Unseasonable Taste of Summer

No, no, no, I KNOW it’s not summer. But it sure felt like it this past weekend. Sunday we played at Rapaki beach and even dabbled in the actual ocean.  Of course we displaced dozens of crabs and scores of snails in digging out the warm pools as well.

It barely hit 20 degrees on Saturday, but Milo got all red in the face on our little port hills hike, and said it was “Too HOAT.” Little kiwi, he has no heat tolerance! We told him to toughen up or else he’ll melt come summer.

Jeremiah packed the barbie and we charred some sausies for lunch at Sign of the Kiwi, along Summit Rd. Did you know that flax sizzles and pops when grilled? Milo now does.

Troup is having a feed.  The roof was burned off the Sign of the Kiwi last year, but it’s fixed up just like new now.  Actually even better than new–the underneath is lined with metal, maybe making it more fireproof than before, but the old fireplace is blocked off. 

The ball’s ricochets are a little unpredictable off the stones, but Milo didn’t care.  

See that gorgeous trunk that looks like a crepe myrtle? It’s the fuchsia that is native to NZ.

I apologize for the out of focus picture….but this is vaguely what the fuchsia flowers look like. Not quite puffy ballerinas like the ornamental varieties, but recognizable nonetheless.

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Testing, testing, NZ medical system

When we were expecting Naomi I thought to myself “Good.  I’ve had one baby in the USA, now I’ll try the prenatal care and birthing system in New Zealand.”  I was pleasantly surprised how well the NZ midwifery system worked.  I felt that if I had run into complications that care would have been efficiently referred to an obstetrician, but the midwives I worked with were professional, skilled, and personable.  And the post-baby support beat the US system all hollow.  I’m a NZ birthing system convert.

I recently got to test the general medical system in NZ out….not that I have much personal experience with major medical problems in the US, so probably not a fair trial.  This test was a bit more rocky than the baby test.

April 2016 I started a problem that was eventually diagnosed as disc between two vertebrae bulging out and pressing on nerves, causing leg pain.  It sounds so simple in that description, but living with the problem was misery for months last winter, and I wallowed around in the NZ medical system waiting for one appointment or another… 4 months before getting an MRI (and therefore a correct diagnosis) and 9 months before getting approval (funding approval) for a surgery to correct it.  I’ll spare you the details of the wallowing.  I might do better the second time around, but probably not.  Basically the problem wasn’t an emergency (not life threatening), so rather than your first port-of-call doctor (a general practitioner in this case….well, after physiotherapists couldn’t do any more) ordering an expensive MRI scan, they order an appointment for you to see a specialist…and 6 weeks later when your appointment comes, they order and MRI for 4 weeks later….then wait again for a follow-up appointment.  You get the picture.  Health care is slow because it is rationed.  Economics is considered.  Unlike in America.

But in January when the approval for a surgery finally came through, I was actually feeling better.  Gradually, ever so incrementally, my back had improved to the point where I could mountain bike, and after that it got better on its own, slowly but steadily.  By late summer I was back to standing straight, not to mention back to hiking and rollerblading and all the stuff I love, and feeling that perhaps the slow-and-economical health care system was ok after all.  It’s financially sustainable at least, unlike the American system.

BUT THEN, that disc bulged again.  I don’t know why.  I didn’t DO anything.  But all of a sudden I was right back to where I was a year ago, limping around, not sleeping well, unable to do anything fun.  The only difference was this time I took more pain killers, because we were booked for our big trip back to the States and I just had to cope.  And this time, I already had all the contacts in place.

While in the States I was able to organize a new MRI appointment for the day after we got home, and an appointment with the surgeon two days later.  The funding approval was still valid from January.  He didn’t really have space in his surgery list for me, but he said it was a quick job and he’d squeeze me in the next week.  I felt like you do when you’re 40-weeks pregnant, when even the process of childbirth sounds better than the prospect of staying pregnant.  Cut open my back and take out that lump of the disc?  Yes please, that sounds great!

I don’t have many photos to share of that process.  I suppose I should have taken a picture of the knitting I was working on for hours before it was my turn for surgery, looking forward to the relief of the anesthesia.  Or the cheerful OR nurse with the bright blue eye shadow who said she had had the same problem (“It’s horrible, isn’t it?” she commiserated.)  No picture can show the relief of waking up and having the squirmy-can’-t-sit-still leg pain gone.  Just gone.

