Tuesday, 21st, June, 2011.Well most of the day was spent sleeping. surface deep, unsatisfying sleep. I kept on waking up in a start thinking I was late for something or that I was somehow doing something wrong. Eventualy I got out of bed in the afternoon and spent the remainder of the day watching films in my long johns and eating incessently.
I helped Gary stack a large pile of logs which was delivered but apart from that I stayed well indoors.


PART406 diesel runs

monday, 20th, June, 2011.(night time)

I got the call that I was working tonight. I quickly ate some baked beans on toast and Sarah lovingly prepared my food. A hop and a skip and I was off. Andy was also working so he gave me a lift in. It was dark but not too cold, the sky was clear. We met Monty, Naya and Bree at the work shop and when all were there Naya drove us up the mountain in one of the buses. We arrived in the deserted base camp. We were all given head torches and radios.
The snow on the mountain looked like streaky clouds in the darkness, Ohakune far below looked like a glittering city of light, the name Ohakune meaning new world from the fact that when you come down the mountain and entre in its so different its like a different world.

Tonight we were being trained up for the diesil run. At the bottom of the Moven pick ski lift there is a diesel pump, we attach a large tank to the back of one of the lifts and fill it up with diesel and ride up with it to the top of the movenpick and dispence it in the huge container at the top. It is used to fuel the snow cats and digger, so they don’t have to come all the way down the mountain to refuel.

All that might have sounded pretty straight forward and in essence it is but there was so much to remember and all things which if not done would cause problems. First you have to click, twist and pump a myriad of buttons and nobs to start the lifts up, checking that all the lights are on, climbing up to the engine room and flicking switches. If you miss one it doesn’t turn on. you have to carry the heavy metal tank over to one of the lifts and attach it. open the tube on top, close the tube on the bottom, take out the bung, stick the diesel hose in and clamp it open then go to the diesel machine and turn it on. On top of this the diesel pump wasnt working properly so we couldn’t tell how much was going into the tanks, through a few errors were the diesel sprewed out of the overflowing tube we found out that it took about 4 minutes to fill one of the 250litre tanks up.

In the dark as we sent the diesel tanks up on the lift we would wait for the radio signal from the top of the lift and then stop it for the people up top to drain, then they would send the empty tanks back down again. We had to ferry up about 6000 leters of diesel during the night. It took all night, the weather grew colder as the night wore on, we took it in turns to ride up with the tanks, occassionaly the shadows from the lifts below caught me off guard and I jumped as I thought I saw a gliding spector below.

During the night shift sometimes the lifts just stop. This in its self isnt unusual as things cut out or break from time to time, what is spooky is that the lifts start up again on their own, this can only be done if someone turns them on manualy after a cut out. Naya said rather matter of factly ”yeah there are a couple of ghosts hanging around the highnoon lift sometimes playing with the controls”
When it was my turn to ride up with the diesel I put on all my gear as sitting still up high on a lift for 15 minutes can make you incredibly cold. The stars in the sky shone so bright as there was no other lights around to detract from them. The ground below in the dark looked deceptivly near. I arrived at the top of the movenpick with two tanks of diesel, calling in for the lift to be stoppped I got off on the slipy wooden base at the top. A large pipe coming out of the ground was used to drain the tanks of diesel. I forgot to close one of the switches when I took the pipe out and the diesel spewed out all over the deck. I cleaned it up with a rag but soon in the freezing weather it had turned to a slick silvery patch.

The wind was picking up and the only light was from my head torch. The only sound was the wind and I was along ontop of the mountain. I spent some time checking the large containers diesel levels with its massive dip stick, counting the ski lifts coming up waiting for the next tank to appear out of the darkness.
I thought about working at night, how you dont have all the interaction, noise and light of the day. Rubbing shoulders with others, the ever adaptive art of socializing with its excitment interest and its drudgery. When you have to share the earth with so many. Traveling in rush hour. The night is just the opposite.

The mountain became colder and the wind stronger and tiredness set in in the early hours of the morning, the suns pale light diluting the darkness, a tireness mixed with a chill burrowed into my bones.
Finaly we compleated our quota of diesel transport and we were able to drive back down the mountain in the morning, passing the day shift driving up. Sarah must have passed us by on her way up to work. Sarah had given me a text last night saying she didnt want to buy the car anymore, she didnt want to spend too much on petrol and she had done a ba gua prediction which said it would be a big mistake. I became furiously angry in my fragile sleep deprived state. I hadent slept in 24 hours and the idea of calling up the car ownerd and saying we didnt want the car after only yesterday saying I would pick it up was too much for me.

I thought about how Sarah had done the same thing with changing her mind in the caravans and I was the one who had to tell the land lord we were moving out, then after find accomadation with Mj I was also left with dealing with it all. A great resentment built up and I sent a venomus text telling her to call them herself if she didnt want it anymore.

