Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 10 - Picton

July 10 - Picton

Last night was a pretty good night of sleeping for this trip. It wasn’t too cold and I didn’t wake up very often from being uncomfortable. We only paid for one night initially, but intended to stay a second so we didn’t need to take down our tent. We wanted to drive out to the Marlborough Sounds area and partially back towards Havelock to do the scenic drive that we had missed the day before.

There were a few short hikes and pull offs that we wanted to see along the way. It wasn’t going to be a really busy day of walking, but we had to return the car by 4 PM at the ferry terminal so we needed to get started early. As a result we woke up around 7:30 AM.

We went to the kitchen to make breakfast. It was really foggy outside, but comfortable. It was probably in the mid-30s. We made eggs, fried potatoes, and a pear and kiwi. We had found some free coffee mix the night before in little packets so we made that too.

After breakfast we went to the car to unload all of our things into the tent. We had to return the car and didn’t think we would have time to come back to the campsite to throw everything in the tent then. Most of my things were pretty well packed, but we had to throw a lot of food and miscellaneous things where ever they would fit, including our big bags. We were going to pack everything into our bags later that night when we got back.

After breakfast, throwing all of our things in the tent, and planning our route for the day it was about 8:45 AM. We drove down past the ferry terminal and up into the hills. The first look out was over the harbor and the city. It was pretty foggy still, but we could see enough to get decent pictures. My camera was still acting up at this point, but it turned on long enough to get some shots.

We got back in the car and drove down the windy road to a few more lookouts. We stopped at one that was extremely foggy. It overlooked a valley full of trees with water below and little hilly areas in the distance. The trees looked kind of spooky. Again my camera didn’t want to turn on, but I eventually got it working. I wanted to put on my zoom lens, but didn’t think it would be worth it based on how inconsistent my camera was being.

We moved on and down to the water’s edge at a small town called Governor’s Bay. We didn’t stop because there wasn’t much we could see. The drive was supposed to be really scenic, but we weren’t getting to see much so far.

The road went up the hill on one side and down the hill on the other. After about 20 minutes we made it down to flat ground into a valley. We turned up towards the Marlborough Sounds area in hopes that the weather would clear up. The portion of road we were doing went all the way down to Kenepuru Head. At that point it branches off in a few directions, but on dirt roads.

We wanted to get to the end point and then work our way back. It was supposed to be about 35 kilometers one way from what I had read, but being the types of roads they were it was going to take a lot of time. The first part of this section of the drive was completely foggy. The water was on our left the entire way, but through the trees and fog we couldn’t see much. There weren’t any pull offs anyway.

There were some houses on the sides of the hills, but most were down steep driveways and hidden. Most likely they are expensive homes. We passed a few cars along the way, but it wasn’t a very heavily traveled area. As it warmed up around 10 AM the clouds were starting to lift. The skies were turning blue with very limited clouds.

It was really bright and our visors weren’t working very well. The sun was directly in our face and it made it hard to see the road at times. It was like driving blind on some of the sharper turns. We stopped a handful of times, but not really very often. I was trying the whole time to get my camera to turn on, and sometimes it would, but a lot of times it wouldn’t. I was hoping that I would be able to get it to come on while driving and just leave it on once we got somewhere worth taking pictures of.

Since there weren’t any pull offs or not very many I was taking mental notes of possible spots we could stop and then get pictures of on the way back when the sun was in a different spot or the fog would be gone depending on where we were.

We made it to the end of the road around 12 PM. It was the end of one portion of the sound. We drove down to where the road was supposed to become gravel, but it was still paved the first part. Due to the fact that we had to be back in 4 hours we didn’t think we should go any further. It had already taken 2 ½ hours to get down the road, possibly more.

We drove back a kilometer and parked in a grassy area that was a campground. We went down a short trail and jumped over a little stream to the beach. We got a few pictures and then started back to the car. There was a Weka so Andy wanted to get a million pictures and videos of it. I had seen enough after two pictures so I went and sat in the car and waited.

Finally he came back, not seeming to realize that we had a lot of things to do and a short time to do them. We were wanting to possibly do a portion of the Queen Charlotte Track if it had good views, stop at a few pull offs, and we needed to eat lunch. We were starving and I was dying of thirst. I kept having to go pee also and so did Andy. It seemed like every time we stopped somewhere one of us peed in the woods. Even when there were port potties nearby I still went in the woods. It was more convenient.