Sorry, this might gross some folks out….but did you know that disc cartilage is fiberous? That is the little piece that was causing me so much grief. “Can I see that piece of disc?” I asked the recovery room nurse. “You’ve already seen it twice!” she exclaimed. Had I? At least the last time I could focus properly.

I lucked out that the operation was at St George’s hospital. It’s pretty posh, and I even had my own room. Just one overnight stay, and then I was home.

That was a week ago, and I’m back at work now.  (Not back to vacuuming yet….thanks Jeremiah.)  Moving a little slowly, but feeling tremendously much better.  The surgeon says there’s a 95% chance that that will be the end of the saga.  A few cases re-occur, but if it does, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.  In six weeks from now I should be able to get back up into the mountains to backpack, maybe in time to catch the end of the snowy season.

I guess the NZ medical system did work for me this time….eventually.

Alaska distilled

We returned from the States July 31 and I’m just managing to get photos up of the second half of our vacation in Alaska, which could be distilled as “Fish and Cousins.”  At least they aren’t fishy cousins!

About a year ago Jeremiah’s oldest brother, Ben, moved with his family from upstate NY (where we grew up) to Sterling, Alaska.  Ben and Jeannette have 13 children, so in the interest of travel efficiency we decided to make Alaska Hub Shaw, and asked Jeremiah’s parents and siblings if they could join us there.  Plus, July happens to be Salmon Season in Alaska….

Our friends Mark and Maria drove all the way to Anchorage to pick us up in their campervan, which became our home for the next two weeks. We stayed with Mark and Maria when we came through Alaska five years ago on our way to New Zealand.
They live in Soldotna, a town 15 minutes down the road from Sterling.

I’ve never before experienced a road trip in a campervan–it’s quite a luxury to relax on the bed in the back while the miles slip by and someone else drives. Thanks Mark!

On our way out of Anchorage we stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where all manner of Alaskan animals are kept, some destined for re-introduction into the wild, and others enjoying a long-term home because for some reason or other they’ve become unfit for wild life. We happened upon the bears at feeding time, both brown bears and black bears. A brown bear was chomping on a whole (plucked) chicken, bones and all….it certainly gives a good demonstration of not only its appetite, but also the power of its jaws.  Once arrived in Sterling, we parked up the campervan outside of Ben and Jeannette’s house along side the campervan where Nana and Papa (Jeremiah’s parents) were staying.  Maria even lent us her car, so we were all set up for both a place to stay and for transport–super generous!

We caught up with Mark and Maria a few times, this time at Kenai River Brewery. Maria is about as interested in breweries as the kids, but Mark is a big brew fan.

Over at Mark and Maria’s house for dinner one evening, we admired all their Alaska artwork on their walls. They have amassed quite a collection since we were there five years ago. It’s neat to see how they celebrate their local community, whether it was in Owego, NY (where we met them) or whether it is in Soldotna, AK.

It’s been two years since we’ve seen all the cousins, and we studied names ahead of time. I’m from a family of only four, but I remember appreciating if people could get our names straight. Here (left to right) is Andy, Boaz, Luke, Nathaniel, Ben (father), Mercianna,

The nice thing about a huge family is that “running the kids through the showers” doesn’t actually involve me doing any showering. The olders are quite capable and paired up with the youngers, resulting in clean scalps without any input from Aunt Molly. Uno with the youngers was a civilized affair, turns taken and rules followed. Uno with the olders was a contact sport, I’ve never seen the game played quite like it! But then again, I never had brothers.

Speaking of never having brothers…my own mother always warned me about water fights with boys, and watching the shenanigans of this crew I can see why. Talk about escalation. Ben and Jeannette remain as peaceful as Buddha though the war may rage around them. I suppose as a parent you would have to, to preserve one’s sanity. It brings up an interesting question about child rearing–is it better to let kids feel the natural consequences of their actions (if you throw water at your older brother, he will drag you face first into the frigid Skilak lake), or to intervene and attempt to teach a less-natural-but-more-wordy way of dealing with conflict? I don’t know.

The adults, enjoying the water show.

Naomi had a great time with Elizabeth (three years old, same as her) as well as with Mercianna, who is a little older than Milo.

Naomi is stubborn. Surprise, surprise. Sometimes when something doesn’t go her way, she just stops in her tracks and refuses to walk. With my uncooperative back I couldn’t carry her, but often Merci would come to her rescue.

