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Following is the continuation from Newsletter No. 123 (July 2005) of the journal that Barbara wrote on her New Zealand vacation in 2000. (See introduction in Newsletter No. 114.)
Lorraine decided to walk down to the Ranger Station and get a star map. I walked downstairs with her and we went into the gift shop. As I waited to ask about pins, the saleslady was helping a guy who wanted wine. She told him that if he waited until 17:30 he could go to the Chamois Bar and get it cheaper and she showed him where it is on a map. After he left I asked her to show me. It's back by the Glencoe Wing. I went back to my room and called reception to ask if there is a bar here and if we could get food there. She said no, but since The Alpine Room is the only place open it would be serving A'la Carte – not the buffet.
So after I figured everyone would be up from their nap I went up to Mom & Dad's room to make my report. We agreed to try The Alpine Room. We had a glass of wine. I decided that we would probably be in the restaurant when the sun set and wanted to put Tina's lens on to get more light. So I went down to my room.
About 17:30 they all came to "collect" me. As the sun set there was some pink on the mountain, but I don't know how much it's going to show up on the print. The moon is above a ridge to the right of Mt. Cook. I kept going out to see the changes. When it got pretty dark the moon was reflected on the side of the mountain. There were tons of stars out – including Orion. The Southern Cross is supposed to be visible directly overhead, but I couldn't discern it from any others. The others ordered dessert and I went up to my room to see if I could get a time exposure. I was unable.
Dad, Mom, and I all had the soup of the day, which was potato & leek soup and I also ordered cheesy garlic bread. Lorraine had spring rolls and Don the lasagna. The soup was tasty, but totally pureed. Dad thought there should have been chunks of potato in it.
I set my alarm for 06:00, but woke up at 05:10. I showered and put on bug juice. About 06:45 it started getting light and I probably took eight pictures over the next ½ hour to 45 minutes. It never got pink on the mountains. It turned out I had the whole 600 wing to myself, so could take a picture from anywhere without disturbing anyone.
We got on the road about 08:15 intending to have breakfast 15-20 minutes away at Glentanner. We were not impressed with their selection, so decided to go on to Twizel. Bacon, eggs, and toast was $9.50 and coffee $1.80 (NZ).
We headed up the road to Christchurch at 10:00. We stopped at Lake Tepako to see the old stone church – The Good Shepherd – for pictures. We stopped again in Geraldine to take a picture of Don & Lorraine in front of a bakery. A Saturday tradition for them. There was a mini flea market and I bought a pair of Paua Shell earrings for my friend Karen. We grabbed some apples from the back of the van and continued on.
We stopped once more for gas and arrived in Christchurch about 15:00. It took us 45 minutes to find the hotel, Rydges. I was getting frazzled with both Don & Lorraine telling me where to go, contradicting each other. We finally found the hotel and let Mom & Dad out and went to find the Harley Shop to look for shirts for Bill. It had closed at 13:00 and won't open until 08:00 Monday. We went back to the hotel and got checked in with some confusion and found that we have to pay $10 (NZ) a day to park. We were not happy about it, but Lorraine said in a downtown area in a large city there normally is a charge.
We went to our rooms. It turns out that I have the nicest and largest of the three! Mom called about 16:30 and proposed a drink in their room to discuss what to do. I called Don & Lorraine's room but there was no answer. Mom & Dad's room has no corkscrew so I went back up and got the one from my room and a wineglass. I stopped by Don & Lorraine's and they were still not there. We had a glass of wine and tried to call Don & Lorraine several more times.
We decided to go to the casino and probably get something to eat there. We walked the five or so blocks to it and went in. There was a staircase on either side of an elevator and a security guard. I gestured Mom & Dad toward the elevator and the guard stepped up to me and said, "We have a dress code – no jeans." We were shocked! So we headed back looking for a place to eat.
