Ivo's Ridin' Pages


Remarkables: view to the top from my windowRugged, unforgiving and with no explaining necessary, unique in its man made nature, yet precious for its unpredictable dangers, remarkable in its simplicity, the craggy mountain under snow looks at me, across the lake, adding some smoke, sitting here on this porch, to the clouds that tower over it.

I am self-unemployed. Happily, if I may add, a local mate told me, riding Greengates chair together with me. This is what most closely describes those who belong to the snowboard tribe. A lose hodge-podge of closely knit individuals traveling from hemisphere to hemisphere in pursuit of rideable snow.

Remarkables: view from the top to my windowTwo Irish lads that simultaneously signed up for the green card lottery in the U.S. and applied for landed immigration in Canada, destination: Whistler, BC. Two Japanese kids with Rosignol THC boards and appropriate leaf stickers to accompany those boards, who loved my Suspect sticker with the Yoda character puffing. A British guy and a German fraulein, cute, very much into each other, teaching each other how to curse in their languages.

guess where I am goingA kid from French Alps, who got right and left rental boots of different sizes. A British dude of Pakistani descent who travels around the world, and just started snowboarding: still at the point where instructors tell him to put more of his weight on the front foot. And bend those knees. Fucking tourists.

Clothes are angry. Music is muscular. Law is a joke. Life ends in a day. And begins again tomorrow. Glamour is in being low key. Greatness is in throwing oneself in face of peril. Grandness is in caring for one another, because there is no other choice, is it? Holden Caulfield would blend right into it, and wouldn’t do anything stupid.

Today we were told to stay in bed by the all-powerful mountain report. Due to high winds and heavy snowfall mountains are closed for the day. Tomorrow, eventually, that means riding our asses off. Or maybe another day of waiting for the skies to clear.

if you follow, this is where you end upRainy days in winter feel miserable anywhere in the world. It is too cold to get wet and enjoy it. Unless you are sheep. So, I decided to take a miserable walk down the miserable town center of Queenstown on a miserable rainy day in August.

Global warming is maybe an awkward, although completely accurate name, for what giant car manufacturers and monstrous oil producers do not want us to believe that we actually did to ourselves in the past century. Kyoto may or may not be the solution. Denying it, however, is an ostrich move (head in the sand).

Yeah, I remember just a couple of days before coming here, working at the pool in New Jersey, with the skies overcast and temperatures well into shorts no-shirt heights, and humidity so you can lap the water out of the air, yet not a single rain drop fell out of it. Drought in the US is approaching catastrophic proportions, and with all the air-conditioners on, the hyper-power is running out of power.

The drought also brought another event: area of about half a dozen smaller European states in North America is under a forest fire - contributing more greenhouse gases and reducing the amount of available trees to process them.

On the other hand, Europe is flooded. Dozens of big cities found their dams and dykes not high enough for this summer’s amount of rain-fall. It is already snowing in Alps, in the mid-August. Glaciers the size of Nova Scotia tear of Antarctica and melt. I don’t dare to check climate reports on Africa and South-East Asia.

I am not surprised therefore that weather sucks. After all the hills here are barren not because of drought, but because the man cut the trees to make space for his sheep to graze. The erosion and climate changes that followed are a simple man-made disaster.


There are things to get used to in Queenstown. What side of the road do you look at first, for starters. Then, that there is never really winter. It is like Bay Area, U.S. or Trieste, Italy. But with Suisse sized Alps right behind it. Very steep place. 4wd country. And there is no other place you can find illegally working Suisse citizens.

Gas so expensive it is hard to believe New Zealanders didn’t develop their weapons of mass destruction and nuked a couple of countries. Instead they are getting their cheap electricity from clean hydro power. And driving Subarus and those preferred vehicles of warlords worldwide: Toyota Landcruisers. American SUV-s are fairly rare. So, the heat and everything else in the place is running on electricity.

Queenstown is where Auckland’s elite escape from the city’s summer heat. Hamptons? In winter it is pretty dead. With Yen-paying Japanese kids packing the hotels and motels. With European kids packing the cheaper hostels. With the proverbial snowboard tribe trying to get the best value out of private rentals.

