Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A simple kindness is sweet like honey

I was at the corner store during lunch today when this older black lady with awesome crazy Einstein hair gave a service guy the last piece of pizza she'd just purchased, and then bought a couple of hot dogs for her lunch...

I found out after they had both left that she'd come in craving pizza...

How sweet is that? :)

From the Commodore - Day 12

 Up at 7, showered, breakfast, made lunches and off by 10.  Stopped at Franz Joseph, the glacier further north and visited the isite (info centre) for details of what to see driving north.  I kept falling asleep in the car.  Too hot. 

Drove north and stopped in Harihari for dad to have a coffee and I had a boysenberry bar.  Very tasty.  Very cloudy once we left the valley. 

Stopped at Lake Ianthe for lunch which we’d packed.  Water in lake very warm and lots of people swimming there.  Drove on and stopped in Ross an old gold mining town.  Walked part of the trail but it’s over an hour long and it was hot and late and I wanted to get going so we could find a hostel room. 

Stopped in another community that is called the jade capital of NZ.  Saw how they cut the jade, polish it and bought some cute souvenirs for people.  Also found some colourful wool socks for myself in a sock museum across the road.  Had a long conversation with the man painting the souvenirs I bought and he warned me about the bridge to the north which is a one lane bridge (most of the bridges in this country are one lane, even the long ones) that also takes the train. 

We got ahead of the train and then went to cross the bridge and dad stalled the car right on the tracks!  A little flurry of excitement!  Got safely across ahead of the train then stopped on the roadside to call up different hostels.  The ones by the pancake rocks where we are going tomorrow were all booked up so we drove into Greymouth looking for the info centre and found a lovely hostel full of art work and got a room there. 

For $2 we washed a load of laundry, made dinner, hung the laundry to dry and dad got the pictures from my camera onto his spare hard drive as well as the computer.  After dinner we drove out to the point to see if we could see any dolphins (no luck) and watched the fishing boats coming in over the bar. 

While typing this addition I found my stupid watch battery has died and so I’m watchless again!  What a pain in the rump!  I think it’s bedtime. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

From the Commodore - Day 11

Slept poorly as it was quite noisy in our room and I’d already slept 3 hours in the afternoon.  The kitchen dining area was directly below our room and the music didn’t get turned off until the wee hours of the morning.  I put in ear plugs at 1:30 a.m. and got some sleep. 

Up by 7 and itchy as all get out because of all the sand fly bites.  Got a shower and breakfast then walked to the glacier tour office to find out what time their tours were running and if they were running as there was quite a fog in the valley.  Booked to go on the afternoon flight at 2:50 and then we drove to the parking lot which led to the trail up to the foot of the Fox Glacier.  Hiked up to the lookout point which was about 200 m from the glacier’s toe.  Much the same as the Columbia ice fields in the Rockies.  Dad was interested in the slope failures, the glacier sheer, etc.  Some poor lady lost her glasses and they were sitting on a post at the side of the trail.  What a nuisance! 

Back to our room by 11:30 and I had a short nap in preparation for my glacier tour.  Up by 12:30, ate lunch, got my boots on, packed extra clothes and got out my camera and goretex jacket.  Got to the booking office by 2:45 as per instructions only to find they hadn’t checked with the pilot yet to see if they could fly us up to the glacier.  The morning flight had been cancelled due to the cloud cover so it was good we booked the afternoon flight.  Dad rushed back to the hostel to see if he could find my sunglasses (they had fallen out of my purse in the back of the car and we hadn’t noticed as I hadn’t needed them) and brought them back in time to see me off. 

The tour didn’t leave til 3:15.  They bussed us out to the chopper pad and there gave us leather boots with heavy socks to wear on the glacier and instructions on flying in a helicopter.  I was on the first chopper out and landed at 3:45 but then had to wait for the other 3 chopper loads of people on our tour to get ferried up to the glacier.  The ride up was a bit nauseating as the chopper pilot decided to give us a thrill and as he circled the landing site, he turned the chopper sideways.  Like an amusement park ride but they always made me sick and nothing to grab onto and I was in the outside seat right against the door! 