We stopped at a small wooden dock that we thought would be good for pictures. We walked along it for a little bit and got pictures of the water and boats in the harbor. The dock was actually kind of big. It was about 40 yards by 40 yards with water in the middle. There was a group of people, a family I presume, walking around it while we were taking pictures.

We drove down a little further and pulled off on the side of the road at another small harbor. There were three really big trees that looked like they would be fun to climb. One of them had a big hole at the bottom that went through to the other side. There were also a lot of branches that were low enough down that it looked easy to get up into it and then crawl around.

We got some pictures of the tree and then I attempted to crawl through. It was a space about 2 feet wide and 3 ½ feet tall. I had to twist my body around a little, but I managed to get through. Andy wanted to try too, but he went a slightly different route. We filmed each other going through.

I took a few more pictures of the trees and the water’s edge and thought I should try another route. This time I wanted to climb into the tree and under and over the branches to the other side. It looked pretty easy and doable. I climbed in and attempted to lay flat in order to pass through two of the branches. It looked easier than going over them. I was able to do it just barely. My back and stomach were rubbing against the branches.

Andy filmed me going up on one side of the tree, and walked around so he could film me coming down. It was someway high, maybe 10-12 feet, but I was able to get down and jump to the ground. I thought it would be cool to try on the other side, but go one more different route. This side was a little harder to get into the tree. I had to pull myself up with my arms. In fact, this entire route was purely upper body strength. I didn’t have too many places that I could rest my feet so I had to hold myself up with my arms and shoulder muscles.

I had my gopro on my head while Andy filmed me, so that made it harder too. It messes up my balance having something on my head. It also meant I had to take my time when passing through the branches so I didn’t bump the camera. At first I tried to go under two branches, but that wasn’t working. I couldn’t contort my body enough to fit through. I had to back track a little and go over the top.

On the other side I was about 7 feet off the ground and saw nowhere to put my feet. I had to hold onto the trees with no way of seeing the ground. As I held on I asked Andy how far it was. He said it was just a couple of feet. I felt like I was hanging for my life really high up, but since it was so low I just let go and fell to the ground. I landed on my feet and made it to the bottom. I conquered that tree.

I was tired from climbing and ready to go. We got back in the car and looked for our next destination. We drove around the corner to the other side of the harbor stopped for lunch at Cowshed Bay. We made ham sandwiches, chips, an apple, and a granola bar. I had a lot of water to drink from one of my milk carton bottles I had been using for the trip. I put water in them after we finished off the milk. Again I went pee during lunch. We were eating near the water’s edge and a small stream that led into it. It looked like there was a trail of some kind as well. I walked down the trail a little ways and found a good secluded area. I think Andy went and did the same after I came back.

We got a few pictures at the lunch spot and then continued on. It was about 1:15 PM when we ate and about 1:35 PM when we left. We needed to move pretty quickly to get back by 4 PM considering how long it took us to get out there. We were going to need to get gas and find the place we needed to drop the car off. We wanted to be back in town by 3:30-3:45 PM.

We wanted to see a higher viewpoint and possibly do some of the Queen Charlotte Track since it was right next to the road on a few points. Andy thought he had seen a turn off earlier in the day that was a little farther down the road.

We drove for about 30 minutes, stopping occasionally to get pictures where we could. A few times we just pulled off on the side of the road on things that weren’t necessarily lookouts. We had to run ahead or backwards to see anything. Usually it wasn’t more than 20-30 yards. If there was a bridge or turn there was usually a guardrail that had views of the water and hills all around.

We were able to get some good pictures. At a few places to get better views we would climb up on the wooden guardrails and walk along them taking pictures. There was no traffic, and it wasn’t usually a very steep drop off below so it was safe enough. If we had fallen it would have been at most 10 feet, and trees would break our fall pretty well.

We were able to find the entrance to the Queen Charlotte Track at about 2:15 PM. There were a few different routes we could go. One was to hike down to the water’s edge, which was about 20 minutes. Although we could have just driven down it. The other option was to hike up the hill to a lookout point. It was an hour and a half hike roundtrip. Even if we had ran it was going to be cutting it close on being able to get back on time.

We decided to run up the trail a little ways and see what we could see. We only ran about 100 yards up a steep hill. There weren’t very many openings through the trees and we could only see the Queen Charlotte Sound. The Kenepuru Sound was blocked by the trees. We took a few quick pictures and ran back down to the car.

