Monday, January 31, 2005

The Missing Update

Can I tell you how upset you can get when you spend 40 minutes working on your latest blog entry and the stupid *&%^ next to you kicks the power plug out of the wall and then says nothing, it didn't effect her computer. SERENITY NOW!

Ok now to start over.

I'm still upset hold on.

Nicotine has a wonderful calming effect.

I left Wellington on the Thursday afternoon high speed ferry "Lynx". The views leaving Wellington made for some good shots as did coming into Picton on the south island. I checked into a motel in Picton had some dinner, checked email and went to bed. The next morning I got 0n the road after a quick bite to eat and email check around 10am. My plan was to head to Nelson and the surrounding area before heading to Westport for the night. Things quickly went pear shaped. I missed my turn for Nelson and by the time I figured it out I was to far past to back track so I kept heading west for the coast. I picked up a hitchhiker in Murchinson and asked where he was going? He told me Christchurch, which could not have been further than my destination. I looked at the map and figured out a town I could drop him off in and still not take me out of my way. I asked if I was better off going to Westport or Greymouth for the night. He said Greymouth for sure. So we got on the road and for the next hour talked about New Zealand and the different areas I had been. The topic quickly turned to politics and "W". I try and stay out of this as much as possible by directing questions to them about the Maori and the land rights claims. This is the best way to end political discussion. Not that I don't want to talk about "W" and the war but that's not why I am here. I dropped him off in Springs Junction and made my way to Greymouth. I was starting to get somewhat down about the lack of change in the landscape from the north island, everyone had raved about the south island and how much better it was than the north. To compound this issue the weather turned and the clouds rolled in the closer I got to the west coast. I had been told that the coast can get socked in with this kind of weather for days. I got to Greymouth and figured there was no way I was going to spend the rest of the day in this kind of weather and as it was around 2pm I keep heading south. I called Christy to try and cheer myself up. I started to tell her of the issues I has having and I needed to vent for a few minutes, of course I lost cell service and didn't talk for more than a few minutes total. The lift I was hoping for was just another disappointment in a day filled with them. Was nothing going my way? About an hour later the sky began to clear and the clouds where gone soon after. I decided to make my way to Hasst for the night about three hours away. This would give me a great head start on the next mornings drive to Queenstown. As I got south of Fox Glacier I picked up a Canadian from Vancouver. He was going to a town just north of Queenstown called Wanaka. I asked how long it would take. He said we could get there by 9pm and I could make it to Queenstown by 10pm. So off we went. We talked for the next 3 hours about his trip and places to see. As we headed back inland, south of Hasst the landscape was getting much better in the Southern Alps. We stopped multiple times for some great photos. Well maybe things where turning my way. I was able to get him to Wanaka right at 9 like he said. I dropped him off and ran into town to check email and look for a hotel in Queenstown for the night. I was starting to get tired and was going to stay in Wanaka for the night but felt I was this close and the sun had just set, I should press on. The road from Wanaka to Queenstown was another good road for pictures but didn't stop to take them. I was too tired and the light was fading fast. As I crested the last pass before heading down to Queenstown I could tell this was a great spot for pictures and would come back in the morning. After some issues with the hotel reservation I had made, online showed a room available for three days but when I got there they said they had no rooms for the next three days. He did say he had a room for the night but not for Saturday or Sunday. At this point I didn't care, I had driven 950 kilometers over the past 12 hours and I wanted a bath and a bed. The room didn't have a bath but the bed would do. As tired as I was, I was unable to get to sleep until after 1:30 am.

The next morning they found me a room at another hotel. After I checked in the first thing I did was to drive about 20 minutes out of town to the mountain pass I came through last night. It was one of the best places so far for photos. I can back to town and started walking around and checking things out. I booked the Awesome Foursome for the next morning, starting at 8am and going all day until 6pm (more on this later). I had dinner and chilled for the rest of the night watching the Australian Open Tennis as I was stilled wiped from yesterdays long drive. I turned off the lights and TV at 11pm, knowing I had to be out of the hotel at 7:30 to the start of the awesome foursome. Insomnia or the thought of a 135 meter bungy keep me awake until well after 2am. That sucks!

Tired but ready for the day I awoke around 7am and showered, got dressed and packed what I needed for the day. I go into town and get on the bus out to the first part of the awesome foursome, the bungy jump. Words cannot do justice to what is like to be in a "pod" suspended from overhead cables over a gorge 135 meters (over 400 feet) up with a bungy cord strapped to your ankles. The pictures will tell this story better. I was the fifth person to jump. My only fear before going out to the "pod" before my jump was I might crap my pants during the jump and that a photo of that would show up on the internet later. Trust me look down 450 feet from this thing and it will make anyone think the same thing. The jump went great. They strapped all the gear on me, got me out to the edge and counted down. At the word Bungy I jumped. The feeling is great, much better than jumping out of a plane. To look down and see the ground coming at you so fast, just when you think you are going to die the bungy takes hold and slows you down. The rebound up is great taking you about halfway back to the pod then the drop again. After the second bunch back up I release the ankle harness and hang from my waist. They them send a cable down which clicks in automatically and hauls me back to the pod. What a rush! Part one done.