However we landed safely and tried not to get hit by flying ice crystals as the next 3 choppers came in.  Then we met our guides.  I got Passang from Nepal with an accent and 13 people in our group including a bratty little Chinese boy with his parents and grandparents who was spoiled completely rotten.  They all had difficulty with English and following instructions which slowed us down a lot.  We got to put on crampons on our boots and grabbed a ski pole and set off to a tunnel through the ice which we crawled through.  I almost didn’t go but remembered our trip last summer Sam and so I crawled through, got ice abrasions on my palms and my pants soaking wet. 

From there we climbed up and across to see Victoria Falls which flow down from Victoria Glacier which used to flow into Fox Glacier but don’t anymore due to the shrinkage of both.  The falls flow into a river that flows under the glacier.  Then we went to a crack in the glacier and our guide took a picture of each of us.  My battery died and I’m very thankful, Sam that you gave me one of your spare batteries when you ordered some a couple of years ago and it still had juice in it after sitting idle for 2 years in my camera case.  Saved the day!  Got lots more photos on the glacier and off. 

Disappointed in that my 4 hour tour turned into 1 ½ on the glacier with a lot of that time spent stopping, posing and taking pictures.  As dad pointed out, that’s why he avoids those touristy tours.  But I did get to climb on a real glacier which is what I’ve wanted to do for a long time. 

Back to town dad met me at the office and walked me back to our hostel.  We went to the grocery to find some oats for dad and I got an ice cream bar and he got a beer and we wound down nicely.  Had to wait to get into the kitchen at the hostel as it was a complete zoo.  Got dinner about 8.  Works well for me as I find I don’t eat before bedtime as I’m not hungry.  After dinner we sat and read a bit before bed at 10.  Another noisy night.  We filled out a survey complaining about the noise, poorly stocked kitchen (broken appliances, missing tools, etc.) and lack of bug screens on the windows.  Didn’t rate the place very highly.  (Dad gave it a 4 out of 10). 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Roadtrip - July 17th - Leg III - Part D

At some point on this day of much driving, we saw another billboard and got it in our heads that we should have BBQ or some kind of grilled dinner... (obviously didn't learn our lesson the first time) Because it manifested into a full blown womanly craving,

"I will have grilled BBQ or HEADS WILL ROLL!!!!" *peaches and cream voice* "Have I made myself clear? Good."

Cue the clown music. After driving around literally following Doug-Doug in circles, and stopping to ask two different sets of random town-folk directions we *finally* found this BBQ Grill place... only to have the bartender tell us that the kitchen was shut down and that he couldn't even serve us a beer :(

In an attempt at humor he said if we'd gotten there 10 minutes earlier, he might have been able to serve us a beer. Having driven in circles for 20 minutes this only served to further stoke the fire of Burning Stoves & Stuff.

He redeemed himself in our books though, by pointing us in the direction of Famous Dave's. Of course we promptly got stuck behind a train, and then experienced a textbook definition of hangry.

hangry: han·gry (adjective) \ˈhaŋ-grē\

1. When you are so hungry you're angry
2. Angry and hungry enough to chew the arm of the next person who talks to you.

"Sorry,  I didn't mean to yell at you.. I think I'm hangry"
 Beer; a good start to curing someone who is hangry, especially if it's promptly followed by an enormous platter of delicious foods.

Mmmmm beer....
Not gonna lie, I was so hungry right here that I was thinking "I know this needs to be documented but pleasepleaseplease take the picture so I can eaaaaat!"

Mmmm foods
Happy Moose with a full belly
End of day three and we've driven from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to Billings Montana

Daily dose of driving: 934km (~580mi)
Trip total thusfar 2434km (~1512mi)

The Roadtrip - July 17th - Leg III

We discovered that Doug-Doug can calculate a route to somewhere along the way to your destination... like stopping for gas. This gas-station/casino set the precedent of finding places with funny names ;)

I guess this is how you leave your options open for when you find yourself wanting to sell something other than Burning Stoves...

The Roadtrip - July 17th - Leg III - Part C

Fast forward through the actual driving part... we saw some beautiful sights and found out why Montana is called "Big Sky Country" I think what makes it look so big, is that you can still see the mountains *and* what seems like the entire sky at the same time!

...and some more cool rocks ;)

This was when we realized, we might never get there...

