This one isn’t bad news… I promise

I know the last one was a real tear jerker and we still find lots of reminders of Cora around.

However this one isn’t bad news, i promise you that. This one is filled will joy, gratitude and thankfulness. See photo below and then read on.

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Yes its true. Robin & I are having a baby.
Pause here & celebrate with us for a moment.

After many years of at times a difficult journey we are expecting a baby in July!

As my mother said “This baby was made in NZ, however will be born in the USA”.

We ask that besides cheering and joining us in celebrating, please pause and give thanks because we certainly have and continue to.

Besides it look like i will get some good Adventure Race training in the next few years with sleep deprivation.

Tied for 1st Place

I write this with more than sadness.

Yesterday we lost our sweet Cora. After almost 11 years of overwhelming joy Robin and I had to make the gut wrenching decision to let her go and have her put to sleep.

Even now as i write this my fingers shake, lips quiver and tears freely flow. Cora was rushed to the emergency vet about 1am on 31st of December. She once again had a twisted gut which happened while she was in NZ almost 12 months ago. At that time we made the decision to go ahead with the expensive (who cares about that) surgery. She really only just survived that procedure. While recovering Robin and i agreed that if it happened again we should let her go. Our NZ vet said that there was a chance it could… AND IT DID.

She was in a lot of pain and we needed to do the right thing and allow her to be pain free once and for all.

What made this really hard is that we weren’t there to bid her farewell. She has been so wonderfully cared for by Robins parents for the past month while we get settled into Pennsylvania and find a home for all of us. Bill & Lib had really taken to Cora (as people who meet her were also). They frantically called us in the middle of the night while at the vet to inform us. We spoke with the vet who gave us 2 choices. Surgery NOW (which she may not even survive because of her age) or put her to sleep. We knew what decision we had to make… We had to let her go. This condition is somewhat common in Weimaraner’s and not a neglect issue or necessarily because of old age. She was a very healthy dog until the end. And would run the pants of anyone.

Someone once said “Can a person live a full life cautiously.” And i think the same applies to dogs… Cora definitely lead a full life.

Everything from…
Surviving a snake bite & almost dying many years ago.
Being dragged up mountans, rivers, through the back country of NZ too many times to remember.
Flying across the world… TWICE
the list goes one

And now she is gone!

I ran with her for what i now know was the last time last week and there she was free as could be. Yesterday i ran a 5K race in the cold. A popular race with over 600 runners. Go figure on such a cold day. A cold as it was, i ran fast and knew that she there pulling me along to get to the finish.

Here are some picture memories of her. More than a picture each one had a story behind it about when, where, what was happening. Moreover a picture of her personality. Who as Robin said yesterday “She made us laugh everyday.”

Yesterday i lost my tied for 1st place friend. At least i still have the other…Robin.

We love you Cora and you will be missed. Go and run pain free in heaven chasing all the deer, horses, cats, squirrels etc. you can handle.

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We have arrived…

Well, we finally arrived. I am in Pennsylvania and Robin is still down in North Carolina with her parents. We flew to NC together and had a few days before i flew up here last week to begin work…. so much to do and take care of. cell phones, drivers license, a new car, place to live. The list goes on.

I drive back to NC today for thanksgiving which is this thurs. I will stay with Robins family and then we will both come back up here on saturday… with Cora, who arrived safe and sound. Although the flight from LAX for her was with a dead dude in a coffin GULP.

When i arrived last week i flew right into that same snow storm that slammed Buffalo NY etc. We didn’t get the snow they had but there was about 10cm on the ground to greet me when i arrived. hmmmmm and then the temps. For about 4 days it didn’t get above freezing even during the day. What have i walked into to. However the last few days have been quite mild and was told that that snow was way early and not typical, that was qucikly followed with “oh you wait till february” Comment.

Will post more over the weekend as i will be with family for thanksgiving. Let the eating begin. Already lots of reminders of that around me

Arrived

We FINALLY arrived. After a multiple delays at SFO we arrived in Raleigh at 130am Friday. Was pretty beat when we made it. Slept to 11am today… thank you Tylenol PM!!!!

Cora is en-route and we go get her in about 1hr.

Definitely winter here in the US. Its almost 5pm and sun it setting. No worries. Having fun finding ALL the stuff we left behind… its like Christmas, which is good because i threw out a bunch of shoes when i left NZ.

Looking forward to Sunday as i will do a 10K race in the morning and then orienteering race in the afternoon. Woo Hoo

Believe it or not….

… But this is Cora’s plane. Right next to ours leaving 15mins before us. But going to LAX. We go thru SFO.

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Sweet Mtn Biking Trip

Over this past weekend took an amazing mtn biking trip with 3 friends. Turned into an all day epic but well worth it as you can see.

