Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Life, New Plymouth

The beautiful snow capped Mt Taranaki as Amy flies out.
A move to a new life in Taranaki living with Kent and Eryn Deverson promised a nice summer spin on what had been a good stint of winters. A random phone call from Kent one day during our regular Frisbee golf led us on the journey to New Plymouth. Kent is very convincing and the idea of summer by the beach with surfing, gardening, swimming in the pool, brewing some beer, making cheese and all that sort of stuff sounded good. 
Felix helping in the garden

Things fell into place for us reasonably quickly. I got a job for a landscape gardener at, Plantation House Design. Amy loved the time she spent reading by the pool, walking or running along the costal walkway, and working on artwork. I quickly bought a surfboard and a skateboard but some wild weather of rain and wind kept us house bound for the best part of the first few months. When able to get out, we enjoyed our time outside, the beautiful coastal walkway was always a nice way to get some fresh air both cycling and walking.  

Running faster than the traffic
On Eryn's request we participated in the Classic Hits relay team for the Round The Mountain Race. We had a mixed team of runners and walkers. Amy and my legs were right on midday one after the other and it being the first nice day in months we got scorched. Amy did a 8km walking leg and I went hard for my first run in 16 months and smashed 11.9 km in 58mins 25secs! Made for a sore week at work recovering from that. 

Peter and Thomas hanging out at the park

Henric & Mary

Thomas, Amy and Henric with a view of Lake Wakitipu

While in Queenstown, Amy and I ended up becoming good friends with another couple, Henric and Mary. Henric is from Sweden and Mary is from Nelson. They met while working at a ski resort in Switzerland and have been bouncing around to different countries, living, working and just generally trying to be together. We got on quite well with them as we obviously share similar experiences and interests. Henric worked at Rata with John, and our relationship began by bumming rides up to the ski field with him. Eventually we were skiing with Henric almost every day that we would go up. To repay him for driving us up the mountain, we would often invite him and Mary over for homebrew or just head off to happy hour with them.
Thomas and Henric playing around in Wanaka
The four of us opted to head over to Wanaka one day. We had lunch and a beer at Kai Whaka Pai, went on the Wanaka Beer Works Brewery tour, including delicious tastings and had a very casual and windy game of Frisbee golf. Everyone, even another group of players, was stoked as I achieved the accomplishment of getting a hole in one!!! It tried to rain on us but it didn't really, instead we finished our game while the sun set through the clouds and a storm came rolling in. It was an amazing sight to see, and made for some strong winds and wonky Frisbee throws!
Thomas, Amy, Mary and Henric with Lake Wanaka
Just before we left Queenstown, the four of us made a trip to Dunedin for a craft beer and food festival at the Forsyth bar stadium. We were all very much looking forward to this. While heading that way we decided to swing by the Catlins and make a mean road trip out of the day.
We had the wild early start of something like 5.30am and had the most beautiful drive south along the lake past Kingston and right through Southland, passing places like Gore. It was just such a wonderful time to be driving with a long sunrise and beautiful scenary. Not that the others saw much more than their eyelids, while I saw it all from behind the wheel. We went to Kaka Point, Nugget Point and walked through Tunnel Hill. Straight over to Dunedin though, cos the fancy beer awaited.
Nugget Point
We all bought around the 50 dollar mark for tokens, which is how you purchased food and beer. I meticulously planned every drink I had and loved most and a few new breweries stood out to me. Those being the Velvet Worm from Dunedin and Golden Eagle from Christchurch. Henric and myself got very jolly off our beer sampling and Henric happly blew the bank on lots of food too, being a chef and all. Amy was a good girl and was our sober driver all the way home back to Queenstown. She did say we were very annoying passengers on the ride though, and getting lost in Dunedin and driving through the dark and snow across Central Otago made for a awesome day.
Enjoying some delicious beer and good company

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Remarks - Park Rats and Powder Hounds

Thomas going 720 over the 40 foot jump at The Remarks
With all the time in the world, well at least all the time in the season, we were set to ride hard and make the most of a good snow year at the Southern Lakes. We pretty much just rode as much as we could handle, until we either were too sore, too tired to wake up or occasionally too hung over. I (Thomas) spent a good 30 days on the various mountains and Amy over 20 days out. Lots of those days, up with John and Kel, various friends- like Henric and Mary, or Andrew, who came down from Christchurch. Quite often I would just end up taking a run or riding a whole day with new friends I had made on the chair lift.

Andrew, Thomas and Amy on a great spring powder day.
When it had been snowing, we were the fiercest powder hounds on the mountain. We would be racing to get on the first chair lift of the day. We would be methodically knocking off runs to ensure we rode the most powder possible and got the most fresh turns. Quickly I worked out that the best way to shred fresh powder turns was to hike up to the top of the various ridge-lines surrounding the ski area basin. There were plenty of open faces, bowls, chutes and cliffs all laying practically untouched, due to the steep nature and substantial effort required to hike to these runs. This is where we had the best turns, deepest powder, biggest drops, scariest moments and enjoyed the best scenery. You can see from the photo above, the area to the left dropping off behind the large ridge-line - my playground.

Amy at the top of Outward bound, good girl for skiing outside the ski area boundary with us!
John was a good sport following me up most the terrain. But I was so proud of Amy and her progression. She started coming everywhere with us. Learning lessons along the way, mainly that she should not follow my tracks directly. As I tend to aim for the gnarly terrain, she would often end up getting stuck about rocks or cliffs. But she skied the big runs with us, making dope turns and not too many complaints along the way.

Ski down, hike up.
Unfortunately it didn't snow every night and after a few days the powder would pack and freeze firm. So on these days we would head over the the terrain park. A lot of good fun in there, but at least a bit scarier for me because it hurts to fall on packed snow and rails etc. This didn't slow us down too much though. I quickly progressed to the big park, with 30 to 40+ feet jumps, down rails and boxes and even a gap jump over a container. Progressing from 360s to 540s and even the occasional attempt at a 720! I never made the landing on that one, nor did it look steezy doing it, but I tried my best. This was probably the most terrifying thing about snowboarding for Amy though, more so than any of the back country riding she did. I did put her through a few unerving moments.  A few times over the big 45 footer my feet would get away from me and from the top of the park where Amy would be watching she would just see me diapering beyond the horizon with my feet above my head. Somehow though, due to the steep grade of the landing and some panicked flailing mid-air, I would recover to just land very heavily on my hip instead of my head. Amy herself started hitting the jumps in the beginner park and even some rail boxes too. It wasn't a bad way to spend a sunny day with amazing scenery all round and a good dose of adrenalin.

One mild spring day, John called me out. I was talking up a storm about how I wanted to snowboard  naked.

Going el'natural down our favourite Homeward Run.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Mullet

Not much really needs to be said here. The most amazing hair style worn on the head of a Deverson!