Naya and Andy went to the mountain rocks bar after work for a beer. I didnt have any other way of getting home other than Andy so I felt like I had no other choice but to wait for him to finish his drink. They had two painfuly slow pints and I sat listening to the conversation, trying to keep my eyes open wondering what madness possessed them to still stay awake. I vowed that next time this happened I would hitch hike home.

Finaly we got back to Rangatau and I got into our room, somehow it was even colder than outside, I could see my breath in the air. I took a long shower and defrosted myself, I sat in the living room for half an hour in the sun light warming up and eating a big bowl of chicken drum sticks Sarah had made for me. I finaly went to bed and pulling the sheets right over my head fell asleep with a empty exhausted mind.


Monday, 20th, June, 2011.

It was Sarahs first day at work and Kala and Seb picked us up in their car. We drove down to town and Kala and Sarah went into the workshop to start their induction day. Seb and I were left to our own devices and had the car so we drove to look at a car for sale near by. We saw the advert in New world yesterday for a ford falcon 4 liter. Sebastian said that the ford falcon was a notorious car in Argentina which was used by the police to kidnap people in.

When we arrived at the house which was only one minute drive away from the work shop the car was parked outside. We rung the bell of the small bungalow and a Maori couple came out. There were short and stocky with unkempt hair and crude tattoo’s all over their arms and neck. Seb asked about the car as I had no idea what to ask, it had its WOF (worrent of fitness, the same as the MOT in the UK) and the tires were new. The inside was dirty and the outside had a little rust. We asked to take it for a drive and Seb drove it all the way back to Rangataua and our house. We opened the bonnet and found that the oil hadn’t been changed for a very long time and there was a smell of burning oil. Seb seemed quiet pleased with it and said he would consider buying it if he didn’t already have a car ” the only thing is it’s a 4 liter it will be so expensive” he said. because it was an automatic and I was feeling good I drove it back into town. It was the first time I had driven an automatic car and the easy of it was exciting. Just go and stop and steer, that’s it!.

None of that gear changing. We took it back to the owner’s house and told them we would call later on in the day. ” you know they are warrior poeple, you can still see it now, they look scary with their tattoos, if I saw someone like that in Argentina I wouldn’t even talk to them but hear thats just what Maori people look like, it doesnt mean they are bad ” Seb said as we drove away from the house in his car.

I had got a good feeling from the couple but at the same time I was worried, so many people even Maoris have told me not to buy a car or do business with Maoris. I felt conflicted. On one hand there was a part of me trying to stick to what I knew was right and that you should not judge someone by the colour of their skin or how they look, then on the other hand it is hard to ignore the powerful wave of popular opinion.

and I went to Ruatahi, a nearby town were he would be staying. It was a small deserted place. wooden one story shops lined the central road. The shops were run down and in the style of an old american town. I have heard people say that Ruatahi has more crime than Ohakune but I suspect that is like some saying a plate is sharper than a bowl. There is crime here and there are gangsters as well, like any place on the earth but compared to gangsters from China or Malaysia I think the NZ breed are a much less organised. Thats not to say I would not give NZ gangsters a wide berth, getting your teeth kicked in by someone in NZ is just as bad as it is in China.
Seb went around the few restaurants in Ruatahi to find work, some of the places were so squalid I just had to laugh, blacked out windows with gang graffiti scribbled on every surface. We stopped by the hunting and fishing society shop. A small tanned wood building with dirty windows. The inside a creepy room of death, deer heads mounted, stuffed phesents and rodents stood motionless around the long wooden table in the middle of the room. The sunlight streaming in through the windows made the place all the more unsettling, the glinting partials of dust hanging in the air.

In the evening I called the car owners and said we would take the car tomorrow. Sarah and I had discussed the matter and had agreed to buy it for the season to get around town, then after the ski season we would sell it on.

Sarahs first day of work involved a long boring induction and then they went up to the base camp and the restaurant up there to try out some food preparation. Sarah is working with Arika the Japanese girl we met in Te puke. Arika got a job as the head of sushi making, she told the manager in the interview that she knew how to make sushi very well. Sarah is her assistant. It was obvious that Arika really didn’t know how to make sushi and she was running around confused and stressed. Sarah thought about getting involved and giving the manager suggestions for the menu, telling her she could create some Chinese dishes and helping Arika with her job but she hesitated and thought about it for a moment. She realised she doesn’t want to give herself extra work for no extra money so she kept her mouth shut and just did what she was told. Being a sheep pays off sometimes.


Saturday, 18th, June, 2011.

A day of rest, no work, we woke up late and I cooked a hoki fish bake and tried my hand at a Pavlova cake. I beat the eggs, the sugar, added the vanilla essence, vinegar and corn flour. It all looked so good as I slipped it in the oven, as it rose and became crispy and slightly golden the whole kitchen was filled with a sweet smell. I felt like a real master chef. Cooking fish and cake what couldnt I do?