Despite being rough with one another, the big boys were really sweet with the little ones. Here Naomi is perched on Elijah’s lap.

One evening we brought our kids into town, and Caleb, the oldest son, came along.
We stopped at the town market and wanted to have a wander with the kids, but ours were crabby and just wanted to sit in the car and watch the tablet. “If you come out,” Caleb wheedled, “there might be something nice like ice cream.” He treated them to the ice cream truck, and afterwards happily sat in the car with them watching Octonauts. That’s a pretty special 18-year-old!

S’mores with cousins, definitely an experience to treasure.

POPCORN and s’mores, to be complete. There’s quite a gang of popcorn thugs! Clockwise from the hat are Levi, Luke, James and Nathaniel.

One evening we went on a hike with some of the olders. Well, Jeremiah and his sister Missy went on a hike, I puttered along behind the gang nursing a sore back and hoping that the loud crew ahead of me had cleared out the bears from the vicinity of the trail. How in the world are you supposed to tell the difference between a grizzly bear attack and when he starts to eat you? ? Wouldn’t missing an arm be a bit too late to start fighting back? This helpful sign was at the trail head.

There is some fantastic hiking to be had in the Chugach Range, and originally Jeremiah and I had planned to take a couple days away and explore….but my back going bad just before our travel put a kibosh on those plans. However, I did make it up this far along the Skyline ridge.

Here’s the hiking crew at the top. On the way back, barreling down the trail, they nearly ran headlong into a bear. Fortunately it was a black bear and not looking for trouble, and it moved off.

Jeremiah spent quite a bit of time fishing, both with the cousins and his dad, and with our friend Mark. The reds weren’t at full tilt until nearly the end of our trip, but here he is with his three-fish-a-day limit out of the Kenai River.

If only every day dawned blue like this….

Barbara Lavallee is an Alaskan artist who I love. Her characters look so cheerful and full of happiness and wonder. Here’s her take on salmon season in Anchorage. Pretty spot on for Soldotna too.

Papa (Jeremiah’s dad) is not really much of a fisherman, but even he squeezed into a pair of waders and got into the action. He even managed to catch some salmon, eventually!

If you are an Alaskan Resident you play under different rules than the sport fishermen. You are allowed to “dip net,” or stand in the river with a giant net scooping up salmon as they migrate up the river. As “head of household” you are allowed 25 fish, and 10 or 15 more per additional person in the house. In other words, you can fill up your freezer. I have an enduring memory of the dip netters at the mouth of the Kenai from visiting 5 years ago with Mark and Maria. Mounds of fish heads on the beach. Children running and playing in the frigid ocean water. We made a pilgrimage back to the site this time, and though the fishing wasn’t quite as lively, it was still a sight to behold.

Someone was well on their way to bagging their harvest.

Alaskan residents from the interior come to the coast and set up camp to get their yearly quota of fish. Jeremiah thought it looked like fun, camping with a purpose. To me it looked cold, fishy and uncomfortable….but if the kids had buddies and it was a family tradition, I guess I could imagine it.

The beach had a tide-line of scales. The level of fish carnage made me wonder how any managed to get far enough up stream to spawn.

When Jeremiah asked me what I wanted to do and see in Alaska, my number one desire was to see salmon spawning. To that end we made a pilgrimage to the Russian River, to a well-known viewing spot at some falls. Sure enough, the fish were jumping. They’re crazy! They launch themselves up these waterfalls, crashing into rocks and getting swept back down in the current. A bunch were stacked up in the pool below the falls, scales turning brilliant red. I took a little video. It probably won’t look as exciting in replay as it was in person, but for me seeing these energetic fish was definitely a highlight.

The walk to see the fish was about 5 miles round trip, and the kids did great. Here’s Aunt Missy with Elizabeth and Naomi.

Nana and the kids, at the fish waterfall.

My other obsession was glaciers. Portage glacier was accessible with a boat tour, and we dragged the kids along. Glaciers are receding rapidly, they won’t be as easy to see in the future….but the kids don’t grasp that. Neither do the Alaskans, apparently, who drive massive trucks and don’t bother about recycling.

Cheese! Nana, Papa, Aunt Missy, and us at Portage Glacier.

Cheese again! This one is Exit Glacier, and one of the most interesting things about it is that along the access road to the tourist parking lot are signs that show the end of the glacier in the late 1800s and through the 1900s. It’s been shrinking rapidly. It feels a bit funny to be posing with big grins in front of what is essentially an endangered species, gleefully ignoring the rising ocean and the part we just played in it, flying half way around the world on a big jet.

