John & Anne Wiley

2017/03/14

Rain to Shine

Filed under: Aviation,Happiness,Has Photos,Inner World,Nature,Random — John @ 05:05

It was raining when our bus pulled out of Dunedin headed across the South Island toward Queenstown.

142241 Dunedin Drear

142241 Dunedin Drear

After two relaxing nights and a good part of three bright days here, it was a change to see it so gray. We wondered if the whole journey would be like this, obscuring the mountains and dampening the next few days. But soon after leaving the coast on Hwy.8 the rain stopped and sun burned holes in the clouds. Entering the rolling hills the dappled cloud shadows on bucolic herds of sheep evoked our earlier expectations.

154612 Shadows & Sheep

154612 Shadows & Sheep

In places the bright greens and smooth shapes of the hills hinted at Hobbiton or tinges of Teletubbies.

154505 Sheep Tracks

154505 Sheep Tracks

But not all the hills were smooth, because the steeper ones have tracks carved by the sheep as they graze along the hills rather than expend energy climbing up and down. I once worked in a diamond drilling crew on a Yukon mountain, and used that strategy walking from camp to drill site. A co-worker went direct, wise cracking that both his legs are the same length. 🙂

154508 Variations

154508 Variations

It wasn’t all green grass, either. Some areas like the above had other species of vegetation adding variations of color and texture (and possibly dietary interest for the sheep). Old farm buildings dotted here and there recalled earlier times, when the highway traffic was slower and much more rare.

154905 Survivors

154905 Survivors

Unlike photos from back then, we didn’t set up a tripod with box camera and wait to see the black and white result. Most of the pix in this post were on cellphones from a bus going 60mph, making these magical scenes just a little bit trivial without a photographer’s care and effort. Still, the pix serve to bring us back to that breathtaking moment we were moved to click.

161232 River Moment

161232 River Moment

Like this instant as we whizzed across the Clutha nearing Beaumont. The timeless rolling river contrasts the instantaneous nature of contemporary life, sending the pic in two directions at once for me. We also passed beautifully textured mountains like this, laid bare of forest and shaped by the ages before and since.

0778 Patient Mountains

0778 Patient Mountains

We passed rocky ravines with whispering sculpted shapes that seemed more ancient than our beloved California stones.

171627 Stone Stories

171627 Stone Stories

Unable to stop the bus and wander among them to listen, I breathlessly snapped to savor later.

173040 Boulder Families

173040 Boulder Families

All too soon we rolled into the Queenstown Airport to pick up our rental car. Rather than drive into that fabled city, we turned back along the route of our bus to a B&B in nearby Clyde. Heading along the river back into its narrow mountain valley, I got to again practice driving on the “wrong” side.

195941 Both Sides

195941 Both Sides

Unlike the bus view from high above fences and shrubs, we were close to the ground and seeing the both sides of the road from the other direction. Though it was a new and very different experience, we still couldn’t stop because our B&B host was waiting a home cooked meal. So again we zoomed across the bridge at Cromwell with this glimpse of Lake Dunstan.

202026 Lake Dunstan

202026 Lake Dunstan

In case you’re wondering, yes the meal was delicious, the room clean and cozy, the dinner conversation fascinating, and the dreams delightful. The next day, yes we did drive to the Alexandra airport on a mesa near town seeking opportunities to see all this from the air. It being nearly Christmas we found not a soul, but did walk around some aircraft and copy down some posted Central Otago Flying Club contact info. Mostly we enjoyed standing motionless in these gently waving wildflowers.

0785 Alexandra Airport Mesa

0785 Alexandra Aerodrome Mesa

It was nourishing to wander the roads slowly, stopping on a whim like when we saw an open air market in an Alexandra park and bought local saffron for our daughter. Or when we drove closer to check out the clock on the hill and found the 1879 Shaky Bridge over the Manuherikia River.

0836 Shaky Bridge

0836 Shaky Bridge

After many other such serendipitous adventures we checked out the Clyde Dam (the wiki is interesting) and drove up the hill across the Clutha from our Clyde B&B. There we soaked in the silent views up and down the valley, across to our B&B and Clyde to the mountains beyond, including this relaxing look up Lake Dunstan.

0903 Hill Over Lake Dunstan

0903 Hill Over Lake Dunstan

Another night at the comfy B&B we eagerly anticipated the next day, with good leads on two potential GA flights. I can hardly wait to share those pix! 😀

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