Halfway Home

Today I reached the halfway point of my trip. I’m having an amazing time, no question about that. I mentioned in my last post that I am avoiding too much reflection or introspection about the trip while on the trip. My reasoning for this is simple- I’m spending my time looking at the rest of the trip so I continue to maximize every day I have. I also am afraid of becoming overwhelmed with all I’ve seen and done.

The last trip I actually kept a journal on was my Australia trip in 2001. I wrote in it every night and today provides a valuable record of what I was thinking at the time. I haven’t felt the need to keep a journal since I got a digital camera. I take so many pictures, that I can usually just look at them and remember what I was feeling at the time. On this trip, I’ve started an audio-journal, using my US Android phone to record my thoughts. I usually do this right after I get in the car after leaving a place. Whether or not this will even be listenable later, who know, but it’s worth the effort. (And I still have the pictures if not- boy, do I have pictures….)

The rainy drive on Thursday

Yesterday (Friday, May 24th) was an awesome day. Before I left, I had thought about this single day more than any other on the trip. I was staying in the town of Franz Josef Glacier on the West Coast hoping to get in both a scenic flight over the two glaciers (Fox Glacier being the other) and also a hike up to and on Fox Glacier. I had driven to Franz Josef the day before from Queenstown, and had spent most of the day in a torrential rain. 

When I started planning this trip, I slotted 3 days in this area, rolling the dice that I would get one decent one to get the hike and flight in. I was even willing to add a fourth day, cutting something else I wanted to see from the itinerary if need be. Those of you who know how I travel know how hard it would have been for me to sit in one spot waiting out weather- that’s how much these activities meant to me, especially the flight.

Franz Joseph Glacier

When I woke up yesterday, it didn’t look promising. It wasn’t raining at first, just foggy and overcast, but it did start pouring as soon as I started my hike to the point at which I could overlook the Franz Josef Glacer. My heart sank, as I prepared myself mentally for the possibility of spending the day either hiking in the rain or holed up in the hostel. Then, to my surprise, the rain stopped and a little bit of blue sky began to appear. Thirty minutes later, it was mostly sunny under almost completely blue skies.

Snow landing at 11,000 feet (Mount Tasman in the background, New Zealand’s second highest peak)
Looking down the Franz Josef Glacier

I’ll get into more specifics later, when I do the posts for everyday of this trip (that will be months upon months of work when I get home), but needless to say, I got both my scenic flight, complete with snow landing at 11,000 feet, right in front of Mount Tasman, and my half day hike on Fox Glacier. Both experiences were great, but the flight defied description. After leaving the flight company’s office, I almost floated back to the hostel. For someone who is a serious as I am most of the time, these moments is life are very rare.

The Pancake Rocks

Today, the adrenaline had worn off a bit, and I wasn’t too productive. I got a later start than usual (the first time on the trip I wasn’t up before 7AM) and I did a minimal amount of sightseeing. I instead took care of a couple shopping errands, took a long lunch at a picnic area overlooking the Tasman Sea, and sat in my car in Greymouth waiting out a steady rain for about half an hour. Tonight I’m in just outside the small village of Punakaiki, in a ‘rustic’ cabin in the rainforest. This should be the last night for a while I need a bed indoors, as the temperature is getting much warmer as I head north, and I can go back to camping most nights.

Afternoon Hike on the Fox Glacier

So that brings me to the rest of the trip. I’ll be honest about it- I can’t imagine it topping what I’ve seen and done already, but I’m going to give it a go. I spent a lot more time in my pre-trip planning on the first 14 days. I have a plan for the next two weeks, but I’m not nearly as well-read or well-prepared. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I also have nothing booked other than the flight to the US on June 9th and my ferry over to the North Island coming up this Wednesday (May 30th), so I do have some flexibility. 

A few people messaged me in various ways yesterday asking if I was ok after they heard on the news that Christchurch had another earthquake, this one a 5.1 that caused a little damage to many of the already condemned buildings in the CBD. More than that, I’m sure, it frayed the nerves of the residents, who continue to be traumatized by the big quake and the subsequent damage in February 2011. I was on the other side of the island, but we did notice some debris falling down the mountainsides while we were hiking on Fox Glacier, but we didn’t know what had caused it. My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Christchurch- it was the first place I visited when I arrived, and the people there were super (as they have been pretty much everywhere I’ve been so far). I’ll have a longer post about Christchurch when I get back, but I have been asked about the city by a number of people, both travellers and locals, as I’ve progressed along on my journey, and I can only summarize Christchurch this way- Broken

That brings this post (that is much longer that I had intended) to a close. I’ve been asked if I miss home quite a few times by people on Facebook, Twitter and in emails, and the truth is yes. I miss my wife, my dogs, the rest of my family, my employees and co-workers, and my friends. I wouldn’t refer to myself as homesick, although I do believe I will get to that point in the not too distant future. As much as I do miss home, and all of those things I mentioned (and the many things I didn’t), I’m having a great time and looking forward to the next 15 days. When I get home, I’ll be glad to be there, but for now, there is more wandering to do.

2 Responses to “Halfway Home”

  1. Kris Koeller says:

    Awesome you got to see the glaciers up close like that.  I've been on a few in Alaska, and they're so amazing its hard to describe. See them now as they're fading fast.  Finally, looks like in the end you were able to hook up with a couple of handsome travel partners… 

  2. ConfusedJulia says:

    We were really sad to see how Christchurch was still so solemn and devastated after the quake. The full force of it didn't hit me until we were stood looking at the rubble from the other side of the fence. As much as it is great to see some of the regeneration that is going on in parts of the centre, there is still such a sombre feel to the place.

Leave a Reply