Homer Spit is about two hours from Sterling, the halibut fishing capital of the world. Ben has a beloved boat he dragged to Alaska all the way from NY, and he had been working on getting it going the whole time we were there. Just at the end of our visit the engine was given the thumbs up and all twenty of us hove off with two campervans, a boat, a truck, a car and a ton of fishing gear for an overnight at Homer.

I think it’s a challenge packing for a camping trip for our family–I was very impressed with the logistics Jeannette managed to get her crew fed and bedded down in Homer.

The boat was launched promptly upon arrival, and a contingent went out in search of halibut.

Moms and youngers stayed back on the beach, admiring the boats….

…..walking around the spit….

…and chatting while the kids played. I haven’t spent a lot of time with Jeannette before this trip, but this time we really enjoyed each other’s company, talking about families, relationships, children, husbands…the stuff of life.

No halibut on that first run, but they came back with a good haul of salmon.

The next morning a second shift went out early and this time they found halibut.

Here’s the less glorious part of fishing–cleaning fish. None of the kids were that keen, but the dads did their duty and packed all the fish away.

The local authorities at Homer provide very nice fish cleaning stations and big bins for disposing of fish scraps. I suppose if the scraps are left around it becomes a major bear hazard. I think all these unsavory parts go to the land fill…..tells you we live in a country where people have plenty to eat.

So there we have it, Alaska distilled. Cousins.

Fish.

Cousins and Fish!

Exercising the Little Trampers

After WEEKS of rain, the weekend forecast looked spectacular.  By spectacular I mean sunny, 18 C, and still.  Not windy, even in the mountains.  It was NOT a weekend to stay in the city.

We packed up the kids Saturday morning, stopped for some pies at the Sheffield pie shop, got some candy bribery at the gas station, and drove up to Porter’s Pass through the Torlesse Range.  It’s a lowish pass on the dry side (our side) of the mountains leading up to Arthur’s Pass where a couple trails lead off into the hills.  Trig Peak was our goal, an achievable 350 meter climb starting right off the highway.

The first hurdle was the shoes. Naomi would have to wear the perfectly functional hiking boots that Milo had grown out of a few months ago. She put up a noisy rejection, which I was temped to squash with a swift “don’t be ridiculous, you’re wearing these because we have them” Mother Statement…which would have been completely ineffectual. Instead I resorted to compromise, and suggested adding some decorations. We raided my sewing box.
It took about 10 minutes to sew on a red felt flower, three purple flowers, an orange sparkly ribbon and a pink bead. The mood changed immediately. Compromise was much easier than unbending practicality after all.

Bling bling shoes not withstanding, 50 meters from the car Naomi declared that her legs were tired. “We’re not carrying you,” Jeremiah reassured her, unsympathetically. I had stashed the old Ergo carrier in my backpack just in case, but was glad Jeremiah was along to brazen it out. Milo ran ahead and hid along the trail (yes, lower down some of the bushes were big enough to conceal a small boy), and we were off on the hunt.

Mid way up the hill there was a pile of rocks. No pile of rocks will be left to molder in peace when a 6 year old boy could action them!

The walking poles don’t actually propel small bodies forward and upward, but they provide a welcomed distraction. You can see the road to the wet coast below.

Trig peak! Everyone reached the top on their own two legs! Milo made sure that he got to the very top of the old survey marker. The dog (named Fish….um, yeah….no, he’s not ours) looked on quizzically.

More rocks! These ones he built into a wind shelter. There was hardly any breeze, but the shelter was still a good idea….most days it would be welcomed. As it was, we were able to linger on the exposed top enjoying the view with our lunch. Both kids pooped in a tussock. Necessities don’t wait.

Milo uncovered a Weta, a special Kiwi bug (wait, that sounds funny….a NZ bug) that I’ve never seen in the wild before. It had these four very neat little palpae that looked like they were tasting the ground as it went along.

I can’t finish an alpine hike without a tribute to the tough plants that live up there. “It’s a nice day today,” I told Milo, “but tonight these plants are going to freeze, and last week they were whipped around by the wind, then they get baked dry by the blistering sun.” This one is a little coprosma, believe, and with the alpine form all the branches are hidden under a tight mass of leaves, making it look like a moss with pearls.

Treats back at the car, followed by a nap on the way home. Well done, kids.

