October 11

The first day of our road trip was fairly rushed. We woke up after less sleep than we had intended and had to run (literally) back to the Sandbar to pick up the car, where we had left it last night. We needed to leave for Wellington by 11 am to make a ferry (story to follow) and neither of us had packed adequately (or in Lindsay’s case, at all) the night before. Why were we heading south, you might ask. Well, Lindsay had met a woman, Heather Molloy, and her granddaughter, Lexie, nearly nine months ago on South Island. They had saved Lindsay from an unfortunately wofing position with an eccentric (to be kind) family, when she had first arrived in New Zealand. She had left with them and spent a few days in their company. Heather had told Lindsay to look them up if she was ever in Wellington. The visit hadn’t worked out until our last day in the area. She had invited us to take the ferry out to Days Bay to meet her for coffee. After a very brief discussion (“Do you want to go?” “Yeah, of course”), we agreed. We packed very quickly (and probably forgot many items), said some hasty and slightly tearful goodbyes and headed into town. We were anxious about missing the ferry because we didn’t know where we were going. However, luck was on our side and everything fell into place. We didn’t get lost for once (unusual for both Lindsay and for me) and we made it to the ticket office with ten minutes to space. The day was absolutely beautiful, possibly the best weather that I have seen since I’ve been here. It was a clear sky, sunny and warm.

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The ferry showed us lovely views of the city and surrounding hills and suburbs. It was a perfect ride. We disembarked in Day’s Bay, which is a lovely beachside town with restaurants overlooking the water and beautiful views of the bay and Wellington.

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We met Heather at a cafe where she treated us to coffees and amazing pieces of cake. Gluten-free mocha chocolate cake for Lindsay and some kind of date cheesecake for me. Absolutely mouth-watering. Heather is absolutely fabulous. She is an independent traveler, with a range of interests, and she has a wonderful sense of humor. I loved her immediately; she actually reminded me quite a bit of Helen. We visited with her for quite a while and her son, Grant, and his kids met us there, including Lexie. We had a lovely afternoon, enjoying the sun and the great company. They had a lot of suggestions on where we should go next. Grant invited us to his house for tea. We agreed, and took the next ferry back to grab our car and drive around the bay to Petone, where he lives. He and his wife, Debbie, were so gracious. They invited us to stay with them for the night, but we decided that we needed to get moving. They did lend us a tent and mattress pads for our trip though. Debbie insisted that when I come back through Wellington and return the camping supplies that I must stay with them. Their whole family was wonderful.

After we left, we headed north on Route 2 towards the Wairarapa Valley. On the way, we decided to stop and see the location where Rivendell had been partially filmed. To be honest, it was quite a disappointment. Lindsay had warned me that there wasn’t much there, but it was even worse than I had prepared myself for. There were signs with pictures of scenes from the movies and the signs pointed to the one tree in each sign that actually exists in nature. There was a great deal of CGI, from what I can tell.

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(There was a sign that let me determine that I am the height that Gandalf supposedly is in the books.)

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The only vaguely LOTR-type thing was an archway that had been erected to thank the fans of the movies. (It wasn’t even real stone.)

The more exciting part of the visit to Rivendell was the swingbridge that is nearby. It is a narrow bridge that is held up by cables over a river. It feels so precarious because it swings from side to side. Of course, I had to jump on it to ensure that we had the full effect.

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On the way there, I practiced driving for a short time. I did fairly well, but I handed the reins back to Lindsay when we left Rivendell. I will try for a longer time tomorrow. The views on the car ride were amazing. The roads were windy and ran along mountain sides. Some of them were a bit nerve-wracking, but Linds did a great job.

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We ended up staying in a town called Greytown at a campsite for the night. We are sleeping in our car for the first time, mostly because we are too tired to erect the tent from the Molloys. We also decided to try sardines for the first time, as part of our initiation into the transient, canned food dependent, lifestyle. I was not sold on them, but I suppose they will work in a pinch.

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