"Poorly Planned... Badly Executed"

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Craig clearing snow from his car in Glendwood Springs

Well my recent misadventure with missed flights (and what not) had one big upside, I arrived at Denver International Airport a few hours before my friend Helmo got in from Vegas. Thus I negated having to find accommodation in Denver for the night and instead only had to choose which baggage terminal to wait at. More of challenge than you might think when you don’t know the flight number, and as ‘Murphy’ would have it I chose the wrong one. Still it all worked out in the end and once again the two of us were reunited and ready to cause trouble.

I like snow!!

After a few days to sort my life out I was armed with a season pass to Copper Mountain and some new friends to share the adventure with, one of whom I ‘maybe possible could have at some stage possible maybe’ met in New Zealand a few years ago but neither of us are really sure. Only thing left to do is tackle to people slalom on the beginner/intermediate slops while dodging speed patrol. Necessary because early season conditions meant a lot of the mountain is still closed. Although to be fair, what is open would have still made most of the ski fields jealous in New Zealand after last winter. Anyhow I’m getting sidetracked and this story is supposed to be about the snow… and snow there is plenty (now).

I couldn't have said it better myself

For the last three days it has been snowing, day and night. Seeing that we are such extreme (ski field) athletes we were not put off and persisted with the perilous conditions. Visibility was down to only ‘hundreds’ of meters with the wind was ‘raging’ at up to 15 knots and the temperature was down to a ‘brutal’ negative five degrees (Celsius not Fahrenheit… silly Americans). Ok so it wasn’t actually that bad but the roads were another story… Helmo had his work cut out for him on Saturday night during the three hour drive home on an icy freeway with close to zero visibility on account of the snow. It was almost more exciting than skiing… but Helmo did well and all were safe and well upon arrival and ready to fix that with alcohol. Good work buddy.

See no shortage of snow here :)

The snow… what can I say, it was epic for such early skiing with heaps of new runs opened. And plenty to be poached if you’re that way inclined, although you might end up packing snow for your troubles… heehee. The beers at night were draining, almost literally and the crew of people were stellar. Craig even perfected his superman while learning to telemark (but I think it will look better when he incorporates it with a jump). All in all a great start to the season… booyah. Only problem is that I have to go back to work shortly. Stink au but I’ll be back and I even have a place to stay close to Copper… nice. Over and out!

Here's a picture just for Ben (and anyone else interested in Caterpillar diggers)

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

If You Aint There The Plane Leaves Without You!!

Well it is Scotland

For those out there who just like the pictures and not the words this article can be summed up with ‘got wasted, missed flight’. Everyone else please read on... Hanging out in for the week in Edinburgh has been not too bad. I never though I would enjoy being in the UK very much but I must confess that it was at least tolerable. And as the week progressed the shenanigans increased. More than one hangover was fought off with coffee as I suffered through the mornings having been out drinking the night before. At least I made it to where I should be… however things went a little more astray on the final night.

There is no shortage of cool old buildings to look at/photograph

It all starts when I caught up with old friends in Edinburgh on what was supposed to be my last night there… you see where I’m going with this right. Before I left New Zealand I knew one person who lived in Edinburgh, however it turns out actually knew half a dozen (and now a few more). The whole crew of Scottish boating scumbags I met in New Zealand a few years ago have made the way back to where they come from and now can be found lurking in the seed depths of underground pubs. I forget the names of the places they took me too but they were all pretty classic.
Just like the people, the cool buildings are everywhere!!

As I still haven’t adjusted to the new time zone I made sure to have power naps throughout the night… one at each pub. Lucky I managed to keep my eyebrows and with each quick recharge I was ready for another assault. The night ended with gin and tonics at the place Paul and Colin work at. Oh yeah this was after they had closed the bar and kicked everyone else out. All we had to do was buy the manager a few drinks and bingo bango, our night of drunken debauchery continued.

