Sunday, June 29, 2014

Whiting Christmas: Part 2 - Kaikoura

After the amazing Christmas parade, we turned back and retraced our steps toward the coast to head towards Kaikoura. A good nights sleep and we were ready for the road again, lucky from here on (except for the last day) we planned for shorter stretches in the car.

The road out of Hanmer Springs ran through a winding valley.  The Waiau River  wound through the valley along with us.

A little way down the road, some people were bungee jumping off a bridge.  We just crossed over that bridge but had to stop to watch the guy jump.  If you look close you can see his bungee rope hanging off the bridge, and a jet boat resting in the river waiting to pick him up after he's down.

Ahh the open road... A few clouds in the sky but a beautiful day.  A big improvement over the (seemingly) constant rain in Southland.  You'll notice the perspective is from the left side of the road... :) We decided to take the inland scenic route a little further instead of heading straight to the coast again.  You can see the mountains in the distance we are about to head back into.

I wish that pictures could pick up the depth of the scenery.  The rolling hillside rolled on and on.  Those are all trees, not bushes, to give you some idea of perspective.

Couldn't quite stretch over the tall grass for this one, more rocky river bed in the braiding river below.

We made it to Kaikoura!  The next stop in our big journey.  It was a little coastal city known for its whale watching (which was the major reason for our stop here).  This was a small skate park that was right on the water that had a nice little sign with the city name.  Not a bad place for a skate, but it has been a few years since I've been on my skate board.  :)

I had celebrated the weather too soon.  The clouds and wind rolled in.  You can see them covering the mountains in the distance.  The rain was inevitable.  We decided to walk down to the coast before it was too late.  The beach was a fine stone with a steep pitch into the surf.  I'm not sure where that big tree could have washed in from.  

A small city park... Not sure what these are marking the path, perhaps old boat beams?  Lots of little flowers and plants growing here.

The purple flower is one of Rebecca's favorites here.  The plant usually stops at the top of the flower, but this one seems to have something else growing out of it.  Neat enough for a picture we thought...  

This was one of our first close up looks at the New Zealand Christmas tree!  The pohutukawa tree.  It blooms around Christmas (summer) here.  And very festive when it is covered in its red blossoms.  This one has only just started to open up, but we see more later in the trip.  

Further down the beach the small stones were nearly black they were so dark, with bright white outcropping of stone in the middle.  

As the tide came and went, it made lots of little pools for various little fishes and snails and things to grow in.

It was the perfect place for a few shags to do some fishing...

And a small river outlet to the ocean a little further up... the perfect place for local to do a little fishing...

With the weather changing we headed in to find some dinner and do a little shopping.  It was a nice little town with cute shops.  We still had to finish getting Christmas presents, and down the main street here is where we found Cole's epic deer head.  This restaurant had a giant fish sign pounded out of sheet metal...

Some street art turned bus stop.  Rebar sculpture filled with river stone.  It looks to be inspired by Maori tribal symbols, either the Koru, the Fern, or the Fish Hook.  

The rain came during dinner and shopping, but let up long enough to see a nice rainbow.

The next morning we headed to the main event!  Kaikoura whale watching!  But it was raining when we arrived... and they had CANCELLED all the morning boats!  And with the rest of our trip too tight to allow for an extra half day, we missed out on the big Kaikoura attraction... :(

We've seen whales in Hawaii before and were very excited, but oh well, you can't win them all.  And other than this the rest of the trip was amazing...

And leaving early we got to see WILD SEALS all down the coast... more on that next time... :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Whiting Christmas: Part 1 - Trip to Hanmer Springs

Back from Rarotonga and time to start catching up with some serious blogging.  Cole has been putting me to shame!  With only a few months to go before we are coming home it is time to get some posts done.  It is winter here, and I got a picture of our first "snow" a few weeks ago.  Was more like a giant sleet storm, everything was wet but it only lasted a few days. 

 I got this picture as the sun was coming up from the house before I went to work.

All the cold weather has put us in the Christmas spirit even though it is the middle of June.  We are seriously considering putting the Christmas tree back up again in protest.  And as Cole informed me today, it is half-Christmas today!  What a great opportunity to show you what Rebecca and I did for Christmas. 

