NZ2020: Day 16, Aoraki/Mt Cook to Christchurch

February 9, 2020

After the beautiful views of the mountains the previous night, we awoke to even clearer skies and a view of Aoraki/Mt Cook from our Chalet window.


Aoraki/Mt Cook from our room


Wider view from the Chalet balcony

We visited the the museum, which had informative displays of Maori culture:


natural history:


Geology of Aoraki Mt Cook


Some of the rocks


A rock from the top of the mountain

and art related to the mountains:






After one last look at these beautiful mountains we began the drive back to Christchurch.


Last look at Mt Sefton and Aoraki/Mt Cook from the parking area.

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Our route to Christchurch.


Clear view back up Hooker Valley

Photo stop:  The Southern Alps rose clear and shining in the cloudless sky above the stunning aqua blue waters of Lake Pukaki.


Lake Pukaki, Southern Alps


Zoom in on Aoraki

I continued to watch the mountains out the bus window:


Southern Alps still in view


View across Lake Tekapo, with the white peak of Aoraki still visible above the mountains on the left.


Golden grasslands and lower mountains as we continued eastward.

After lunch in Geraldine, we continued east, sharing last stories with our guide, as he gave us tips about some locations we might visit during our next two weeks.


Vintage car in Geraldine


Crossing the wide braid plain of the Rakaia River as we approached Christchurch


Once in Christchurch, we rented a car, checked into our motel, found a laundromat and grocery store, and were ready to continue our adventures. Tomorrow we would explore nearby Akaroa Harbour.


Meanwhile, notifications on my cell phone pull me back into news of the day…

Joshua Tree National Park, February 7 to 11, 2022

We flew in an airplane
with a lot of other people,
with masks on, 
south to Palm Springs, 
looking out and down the whole way…
From Palm Springs, we drove west,
tracing the San Andreas Fault,
then north through the Morongo Valley, 
then east to Twenty Nine Palms.
We hiked in Joshua Tree National Park, 
where Cretaceous monzogranite has intruded into Precambrian Gneiss. 
Movement along the plate boundary (San  Andreas Fault System) that defines this topography has shattered the rocks with orthogonal cracks. 
The granite has been rounded and transformed into great piles of boulders by the elements. 
We walked dry canyon mazes while anthropomorphic faces in the rocks watched us. 
Joshua trees posed on the skyline, 
witnesses to the dry open skies, 
and the battering winds, 
of the high Mojave desert.

2/7 – Hidden Valley Loop

An excellent introduction to the plants and rocks.

2/8 – Panorama Loop, Black Rock Canyon

6.7 miles and 1150 feet, a lovely loop through the Precambrian gneiss at the west end of the park.

2/9 – Several short hikes and viewpoints

Keys View:

Looking across the the San Andreas Fault and Coachella Valley, toward snow-covered Mt San Jacinto and Mt San Gorgonio.
Looking farther southeast, to the Salton Sea.
Coachella Valley highlights. It was too windy to stay long at the viewpoint, so instead of hiking here, we visited several other viewpoints and short trails in the park.

Cap Rock:

Oyster Bar:

Hall of Horrors Trail:

Skull Rock Trail:

Cholla and Ocotillo on Pinto Basin Road:

We drove to the lower desert to see my old friends from the Sonoran Desert…

Split Rock Trail:

Sunset views:

2/10 – Willow Hole Trail and The Oasis of Mara

A seven mile round trip hike to Willow Hole in the Wonderland of Rocks…

Oasis of Mara Visitor Center, Twenty Nine Palms

As travelers from the gray wet skies of the north, 
we offered up all of our surface moisture to the desert  air.
It felt good, but also exhausting.

After four days we were desiccated, 
wind blown, tired from hiking, 
filled by immersion in scenery that continues beyond us in scope and time. 
We returned home to the Pacific Northwest, much refreshed.
Note - This is my first post using the "new" block editor - I'm still deciding if I like it. 

February 2022

I knitted a few things this month…


Goose Hollow Shawl, Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery KAL



Four hats for the guild service project


A flotilla of gnomes, sent to Washington DC, with survival provisions.

I started a baby quilt

The front yard bulbs are blooming despite a late hard freeze.

We went on three local hikes to familiar areas, in addition to one big adventure to Palm Spring National Park in southern California (separate post)….

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, Portland, Oregon, February 3

An easy 3 mile loop with lots of wildlife sightings.


Wildlife mural on the mausoleum


Blue heron mural


Blue heron

Coyote Wall, Washington, February 18th

5 mile loop, with friends, on a sunny day with only a light breeze.


Coyote Wall


Lunch view to Mt Hood


Lunch view to the eastern gorge

The early flowers:

Catherine Creek, Washington, February 25

A week later, a cold snap had frozen most of the grass widows at nearby Catherine Creek. We walked a few miles, exploring some side trails we hadn’t tried before.


Fields of grass widows – some shriveled in the cold. Hoping many of these will bloom when it warms up!


The arch


The road

Dozens of robins bobbed and hopped in the surrounding meadows and bushes.

We visited our favorite fairy ponds, which were frozen,


And found a few blooming grass widows nearby.


grass widows


bitterroot foliage


Snow dusted eastern view

Meanwhile…The days have been galloping by. I have created a few things to justify the time, of which there is never enough. Elsewhere in the world all is upheaval, war and death. A power grab, unexplainable access to power; the code of civility is a construct…if we don’t all buy in then it cannot exist.