Friday, March 3, 2017

mostly driving....

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017
Of course, an early start! Set the alarm for 7am. The bags have to be packed and out the door for 7:30 so it can be loaded into the van while we are having a quick breakfast. There are cold options of muesli, cereal, toast, muffins, fruit and yogurt but you can order a cooked egg/bacon/pancake/toast hot version also. Our first hike of the day is through mountain beech forest and stunted alpine gardens above the tree line from the historic village of Arthur's Pass. The trail is well formed with wooden stairs nearly all the way to the Devil's Punchbowl Waterfall.
Janet and I both opt to miss the next section of the hike along with a few others and just take the van to the next leg where we have a leisurely hike with minimal elevation gain and enjoy a lovely 5 km  with beautiful scenery and pretty vegetation. Back in the van with about an hour and a half drive to lunch. Janet and I get the front seat today and it's a real treat to chat with Dirk and get his first hand take on things and the view of driving on the left side of the road as well as getting close ups of the road signs. The area we are
traveling through is quite windy, steep and the single-lane each way is further restricted by one lane bridges. There is an arrow system to indicate who has the right of way- a small black arrow up and a larger red arrow down means we have the right of way but if it's reversed we have to pull over and wait out the oncoming traffic. I've already decided I won't be driving in this country!
We stop at a private lodge for lunch where they serve up a classic NZ barbeque of skewered meats and various fresh veggies and salads. Back in the van for another  2 hrs  drive to the alpine town of Franz Joseph.
This evenings entertainment features famous Kiwi adventurer, Mike Mahoney, as he gives us a slide show and tales of the New Zealand Everest expedition  of 1977 and it is spellbinding! He was one of the eight only climbers, no sherpas and no oxygen! Had never been done like that before and amazingly, they were also the first and only expedition to have no deaths. We are talking about this for days later!
The weather has continued to be uncommonly warm, sunny and rain-free. The leaders are constantly mentioning how lucky we are to have such continuing good weather. The local joke is they tell the weather by that mountain out there. If you can see it, it's not raining. If you can't see the mountain, it's raining!
Dinner on our own. Janet and I go to the Snake Pit. She has fish and chips and I decide I have to try a burger - probably won't do that again - too much goop, but you have to try to know.
Our lodging for this night is a 5-star hotel, quite lovely but we don't have a lot of time there. In the parking lot I spot a Peugeot Trax which is exactly like my Chevy Trax back at home which explains why we haven't seen any Chevy vehicles.
Fitbit, 8.3 km; MA, 8.6 km

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