As beautiful as this is, we were a little distracted... trying to find somewhere to eat. Luckily for you though, Faith wasn't too distracted to take pictures.

The Roadtrip - July 17th - Leg III - Part B

...and three miles beyond the last Random Stop a tiny little cafe in the tiny little town of St. Regis began advertising it's world famous Huckleberry Milkshakes. Soooo we followed the signs all the way to this tiny little cafe...
Us: What would you recommend on the menu?

Waitress girl: Well we have this one guy that came all the way from Texas cause he likes our buffalo burger so much...

Us: Yeah? That sounds good, could we try one of those?

Waitress  girl: Oh, no wait... we're all out.

Us: Ahhhhg! You got us all excited about this legendary buffalo burger and you don't have any? Well, I guess we'll just have a huckleberry milkshake then... :p

Waitress girl: Yeah I don't know why people come from all over for our Huckleberry milkshake...

Us: Dude! Are you kiddin' me?!? You guys have been advertising for like 30 miles, that's all we could think about by the time we finally got here!

One Huckleberry Milkshake...
Then we found this really cool antique store: Cold Creek Antiques and St. Regis Antique Gallery, and spent entirely too much time goofing around in there ;) It was just so awesome, everything was well laid out and relatively organized and there was just so many things to look at, I just couldn't leave!!!

Ball and chain
I thought this table looked super cool, it sure would have been a pain in the butt to make it though... it looks similar to the last steps of building a cedar strip canoe, when you have to fit the pieces into a space.

A table made out of an old wagon wheel.
Faith: He's not that big, I could take 'im!

me: *ahem* Uh Faith, that's just a little black one... Grizzly bears poop bigger than you!  *Heh* So, do you know the difference between black bear droppings and grizzly bear droppings?

Faith: No.

me: Grizzly bear droppings have little bells in them, and smell like pepper spray ;)

Alright... put 'em up!
 Hey! I've used one of these before!! Okay, it might not have been this old, but it looked a *lot* like this ;)

Surveying the merchandise
 *giggles* and these kinda speak for themselves...

Barbie's cool Auntie modelling the original "Camel Toe"
Not sure I want to read this... Yes, I'm judging a book by its title
Regrets: The things you didn't do and wish you had. Like finding somewhere to buy the honeymead wine we saw in the information center's booth display (where we stopped to GMP). But instead we bought Moose Drool beer... I wasn't a fan, we decided that Moose Drool was a good name for it... *blech*

The Roadtrip - July 17th - Leg III - Montana

w00t w00t! Hello Montana!!

 Yes, in case you were wondering I *did* get honked at while I was up there... a couple times ;)

From the Commodore - Day 10

Slept til 6 when my bladder woke me then back to bed to doze a little more.  Dad was up at 8 and finished off his porridge.  I got up at 8:30 and got beaten to the one shower so ate breakfast.  Tricky as the toaster was broken but found a working one.  A lot of the hostels have defective appliances, tonight it was the stove which a German lady warned us about so we didn’t spend hours waiting for it to heat up as she did.  After breakfast a shower and making lunches we headed off at 10.

We were leaving and Dad found a craft mall so went in and bought myself a pair of fleece slippers, merino wool t shirt which feels lovely and looks good, a shell necklace made of abalone and a cream which was supposed to stop the bug bites itching.  Didn’t work too well but helped a bit.  Also, got a DVD postcard for a dollar and hope it has some of the places we’ve been as neither my camera or dad’s is doing the best job of taking photos.  Sam, we need your camera here.

After the craft shop we headed to the conservation centre to find out about the penguins.  Wrong time of year.  Dad lucked out when he saw them 8 years ago.  Then we drove around a while searching for gas.  At $2.25 a litre it’s climbing.  Gassed up and headed North and stopped to take pictures of the Haast River bridge at the estuary end of the river.  Headed up to ? for a walk along the river to see the old giant trees called Dinosaur trees because they were here 100 million years ago.  Then did the dune walk to the lake and saw another piece of disappearing flora.  The whole area (2.6 million hectares) is a Unesco World Heritage Site.  Didn’t see anyone  but heard lots of bird song and a huge buzz of insect noise sounding a bit like crickets.

Sunny and hot.

Drove out to Knight’s Point viewpoint and searched the ocean for sea life but couldn’t spot anyone at 1 pm.  Ate lunch in our car as all the picnic tables full.  Very crowded and busy on this highway.  Drove to a salmon ‘hobby’ farm and had a chocolate milk while dad had cake and a coffee to keep awake.

 We’ve run out of cash.  I tried to flag it when we were near a bank a couple of days ago but dad was sure we had lots.  Now if they won’t take a credit card we’re hooped.  We spent the last of our cash on gas as their machine was down.  He thought I had money but he’d needed it earlier and spent it so we have to see if we can find a bank tomorrow. 

Drove to Fox Glacier and I fell asleep in the car.  Not sleeping well.  Arrived at 4, checked in and I had a nap til 7.  Slept poorly as we’re right above the kitchen and it was noisy.  Still is even though it’s 10 pm.  Good thing I have ear plugs.  Dad made his special hash for dinner, diced chicken, tomato paste, canned corn and rice.  It was okay.  I find the tomato paste a bit too acidy but he insists on putting it in every dish.  Funny as he hates meat sauce which is just beef with tomato sauce. 

Hope to go on a glacier tour tomorrow so I’d best go to sleep

Saturday, February 23, 2013

From the Commodore - Day 9

Up early and ate breakfast.  Dad couldn’t eat as we had no way to cook his porridge.  Headed out of town by 8:30 and stopped for coffee and a mince tart for dad’s breakfast.  He convinced me to live a little and try the gluten free almond/orange cake.  It was okay but heavy. 

Left town by 9 to drive to Haast.  Drove to Queenstown and stopped off at Lower Shotover Bridge just outside of town.  Had our picnic lunch there.  Sunny, hot but lovely.  Headed into Queenstown which is on a lovely lake.  Since it’s Sunday here, everybody was at the lake playing football or swimming.  Stopped in the 10 minute parking zone to use the washrooms before heading out.  Stopped in the town centre to get groceries. 

Cruised through a local art gallery.  The paintings are all very sharp with bright colours rather than the washed out pastels of BC.  There were some nice things but outrageously priced so I didn’t get anything.  We drove north but the signage was confusing so we came back to town and the info centre to get directions.  We should have kept going and would have found the signage we needed eventually. 

Passed a puzzle place but didn’t stop as I didn’t want to get in too late.  The NZ’s have created maze farms with optical illusions.  Looked a bit like Science World from the outside.  Drove up into the mountains (Southern Alps) and saw a plane flying into Queenstown which looked so low it felt like we could touch it! 

Stopped at the highest point in the road and found a memorial to two families killed there a few years ago.  Someone planted a tree in memorial and I watered it.  Hope it makes it. 

On the way to Haast we stopped at the Blue Pools, a lovely walk and a bouncy bridge to the clear blue pools in the river.  Quite lovely.  Passed some other nice walks but it was getting late so skipped them.  Stopped to take photos of the Haast River which has huge boulders washed down it.  The rivers here are so different from home.  Because of the soil types they wander all over the place so the bridges are super long because the river keeps changing it’s course over the winter when the rains come. 

Drove to Haast and got in late (around 7) and cooked up last night’s dinner which was a couple of small minute steaks, very tender.  About $40/kg!  Had nuked potatoes and carrots which take a very long time to cook in boiling water.  I keep forgetting that the kitchens in the hostels have a boiling water tap so you can make yourself an instant cup of tea or coffee but I should use the water to kickstart the veg. 

Ate dinner about 8 and later found the washer and dryer but was told they shut down at 8 (the sign said 9:30).  Chatted with a German fellow who works for a car manufacturer making engines and got the name of a bug repellent all natural made here in NZ.  I’m covered with sandfly bites (the Dracula of flies worse than mosquitoes probably on par with blackflies) 

Drove down towards Jackson Point to see if we could see any crested penguins coming ashore (dad saw them here 8 years ago) but no luck.  Did see a herd of red deer which looked like tiny elk.  In the dark it was hard to tell and their shape and markings are the same.  Back to the hostel and played a few hands of rummy with dad and were in bed by 10. 

Slept like a log with weird dreams again.  Must be sleeping in all the different beds.

