Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pre-Departure Session

Well, this weekend was our Antarctica pre-departure session. The PCAS (post-graduate certificate in Antarctic Studies) course I'm tutoring in spent 3 days out at the UC (University of Canterbury) geography field station in Cass (a stop along the TranzAlpine railway). We were introduced to some of the gear we'd be using, but mostly it was about getting to know one another better - bonding. With winds up in the 80-100 km/hr range we spent lots of time inside discovering the intricacies of living together and talking about all the fun things we'll be doing down in Antarctica.

Cass Field Station. In the background is the Craigieburn Range with Arthur's Pass just off to the left.

Steve showing off his weather station. While we're down on the ice, this station will be set up by the students and recordings will be taken every day. Unfortunately, due to the high velocity winds we weren't able to fly the ginormous kite he has to take up some of his other instruments.

Here's one of the tents we'll be using down on the ice. There are four poles that are put into the tough outer fly, the inner tent is then hung from inside and the white flaps are covered with snow and the guylines are anchored into the surrounding snow to keep it all on the ground.

This is the emergency tent provided for each group of two people. Whenever we go out of camp we have to carry these emergency bags with us which contain things like a shovel, a saw, food, a stove, a tent, sleeping bags and other useful things to keep you warm.

On the last day, we did a hike up Bealey Spur (overlooking the Waimakariri River). It was a 10km round trip through beech forest, grass tussocks and boasted some fantastic views.

One of the aforementioned fantastic views of the Waimakariri River.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


With our recent visit back to the Yukon I've been thinking a lot about what "home" is. Stephen and I would get into discussions about whether we were going home or leaving home, often we would be on alternating sides of the debate.

We're lucky in the sense that we both grew up in the same town and so visits back are easy-ish. We discovered though that there are other problems with having two families and multiple groups of friends in the same community, all of whom expect plenty of face time. We really enjoyed the time we did spend with everyone, but trying to do everything with everyone proved somewhat impossible. And so we had to make do (lots of driving was involved).

Much of our discussions revolved around the idea of heart. Having grown up in the Yukon we both have a deep abiding love for the vast lands of forest and mountain and river, and it is an integral part of who we are as people. It is a part of our identity. But something we've also realized is that as we've grown together and learned to be a family, we have put down various roots in the places where our relationship has developed the most; Victoria, British Columbia and here in Christchurch. These two places are the landscapes where we have shaped our relationship together and really, our lives to come. It is in these places that we can look forward more easily and find new paths to follow. And so we are left with two distinct homes, a place a rememberance, of youth, and of roots. And a place of looking forward, of new roles, and of endless possibilities.

Home, now, is about change. It is about loosing the shackles of a "role" into which we've grown and instead, making our own place in the world. It is a new and wonderful experience to be making our own way in the world, where no one has predetermined ideas about what we can or cannot do, about who we are and where we belong.

I will never forget where I have come from and will never stop calling the Yukon 'home'. But for now (and for who knows how long), New Zealand is proving to be a wonderful home in which to learn, grow, and become.

Yukon Visit

First I must apologize for being so slack on up dating this site. After my visit back to the Yukon everything here at home seems to have piled up on me keeping me very, very busy. It's been a little over a week now and I'm still settling back in. Though it is wonderful to come back to summer I must say!

Here are a few pictures from my visit to the North. I was so pleased to spend time with family and friends, though trying to visit everyone was harder work than I ever thought possible. Such is life once you've moved away from where you grow up I suppose. We spent lots of time outside, camping, hiking, walking, canoeing, boating, and just generally enjoying the gorgeousness of the Yukon.

Dad, Mom, Andrew, Marina & I spent a weekend camping on Egg Island, a 5-minute boatride down the Yukon River from where the Takhini River joins it. A lovely two-nights of snow, rain, sun and lots of crossword puzzles.

The wall tent proved a warm and comfortable place to spend the night. Unfortunately there wasn't room for everyone so Marina and I got to sleep in the pup tent, which was cool and damp (Photo credit: Dad).
The beer was delicious as always.

I also went up to Dawson City for a short visit to do some work. It snowed there as well.
A lot.
There are lots of old, abandonned pieces of machinery in the Yukon. The highest concentration being around the Dawson area.

We also made sure to get up to my favorite place on earth, the White Pass Summit. It was amazingly warm up there, even nicer than back in Whitehorse.