In Picton awaiting the ferry.

In Picton awaiting the ferry.
My good fortune on the South Island continues.  On a sunny morning I left Omarama and headed south to Milford Sound.  It was another long drive, but the last portion convinced me that it was worth it. The road to Milford Sound curved up into the sky. Huge drop-offs and a long muddy, downhill tunnel enhanced the intensity of the experience. It is impossible to describe the immensity of the towering peaks.  I’ve seen the drama of the European Alps, but being surrounded by huge, almost sheer-faced mountains was something new for me.
I managed to make the drive from Omarama, book passage on the ferry that goes out into the sound and drive back to Te Ana to spend the night.  The trip from Omarama to the sound took three days. Oddly enough, the calendar indicated that only one day had passed.
The Te Ana Backpackers inn was right on the lake and was, for a Backpackers place, quiet. I have stayed at a number of these hostels on this trip.  Some were primitive, but not terribly expensive, therefore bearable.  This was one of the best. The next night I stayed with the glider pilots and then drove over to the West Coast.
This turned out to be a peak travel week, so I was lucky to secure a room at a Backpackers hostel in Fran Joseph Glacier village.  This one was sort of dingy.  Birds fly in the slightly cracked windows to feast off the crumbs on the floor. That may be the entire cleaning crew. As is true of most of the hostels, the people there were cheerful.  I stayed up late sharing pictures and stories with a very young hiker from Australia and a couple on their “Trip of a Lifetime”.
(I don’t like that concept.  Imagine planning and waiting and waiting some more. It permits life’s set-backs to have control.  Given enough time one may never make that trip of a lifetime. It’s better to start early and finish strong. I have never much money, but I’ve taken great trips.  They were especially great because they were never burdened with the title “Trip of a lifetime.”  What trip could live up to that expectation?)
I wish I had skipped Fox Glacier – just a dirty chunk of ice.  Franz Joseph, on the other hand, is worth a visit.  Having seen glaciers before, I found this one most memorable for the tropical vegetation.  The climb up through a dense forest provides an important reason for going to the glacier.
I made the drive the rest of the way to the top of the island using an inland route. The sky became overcast and the water, a dull gray, so I took the direct route back to Picton. The West Coast is know for its rain; I was unbelievable lucky to have so many days of perfect weather. I hate to leave the South Island, but on the up side, going back brings me closer to home and Glenn.


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