Travels With Oso con Migo

Around The World In Sixty Days

OAE On The Road Again, Somewhere Summertime 95-96

October 27, 1995, last letter October 16, 1995


October 16, 1995, Cave Rock, Sumner

I mentioned in my last letter that my room at the Croyden was number 10. At Cave Rock Hotel I was surprised to be given room 10 as well. Tonight at the Ruptured Duck Bar & Pizza place my order for pepperoni pizza with extra shrooms brought me table tag number 10. Anyone for Lotto? 

October 17, 1995, Among The Clouds

Another part of my medical examination is out of the way. This was the mountain climbing treadmill trial. The real mountain climbing will be later in this week at Taylor's Mistake and Godley Head. Today a nurse attacked me with a razor, dry, making little rectangular bare spots over several important nerve centers where the electrodes of the ECG machinery will pick up their signals. I suppose having the hair shaved off is better than having it rip'd out later when the adhesive pads are removed. After I was wired in all sorts of vital information appeared on the screen of the control computer. DOB, SS, DL, IP, and URL pop'd up and when she press'd GO the treadmill started out at a comfortable stroll and Travels With Oso con Migo scrolled by. The nurse punched furiously at the buttons and presently the BP cuff cut off circulation in my right arm and little blips took the place of my last OTRA letter. The treadmill began to pick up the pace as the nurse asked more and more questions and the incline increased as well. --Before this gets so I can't hold on with both hands, I said, I'd like a drink of water. She cranked on the go- faster control and handed me a water bottle. --Don't spill any, she said, you'll short out. --I was pretty short last week, I allowed, no way this can be much worse. She cranked on the go-faster control again and the incline went up some more. Pretty soon I was trotting along up hill at a furious pace when my ears pop'd.

October 18, 1995, Tracking and Treking

Scarborough Up, Scarborough Down, Scarborough Fare. Yesterday's practice on the treadmill came in handy today. I went with Diamond and Bob on the Flower Track up to the Scarborough Track which goes around the Suicide Cliffs of Scarborough Head. "This Track Not Suitable For Unaccompanied Young Children" is on the sign at timber line... Reminds me of Mount Washington. Trails are called tracks here, sheep fences are crossed on stiles. There are lots of sheep. Roy says there are about nine million sheep in New Zealand and three million people. New Zealand makes some really fine wool jumpers. 

In my mail today was this item which concerns us from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)who's listserv I subscribe. This item is about junk mail on the internet--just what we need now. I have written a letter as this article suggests and I urge you to do the same.

[3] Your Net Activities for Sale (and what you can do)

The Marketry company of Bellvue, Washington is now selling email 
addresses of Internet users obtained from Newsgroup postings. From 
the company's press release:

   "These are email address of individuals who are actively using
   the Internet to obtain and transfer information.  They have
   demonstrated a substantial interest in specific area of information
   on the Internet.  They are regularly accessing information in their
   interest areas from newsgroups, Internet chats and websites. . . .
   The file is anticipated to grow at the rate of 250,000 E Mail 
   addresses per month, all with Interest selections."

What are the interest areas currently available?  "Adult, Computer, 
Sports, Science, Education, News, Investor, Games, Entertainment 
Religion, Pets."  The release notes that "additional interests areas 
will be added, please inquire." Activities of US and non-US Net users 
will be included in the Marketry product.

The Washington Post reported that the president of Markertry, Norm
Swent, would not disclose who the actual owner of the list is. "That
really is confidential information," Swent said, "and we are obviously
bound by confidentiality agreements with the list owner."


   (a) Sit back, let your newsgroup postings get swept up by the data 
   scavengers and watch the junk email pile high on your system, or

   (b) Send email to Marketry and tell them to STOP SELLING PERSONAL
   DATA GATHERED FROM THE NET.  Send email to:
   and tell your friends to send email.  And tell your friends' friends.

It's your name.  It's your mailbox. Think about it.
In other mail today I learnt that the FTP server will likely be down until I return to keep an eye on it in January so the link in my page that goes there for the Black Island picture will not work.

