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Winter in Nelson has been pretty nice so far. In fact I keep having to convert months and reminding myself that it is the equivalent of December here right now! It is getting colder overnight, and we are certainly very happy to finally have heat in the house, but the sunshine is still quite brilliant, and it warms up quite nicely midday often to the point of being able to wear shorts and short sleeves. I must qualify this a bit. Kiwis are almost always in shorts and short sleeves and I still see a few walking around town barefoot. They either don't feel the cold or it's more of that pioneer tough it out spirit. I've been in long pants and wool sweaters for quite some time now. John and I will go out on bike rides wearing wool leg warmers, jackets, gloves etc., and almost everyone we meet has bare legs! So here we are supposedly used to cold, having commuted through brutal Boston winters with temps in the single digits in Fahrenheit, all bundled up at 40-50F, while locals ride around in shorts!


The mountains nearby got a good covering of snow recently. On clear days the views are spectacular. I will admit that we do have the odd non-clear day, and even some real downright messy rainy days. When it rains here, it doesn't muck about. We get proper heavy downpours, and it is raw, especially the southerlies. We call it a lazy wind, because it can't be troubled going around you, it just cuts right through. But a couple of days of this unpleasant stuff is usually followed by a week of lovely crystal clear sunny days. Then the camera comes back out!
John is heading off for a whirlwind trip home for a bit of greencard recharging. The original plan was that he would meet Susan Lowery in California to ride the Terrible Two, but logistics just made this difficult and apparently of the three of us (John, Susan and Pamela), I (Pamela) was the most keen on John and Susan doing this brutally tough ride. Maybe next year! Anyway, as we starting investigating airfares, we found that from NZ at least, round the world fares were cheaper than most return fares to the States. So John is heading to Connecticut to hang out with Roy, Susan and Drew a while. He'll be cycling around our old stomping grounds and trying to visit friends. Then he's off to Ireland for a couple of weeks and then back here. It seems a shame to waste a round the world journey on only two real stops, but we'll both go next time and do it properly. I am staying in New Zealand. We didn't feel comfortable leaving the cats (with unfamiliar cat sitters) for such a long trip, and the kitchen is supposed to be installed next month, so I am sticking around to look after cats and the house. I also have plans to get a lots of work done while John is away.
In the lead up to John's trip, we've been trying to do a bit more hiking, since Susan has threatened to walk John's legs off while he is there. That and the fact that the walking around here is just spectacular! We headed back out to the Cable Bay Walkway again. The first time we did the walk, we started pretty late in the day, and walked just past the top and back down. We got another late start this time, but managed to do almost the entire walkway and back. The character of this path changes dramatically several times. It starts out up a steep climb across open fields, but then goes into lovely native bush before emerging on open fields again. We skipped the final part down into Cable Bay itself, since daylight was growing short, but we've ridden into Cable Bay many times, so we haven't missed anything other than a steep descent and climb back out.
Unfortunately I've let my feet get out of walking shape, and I suffered a bit near the end of this walk. We'd talked about trying to do a 4 day tramp either on the Heaphy Track or the Abel Tasman before John heads off, but decided maybe we should ramp up a little slower before committing to a long trip. We also had some complications with the house. The gutters still aren't installed and the roofing company called the day before we were planning the trip to say the gutter folks would be around the next day. Well if we ever do get the gutters, you'll get to read all about what we've been through, but for now I'll just say that we've had numerous false starts and still no gutters!
After delaying our tramp a couple of times, we missed a good spell of weather, so we planned a very short tramp, and just did an overnight on the first part of the Abel Tasman in from Marahau. We walked four hours in with our overnight gear, stayed at the first hut, and then tramped four hours back the next day. It poured rain the next day! My feet held up better, so I'll try to maintain this (by doing some walking on my own) while John is away and we'll do quite a bit once he returns!