It works more kind of like you are in some tourist place on Croatian coast, not like the US. Opatija? With Triglav behind? You get ripped seriously if you go through an agency (you end up paying nearly 5 rents in advance). But you can completely just respond to some wild flyer in a restaurant.

Ok, not only the cars drive on the wrong side of the road, but the gondola is built on the wrong mountain! It serves The Ledge bungy site (and a restaurant). Bungy is the second national sport over here (rugby is still #1). I guess ‘hugdy’ is next.

During the winter most of the private rentals would be vaccant if there is not for the snowboard tribe - and hotels and restaurants would not have any staff left. Half of the Queenstown population are Aussies and Poms, or whinging Poms as my landlord calls them. So, there are some options. But the landlord won’t be happy if you trash the place that they rent to some high paying family from Auckland in summer.

Word Poms, as a name for British people here, is derived from POHM (Prisoner Of Her Majesty). POHM-s were the first British settlers in New Zealand. And everyone coming from the U.K. is still considered a Pohm, only ‘h’ got lost in New Zealand spelling.

Now I understand my landlord’s Dave's "whinging poms" term - here there are two young lads from London - Charles and Giles - they simply can't stop complaining how this place sucks. I couldn't get them to say a single nice word about the entire New Zealand. Queenstown is way to ugly and provincial for them and ski resorts are beyond primitive. Where are the lifts? Charles is comparing this recently settled town to Serre Chevaliere, a place in South France where he rode in winter, developed as early as two thousand years ago by Romans. (Of course, by now the French built a gondola to take your ass out of your condo to the top of the mountain.) The bus ride is an ordeal that they didn't take up often. So, they are here since June and they packed so far about 15 days on snow, about as much as I hope to have by the end of my 20 day stay. They sleep till noon, play video games till six and then go out and drink cheap alcohol at one of that dingy and, to them, quite disagreeable tiny cafes around Queenstown. Gee, what a waste of air fare that was.
Things that you have to put up with to snowboard in Queenstown:
  • People drive on the wrong side of the road.
  • Mayonnaise doesn’t taste like at home.
  • Ketchup does not taste like at home.
  • Gondola takes you to the wrong mountain (bungy-jumping).
  • To get to the real mountain you have to drive steep, unpaved mountain road without guard-rails.
  • The best snow is on the side of the mountain that is not lift-serviced.
  • There is one express lift, and the queue is enormous.
  • Pasta looks differently than at home.
  • There is practically no heating in your flat, except for those clumsy, overblown hair dryers in the wall.
  • Frosty flakes taste differently than at home.
  • Light bulbs screw in differently.
  • And power plugs, oh boy, don’t they look entirely unique.

Who is who in Q-town:
Kiwi - New Zealander
Aussie - Australian
Pom - Brit (Pom = POHM = prisoner of his majesty)
Sepo - dirty American (not Ryan or Tony, though, they get mighty pissed if you call them that)

under costruction with no permit

the long ride up

THIS is what you get

And they - landlords - would naturally always want to get more money from you, or cram more people in the place together to get more money. The place is damp. It is the opposite kind of damp than New York city, though. There the air is humid, but there is no rain for ages. Here the air is dry, my mouth cracked the second day, but it rains and it rains and there is this big lake and there is water everywhere else but in the air, unless, of course, you keep your windows closed. They didn’t hear for insulation down here.

When you first walk in your dorm room you get shocked that there are no radiators but rather those overblown hair-dryers stuck in the wall. How cheap is electricity here? Not that cheap that your landlord would want you to turn those heaters on too often, if you are paying less than what he would like to get for that unit.

And the powder days are rare and spread far apart, like good waves. Surfers wait in their chilly water for the wave to come. I guess they sometimes get wet and miserable about it. Still, they wait just minutes. Snowboarders chill in their cold, damp places playing video-games for days waiting for the snow to come, and then for the skies to clear, and for the mountains to re-open.

Since the intervals are longer, the intensity must be higher. Sure then today when I arrived at Remarkables at noon, after a 2 hours bus ride (20 km -> 10 km/h) on a road that reminds me most closely of those mountain roads in Bosnia that UN Convoys used to reach Sarajevo in 1995, there were no more storage baskets available. Bad sign. Too many people! The powder day explosion of accumulated energy. By the time I was on top of the Shadow Basin chair hundreds of riders were already hiking up to the gullies.