Anakiwa

Anakiwa is a little hamlet at the end of one of the Marlborough sounds, and the location of the bach where we are staying over the New Year’s holiday.

We're at the end of the sound, at the tidal flats (photo here is high tide). When it's calm we can take a kayak out and see the sting rays cruising the shallows, look for whatever it is that they eat, presumably. Creatures of some sort. They're super cool and also super creepy.

We’re at the end of the sound, at the tidal flats (photo here is high tide). When it’s calm we can take a kayak out and see the sting rays cruising the shallows, look for whatever it is that they eat, presumably creatures of some sort. They’re ruthless and pre-historic looking, super cool and also super creepy.

One afternoon the wind was whipping cruelly but the sun was shining, and I took the kids down to the beach in their wet suits to dig in the muck. Kids love muck. I sat in the lee of a rock and read a book. There's something to be said for being finished with the toddler stage.

One afternoon the wind was whipping cruelly but the sun was shining, and I took the kids down to the beach in their wet suits to dig in the muck. Kids love muck. I sat in the lee of a rock and read a book. There’s something to be said for being finished with the toddler stage.

Our friend Irmana is with us too, and being from the coast of Spain she loves sea food. She discovered an ideal spot for collecting clams ad cooked them in a sauce that had even me, an unenthusiastic shell fish consumer, scooping out the creatures with drippy fingers and enthusiastically shoveling them into my gaw.

Our friend Irmana is with us too, and being from the coast of Spain she loves sea food. She discovered an ideal spot for collecting clams ad cooked them in a sauce that had even me, an unenthusiastic shell fish consumer, scooping out the creatures with drippy fingers and enthusiastically shoveling them into my gaw.

The Queen Charlotte track is open to bikers and walkers, and while I've not been able to do any running or hiking lately, I have been on a friend's mountain bike. The view from one of the look-outs reminds me of the Adirondacks, except with tree ferns and tides.

The Queen Charlotte track starts in Anakiwa and runs the length of the sound.  It is open to bikers and walkers, and while I’ve not been able to do any running or hiking lately, I have been on a friend’s mountain bike. The view from one of the look-outs reminds me of the Adirondacks, except with tree ferns and tides.

Today, being a drizzly non-beach day, we took the kids on a walk on the Queen Charlotte track. We took Milo on a lot of these walks when he was 3, and we realized that we need to exercise Naomi more, do a little brain washing about hiking being fun and all that. She did the 6 km all on her own in the end, and was proud of her accomplishment.

Today, being a drizzly non-beach day, we took the kids on a walk on the Queen Charlotte track. We took Milo on a lot of these walks when he was 3, and we realized that we need to exercise Naomi more, do a little brain washing about hiking being fun and all that. She did the 6 km all on her own in the end, and was proud of her accomplishment.

"Where, oh where has Milo gone? Where, oh where can he be? With his shirt of grey and his pants of green, oh where, oh where can he be?" Naomi and I sang the hide and seek song along the trail, finding Jeremiah and Milo camouflaged among the giant fern leaves.

“Where, oh where has Milo gone? Where, oh where can he be? With his shirt of grey and his pants of green, oh where, oh where can he be?” Naomi and I sang the hide and seek song along the trail, finding Jeremiah and Milo camouflaged among the giant fern leaves.

As a concession to a tramp, Naomi took off her floor-length princess dress, a gift from my parents for Christmas, and went with the more practical knee-length fairy skirt.  Turns out it’s good for playing butterfly too.

Back at the house Mark and Steph played games with the chillens while dinner was being prepared. They may have been toying with the idea of having children of their own, and we consider it our duty to give them enough child-fix for the foreseeable future.

Back at the house Mark and Steph played games with the chillens while dinner was being prepared. They may have been toying with the idea of having children of their own, and we consider it our duty to give them enough child-fix for the foreseeable future.

Actually, maybe Mark gives Steph enough taste of kid-dom as she can stand anyway. Here he is taking aim at a strutting quail admiring his reflected plumage in the windows. The quail got pegged with three nerf bullets and still didn't vacate the premises. We concluded that it's not a very smart bird.

Actually, maybe Mark gives Steph enough taste of kid-dom as she can stand anyway. Here he is taking aim at a strutting quail admiring his reflected plumage in the windows. The quail got pegged with three nerf bullets and still didn’t vacate the premises. We concluded that it’s not a very smart bird.