We drove back to Queenstown for part two, the Shotover Jet boat ride. This is a 20 ride on a jet boat through the canyons of the Shotover River. The boat is basically two big V6 engines that suck water from the bottom of the boat and then shot it out the back just like a Wave Runner. It handles exactly the same of the wave runner with the ability to do a 360 turn on a dime. I have some video of this I shot with my digital camera. I will put up on the net at some time in the future. It was fun and a bit scary at times, they drive very close to the canyon walls. Part two complete.

Part three begins with a short 20 minute drive up river and wait for the helicopter. This was the part I was really looking forward too behind the bungy. Six of us piled in and every had a headset but me. Helicopters are loud. The main problem was I could not hear what the pilot was saying about the areas we where flying over. Also I missed what someone said that got him to fly like a crazed maniac but it was fun. The flight lasted about 6 minutes and dropped us off at the river to begin the white water portion of the trip. I have no idea what to expect when I get the pictures back because I was sitting in the middle seat on the helicopter. Part three done

Part four down the river was a let down, they talked about a few class 4 rapids but having been through class 4 and 5 rapids on the Colorado, these guys are very generous with a class 4 rating. We had what I thought was a 2 very good class 3 but I would not give it a 4. That took about 2 hours to do. At which point they brought us back to town around 6 pm. Thus ending the Awesome Foursome. I will call the Awesome Three and a half.

I was beat from a day outside in the heat (luckily it was cloudy all day) and somewhat tired from paddling, but you guys know I wasn't paddling that hard anyway. All my paddling got used up on the Green and Colorado rivers. Ask my Outward Bound buddy Jacob Dimond, he has also given up his paddling days after that trip. (We where the only two on a boat of six that did any paddling for two weeks.) I finished the night by watching the men's final of the Aussie Open and watch the pride of Australia Layton Hewitt start off strong then got waxed the next three sets.

Now on to today, Sleep in until 9:30, I need to catch up on sleep and I am glad for it. I spent my morning doing my laundry at the hotel and planning my next move. I finished that and getting all of my other junk organized. It is amazing the crap you collect over just a few weeks on the road. I have more local maps than I know what to do with. The nice thing about New Zealand is every town has a state run Info Center to tell you anything you ever wanted to know about that town. They can also make bookings for you for anything from a day trip to a hotel to a airplane flight. At everyone they are always handing you a map of the area to show you anything. I love being able to walk in and in few minutes have the skinny on any town I show up in. The really small towns only have a big covered outdoor map with attraction's show around it. Much like you would see at the beginning of a national park. Around 1pm I started into town to grab some lunch and check e-mail. I did the first half of this post but the day was so perfect I had go walking around town. I made my way up to the Gondola just outside the town center and took it too the top of the small mountain (or large hill, how do you tell the difference?) that overlooks the town. What a view, this is not to be missed. I got some great photos and then looked in to tandem Paragliding but it felt it was to expensive so I did the mountain luge. Let me explain, for those who have been on an alpine slide will understand the concept. For those who don't know what I am talking about skip to the next paragraph, I don't feel like getting into great detail. (It has taken me 35 mins to write this far from part 2 of the awesome three and a half. I don't type quickly and revise mid sentence sometimes. I could also use a grammar lesson I'm sure.)
Anyway the car you ride in is about the same size and same concept of the alpine slide. The difference is in the track. This one stays on the top to the hill and only drops about 400 vertical feet total over an 800m track. It is not a sort of waterslide track like the alpine slide but a concert track about 6 feet wide. The turns are banked with guard rails on the outside. The track is fast and I didn't go all out. If you loose it on this, it would be just like bailing on a bike at speed. Road rash is not your friend, take it from someone with first hand knowledge of how to stop one's body on pavement with your face. (Go cart - 1987 - Whittaker Woods - rocks in chin - 4 stiches) But back on topic, I enjoyed the ride but left it at one. I was afraid I would like it the more I did it until I over did. Hey, safety is no accident! It's all fun and games until someone needs a a skin graft. I took a few more pictures and headed down the gondola. Grabbed some dinner and came to the internet cafe to do this, right now, this is live. (well for me at least)

What to I have ahead of me? I am going to do an air tour of the Milford Sound in the morning. People tell me it's the most beautiful place they have ever seen, I then ask if they have ever been to Pittsburgh? I will see how it stacks up with the steel city tomorrow. My afternoon is free but I am sure I can find new and interesting ways to spend money. This is an expensive town, I wanted to get my film developed until I found out to develop a roll of 36 with single prints and a cd is over $32NZ or around $26US. Forget that jack, I will do it when I get home. My next move will come on on the 2nd, I am going to the east coast to make my way up to Christchurch. I may stay in Dunedin but I am not sure right now. I will make up my mind when I start driving. I will be leaving New Zealand on the 5th and making my way to Cairns (pronounced cans) on the Great Barrier Reef on the North East side of Australia. I was thinking of heading back up to Auckland for a few days but I just don't see it happening. After 3 days in Cairns I am flying to Sydney for sure 2 days but may extend that. After that no one knows.

OkI just hit my hour mark and it is time to wrap it up. A special thanks to my sponsor, for the Awesome Three and a Half. Hey the donation button works better than hoped. Sorry for any spelling and gramatical (are there two "m's" in that word?)


No comments: