Friday, March 22, 2019

Photo Friday: The Rees-Dart Track, Part I

Before I start with the photos, just a reminded that this week (or next) is #Fi50–-Fiction in 50 (words). The March prompt is “Whenever.” Have at it, wordies!

Also: I apologize for the wonky fonts. I can’t seem to clear them out and make it good, at least not with the iPad. Skip the text and enjoy the pictures :)
Background: My husband and I and our 21-year-old son are spending several months traveling and tramping in New Zealand. We arrived on the South Island Dec. 28, 2018, and spent January hiking like crazy with Dave’s brother and his wife, before sending them home and settling into a home base in Christchurch, allowing me a bit more time between adventures to get some blogging and writing done! I’m posting photo reports on our major tramping trips.

Rees-Dart, Part 1 (Days 1-2)

In two trips to New Zealand, I’ve tramped at least 10 different tracks, if you count all the trips of at least one night. Out of them all, I have to say that the Rees-Dart loop is my favorite. The scenery is spectacular pretty much every step of the way, and while the track is busy, it is difficult enough to keep it from being overwhelmed as the famous walks (the Routeburn, Milford Track, etc.) are.

The trip also requires a roughly 20-km car shuttle, up a pair of dirt roads with stream crossings, which aren’t always passable.
We got lucky. The roads were good enough for the passenger car that was half our shuttle operation, and the weather remained good for our entire trip (darned near unheard of!). We did take the precaution of leaving a day or two worth of food in the vehicle at the end point, just in case. If we were going to be stranded there, we were NOT going to be hungry!

Day One
We began the day by driving from Queenstown and setting up the shuttle, which means it was lunchtime before we ever started hiking. Oh, did I mention that pretty much every day’s hike was 10 miles or more? Still, we figured we could manage the tramps in the average times posted, and generally did pretty well at it.

Right off the bat we had to cross a stream, and were delighted to do it with dry feet. Little did we know that soon we’d be crossing more streams, ones we couldn’t leap (well, I couldn’t. Eldest Son managed some spectacular leaps), then slogging through boggy fields for miles. Feet did not stay dry. 
Unsuspecting trampers, heading down to the bogs.

Some streams did have bridges, often very bouncy swing bridges! This one had a load limit of one person.

The river bottom was often boggy, but the scenery pulled us forward.

Finally, about a half hour after I wanted my dinner, we reached the hut. One of the pleasures of NZ tramping is the fantastic hut system, and we really liked having the refuge from cold, wind, and sandflies. Sometimes it was chilly even indoors, however, and everyone had her own way of dealing with it.

The next day was one of the real toughies—up and over the Rees Saddle, a serious climb and an even longer descent on the other side.
Somewhere up in there we knew there was a saddle we had to cross.
When we came to the final climb, it was about as steep as we thought a “trail” could be (we learned differently on a later tramp).

And when we got to the top, Eldest Son was waiting patiently.

We finally started seeing the really big mountains, and the glaciers we’d come for. We were also painfully aware that our hut was down beyond the bottom of the photo at the confluence of those valleys. 
Crossing Snow Creek—one river we were awfully glad had a bridge!
Dart Hut
Once again, we found our hut just about the time we didn’t want to go another step. Camp never looked so good! 

We’d be at the Dart Hut for two nights, in order to day-hike Cascade Saddle—stay tuned for some big glaciers!

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2018 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Writer’s Wednesday #amwriting

Plenty of distractions still in my life, but I’m here to say I’m still writing. In fact, progress on Death By Library has been good. I’ve completed the first read-through and made extensive editorial notes, and am about halfway through the MS trying to apply those notes.

That’s pretty much all the writing—even this blog has fallen a bit by the wayside—but I did manage to submit one short story last week, so that my March submissions so far are... 1.

Oh—and I wrote an opening line for the WriteClub19 contest. So maybe I’ll even manage to enter that!

That’s about it for writer activities. We had a few nice outings in the last couple of weeks, but Friday’s horrible shooting in Christchurch rather put me off of everything for a few days. In the end, I found that the best thing I could do for my own sanity was to crawl inside my MS and stay there, though today it all came out in a horrible all-day headache.

Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. Sometimes you can’t tell the shadows from reality.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2018 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate

By the way, I love this cover:

Title: The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate
Jacqueline Kelly
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co, 2015. 315 pages (hardback)
Publisher’s Blurb:
Callie’s younger brother Travis keeps bringing home strays. And Callie has her hands full keeping the animals—Travis included—away from her mother’s critical eye.

When a storm blows change into town in the form of a visiting veterinarian, Callie discovers a life and a vocation she desperately wants. But with societal expectations as they are, she will need all her wits and courage to realize her dreams.

Whether it’s wrangling a rogue armadillo or stray dog, a guileless younger brother or standoffish cousin, the trials and tribulations of Callie Vee will have readers cheering for this most endearing heroine.

My Review:
As a sequel to a Newbery nominee and winner of multiple awards (see review), this book had quite a bit to live up to. To my mind, it did it, though it left me looking for another sequel, which I do hope Jacqueline Kelly will write. The story continues to show Calpurnia as a girl who has a sharp intellect and the kind of curiousity that leads to either trouble or a good education.

Calpurnia manages to do both. Thanks to her grandfather, who is almost as marginalized in the family as Callie Vee is, she is getting a solid scientific education. But there’s a lot to overcome, even besides the tendecy of her younger brother to try to make pets of the most inappropriate animals. No one besides Grandfather takes Callie’s desire for an education seriously, and I kept getting frustrated on her behalf (not that she needed my help—Callie is perhaps unrealistically aware of the unfairness of the social limitations of her position).

It’s not that so much really happens in the story. It’s that every step of the way she is getting closer to needing to break out and insist on having her own way, and the process is fascinating to watch. I hope that there will be more books, and that Callie will get to go to school in defiance of everything that her parents assume about her future.

My Recommendation: 
This is a worthy sequel to The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, and a good book to remind us that the “normal” thing to do isn’t always the right thing to do, and social expectations can be a prison.

Full Disclosure: I borrowed an electronic copy of The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate from my library, and received nothing from the author or the publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."