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My dad decided he needed to get away, and I think he chose the farthest place away that speaks English. He was there for a month, and he told me that I was welcome to join him. After a great deal of debate, I decided to go for a week, and just visit the south island. The last time I went, it was winter in the southern hemisphere; this time, it was summer, and the weather was beautiful. I was able to show my dad some of the spots I had visited last time, and we also got to see some new things as well. Though I drove by Mount Cook the last time, there were too many clouds to even see the mountain. This time, not only did we see it, but we hiked almost up to the base of the mountain. The Southern Alps are one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world, and Mount Cook is the crown jewel. It was well worth the drive from Wanaka. We stayed in Wanaka for two nights; the rest of our nights were in Queenstown. We visited some of the nearby Central Otago wineries, went up the gondola to the top of the mountain that overlooks the city, and even took some day trips to Milford and Doubtful Sounds.

Really, my only complaint is the ridiculous amount of time it takes to get there and back. Eight days was just long enough to justify the trip. To make matters worse, the wonderful United States, in all its wisdom, is now requiring complete searches and pat-downs of everybody entering the country, before they even board the plane. This meant that, in coming back home, I got to go through security three times, get two pat-downs, and have my carryon bag searched. What fun.

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 3:35 PM

I've finally finished sorting through all of my photos from Australia and New Zealand, and also from Washington D.C. They are now posted in the photos section. Because of the number of pictures, I decided that instead of posting them via the slow interface on my web site that I have been using for a number of years, I was going to write an application that could handle the import process more efficiently on a larger scale. That is the main reason it has taken so long, though it did take me a few hours to sort through the photos themselves.

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 3:03 PM

Well, I'm back from down under. After 23 days and 12 flights, I am glad to be home. The group that I traveled with was quite friendly, and our tour director was superb. I am extremely happy that I went.

New Zealand and Australia are both very beautiful, and also quite unique. Both countries contain a vast amount of unspoiled land. Australia has the outback, and New Zealand has the beautiful Southern Alps. At the same time, the two countries combined make up only one tenth the population of the United States, while having nearly the same landmass as the lower 48 states. In fact, sheep outnumber Australians 5 to 1, and Kiwis (not just the name of the fruit, but also of the bird and people) 10 to 1.

In three weeks, I took just over 3600 pictures. I am working on posting them, but first I need to revamp my methods of doing so. It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to manage my photos, so I am in the process of creating a small piece of software to allow me to better manage them, and the rest of my web site. It will also provide the framework for the next iteration of the site itself, whenever I get around to redoing it! At any rate, hopefully the pictures will be posted soon.

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 12:53 AM