Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Mozillians At The Tongariro Crossing And Orakei Korako

Last weekend some local and visiting Mozillians (visiting for a Gecko media work week), plus assorted loved ones (such as my children), drove down to Tongariro National Park to do the Tongariro Crossing on Saturday.

The weather was reasonably good --- cloudy, but mostly dry. As often, there was thick fog up on the mountain, clearing as we descended the northern flank. Even though the fog eliminates some of the amazing views, it's still very atmospheric and fun in its own way. It does help conceal the other thousand people doing the hike :-).

I've done the TC several times before but this was the first time I've done it since last year's eruption from Tongariro's Te Maari crater. That has made the TC even more interesting! On the descent past Te Maari you can now see large quantities of steam venting from the crater --- quite impressive. The Ketetahi Hut was hit by boulders from the eruption, and overnight stays are now forbidden there for safety reasons. Two decent-sized holes punched in the hut roof have been preserved and make an excellent argument for following the rules :-). An even better argument is just down the track from the hut: a sizable impact crater, with the impacting boulder mostly buried at the bottom of it. No-one was at the hut on the night of the eruption, but if they had been, it would have been a terrifying experience!

Near the end of the track, it crosses a stream. Lahar activity associated with the Te Maari eruption has blocked the original course of the stream, so the existing bridges are over dry streambeds. Now the stream spreads through the bush in other places and we had to splash across.

We finished the walk in just over seven hours, and a good time was had by all.

On Sunday some of us drove back to Auckland via Orakei Korako. I hadn't been there since I was a child, even though I really enjoy geothermal areas. I very much enjoyed Orakei Korako! It has an excellent mix of features --- geysers, silica terraces, hot pools, boiling mud, and a cave --- all in a lovely bush setting, plus you cross a small lake in a boat to get to it. This is my second favourite geothermal area in New Zealand, after Waimangu Valley. Waimangu's Frying Pan Lake is hard to top :-).

Sunday, 3 November 2013

A Tale Of Two Cities

The week before last I was in Paris for the "Web rendering" work week. It went reasonably well. The Paris Mozilla office is as amazing as it looks. Benoit Jacob gave us an excellent walking tour on Sunday. Brian Birtles and I split off and attended Trinity International Church, which seemed really good. It's great to see what God is doing in different places and be a tourist in God's kingdom. The actual work was good. It was a mix of briefing each other on what's going on, brainstorming new directions, and thrashing out problems. It was particularly good to have Gaia and Shumway hackers there to talk about their issues.

Due to some combination of jet lag and God's grace I woke up at 7am sharp every day and went for a run, training for the Auckland half-marathon. It was a lot of fun to run from the hotel down Rue de Louvre to the Seine, along to the Eiffel Tower, back along the Seine, and then on a good day do a lap of Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis. However it was a bit strange to be running at 8am with the sun not having risen yet!

I got back to Auckland on Monday and had an extremely hectic few days before I head out to San Francisco today (Sunday). The biggest thing on my mind was the half-marathon, which was today, but I only had time for a couple of 10km training runs. There's a nice 10km circuit from my house to the summit of One Tree Hill and back. This takes me through city streets to the bucolic charm of Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill --- especially charming at this time of year, with cows and calves, sheep and lambs, verdant pastures, blooming trees, and excellent views from the summit of all of these, as well as the Waitemata and Manakau harbours. Entirely different from Paris but to my mind even more delightful!

I really enjoyed the half-marathon today. Not having done one before, I wasn't sure what to expect, but was pretty pleased with my result. I ran faster than I did during my solo runs; I think the crowd helped motivate me, especially towards the end. I didn't want to try it barefoot, at least for the first time, so while in Toronto last month I bought some Vibram foot-glove-type footwear, by asking for the closest thing to barefoot they had. These seem pretty good. Interestingly though, every other person I saw during the race had regular footwear on. In fact several people at the starting area were curious about my footwear and asked me various questions. It's a bit awkward since I don't really know anything about running!

Now I'm heading off to San Francisco for Mozilla's LEAD program. This is the last session so hopefully after this week my travel and the rest of my life will return to relative normality. Though we do have the media work week in Auckland in a couple of weeks, with a trip to the Tongariro Crossing thrown in, and after that a trip for our wedding anniversary, ... so it goes.