Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Remarkable Views and Some Initial Closing Thoughts

As promised, here are some pictures from yesterday's skiing at the Remarkables. If you look here behind Sally you can see that there is quite a bit of land that is not snow-covered. I'm not sure at what elevation the snow starts, but it's a few thousand feet above Queenstown level to get to permanent snow.

In fact, on our bus ride yesterday, I thought that there wouldn't be any mountain left for us to ski on because about 35 minutes into our bus ride, we had probably climbed 3,000 feet straight up and there was still no snow on the ground and it looked like we were to the tops of the mountains. But we traversed along the road and went deeper into the mountains and finally the road unfolded into a huge opening where the Remarkables were. You can see what that looked like in this picture (view from the parking lot up).

This third picture is a view from one of the chairlifts out. Sweet as. Choice, eh? Wicked, bro.

Not sure what's in store for us today, but it is certainly sad to realize that this is our last day in New Zealand. It's another beautiful day--cloudless again with great views of the surrounding mountains. Overnight it was down to about 30 degrees and today's high should be about 50. We've laundered the last clothes, pretty much completely packed up our bags, and we're not going to bungy jump or skydive. I think we'll do some walking and perhaps do some luging on the mountain.
I don't want to bring myself to write a closing post, and in fact, I think I'll save that for when we finally get home. But my initial closing thoughts are happy ones. This has been a truly amazing trip. Last night at dinner, Sally and I agreed that while with more time we could have perhaps seen a few more sights and towns, we spent about the right amount of time in each of the places we visited. And while we enjoyed the North Island, somehow the trip just kept getting better as we moved south. I think it turned out quite nice that we spent a lot of time watching the Olympics in the first week. We were recovering from the long flight, we both wanted to watch Michael Phelps, but more importantly, we really got into the Kiwi psyche by watching the Games from a different perspective. By witnessing the hearbreak, watching the huge expectations either be fulfilled or fall short on the shoulders of the athletes really made an impression. And it also made us realize just how small and wonderful this place is. Since then, we've viewed everything through that lens and we've been that much more informed about the culture and the people.
We're off tomorrow--4 flights to get home! But hey, we're actually getting home before we left, or at least we're getting to LA before we left Auckland, so that will be cool. Until we are home, then, that's it. It's been awesome!

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