February 7, 2012
We have spent the last few days at the Franz Josef Glacier.
Glaciers are essentially rivers of ice that start high in mountains and flow through valleys until they melt. Typically, they are exceptionally high up.
Here, you can walk up to them from a starting place with rain forests. The glacier ends within 10 miles of the ocean.
This is a freaky land.
Here are the highlights of our trip here.
Sorta Seeing the Super Bowl
We arrived just in time to watch the Super Bowl at a local restaurant and bar. It was an odd experience. First, virtually no one cared. There were 2-3 Giant fans and 2 Patriot fans among the 70 people in the restaurant eating lunch. Clearly, these people have their priorities wrong.
Second, they did not show the commercials. Instead, we saw the same ESPN ad 25 times.
Finally, after watching the halftime show, I can only assume that aliens landed and designed the thing.
During the middle of the night, each of us was awaken by another sporting event, or at least that is what it sounded like.
Some animals were using the top of our campervan as the site for the famed 5 meter dash.
For over an hour, these creatures ran up and down the length of our van.
I became convinced that the footsteps sounded like a bi-ped, rather than a four-legged creature. My midnight conclusion? Monkeys. We had a group of sport-loving primates pounding on our home.
Terrill says one of them try to come through our upper vent and concluded that it was a raccoon. It sat on top of the vent covering it with its entire body.
Each of us suddenly thought that night hunting would be a good idea.
Turns out our visitors were not monkeys or raccoons, but possums. Noisy, athletic possums.
Hiking the Glacier
The next day, we joined a group and spent 5 hours hiking up the glacier. The tour included about 4 miles of ground hiking and then about 2 miles on the ice. We wore crampons and rain gear.
We went into ice caves
and jumped over crevasses.
When Susie and I came here years ago, we hiked the glacier, but we did not take a helicopter tour. The weather did not cooperate then – regular fog kept the copters grounded.
Susie has a complicated relationship with flying machines. By complicated, I mean she really does not like them at all.
She does not like airplanes much, but dislikes helicopters even more.
Yet, she has heard that the best way to see the disappearing galciers of New Zealand is from a helicopter.
More importantly, being a camp director has brought out an intriguing part of her personality: the desire to face and conquer fear. Each summer, she helps comfort campers experiencing anxiety: from homesickness to a fear of heights. Doing this every year has made her acutely aware of her own anxieties. In fact, she has seen them as opportunities to practice what she has preached so that she can report back to her campers during the summer.
Her first great success was overcoming her terror of bungee jumping. Three years ago, she jumped 150 feet and reported back to the campers.
This time, she wanted to conquer her helicopter bugaboo.
Yet, she admitted that she was mildly relieved when the weather kept us from going the first day. I gave her the option to pass on the second if she wanted to, but she would not have it.
The experience would be expensive (one of the very few budget-busters we agreed to) and the weather did not seem to want to cooperate, she was resolute. In fact, she said that she wanted to do it because she was afraid.
We agreed that if the weather was great on the next day, we would go. If it was overcast, we would pass.
The next day was clear and glorious. We went.
It was well worth it. Here are the shots.
I am such a fan of my wife. She endeavors to model attitudes for our children rather than preach the attitudes. She is also tons of fun.
I have married over my head.