October 20, 1995, Day Tripping to Lyttelton

Lyttelton Clock Tower Diamond's friend Sue has a car so she was elected to drive us over the pass to Lyttelton, Canterbury Settlement's first town. Lyttelton is the major South Island port however the nature of its location precludes the development of any industry. The town is situated in the crater of a long extinct volcano that opens on one side to the South Pacific Ocean and the steepness of the surrounding hills has kept the town small. There is a tunnel the ridge that forms Godley Head that provides road access to Christchurch and Evans Pass Road goes over the ridge to provide a scenic route. Godley Head forms the north arm of the harbour and is today mostly populated by sheep; at an earlier time the head was riddled with tunnels and gun emplacements. The area is a park now criss-crossed by tracks and fences. On a hill above the town there is a Timeball Station; one of five still working in the world today. The timeball, by being raised and lowered above the top of the castle tower, provided ships in the harbour with the correct time. The R/V Nathanial B. Palmer has visited Lyttelton Harbour on her cruises between Palmer and McMurdo stations. While we were watching, the Wellington Maru, a Japanese flag container vessel, arrived and two tugboats scurried out to meet her and nudge her up along side a jetty that had two large cranes ready to move containers.Port of Lyttelton

Supper at the Cave... New Zealand has the highest suicide rate in the world among 16-25 year-olds. (Is that really so?) Datura grows wild around here--makes a nice tea--and makes one feel invincible. Does that explain the suicide rate?

October 21, 1995, Saturday, Rain Rain Go Away...

Several days ago there were noisy showers in the night that woke me with their clatter on the tin roof of the bottle shop attached to the hotel below my window. That's ok. Many of the homes hanging precariously on the sides of the steep hills around town depend upon cisterns for water. The rain makes them happy. This is an almost semi tropical climate--there are decorative palms grown in Christchurch and many public toilets have open windows and no heat all winter. Across the hall from room 10 in the toilets and showers the windows are open, louvered glass, and the only heat is when you run the hot water. Kiwi's as a lot favour clothing over heat it seems.

Today I think I will stay in, sit by the fire, write letters. 

October 22, 1995, Sunday, Tumble Down Bay

Te Oka Bay Road--Sue is driving, Diamond navigates. Sue is not at all confident of her car or her driving in this almost alpine environment on the South side of Banks Peninsula. We are headed for Tumble Down Bay which is near Robin Hood Bay and Snuffle Nose. She has coerced her young son Tim to come along for a day at the beach; maybe we will fly kites or play in the sand. We stop at a dairy store for snacks and then head up hill. It is hard to tell minute by minute which direction we are going as the road switches to and fro up the face of a steep spur. It looks like this area is the caldera of another ancient volcano and we must cross the rim to get down to the sea beyond. There is some sort of a cross country race in progress and runners come at us round the tight corners; we can see some of them high above on the terraced sheep paths too. Finally, over the top and down the other side. Tim says --I can see why they call this Tumble Down Bay.

There is not enough wind to lift a kite but the beach is not crowded so there is some good exploring. Diamond finds a quiet rock for a nap (I find a nest in the tall grass) while Tim and Sue play catch in the surf. The water is too cold for anything more than wading in the shallows. After a while we head back up the ridge. 

At Birdings Flat there is a most marvelous beach made entirely of perfect skipping stones. I wanted to carry away a bucket load of them but settled for two handfuls. Too bad one cannot recover a well skipped stone... There are agates here too. Bev of Christchurch is an amateur agate collector. She said she has piles and jars of them at home when I ask'd her to show me what they looked like. --You dig down into the wet stones just below the surface, when the stones are wet you can see the markings so much better. She mucked about with a trenching tool and poked at the multifarious small rounded stones on the blade. --There's one! and another, two more. It is easy to get infected with this sort of treasure hunt and in a minute I had set aside my camera and found a large flat pancake of a stone to use as a shovel to scoop away the dry top layer. 

