So I’ve been home for about a week. I really haven’t been very good at the whole blogging the end of the trip sorry… So here’s a brief run down for those interested:
Adelaide- went to bookstore, went to library, met beatboxing Australian, Morgan dyed hair brown.
Paluma- rainforest on the Northeastern side of the country, held cane toads, got hugged by a gigantic hollow tree, ate all the delicious food in the world.
Wambiana- cattle ranch owned by the Lyons family for 5 generations, discovered I actually do like children, conducted research looking at tracks in the sand, played cricket (maybe?), had our own Silent Dance Party, found half a dead snake and then a full dead snake, set traps for dingoes, rode around in a cattle truck, learned how to crack a whip and divine water.
Townsville- did not go snorkeling, saw video of pictures of giant clams (not nearly as interesting as it sounds), laughed and laughed, watched a rugby game wherein the Cowboys beat the Raiders, had my 21st birthday, cried and cried and then flew home the next day.
There’s so much more and there’s no way a single blog post will be able to contain everything about the end of this trip. I want to thank everyone on the trip, all my fellow Carls, Dan, Matt, and Mark, Clare and Elliot, and all the other amazing ecologists and scientists and families and even children who made this trip what it was. It was amazing and life-changing and don’t ask me about it unless you want an earful, because I will not be able to give you an elevator version ever. This was one of those experiences that will likely shape my life for a long time to come.
In conclusion: it was really cool!
Kangaroo Island has kangaroos, wallabies, echidna, platypus, koalas, heath monitors, and tiger snakes. I saw or touched almost all of them. Okay, really though I only held a heath monitor but it was pretty darn cool.
We conducted our second field project and gave presentations on it. My project was on honeybees and the rate of cross-pollination on pea plants! Super cool! I followed a bee for literally 27 minutes of my life.
In other news I’m reading Steppenwolf and finding it oddly comforting. I think this trip is just making me weirder and weirder…
We said good-bye to Dan and hello to Matt and the final stage of our journey. Currently we are in Adelaide and on break. In a few days it will be off to Paluma and then Wambiana (in a desert). I guess we’ll be getting our just deserts.
I am enjoying every day here and the time to think and learn. I am also enjoying the wildlife and delicious fruit. And the very very warm weather. Actually, though we got some rain here which was a change. I had to put on my rain jacket!
I’d love to hear from anyone back state-side. All the love from Adelaide!
So much has happened with so little internet present! I’ll do my best to hit the highlights.
1) Flock Hill departure
-We left Flock Hill after a fond farewell to the sheep and the mountains and the fantastic people. Living and working around Flock Hill was some of the best times I’ve had on this trip. It was such a comforting and beautiful environment.
2) Franz Josef
-We drove through Arthur’s Pass National Park and down to the West Coast and glacier territory. Franz Josef is a tiny backpacker’s town located very close to both the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. We spent several days here looking at the Franz Josef chronosequence (a series of sites allowing ecologists to examine retrogression and succession) and, of course, walking on the glacier.
-I was also able to talk to a kiwi conservationist! All my dreams come true! I got advice on looking at bird conservation jobs and moving to New Zealand (sorry, Ma). The hike through the bush was intense but amazing!
3) Queenstown and Milford Sound
-We finally got our first break in a few weeks here in Queenstown. We’re staying at the Pinewood Lodge. Yesterday I drove with Terese and Josie up to Milford Sound. It was the most incredible drive I’ve ever been on full of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack and emotions. Today I got a chance to explore Queenstown which is probably my favorite city so far.
-These past few weeks have been amazing and have confirmed my belief that New Zealand is paradise on Earth. I definitely plan on returning and swimming in more lakes, walking through more cave streams, and hiking about on tracks as often as possible. It’s been a wonderful time and truly life-altering. I’m looking forward to heading out to Australia tomorrow in the knowledge that I’m not saying good-bye but see you later.
We got a bit of a break for a few days here in Christchurch. I spent the free day looking around the downtown area. Perhaps most notable was the large amount of construction in the aftermath of the 2009 earthquake. Most of the downtown was still wiped out although there were a few shops that had popped up. There was also an international Busker’s festival happening on the same day which was an interesting and bizarre experience.
Our Biology 307 class has basically wrapped up and we’re transitioning into our Biology 308 class (Conservation and Ecology). This means it’s also time to say goodbye to Mark and hello to Dan. I really loved everything we learned in Evolutionary Ecology and I’m hoping I’ll continue to be challenged in this next course.
We had a visiting speaker who has worked a lot with mutualistic relationships, specifically pollination and fruit dispersal. It was very interesting to hear him talk. One of my favorite quotes would either be “life is complicated” or “kiwis are basically bloody (excuse me) mammals”.
We’re heading back to Flock Hill in a few hours, so I probably won’t have much by way of internet until we get to Queenstown in about a week. I’ll try to post pictures to tide everyone over until then!
We stayed in Flock Hill Lodge for the past five days and are going back in less than a week!
Flock Hill is amazing and beautiful and full of sheep. There are mountains all around us (Mountains, Gandalf!). The first full day we went on a walk through the southern beech (actually Nothofagus) forest which looked exactly like Fangorn. We clambered all over rocks and streams and it was stunning.
We started in the next day on our snail project which has to do with sexuality or asexuality in Potamopyrgus, a native New Zealand snail. Basically we were looking at where male snails exist in the Grasmere Lake and are now attempting to see if there is a correlation in distribution with parasite levels in the lake! It’s more exciting than it sounds; I promise. (Warning graphic science about to be described.) It involved a lot of sexing snails (looking for the penis) and then crushing them open to look at the parasites!
In addition to that we are working on our independent projects which we’ll be conducting next week. We’ve also done a lot of studying into various topics such as moa-adapted plants and masting in New Zealand. It’s been an exciting time.
I was also able to go on several hikes or walks in the area out to Lake Pearson and up to the Knoll which overlooks the entire valley. I also saw a more brilliant sky of stars than I’ve ever seen before!
I’m excited to be in Christchurch for a few days, but also excited to return to Flock Hill for future adventures.