Monday, January 27, 2014

Austrian vistors meet God on the road

Monday, January 27, 2014
oldbearnews editor

Ah yes - nothing like a good sleep and some shared lodgings. Funny how things work sometimes.  We drove over and had a brief interlude sunshine but basically it got wet and cold.  How cold?? Yes well the nearby Mount Hutt Ski-field had 20 cm of fresh snow - and this in summer!!  Global warming - pah!!! So we left the fresh air and carried on - to Tekapo - our goal for the day!  On the way we stopped at Geraldine.  Nothing much to it - a farming community and famous for its berry-growing ability and the fruit juice company that makes delicious fruit syrups!!  Also a very convenient Toilet stop and this particular public model had the guest scratching the heads for a while! It is fully automated, plays music and cleans itself.  It has sensors inside that knows if you are in - and - surprise surprise after 15 minutes OPENS the doors again - regardless if you have finished your - urm business.  To bad if you were still going. 

So eventually we came round a bend - a familiar bend - and I knew the sort of response we would get - some ahhhhs and uuuh's and - yes please - photo stop.  Have stopped there myself for a photo before - it is the beginning of McKenzie country and of course with the recent snow - it looked just magnificent.  This is just one of any photos - but I also know what lay in store for the visitors!!

Yes - Lake Tekapo with its gorgeous lake and church and backdrop and ....

This particular image is of the same location where Mamabear once stepped into a rabbit hole and wrenched her foot and I had to do a whole lot more driving then bargained for.  It is the spot where - but I digress - yet again.
Nature did call again - in the form of hunger pains so we found eventually some food to eat and we enjoyed sitting in the sun and - well ate.  What better dining experience can one have - outdoors in the sun and watching the lake and church and people and this little Asian kid chasing the seagulls who were competing for the food. Lunch in a grandiose setting!!
Eventually the five loaf's got eaten along with the two fish and it was time to do what every tourist does - got to Church - one particular church - right?!?!   The Church of The Good Shepherd must be THE most photographed church in New Zealand - if not the world.  It has a grand setting - looks solid with its stone work, is small enough to be comfy and I called in the lad for a staged picture.
It is a shared church with four denominations using it for worship (rotating visiting clergy) so that everyone gets a share of their particular "brand" and theology.
Once the doors opened the flock gathered in the church.  I defy anyone to come up with a better altar backdrop.  When you consider what the creator has achieved here, you realize how insignificant your own life is and along it's associated problems!

I was pleased to share this moment with my cousin.  The clicking of cameras and jockeying for position by the snap-happy people was a minor distraction.  In between there is and was time to ponder your own place in the universe - and a certain Charles Wesley hymn comes to mind -  more on that later.  In any case we sat for a good ten minutes and pondered. Soon it was time to go and get ourselves organized for the night time activity.
Dinner was consumed and then began the long wait.  As it was summer and the sun sets late - and it is still dusk-ish by 10pm the tour we were on, started at midnight.  Myself I decided to take a few moments to listen to my pillows sweet rasping - only to  expose the visitors to a  monotonous trumpet sound in g sharp - or was that a C minor???  Poor sods - I have a cpap machine for sleep these days but did not use it for the hour and a bit I snoozed on the bed.  They could  hear me down the  hall and all the way across the lounge.  Well it was worth it - refreshed and ready to go - along with seven layers (at least for Doris) of clothing. Having been there before we know HOW cold it can be on the mountain and yesterdays snow fall was not encouraging.  The good folks at Tekapo give you warm hand-me-down down-jackets from the Antarctic crew - and they are THICK jackets. This time we got only one - last time we had two and still froze.  Now all that training we had done at the Antarctic centre the previous week came in useful!! Got to the drop-of point ok and booked ourselves in (along with yet another sad story about miss-placed bookings) and got instructions on light use and so forth - then it was off on the bus!  Austrian visitors not to comfy with the idea of driving the last few hundred meters up a steep hill without any car light on - the driver even covers his dash-board up with a towel!! However there is a reason for it - a; it preserves your own night vision and b; the telescopes need total blackout in order to work properly and on this particular night one of the often available telescopes for the tour was doing some work for a research station in someplace America and being remote - eg via computer - operated!! The tour guides have a green laser and they point out various star combinations and areas we are looking through the 'scopes!  In this particular shot we are looking at the southern cross and how to find due south - I think!!  There is also an opportunity for a limited number of DLSR cameras to take some night shots - these are computer controlled along with the earths rotation so you get good images.

  This in one from Wilfried's camera! not sure which particular spot of the night sky it is meant to be - but hey - he's done more then me.  One of the beauties of being up there is that they point (with the green laser)  to an seemingly empty space and say we are looking now at - blah blah and then you look through the telescope and surprise surprise you see hundreds of dim white dots (stars) that you could not see with the naked eye.  Makes you realize the vastness of space and your own totally insignificance in the great scheme of things. we also saw Jupiter along with three of its moons and a nebula who's name i now cannot remember, and various other stars etc.
I so wanted to see Saturn - but alas - he had not yet risen.
The obligatory group photo. No you will not find me in there, however spot the green people from Austria!!

A pic I filched from the net - last time  I tried this I accidentally  left my tripod at home and this time I had no room to pack let alone time and patience to test take an image like this. It just means we will have to go back there another time - oh what a shame :)

The tour was over son enough and we got home - cold and happy in the wee hours in the morning.  We agreed  not to push a wake up time - rather take it as it comes - with a drive to Mount Cook village on the plan - so wakeup times of 9 or 10.30 am was bandied about.

While falling into bed and wrapping my cold legs around the warm (female) bear -  who chose not to go up to the Observatory this time - I was trying to ponder one of the Hymns from Charles Wesley - but long before I could draw anything significant out of that hymn --  I crashed and slept like a log.

good night

LET earth and heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made man.

He laid his glory by,
He wrapped him in our clay;
Unmarked by human eye,
The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days he here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel's name.

Unsearchable the love
That hath the Saviour brought;
The grace is far above
Or man or angels thought;
Suffice for us that God, we know,
Our God, is manifest below.

He deigns in flesh to appear,
Widest extremes to join;
To bring our vileness near,
And make us all divine:
And we the life of God shall know,
For God is manifest below.

Made perfect first in love,
And sanctified by grace,
We shall from earth remove,
And see his glorious face:
Then shall his love be fully showed,
And man shall then be lost in God.

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