South Island is chilly, wet, barren, steep, craggy, rugged piece of Earth, plagued by condensation, erosion and sedimentation. A perfect place for ‘adventure tourism’ - and only athletes can really stay in flats without heat in winter and walk up and down the insanely steep streets couple of times a day.

Two chefs in Queenstown committed suicide. So it is not really that low stress life here. Actually, people come here in expectation of such life only to find out that life here is harsher than elsewhere in NZ, because the prices are hiked up, and the accommodation is hard to find, and the owners minimize staffing and maximize workload. It is actually a very hard life here, unless you come loaded. It is very fortunate that for Brits, Americans and Japs this is a pretty cheap country (burger costs US$3 on the mountain; it does taste shitty though).


New Zealand JukeboxThis, indeed, is a small country. There are only three TV channels. And there are less people living here than on Manhattan. And, if you visit the Airtime Magic museum at the Auckland International Airport, you will see a bit of Kiwi ingenuity: the 1947 New Zealand jukebox, which ‘mechanism’ consists of a hole in the glass front, through which customers put a hand, grabbed a record and put it on the turntable, dropped a coin and it played.

the super-steep road up Infrastructure everywhere in New Zealand is developed to support that thinking. Remarkables could not possibly handle the amount of customers Killington receives. But there is never that many people in Queenstown anyway. And most of New Jersey drivers couldn’t possibly handle the road to Remarkables. Resorts here are unique. There is the 'resort village' like in Europe, so everything is at walking distance, and despite Queenstown population is about 1/4 of Rutland it has an airport, more shops and caffes and clubs and stuff than Killington, and handles 1 million people a year. This however is where similarity with Europe ends. Snowsports are pretty new here, and instead of 60 people carrying gondolas, there are 40 people carrying buses that drive you over improbably steep, winding, unpaved, unguarded, likely to be illegal as public roads in the liability obsessed US, from the village to the mountain.

Arrowtown Neighboring Arrowtown is part Europe, part Wild West. You can get Apfel Strudel on one side of the road and a gold nugget on the other. Australian nuggets are rugged and have a little more red in them than the smooth, flat New Zealand ones. There is no security at the store. Two grandmotherly ladies are offering the goods. I guess, armed robberies must be rare. And the gateway road is a bitch. Plus, remember, you are on the island a three our jet ride from any other country. But you can still rent the equipment and go gold-panning yourself. Huge nugget at display was taken out of the river just last year.

Old Tomss - gold miners cabin There are couple of companies running buses, and they are competing. So, there is cramming people into the bus and rallying up and down the mountain road. Which is like in Bosnia. Ok, Bosnia is in Europe, too. But a different kind of Europe. There is one high speed quad on one mountain here (Coronet Peak). There is a gondola , but as I said, it takes you to the wrong hill, bungy-jumping. The rest of the lifts are old chairlifts, plates, rope-tows and T-bars.

T-bars are awfully popular, with Ohau, the Jake Burton's favorite, sporting the longest T-bar in New Zealand. On average each mountain has about 3 lifts. When I tell people about how I don't even know how many lifts we do have at Killington, but that it is sure somewhere around 20, they look at me in disbelief.

Old Toms - written outsideThinking back about the global warming, it is impossible not to be a hypocrite. Snowboarding, besides being a refuge for the world’s cool post-punk anti-elite, is dependent on highly developed industrial society: lifts need power, snowmaking needs power, helicopters need gas, cats need gas, buses need gas, snowboard gear is made from the latest hi-tech materials, etc.

It is a tough balancing act to reconcile being pro-hands-off-nature stance and at the same time partake in an activity that demands so much human interventionism in the nature, one in which the Boehme athletes of Queenstown engage daily.

One thing that visitors notice when they arrive here, besides the obvious in-your-face facts that everybody drives on the wrong side of the road, and that those roads should be made eligible to compete with Bosnian for U.N infrastructure grants, is that there is no fat people in Queenstown. None.

On the other hand, there is twelve or more places to bungee jump from around this town, including, of course, Nevis, the highest jump in the world, but there is not a single fat person in the entire town. It is like living in a wildlife refuge, where the wildlife is actually human.

