The call goes out for our annual Natural Ice curling fixture at Tekapo, a village at the end of an alpine lake. Although the lake hasn’t frozen sufficiently for a number of years, the local curling club is fortunate enough to have curling for most of the season. Artificial ice is available and supported throughout. When natural ice forms later in the winter however, several seasoned, passionate and dedicated outdoor curlers emerge to play, party and challenge anyone that dares, for the endurance of the ice. A purpose built curling rink was built by highly innovative and obsessed outdoor curlers in an ideal sheltered place on the edge of town...
White Water Rafting With Nephew.
‘White Water Rafting’ on the White Salmon River, was to be my destiny after I had agreed to accompany my nephew on a raft trip. A small 44 mile tributary of the lower Columbia, the White Salmon River begins its journey from the glaciers, snow melt and tarns of Mt Adams WA. From the mountain slopes through heavy bush and cleared farmland the very scenic and beautiful white salmon river, until 2011 supported a hydro electric dam constructed primarily to supply power to a paper mill. For environmental reasons The Condit Dam was decommissioned after 98 years of service with both direct and indirect loss of many jobs. However the destruction of the dam and Northwestern Lake provided white water rafting opportunities as I was to find out.
A Family Affair
Home ground at Randall’s Island
New York Rugby And Joe
‘New York Rugby Club’, ‘and we are playing at a tournament in Christchurch’, ‘Ali’, my friend replied. Our official rugby playing days behind us, but still reasonably fit, I inquire ‘who for’? when Ali asked if I felt like a game. A past New York Rugby Club coach and present mentor, ‘Geoff’,’ a New Zealander with US citizenship organised an oldies team to tour NZ on an exclusive world tour. However several members of the team named, ‘New York Vintage Whines’, apparently softened when they researched NZ rugby players and pulled out of the tour. Thus the invitation of a few NZers to the squad, including Ali and I and our wives. Given the broken bones, other injuries and serious hangovers sustained d...
Big Bay Godwits People and Whitebait
Watching a supply plane negotiate surf and wind conditions on approach to the low tide air strip at Big Bay, Trevor turns and says, ‘we’ve seen a lot of things haven’t we’. I pondered for a moment and agreed as a couple of ‘godwits’ scuttled out of danger. Arriving only days before in late September, three godwits have joined the annual spring migration of people and whitebait to Big Bay. Rather unassuming for nature negative folk, these extraordinary birds for some reason just as extraordinary, choose New Zealand to have lunch after a 12,000 kilometer non stop journey the full length of the Pacific from the North Slope of Alaska. Godwits are not water birds, so do not feed or land during one of the most significant biological feats documented.
An age old sport, Outdoor curling appeals to many as an alternative or supplement to their other winter sports and activities.
Curling Outdoors is obviously weather dependent, so it can’t be assumed that ice will be available each and every year. This aspect of the game can be rather apprehensive as we watch and wait for the ice to form without comprehensive weather changes.
A typical scenario could be, a phone call from another curling club to our team selector with an invitation to join them in a curling match the day after tomorrow provided the weather continues to cooperate. Two rinks of four curlers ( this constitutes a club ), vehicles, curling stones and everything else appropriate is quickly organized ready for a 5am start the following morning to reach the ice rin...
Grandchildren Enjoy Having Us Around Too
Our Dogs Rely On us Too
Prostate Examination Changes Life
‘I think a Prostate examination would be appropriate Dave’, my GP suggested after discounting a possible hip operation. Within a day or two things got moving. Appointment made to see an urologist. A biopsy, 21 shots, no anesthetic. Facing a stern lecture, ‘you have grade 9 cancer with a 92% chance of being outside your prostate.’ Showing me an array of extremely gruesome photos and diagrams he said, ‘I will preform an operation, but in my opinion Christmas this year will be your last.’
Brutal frankness of my urologist and events of the previous couple of weeks had my mind racing. Thinking a hip operation as an alternative would not be so bad after all...
Clutha River Rounding Another Sharp Bend
Menacing whirlpools, pressure waves and velocity of the Clutha River fascinates, as it rounds another sharp bend south of town. A sobering sight for folk travelling along its banks, being reinforced with some rock work and tree roots. A mean flow of 500 cubic meters per second, rising to 5100 /s during a major flood, makes the Clutha River, in relation to its size, one of the fastest flowing rivers in the southern hemisphere.
History would reveal several steam powered river boats busily ferrying and carrying along the sixty or so navigable kilometers up and down our river linking together and sustaining the lives and needs of local communities...
Upsides of Winters gloom
Cows are dried off and on crops. Winters gloom is some what alleviated with any day of sunshine. Days are short providing more family time. Winter sport provides an opportunity to regain ones sanity and to socialize. Hunting and fishing opportunities are also an upside to winters gloom.
Curlers in particular, look forward to a period of settled weather for good ice to form to play our matches. Our two day national tournament, or bonspiel being weather dependent can only be contested when conditions allow, on occasions a lapse of several years occurs between events building enthusiasm even more...