We got in the car and began driving again around 2:40. We weren’t even half way back and had an hour to make it. We had a few more stops we wanted to do. A few of them were foggy in the morning and we were hoping we would get to see better. The sun was directly in our eyes on the way back. We thought that since it was in our face on the way that later in the day it wouldn’t be so bad. Due to the direction we were driving though we couldn’t escape it. It wasn’t as bad since it wasn’t foggy with sun in our face, but it was still annoying.

We got back to the valley road and sped ahead to the windy road back through the mountain to Picton. In the morning it took us about 45 minutes to complete, but with fewer stops we didn’t think it would take too long. It was 3:15 PM. I didn’t think we were going to make it all the way back. To make it worse, I somehow needed to pee again. I have been going like 9 times a day. At home I would probably go 2-3 times total. It must be the cold weather.

Whenever we got to places that might have overlooks Andy asked me if they looked like they were worth stopping at since he couldn’t see what was behind us based on the roads. I just told him no. They might have been ok, but I wanted to pee and turn the car in on time. I don’t think any of them were that great anyway since the sun was in the wrong spot for good picture taking.

We did stop at Governor’s Bay lookout. There was a short little trail down to the water that we didn’t intend on doing. I did it anyway. I ran down about 50 yards, turned off the trail, and finally got to go to the bathroom. I came running back up, got my camera to work, and took a few pictures. I think Andy took off running in the same direction I had just come from.

It was 3:35 PM and we were about 10 kilometers from the end. We considered another stop, but kept going. I saw a gas station near the ferry, but Andy wasn’t paying attention so we kept going. We drove by the ferry terminal to see where the rental cars get dropped off. We couldn’t find the Ace Rental Car building though. I directed him to a gas station in town that was on our map. We filled up the tank and drove back down to the ferry.

It was 3:50 PM. We were going to make it as long as we could find the place. We passed by a few other car rental places, but didn’t see Ace. There was a large parking lot in front of the terminal that had car rental signs in front of each space for various companies. There was a sign that pointed for Ace. We drove closer and saw a line of offices that were the car rental locations. Ace was one of them.

I got out of the car and went up to the building. Nobody was inside. There was a sign on the door that said when dropping off the car to park in slots 5 and 6 and drop the keys in the box through the glass door. I went and told Andy what to do and he parked the car. We got pictures in front of the car and Andy took pictures just in case we were charged for any damages. There weren’t any problems, however, the car did start making a grinding sound when sitting idle for too long or pressing the brakes hard.

The sound didn’t start until the way back to Motueka from the Farewell Spit a few days before. It was most likely we wore out the brake pads from all the stopping and slowing down we had to do throughout the South Island of New Zealand.

We drove 4,486 kilometers total. I was expecting to drive that much the entire trip. We had left all of our things back at the campsite in our tent, so we didn’t have to carry anything back with us. We had a few pieces of trash and 4 milk jugs to recycle or throw away. We dumped out the remaining water and thought we saw a few trash cans for recycling. We walked over to them, but they were just normal trash cans. They said they were for boat trash only, but we didn’t care. We threw our stuff in there anyway,.

We started to walk away when I remembered we wanted to buy the ferry tickets to make sure we got on the boat we wanted. I didn’t think they would be sold out, but we didn’t know. It also allowed us to know what time we would need to get up and leave to make it on time.

We went inside and bought tickets for the 10:30 Interislander Ferry. The earlier one had been cancelled. I assumed because of fog or possibly lack of interest by people at that time of year. The price was $52 NZD per person. I paid for both tickets.

We had to walk about ½ mile back to our campsite. We walked back along the harbor for as long as we could. We passed a maritime museum which housed the 9th oldest ship in the world. I had read about it, but didn’t plan to look at it really. It just happened to be right next to the ferry terminal and was outside in a building so we were able to see it. The building it was housed in was like a shed, but the side wall on one side was just a fence and the front was facing the water and had no wall at all.

I was expecting to see a big ship, something like the U.S.S. Constitution, another really old ship I had seen in Boston. This was just the hull and looked more like rotting wood. It was probably mostly reconstructed or something since it was definitely not well taken care of. Maybe they should put it in a building that doesn’t expose it to the elements.

We took a few pictures and walked on. We passed by a playground area on our right and the water was on our left. There were a lot of yachts, tour boats, and small fishing vessels. The playground had a few kids playing on it. It seemed to be Disney based. There was a statue of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

It was a little dark because it was cloudy and I was wanting to get pictures the next morning if it was clear. I sat my camera down on a trash can and took a few pictures of myself. A Chinese family was a little ways in front of us on the path we were walking on, but one of the little kids was down by the water throwing rocks. He kept getting in my pictures, but I kept them anyway.