Friday, February 22, 2013

From the Commodore - Day 8

Awake early and just lay in bed and enjoyed being warm.

Dad in his usual rush (Let’s go, let’s go!) although he swore he wasn’t rushing me until I finally asked him what he’d just said and he replayed the tape in his head and went “Oh, I guess I am rushing you.”

Decided against going to Stewart Island off the south coast even though it sounds good but the ferry alone is $71 each  for a walk on ride similar to crossing Georgia Strait and then there are other fees on top of that (like entry fees and parking fees for the car).  I don’t need to see a kiwi in the wild that badly especially since there’s no guarantees of seeing one.

Drove out to Nugget Point to see the Royal spoonbill colony.  Unfortunately dad left both pairs of binoculars on the boat so couldn’t really see much from the cliff top.  Quite disappointing although the view was spectacular.  Stopped at a river estuary for lunch.  Drove through Owaka and picked up a few groceries.

Went to Purakaunui Falls and made the 10 minute walk up to see them.  Lots of lovely bird calls on the walk and interesting trees, some with metal plaques that were difficult to read.  Headed south along the windy highway and stopped again at Florence Point lookout, this time to see the blowhole cave on a little island just offshore of the point.  Finally left the area around 2 and drove to Invercargill at the centre of the south island.

Construction on the main highway through meant we missed the info centre and didn’t make a hotel reservation.  Stopped at a large grocery and got some gluten free bread and milk.  Headed back on the main street and had trouble finding our way north as there wasn’t any signage and we had no real map of the city even though it’s quite large.  Drove through a couple of small towns which either had no motels or one motel which was full.

Arrived in Lumsden around 6 and your dad was completely stressed out.  Got him to check into the Lumsden hotel for $40 for the night and we put our meat in their fridge.  We’ve got a double room with a shared bath but I’m fine with that as the room is clean.  Ate dinner in their café which was quite tasty and filling.  I had chicken fried rice and your dad had teriyaki chicken.  The hotel is run by a Sri Lankan and an East Indian.  It’s on the main road but since the highway is not well travelled it should be quiet enough.  It’s almost a full moon tonight.

Heading to Haast on the west coast tomorrow and we have a reservation so should be less stressful than today.  It’s almost bedtime so I’ll send this off.  Hope you are all well.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

From the Commodore - Day 7

I got breakfast in the room as I didn’t need cooking facilities; bread, orange juice and cereal.  Dad had some bread and peanut butter but it wasn’t enough.  Left by 10 am after dad made a reservation at the Surat Bay Lodge for tonight.

Drove out of Gore and wandered the back roads til we got back to the coast at Fortrose.  Found a small café there and dad had coffee and carrot cake while I had a super delicious gluten free dark chocolate cake with whipped cream.

Soooooooooooo good!

Saw a possum pelt there.  Possums in NZ are extremely furry.  Like a small raccoon without the stripes.

Drove up to Waipapa Point where there was a famous shipwreck, all lives lost, and so they built a lighthouse there.  Down to the beach to look at the fur seals snoozing and fighting.  Pretty wild flowers in the grasses along the beach walk.

Next stop, Slope Point, the furthest point south in NZ where we hiked out to look at the point, some neat kelp flowing in a little inlet beneath the point.  From there drove to Curio Bay and saw a petrified forest on the beach and got a closer look at a yellow eyed penguin hanging out on the beach.  From there we headed up to our lodging at Surat Bay. Stopped at the Florence Cove lookout which has a spectacular view of the south.

The Coast road is extremely windy and slow going.  Got into the hostel about 5:30 only to find three loud young men trying to make dinner.  No room to get in and cook our supper.  We’d picked up a couple of lamb steaks at a tiny convenience store on the way.  Not much in the way of stores in the smaller centers.
Once the youngsters took off to the beach I fried up the lamb steaks which were very delicious.  Nothing like what we get in BC.

After dinner David and I walked up the beach from the hotel.  Got badly chewed up by little flies on the beach which left serious welts the next morning.  Saw sign posts pointing to other shipwrecks along the coast.  Lots of reefs that are unmarked even today so still a dangerous coastline.  Sunny, warm evening although it got quite chilly at night.  The hostel room had an extra comforter and a blanket on the spare bed which dad piled on me so I was toasty warm except when I had to get up at night.

