This is a good way to rest after working in the garden! We only have seven weeks to go before we meet our next little one, and I’m really starting to feel that way. With the help of James, and a little help from a couple of the others, I just got our tomato plants set out. It’s supposed to storm this afternoon, so I wanted them in the ground; we’ve had high winds all week since we got home from our trip so I didn’t want to set them out. Today is still quite windy, but with the hope of rain this afternoon we’re taking the chance. Anyway, now I’m tired and ready for a break, so this is a good time to sit down and work on this!
When we left the Coaltown Museum in Westport, it was lunchtime, so we headed out to Cape Foulwind for a picnic. Just south of the cape, at a little bay called Tauranga Bay, we found a lovely spot. We were pretty close to the beach, with New Zealand Flax and other vegetation all around. Several red-billed gulls and a weka or two entertained us with their begging. After lunch, we let the boys go down to the beach for a little while—and of course they immediately started digging a hole!
As we started driving again, we enjoyed seeing the clouds caught on the tops of the mountains. Our weather here often comes from the Tasman Sea, between New Zealand and Australia. When the clouds hit the West Coast, they have to rise to get over the mountains, which causes a lot of rainfall on that side of the mountains! By the time the weather gets over the mountains to our side, it’s pretty dry and we end up with hot, dry winds. Since they come from the north-west, they are called nor-westers! So, on a day like today, when we have a hot, dry nor-wester blowing, the West Coast is most likely getting a downpour. Anyway, it was interesting to see it for ourselves, with sunshine down on the coast and clouds in the tops of the mountains immediately inland, as the next picture shows.
Our next stop, after driving half an hour or so, was a historic gold mine near Charleston, which was a boom town at the peak of the gold rush. After the gold rush ended, people moved away, and moved the buildings away, so there was nothing left of the settlement. It is now being rebuilt; we saw several motels. The gold mine was pretty interesting, especially for the boys. They had made sure they had their headlamps and flashlights along this time; when we were there 4 1/2 years ago, we couldn’t explore any of the tunnels, since we didn’t have any lights. This time, they went way in to some of them!
The gold here is in the form of sand. It’s pretty much just dust. The miners would dig out the rocks that contained the ore, and crush them with an apparatus powered by a water wheel. When they had the ore crushed back into sand, they would put it in a sluice and run it over copper plates coated with mercury. The gold dust would combine with the mercury, and then they would heat it in a retort. The mercury would evaporate, then condense again away from the gold and they could reuse the mercury. The gold extracted this way, the man in the office said, was about 99.9% pure!
Coming next…Pancake Rocks! Check back in another day or two and see if I got the videos up here of the incredible show we were privileged to see!