Thursday, December 3, 2009

NZ - Picton

The ferry left at 8am, so I had to be there by 7am.  Expecting a bit more traffic despite a short drive, I was up at 6am and out by 6:30.  I got there in about ten minutes, with half of that spent walking to reception to drop off my key.  I then sat in queue at the ferry until about 7:50, when we drove onto the ferry & I ended up in the frontrunner position to be the first car off the boat come our arrival into Picton.

The ferry ride was phenomenal, and I can only assume it’d be greater on a clear day.  On this rainy and freezing cold windy day, however, I still quite readily entertained myself by bouncing between each side of the boat, taking photos of the landmasses sailing past me.

On arrival I ended up driving down a different road than I thought, causing me to drive right out of the tiny town of Picton – having to turn around moments later to get back into town & find my hostel.  Finding the hostel is a breeze in a town this size, and soon enough I was in my room and as the first one to arrive: had the pick of beds.  Moments later, an English girl arrived; and not too much longer I was out the door in search of food and tramping.

This was a freezing cold day, moreso owing to wind than thermometer.  People had their winter coats out, and I was no different.  Going toward the downtown was easy, but when I’d walk the other way: the wind had enough oomph to make me to have really lean into it just to make any movement against its push.

I got a burger from a Scottish joint, which wouldn’t have been too shabby had it not been for British ketchup.  I guess growing up in Ketchup World, USA, (aka the shadow of Pittsburg & its Heinz dynasty) spoils one just a little bit.  I made my way to some trails along the eastern shore of Picton’s bay, but didn’t make it too far before I hit construction fencing closing it off due to work on the hill’s reservoirs.  So I turned about face & went back to the hostel to grab my car.  I tried to be a good tramper, but when faced with adversity: I decided to run it over.

By car I made my way to several lookouts on the same hill, passing by signs that said things like “construction site, do not enter” and so forth; but since I was on a one-way street going up the hill: I had little alternative but to keep on going.  I wasn’t the only one: there were plenty of backpackers vans and such at the lookouts, and at the last lookout I stopped & returned to tramping: working my way along the Snout Track.  It would have been an easy trail had it not been for the rain the past few days, as mud had turned what would’ve been a brisk walk into a hobble of infinitesimal progress.

Returning to the car, I kept north a bit more and drove to another spot with a short walk to a lookout.  And then back to the hostel to relax the rest of the evening.  Upon returning to my room I was confronted with two German girls, both from Augsburg in Bavaria.  One was Johanna Posch – Jojo – a 19 year old blonde on holiday between graduating from school & returning to university, to study either architecture or media.  The other was Svenja Schenk, a 23 year old brunette who had just finished schooling to become a physical therapist & was taking a break before entering the real world.  I didn’t notice it until the girls mentioned it, but Svenja bears a strong resemblance to the singer Nena – of “99 Luftballons” fame.

Within perhaps the first 30 seconds of conversation, I’d acquired companions for my journey around the west coast.  Having a car makes you a celebrity among backpackers when you’re in a car-centric country.

Hostel-bound the rest of the night, I later met two more roommates: another German girl and a guy from New Brunswick, Canada.  Both seemed to be traveling about independently, but both doing the same thing: working & wwoofing to support their travel.  It still boggles my mind to do that… I mean, I’d absolutely love to, but eventually you’ll have a family – and can you support them on that?  I just figure that when I retire, then I’ll finally live the life that they’re living now.

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