This scenery is only about 1hr from our place. It was an amazing day. Tory Channel is where the inter-island ferries come and go from the South Island. This was an amazingly clam day. Some of you may have seen it at its worst too.

Robin and i have both paddled this piece of water, so it was nice to see it from above and below.

Enjoy…

Some Big NEWS

Yes, we have some for you… WE ARE RETURNING TO THE USA!!!

Some of you reading this may already know, for others it may be a complete surprise.

I have accepted a position with Crestfield Camp and Conference Center in Slippery Rock Pennsylvania. About 1hr north of Pittsburgh.

We will be packing up our life in NZ (& Cora) and heading back across the ocean. When we left the US we were not sure how long we would be here for. As far as time goes it will be just under 2 years. During this time a lot has happened to both Robin & I as individuals and collectively as a couple. We sense that we have completed what we came here for and are read to move back and more challenges.

For me the new job is really the best of both worlds as i serve within the camp and conference world and then move a little more so into the world of the church. Crestfield serves Pittsburgh Presbytery one of the largest within the Presbyterian Church USA. While i will have responsibilities at Crestfield my main focus will be in the assisting churches within that same presbytery to increase their community focus and look to serve the community immediately around them. This will include working with children & youth along with empowering and equipping volunteers to serve their community and be a real and relevant voice of hope and love.

These plans are all moving along fast and we are hoping to be back within the US by mid November. There is lots to do between now and then, however enough time to squeeze in a few more adventures here before exploring a whole lot more new ones within northern PA.

I recently purchased a GoPro and have taken lots of video. Figuring out how to edit and then will post on here. And there have been quite a few.

GodZone Next Chapter… Finally

Ended the last report about this race with us crawling into our sleeping bags as we missed the cut-off. Remember we haven’t slept much and getting in sleeping bags all dirty and grimy isn’t plesant.

Well we slept and made sure we were up and ready to get back on the river at 7am. I also recall sharing a can of condensed milk mixed with coffee before we got on the river. Super rich, but it tasted good.

So how close were we to getting off the river the night before? how about after 20mins of paddling that morning we were off. Yup, really close. We transitioned quickly to our bikes. With Scotts replacement bike there for us waiting. Which was an amazing realization of how many people want to you to do well and finish. Once on the bike we rode a short and quick section on the road to the next trek. Which was a Coasteering section. This means on foot, but close to the coast and may include dealing with rocks, cliff, bluffs and tides.

We set off relatively quickly to encounter what was probably the hardest CP of the whole race. The clue was Southern most Cabbage Tree (which in NZ are quite tall native tree) nothing like an actual cabbage. We came over the saddle and the entire hillside is covered in cabbage trees and thick, spiky, prickly shrub. Not like small prickly but shred your skin and clothing. I’m glad we were looking for this is daylight. Cannot imagine this nightmare in the dark.

We made our way through the leg shredders and weren’t having much joy. we were about to re-attack it from another direction when i said “let me go check that one” My team mates were skeptical but i wanted to look anyway. And what do you know… it was there hanging from the cabbage tree.

However this gets better, along with the CP was some teams “Yellow Brick”. The device used to track us online using Satellites. They had obviously lost it and here it was. What a dilemma for us. Do we leave it? or take it with us? The rules were clear…. to lose this meant DQ’d.

We decided to leave it in case that team realized and came back to where it was. Seemed like a strange place to leave it. Oh well. Onwards we went. The rest of the CP’s were relatively easy but with lots of elevation gained and lost. We took a gamble after one CP of whether or not to follow a stream down to the beach and for it to flow gently down to the beach or risk getting cliffed out. The topo map wasn’t really helped. We chanced it and….
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The gamble paid off. This meant we could travel/run quickly down the beach to the next TA and get back on our bikes.

We did this around sunset and quickly took advantage of the fading light to knock out the road section and get onto the last section of coastal hill country before the last section of kayaking and the finish line. We got through some of the hill country on our bikes but then as darkness fell the navigation got hard. It didn’t help that our lights were fading and in fact i know i did some sketchy descents down steep hills and trails following Pete’s wheel and his light closely to avoid holes etc.

This section really frustrated us as we were really close to the end. Quite often in races and in many things we get this “disease” called get-home-itis and this is when things can go wrong. We managed to pull together but not after a few drama’s and tense words shared between team mates to come out the other side onto the road for a short road ride to the paddle put in. Not before making sure Scott was on the correct side of the road and weaving all over the place due to sleep monsters and being on the other side of the road in NZ

We boxed our bikes at the TA for the last time, along with extra gear in our bins. Which all now smell really bad. Between uneaten food, stinky clothes etc. The smell was bad.