We went on a huge week long road trip to tour the south island.  It was our first opportunity to take a whole week off of work, so it has still been our only opportunity to make it to the north tip of the south island.  As you can see though it was a lot of time in the car.  It was worth it though because we saw some amazing sites.  I knew it was a long trip, but making this map just now, was it really 27 hours!  Wow...

First stop was Taieri Mouth.  It's a tiny little fishing community on the east coast.  On the way to Dunedin if you take the scenic route by the ocean you run into this little town.  You can see all the boats and little fishing shacks at the wharf.

Tiny Taieri Island was just off the coast.  Beach lined ocean.  It almost looked like you could walk out to the island at low tide (but I'm pretty sure you can't).

Rebecca and I trying to master the selfie...

We went down the road a little bit and and found a place to park the car.  There was a small trail through the trees that popped out on the beach.  Wild yellow flowers led the way.

A beautiful blue sky day, perfect sand.  Still too far south though to enjoy the beach, kind of windy and chilly still.

We had left our first night after work, so we only made it 3-4 hours down the road before spending the night at Oamaru.  The next morning we got up and continued our trip.  We only made it a few miles down the road to the Waitaki River before traffic came to a stand still.  We couldn't see what was going on but they were pulling us all off the road.  The truck in front of us had three dogs, the one on the right seemed to have a better view than us and was very interested....

Oh... house...

Only took a few minutes and we were back on the road...

We were going to drive the coast up, but we found an inland scenic drive we hadn't been on before, so drove this in to the Rakaia Gorge.  Stopped to take a picture of the water.  More milky blue water from glacier melt off the great Southern Alps.

After we drove through the gorge, the road went up, up, up...  From the other side we looked back up the valley.  Lots of evergreen trees tucked in everywhere...

The Rakaia River braided down over the horizon over its rocky bed.

We had to drive the rest of the day, but we made it to Hanmer Springs.   Conical Hill, a popular nearby peak looms over the little city.  You can hike up there but we were burnt from the long day on the road.

Lucky for us though we had stumbled upon Hanmer Springs annual Christmas parade!  We hadn't planned it or anything, right place right time!  Looks like throwing candy in the parade is an international tradition...

Looks like they dressed up some holiday llamas.  They looked pretty content, their elves don't look so happy though...

Nothing says manly truck like a good bubble machine...

Nice little hot rod...  He could probably use a little more leg room though...

Hippie invasion!  They painted a nice little Kiwi on the bottom of the van...  I think Santa is driving the van, and that's a chimney up there... Lots going on here...

Mickey mouse float!  Now its starting to feel like home!

And for the grand finale!  Santa's tractor pulled sleigh and reindeer.  Well done everyone, great parade!

The sun started to go and started coloring the mountains...

It was a pretty good start to the trip...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Call Weekends

I'm on call this weekend. 

The idea of that just still seems terrible to me. I'm still too close to residency to not have a minor heart attack every time my pager goes off. I haven't trained myself that 'call' here is way nicer than call is when you're working in the hospital. I mean, a lot of not nice things run through my head every time the phone rings or the pager beeps, but I quickly realize that the call is for something reasonable, and that it's my job to be answering the phone and helping them, so I get over it pretty fast. I think it's the fear of something terrible waiting at the other end of the call that makes it such an unpleasant sound. I'm usually so relieved that someone just has questions or wants to be seen for something routine, that I'm not mad about the call anymore. I'm like 'sure I'll come in to do your stitches!'

Turns out, call weekends have their perks:

For instance, if I didn't have call weekends, when would I do my laundry???

And I always have at least one dinner offer during a call weekend - but sometimes I decline so I don't wear out my welcome. Last weekend, though, I was hosted both Saturday and Sunday evenings, and a third person brought me soup and cheeserolls which I ate for lunch both days. It was awesome!  and I was on call a couple nights this past week, and I was invited to dinner one of those nights by a local guy who makes it his 'pet project' to take care of the Doctors in town. It's great. 

The down side to being on call is the work... If the pager actually never went off, or the phone never rang, call weekends would be my favorite. but the truth is that I am actually working, and any social commitments are tenuous at best, and that keeps me a little unsettled. I hate if I have to leave or cancel last minute if the pager goes off! but it's a reality of the situation. It happened this week. I was just about to bite into a chicken leg when *beep beep beep*. so off I go, and good 'ole George reheated my supper and we continued our visit an hour later when I returned from my emergency response call. 
I guess I could just sit at home and wait for interruptions, or I can just go about my plans and just juggle things as they pop up. Luckily I can juggle. I taught myself a few years ago. I can only do three things, and I'm not great, but I can do it.

When I'm on call, I Almost always have to go in to do stitches for someone. It does't matter if it's a weeknight or weekend. I'm the stitch master. Today was an eyelid. Last weekend was a foot. Before that, I was on a roll with hands.

the middle of the night calls are the worst. Especially if they are during the week or on Sunday night. That kind of wrecks my mojo for the next day. That also happened last weekend. I was awake from 2-5 Monday morning, then had a big day at clinic. But that's how it goes. and that doesn't happen every time. The team at the clinic takes pretty good care of me, and everyone is pretty considerate of that type of thing. We watch eachothers' backs. They keep my schedule tidy. I chastise patients who are hateful to the front office and nurses. We've got a good thing going.

So the typical call weekend usually has a handful of clinic visits for asthma/colds/STITCHES/abdominal pain. There are usually a couple of calls that get referred on to the ER because I know I don't have what they need at the clinic. Then there's probably one PRIME (emergency response) call, where I have to respond to someone's house or an accident scene. Those tend to take a while.

But every once in a while, you get an awesome call weekend where there are very few calls, and the calls you do get happen at all the right times. Last weekend worked like that for the dinners and errands. A few months ago, I had another one of those special call weekends where I got to do a lot of fun things, none of which got interrupted by work! It was awesome. Take a look:

Went to the Winton A&P Show. Saw this awesome old truck, then discovered that it was owned by a lady that works at my clinic and her husband!  So what did that mean???  It meant I got to ride in this bad boy during the parade!  They had another classic car there, so the Whitings rode along in that one.
I believe this Chevy is 70 years older than my Chevy pick-up at home. This truck is my truck's grandpa.
Here's the Whitings being chaufferred through the parade.

the Fair had more to offer than a classic car show/parade. Like any proper Southland event, they had sheep shearing.

And a wood chopping expo: 
That guy just chopped through that log. I'm pretty sure it only took one chop.

And there's an area full of strange bikes that you can ride. Bikes of every shape and size. 
It's a crowd favorite.

Another fan fave is the 'dress up your goat' contest: 

This one is a schoolkid or a tourist, complete with backpack. This one was my favorite. I just kept imagining a goat that was trying to disguise itself as a person and trying to sneak into some event where goats aren't allowed.

and all that while I was on call!
But it didn't end there.
After leaving the fair, it was time to go fishing, but not until I saw the patient that called and needed to be seen at the clinic! perfect timing!
So then a local guy took Aaron and me out to a couple of sweet fishing spots, and we both walked away with fish!

Note the pager on my hip.

Right as we were finishing up with the fishing, I got another page, but the timing was once again perfect, so I just popped in and met them at the clinic again on the way home! 

 Then after a wardrobe change and a run, it was time to clean those fish and cook 'em up!
You don't realize how much you miss a tailgate until you don't have one to skin fish on...

THAT is some precision fillet work, my friends.

And then after supper, I went to an engagement party in town.

And that was a successful call weekend. That was all one day. I'm pretty sure the rest of that weekend was fine - one middle of the night PRIME I think. Everyone was fine.

So I'm hoping the rest of my current call weekend goes smoothly. I haven't been out and about as much as that weekend from a while back, or even last weekend, but it's been good to just lay low after a hectic clinic week with Aaron away. It's cold and rainy this weekend, but I'm gonna try to get to a rugby match tomorrow. I know a couple kids on the local team that I can go cheer on, and will just get all caught up with chores around the house. 

It's nice when work and play can coexist peacefully. 
And after this weekend, I only have two more call weekends here... and probably never again... ever. So even though I've made them sound not so bad, I'll be happy to be done with them. 

I can find a new time to do my laundry.