Oldies Rugby and Appendicitis
Last game of the ‘oldies rugby’ tournament ends and the last social event begins. Loaded with a little alcohol, or should we call it ‘brain food’, my colleagues overwhelming advice regarding my condition prompted someone to arrange an appointment the next morning with the weekend emergency doctor. ‘ What can I do for you’? was the impersonal greeting. Still in acute pain I reply, ‘A bunch of knowledgeable people say I have appendicitis’.
Playing days behind this front rower
He stares directly to my eye. ‘Do they just, now let me see’...
No teeth required
Dentist Appointment on Hold
Sufficient physical changes have occurred since last visiting my dentist, prompting an appointment. I can’t remember when my last visit was, but I emerged with a renewed partial top plate. The previous one somehow escaped during a hunting trip and became victim to someone’s big foot. I presume it was clad because no one complained of a bite mark. Anyway I still had my partial bottom plate intact, assuring I wasn’t going to get skinny during the remainder of the trip. Unfortunately some years later, during a fishing trip this time, my top choppers disappeared once more. Sadly, never again to be found.
Dentist David will be a little amused, or maybe bewildered might be a better term...
Plenty of ants
Travel Doctor, my GP Suggested
‘The process may be easier for you if you consult with the Travel Doctor , my GP suggested. A long time had passed since I had needed mandatory inoculations in order to travel, so I said OK, not quite knowing what a Travel Doctor was. Down to the city appointment with the ‘specialist and very astute’ doctor, who in a short space of time gained specific knowledge of my history, including family members she had run across, and my present needs.
My surprise at the intensity of the process, being two hours rather than twenty or so minutes I had wrongly budgeted for, abated when I walked out with all of my vaccinations, my prescription of legitimate travel drugs and a comprehensive education of possible problems and their cures
You can go anywhere you like from here
Cultures and Colours at Dubai Airport
Folk from everywhere
Taxi into Dubai Airport past multiple rows of terminals and planes, disembark, follow the crowd, that’s easy enough. Luggage checked through to final destination, that’s easy. Through customs and follow the masses once more. ‘Hang on’ , they are all going in different directions. ‘Now where did I put that ticket‘? Check in , ‘where is that’? People seem friendly enough, but for a language barrier, so pointing, along with diagrams, lines and circles on the back of my ticket with a note, 20 minute walk was to suffice.
Transport between terminals
Hordes of people of all makes and models dressed in their authentic dress politely but busily making their way this way and that...
7 week old baby Michael
Ghana has abundant activities
Ghana has abundant activities on offer to anyone who wishes to venture there. ‘We may see some elephants today’, our forest ranger and guide mentioned as we swerved around a twenty kilo pile of dung. Through the bush a little further and here they were, wallowing in a water hole perfectly content, splashing, sounding off and fooling around. A thought suddenly crossed my mind, ‘could this scene resemble Richard and I in the lodge pool last night’?
Richard showed me many of Ghana’s points of interest, including history and politics. My highlight being an introduction into some local families homes and villages where I was able to experience differences in culture, cuisine, colours, beverages and lifestyles...
Suspicious glare of the customs officer
Moving snail like in a long queue is daunting enough, let alone facing the solemn, suspicious glare of the customs officer as he or she fingers through our passport, visa and declaration card. Not to mention the next stage, emptying pockets, voiding bodies of footwear, belts and bling. Then the x-rays. If the dogs leave us be and luggage is lucky enough not to have succumbed to a random check, then we are free to go if we can find the way out. Help is often out of the question because it is with the troubled people ahead of us.
On one occasion, during a barrage of questions from a law student on summer vacation, filling the position of a customs officer was also a little daunting...
Dismantling Dams on Our Waterways.
Water provides life to otherwise baron land
Dismantling dams on some of the worlds water ways is an extraordinary event. Whether for environmental or economic reasons there will be downsides for some folk. Built over a century ago in some cases, people over a number of generations, have become accustomed to their benefits and economic values. Many people have built their lives, families and incomes from these structures both directly and indirectly.
During a not so recent family visit to the Pacific North West, and unbeknownst to me, brother in law Ted had arranged the hire of a river boat on one of these magnificent dams...
Shopping For Canoe Trip Down The Yukon.
Following a year or two of contemplating, I find myself in Pacific North West preparing for a canoe trip down the Yukon River. Brother in law Ted had a few days work ahead before we pulled out leaving me to the shopping. Aware of, but unfamiliar with problems we may encounter led me listening to the advice of a bemused owner of a small General Store. I mentioned that someone in our group wasn’t keen on a high DEET content in the insect repellent. His reply, ‘if you are going to the ‘Yukon’ this repellent here, (100% DEET), is for those that are serious about mosquitoes’. ‘However that one over there is for the non believers’. I heard him well, after which I focused on common sense things.