View from Tonys window: Earnslaw steaming outWhatever the reasons, there are people from all corners of the world that decided to put up with some physical discomforts and to abandon the ‘normalcy’ of status-driven lifestyle, and sip their latte in this tourist netherworld with no tourists around, with the distant sound of steamboat Earnslaw’s horn, that sounds like a big beached whale, cruising out to lake Wakatipu.

Lives, that were left behind, now are checked from Internet Outpost. And everybody has a cell phone with free incoming calls. Being so close to the date line, New Zealand lives a day ahead of the rest of the world, most importantly a day ahead of the U.S.

Now, Japan is close to that boundary, as well. But unlike Japanese that saw in that an opportunity to be the first on the market, to get their Subarus and Toyotas to every living New Zealand driver, New Zealanders saw in that an opportunity to sit back and relax: why hurry if they are already ahead?

It doesn’t matter when am I going to send or receive my e-mail from the U.S. - because it will always be yesterday in the U.S. for me. So, I can do it when I feel like it. And spend rest of the time snowboarding, or jetboating, or skydiving, or kayaking, or doing something else which will make me feel alive.

another old gold miners cabinBecause, essentially, this is what we are all looking for: feeling alive. Sometimes inflicting pain or risking life is the only way to regain that feeling. The aseptic, sterile atmosphere of the everyday civilized life took that feeling away from our existence, making our lives more efficient, longer lasting, more productive at the price of being mostly flavorless.

I still sit in front of the computer. And I can joke about myself being a chair-top. And the phone boot at Internet Outpost is just like a cubicle, only far less comfortable. But it is all so different. Because it is by choice.

The only things I must do are very simple. Un-requiring of higher brain faculties. Things that can be done mechanically. Thoroughly baked, too. This works excellent for ones libido, just a small word of advice to those who did not try it yet.

Like cleaning, or washing dishes, or sweeping, or mopping. Picked up half an ounce today. The price as with everything else here is at about the half of what it would be in the U.S. Six pieces of sushi for $2. Try that at Aspen.

In the gym, btw - I paid for ten times, but I was never given a card, and it seems that nobody really cares to count (that happens to me in gyms around the world - all the time - they just let me work-out), well, in the gym one can make a distinction between the locals, and those who did not yet learn to behave like locals, easily: the newcomers still buy their Pump water every day. The rest of us just refill our Pump water bottles with the excellent local tap water.

Unfortunately, so far I am more familiar with the gym, Internet Outpost and local sushi places, than with the mountains that surround us. My friends took me riding as soon as I arrived. Just off the plane. Didn’t yet unpack. They just told me to change and we hit Remarkables. I was losing my balance walking, after a 24 hours plane ride.

Two Aussie tourists on the top of the Remarkables But miraculously I felt just fine on a snowboard. It was overcast and I didn’t see whether I was going downhill or uphill any more, so I got stuck in the flats, though. And the next day I made it to Coronet Peak and it was sunny and there was powder in the back gullies and far right from the top of the Greengates chair.

On the chair a Kiwi from Christchurch told me that he visited Croatia last year, joking how Croatia has similar roads like New Zealand. He really liked the story about two heated gondolas at Killington. First thing that it came to his mind was how good that must be for smoking weed.

So, I proceeded to give him instructions on how to use Gandjala and High Ship, where too load, what lifties to bribe with weed, and most importantly, how to shut the doors immediately upon entry and stick his and his bros’ sticks right there, so no tourist dare come close.

the same picture minus tourists Curiously, maybe even out of professional curiosity, he was really interested whether I have covered my needs in New Zealand, which I already did. First things, first. Marijuana completes a snowboarder. More or less. There are dudes and mates that don’t smoke, but they are rare.

It was steep and very slippery down the hill. Good park and a decent pipe. Well suited for a ‘senior citizen’ like me. I was just starting to get my legs back. Next they it was Shadow Basin, the formiddable looking bowl at the Remarkables. Nearly vertical if you look over the ridge back to Queenstown. Snow was heavy, chopped up and really cruddy towards the end of the day. But there was enough of it to make each run new. There are some steep chutes here. My wife, Indira got me on cell phone on the top of one (check the picture on the left). Vodaphone technology. Streakers rule. GSM uber alles.

