Monday, March 6, 2017

just the four of us...

Saturday, March 4, 2017, day 7
Everybody else on the tour has taken the pay-more option and gone for a plane ride and boat ride in Milford Sound so Janet and I have the two tour leaders, Dirk and Brandon at our disposal. The original hike is supposed to be out to Rob Roy Glacier, 12 km with elevation gain of 1900 ft, but the 'boys' know us by now and they say we can have a tailor-made hike with no big rises. We end up going in the same general direction but staying in the valley with just a little up and down. On the drive out, on a gravel, very narrow road there are several washout spots that are marked with a sign of a huge exclamation mark and the word 'ford' under it. A little scary but Dirk seems to be well-versed in this type of driving! We also have to stop and let a herder with five dogs gather a huge bunch of sheep and drive them through into a field on the other side of the road - what a treat to see this in real action!
At the trailhead, I get to set the pace, so Dirk and I hike along and every now and then stop and let Janet and Brandon catch up. It turns out to be another gorgeous weather day. We had a packed picnic and while we were eating, Dirk was explaining the katabatic winds that are created by the heated air from the valley, rising up and bringing down a cooling breeze - I probably have it all wrong but both Brandon and I were totally impressed. Janet didn't comment at the time, but when I asked her later  what was that word he used, she knew it! She's like having my own personal encyclopedia because she sure knows a lot of stuff. I've been getting civics, history and political lessons all along besides enjoying the scenery and weather!
All told, we've had a great time this day, oblivious to the fact that the others, taken care of by Zala, were almost immediately grounded due to extremely windy conditions and lost out on most of the day.
Dinner with the group at Bistro Gentil - upscale restaurant, looked pricey, but it was on Backroads dime so no big deal, we didn't even see the prices. They have a pour-and-pay-your-own wine bar where they gave each couple a credit card, you went up to the wine dispensary, selected your bottle choice, inserted the card, pressed the option for size of pour (taste, half glass, full glass or double) and the wine would be automatically dispensed into your glass, just like getting pop at McDonald's! Everyone seemed to enjoy the novelty of it but there was a bit of grumbling about the cost of the wine on the ride home!
The food was excellent, three choices each. I had French onion soup, wagyu beef with parsnip purée (freakin' amazing!) and a deconstructed apple crumble with salted caramel sorbet. I didn't photo my food because it would have seemed gauche in that setting with that company!
We don't have to be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow, which is our last full day and where we are headed to Queenstown, the end of our Backroads journey.
Reading-wise, we've been so busy getting up early, back late and having to pack up for next-day early exit, not a lot of time for reading. I did finish my 'they left everything to us' two days ago and gave it to Penn as she and I share similar reading taste. I didn't totally love that book but it was okay. Janet finished her first one also and I'm still carrying it around until she finds someone to pass it on to or I decide to read it, but I have 7 other choices and it doesn't look like I'll need that many! I've got to come up with a plan to get rid of some of the weight because I have that pile of rocks that's probably about five pounds or so! Maybe I can just 'forget' to pack a couple of the books - Janet can't fire me for that!
Fitbit, 12 km; MA, 11.5 km

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