Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Coastal New Zealand and then tracking across the entire south island from west to east.

It only took 50 kilometers of coastline travel to reach Greymouth. This is a good size small town with a definite past; I just don’t know exactly what made up the past. I’d guess the gold mining that followed the end of the California gold rush in the 1800s would be one marker in its history book. Nowadays they are working hard to leverage their natural resources and market themselves to the holiday traveler looking for outdoor activities and adventure. The Tranz Scenic train brochure promises they will do everything possible to make ones journey as worry-free as possible. The train staff was nice when I approached them for early check-in, but everything they started to tell me immediately made me start to worry. The train that I was suppose to catch at 1:45 PM cannot make it to Greymouth as a coal train has derailed on the same or adjacent track just above Arthur’s Pass. They let us pre-purchased ticket holding worried-warts know they would transport us by bus to the Atria station where the train coming in from ChristChurch had to stop because of the morning track accident. Normally that would be an easy solution but about a week ago a major tornado hit Greymouth like it was a town in Eastern NC and it so happened that without any trailer parks to attack it went straight after the next best thing, a fleet, the only fleet, of area buses.

I immediately ripped into my box of good-n-plenty I had been saving for emergency use. It made sense to me, as choochoo Charlie was an engineer and as you probably well know, choochoo Charlie didn’t have any fear. Dr. Bob should add black licorice to our formulary or at minimum as a part of our mental health coverage benefit. I find it has the most calming effect on what is normally my unflappable personality (smile). As a sidebar: the licorice is beyond great in New Zealand and reason enough for anyone interested in coming here to book a ticket now.

We all made it to Atria Station on our bus with mostly broken windows and boarded the Train. Right now we a being pulled by three engines through a tunnel that took 15 years to build. We’ll end up or near Arthur’s Pass, a national park covering more than 230,000 acres of rugged wilderness. The national bird, the Kiwi, can be found here, but only at night, as among it other strange characteristics, it is a nocturnal bird. It's all good--we made it to ChristChurch and my cheapy hotel for the night is, thank goodness, pretty decent. I was sweating the location. No worries.


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