Wellington, NZ, for ascilite 2012

Majella and I recently travelled to Wellington in New Zealand where I attended ascilite 2012 and Majella indulged in a little more tourism. We left home early on the morning of Saturday, November 24 (early enough to catch an 8:45 am flight out of Brisbane) and returned on Thursday, November 29 (on an even earlier 7:00 am flight from Wellington).

Our itinerary for the outward trip had us checking in at Brisbane around 6:30 am, necessitating a 4:30 am departure from Toowoomba and rising an hour before that. With the 3 hour time difference it was well after 2:00 pm when we arrived in Wellington. We took the bus to town, found Rydges Hotel and checked in. We had time do do some simple shopping for breakfast makings and to take a rest before heading out to meet Birgit who had sent a general invitation to colleagues who might want to meet for dinner. We found Birgit and Therese at the rendezvous point near Te Papa and walked up to Cuba Street where we ate mains at the Matterhorn before wandering off to find dessert at St Johns and then back to our hotel for sleep.

Sunday was my one relatively free day – just registration to be completed in the conference venue at Te Papa and an evening reception. We slept late, waking after 8:00 am, to compensate for our early start and the time shift on Saturday. By 10:00 am we had eaten breakfast in our room and headed out to see the sights. The harbour ferry had been delayed for mechanical problems so we toured a New Zealand navy vessel while we waited and then took the ferry around the harbour for a couple of hours. That took us to Seatoun at the southern end, across to Days Beach on the east side, past Somes Island to Petone, and back to the city. Although the sun was warm there was a strong, cool wind most of the time we were on the water so we were pleased to be back out of that. Once landed we walked to Te Papa where I registered for the conference before we found lunch at the market in Waitangi Park where there was also a festival associated with The Hobbit. From there we walked back through the city, took the cable car to the top of the hill and walked back down through the Botanical Gardens. In the evening I walked back to Te Papa for the conference reception while Majella ate at the hotel.

The conference filled my days for the rest of the week and I’ve recorded some thoughts about that elsewhere. Monday evening had another reception but Majella and I met up for dinner which we ate at Hotel Bristol where we had eaten on our trip in 2010. Tuesday night was the conference dinner. Majella declined that and ate at the hotel while I partied.

While I was at the conference, Majella managed some touristic activity including the walking tour of the city on Monday and several galleries/museums on Tuesday. On Wednesday she decided to make the most of The Hobbit premier experience and found a spot close to the action. After exchange of SMS messages (no WiFi in that part of town) and some effort I managed to locate her shortly after 4:00 pm and we watched proceedings on the red carpet until almost 7:00 pm. On the walk back to the hotel we stopped for dinner at One Red Dog.

Thursday morning was another early start – 3:30 am – for our shuttle to the airport, 7:00 am flight and drive home from Brisbane to Toowoomba.

The grand plan

Nancy suggested on Facebook that we need a map so that interested readers can know where we are planning to go.

I’ve been building a map with our overnight destinations (and intended driving routes as I worked out distances) in Google Maps. I haven’t managed to get it to retain all the planned routes but I expect we will deviate a bit most days in any case so those interested in exactly how we get from one place to another will need to follow along as and when we get around to sharing that along the way.

In the meantime the map below shows our planned overnight destinations – to city level but not necessarily more detailed than that. In some cases we will be staying more than one night.

This time next week …

This time next week we will be somewhere over the Pacific on our way to the USA. Though we are looking forward to that we both have plenty to do before we can be on our way.

Today I managed to complete an examination report for a thesis I’ve been marking for a Malaysian university. Alongside that I signed up for a Flickr Pro account where I expect to upload photos as we travel. I took advantage of the extended capacity by uploading several hundred photographs from our trips to Europe in 2006, 2008 and 2009 with our grandchildren, Emily, Joel, and Sam as well as photographs from previous trips to New Zealand and Malaysia. 

I also tracked down the old iWeb version where I had the blogs for our European trips, exported those and uploaded them to my own site. Those blogs had been on MobileMe until it was shuttered a couple of months ago. The transfer is not entirely perfect – some galleries of photos depended on MobilieMe – but the content is working and the photographs from the galleries are now on Flickr.

Time now to tie up some more loose ends with planning for travel, finish off some local tasks, and get to the packing 🙂

A week to departure and counting

It’s just a few hours more than a week before we set off on our trip to the USA. I’m still dealing with a few work-related matters that need to be cleared away before we go. I’m also working on travel preparations including getting this blog up and running in the hope that we can use it to document our travels as we go.

Flights were booked long ago when Qantas ran a ‘special’ earlier in the year. Our outbound route on Saturday, September 1 is Brisbane–Sydney–Dallas-Fort Worth–Dulles. Inbound, leaving USA on Sunday, October 7 is Dulles–Dallas-Fort Worth–Brisbane, arriving early in the morning.

First night is at the airport in Dulles. We arrive late and will not want to go further. Our rental car is booked for collection on the morning of Sunday, September 2. Accommodation is arranged in Elizabeth City, NC; Wilmington, NC; Savannah, GA; Asheville, NC; Johnson City, TN; Morehead, KY; Lafayette, IN; Millersburg, OH; Vanderbilt, PA; Indiana, PA; Niagara Falls, ON; Kingston, ON; Montreal, QC; Quebec City, QC; Colchester, VT; Old Orchard Beach, ME; Boston, MA; Provincetown, MA; Windsor Locks, CT; New York, NY; Atlantic City, NJ; Intercourse, PA; and Washington, DC. That’s about 7200 km in a month. Lots of driving, lots to see and do.

There are still some loose ends to be tied, packing to be done, and last minute preparations at home to be made. It’s set to be a busy week.

Early Spring flowers

I took some time this afternoon to get my camera out and check a few things including how I can embed an image here from Flickr. I’m not sure that I’ll work that way but it’s handy to have that option along with others.

I bought and downloaded a USA and Canada map for our TomTom GPS a couple of weeks ago and have been using the links in bookings from booking.com to save the GPS coordinates to the SD card with the map. I hope that means that we can be confident about finding our bed each night. Some of the other navigation is likely to be as it happens and we come across places we find interesting.

Enough for now. There is planning and packing to be done. The blog is up and running and should post notifications to Facebook and Twitter.