Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dave's Birthday

Thursday evening we had a small group of friends over to celebrate Dave's Birthday.  Our friend Pam made him a chocolate cake so we had to have a few people over to help eat it.
Here are Alex, Amy & Shannon.

Left to right around the room, Shannon, Peter, Julian, Pam, Dave & Wendy.

Our Flight To McMurdo

This trip down we flew on the Airbus 319 operated by Skytraders out of Melbourne, Australia.  It's a nice change from the C17 because this plane has windows, flight attendants and we got to sit in business class seats.  We had a beautiful flight down and some great views of Antarctica.  Below are some shots from the flight and of the continent as we flew into McMurdo.
Here we are enjoying our comfy seats.

Sam & Twan stretching their legs.

Two of our co-workers Ray & Danny.

There were several cracks and areas of open water where there would normally just be solid ice.  This past winter has been much warmer than usual.

These icebergs, which look small from the air, are actually very large and most likely several hundred feet high.

Here's a close up of the same icebergs and you can see how high they are by the shadows they cast.

As we approach the McMurdo area we started to see the Royal Society Range, which lies across the Ross Sea from us.

A view of Black Island as we're coming in for our landing.

Fuel tank #3 with Ob Hill and Mt. Erebus in the background.  You can see the wind blowing off Ross Island.

Here's everyone waiting to get off the plane.  It was raining in Christchurch when we took off and when we landed we found out our door was frozen shut.  It took nearly a half hour or more until they got heat on it from the outside and could get it open.

Walking off the plane.

Ivan the Terra Bus was waiting to transport us to town.

Here's Kelly casting a long shadow as he walks to the Terra Bus.

Here are co-workers Gift and Twan on the Terra Bus.

Our Time In Christchurch

We hadn't been to Christchurch since the day before the devastating earthquake in February.  Since most of the hotels we used to stay at were destroyed beyond repair, this time we were placed at the Airport Gateway  Motorlodge, which was about seven miles from the Central Business District.

One day, after our Load Planner class, we walked downtown to see what we could see of the city we've come to love.  There's still a fence around the central part of the city as it's cordoned off and guarded by the Military to keep people from entering.  We took several photos of what we could see through the gates as we walked around.
This portion of Le Cafe on the left, used to sit on top of the building you see braced up on the right.

Behind this rotunda in the middle of Worcester St. is what's left of the Christchurch Cathedral.

The view up Cashel St. through the Bridge of Remembrance.

There used to be several shops here where there is now this dirt lot on the corner of Oxford Terrace and Cashel Streets.

The leaning Grand Chancellor Hotel, where we stayed two years ago while in the city for our Load Planner Course.  This hotel is scheduled to be torn down.

Coyote's is the bar on the right in this photo.  It was one of our favorite places to sit outside along the river and have a beer on sunny days.

One of the many churches in the city which were destroyed.

The Crowne Plaza is the hotel we have been staying at for the past few years.  We were staying here the day before the earthquake.  This hotel is also scheduled to be torn down.

This church has the outside structure remaining and it's scheduled to be rebuilt using this old roof.

Friday evening after we all passed our course exams, we had a pizza party in our room.  Here's Molly, Sam (one of our Air Force Instructors), Danny and Jamie (our other instructor).

Shannon, Joe and Jen in our room.

Sunday we spent the afternoon at the home of our friends Dave & Sandra.  Here's Shannon, Christine, Kelly, Sandra and Dave.

New Zealand's Rugby Team - The All Blacks

We landed in Auckland on Sunday morning after a long flight from LA.  After waiting several hours for our connecting flight to Christchurch, we had just gone through security to our gate when they announced a gate change.  We had to walk back out through security to a different part of the airport, but it was all worth it.

As we were standing in the long line to go through security for the new gate, the All Blacks pulled up in a bus and walked past us.  The Rugby World Cup is taking place in New Zealand now, and we saw fans from different countries all over the world.  When the All Blacks came in the terminal everyone started cheering. 

Here's one of their star Backs, Sonny Bill Williams.

Here's Dan Carter, probably the most familiar face of the All Blacks.  Unfortunately he suffered an injury a few days after this photo was taken and is out for the rest of the tourney.

A Trip To Royal City, WA

On Saturday September 17th, we drove up to Royal City, WA to visit Kelly's cousin Randy and his wife Cindy.  Dave had never been to their place and we hadn't seen them since last summer, so we thought it would be to head up there for a night.

Shortly after we arrived we all headed over to the Cave B Inn and Spa in George, WA where they also have a winery.  We shared a couple of bottles of wine and appetizers while enjoying the view of the Columbia River.  Here are a few photos from Cave B.  The curved roofed stone buildings are individual cliffehouses available for rent.

Sarah & Randy

Here's Randy showing Kelly one of his planes.

Here's Kelly in the plane.

Another shot of some of Randy's planes.

We had a fun ride in their Checker Cab, which they have nicknamed the Centipede.

Having breakfast out by the pool.

Driving over the Columbia River on our way back to Selah.