Archive for the 'sand flies' Category

The Big Trip – Day 10

Mostly listening to: the streets – a grand don’t come for free (simply stunning album, the world needs more story book albums)
Sleeping on/in: bunk bed aboard the milford wanderer. anchored somewhere in milford sound.
Coffees: two good ones. One vile black instant coffee. And I only drank half of that.
KMs: 2100
Weather: pretty cloudy
Place name of the day: knobs flat
Company name of the day: dial a hubby – odd jobs and home maintenance.
Beard up date: like a weasel with radiation poisoning

Covered a lot of ground this morning. Drove from queenstown to milford sound. As the crow flies (though I suspect it has more sense) it’s less than 100km. By road, it’s over 4 hours, half in the opposite direction.

Good drive all the same.

The road to milford sound (a massive fiord/fjorf, seen on all postcards of NZ) is pretty flippin spectacular. I now have neck strain from looking up all the time. And I was driving.

It’s also full of sand flies. Everywhere. Even at sea, there’s clouds of the things. How the flip do they get there? I confess I don’t really understand the life cycle and hopes and ambitions of a sand fly. Though hovering above the sea and being swatted by me was surely not in their plan.

We’re on a cruise. Well it’s a mickey mouse cruise. All our own teeth and original hips so not a proper cruise. It takes us out onto milford sound and all the way out to the tasman sea, spectacular fjords all the way along. It’s a 60 birth boat, full of drunken, noisy, young travellers who are travelling as a group. I suppose that’s who we’re meant to be but i’m not sure we fit in. More on that later.

The boat carries kayaks, and a wee speed boat. Me and si abandoned ruth and kayaked for an hour or so round the place. Tick box checked for something we both wanted to do while in NZ.

We spent most of the time paddling really fast from one side of the sound to the other. Mostly to lose the sand flies. Though they knew they were onto a good thing with us.

The biggest cruise ship in the world sailed past us. The ‘sapphire princess’. It’s the biggest cruise ship in the world cause the captain of our boat told us and he’s a proper captain with a hat and knows these things. He’s even got a proper captain’s chair and all.

It stands 63m out of the water. It carries over 2000 people. The whole scale of the thing amazes me.

I worked with a doc who was a cruise ship doctor for a few years. Worked for over two years and not a single death and then got two on his last cruise. Amazing there’s not more. Cruise ships are full of octogenarians who take so many pills that if you shake them they rattle. And people who have terminal illnesses (though being an ocotgenarian – brief note, morsies thinks an octogenarian is someone who likes octogons – is almost a terminal illness, especially if i’m involved in your medical care) who have sold the house and are seeing the world before they leave this mortal coil.

I like the idea of being a cruise ship doctor. It’s one of my ambitions. Though I perhaps base it too much on TV’s ‘loveboat’. I think it’s the buffets that sell me on it. And bunk beds. I love bunk beds.

The cruise ship doctor fantasy is probably a bit out of character as it’s enforced, corporate happiness on a scale I would normally abhor. I think it’s the possibilty of getting to wear a hat of some kind and a shiny white uniform.

Currently we’re sitting in the lounge/galley of the boat trying to ignore all the (drunken mostly) revelry. There was a group renditon of weezer’s buddy holly a few minutes ago. We’re not revellers. Never have been, never will be. I’m the boring guy at the bar, reading an old novel while the others are dancing on the bar. Theoretcially. I have no intention of going to a pub where dancing is even a possibilty.

I read the paper. Si reads the jonny cash autoboigraphy, occasionally asking for help with the big words. Ruth’s answer to entertainment problems is ‘anyone for a puzzle?’ she’s been carrying one of these puzzler magazines with her. With a disturbed looking child with pig tails on the cover. The girl likes her sodoku.

Perhaps I missed out on the drunken, loud moments of my youth (like i’m not still young, 25 is still young? please say yes…), and I have no regrets about that. Being loud and obnoxious and overly cheery was never a trait I got round to. Being arrogant and snobbish and pseudo-intellectual was more my thing.

Though I lie. Maybe I do have regrets. Maybe i’m just bitter that i’m not much of a party animal. I’m barely a party protozoa, never mind an animal. Maybe I want to be loud and brash and young and drink too much and talk to lots of girls. Apparently that’s meant to be the point. ‘apparently’ has always had a big influence on me.

So maybe I just entered puberty at a social age of 45 with three kids. Feels like that anyhow. I worry far too much about who I think I am, or who I think I should be. I worry about who I might become, and who i’m in the process of becoming.

