|Smile, Smile, Smile!
Ah, there is so much to smile about. Friends, family, new friends, adventures, exploration, good food, great food! Yes, lots to smile about. So let me tell you what has been making me smile for the past week or so.
After my last update, I managed to make it to Wellington, NZ. Which is the nations Capital and the southern most city on the North Island, and therefore the jumping off point for getting over to the South Island. I booked the ferry and checked into a downtown hotel - Holiday Inn Wellington - which was a welcome reprieve from sleeping in the Spaceship. Made me smile.
The weather took a turn for the worse, windy, very windy, in fact almost too windy to walk forward against the wind. Then the clouds rolled in and the rain started to fall and the temperature dropped to the point of me having to put on long pants, a fleece and a rain jacket to stay warm for the first time since leaving San Diego. I know all you people (besides the San Diego contingent) are cursing me right about now while trying to stay warm yourselves in whatever freezing part of the country you reside in. But for me it was cold! Staying warm and dry, made me smile.
I also managed to break a tooth eating of all things toast. At least it was Room Service toast! So just when it looked like I wouldn't be smiling for a while .... I found a great Dentist 2 blocks from my hotel who not only fixed the tooth, but also managed to squeeze me in the following morning for a complete cleaning. After all Dental Hygiene is very important! A clean, refreshed, rebuilt smile.
I did lots of exploring around the city of Wellington. I took the Cable Car up to the Botanical Gardens and went for an amazing walk as the bad weather lifted and the sun started to peak through and smile at me. I sat around in funky little cafes on Cuba Street Mall, ate good food on Courtney Street and took in a movie - Avatar in 3D - that in my opinion has to be seen just for the special effects. It is amazing how far the movie making industry has come. As it turns out a lot of the effects in Avatar were created by the same company - Weta - that did the special effects for The Lord Of The Rings trilogy (which was filmed completely in NZ) and they are located right in Wellington, NZ. They even offer a tour to the Weta Cave, but I didn't feel that geeky! More smiles.
After 3 days in Wellington I finally caught my Ferry - the Interislander to Picton on the South Island. It is a 3 hour journey across the Cook Straight and through the Marlborough Sounds. Some spectacular scenery. I was the first car off and checked into the Picton Campervan Park. Back to Spaceship living. Small smile. I hung out in Picton for a couple days waiting for the weather to break so I could go scuba diving. The weather broke and the trip was set for Thursday. Smile.
I went out with Dive Picton on an all day trip to dive the wreck of the Mikhail Lermontov. It is a Russian Cruise Liner that sunk after hitting some rocks back in 1986. There is lots of controversy surrounding the navigational decisions made that fateful night and also some "Cold War" conspiracy speculation on a missing passenger - officially listed as dead, even though no body was recovered - and some missing safes? Everyone else made it off alive. The ship went down with everything still on board. So we swam through the Dining Room and Dance Hall, the Bridge, the Movie Theater with child's doll still in one of the seats, and even the Swimming Pool and Bar area. Erie and spectacular at the same time! I saw huge Crabs, Scorpion Fish, Blue Cod, and an Octopus to name a few of the inhabitants that now live on the ship. Lots of underwater smiles!
I made some progress driving south the following day. I made it 24 Kilometers! Well, I noticed in my handy Lonely Planet that I was passing through Wine Country, and even though I have no interest in wine these days what almost always accompanies wine is FOOD. And for those of you who know me, I have a hard time driving past great food. So I stopped and went to the Herzog Estate Winery. I spent a lazy afternoon in the outside garden Bistro savoring a 4 course lunch prepared by Michelin starred Chefs. Great food always makes me smile. I then stopped in at Makana - a Boutique Chocolate Factory - for a tasting and a small purchase. Then it was back to my parking space, next to a lazy creek, for a nice long nap. Needless to say I fell asleep with a smile on my face.
Today I met back up with my friend Beth in the town of Blenheim - a whole 6 Kilometers further south. As soon as I am done typing and uploading a few pictures I am off to another highly recommended dining establishment for a gourmet lunch. At this rate I may never make it out of this part of the South Island! Oh, all the smiles!
I miss you all and love you all.