New Zealand 16 – At 10:30 we break for tea…

I really enjoy site visits – not only do they get me away from my picnic-table desk, they involve true hands-on learning. Being in Christchurch, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of interesting buildings and, more importantly, how they react when they’ve been slammed with lateral loads. Before I geek out my blog too much for family & non-engineer friends I’ll share one of my top site visit experiences from this past week–

We arrived early at a local college dorm to take a damage survey. I met with the very friendly staff who showed us to the rooms we needed to look at. Upon getting ready to leave, the staff member exclaimed “oh, and at 10:30am we all break for tea, so I’m assuming you’ll join us?!” How can you say no to that? We hurried with our work, went to tea time where we received some homemade banana bread, warm coffee, and tea. After our short break we received our next invitation to join everyone for a fresh lunch. Lunch consisted of homemade muffins, tasty soup, and an amazing salad bar. My colleagues and I had a short discussion about trying to slowly move into the college campus or at least keep coming up with excuses to need to come back, but alas, we finished our survey and drove back to our banana-bread-less office. By far tops my list of friendliest site visits I’ve experienced in Christchurch! (we try not to assume that this is just a bribe for us to write a favorable report…)

Onto the weekend. Remember that it’s nearing mid-winter here? Therefore, we took full advantage and woke up at 6am on Saturday morning, packed our layered merino-wool selves into the ford focuses (foci? <–we’re still debating on the plural form) and headed to the ski slopes. They tend to avoid plowing the roads in New Zealand and salt is a definite NO. Therefore, chains are typically required when traversing the mountains in a tiny-front-wheel-drive car. I had the pleasure of snapping this blackberry sunrise photo while I let my coworkers deal with the tire-chaining process.

Sunrise on the slopes

Mt Hutt

The crew had a long and fun-filled day on the mountain. It was no Colorado, but it definitely helped us make some fun use out of this cold weather.

The crew enjoying the winter weather

Rather than sleeping in on Sunday I volunteered to journey to the west coast, back to Hokitika, to finish up souvenir shopping with two coworkers. The west coast is an “easy” 3 hour drive away. Arthur’s pass is in the way, so despite swerving around some dodgy roads you get a pretty nice view. Again, my blackberry camera can barely capture this–

Highway 73 never gets old

Time in Hokitika was short — purchasing gifts, eating lunch, and walking along the beach for a while. It made me remember that my State-side friends were all enjoying warm beach trips this past weekend. However, what is going on with the U.S. east coast?! If Keith hadn’t mentioned the debris all over DC’s 495 highway I would have found out by watching the New Zealand T.V. news this morning. Yes, obviously New Zealand was having a slow news morning, because I learned all about the small population of the U.S. without power in the greater D.C. area. They even had a local correspondent on-the-scene discussing the power outage crises.

West Coast

Well, power-outages or not, I have approximately 65 hours until I’m back in the D.C. area and I couldn’t be more excited. I received a small taste of home this Monday morning when one of my coworkers arrived from vacation with 3 bottles of ketchup and several bags of Dunkin Donuts coffee. What a great way to start the week off 🙂

A lil’ bit of home

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