Monday, January 26, 2009

1/26/2009 - South Island, Ho!

Busy day today - still not sleeping well, up early with the light, Weet-Bix and fruit (apples, kiwis, and bananas) for some morning energy along with instant coffee doctored up properly.

Work this morning to free up some weight and bulk in the bike trailer. I have decided that the stove is unnecessary as I have not used it yet, as most of my meals are either cold or I have use of a kitchen. Also drop off some clothes that I don't use much, a notebook, a book or two, etc. I suddenly feel like my bike is going to be Ferrari-fast. This is important as the trip from Picton to Nelson has some seriously steep hills.

Have a very nice meeting in the morning with David where we hammer out the details of my employment (starting March 16). Even have some time to play with Ollie (pronounced oh-lee, not aw-lee) who is a freaking genius child, counting to 20, knows all his letters, and beats me at chess, Trivial Pursuit, and three-card monte. I OWN him at arm wrestling, though. Loves to read and put on this hat which struck me as hilarious - the caption appeared in my head as soon as he did it.


Repacked the trailer and panniers and said my sad farewells. It has been a great visit - I really do feel like family. Headed for the train, which leaves at 3:40PM. My left trailer tire is almost completely flat - has a very slow leak, either I didn't fix it properly or there is a second leak, but it takes 24 hours for the pressure to drop below 20PSI (from normal 40PSI).

Train station is less than a mile away, and it takes very little time to toss the bike and trailer on. I snuggle down into one of the seats at a table and work on this blogging thing (there are power outlets under the table!)

The train starts off without any trouble, and the landscape passes by quickly - still not used to non-bike speeds. We slowly approach the mountains before hitting a very long tunnel through them.

IMGP1438.JPGBicycling New Zealand is so HARD!

IMGP1441.JPGLooking toward the mountains. Specifically, toward Rivendell from the Lord of the Rings movies. I am sort of guessing at that, but this SHOULD be right.

Come into Wellington without a hitch. This city of about 350,000 people is nicely hilly, and, by my recollection, really clean. The train station isn't so clean, but that's typical of train stations, not Wellington.

Toss the bike off, put the front wheel on, hitch up the trailer, and start cruising the 1.7 miles to the ferry station. I have about 30 minutes before I am supposed to be fully checked in.

I will avoid any stress or worry you may have about my making it to the ferry by saying, simply, that I made it in good time. No jumping on as it was leaving or anything. Biking on the sidewalk helped a bit, as the traffic was mostly gridlocked.

Walked my bike onto the ferry promptly and tied it to the side of the deck.

IMGP1473.JPGMy sweet ride tied down on the ferry.

Hopped up to the upper levels to grab some food and find a seat with a view. The ferry itself is the Interislander, and it's one of their older ships - rust and signs of water damage are notable, but it is overall clean and there are PLENTY of seats with a view. Snap some pics of Wellington as the big vessel thrums to life and chugs away.

IMGP1446.JPGDowntown Wellington. I don't think the haze is smog, but I am not totally sure of that.

IMGP1448.JPGDinner is SO served. Tuna fish sandwich, ham and lettuce wrap, and fries all washed down with a Diet Coke. Exactly what the doctor ordered just prior to making a crossing that may make you seasick - frankly, I do not want to see or smell the result when these items are mixed up. But they were delicious.

IMGP1449.JPGLooking out this direction, there are a lot of miles before anything remotely resembling dry land can be found.

Find a seat next to a window and kill time for a bit. This part of the journey is not as interesting as the last hour or so when we'll be cruising through the fjords.

At last, we pass the first rock I have seen of the South Island.

IMGP1450.JPGLooks steeper than I would like.

As the three-hour tour continues (just TRY to get the Gilligan's Island theme out of your head now, I dare you), the sun drops slowly behind the mountains. My last 45 minutes is spent standing outside, just drinking in the sunset. It is well worth the goosebumps from the cool ocean breeze. I take way too many shots of the surrounding area, so will show just a few:

IMGP1453.JPGEarly in the fjords.

IMGP1460.JPGSun slowly dropping.

IMGP1466.JPGStarting to come into Picton - I hiked out to this point when I was in New Zealand in 2004:

IMG_1835Snout Point in 2004 - I took the above picture roughly from the very left side of this picture but 4 years later. Whoa.

IMGP1469.JPGGetting red. . .

IMGP1471.JPGJackpot. Sunset over Picton, about 15 minutes before we came in.

IMGP1468.JPGThe giant metropolis of Picton is at the lights that are far forward in the bottom part of the picture.

By the time I roll my bike off of the ferry, it is 9:15PM. Bike in the twilight to the close-by Top 10 Holiday park and put up a quick camp. Time to get to bed - it is going to be a very long one tomorrow, including a 1200 and an 800 foot climb. G'night, all!

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.