How much beauty can one stand?
I heard the rain all night. But I have birds to see and places to go. I head out at daylight since I didnâ€™t think I was ready for night driving yet. I took the road north out of Okupu where I was staying, through Claris. My goal was to make it to Okiwi by low tide to check for shorebirds. The roads are winding and about a lane and a half wide, which makes it difficult when two cars try to pass. Driving the roads is like skiing slalom in a car. The RAV4 is rattling to death. But no worries, there was very little traffic. The biggest problem Iâ€™m having with the lefthanded driving is that I keep running off the shoulder. Hopefully Iâ€™ll adjust before I fall off a big dropoff!
It was rainy, foggy with low cloud cover and the beautiful viewpoints were not at their best, but still beautiful.
When I got to the town of Okiwi, I couldnâ€™t find the tidal area so I went on to the Department of Conservation office and talked to the naturalist there about where to go. She was very helpful and enthusiastic about the birds. But she didnâ€™t have any good news on the weather. The forecasts are for torrential downpours, gale force winds and flooding. Rumors were that the ferry I was to take tomorrow may be canceled.
I drove around the island and took in the sights. I stopped in Claris at the Texas CafĂ© for a bowl of mussel chowder. It hit the spot on the chilly, rainy day. I never liked mussels until the first time I went to New Zealand. The NZ mussels are fantastic. I never had one like it elsewhere. After driving around in the rain some more, I stopped back there to use the internet for a few minutes.
I chatted with a lady there from Wellington. When I introduced myself and told her my name, she got a stunned look on her face. Turns out that is her name as well. I headed down to Medlands Beach. The weather looked to be clearing up a bit. I decided that I would head down that narrow, winding road to Tryphena to go to the Irish pub for dinner. I was feeling brave. Once there, I found out that the boat the next day was indeed canceled. The locals are up on it since it is the freight run and brings their supplies. I sat at the bar with a few guys and chatted. One thought he recognized me from a couple months back. Strange thing is I get that everywhere! You look familiar, donâ€™t you go to this church, didnâ€™t I see you at the grocery store, hey good to see you again! Itâ€™s just weird that so many other people could look like me!
Just one of many great views
So I had to make a few changes to my plans.
I got a hold of my bach (pronounced batch and short for bachelorâ€™s accommodations!) so I have a place to stay, called the car rental place, so I have a car and now I just wait until a boat comes. They might make an unscheduled trip on Wednesday since it is the freight run. Or they may do it on Thursday. So I ate, drank and was happy. I drove the slalom road in the dark. It actually turned out to be quite easy since there wasnâ€™t a single other car anywhere to be seen! I really donâ€™t know where the people are. There are supposed to be about 700 people living on this island and yet I think I may have seen a dozen.
There are some moments in my travels that stick out and just make my day. Here is todayâ€™s moment. One of the men I was chatting with at the bar is a Korean war veteran.
He told me about a trip that was given to him by the government, Iâ€™m not sure if it was NZâ€™s or South Koreaâ€™s gift. But he and his wife travelled to a reunion of veterans in South Korea. They were greeted and made so welcomed that there were tears in his eyes as he told me about it. The gratitude of the South Koreans, even the little children coming up to thank him, was so rewarding for him. You could tell that it was a memory that he would cherish forever.