Slept very well but had more weird dreams.  Dreamt I was dancing with Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), no idea what that was about.  Fun, though. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

From the Commodore - Day 6

See above except add in that Dad lost the oatmeal and his room key and we had to pack everything up and load up the car before 9 a.m.

We made it with about 10 minutes to spare.

Took another Canadian with us as the bus fare to the albatross reserve where we went was about $75!  Zipped up to end of peninsula only to find that Centre didn’t open until 10 a.m.  Wandered around, had tea and went to buy tickets only to find we couldn’t get into a tour until noon.

Wandered around some more, I ate lunch and took the noon tour up to the blind to see the Royal Northern Albatrosses sitting on their nests.  Saw one get up and turn around so we got to see the chick underneath and saw another launch into the wind (winds were gusting 55 knots or 85 km. per hour)  These birds have the largest wing spans in the world.

Quite amazing.

After the tour we zipped back to town, dropped the lady off in Dunedin, went to the information bureau to book a room for tonight, found a place to get Dad’s glasses fixed (his new glasses had their nose pad fall off, fortunately I found it in the car and his sunglasses had a screw working it’s way out of the temple.), got me a watch, Dad some cash, got a watch battery that cost more than the watch!, found a candy store called Granny Annie’s and bought some good fudge, found a grocery and got some fruit, snacks, veggies and meat, etc. then drove south to find our hotel room.

Drove through miles and miles of rolling green hills covered with rock lice (local term for sheep) and stopped for gas and directions in Milton. Dad’s credit card rejected again.  It’s happened twice since he got here and the stupid call centre in Toronto is only open during the night here (ie: 2 am to 9 am)

Long drive from Dunedin.  The girl at information said it was 1 ½ hours but it was closer to 2 ½ hours!  Arrived at our motel room wiped out.  Dad disappointed that our room has no microwave or wifi.  I ate the other half of my last night’s dinner then sat at the computer for an hour to compose this narrative of our day.   Fortunately I got dad bread and a ham steak for dinner so it didn’t need cooking.  Have to find another backpacker place to stay as they are cheaper than motels and include a kitchen with stove, microwave and dishes.

That’s about all.

Love and hugs,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

From the Commodore - Day 5

Up early as city parking becomes pay parking at 9 am.  Showered, breakfasted, made lunches, packed cameras and headed out to the Botanic Gardens.  Safely arrived at the top of the hill, parked and wandered through the Native flora down to the Rhododendron grove and arrived at the aviary just as the sun hit the cages and woke the birds up.  Lots of fun.  

Walked down through the Eucalyptus trees through the South African flora (lots of boring bushes) to the Meditaranean garden and out onto a plaza overlooking the city of Dunedin which is very green.  Hoofed back up to the car and drove to the railway station where there’s all day parking for $5.  Parked and visited the Settler’s museum.  Went to car at 1:30 to eat lunch, then to railway station for 2:30 train tour up Taiere Gorge.  Wandered through the art shop upstairs then boarded our train at 2:30 for a 4 hour round trip up to the gold mines of Barwood and back.  Treated ourselves to dinner at The Terrace which has a gluten free menu.

Daniel you would like New Zealand as everyone knows what gluten free means and most stores carry gluten free foods.  Also many restaurants have that option for buns and stuff.  Dad had the blue cod special and I had the grilled chicken stuffed with Brie and wrapped in bacon with roast potatoes and vegetables.  Back to the hostel (yes we stayed in a hostel with loads of wild young people who wondered what’s happened that their hostel has been invaded by moldy old people!) and met a lady from Victoria and had a nice visit. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

To the left to the left... No! Your other left!!!

Drove to Oamaru yesterday on the left side of the road.  What an insane trip that was.  David's brain kept trying to put him on the right side of the road where it figured he should be.

Exhausting for both of us.

We made it safely, about a 4 hour trip from Christchurch, checked into our hotel and then zipped out to the end of Bushy Beach road to see the yellow eyed penguins come ashore to feed their young.  How amazing!