But since then for three days we just have this miserable Londonesque rain pouring over us. So, we drove over the cattle stop with the intention to try to catch sheep with our bare hands - there are millions of that wild ranging animals here, and they look clumsy, but, believe me, they can run up and down steep hills faster than you.

Ryan on the sheep path In a city of 12000 this could be unusual, but in Queenstown it is not surprising: I met somebody who speaks my native language. Sanja is from Switzerland, from a mixed marriage between a Serb father and a Croat mother coming from small villages in vicinity of Vukovar, the most destroyed city in the war against Croatia in 1992. She snowboards and works in housekeeping in one of the hotels here.

Her boyfriend is a local rider, currently out of work due to a wrist injury (how very familiar does that sound). This relationship works well for them: they live in the never summer world - from November to April they are in a Verner, Switzerland at her home, and from May to October they are in Queenstown at his home.


Computer viruses found their way here, as well. The dreaded Klez.H wreaked havoc at the local internet cafes and at couple of people’s laptops. I am glad to have the updated virus protection software on my machine.

Tony trying to take a picture of himself But that reminded me, that while this may seem like a fairy tale life at the end of the world - hey, this is the Middle-earth from the Lord of the Rings, isn’t it? - it is not entirely immune from the plagues of the rest of the world - like those pesky computer viruses.

Tony, who runs Burton snowboards testing program here in New Zealand, just got Klez.H: his first question was whose sick mind was designing those viruses and why? I think, maybe those are the individuals who did not discover yet that there are more interesting things in life than making other people’s lives miserable.

Maybe they do not snowboard enough. Maybe they cannot throw a 360 or grind a rail and maybe they are just as angry as we are. Maybe it is their release to bask in satisfaction at the knowledge of how many machines they got infected with their pernicious little code.

Ivo trying to do the same Sometimes I would like to know them so I can tell them that I understand where they are coming from and that if they just listen to me for a minute, they will realize that they do not need to make viruses to prove their unique personalities. There are other ways. And they are more fun.

Klez.H explores the weakness of Internet Explorer. So, it is cool punk thing to do, huh? How much is this big bad corporate monster really hurt by their customers being forced to buy new software from them? Conspiracy theory: maybe they are doing it.


The same picture with no Tony and no Ivo They do have snowmaking (fat guns, again, like in Europe), but it is largely unnecessary. Their grooming consists of a cat driving up the hill once. Parks have kickers that are too large for the length of the tabletops as a general rule, so Ryan has to speed check if he doesn't want to land on the second tabletop in the row. There is plethora of rails and piles of Japanese high school kids who spend their days sliding over them while fooling their parents at home in about 3 times more expensive Japan that they are learning English at one of those numerous little language schools scattered around the outskirts of Queenstown.

There are no trees. The entire country seems to be deforested to make place for 60 million sheep. There are alpine parrots (Kea), green with orange underside of their wings, large like ducks, with strong, curved beaks, that steal goretex items, because they learned that goretex offers better protection to their nests than naturally available resources. Kea can also eat the entire sheep. Mountains are beyond steep: sometimes the faces are actually over 90 degrees. And the little rocks that you see (or sometimes don't see) protruding out of the snow, are usually just tops of a massive chunks that are connected to the rest of the mountain - so, if you ride over them, they ain't gonna roll.

Remarkables Ski Resort: Alta chair - red flag is where we hiked to There are some pretty advanced things, though: Coronet Peak has night skiing from the top; Remarkables have a rather large magic carpet on their beginner hill (as large as the entire fixed grip tow on Rams Head kids learning area); Remarkables have also some interesting designs in their beginner area 'kind of a park' - a little wooden bridge you can go over, a tunnel, and a snow-spiral; all elements in the park are graded, just like I saw in France, as beginner, intermediate and advanced (there is probably less lawyers in New Zealand...).

The trails are marked kind of like elements in the park, but with no trees between them, and with the grooming done just superficially and marking poles spread widely and pretty scarcely (unlike in France where there were different colored marking poles every 10-20 yards, telling you whether you are on green, blue, red, black trail or off-piste - if there are no poles), it is very easy to just veer of the trail. In the matter of fact I still don't have the clue where are black trails either at Remarkables or at Coronet Peak.

