Saturday, September 13, 2014

Glacier Tour!!!!!!!!

It finally happened.

I actually got to go on the glacier tour.
And it was worth all the waiting and the heartbreak.

After having been turned away so many times, I was VERY skeptical up until the our helicopter landed on the ice. I just kept expecting them to radio in and cancel our trip at the last second. Even after getting FULLY suited up (at least we got past just the pants and boots this time!), we walked down the street a ways to the helicopter pad, but I was still not convinced it was happening. Our group was divided into two helicopters, and I was on the second one. I was still expecting them to cancel between the first group and my group, so was refusing to get excited about anything, but as fate would have it, our helicopter came back and delivered my cohort to the glacier to meet our guide for our glacier exploration experience!

Chopper time! That's Erin on the left.

Finally getting excited!

And the ride was amazing. Join us:

Here we come!

Franz Josef Glacier, it all its glory.

Erin had the best seat in the house for aerial pics.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are ON THE ICE!

And the Ice is Nice!
Everyone was so excited to be on the glacier.

Look how bewildered everyone is! Sheer amazement and curiosity. It was like walking in some fairy tale ice world. Everyone was snapping pictures, touching the ice, peeking down every crevasse, etc.


More standing around while our guide worked on the stairs...
So my one complaint (ASIDE from all the HAIR on the pathways! seriously! Long dark hair was scattered all over the place! They should pay someone to go Hoover up all the hair. It was gross enough that everyone noticed it and thought it was weird, which is probably a significant amount given that it distracted us when we were in such a stunning place that should be free of hairballs. It was like some girl just went through dropping pieces of her hair every step of the way)...  ahem.  sorry.   So my one true complaint was that we spent a lot of time standing there while our guide chopped steps that were overall not completely necessary. I can understand how these need constant attention, but he started the tour by telling us that 'how much we get to see totally depends on how much loitering you do'. False. We spent at least 40% of our time standing while he chopped steps.   BUT, if you have to stand around while someone chops a path for you to walk around safely on a GLACIER, then I guess at least the scenery is nice while you wait.... Life is just tough sometimes, ya know?
Loitering time and hairballs aside, this was an epic experience.

Ice World

Erin loving her life.

The first part of our tour was through a lot of steep crevasses and a couple of little caves. Then we came up to a nice open flat area a little higher up on the glacier, just below the crazy jumbled portion, which is off limits to everyone. The views were spectacular. 

Pretty sweet picture for that dude.

Every direction was beautiful.

The scale is hard to appreciate, but the black spec to the left of the very center of this picture is a cluster of people.

We were pretty happy this panned out and that it didn't rain on us.

The forbidden zone.
No argument from me.

Still excited.

Ice alcove.


Heading back down the glacier towards the helipad.

Feeling pretty good about this whole glacier thing.

Erin and Cole: Glacier Explorers 

Our Chariot awaits!
And away we go! 

That was a pretty stellar experience, made even sweeter by the multiple failed attempts.

Watch Out! They're Sharp!

Another Day on the West Coast!
And it was Knife-Making Day!!!
But first: Pancake Rocks:

Just on the coastline, there is a spot where the water surges in between a bunch of cliffs, and those cliff are made of rocks that look like layers and layers of pancakes stacked on top of eachother. 

See the Layers?

It was a pretty cool spot

Erin checking out the place.

Those waves were really large. The scale doesn't translate well here.

More Pancake Rocks

This was cool and all, but our focus was elsewhere. We had knives to make!!!!

A quick trip down the road brough us to Barrytown Knifemaking, and the fun began.
First you put your steel strip in the forge.

Then you pound out the steel to the right thickness.
Saw off the excess handle.
Then you apply some brass for the handle.
And then your knife will look like this beautiful masterpiece:
After fashioning a handle out of Rimu wood for the rough handle, the knives were looking kind of like Lego knives:

Then you sculpt the handle a bit on the sanders:
And then it's time to take a little break, because your knife is really taking shape.

So as if the day weren't exciting enough already with all the knife-making going on, they had ninja stars and hatchets to throw at that wall!

Of course, everyone was really good at this..... NOT. we picked up more of them off the ground than out of the wall.  But we all did improve throughout the day. It was pretty satisfying to sink those ninja stars in there, imagining being in a crazy action movie.

Additionally, they had a really fun parrot to play with:

After applying other poxies, and a lot more handle-shaping, it was time for lunch, then a quick tour of the farm, complete with miniature-horse accompaniment.
This little fella would actually run and jump over obstacles. And by 'obstacles', I mean very low obstacles, such as a log. It was adorable.

Another grand attraction was the huge swing:
A bunch of people would grab the rope and run back to launch you backwards, then you'd swing until you came to a stop. We all took turns, and we all loved it.

Then it was time to get back to work on these knives. After a lot more sanding, polishing and shaping, we were all pretty proud of our creations:
Can you believe it?

It was so cool to see them take shape.

Mine is the one on the far left. Erin's is next to it.

The people that run this place were so great. They were really helpful, but let you do everything. and it was basically one long stand-up comedy routine from the guy there. 

She cut through that sugar packet with ease.

I was really proud of that knife!

I highly recommend this to anyone. It was such a fun day. Totally a highlight of the weekend.