Somewhere a long the way I manage to get my head out of the sand and catch on that there’s life going on all round me and in the words of red from shawshank ‘get busy living or get busy dying’.

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The Big Trip – Day 7

Mostly listening to: ricky gervais podcast (finally finshed series 3 and morsies breathes a sigh of relief), van morrisson, iain archer

Sleeping on/in: campsite at lake wanaka.
Coffess: 3
KMs (kilometres): 1650
Eating: lamb sagwahla
Sand fly count: nil – yippee
Newspaper headline of the day: ‘idiot’ catches 1.3m shark with bare hands. (pg 4 of a sunday broadsheet)
Placename of the day: gout creek
Weather: 27 degrees. Sun.

Woke up with the sun. So did the sandflys. Spent the dawn hours killing them one by one with my finger from the secuity of my sleeping bag. Occasonal tactical losses in this battle. Gave up and got out of bed using the ‘burkah’ technique of mosquiot repellant – all layers plus hat.

Left camp and vowed to find motel tonight.

First stop at the glaciers. Franz-josef (or franz-ferdinand as morsies calls it), and fox glacier, (or fox’s glacier mint glacier). Spectacular stuff. Stood at the bottom of fox and marvelled at the sheer scale of the thing. Debated how to pronounce crevasse.

The glaciers just reminded me of a trip i did to the pyrenees mountains. Filled me with the hillwalking/mountaineering bug that has lain dormant in my system for a while now. It was the cold wind off the glacier that did it. I haven’t felt a chill wind since i left ireland. Made me kind of nostalgic for it.

Drove some more, crossing the crazy blue rivers on the one lane bridges – shared by two lanes of cars and occasionally trains.

Left the west coast and headed in land. Spectacular gorges and river valleys on the road toward lake wanaka. The rivers (and i do bang on about this) are spectactularly blue. Crystal clear and other-worldly blue. I think there must be a guy up river adding dye. Me and si sat on the shore and thre rocks at other rocks. I could do that morning to night, no worries.

The road runs by the side of lake wanaka, and it is simply breathtaking. I’m not so good with the superlatives but it was just one of those scenes that will just stick with me forever. Something that’ll get incorporated into all my dream sequences from now on. Moments like that are pretty cool.

Wanaka itself is an alpine ski resort in winter and adventure playground in summer. Pretty cool place really. So cool we may even stay here more than one night and try out that new fnagled concept called ‘the holiday’ that we’ve been hearing so much about.

The Big Trip – Day 6

Mostly listening to: the beatles, bloc party
Sleeping on/in: karry mat, okarita campsite. West coast.
Coffees: 3 and a bit (one was really big)
KMs: 1333
Eating: noodles, grapes
Place name of the day: cesspool gorge
Sand fly count: several million, the annoying wee…

Woke by a splash of water in the face. I’m in a closed tent so that comes as a bit of a surprise. It’s also not raining. But the inside of my tent is covered in water.

I remember watching ray mears survival programmes about if you were in the desert and needed to get water then you’d need to stick a sheet of plastic up overnight and collect the condensation. Turns out my tent is doing precisely that. It did only cost 12 quid. I didn’t expect much.

After towelling myself out, and a quick breakfast we headed to the pancake rocks. This is a wee collection of funny shaped rocks on the coast of NZ. Kind of like the giant’s causeway but not as good.

From there to greymouth. An unpleasant town with a twenty-four hour laundromat in a portacabin. The laundromat was the more pleasant of the two experiences.

Ended up near the glaciers half-way down the west coast. Nicely in the middle of nowhere. It’s a campsite with an honesty box as a pay system. There’s a tiny grassy run way for a tiny unstable plane, meters from our tent. There’s millions and millions of sandflys. What did they eat before we arrived? In order to stop the bites i’ve resorted to socks and sandals. I’ve plastered on oodles of this mossie repellant stuff, that makes your skin burn and would make an elephant’s eyes water at 50 paces.

I’m flapping my arms about like i’ve got a nervous tick, trying to kill the darn things. I think it’s (the tick and socks and sandals and the human being repellant cream) scared off the pretty blonde scandanavian girl in the caravan across the way. Ruining the movie-script romance between us that i was inventing in my head. I was even playing sad songs on the guitar earlier to paint the lonely, troubled soul image. Maybe i need a girlfriend. Or better insect repellant.


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