Tuesday, November 23, 1994
It was an interesting night. I got to bed around 11pm, but to sleep about 11:45pm. At about 12:15, I was woken up, by two things: My arm got caught in the power cord for the electric blanket, and a floodlight outside our window came on. It has a motion sensor that was apparently picking up the wind. It would go off for a couple seconds, and then come right back on. So I ended up moving to another of the vacant rooms where there was a queen sized bed, and no window to the side where the floodlight is. It was even colder than I was prepared for. I froze solid for a few minutes before thawing out for a decent nap.
I got up around 8:30 to try and take a shower. The water was hot, but the bathroom was huge and drafty, so it was a real quick shower. We didn’t get breakfast so I guess this place wasn’t a bed & breakfast. We packed up the car and drove into town to try and locate a store that sells brewing kits. We spent awhile trying to find one, and finally located a place called Brewers Hop. They must have had about 50 or more pre-made kits to choose from. Bill bought a can, but I’ll wait until I can get one with US measurements instead of metric. It will make things much easier.
We headed back to Sumner to take the high road, which runs a ridge-line high above Christchurch. We went to the eastern end of the peninsula, where there’s a farm with sheep and cattle sharing an unbelievable view northwest through Christchurch with old gun emplacments. Military tranquility. World War II again…
We headed back west along Summit Road, not really knowing where it would come out. It was a beautiful drive, but would have been much better on a bright, sunny day.
We spent about an hour and a half up on the hill before deciding to come down to try and find lunch. We spent another two hours driving around, trying to find someplace to eat other than a hotel restaurant. We eventually ended up an McDonalds, and by then we were ready for anything. I had more fish-n-chips (Filet-o-Fish and fries). Not quite what we’ve been used to, but it hit the spot.
We got to the airport around 3:30pm, checked in our car (with the poor little sparrow still in the grill) and are now sitting in the departure lounge, watching Monday night football on Tuesday afternoon. San Francisco is up 28-0. It was nice to see football again. We’d completely forgotten that it was football season.
Create a mental picture: An old series on TV, about a serviceman named Gomer Pyle. What was that phrase he used to say all the time? “Surprise, surprise, surprise…” Guess who’s on the plane with us? Remember Linda and Manfred? The German couple who we met on the Picton Ferry, and again at our departure for the Doubtful Sound trip? The came walking down the aisle of the plane just after we got seated. Did I mention that he works for Luftansa? They have to fly standby on this vacation, and they’re leaving today, since the flight isn’t full.
We talked a little about Linda’s tandem parachute adventure on the day we went to Milford Sound. She actually jumped out of an airplane at 3,000 meters with a guy strapped to her back. She may have talked me into trying parachuting again, since I now live about 5 minutes from an airport that offers parachute lessons. We’ll see if I have any money left for things like this.
We just helped a guy who speaks absolutely no English fill in his travel documents. I don’t know Spanish very well (at all), so he just gave me all his tickets, passports, and everything else, and we just did our best. The stories he must be able to tell. He was born in Espana in 1914. I wish I could speak Spanish…
Last night and today have been relatively uneventful. We got off our plane, picked up the baggage, and went through customs. Bill had to go through the “Things to declare” line, since he had the lupin seeds I bought him. After a thorough strip search, they let him through. The didn’t really do a strip search, but did look up the seeds in a book before letting him through. We got picked up and taken to our hotel, the Sydney Airport International Hotel. Talk about a generic name!!! We checked in, kicked back, and watched the movie Curly Sue. A cute movie that tugs a little at the old tear ducts.
After sleeping almost 11 hours, we got up and got psyched for the next 48 hours. The hotel van brought us to the airport at about 11:30. Only about 4 hours early. Since then, we’ve been just hanging out, watching airplanes and people. I get such a kick out of watching everybody.
There’s the business traveller in a suit who looks bored to tears, while the suit next to him is furiously preparing materials for something. The family with three young children, trying to keep them entertained. Groups of students. Huge throngs of Japanese tourists chattering incessantly.
I wonder if they actually talk more than other nationalities, or if it’s just their language that makes it sound that way. Germans are everywhere, just like they’ve been everywhere we’ve been. We were talking to Manfred and Linda about the number of German tourists, and they mentioned the fact that all Germans get 30 days off, per year! They feel that’s why so many Germans can take vacations so far from home. We get to board the plane, but neither of us are looking forward to 14 hours on the plane, even if it is a direct flight.