we went out to Owhiro Bay to see if we could spot the comet. No such luck, as we presume the southwestern hills around Red Rocks were in the way. We headed out to Titahi Bay, but still no luck. Today, we drove to Makara but there were still hills in the way; we decided we weren\'t going to leave without a quick exploration of the area, so we followed the track to Opau Bay and the wind turbine farm for about 15 minutes, putting us just over the western ridge of Makara beach and giving us splendid views of the Tasman Sea. As night fell, we gazed aimlessly at the stars, watching the brilliance of Jupiter in the north and seeing the Milky Way arching overhead. Then, in a moment of sheer magic, we caught two shooting stars streaking across the northern sky!
But no comet. Oh well.
Last weekend was pretty busy for me. Mark\'s last day with us was on Friday, and we had a \"final\" game of Battlestar Galactica. With Rob\'s horrendous dice rolling putting the humans dangerously low on population count, it looked like Team Cylon - Mark and myself, and Mitchell, kinda - might have clinched victory, but some sweet blind jumping from Jordan netted a destination 3 card which put them on the home stretch. Not about to be outdone, I shot Rob in the face and caused Tim to die in the same turn, but sadly that wasn\'t enough to pull morale down to 0. It all rested on a final dice roll, and Team Human took away the victory with a strong 8 roll. Epic!
After our regular Saturday morning badminton, I met Damon, Joe, Chloe and Mitchell for some hot drinks at Milk Crate, and we relocated to Caffe L\'affare for brunch. Afterwards, the group minus Damon visited Jos and Ian at Garage Project headquarters, before heading home to find Smudge - with little success. We trekked over to Central Park to play on the swings and flying fox, but there was some kid\'s birthday party going on and it felt awkward just shoving them off the playground, so we went our separate ways. I met up with Damon, Joe and Mitchell again for dinner at Oriental Thai, and we joined Alan and Aaron at their place by Chaffers Docks, right where Homegrown was on. Rocking times!
We had an \"autumnal celebration\" barbeque at the Treehouse, full of fantastic meats everywhere - my kilogram of roast pork that I had purchased from Yan\'s was very popular. There were sausages and skewers and steaks to be had, and for dessert, Charlotte\'s scheming resulted in a deliciously moist and rich chocolate cake with fancy sparkly candles, decorated as if it was someone\'s birthday celebration.
It\'s going to be a busy month, with both my work and social calendars full of events and deadlines to meet. Looking forward to time off over Easter, then the South Island trip early next month!