I took the rubbish to the dump today, and paid the usual $3 to get rid of it. While I was dumping it, I noticed, beside the dumpster, a couple of boxes of jars. The man gave them to me, and then remembered that I like big jars, and brought me a gallon jar that was there, too! All this for nothing–I would have paid $32 for them at Recycling. That pays for a lot of trips to dump rubbish!
Away From Home
It’s not real easy to write when most computer time involves multi-tasking (which being interpreted means feeding the baby!). I’ll just put in a few pictures from this past week.
For Dead Boring last week, we met in a gym and the children played while the moms talked. The group is so large now that we’ve had to split in two, but still want to all see each other occasionally. Four times a year we plan to meet this way, and just have a social day without sharing writings like we normally do. The children played hockey.
On our way home from church today, we stopped for half an hour at the beach, where the Kowhai River empties into the sea just south of Kaikoura. The waves were very high today. I love those cliffs in the distance, just south of Oaro.
Yesterday at our homeschool writing group meeting, a man showed us a powerpoint presentation about fossils. He has been collecting fossils for several years and has an impressive collection from the local area. My boys badly wanted to go to Gore Bay and search for fossils along the cliffs there, so, since it was sunny and warm today, we went right after lunch. When we arrived, the tide was high, with waves hitting the cliffs, so we sat on top and read some of our books for school before we went down. The tide was still so high that we couldn’t get to the best places, but the boys climbed up some of the less-vertical cliffs anyway. We never found anything that we were sure was a fossil today, but had fun exploring anyway. One unusual thing we saw was an oystercatcher (bird) with a missing foot! I could tell something was strange about it, and when I was able to see its tracks, it had one normal footprint and one that was just a round peg. Poor thing.
This one was after we got home this afternoon. I set baby on the couch while I went to do something else, and when I came back he was staring, fascinated, at his booties! They kept wiggling!
Yesterday afternoon we went to pick apples to feed to the cow. Well, it was a great excuse to take a drive around an area we don’t otherwise have an excuse to go to! We did get apples to feed to her, to help keep up milk production, and had a great afternoon together enjoying gorgeous scenery.
We drove through the hills to the west of us. Lots more rugged than right here where we live!
The first tree we found that had apples on it was at the top of a steep cliff! This cliff went nearly straight up–no problem for my fellows! The rest, however, found a slightly easier route a little to the left of this picture.
I did not go up. The two youngest stayed down with me. After the rest had all gone up, the 2 1/2-year-old decided he wanted to, also. As he was standing at the base of the cliff, facing it, he proclaimed, “I am going to climb up the hill!” After a pause, “Where is the hill?” I told him he was looking at it. The place he was standing at was an eroded, rocky spot that went up at about a 45° angle. He gave it a try, but soon gave up and told me, “This is a broken hill. This is interesting!”
The next tree we stopped at was beside this wool shed/yards. We only stopped there because we remembered the tree from last year. It bears small, delicious orange apples. There were two left. We went several weeks later this year than last.
After picking up apples from that last tree, we allowed the boys to run on ahead and see how far they could get before we caught up with them. We drove slowly to give them time, and I believe they got most of a kilometer! The one in the lead kept going till he had gone probably twice as far as the others before they gave up. They had fun doing that!
This hillside dotted with Angus cows was beautiful–and we got to see it from both sides. The road continues on, then doubles back just beside those pine trees at the top of the photo.
We were able to get tickets to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve for half-price recently, thanks to a tip from a friend. The tickets were good till the end of June, so we were planning to go sometime before then, but weren’t sure when it would work out. Gayle didn’t want to take time off work for that, but neither did we want to go on a Saturday because there would likely be a lot of people there. Then, we ended up needing to go to Christchurch to meet the Vice-Consul from the American Embassy in Auckland when he made a visit to Christchurch, to get the baby’s American paperwork done and apply for his passport. The appointment was in the early afternoon on a Thursday, and both of us had to be there, so that was our perfect opportunity to take the family to Willowbank!
