This last weekend is traditionally Memorial Day Weekend in America. The weekend to remember those fallen heroes, usher in Summer, and have cocktails and BBQs.
On the flip side, this last weekend in Queenstown, New Zealand brought us Winter. The snow levels on the glorious mountains that surround this town are dropping. It's still the tourism shoulder season, but the nomadic travellers who follow the snow, have already been arriving over the past few weeks. They've been arriving early to try to secure jobs that will take them through the Winter season so they can work and ski till the snow disappears, at which time they'll be headed off back to the Northern Hemisphere to do the same thing. If they're really lucky, they've already secured a job at one of the local ski resorts - which I hear gets them a free season's pass!
Yesterday as I left the house in the morning armed with a puffer jacket and driving gloves, I drove past two jibbers walking towards the CBD in full snowboarders wear, boards under their arms. The local mountain, Coronet Peak, doesn't even open till this Saturday. Apparently these die-hards were planning, like quite a few others it turns out, to walk up the peak and ride down. No wonder that these nutters are so fit!
I heard that most of the rest of the town turned up at the big Wakatipu Ski Sale that was held at the Queenstown Events Centre. Seriously, I heard (and later read online) that there were about 1,000 people in attendance. I didn't even know that any place in Queenstown could accommodate that many people. I didn't make the sale.
Later, I saw a group of heavily rugged up men, golf bags on arms, scrambling to find another place to tee off within the hour. Not being a real golfer myself, I wondered why they didn't just have a go at this gorgeous course. That was until I hit a patch of ice and almost slipped on my ass right there in the car park, in front of this group of golfers.
When I got back into my car ten hours later, It was a glorious, clear (and freezing!) night. The only clouds in the sky were over the Crown Range which were lit up by the just-past-full moon rising. I knew a delicious dinner and a warm fire were waiting for me at home, so I was anxious to get back indoors. Unfortunately, I first had to find water to throw over my windscreen to get rid of the ice that had built up after the sun dropped.
Dinner was delicious, the fire was raging, and I fell asleep in the middle of the movie. But this is the view I woke up to this morning. Yes, Winter has arrived. Now it's time to go pick up my Season Pass, pull out the ski gear, and get some windscreen wiper fluid (with antifreeze!) into the car!