Backtrack to Friday, 5/11/2012
11/5/12 - 11/5/12 9 °F
Ok, so I've been immersed in the soggy world that is New Zealand, alot of which is without constant Internet or steady WiFi. But I'm back in a town, with a gas fireplace and red wine. Ah the benefits of both. All. Yes. Farm life is quaint and peaceful, but I guess I'm not a true farm girl, cause when I heard there was only dial-up connectivity and it was intermittent at that, I thought I was going to throw up. No, not really, but you get the point. Then it rained. And rained. And rained some more, but I'll get to that in a few blogs. Work with me - I have lost time to make up for. My little fingers are just excited to be actually working their way across a keyboard after the long break! Time to backtrack from the last blog, which was on a ferry crossing the Marlborough Sounds on Thursday, May 10th. My, so much has happened.
We (Marge and I - I had company then, which was wonderful) arrived in Picton, NZ at approximatelty 11:30 on Thursday morning to a dismal sky and cold wind welcome. We got the rental car without a problem and off we went. The bloke at the rental car suggested we needn't take the "scenic highway" because of the weather, which we were happy to oblige. "Scenic highway" is code for OMG white-knuckle road that requires 2 bottles of Zanax and a quart of antacids, so we were good with that. He lied - we ended up on it anyway. In the fog, on wet roads. Yeah.
But, once again I digress. We stopped for lunch cause now we have this drill down. The locals tell you that it only takes about 1 1/2 hours to get to where you want to go and there are towns along the way. That means it really takes about 2 1/2 hours and those aren't towns. They are farms and sheep and more sheep and more farms. You might be lucky to find a public toilet and a "dairy" (code for "store," that usually only carries the absolute necessities, which means no lunch), but that's going to be about it. So we go in search of food in sleepy, drizzly Picton, a small "blink" town that only has the ferry stop to thank for any commerce. We find a little shop at the edge of town and go in to investigate. It becomes immediately clear that they don't get too many Americans in there, cause the responses we get to the questions we ask are something akin to green alien landing in Picton and asking for the spaceship dock. But we work through it and we both order a yummy potato bake (which, btw, sits in the glass case in a pyrex baking dish like you and I have in our kitchens - this stuff is ALL homemade!) and I get a meat pie for the first time. Delicous! After we practically snort the china plates (it is a little obvious that we love the food, which appears to help getting the hostess finally warm up to the strange American women), we wander into the attached mall. The Mall, folks, is a 40 ft. building with a grocery store at one end and a few shops in between, including a pharmacy. We pick up a few essentials and start on our journey to Nelson, New Zealand, a sleepy hollow about 110 km northwest from Picton proper, and still at the base of the Marlborough Sounds. Picton looks very much like a town on the hills of the Italian coast.
The road we take, marked as Hwy 6 on the map, is none other than the scenic highway that we decide against taking as we left the rental car place! Again . . . "Mapmaker Needed in New Zealand. Immediate Need. Please Apply!" We stop at the "overlook" no more than 10 minutes into the ride still excited about the view. It is amazing. After the third overlook, and after Marge's color has changed from a healthy flesh color to a pasty green, we decide it's better to just keep going and try not to notice the sheer cliffs to our immediate right, or left, or ahead and just get through the hairpin turns, and friendly yellow signs that have squiggly lines in bold black indicating "curvy" roads for "9 km" or more. 3 hours later, we pull into lovely Nelson. It's still gray, wet and cold, but we can STOP! The fog is so thick you can barely make out the line of mountains and the coastline, but it's still pretty nevertheless.
We brave the weather and walk around town a bit anyway, partly because we're determined to make the best of it and partly because it feels so damn good to be out of the death trap that was the car! It's close to 4:30 now and everything is shutting down. Yes, it gets dark around 5:00 up here and everything closes by 5:00, except on Thursday. Everything closes at 8:00 on Thursday. So, back into death trap 2012 we go after making a quick stop at the local "i-center" to get GOOD directions to our hotel. Within 15 minutes we're pulling into this gorgeous, Tudor-like complex of brick and wood door buildings. We get checked in, complete with modem for WiFi access and off to a beautiful 1 bedroom, apartment-like hotel suite that was truly lovely. It included a full kitchen and living room. Great. When the WiFi access doesn't work, though, it's not so great, but after a few phone calls with the front desk and then the internet provider help number, we finally get it going and we're both online but too damn tired to do anything with it.
Our morning the next day needs to start at 5:30 a.m. so we can get to Abel Tasman National Park for our sea kayaking adventure by 9:00 (the directtions said 1 hour, so we need to plan for 3), so after a few short emails to family members, we're in bed and I'm out within a minute or two of pillow contact. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ Yes, I drove us from Picton.
Stay tuned for kayaking adventures with Tim, our guide with Wilsons. Next blog. But suffice it to say that the ride from Picton to Nelson was eventful, and long, and rainy. The scenery, no matter how gray, was still beautiful. The town of Nelson looks quaint and adorable and we can't wait to really explore it. The village that is the Grand Mecure Monaco (which I'm back at tonight, Tuesday, 5/15/2012) is really wonderful and beautiful and probably the nicest accommodation so far. So far so good. Now lets' hope it doesn't rain on Saturday, 5/12 for the kayaking trip and we don't dump in the Tasman Sea.