Green trails are easier to spot, because they are essentially the appendages of the winding roads that are used to drive you up the mountain, only they are under snow. Also, they have huge yellow "SLOW!" banners in the middle of them and signs, looking like no parking signs, saying "No jumps, No hits" planted in the middle of the hits on the sides of them, so that riders can hit them with the tails of their boards....

On the other side of Sugarbowl - red flag mark where we came from Ski and snowboard school reminds me of Killington. Even lifties do. It is kind of the same kind of crowd drawn to that positions as it is at Killington. Same attitudes. Good weed, too. And the students kind of look just the same. Particularly because nzski.com uses the same Rosignol rental boards that ASC does. Coronet Peak has a ski-instructor from Zagreb, Croatia (Daniel), who works there for the fifth season. And since the world is actually so small. My snowboarder friend from Zagreb is coming to New Zealand later this summer/winter and staying at his place.

Most of the powder is accessible only by helicopter or hiking, though. Like the best snow on Remarkables is actually beyond the area boundary, on the south side of the Sugarbowl ridge (the resort is built on the North side - which is like Killington being built on the South Ridge...): so, first you have to hike to the ridge, then you ride down on the opposite side, then you have to go for a long hike back. But it is worth it. And we did it. 45 minutes hike. 5 minutes ride. 35 minutes hike. We even digged a little dugout on our way back. Enjoyed the wind protection inside.

Kiwi Blaire preparing for the 35 minutes hike back It is blessing to hike with Tony, because a) he is in unbelievable shape and always goes first boot-kicking, b) he knows exactly where on the top of the ridge will be a huge rock that we can use to strap in shielded from the 50mph winds, c) he has a transceiver, shovel, first aid kit, and all the necessary avalanche paraphernalia, d) he knows on which side of the narrow chute is a 300 foot cliff that needs to be avoided, which is kind of important when you are not only out of bounds but also out of visual range from anybody at the resort (also, because there is so much more better riding out of bounds than in-bounds, everybody writes down where his group went and leaves that in the 'intentions book' with ski patrol, just in case the helicopter rescue becomes necessary, unless of course you want to be excavated from the glacier five thousand years from now).


Expectation. This was the biggest storm this season. It dumped 24 centimeters of snow on the mountain that now I cannot see from my window, hidden behind the curtain of solid white. Everything is closed: lifts, roads, services. I see by the crests on the top of the waves on the lake that winds are strong. Southwesterly, it looks like. I can hear them whizzing around this poorly insulated house. I can feel them close to my bones, cowering on a couch in front of the 3 kilowatt electric heater, turning up a dial on my electric blanket, with slabs of my bed covering avalanching down to the floor whenever I turn around, impatiently waiting for a cough attack to pass; thick yellow snot now being thinned by that fabulous small pills that I got in the local pharmacy.

Winding road to Remarkables But there are already patches of blue showing up on the West of my place. Sunshine coming through. Birds chirping. The curtain lifting slightly to reveal the mountain, now covered with white fluffy stuff almost to the very bottom. Then dropping back again, hiding its treasure. Tomorrow will be my last full day here. It is going to be a good day for riding, too. Homeward bound. Choosing the cliffs we will drop. Maybe I won’t need the ski shuttle to take me down the mountain, who knows. Enjoying myself being a child that I never was.

The best day of the season so far, says the Remarkables snow report about today’s day. I don’t want to leave. We just got 35 centimeters of fresh snow. And today was the first sunny, well, almost sunny day we had following that snow. It was a perfect day to end my stay here. But things were going downhill since the first run. Or at least, because every event is subject to interpretation, in my view they were not moving smoothly.

First I got stuck on that traverse being one-footed behind that walking crowd, so I had to walk, and then I missed my posse. I did have a great run, of course. Powder so deep that I felt my back knee cruising through it . Wet and kind of heavy, though. US Northwest, New Zealand and Bosnia kind of have the same kind of snow. Great for snowboarding. But way too easy to over-edge.

The view from that curve: find the handglider.. Which I did couple of times on my subsequent runs. I got stuck on the top of the cliff, and I had to hike out, because I was too shittypanty to drop. And I went the wrong way at first, so I had to retrace my tracks. Such a waste of time. Then I avalanched down steep slope, so that people on the traverse below covered their heads thinking I’d ram them. And I got stuck on the top of the cliff yet again. Nobody dropped that one. And there was a boot-kick handy right behind me. This was the case of following wrong people’s tracks.

And I sucked more or less today in general. Didn’t like my riding, didn’t like my day at all. By the end of the day I was just looking for a perfect closure, one last run, something making me remember Remarkables as a remarkable experience, because I am leaving tomorrow at noon, and there is no chance that I can reasonably put a couple of runs in, but nada, just one shitty run after another shitty run. All the way until I had to hitch-hike home.

I got picked up by a young Kiwi lad from Auckland in a 1980-s small 4wd Subaru, that he got for $250. You can’t steal a car for that money in the U.S. He also likes to rally that road. He told me that in summer when not many people travel that road, and it is completely dry, he revs it up to 110 km/h (70 mph in a 15 mph speed zone...). Regardless, I am still alive and well.

Ryan wrecked himself in the park going over that new kinky upwards rail in park and I digged a huge piece of p-tex out of my base, deep to the core, all the way to the edge. First run. Don’t remember what was that I went over so badly. It’ll take whole day to repair it so tommorrow I wouldn’t have a board if the local snowboard shop didn’t give me a Canyon 168 temp for a bottle of red, sweet.

Ryan, also, got really wasted last night so we had to pull over three times on our way up, so he can puke. And he had to puke yet again right from the chair over the park. Making those rails even more slippery.

Uncomplaining, he just proceeded to cook pasta, heat sauce in the microwave. Pour a glass of milk. Open can of tuna, mix it with mayonnaise. Toast some bread. Healthy, caloric, quick to make and CHEAP. No frills. Snowboarders diet.

Now, this is a guy that rides so aggressively that he breaks baseplates of his bindings, yet he is so shy that he doesn't want his name mentioned or pose for a picture, god forbid, his cool almost offended by attention. Keep us guessing.


the road in thhrough the clouds Why would I want to sit in a plane tomorrow on a blue-bird powder day, particularly following the day in which I felt pretty shitty? I don’t want to be cranky the entire 24 hours of my trip. Weird - now is 12:30 am, Wednesday, August 28, in Queenstown, NZ. And in roughly 36 hours it will be 12:30 am, Thursday, August 28 for me, but in New York, USA.

This Wednesday afternoon will repeat twice for me - once in Auckland, then in Los Angeles. I think I don’t want this moment to pass. I believe that if I hold this moment, then somehow I shall be able to squeeze one more day between tomorrow and tomorrow. I should have booked the flight on Thursday, anyway - if I knew that I was traveling back in time.

They made me go out and drink beer for this last night. Twisted my arm, really, didn’t they? Place called Rattlesnake. A huge colt hanging over the pool tables, and a real life motor bike hanging over the heads of happy and beautiful couple of girl bartenders, shoulder to shoulder with candle lit saints, instead of cameras, watching over them, and there are no tourists from Massachusetts, nor there are New Yorkers, although the place would be able to pass as an East Village location, if the crowd was not so awfully healthy.

Quick moving young bodies, faces that look like they have been outdoors for a long time, and everybody seems to be in a good mood, as if this is some sort of a high school field trip, only everybody is a drop-out, and a feeling of deja-vu is simply overwhelming: I haven’t been to such a place for a long time, but I used to go out with my high school friends in Zagreb to locations like this, where everybody was kind off like us, and where we just chilled, played pool and got wasted from time to time. Even more so, the male-female ratio is kind of similar, too: 5:1. That, probably, needs to be improved.

Interestingly, there is a curious discrepancy between the music that is popular with the young Kiwis in their Top 12 - mostly less known US punk-metal, the angrier the better, with ‘8 Foot Sativa’ topping the charts, and with Eminem as the only exception to that general style (still angry, though), and the music that local bands are trying to promote and play - which is generally hip-hop, rap, drum & bass funky pop and techno that sells better in UK than here. There must be some reason for that, but I am not sure I can determine it here in Queenstown where 3/4 of population are not originally from NZ. A friend of mine has friends in Wellington, so next time I come, I might spend some time in North Island as well, learning more about this incredible place. In the meantime, I bought a book ‘New Zealand Wars’ written by the Head of Department of History at the Auckland University, James Belich, who, most incredibly, is of Croatian ancestry.