Ah my own lane... excellent

In the morning I woke up just after eleven to be surprised at how light it was… sun shine… it should be sunny at six in the morning (the time my cell phone was set to wake me up at, and shortly before I was to head to the airport). My next reaction was to ask Dawson, who I was sharing a bed with (that’s another story) “what’s the time”…”ah it’s five past eleven”… “but it can’t be, my plane leaves at nine!!!”…. to which he replied “I wouldn’t lie to you man” and started laughing at me.

Along with all the buildings are a lot of statues, here's one of the many

It tuned out my cell phone battery died and therefore didn’t wake me up… error. In actually fact though I probably should have been heading to the airport before I even got home form town!! Oh well, at least it was a good night and because work buys flexible tickets it didn’t cost anything to change my fight.

Sunset over Edinburgh... only the lucky ones get to see it on account of the normally appalling weather

As a side note, it is the first flight I have ever missed and I think I really nailed it… I give myself five points for classiness and a bonus point because I didn’t even realise until two hours after the plane had gone. Booyah

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Tis A Bonny Wee Toon

There's people everywhere... EVERYWHERE!!

Well as I said there’s not much going on on a boat and the flat Caspian Sea with its permanently hazy sky wasn’t even interesting enough to make me unclip the buckles on my peli case, let alone get the camera out and start snapping away.

And while you might imagine that I’m in New Zealand at present having all sorts of adventures (as was hinted in my last post and because your reading this one I’ll assume that you read that one too so are indeed up with the current state of affairs… which makes this whole statement pointless really… interesting). Where was I, ah yes my present whereabouts. While on route home I checked my email – mistake!! Turns out I had to go to Edinburgh for a training course bang smack in the middle of my six week in New Zealand. And so here I am, sitting in a hotel room in down town Edinburgh at 2:37 am rather unable to sleep. Something about ‘jet lag’ or ‘time zones’ or something, I don’t know, but not being one to miss an opportunity I have change my return ticket home to Denver, Colorado. Shortly I’ll be shredding snow that is presently falling in the Rockies and there will be yarns to be told… peau peau

‘At present we are experiencing technical difficulties’ so I can show any of the few photos of Edinburgh that I shot before this ‘jet lag’ thing hit me like a freight train. On first impressions… aye tis a bonny wee toon, but with just one small teeny tiny flaw – MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. The buggers are everywhere, EVERYWHERE.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Off to Work in the Potassium Mines

Looking over the city from the hotel. As you can see this is the flat part of Kazakhstan and there ain't nothing here but desert!!

Well ok I’m not actually going to be working in Kazakhstan’s, ‘Borat’ famous potassium mines but the next best thing… looking for oil in the Caspian Sea! “It’s veddy nice” but I’m getting ahead of myself so I’ll start at the beginning.

It all started with Eden and me heading for Norway with the basic plan to kayak/work/live happily ever after but I’m sure you’ve all got that bit by now. The hitch however was making all that come together and to throw in some distraction we had been hearing rumours of amazing amounts of holidays and good pay in the oil industry working offshore. I don’t know about you guys but once someone told me that they work two weeks on four… yes that’s right four weeks off there was no way that I could go back to working normal hours.

And so I started applying for jobs with Norwegian companies in the oil industry… turns out that it is not as easy to find a good job in the oil industry as I had hoped. Apparent’ I’m not the only person who thinks two weeks on, four weeks off is a good idea. Anyhow not to be easily put off I stuck at it and wound up working for a seismic survey company who map out oil wells. I’m now a trainee navigator and your not allow to ask me what I do yet because I don’t even know yet but what I do know is that I will be working five weeks on five weeks off… not quite the dream but a jolly good start.

And as for being in Kazakhstan, My new employer has sent me here to learn the art of seismic navigation in the Caspian Sea. Now I bet you’re all wondering what Kazakhstan is really like and to tell the truth I don’t really know yet because I’ve only been here long enough to be driven from the airport to the hotel – an experience on its own. Traffic lights are more of a guideline as apposed to a rule and the same goes for lanes… whether someone is coming the other way or not (ie you don’t need clear road to pass). Oh and other cars can be treated as a salmon course, Mike would love it.