There was also some guy in the park doing a jump rope exercise routine. Just passed him we needed to cross an arched footbridge. It was pretty steep and I was thinking how it would be tough when I had my bag in the morning. It had no steps, which was probably a good thing. Carrying a big bag on steps is much more difficult.

Because the bridge was crossing a narrow portion of the harbor there were boats on both sides. Behind the boats on our right there were houses along the water. Some of them were really nice looking, but the views they had weren’t the best. A couple of the yachts were for sale. I was wanting to buy one of them. It looked like it was kind of small so it wouldn’t be too expensive, but I could see in the back of it and there was a kitchen area and plenty of space for a bed. If I knew how to drive a boat it would be perfect.

After we crossed the bridge we had to walk through a construction zone to get back to the main street. Just across the main street we were able to see our campground. We weren’t really sure where it would be, but I was hoping it would be close. It was about a 15 minute walk if we hadn’t made any stops. With our bags I was thinking maybe 20 minutes.

We hadn’t paid for the night so Andy went inside the reception to pay for one more night of camping. I went to the bathroom. Someone had gotten to the reception before Andy so it took about 15 minutes before he came over. I gathered up all of my things, including the food, and went over to the TV/kitchen area. When I got there a Chinese couple was cooking some kind of food. I just left our food on one of the tables and threw my bag down in the TV room.

I sorted out my things a little bit and prepared to pack them better. Andy came in a little after and did the same. I first typed in my journal while we watched TV. At about 6 PM we were ready to start making dinner. We made salad with cucumber, broccoli, carrots, and cheese with ranch dressing like we have with every meal. Andy made French fries and we planned to have some Ramen noodles.

While we were making our food a family came in and started making spaghetti of some kind. The kids went into the TV room, but didn’t stay for long. They probably saw all of our things thrown around and didn’t really have much place to sit.

The parents had used lasagna white sauce on their spaghetti by mistake, thinking it was three-cheeses. The dad offered if we wanted some since they had leftovers. I told them we had enough food and didn’t want to take there’s. Really I meant I wanted the food, but not to just take it if they were going to eat it.

There was a mom, dad, and a boy and girl. I noticed the boy wasn’t eating anything. The children were cleaning the dishes and I saw that they had a good portion of food left. I kept watching it to make sure they didn’t throw it out. The dad came over and grabbed the pot off the stove and was about to hand it to his son to clean. I jumped up and said if they were just going to throw it out that we would take it and clean the dish.

He said we could have it. That’s when he said that he had made a mistake when making it. It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t terrible either. It was free and it was food. I was happy. We were still hungry after that so we made our cheap ramen noodles. They were the Budget brand chicken and corn. They weren’t very good, but the package was only about $0.60. It was hot and we wanted to get rid of them so we would have more space in our bags since we weren’t going to have a car to store things for a few days while we were in Wellington on the North Island.

We also had a pear, cookies, and chocolate. We drank tea like usual, but this time I had one of the free packets I had found. It was the Ceylon brand and expensive from what I had seen at the store. It wasn’t very good. I thought our cheap kind was better. I also had some of the free hot chocolate I found. It was made with water, but it too wasn’t very good. Andy had a little bit of it as well.

We cleaned everything up and went back into the TV room to continue packing. There was a movie on TV, but I don’t remember what it was. I was mostly focused on sorting my things and typing in my journal. I needed to go through my brochures because they were scattered everywhere. I wanted to make sure I didn’t have doubles of anything and that they were more organized.

I somehow was able to stuff everything in my bag. A few things I was going to have to carry so they wouldn’t get squished and there was no more room. I took the kiwi and pears in a bag to carry. I also stuffed the mayonnaise, mustard, jelly, canola oil, ranch, cucumber, and my own food in various spots. Andy took a few things too. He had the pots, peanut butter, lettuce, carrots, and his own things.

The guy that ran the place came in to remind us to turn off the lights and everything when we left. He looked like he had just been running since he had athletic attire on. We left around 11 PM back to the tent. We filled up our water bottles before we left. My bag must have weighed about 60 lbs, plus my camera bag is an additional 25 lbs, and then the food in my hand.

It wasn’t really cold outside, but the weather report said it would get down to about 0 degrees. There wasn’t room in the tent for us and our bags, so we put them under the vestibules just outside. I used my camera bag as a pillow so it was more protected being inside.

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