We were just leaving when David caught a movement from the corner of his eye so we stopped to watch a penguin swim to shore and climb up on the beach, waddle toward the hill we were standing on and we heard their youngster hollering for supper.

Very neat.  Just at sunset.

Then on the way back to our hotel we stopped at the local boat basin so dad could look at boats and we found some very artistically sculpted wood planks on the dock.  Dad took lots of photos.  Got to go, we need to check out in 10 minutes.

On to Dunedin on the South Island.  Talk more soon.  Love you lots!
Love and hugs,

From the Commodore - Day 4

Left hotel in Oamaru by 10 a.m. and drove down coast to Moeraki to see the boulders.  They are huge perfectly round rocks created by layers of material covering a central nucleus similar to the way a pearl is formed.  Walked in the ocean on the sand and found a few neat shells and rocks to bring home as souvenirs.  Their clam shells are weird in that they have a straight edge instead of a rounded one.  Think of a triangle with the top lopped off where the hinge is and the bottom of the triangle rounded where the clam opens up.  Stopped further down the highway at a rest stop for lunch and got a little wet when the waves came up to the log I was sitting on.

Got to Dunedin about 3 and dad went off for information on finding a computer store as he left the computer charger on the boat.  Since my camera and Kobo only charge from the computer I needed the charger more than he did.  Wandered around the centre of town  and looked at woolen clothing made from merino wool and possum fur.  Quite lovely but I didn’t have any money with me so just looked.  Found the information centre on things to see in Dunedin and found an all night convenience store.  After I tracked your dad down in the bar (parking in Dunedin is a complete nightmare!) we went for groceries and then I cooked rice, pork chops and carrots for dinner.  Ate a late supper and visited with a couple of ladies from Victoria of all places, Sue and Trisha.  Bed late even though we were both very tired.  My right hip was bugging me after the beach walks but once I settled I slept like a log and didn’t have to get up once during the night.  Very nice to sleep through the night!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

First musings from the Commodore

Well, we're off to Christchurch in an hour or so.  I'm finding it difficult not having a working watch.  Hopefully I'll find one somewhere soon.

I sent dad for toast as he didn't get breakfast before we left the hotel ($17 seemed a bit much for scrambled eggs and toast).  We'll rent a car and tour around from there.

Not as warm as I thought it would be but it's good.  I have enough clothes for any type of weather.  Had a nice long walk around the neighbourhood last night. 
Love and hugs,

Saturday, February 16, 2013

And the Commodore... Is back!

I collected Mom at the airport and put her to bed finally.  All is fine, weather nice.  She's still talking at me so I guess all is OK,  seems happy.  Only casulty of her trip is a broken watch.

Sharing the load

Sometimes you don't realize how hard you've been pushing against that wall until you turn sideways and just walk around it.  Which in hindsight seems ridiculously easier with the muscles you developed while pushing against it.

You don't realize how deep the footprints you're leaving behind you are as you trudge forward, one step at a time, until like dropping that pack at then end of a long trail you feel like you could fly... like the only thing holding you to this Earth is a tenuous strand of gravity, and that at any moment and you could be carried away up into the heavens like a helium balloon.

*deep breath* it's that feeling of not realizing how dangerous something was until you're through it, until you look back go "Holy crap" feel like you're going to barf... and think to yourself "Phew it worked out, mayyyyybe let's not do that again..."

Sooo what do we do when we're stressed? We talk, we share the load... as if in talking about it that load becomes familiar, and with understanding it become less scary and the previously impossible can be broken down into chunks that become manageable.

Then what do we do after we've conquered the impossible? That thing we weren't sure we could do in the first place? We talk about it, with those who helped us understand it. Thanking them for their support, and words of encouragement by pulling them up with us to our height by making it our shared success.

One person alone can be strong, but together we can accomplish so much more!  Share your loads, and successes in the end we all benefit, be it through a learned mistake or by making it okay to shine.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

From the Captain down under... and in NZ again!