We get into our kayaking and paddle off into the darkness at about 2am. Using only our headlamps to see, which isn’t far when you are on the ocean. We had to paddle across a huge bay around a peninsular and into the start/finish line. I really like navigating on the water so i dialed up heading of what we needed and went for it. Looking back after only us and another team took as direct route as that. Other teams hugged the shoreline and of course took a lot longer. I guess being a kayak guide helps. It was fun to be out there in the darkness and quite often we would paddle with no lights on, only the glow sticks on the ends of our boats. All this made for great views of the stars. We didn’t pass any dolphins but did see quite a few Albatross sea birds which have largest wingspan of way bird, ranging from 8-11.5ft.

We rounded the peninsular, but not before a few hallucinations on my part. One that teams were catching up to us at a great speed, only to be reminded that they were the lights of the road way back behind us where we had put in. Then to literally fall asleep while paddling . In fact at one point i think all 4 of us were asleep and paddling at the same time.

We approached the beach and finish line with mixed feelings. One including whether or not there would be a swell and waves to navigate as one last cruel twist to test us. I quickly coached my team mates about keeping the boat perpendicular to the wave. We did encounter a slight swell but nothing major.

As we paddled closer i could see one of the race directors standing there and of course could hear Robin hollering at us. And the pleasant surprise of my mother there. Who has never witnessed me finish a race like this before as all my other races like this had been in the US and around the world.

We were greeted with a meat pie (NZ tradition) and beer, enough said. Which all went down well despite the 5am finish time.

Obviously there is lots to reflect on and if I ever have the pleasure of spending time with you the reader in the future and hearing your stories i hope to share a few reflections with you.

Someone once said that AR is an exercise in misery. But its more than that. Part of it is, but….

Some time ago i read this quote by Oliver Wendall Holmes “… what matters is not the years in your life, but the life in your years, so live….”

Thanks for reading.

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But the ocean is right there.

Being home has meant I personally and both of us together have had lots of outdoor adventures. I am always hatching some plan to be somewhere or go do something. And being surrounded by mountains and ocean there is no shortage.
 
Even this past weekend we hiked up a mountain that literally rises straight up out of the ocean to over 3500ft really quickly in a short distance. Its basically a marine environment but because this peak rises so quickly it soon becomes an alpine environment and yet the ocean is right there. Quite strange to be near the ocean yet high up. This peak is in the Marlborough Sounds where I guide a lot. Often looking up at Mt. Stokes thinking… gotta go there soon.
 
The summit of Mt Stokes is above the tree line and has snow on it right now. Its very exposed to wind from the Tasman Sea and big southerly storms coming out of the southern ocean. And of course we went up there on a really crappy day. But very magical at the same time. Of course as we cleared the tree-line the gale force winds hit us and the temps plummeted. And its was white-out conditions up there.
 
We were looking for a hiking hut to stay in, which isn’t on a map, because its unofficial and not open to the public. I heard about it through some friends as the Park Service (Dept. of Conservation here in NZ), made a few phone calls and I suddenly have a key to get in. Unfortunately we couldn’t find it. We were wandering around the summit which is quite flat for about an hour before I called it an said we are going back down. In some ways we were happy as it was really cold and the hut had no fire in it. What a miserable night it would have been.
 
But never a dull moment for Robin and I. And big ups to her for the places I take her. Robin can certainly hold her own in the outdoors.
 
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Earlier this week I spent 3 days in the mountains with my good friend Dennis. We have been mates since about 1992, back at university where we 1st meet racing old beat-up bicycles around his apartment. Since then there has been many adventures. Less for him more recently, but good to be in the hills with him.

We went up Tapuae-O-Ueneku in the Inland Kaikoura range. A very cold and in-hospitable in winter. I have visited this range a lot since being home and love being in the big, cold and remote mountains. Since November last year this was my 5th trip up there including a quick section over the pass during GodZone. BTW… the next chapter is coming soon.

Anyways we got to the high mountain hut on Monday afternoon to see that no one had been there in about 6 weeks, when I was last there with Robin. This place is remote and very cold and no one goes there for months on end in winter… Well apart from crazy people like us.

We got an early start Tuesday to attempt a winter summit of Tapuae-O-Ueneku. We were making good progress and the snow and ice conditions were perfect. Good hard ice for our crampons and ice axes to get lots of purchase on. As the morning wore on the wind increased, however we were feeling good.

As we got closer to the summit we had to pass under a big head wall of rock and ice. By now the sun was on it and combined with the now very strong winds was beginning to fling chunks of ice off and have them hurtling now the slope at us.

We were about 300m from the summit and a very short distance when we were both hit by sizeable pieces of ice. One about the size of a boot hit me in the leg. When you have your head down concentrating on your steps and cannot look up to see chunks of ice flying at you it makes life a little different.

So the decision was made to pull the pin and go back to the hut. We had a leisurely climb/hike back to the hut enjoying if nothing else the mountains and the 2 colors of blue and white. Truly inspiring. below are some pictures and the home page picture is from the same trip.
Enjoy.

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