Three Americans, two New Zealanders finally pull into White...
Stroke Cuts Short Hunting/Fishing Trips.
Hunting and Fishing trips were cut short by a debilitating stroke. A veteran of our annual Stewart Island hunting and fishing trip for only a couple of years, cousin Bill fell victim to what could have been a killer stroke. An academic with a sharp mind and dogged determination he defied medical science and all professional points of view when he learned to speak well enough to communicate and to walk well enough to be some what mobile.
Post rehabilitation and on agreement with others in our group, Bill once again joined us on our annual trip, and although a little dependent it became a highlight of his miserable life...
We look for Sunshine in our Friends
Good and Not so Good Times Wash In and Out
Unexpected Impromptu Visit by Friends.
Unexpected impromptu visit by friends fulfilled our ‘blank minds’ over what will we do for Easter. Friends who we spent part of our life growing up with in another lifetime long past swung by our way over Easter, much to our surprise and delight. Meeting occasionally over the years through the odd family event, it appears while our careers were being established and our own families were growing up we were all too busy and preoccupied in our own worlds to interact the way we once did.
Conversation is easy and exciting catching up on past years, fishing trips, old school friends,and apart from grand children, broken family marriages, changes in health status and outrage...
Phone Call From My GP.
A phone call September 2012 from my G.P., ‘Dave, I need to see you’. During a visit a few days before, he had identified a life long back problem being the cause of chronic hip pain ruling out hip replacement,much to my relief, when he commented, he hadn’t seen me for a year or two we better do some blood tests.
The diagnosis; ‘Dave, your psa level is 45 and you have advanced prostate cancer, I have made an appointment for you to see a urologist tomorrow’. Completely numbed I thought to myself, ‘What did he just say’? He finished, ‘I advise you to take it’.
The urologist was unimpressed, but settled a little when I said, ‘I don’t even know why I’m here, let alone what a urologist is’. After computer analysis I was told a 90% cha...
Seasons Come and Seasons Go.
Seasons come and seasons go, summer swings into autumn bringing with it a whole array of alternate sports and activities. On a personal note, lawn bowls season comes to a close and none too soon, because feral stags and bucks have began their rut season exciting deer hunters throughout the country, who like me will put their summer sport behind them to indulge in the new seasons sporting activity, roar shooting.
Autumn also sees our Stewart Island hunting and fishing group busy packing and preparing for its thirty first annual trip that still boasts several of its inaugural members among others of all ages, who have joined the group over the years...
Wet and Happy in the Front Seat
Mans Best Friend.
It’s well known that a dog and its carer can become very attached, thus the old adage, mans best friend. Herman and I were no exception and were seldom apart. Instinctively, a very good cattle working dog, Herman responded to further training for other various activities including hunting and retrieving water fowl and ground birds, hunting and finding pigs and deer. He wasn’t quite as useful at fishing, but loved a trip out on the ocean none the less, enjoying the meal that followed as did everyone else. Cats, rats, ferrets, stoats, mice and kids ice-creams were all at peril if in the wrong place at the wrong time. In saying that, house or domestic cats were not on his list of things to do, although they often got the eye ball.
Whitebait Season These two Red Deer Stags Died an Unfortunate Death. Their skeletons found behind the ‘long drop’, antlers well and truly locked together .
Whitebait Season Beginning Early Spring
Fishermen and hut owners busy themselves bundling up supplies and materials ready for whitebait season beginning early spring on New Zealand‘s southern west coast. The occupants of around seven huts or dwellings of various styles, shapes and sizes converge on site with their supplies within a few days of each other to prepare for the on coming season.
Everything arrives by air, including fuel to run the generators, materials for repairs and maintenance on buildings and fishing structures, food and staples and of course sufficient beverage.
A very high rain fall and wild seas on an exposed coastlin...
Old mates A moment on the beach
Old mates Young and oldish.
Reuniting of old mates.
Organizing a dozen, more or less guys, not only from different walks of life, but from different parts of the country to meet on a given date and be away from their jobs and homes for ten days is quite a commitment. None the less most have been before on many occasions and look forward to the reuniting of old mates and the camaraderie that follows during the next ten days living from the ocean and bush, as the core of them have done for more than thirty years on our annual hunting trip to Stewart Island.
Attrition after that time is inevitable and our group have been fortunate to have maintained numbers with folk of all ages, occupations and skill sets...
Fallow Deer Have Become Well Established
Curiosity killed the cat
Although not endemic from where I am, Fallow Deer have become well established since their liberation 150 years ago. Fallow Deer are a beautiful looking animal that provide us with a nice nature balance in the bush, a great sport and excellent cuisine.
My own hunting block has traditionally supported red deer and pigs, but now that fallow deer have moved up the valley and made themselves at home is OK with me. Their numbers however are relatively low where they will hopefully remain in order to maintain an acceptable balance of fauna and flora in our forest.
The young deer are sometimes very inquisitive and ...