The fish was very tasty, with walnut, lemon and pesto. I was expecting the Pavlova cake to be just as good, I took it out of the oven and with a sinking heart I saw that the base which should have been a light marang jobby was just a congealed solid mass of sugar. I put the whipped cream and kiwi fruit on it and it looked almost like a real cake. Sarah cut a piece for me and I bit into it. It was so sickly sweet, as it looked and was it tasted like eating cooked sugar with cream on top. For some reason I finished the slice which I regretted. Feeling the torrent of sugar course through my veins.

So it was a day of disappointments and achievements. As most days are.


Friday, 17th, June, 2011.

Something I forgot to mention in my Wednesday post was that I went to a bar after work. I was getting a lift with Andy and Brom and they wanted to stop off at the suitcase bar for a quick one before heading back to Rangatau. I went along and mingled with the rest of the RAL staff there. It was plesent and I chatted with a few people but I noticed how differently I viewed drinking. Before I would be impatient to get a least a few beers inside me, I would scan the beers on tap eagerly to see if there was anything I had not tried and I would not care one bit how much I spent. A pub was about the most exciting place to be for me.
But when I was in the suitcase watching everyone scurrying around with their drinks spending hard-earned money on piss, going to the bar and forking over a good portion of their wages. I just wanted to go home, people were getting drunk enough to get to that stage when they talk a whole load of shit and to my great surprise  I actually didn’t want to drink at all. I set out to quit drinking for half a year and was almost expecting it to be a grueling experience but it’s slipped even further along the gauge. Not only do I not have cravings but I actually don’t want to drink. Lets see how long it lasts.

Brandon and Hamish had left town for a few days to go and work in Auckland and Hamish  lent me his long board. Sarah and I needed to get to town to do some shopping so I took the long board, she took Carleens bike and we rode along the dreadnought road  to Ohakune.

The road had plenty of hills and I rode down them with a bravery that surprised me. When the road was flat I held onto the back of Sarah’s bike.

The mountain to our right, white bright and craggy. The railway line following us as well. A deer farm passed us by, hundreds of deer turned their head and watched us speed by. Not a single car did we meet on the road. My feet became numb with the vibrations after riding on the board for so long. We came to a bridge leading to town and after it a winding road heading down. I pushed off after the bridge and rolled down with mounting speed, A gravel strip of road appear and I stiffened with panic and braced for the bumpy ride. I hit the gravel and flew off the board and ran then slowed myself down.

I was reminded of my own long board in the UK which I had when I was a teenager. I remember my Dad trying it out in the school play ground next to our house. he was tentatively pushing along on it on the flat tarmac and had just mounted the board with both feet when he fell off and fell on his behind. Now I may be remembering it completely wrong but I have this image burnt into my brain of him flying into the air waving his arms around and hanging there for a moment before he crashed hard to the ground. After the fall I remember him picking himself up without any real pains. He had a good laugh about it. Later on that day Dad and I went down to the local social club to play a game of pool. Getting into the van on the journey down he was fine but then when we arrived he had to struggle to get out of the van. That should have been the point when we went back home or possible to the hospital but for some reason we went in to play pool. Dad soon sat out on the game and I was left practising on my own as he sat grimly clutching his cue. It became too much and we slowly made our way home, we were just getting down our drive way, me supporting him as he hobbled along and then he stopped ” go and get Mum” he said. I ran down and fetched Mum and we both ran back up the lane to were Dad was standing ready to crumble. We shepherded him down the lane and on to the sofa were some sort of spasm gripped him. I remember him letting out one pained cry, mixed with laughter. It’s about as close to tears as I have seen him come.

All from one little fall from a big skate board. How fragile we are but also how strong. How can some people survive falling out of a building and others fall over in the bathroom and brain themselves to death?

We arrived in Ohakune and went to the bank to open a savings account. A nice young tall woman sat us down and we set up our accounts ”so at 3.5 percent interest how much will I earn every month from the amount I put in?” Sarah asked eagerly, the woman paused for a moment and said ”oh god I don’t know I am terrible at maths” and turned to the computer to find a web site which would find out the interest rate, she searched for a minute then gave up. ”sorry” she said sweetly.

After doing a large shopping run in the supermarket we went back home, stopping outside the powderkeg hotel on a bench where we drank ginger beer and ate apples. A wedding party was in full swing inside the keg. People in suits and dresses drinking wine and beer. As we rode home the backpack heavily laden with shopping and the decline which had been so accommodating  down from Rangataua had polarised and become a beastly incline. A cargo train clanked past on the rails with empty carriages, just platforms on wheels. I suddenly had a powerful urge to leave my luggage and board and dash to one and be transported to where ever the train was going. I vowed there and then as the train ran out of sight under a bridge that I would jump on a cargo train one day and see where it takes me. It’s such a powerful symbol of freedom and adventure. The traveler jumping on a train, not concerned with the destination just with keeping moving and the thrill of the journey.

