Monday, October 25, 2010
Is a slip worse than a slump?
Cape Palliser lighthouse, built in 1897,left, looks out over a year-round seal colony. One of whom was checking out Amy. (In the background.)
We headed out to Cape Palliser, the southernmost point of the North Island, leaving behind a grim and windy Wellington. But once we crossed the mountains into the Wairarapa it was a blue-sky day. Funnilyl enough, Cape Pallliser is located 50 kilometers from Wellington, 100 kilometers by road - not the sort of stats you often hear in the States.
Like apparently every square inch of New Zealand, parts of the spectacularly shaped rocky outcrops of Cape Palliser were filmed for "Lord of the Rings." Yet the drive was considerably more easy on the nerves than some we've had. While there was still some of the obligatory driving along the side of a cliff with spectacular views of our potential demise all too evident, much of the drive out to Palliser was alongside fields of grass - even beside the ocean.
We were still sporadically warned about the danger of slips, which any good reader of this blog knows is the government-mandated euphemism for landslide. But this time we were also warned to beware of slumps. Not knowing what this was, we tried our best to keep everyone's spirits up - "You look great, Morgan;" "Amy, you sing so well." Thus we arrived at the cape in great moods, which only enhanced the natural splendor of the place.
We saw dozens of frolicking seals - obviously also compensating against the risk of slumps - on the way to the lighthouse. Then it was 264 steps up to the top - a good workout to go along with our great moods.
Just before the Cape is Ngawi, home to an army of bulldozers used to move large
boats into and out of the water. I've never seen anything like it and it is especially strange as the distance covered is no more than a dozen yards. OK, it is thick, volcanic sand, but you'd think they'd just build a launch or a slip. The small community makes its living off crayfish, and we saw dozens of divers don wetsuits and head into the waters for abalone and sea urchins.
It turns out we may have needlessly been kind to each other as, best I can determine, a slump is some sort of permanent slippage, a sort of institionalized landslide that lives in a certain place - a destructive artist in residence, if you will. This is obvioulsly not a geological explanation, which will follow. Still, as you can see by the happy video below, it was simply a gorgeous day for a drive.