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the last hurrah

I don’t really have time to do this past week justice.  I’m not sure that it would be possible, in fact, to do it justice.  It’s been that good.  But if I don’t write it now, it will never get written, and if nothing else, the pictures that go with this particular episode need a story.  It is only a lack of time and energy that require it be a short one.

And so: SUSAN’S LAST WEEK IN NZ WITH LUMIR (the clip show!)

Picnicking at the Rakaia Gorge!  Being late (and slightly tipsy) for work!

Camping in Home Sweet Home (Lumir’s car – complete with curtains and double mattress)
Part One: parked on the side of a gravel road miles from anywhere, atop a hill overlooking an enormous river valley, Mt. Sunday (aka Edoras in LOTR), and surrounded by the Arrowsmith Mts.  In the morning, sleeping in, then crossing creeks and climbing barefooted to the top of Mt. Sunday!  Sitting on the land where Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas and the rest stood above the plains of Rohan, and broke Wormtongue’s poisonous web of words in LOTR: The Two Towers.
Part Two: on the edge of Lake Coleridge, the full moon flirting with us from behind immense, fast-moving clouds, feeling the wind rocking us, as strong as if stirred by the wings of an albatross, attempting to lift the car off its wheels and hurl it into the stony shore.

Lounging in the outdoor hot pools at the Methven Resort (where I worked in the restaurant), doing handstands, drinking wine, trying to make ourselves sink to the bottom where we held bubbly conversations, in depth.  Fleeing the rain that ended the hot pool party around 2 AM, taking shelter at the lodge with hot chocolate and LOTR: The Return of the King, only to fall asleep in front of the fire.

Last day skiing on the mountain!  With my own personal photographer, no less, making me feel like a professional.  It is such a treat to travel with a photographer, someone who appreciates the landscape on the same level as I do, but is able to actually translate the joy and wonder generated by the scenery into his frames.  Plus, it means that there are now quality pictures of me in NZ!  “Finally,” you say.

The day before I must leave: we cross a river and climb to the top of a ridge near Mt. Hutt, wandering, exploring, enjoying the fact that it is winter and it is 45 degrees and sunny.  We hike in jeans and warm fleece tops.  Searching for a different way to climb down, we find a wee creek, falling gently down a rather steep slope, overgrown and ostensibly impenetrable.  It’s the ultimate Kiwi bush walk.  Tough, tricky, and FUN.  A sampling of verbs: jump, swing, hang, crawl, slide, squeeze, stretch, reach, slip, grip, rip, fall, pull, work.  By the end we are bruised, wet, muddy, sporting leaves in our hair, scratches on our hands, and grins on our faces.

Later that night.  Curry and a jug at the pub with an assortment of friends close and casual – it’s my last night, and this is way better than packing.  Live music, cheap beer, and all the excitement of things to come.  I don’t sleep much that night.

On the road again…a long, rainy day drive north from Methven to Picton, where I must catch the ferry and begin to say my goodbyes to the country I’ve come to love.  A lunch stop at the beach, a wooden swing, and one last night of camping in Home Sweet Home, on a hill in the Marlborough Sounds…

One night in Wellington, two nights in Tauranga with my Kiwi family (Jasmine, Dan, Corrine, Kirstine and the rest).  Tomorrow, Graham (from Tekapo) and a free night in a fancy hotel, and the day after…home.  See you soon.

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