It goes.  
The major snags is the stuff lost by the yard - my electrical spares box and the white battery box that had bolts etc. for the engine re-assembly.  It's peak season here and getting the attention of the mechanics has been an issue.  
A key ring adapter for the transmission was 'lost'.  Turned up at the machinist's shop, been sitting there for 15 months - mechs forgot and didn't pass on what was to happen.  Got it back, refitted, found the problem (sloppy fit), back to the mech, the machinist and now a fix is in the pipeline - fix being make up a new part that fits. Takes time, everyone is busy.  
So, the boat goes on out to the mooring without the engine but they say they'll have it running when I get back from Mom.  Meanwhile, I've got the fuel and water systems back together - major exercise.  The insides are going back in, still have to make up new compartment dividers but that isn't a huge job.  
Into the lazarette to deal with the mass of ropes - going to make a couple of bins at the forward end for an anchor line each feeding through a hawse pipe into the cockpit, then a decent sized chain and rope locker in the forepeak (once I can get in there when the center storage area is rebuilt) - so another week at least of work.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Adventure cups ho!

What do you get when you mix four women, Adventure Cups and a bladder infuction?

Who's ready for an adventure?
 Well lets just say My Kim had to pee about fifteen minutes out of Sicamous - the half way to Revelstoke point... I knew it was bad when five minutes later she'd stopped talking, and then as we passed Mara lake she said "Nope, really, you're gonna have to pull over... I gotta go!"

I slowed down as we neared the pull off, it was dark and I was having trouble seeing where the exit for the rest stop was. Technically you aren't supposed to enter from this direction, but I wasn't about to argue with a bladder infuction.

Annnnd there was no exit, apparently it hadn't been plowed... still, if they haven't plowed out the rest stop, they might have plowed a pull out? I'm pretty sure by this point My Kim couldn't actually see anything because her eyeballs were floating...

So we get to where the entrance should be, and there's a snowbank... "Oh perfect" I think to myself, they must have plowed a pull-out! I make the turn, ahead of oncoming traffic (two cars - which are still a safe distance off) and about half way across the road I realize that we are driving directly into a foot of unplowed snow... I gun the gas, just to make sure we actually make it *off* the road... and *kkkghghghghghg* we come to a full and complete stop perfectly perpendicular to the highway.

Well that was interesting! I look over to My Kim, into an empty seat and an open door... as she bounded like a gazelled through the headlights and three foot drifts to pee. I dive out and check that "safety first" our back end is clear of the highway (which it is *buffs nails*) ... Meanwhile all I can hear is her giggling interspersed with oooh's! of exclamation...

In the time it takes her to freeze her coochie, I've grabbed the shovel out of the trunk and shoveled up one side of the Fit, dug out the front and around the tires, and back down the other side...

Just as we're about to get organized a really nice sledder pulls over to offer his assistance to four damsels in distress. He was quite crestfallen to find that not only did we have a shovel, but that we had already used it... and the only thing that cheered him up, was when we thanked him for pulling over and told him he could tell everyone he saved the day anyways ;)

Then, just as we're returning to the car, another truck is pulling over... and it had a policeman in it! I didn't even know cops worked out here near the lake!?! I mean seriously, in all our time driving back and forth to Revelstoke My Kim and I have *never* seen a cop in this stretch of road... What are the chances? *shakes head*

He rolls down his window...

Officer Hotty McHotterson: "Do you ladies need some help?"

... You know what they say about a man in uniform, it's totally true ;) I think he was a little surprised though, when we assured him that we had it all under control and didn't need any help but...

My Kim: "Could you turn your lights on so people slow down?"

Officer Hotty McHotterson:  "Oh, uh, sure" *flick*

 Officer Hotty McHotterson: *regaining composure* "So how did you get over here?"

me: "We drove"

Moment of Personal Reflection: Thiiiiis might have something to do with why they don't let me talk to customers... it occurred to me after, that he probably thought we'd spun out or something... Meh! *shrugs*

We all jumped back into the Fit to see if we needed a push... a quick tire spin, and My Kim and Chelsea dove out and lined up on the front hood like seasoned pros.

In the time it took Officer Hotty McHotterson to get out of his truck while trying to decide if he needed to take his jacket off, we'd unstuck the Fit, and managed not to swing the front end around and run him over :p *phew* that would have been a little awkward to explain...

And with that the girls piled back in, and with a wave and a chorus of thank-yous we carried on our merry way and declared it the BEST START TO KIM'S BIRTHDAY EVAAAAAR!!!