Saturday, November 27, 2010

Heading to the North Island

Last night's sleep proved somewhat evasive; while there were snoring roommates (of course), my solution for that is to put in my in-ear headphones and listen to a Frasier episode (it works pretty well, and yes, I know I am a nerd). What it didn't work so well for was the blaring music from across the street; Kaikoura's live music scene unfortunately seems to foster the careers of talentless cover bands that see nothing wrong with butchering "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" at 12:30am. Even tonight as I type my dorm room is situated right above the bar and bar patio of Downtown Backpackers, and I think headphones and another Frasier episode are going to be necessary to drown out the shouting, cat-calls, and general bawdy behaviour carrying on below.

This morning we were up and out the door at 8:30am, heading for Picton and the Bluebridge ferry crossing. For it being my last day on the Stray bus, I wasn't particularly sad; I guess that is because I haven't made good friends with any of the passengers remaining on the bus, so I wasn't upset to leave them behind. I will miss the driver, Tia, however; even though I can't condone her drinking or smoking or poor nutritional habits, I love her spirit and sense of humour.

On our way up the coast we stopped at a fur seal colony to take photographs; I leapt at the opportunity, as the last time I was in this region it was on the train, and seeing as we were running late that day we were unable to stop and take pictures of the seals. Now I have a dozen or so, and some video showing the creatures larking about, rolling into the ocean off the rocks, and duelling with one another. They're not exactly cute, but they are definitely entertaining to watch.

Our morning tea stop was in the tiny town of Ward, where we were instructed to try the meat pies if we hadn't yet had one in New Zealand (seeing as I ate them for the first few days of the Mainline Steam Tour, I opted for ice cream instead. I must stop eating ice cream for breakfast...). Here several of the girls stocked up for the ferry ride by buying gossip magazines, and spent the half hour break dissecting Prince William's fiancé, Kim Kardishan's apparent plastic surgery, and Jessica Simpson's latest relationship. I half-read a few articles over one girl's shoulder, then sat there, eating my ice cream, and wishing I had taken my book off the bus to read instead.

When we reached Picton and the ferry terminal we all bid a fond adieu to "Bex", our Stray bus; only Tia will see her again when she comes back to the South Island on Monday with a fresh crew of Stray travellers. However, I don't think Bex is too happy with us; yesterday when taking us through a narrow switch-back up to a viewpoint over Kaikoura, Tia accidentally tried to start up the hill in 4th (she thought she was in 2nd), and Bex made some awful high revving and grinding noises, and spewed forth a horrible burnt smell for the rest of the afternoon. Today she seemed okay for the most part, but still, burning smells emanating from an engine can't be good!

Fortunately we had beautiful weather for the ferry crossing, and I was able to get several pictures of the scenery on both the Picton and Wellington sides. In-between photo-taking sessions I sat in the rear lounge with the rest of my Stray mates and saw part of When in Rome, which I valiantly tried to ignore, and No Reservations, which I actually watched (for the most part) because I like Catherine Zeta-Jones and Abigail Breslin. Watching such movies only reminds me how much I prefer to read quality literature as a past-time; I hate having everything spelled out for me in predictable ways.

Since docking in Wellington I haven't done anything particularly exciting; I walked across the street, checked into Downtown Backpackers, scouted out where my bus is leaving from tomorrow morning so I know exactly where to go, made some dinner, and then sat in the dining room / lounge downstairs reading. It is a little strange to not be with people from the Stray bus, but also freeing to be making my own decisions on where to go next.
Off to bed for me now; it is past 11pm and I have to be up and out the door by 7:20am at the latest. Goodnight!


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