Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ocean Crossing

The ferry is scheduled to depart at 10:30. It is huge but the ocean is “bouncy” as they say. The vehicle deck is below, and 2 floors of passenger decks are above. As we make our way out of the sheltered bay, I am thankful that I took my Dramamine. I choose to spend 2 of the 3 hour voyage on the side deck, despite the heavy wind and intermittent mist. I am out there with the smokers and some pale sea sick travelers. The rolling waves are like folds of heavy fabric, forming bunches and piles of foam; beautiful but foreboding. Ray looks at the lifeboats which have a capacity of 60 each and I think to myself that we wouldn’t even survive on a lifeboat in those waters! It reinforces the reason why I will never go on a cruise. Finally, back in the channel again, the waters are calm as we slide through the narrow passages of Marlborough Sound between islands and peninsulas with green grassy cliff coastlines that drop precipitously down to the turquoise and emerald water. It is very sparsely inhabited with only an occasional house on the hillside. Picton Harbor is a busy place and at the Europcar desk, we meet a young couple from Walnut Creek—they remind us of our younger days.

The seaside towns are tiny and Havelick is known as the green lipped mussel capital of the world! Our plate of mussels with a variety of toppings is fresh and delicious. They are meatier than manila clams or any of the mussels we get in CA. The chowder is soupy and I think I prefer Monterery Bay clam chowder. The coastside is breathtaking with all its inlets and cliffs of the peninsula across the water. Apparently the Queen Victoria trail runs up the peninsula, sometimes only wide enough for a walking path. We watch the sunset over the mountains which turns the puffy clouds pink and orange. Our most challenging task of the day is finding this b&b in the dark. They are a new b&b and have some things to modify—they have not begun to take credit cards and asked me to send a check written in NZ dollars only to find their bank would not take it. So armed with 450NZ dollars in cash, we attempt "Follow the road around the bend to the left past the 50mph sign, where you will see an orchard sign. At the big tree, turn at the lane and go until you see the gold mailbox on the right……" Ray is exasperated as we discover that in the dark, there are a lot of BIG trees along the road, and after the 50 mph sign, there is an 80 mph sign she didn’t mention. Does that mean we have gone too far? We stop again at the tavern and I get additional directions which turn out to be just as confusing. Back we go again to the tavern where Ray goes in for directions. Males should just get their own directions from other males!! He is happy because the male gave him directions to the # km, and he is impressed because the bridge is truly and exactly 2 km away! At the big tree, we turn down the lane and by now are convinced we are really in the middle of no where. The place is not a true b&b, but a well appointed cottage-like, apartment-like lodging in the middle of the forested countryside, only a few steps to several rivers and at the foothills of Abel Tasman. Tomorrow is forecasted to be beautiful and we are looking forward to a nice day of exploring and hiking.

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