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Ellen McCallie's Diary

Day 21: Rest Day

It goes from absolute downpours to pouring down rain to constant rain to heavier than a sprinkle to rain, rain, rain, rain. We are all well aware that this is likely to go on for three to five days.

Photo: snowYou know how it is said that Intuits have sixty different words for snow? Based on my desire to describe the endless rain and the types of rain here, I wonder their sixty words for snow are like saying "downpour", "drizzle", "sprinkle", etc. If I lived here, I would probably come up with nice collection of words to describe the spectrum of rain quantity and quality that falls here.

Whilst here I have also needed to change my concept of driving and road transportation. The roads here are blacktopped and look very nice. The big thing about the roads, however, is that because they are two-laned with no shoulders and because the terrain is rather rough, the roads are winding, sometime steep and sometimes full of hairpin turns. Even the areas that are relatively rolling are tough, however, as they are well shaded and black ice is not uncommon. As a total group, we have totaled one car and slid numerous times in others — all during the day: 10 am, 2pm, 4 pm. It doesn't matter if it has been sunny all day. There can be ice. This may also be why driving times people give us seem to vary so much. The same place can have a five-hour difference in quoted driving times: 8-13 hours.

Five of us drove to Wanaka in one of the white vans, which feel like tin cans set up on wheels. As the scientists do not have driving privileges, the crew members of our group drove. They were very diligent in their driving, especially as we had just heard that one of our vehicles had rolled — thankfully no one was hurt — though the car has been totaled.

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Photo: Ellen McCallie
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