As much as you are all waiting to hear, I will forgo any discussion about the quality of my sleep last night. But, I can tell you that it rained pretty hard. The storm was here.
It is ironic that Susanne’s sister, Anita, and her husband Peter happen to be touring New Zealand at the same time we are here. This happened without any knowledge of either party. They are on a ship cruising around the island and were at Milford Sound last night. I guess it was really rough out on the Tasman Sea; it was an 11 on the Beaufort scale.
And for those you unfamiliar with the scale it is, according to Wikipedia (which is nothing but facts) “is an empirical measure that relates wind speed to observed conditions at sea or on land.” The maximum is a 12. Let’s just say, we are glad that we are on land and they are at sea. Not that I would wish a Beaufort 11 on anyone, but our house was not rocking. I would wish a 12 on our President, but let’s not go there.
We figured today was going to be kind of a boring day because the weather forecast was not good at all. And based on our non-Beaufort scale, we were glad we were not going to be riding bikes today.
It was still spitting rain in the morning, so we just hung out and navigated the complexity of the espresso machine. We are still happy to report that nobody has died in a tragic accident related to it…and the coffee is pretty good.
We were treated to an incredible rainbow which was a good sign that maybe the storm wasn’t going to be as bad as they had predicted.
We just hung out for awhile trying to decide what was going to be practical for the day that wasn’t a complete Roger-style epic sufferfest. For some weird reason, over the years, Susanne’s willingness to partake in these seems to be waning. Another way to put it would be that her enthusiasm for sufferfests ranks right up there with receiving a toilet bowl plunger for her birthday. So those were clearly off the table.
We scoped a few shorter hikes that might be doable even if we encountered Milford-Sound-Sheets-of-Rain (refer back to the Patagonia blog). Susanne suggested we head out to Lake Tekapo as there were a couple shorter hikes that looked nice and if all else failed there was a hot springs to go soak in.
It was still drizzling when we left the house for Tekapo. The good news for me, though, was that now when I accidentally turned on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal, I could lie and say that I meant to do that.
Tekapo is about a 40 minute drive north east and is where Susanne and I had done an epic flight seeing trip back in 2013 when we were last here. As we headed there, the weather started to clear out and it was looking like we might not actually get soaked to a squishy (That means “very wet” for you non-Kiwis).
The trail climbed up to the Mt. John Observatory where you can go and do some amazing stargazing and then around along the Lake Tekapo — all in all about 5.5 miles. Sadly, we have been denied the stargazing on this trip by clouds.
The weather was pleasant and we climbed the 250m up to the view point at the top. It was stellar!
The color of the lakes and lighting from the partly cloudy skies truly made you feel like you were in Middle Earth. No wonder they shot “Lord of the Rings” here.
The only downside was the wind was howling! Really howling. It was hard to talk at times because it was so strong. Probably not Beaufort 11 strong, but it was tie-your-hair-in-a-knot-unless-you-are-bald-like-me strong. And yes, my superhero is called “Hypen-man!”.
Let’s just say the view was so amazing I went a little crazy with the panorama photo merge. But can you blame me?
It was a great hike and the weather really held out for us, despite the wind. Plus, we got try out our new Leki hiking poles. Despite an initial befuddlement at how to get them to extend properly, both of us give them a big thumbs up.
We made our way back to the car and decided, after seeing the hot pools, that there were too many young kids with a lack of bladder control to make them attractive and relaxing to sit in. So we bagged that. Plus it was almost 2 pm and we were getting hungry.
We decided to head back home and have a linner (lunch-dinner) with all the nice local cheese and food we had in the frig. We stopped at the Four Square market (the big one, not the small one) and got some critical supplies — ice cream and wine topping the list.
One thing I believe I have failed to mention is the back door on our car. It is a Toyota Fore-something that looks like a Forerunner, but that call it differently here. The car will automatically open the door with a button push, but would only open just high enough to ensure that you would not see it so you could mash your head into it. Believe me, there have been very few curse words uttered on this trip, but almost all of them have been leveled at that damn door.
Susanne had had enough. On the drive back she pulled out the manual and scoured through it until I heard an “Ah hah!” Evidently, you can set the height to where you want it. Evidently, some 4′ 5″ person had previously set the height to elicit the maximum number of cuss words from people over 5′ 7.” Luckily, she also found out how to reset it. I assure all you concerned people out there, the total number of four letter words uttered at the vehicle will now drop substantially. Hallelujah!
We also wanted to get some smoked salmon to take with us down to Wanaka and Queenstown. Despite the massive amount of stuff we had, we did not pack any type of cooler. We checked at the 4 Square and no luck. Dang. We didn’t know where the other stores were in the massive town, so we headed back to (a) google “hardware store” and (b) ensure the ice cream did not melt.
I found “Jakes’s Hardware Store” which just happened to be by the 4 Square Market…the small one, not the big one. We still are baffled by how this dinky little town has two markets from the same company within 200 yards of each other. But there you have it.
So we head on over to Jakes’s to find us a cooler. We walked in and it was total flashback to my childhood and days long gone in the US. This was truly a general store. Packed to the gills with stuff. It was hard to walk around there was so much stuff. It hard to express the density and diversity of stuff. Camping gear, household goods, hardware, fishing poles, bike tires, plastic dinosaurs, candy. You name it — they had it. It was so tight, if someone came down the same aisle, it was like two cars meeting on a narrow mountain road where one person had to back up to a place that the other could get by.
We looked and looked for a cooler and couldn’t find one. Finally, in an aisle that seemed to be about fishing, Susanne found a small one that was perfect for a 12-pack. At least, that is what it said on the label. It was a bit too small, but we grabbed it. We continued to search the aisles of Jake’s but no bigger ones. Then I saw the really big ones. Nope. Too big. We gave up. Susanne went to pay. It was so tight and crowded, I found a secluded spot in what looked to be the camping/automotive/plastic dinosaur section. I scanned the piles of stuff and lo and behold saw a bigger version of the cooler. Yeah! Success! I raced it up to the counter, doing both a two-step and a tango to get by the trio of other customers and triumphantly handed it to Susanne. Yeah! but Boo! it set us back a small fortune. It truly felt like I was back in Arcata when I was kid walking through Hensel’s hardware. A beacon to inefficiency and community support. Long gone are those days.
We got back home had some food and settled in for a relaxing evening. What was supposed to be a boring rain day turned into a really fun and wonderful time.
Yeah for vacation!