Here is one of the many people who were out sweeping the streets. Apparently there Prime Minster (or someone similar) was coming to visit so everything was being tided up and there were police everywhere which was a little intimidating. When I first got here someone from the company I work for took my passport and gave me a photocopy because the police are far less likely to bother you if they have to talk to someone who knows the system to get your passport. Even having a cell phone helps because you can call someone to help you out... the message I got was simple though - avoid the police, so I was a little nervous taking this photo right in front of them.

No real hiccups so far though. The plane did sit at the gate for two and half hours before we left Amsterdam but it did make it all the way with out crashing so good on ya Air Astana… “Number one airline in all of Kazakhstan

Despite the bleak landscape there is no shortage of colour here... some of the many flags and ribbons flying in the breeze.

Anyhow I’m going to be working on a boat for the next five weeks so there will be not much action here until I’m back in New Zealand for a month of adventure in which I’ll introduce you to the co-creator of MCP – ‘That Guy’. Oh and if I die avenge my death!!!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Ah the Serenity…

So I have been hanging out in a small place called Vassended in Jølster and enjoying the last of the Norwegian summer which has two weather states and one temperature. The states of weather are ‘raining’ and ‘about to rain’ and as you have probably already guessed the only temperature that the weather comes in is ‘cold’. For example yesterday I went boating and we put on the river in sun shine… ‘cold’ sun shine but sunshine none the less and then twenty minutes latter is was hailing… ah and yes that was the ‘cold’ verity of hail too.

The weather is not without its charms though and it certainly does make for some wonderful scenery. These are some photos I shot today on my drive back to Oslo. They are taken looking down Fjærlandfjorden which is part of Norway’s biggest fjord, Sognefjorden.

When I came out of the tunnel (which was a mere 4 km) and got my first look down the fjord I couldn’t stop the car fast enough because while the photos are really cool, the real thing was far better. Anyhow to rap things up, I think black and white real suits these shots on account of the amazing contrast between the mountains, sky and water. Enjoy

Sunday, 9 September 2007

There’s Always Time to Stop and Pick the Blueberries

(Photo Mefford Williams)
Norway is a wonderful country for so many reasons and not the least of which is the wild berries that grow everywhere. Although there are all different kinds of berries growing on the mountains and in the woods, one of the most common is blueberries (at least in the places we have been kayaking). In case you have never came across wild blueberries they grow in small bushes that cover the forest floor and at the right time of year are covered in delicious little berries. I tell you that there is nothing better than being half way down a river, feeling a little weary, a little hungry, a little nervous because of the big horizon line you have just come to, and then while scouting the rapid you get to snack on blueberries till your hearts content… wonderful country!!

At the put in to the Hornidal (Photo Mefford Williams)

Eden showing us how it's done (Photo Mefford Williams)

(Photo Mefford Williams)

Yours truly letting the river do the work (Photo Mefford Williams)

I can fly!! Or is that fall?? Amos either doing one or the other (Photo Mefford Williams)

And he's pretty happy about it ladies and gentlemen (Photo Mefford Williams)

Here's that scary horizon line I was talking about... just round the corner (Photo Mefford Williams)

Must be time for some blueberries (Photo Mefford Williams)

Time to get on with it. Eden back on the water after a healthy feed of blueberries (Photo Mefford Williams)

Monday, 3 September 2007

Checkout Where We Have Turned Up

After a fun trip down the lower Myrkdalselvi we called into the Voss Rafting Centre to catchup with some buddies and orginise the afternoons kayaking… yes that’s right Rolf, we have been paddling more than one river in a single day… crazy I know but true. Just after arriving I heard someone exclaim “hey I know those guys… they’re in a magazine”… or “you boys are famous” or something, I forget but there point was simple – our picture was in a Norwegian extreme sports magazine!!!
There we are... and for those wondering 'BRATTVANN' means 'Steep Water'

They showed us the offending photo which was taken on the Home Run section of the Mår in Telemark. Pacman had sold the photo to the good people at FRI FLYT and they chose to use it on there contents page. Apparently we are 'worth' something after all... who'd thought. Now if I could just learn to speak Norwegian I might know what they are saying about us!!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Back To Voss

Paddling on the lower Myrdalselvi (Photo Mefford Williams)

So there hasn’t been much action on the blog posting front but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been on the rivers… it just means that I have been too lazy to talk about it. That and it has either been just Eden and me so no photo taking or we have been paddling with the locals and trying to keep up (again no photos).

Warming up with a nice Norwegian ski jump! Amos going for maximum distance (Photo Mefford Williams)

Anyhow to bring ya ol back up to speed, we are back in Voss again with both favourable river levels and favourable weather (the later is not to be expected in Voss). Mikey and Allan have been looking after us with plenty of “go there… paddle this” advice which led us to the Raundalselvi and Myrkdalselvi for some of the best kayaking we have done so far in Norway.

Hanging out in an eddy (Photo Mefford Williams)

If you remember we have already paddled an open section of the Raundalselvi with plenty of water but the rest of the river is quite tight yet still has a big volume feel with 40 something cumecs. Lots of holes, lots of must runs, and a questionable lack of scouting mainly because you can’t. We were thankful to have Allan show us down the lower Raundalselvi but we did manage to workout the train station section all by our lonesome.

Mefford running the second slide in karma cow falls

Method and Amos put in an appearance after we had been here for a few days so we showed them what we had found starting with the train station section which leads into the rafting section which has contains timber hole. Of course because they hadn’t paddled it yet we didn’t let them look at it. Instead we gave them concise instructions “Start on the right and hold on!” Their facial expressions at the bottom were priceless.

Looking back up at karma cow falls... don't you hate when the camera angle makes the drop look small. (Photo Mefford Williams)

On to the lower Myrkdalselvi which has many big slides/waterfalls and lots of holes to keep the eyes nice and wide. The main rapid is karma cow falls which is three biggish slides stacked on top of each other with some juicy holes at the bottom of each. Legend has it that on the first trip down the river a cow, spooked by the people scouting the rapid, fell in and washed over all three drops. Apparently the cow swam to the side at the bottom, shook itself off and carried on its merry way… leaving behind it the rapids name. The run ends with a seven meter vertical slide which appears to land on rock and is pretty intimidating. We all walked but we were back there a few days ago with Mikey and Allan and they called us pussies so we had to run it…I don’t think that we had a choice.

There is no doubt, it's a cool run. Amos enjoying the scenery as well as the white water (Photo Mefford Williams)

In other news some old friends from uni, Gabriella and Karolina, have just done a tour of Norway and were kind enough to include us in their flying visit. More good times, just like those good old uni days.

Later folks

Thursday, 26 July 2007

We Found the Sunshine

Little Huka on the upper Rauma

When I first told people I was heading to Norway it was always met with “Why Norway?!?” Abruptly followed by “It’s really cold there!” More often than not this was from people who had never been near Scandinavia so at first I didn’t give there comments much concern. Then slowly the growing number of people who delighted in telling me I was going to freeze started to worry me a little and I splashed out and bought a dry suit. Still I though to myself ‘it’s going to be summer… the weather is warm in summer’
The first rapid... a cool wee mini gorge with a juicy hole in the middle

We arrived in Telemark to be greeted by temperatures in the high twenties/low thirties with non-stop sunshine and I started to think I had wasted my money… it wasn’t to last however. A week later and we were huddled up cooking tea with our down jackets zipped tight and several thermals on underneath!! The change in temperatures took less than a day and wasn’t forewarned by an increase in wind or even the presence of rain. It simply happened and with it everyone who had warned me about the temperatures was proven correct whether they were guessing or not.

Multi-angled picture taking... a new technique I have been working on involving mirrors

Rolf paddling the drop above little Huka

And that is really how the weather has been for us in Norway. When the sun is out, it’s warm… when it is not it’s cold. As you might have guessed by the title, or for the more observant of you the lack of vibrancy in many of the photos posted here, that for the last week or so we haven’t seen much of the sun. Only fleeting glimpses in fact… we weren’t put off kayaking but it is never as good when you are cold (thank god for my dry suit or I would have had to type freezing instead)

Me running little Huka... named after its larger New Zealand counterpart

The other curious thing about the weather in Norway is that it changes from cold to hot almost as seamlessly as it gets cold. One afternoon the skies steadily cleared and the temperature increased. The next day was glorious without a cloud in the sky!! Down jackets and thermals were replaced with tee-shirts. Bare feet were replaced with… ok so bare feet remained but the point I’m making is that it got warm so let’s not get too distracted by my non-sensible ramblings. Where was I… ah yes, it was going to be a good day on the Rauma (our river of choice) and I had my camera at the ready

Lookout for the rock in the bottom... Rolf and I paddled the run twice. The second time there was an extra serving of water in the river and Rolf was able to precision locate the rock using the latest in underwater kayak exploration techniques.

That’s the other great thing about good weather, you are able to take great photos. Many of you know that photography is a passion of mine and just as you might jump with delight at seeing a foot of untracked powder on a deserted ski field, the bright sun put a grin on my face from ear to ear as I glanced to the drops on the river I would soon get a chance to shot.

Rolf paddling Flemming Fossen... no camera tricks here what you see is what Rolf got

Well the river didn’t disappoint and the photos came out very well indeed but you are looking at them so I’ll let you be the judge. The second to last photo is of Rolf paddling Flemming Fossen, an 18 metre waterfall which has a reputation for breaking people. Rolf did well but still was not without injury. Click on the last photo, taken just after he got off the river, and have a closer look at his right eye… the early signs of bright black and blue shiner are already visible!
How's the eye buddy?

Thee Epic Game of Cards

The put-in for the upper Valldøla

For about a week and a half we have been travelling with Clare and Greg (our friends from New Zealand… oh also Dad, Clare is Murray Hawk’s niece which I found out randomly the other day – small world ay). To pass the time in the evenings, games of five hundreds become standard and the invincible team of Clare and I almost always won… well Greg either doesn’t like to stop on a losing hand or really likes playing cards because he often dealt the next round before anyone had a chance to realise how late it was and make their escape to bed.

Anyhow the other day we started a game at around eleven, after we had finished cooking/eating/cleaning/and putting wee Rolfy to bed. The first two hands took about an hour with Clare and me easily dispatching our inferior opponents… not much competition at all really. But then on the third hand Clare decided to make things a little more interesting and reneged effectively handicapping us 500 points – ‘cheers Clare!’

At one stage things were not looking good. Around two hours into the hand the result looked a forgone conclusion with the scores at 540 to -460 (we play you have to make it to go out). Greg’s confidence was showing as he casually replied “too low to matter” when we asked what our score was. Nothing for it… it’s time to bid big and dance with the backdoor. “Let’s go down in flames Clare, there’s no point in being cautious!”

Rolf 'the bear' Kelly looking ready to pounce

Maybe some Gin and Tonic will help our performance… “Yes please, make mine a big one… and easy on the tonic!!” I tell you that we haven’t drunken much in Norway as it is cost prohibitive so a couple of G&T’s nearly put me on my arse. Perfect… now if I can just focus on the cards we might have a chance.

Rolf styling the hardest rapid on the run
(unfortunately the crux can not be seen in this photo)

Our big break come as the light outside was rapidly brightening and Eden got tired of being out bid. We pushed him up from Misere to Open Misere and took him down. The next two hands hand saw us climb nearly 500 points and the scores were all but tied… game on! With Eden and Greg looking a little bewildered at how they could have blown a 1000 point lead it was time to bury the sword a little deeper and we dispensed with the formalities to finished things off quickly. The hand still lasted well over three hours!!!

Of course Greg dealt another round and we played on until morning. Time to go kayaking I think… so that’s what we did which explains the photos you are looking at. Pictures of us playing cards would be a little boring now wouldn’t they!