There were tame eels in a pond at the beginning of the tour, and a woman was spoon-feeding them with a little container of food she bought in the office. They would crawl partway out of the water onto the step!
We stopped at Pupu Springs on our way back to Takaka Hill–the largest spring in Australasia, which produces 14,000 liters of water per second and has the second clearest water on earth–second only to that under the Ross Ice Shelf.
Wednesday evening we made it as far as Collingwood, on Golden Bay. We decided to stay two nights in that campground, as there were a number of things we wanted to do close by and it was as far north as we were able to go. How nice not to have to take down tents and load and tie down the trailer Thursday morning!
The boys were up at the crack of dawn again, down at the beach to see what they could find. This was the prize find–same boy who found the weta the day before–a dead shark! One person told us it was a dog fish; another said a carpet shark. Either way, it was fascinating.
The base of Farewell Spit. It is an enormous sandbar stretching 26 km (16 miles) into the Tasman Sea. Four people walked a few kilometers out on it; I stayed back with the youngest five boys. This is the inside of the spit. I happened to overhear a tourguide telling the group he was with that there are 2 million hectares of land in the nature preserve here at high tide; 11 million at low tide!
It was cold, but the boys played in the water anyway. The older boys were able to wade through the chest-deep water to the sand bar, and decided to build a raft so they could ferry the little boys across.
We stopped near the top of Takaka Hill at an overlook. These gray rocks were all along the trail out to the lookout. We learned at our next stop that they are marble. Marble was quarried from this hill to build the government buildings in Wellington many years ago.
The landscape around the cave. If I understood right, some of the filming of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit was done here.
There are a lot of sink holes on this hill. At our previous stop, at the overlook, we saw signs warning about them. One of our boys was fascinated and badly wanted to see one; finally here he got his wish!
Going down the other side of Takaka Hill, towards Golden Bay. The road winds back and forth down the side of this hill–an incredible drive!
Tuesday morning in Picton, while the trailer was being tied down those of us who were not involved with that process explored the rushing creek beside the campground. Our tents had been pitched just beyond the bushes on the left side of this picture, so we got to listen to the water all night.
After we left the campground, we started up Queen Charlotte Drive again. This time, we made it past the lookout over the harbor without stopping (no ferries in dock or coming in, this time!), but just a short way past, there was another overlook! We pulled in, thinking maybe we’d just take a quick look from the van. No way–there was an enormous logyard down there, and we ended up spending half an hour or more watching the activity down below. There were log trucks coming in constantly to be unloaded, with huge clam loaders that took an entire load in one trip, and then sorted the logs by size. There was one clam loader being worked on, as well. There was a barge tied up to the dock, but nothing loaded on it. This is a deep-water harbor where ships come in from the ocean to load with logs which are taken to Japan, processed into lumber, and then the lumber is shipped back here!
On we went again! The scenery was so amazing that Gayle stopped at most of the tiny pull-offs on the way up the hill, so he could admire the view, too. We were glad he stopped, rather than trying to look as he drove; that would have been downright dangerous. The Marlbourough Sounds are spectacular!
On we went again, this time as far as the Pelorus Bridge, over the Pelorus River. This bridge is one lane, with a walkway along one side. We walked over the bridge, then down a trail to the rocks along the side of the river.
We stopped in Picton in the late afternoon. After spending an hour or two in an aquarium, we went to the marina for awhile. The boys and their dad walked around looking at the boats, while the rest of us waited at the van. We got to see this car ferry coming in!
Late in the afternoon, we left Picton and headed up the hill on the Queen Charlotte Drive, intending to go halfway to Havelock to a campground for the night. As we climbed the hill over the town, we saw an overlook–and of course, had to stop. There was the other car ferry coming in, the Interislander.
Cars and trucks were coming off the top deck of the Interislander, and trains were being unloaded from the lower deck. That is a locomotive pushing two flat cars in; they hooked up to a string of eight freight cars and pulled them out, then went back in for more.