First of all, I’m sorry for not keeping in touch lately. Theresa and I have been on the road for the last few days, and internet access is scarce. Backpackers and coffee shops that offer access at one of their computer stations usually charge $1 for 10 minutes, which is such a rip-off – especially when an obnoxious onscreen timer is blinking the countdown and mocking you: “Hurry up you clumsy typer, you’ve only got 4:27 left!” Then, on top of that, the operating system is on lock down, physically only letting you use an internet browser (which is always Internet Explorer, the worst browser on the planet.) So I can’t use Instant Messenger, or upload anything with a USB drive. It usually takes me about an hour to write a post, including spell-checking what I’ve written. That hour doesn’t include writing any emails or any other web browsing I might need to do, i.e. checking snow conditions or finding a phone number for a backpacker place. All these World Wide Web activities add up quickly, particularly taking into account the speed of the connection. Yes, Mom and Dad, there does exist an internet connection that is slower than your dial-up. Remarkable.

In a nutshell, internet access I’ve found here in NZ on the road is terrible. I’m not just explaining to everyone this predicament, I’m complaining about it too. I really like being able to write these entries, and also write emails. It’s been less than two weeks, and I can’t wait for my sister, Kirk, and my parents to come visit. I miss everyone very much.

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This past Monday, just before noon, Theresa and I hopped in the car and started driving to Tunnel Beach. After winding our way up through sprawling neighborhoods in hilly southern Dunedin, we reached a plateau where houses were replaced with farmland. Sheep, cows and horses dotted the fields. After a few more miles, the road turned to dirt, and we turned down a farmer’s stoney driveway. At the end, one other car sat in a muddy, makeshift parking lot. At the far side of the lot, we passed through a gate and started down a steep fenced-lined walkway, weaving through fields of sheep. In 15 minutes, we reached the beach – almost. It was there, over a sheer cliff face, over 100 feet down.

This is how the story goes: Some guy who lived on the land, long before the farmers owned it, had a daughter. He wanted his daughter to have her own private beach, so he came up with an idea to dig a tunnel through the rock that led to the shoreline. Guess who he made dig the tunnel? His son.

There’s a trick about the tunnel: you must go through it during low tide. High tide floods the bottom half of the tunnel and its entrance to the beach. The color of the ocean, the sky and the rock cliffs were gorgeous, and I took a bunch of pictures. I became more and more frustrated, though, after every photo I took. I’d look though the viewfinder, see buckets of color drenching the landscape, click the shutter, and then review what I just shot on the LCD screen. The beautiful color, gone! All of the saturation seemed to have evaporated. I swear there was a leak somewhere between the front of the lens and my LCD screen where all the color saturation bled out out of my camera.

There is a leak – it is the sensor. The little chip that reads the light coming in through my lens, the very thing that makes my digital camera “digital”, is the color-stealing culprit. I can’t speak for all of the professional digital SLR’s that cost thousands of dollars, but I can rip on my own consumer DSLR. When compared to film, digital just doesn’t cut it. Film is the bully beating up my geeky camera for its milk money.

The only problem is, if you’re planning to take mass quantities of pictures (i.e.. me in New Zealand for 6 months), film gets pretty dang expensive. I am a college student with student loans. End of debate.