Day 823: Red Lodge 2

One of the things that Laetitia missed at the research station was craft beer, so she decided to bring another group to Red Lodge, Montana.  She took them them hiking on trails near Bear Tooth Pass.  When they returned to town she arranged with Justin, the Brew Master, to give them a guided tour of the Red Lodge Ales brewery.  Having done the tour previously, she stayed behind in Sam’s Tap Room.  She stood at the bar looking at the array of taps, trying to decide what she wanted.  The bartender offered and she accepted a flight of Red Lodge Ale’s year-round offerings in two ounce glasses.  She enjoyed the samples and then put the names into a limerick.  After dinner, she joined Bert and Jo Ann for dinner at the Grizzly Bar.  She met them on her previous sojourn here. Bert recently celebrated his ninetieth birthday so she wrote a limerick toast in his honor.

At Red Lodge Ales try a Bent Nail
Or their Porter or Jack’s Scottish Ale
Or their Pilsner called Czechmate
Their Helio’s first rate
As are Beartooth and Glacier ales pale.

Here’s to Bert now a nonagenarian
Who prefers beef to vegetarian
He still goes on hikes
Rides horses and bikes
And is a great humanitarian.

Day 822: Yellow-Eyed Penguin

For Laetitia, one of the virtues of life in the southern hemisphere was an opportunity to see penguins.  Laetitia decided to use her time off this week to lead a tour on the lower east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.  Their destination was the Otago Peninsula to see Yellow-Eyed Penguins.  Distinguished by their prominent yellow eyes and yellow eye-stripes, these birds have the typical white front and black back of many penguin species.  This coloring is no accident; it reduces their vulnerability to predation.  When they are swimming, the dark back camouflages them from above and the white belly renders them nearly invisible from beneath.  They nest mostly in sand-dune vegetation near coastal beaches and feed mostly on fish.  Laetitia arranged with a nature guide form nearby Dunedin to take her group to a designated viewing area.  Unlike many Antarctic species that ignore humans, the Yellow-Eyed Penguins are shy.  Laetitia’s group viewed them from what New Zealanders call a “hide,” a camouflaged place of concealment that Americans would refer to as a “blind.”  Laetitia made this bit of language diversity the subject of her limerick.

To view Yellow-Eyed Penguins, your guide
May suggest that you watch from a “hide”
Though Yanks are inclined
To call it a “blind”
When in New Zealand you must decide.

Day 821: Kiwi

The difference between life at the research station and Laetitia’s life back in Hibernia was that one couldn’t go home when the work when the day’s work was finished.  There was a semblance of a workweek that allowed them more free time on Sunday and that often was the best time to lead a tour.  On this Sunday she brought her tour group to Stewart Island to view wildlife including the rare kiwi.  Located off the southern tip of New Zealand, the island is mostly (85%) Rakiura National Park.  When they decided to make Stewart Island a nature preserve, New Zealand systematically eradicated all the predators so that kiwis and other vulnerable ground species could survive.

Laetitia arranged with a local guide to lead the tour in order to maximize their chances of seeing kiwis in their natural habitat.  The group hiked during the day and then that evening went to a designated beach to watch the nocturnal flightless birds feeding on sand hoppers and kelp.  This endemic bird is New Zealand’s national symbol and is commonly used as a colloquial word for New Zealanders.  Similar in size to the domestic chicken, the kiwi lays the largest egg in relation to its body size of any bird species in the world.  Kiwis are monogamous and nest in burrows. There are four species.  The birds seen on Stewart Island are Southern Brown Kiwis.

There is no real connection between Kiwis and Kiwi Fruit.  New Zealanders called the large fuzzy brown berries “Chinese gooseberries” until New Zealand began exporting them and wanted them to have a name associated with their country.

The Kiwi bird’s fuzzy and round
And flightless, spends life on the ground
And gives not a hoot
For what’s called Kiwi Fruit
A name that admen did propound.

Day 820: Dunedin

Life at the research station was becoming routine.  One of the things Laetitia missed most was the absence of the fresh vegetables that she used to get at Hibernia’s farmers’ markets.  Considering that most of the food at the research station was freeze-dried, canned or frozen, it was reasonably good.  There were occasional exceptions like those tasteless miniature pizzas that the staff dubbed “pizza pucks” or “death disks.”  Having a few hours of time off, Laetitia sat on her bunk, closed her eyes and soon was in the Emerald Victorian’s library with a fresh cup of coffee planning the day’s tour.  She chose Dunedin, New Zealand.

Founded by settlers from the Free Church of Scotland in 1848, Dunedin is now the New Zealand’s seventh largest city.  Its name comes from Scottish Gaelic.  Dùn Èideann
was the historic name for Edinburgh.  That the spiritual leader of the group was Reverend Thomas Burns, a nephew of Robert Burns, likely accounts for the large statue of the Scottish bard in the Octagon, Dunedin’s City Center.  Shortly after the settlement’s founding at the head of Otago Harbour, gold discovered in nearby Gabriel’s Gully led to rapid growth of the city.  It soon became a thriving metropolis with an international population.

Laetitia began her tour by taking her group to see Dunedin’s ornate railway station, built in 1906.  Then they went to Baldwin Street. Guinness World Records deemed it “World’s Steepest Street.”  It is 1,150 feet long and has a 35% grade.  Afterwards, they rode the Taieri Gorge Railway.  The excursion train follows the canyon of the Taieri River between Dunedin and Middlemarch.  En route the train passes over twelve viaducts and through ten tunnels. Laetitia circulated among the train passengers. Among others, she talked to a honeymooning couple from St. George, Queensland, Australia.  At a moment when almost everyone on board was looking at scenery that was particularly stunning, Laetitia noticed that both slipped into one of the lavatories.  They remained in there for a long time with the door locked.  This observation and a little imagination spawned the limerick of the day.

A couple that hailed from St. George
Found libido soon burgeoned so large
That they could not refrain
Though they were on a train
That was climbing through Taieri Gorge.