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Soggy Dunedin

Greetings from Dunedin (pronounced “Dun-EDEN”), a city of about 100,000 haggis-eating Kiwis set among the green, rolling hills of southeastern New Zealand.  Dunedin is Celtic for “Edinburgh” and the accent here, with some locals rolling the letter “R,” reflects the area's Scottish heritage.


The scenery here is also like Scotland – and the weather is Scottish too, unfortunately.  I’ve been in Dunedin for six days now waiting for the sun to come out.  I'm sure it's up there somewhere.  Hey laddie (sorry, that's my best Scottish accent), this is supposed to be summer!


As I write this, yet another storm is rolling through New Zealand and it’s raining and blowing pretty hard outside.  I've been in New Zealand for about a month now and while some days have been absolutely gorgeous, it's rained part of almost every day that I've been here.  The storms here in soggy Dunedin have been especially nasty and the bagpipers are having trouble keeping their kilts down in this weather, which, unfortunately, is supposed to continue for several more days.



This sums up how I feel right now.  These are the Serendipity Singers with Don't Let The Rain Come Down.


It's only January 12, barely halfway through the summer, but most cities in New Zealand have already received their normal rainfall for the entire summer (and some in less than an hour).  Kiwis are generally a cheerful bunch but they're starting to grumble, calling this “The summer that never was.”  It's interesting to read the paper each morning to see what new calamities have befallen the country with stories about floods, bridge washouts, and hikers in the mountains trapped by raging rivers becoming commonplace.  And yesterday I saw a guy with a long beard down at the harbor loading animals, two by two, onto his long wooden boat.  What was that all about?


Above:  Waiting for the rain to stop at the Arcadian Motel, my home in Dunedin for these past six soggy days.

Just so you know, I’m writing this in a motel room with the heater cranked up all the way.  If you’re in the cold and snowy Midwest now, I’m sure you don't feel sorry for me, traveling around beautiful New Zealand as I've been doing, and will be happy to hear that!  Seriously though, last night while shopping in a chilly Woolworth's grocery store in Dunedin, I huddled next to the roasted chicken counter just to warm up.  I lingered there quite a while and I'm sure the girl working at the deli was starting to wonder about me.


The biggest issue for me recently, though, hasn’t been roasted chickens or even the drippy weather, but rather the demise of my Canon D-30 digital camera.  The camera problem has been quite discouraging, to put it mildly, and I’ve described the situation in more detail below.  For several reasons, including the "Three C's" (the clouds, crowds and my camera), I’m seriously thinking about returning to the U.S. in April to take another trip around America this spring and summer, instead of traveling around the world like I had thought about doing.  But we'll see.


All right, here’s some info about my camera, a change of plans and, finally, my update between Christchurch and Dunedin.

Camera Woes and Dirty Pictures

I haven’t had many problems during my U.S. and overseas trips, and for that I’ve been thankful.  Other than not seeing Niagara Falls despite driving around it for an hour (see News: August 10, 2001), the biggest glitches on this trip so far have been:


My good luck recently ran out, though.  I’ve always loved photography and I take my camera with me just about everywhere I go (perhaps that's one reason why women keep turning me down for dates).  I've shot about 18,000 slides over the past 20 years but last spring, and largely because of this website, I decided to switch from film to digital photography.  It was a momentous decision for me, something akin to a Coke drinker switching to Pepsi – or in my case, the other way.


After doing a lot of research, I bought a Canon D-30, a 3.4-megapixel digital SLR camera – the world's very first digital SLR camera.  "SLR" stands for "single-lens reflex," meaning that my camera accepts interchangeable lenses, so I could use all of the Canon lenses I've accumulated over the years on my new D-30.  At $3,000, the D-30 camera body wasn’t cheap but, on the other hand, I figured I wouldn’t have to ever buy film again.  And of course, since it was a digital camera, I could easily post photos from it onto my website.  Indeed, except for a few scanned slides, all of the pictures I've posted on this website were shot with my Canon D-30.


Although the picture quality of the D-30 wasn’t quite as good as film, I was pretty happy with it.  I especially liked the idea of shooting 200 or 300 pictures a day and keeping only the best ones, something that would be prohibitively expensive with a film camera and shooting slides.  However, as I discovered, the main problem with a digital SLR camera is that when you change lenses, dirt can get into the camera and adhere to the delicate sensor.  That, unfortunately, is what happened and the dirt now shows up as splotches on almost every photo I take.  I don't have the same problem with a film camera, because if dirt gets inside, it will affect only one picture.  If dirt gets on the sensor of a digital camera, on the other hand, it will affect every single photo.  As my friend Homer Simpson would say:  "Doh!"


Above:  My Canon D-30 digital camera has been my faithful travel companion since I left Portland last June.  The images don't look that good anymore, though, so I've switched to film and bought an EOS Rebel.  Using some clever cropping, I'll still use my D-30 to post photos on this website, though.

Recently, more and more dirt has been accumulating on the sensor, so I guess you could say that I've been taking a lot of dirty pictures.   I tried cleaning the sensor a few days ago but it didn’t work.  In fact, as so often happens when I try to fix something myself, it made things worse.  My only option now is to mail the camera to Canon in Los Angeles for cleaning, which isn't practical given my nomadic lifestyle.


Yesterday, after I realized that I could no longer use my D-30, I went into Dunedin and bought a film camera, a Canon EOS Rebel, and got about 40 rolls of slide film.   So, after shooting 11,000 digital pictures on this trip since last June, I’ve given up on my D-30 and have gone back to shooting slides.  


One problem with shooting slides, of course, is that I can't post them on my website.  I got a cheap Samsung digital camera yesterday thinking I could use it for my website photos.  But sadly it was exactly that:  cheap.  I think with a little creative cropping, though, I may still be able to use my D-30 for my website.  That means, of course, that I'll be shooting with TWO cameras now:  my Rebel film camera and my D-30.  I'll have to see how well that works out.  Jeez, now I definitely won't get any dates!

New Plans

My main goal during this trip has been to play things loose:  if I like a place, I stay, and if I don’t, I leave.  If you read my entry from Christchurch, you know that I was getting a little bummed out in New Zealand because of the massive crowds and the rainy weather here.  Since I left Christchurch a week ago, the crowds have gotten worse, the weather has deteriorated, and now my D-30 digital camera is on the blink, so I'm very discouraged.  On the bright side, though, the people here in New Zealand are wonderful and the scenery is spectacular – at least, on the days when I can see it.


Nevertheless, I'm thinking more seriously now about returning to the U.S. in April after spending the rest of January in New Zealand and spending February and March in Australia.  I’m glad I came down here because now I know what it's like, but I think two months in New Zealand followed by a couple months in Australia will be enough for this trip. 


This entry is getting long so I’ll post my update from Christchurch to soggy Dunedin on a separate page, at January 12, 2002 – Part 2  (Dunedin, New Zealand)    See you there!



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