Tuesday, December 28, 2010

(Almost) Gone with the Wind

Holy Hurricane, Batman! Today was incredibly windy; I woke up repeatedly throughout the night as the shrubs outside my window slammed into the side of the house. The wind caused the clothesline in the middle of the backyard to spin around like a merry-go-round, and the sheets and socks and towels pegged to it to flap about crazily (thankfully, or perhaps miraculously, none of them blew away). It was in this auspicious weather that I decided to take a crack at setting my Lansan Light hiking tent up for the first time. Well, the first time outdoors... I partially set it up in Skye’s front room, but seeing as I couldn’t exactly bore pegs into the hardwood floor, this was the first time I saw what it will realistically look like when I go hiking.

I told myself that it would be a good experience to see if I actually could set the tent up in the strong wind, as I don’t know what conditions I will be in for once I get onto the Heaphy Track. My conclusions? Yes, it is possible to set the tent up in the wind, and yes, it will not collapse as long as it is pegged down properly. Yea! My only mishap was putting the fly on inside out the first time (oops). All in all, I’m quite satisfied with the tent; it’s light, functional, quick to set up, easy to take down and store in its carrying sack, and roomy enough inside for me, my sleeping bag, and my backpack and gear. (It’s a two-man tent, but you had better be prepared to get intimate with the person you’re sharing it with... kind of like Arthur’s 1-slash-2 man tent, which we always joked was more accurately described as a “half-man tent”.)

I managed to get my tent down and folded it back up in the living room (so as not to loose anything by having it blow away), and in doing so decided I should invest in a tent footprint, as the bottom of the tent is so thin I can’t see it keeping me and my sleeping bag dry if the weather turns rainy. I’m not exactly keen on starting a full day’s hike by waking up in a soggy sleeping bag...

This afternoon I decided to tackle cleaning the outdoor patio area; Stefan constructed a bbq table out of bricks and a wooden awning for Fay and Frank when he was around my age, and I took it upon myself to give it a good sweeping, washing, and dusting. This entailed sweeping out corners full of rotting vegetation, relocating two dozen snails, pulling up stubborn weeds, and sweeping out layers of dirt (which the wind then promptly and maddeningly blew back into my face, before having it settle back down right where it had come from in the first place). I also attacked and scrubbed the patio furniture with hot soapy water and a good rinsing from the hose. The result? A patio that may not look much cleaner (some of the markings are splattered paint from when the awning was repainted), but when you actually sit down in one of the chairs and have a look around is free of dirt and grime.

For dinner tonight I made salads (again) and shredded carrot with beetroot (I noticed, amusedly, that Frank picked most of the carrot out of his serving), and half a roast chicken from the grocery store. My parents called around 6:45pm; they were all out at Francie and Brian’s for the annual Christmas get-together. Unfortunately, they called me using the requisite we-must-burn-through-the-balance-on-this-pay-n-talk-phone mobile, forgetting that the cell phone reception out on Riverside Road is tenuous at best. The result was a mobile-to-mobile conversation with severe lag and distortion in the connection; after two dropped calls I called them back by dialing the landline, which resulted in a phone call that cost me money, but at least made the connection bearable. The most hilarious part of the cell=phone-to-cell-phone conversation was Francie giggling into the phone, “Hi Carolyn! We have to stay in one place to keep the connection, so I’m sitting on Bob’s lap!” Oh, dear...

It was nice to talk to everyone, though, if a little sad to realise they were all there celebrating Christmas, and I am so very far away. I’m working on my parents, though... we’re trying for a late February - early March traveling expedition across New Zealand. Here’s hoping the mill gets its act together with allotting holiday time!


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