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rainy day

Drove the tractor in the orchards for two hours this morning, mowing down the five foot tall (seriously) grass, while C, C, and Maureen picked fruit to fill an order. About a half hour in, it started to sprinkle, and only got worse from there. Soaked, sopping, drenched, cold, and covered with bugs and bits of leaves from driving through the orange trees. Not so much fun, but coming inside afterward to lunch and hot tea was lovely, not to mention the satisfaction of getting an entire paddock finished. I felt very hard core. No more work as long as it's raining, so I've been squeezing some fresh juice (YUM), and actually have a few minutes to update, and to post PHOTOS! Only a few minutes, though, so I'm only putting up the six best pictures that I've gotten back so far. Go here http://community.webshots.com/user/susanm483 to view them

Let's see, what else can I fill you all in on while I've got time?

Cape Reinga! The three of us (C, C, and me) took a day-long bus tour of the Northland. We drove up the west coast – on 90-Mile Beach. Yes, ON – the bus had to keep swerving to avoid the waves as they washed in. It's the only beach in the world that's actually classed as a highway. About 70km up the beach, the bus turned off of the beach, driving through a freshwater stream that runs from a lake 10km inland, all the way out to the ocean. Because the water is running, the sand underneath is remarkably unstable, and the bus had to go at a steady, quick speed to avoid being sucked down in the quicksand. Finally we made it to solid ground, and stopped at a sort of oasis among the sand dunes – not to enjoy the greenery, however, but to go sledding down the dunes! The bus driver provided little plastic sleds, and we took turns climbing the steep ridge of one golden dune and then plunging off the edge. Sand EVERYWHERE – in my face, my hair, my mouth, my camera (very bad), my pants. Very cool, though. Finally – the Cape itself! This is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean run into each other. I was a little disappointed, as I was hoping for colossal, smashing waves bashing into one another, but as it was a gorgeous, calm day, there was only a little white froth where the two bodies of water met. Huge tourist destination, which was a little annoying – kids, older people, blocking your efforts at taking photos – but for all that, it's a very wild and desolate spot. There's a lighthouse with a paved path, and a small dirt parking lot with restrooms, but other than that, nothing, for miles and miles. Beautiful green bluffs, and steep, rocky cliffs as far as you can see. Lunch was included, and the bus stopped at a small but impressive beach. Rough rocks create a narrow opening through which the incoming waves are compressed and given great height, even on a calm day like this. The drive south was less impressive than the drive north, because we stuck to the main road, inland, but the unending hills and animals and trees that make up NZ's Northland never get old.

Since then…Matai Bay! As we pulled in, Christoph and Christopher spotted a familiar face – Sebastian, another German they'd met in Auckland. Sebastian was there with Dave (from England) and Tomoko (from Japan), and the six of us fell in together on the windy (but bright and hot and sparkling) beach. Sebastian and his friends did some snorkeling, and C, C and I tried to eat our picnic lunch without also consuming the blowing sand (not super successful). Later, Dave, Sebastian, Christoph and I hiked over the point to get a better view of the entire bay. We were all barefooted, and the path was only about six inches across, overgrown with ferns and prickly plants that stabbed us from all angles, and Dave made jokes about “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” It was worth it, though, to look down on both sides into the unbeliveably clear water. Dave and I discovered that we were both English majors! Hooray for intellectual discussion! We talked about Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams on the hike back down, and shared our views on tourism and traveling and generally hit it off very well. The six of us also tried to visit a second beach on the otherside of the peninsula, but were discouraged by rain and heavy wind.

Last night was Thanksgiving dinner!! We had roasted chicken, stuffing, roasted vegetables, potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce, and I made an apple pie. It was so wonderful to be able to cook for Maureen and the Germans, to share the tradition and to be able to give thanks for the people and the place and the last few weeks. They thought I was a little bit silly, because I was so excited, but in general, it was absolutely wonderful. And today I got to have a Thanksgiving Sandwich!! Hooray! They also thought that was a little weird, but oh well. Okay, that's all I have time for. Go see my pictures!


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