We got home tired and sweaty and watched the first Harry Potter film before falling alseep.


Wednesday, 14th, June, 2011.

Andy gave me a lift into work today, speeding along the small road from Rangataua to Ohakune, up and down the hills me cheerios in my stomach sloshing around. On the bus ride up I fell asleep and woke up several time with my mouth wide open my legs spayed and pushing into the unfortunate nabour sitting beside me. We had to stop almost at the top because there was too much ice on the road and we waited in the bus untill a group of 4×4 came down from base camp to rescue us. The bus was left in the middle fo the road as we headed up in our new rides.

Another day of little to do. I don’t get the feeling that it will last for long though. From what I hear the work when it starts is not like this. Shaz is a very considerate boss and I think she brings as many people up to work at the moment as possible so that we can make some money, even if we don’t need half of the people up here. At some points over this week we have had 10 people doing a job which two people could comfortable do, but even though we have 10 people to do the job there are only enough tools for one person to do the job. So the farce of pretending to work goes on, as, if not more tiring than actually working its self.

Myself and Bree spent most of the morning sitting in the snow making staff room cleaning the gun nozzles. In the afternoon we cleaned out the hydrants, turning on the pumps down by the man-made lakes and opening the hydrants all up the mountain and letting the yellow gritty water jet out untill it became clear and clean once more. We even got to turn the guns on for the first time. although the weather was too warm so we didn’t make snow we just made rain. compressors on, fan on, hydrant on. The water hoses thrashed and became rigid with water and the guns shot out an arking plum of water. A small rainbow followed the waters wake from the barrel all the way down to the ground were the water fell.

When will we make snow? when will there be actual snow? I don’t know and the question is become tiresome even though I ask it myself daily. The mountain is coming to life slowly, now the lift staff and kitchen staff have arrived today.

I arrived back home tired and cold. My boots and socks reeking after the day. You dont smell when you have so many cloths on but once you begin to take them off at the end of the day, like taking the thick sodden bark of a tree, I reliesed all the days toil out into the open. I washed away the day in the shower and spent more time than I cared to putting away my various layers. Like a knight hanging up his armour.

PART399 looking down

Tuesday, 14th, June, 2011.
Another beautiful sunny day up the mountain. We were still putting the fences in. All the way up the mountain these ugly rusty metal poles stand in single file moving down, or up which ever way you want to see it. We just moved large black coils of hard plastic and attached them to the metal poles creating the rungs of the fence ” its not really to stop people going past this point its more to make a barrier for the snow, it builds up around the fence and then the snow cat comes in and plows it to wherever we need it.

The mountain is open to the public at the moment and some people have been coming up and walking around, curiously watching the work taking place and walking up the accessible parts of the mountain. Many of the RAL staff regard these walkers with disdain ” why the fuck are they coming up here there isn’t even any snow?” one snow maker said as she watched a couple walking pasted us.

Another couple of people were heading down the mountain while we were working and one snow maker looked up and said ” fuck that one next to the man is fucking tiny, is it a child?”, ”or a teeny fuckin Thai bride” another one pipped up. The couple stopped further down and took some photos and the large group of snow makers all of whom were just standing around turned to look at the walkers with unfriendly eyes, staring as if the walkers were some sort of nuisance, making fools out of themselves rather than a couple taking pictures.

Khan the large Maori man who I had done the night shift with on Saturday played a practical joke on me. It was the afternoon and we had been sitting round not knowing what to do for the last half an hour. I saw him at the top of the HR offices and I walked up to him and asked what we were ment to do. ”bro we are heading home, go and get your bag man” he said as he sat smoking his cigaret. I turned around and went to fetch my bag from the snow making staff room ”so we are off home then” I said to Bree the army girl who was just leaving the staff room ” no I don’t think so, we are going to do nozzles again I think” she replied with a confused face.

I knew Khan was having me on so I returned back to the HR office to let him have a jolly good laugh at me. Khan was having a fit of the giggles when I marched up to him. A small group of people were gathered round laughing as well. At first I must say I found it pretty funny as well, but it wore thin  fast and in the end I had a sence of humour failure. They just kept laughing and going on about how I had been served, how gutted I was. They really found it very funny. I suddenly saw it as completely juvenile, I was suddenly reminded of those American teen films with the highschool jocks and it all fit into place at that time. This job on the mountain, with all the ”beer fines” for if you make a mistake, all the swearing, the constant joking about how ”fuckin, cuntin shit face I was last night” all the macho swagger just broke my back there and then for one tiring weak moment and I am afraid I climbed up a towering imaginary ladder and looked down on them all.