The quail probably watched us a couple hours earlier balancing on the slack line that Jeremiah’s parents sent me for Christmas (I love it!) and thought the same thing of us:  “Silly people, they must not be very smart, falling off that strap and then falling off again.”

And she’s off!

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A couple weeks ago we had one balance-biker and one pedal-biker. She’s been proficient on that balance bike for a year and a half, so that’s nothing particularly new. 

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Milo has been getting more and more daring on his bike, trying the off-road route here underneath the cool volcanic rocks in Govenor’s Bay.

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But then Naomi discovered a pedal bike at playcentre, hopped on, and wobbled off around the track.  Look at that grin–man, was she pleased with herself.  

Two weeks later, here she is, on a borrowed toy library bike:

There’s no stopping her now!

Well, unless she gets hungry, or tired, or for any other obstinate reason decides she’s not going to pedal.  Capability is all there, and usually the will there is too.

Black sheep, black sheep, have you any meat?

“They’re going to try and get Jeremiah a ram head,” Jue said to the girls over a glass of wine on Saturday night.

I didn’t choke on my beer too hard. I had rather suspected that was the mission, even though Jeremiah had told me they were after deer.

Their west coast hunt started with an interesting cultural experience. Across that lake is a colony of conservative Christians, the Gloriavale community, whose land one must cross to access DOC land beyond. They hold the gate key, so to get to the lands beyond, you must meet the leaders and walk through the compound where the clothes are home made, the families are enormous, and if you leave you get shunned. Mark, one of Jeremiah's hunting buddies, wants to return to see one of the group's theatre performances. Not me. Been there, done that, don't need to taste it again.

Their west coast hunt started with an interesting cultural experience. Across that lake is a colony of conservative Christians, the Gloriavale community, whose land one must cross to access DOC land beyond. They hold the gate key, so to get to the lands beyond, you must meet the leaders and walk through the compound where the clothes are home made, the families are enormous, everyone works together onsite in the various business ventures. No one is paid; all money goes into the church. Mark, one of Jeremiah’s hunting buddies, wants to return to see one of the group’s theater performances….   Not me. That pings too close to a former life.

The valley they walked up has a river but no trails. At this time of year the crossings are "balls high" and cold (hehehe). Campbell, one of the threesome, does back country search and rescue, so he gave the team some tutelage in the craft of river crossings. Jeremiah was almost smug about his new waterproof knee-high socks, but after one deep crossing even they were soggy.

The valley they walked up has a river but no trails. At this time of year the crossings are swift snow melt. Campbell (one of the threesome) does back country search and rescue, so he gave the team some tutelage in the craft of river crossings. Jeremiah was almost smug about his new knee-high waterproof socks, but after one “balls high” crossing even his feet were soggy.

Soggy is the name of the game in west coast hunting, where the annual rain fall is measured in meters. That does make for impressive tree ferns.

Soggy is the name of the game in west coast hunting, where the annual rain fall is measured in meters. That does make for impressive tree ferns….

And difficult fires. They got one going in the end, using kindling cut from the insides of dead wood. Look at that bonfire--perfect pentagon with precision kindling. They're all engineers.

And difficult fires. They got one going in the end, using kindling cut from the insides of dead wood. Look at that bonfire–perfect pentagon with precision kindling. They’re all engineers.

Hurray, success!

Hurray, success!

One dude snores, one farts, and the other one wants some peace. Three dudes, three tents.

One guy snores, one farts, and the other one wants some peace. Three dudes, three tents.

Mark looks like a hobbit against that tree, doesn't he? "Wow," I say, admiring the hunt photos. "What kind of tree is THAT?" "Oh, I don't know," Jeremiah admits. "A big one."

Mark looks like a hobbit against that tree, doesn’t he?
“Wow,” I say, admiring the hunt photos. “What kind of tree is THAT?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Jeremiah admits. “A big one.”  So I can’t tell you what exactly to admire…maybe a silver beech?  Or Mark’s Aussie/Kiwi bushman style?

Remarkably, they didn't come back with any dead animal trophy shots. They shot a sheep, a black one, but apparently it wasn't impressive enough to bring back the head. Probably had no horns. They brought back some meat though, which we will enjoy.

Remarkably, they didn’t come back with any dead animal trophies. They shot a sheep, a black one, but apparently it wasn’t impressive enough to bring back the head. Probably had no horns. They brought back some meat though, which we will enjoy.

 

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