There were lots of Japanese restaurants. I, for one, was not up for that, having had it just two days ago. We did find a restaurant that looked pretty good and started upstairs and heard loud music, so scratched that idea and decided to just go back to our hotel and eat. We thought before we did, we would try to hook up with Don & Lorraine again. Mom had written them a note to tell them that we had gone to the casino. They were "at home" and Lorraine said, "Back so soon?" I told her that they didn't like the color of our money. They had gone around the corner and had some beers and thought they would go back for dinner.
I needed to go fix the corn pad on my right toe. Dad said, "We'll meet you in the lobby." So we went to The Brogues in the hotel for dinner. Mom was looking at the sitake & tofu spring rolls, Dad: the ostrich, and I was thinking of the smoked salmon or ribs. All were on the "starter" menu, but we wanted them as the main dish. Mom was looking at the menu and by mistake ordered the sushi & fresh baked bread select, Dad: the ostrich, and I did choose the salmon. I almost questioned Mom's selection, but she sounded confident. She was very surprised when her order came!
Before our food arrived I went out to the lobby to grab some brochures about what we might want to do tomorrow. Don & Lorraine want to go on a $190 (NZ) whale watch cruise. None of us are interested, so during dinner we talked about it. One option is a dolphin watch from Lyttleton Harbour for two hours for $39 (NZ). Mom wasn't too interested. There is also a tram ride about six or seven blocks long and three blocks wide. One can buy an hour pass for $5 (NZ) or an all day pass for $6 (NZ).
I suggested that we get an all day pass and ride the circuit once all the way around and take note of where we might want to get off and explore a bit. Dad liked that idea. The tram stops at about eight or ten places of interest. We are to meet up with Don & Lorraine at 08:00 for breakfast and plan the day.
I had set the alarm for a bit after 06:00, but woke about 04:50 and was wide-awake at 05:10, so got up and made instant coffee. The packet is too strong for the size of the cup, so I had to drink a bit and then add some more hot water. I ate the packet of cookies that were in the room at The Hermitage. They went quite nicely with the coffee. I ran out of coffee and letf a note for housekeeping, asking them to leave a couple more than the three packets. They ended up leaving me fourteen packets!
I went to Mom & Dad's room about 07:45. Mom allowed as how she thought she could do the dolphin encounter that we had talked about last night. So I called Don & Lorraine to see what their thoughts were, also letting them know about our thoughts about the tram. Loraine agreed with our plans. So I called to make our reservations with "Christchurch Wildlife Cruises" for the dolphin cruise at 14:30.
We met in the lobby at 08:00 and had breakfast at Brogues. Dad, Don, and I all had fried eggs, bacon, hash browns, sausages, and tomatoes for $13.95 (NZ). Lorraine had the Continental breakfast and Mom a cup of cocoa. Lorraine got Mom a croissant from the buffet. The didn't charge for Mom's cocoa or croissant! Mom wanted to get their dirty clothes from the car, so we agreed to meet in about twenty minutes.
We caught the tram in front of the Visitor's Centre and rode past two or three stops to a weekend market. It had many booths of crafts, antiques, jewelry, and even a palm reader. I bought some vanilla oil, which Lorraine says is nice to put a drop on a light bulb and let the heat from the bulb scent the room. Later I bought a hat with Lorraine's help, because I couldn't find Mom. I feel I will need something to protect me in the Australian sun.
We all hooked up and Mom & Dad wanted to show me some wallets they have found that may be a suitable replacement for my tired eel-skin wallet. They were all a bit too big. We couldn't find Don & Lorraine again and even went into the museum at the end of the shops. We looked for 45 minutes then decided to ride the tram to a small casino we had spotted on our complete circuit of the tram. Basically it was a bar that had twenty or so machines ranging from 1 cent to 5 cent credits. We played for about ½ hour and decided we should go back and make do with a lunch of the fruit we bought a couple of days ago, since we can't take it into Australia.
(To be continued.)
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