Moments later a new buzz of excitement went through the agate hunters when someone said --Whales! and someone else said --Sharks! Well... is it whales or sharks? This is not a beach for swimming anyhow, the under toad is rather ferocious, so it really didn't matter but for the point of order. There were at least five, maybe seven, black shadowy shapes just at the surface beyond where the waves broke on the steep shingle beach. Whale or shark. We all finally agreed the black shadows just beyond the surf, the occasional fin or flipper seen black above the green water, must be basking sharks; whales would have blown by now.

October 24, 1995, Devon House (next door to Croyden)

The Devon B&B is different from the Croyden. This is a cat place, economy rates, get your own tea and coffee at breky. Pretty much a one woman operation. The Croyden is a dog place, tea and coffee are served, costs more, bigger staff. I like the atmosphere better at Devon, Gloria is fun to chat with; I like the garden at Croyden and the service. At Devon, Gloria locks up at six! She told me she was accosted inside the house a while back, thrown against a wall and held by her throat. By someone she'd just as soon not have as a guest I presume.

One reader responds to the complications of viewing the pictures I have started including with these letters with "Should I no longer be satisfied with text, but now need pictures?" It is said... --A picture is worth ten thousand bytes of text. But I will try to include the ephotos as a bonus and not reduce the verbosity of my letters. Another correspondent writes: "[...] However I perceived a slight against AOL in the wording of your letter that spoke of how some services truncate messages and can't handle UUencode, etc.

"That may have been true in the past. At the present time AOL does handle large files. Will automatically UUdecode AND unzip files AND display that file when it is received. "

Well Ok. I take back some of the bad things I said about AOL. I suppose to be really objective about this discussion I would have to sit in one well wired location and get myself an account on each of these services and try them all out on the same computer. Or maybe make a point of visiting each person who has a problem with a particular operation and figure it out IRL. Sending images has open'd up Pandora's Box. I could easily get carried away with it as far as the homepage version of OTRA. It is so easy to tag an ephoto and send it along. And I am so easily impressed with the gadgetry and sparkle of pictures. . o O (what a tourist, eh?) Well I have to get my money's worth out of this investment. 

Perhaps I have mentioned that Christchurch is known as the Garden City--today I went for a walk in the garden. The Botanical Gardens are in Hagley Park and consist of a rose garden, art museum, lots of diverse trees, a greenhouse of tropical plants, several fountains and sundials, and beds and borders of all sorts of flowers. Spring is well on here, the tulips are a riot of colour and I recognise pansys and dandylions too. The roses are still asleep, they will be blooming in January when I return. Each plant or group and each different tree has a small sign to elucidate that plants origin, proper and common names. The garden is a wonderfully theraputic place for the toasted WinterOver. Mitch was there. You might remember Mitch from some of my previous letters. He arrived at McMurdo before me last season and stay'd later. Talk about toast. 

It is generally not easy for one toast to see it in another but he look'd bad when I left MACtown two weeks ago; the past week for him has been one of getting up every morning to go through the process of dressing to travel, packing and checking out of the Hotel California, and then wandering around waiting for the call to All-Aboard. And the plane does not come. At the Christchurch end the plane will not fly south in the face of bad weather. Then when it does get off the ground it turns around at the slightest provocation before the point of no safe return. An engine hiccups--Turn around. Static on the radio--Turn around. Yesterday there was an hydraulic oil leak, the cabin filled with smoke--Turn around. Mitch was really hurting. I wonder if I looked that bad when I finally got off. Well its nothing a few days of smelling the flowers and playing on the beach won't take care of. Eating food that has not spent the past year in a freezer from a plate (rather than one of those compartmented plaxtic trays) also helps. Cathedral at CHCH, NZ

Cathedral Square is frequently crowded with carts of food vendors from many lands, jewellery-clothing-handicrafts, jugglers and mimes perform, kids play hacky-sac, orators orate. Painted on the brick of the north side, by the tram, are the alternating black and white rectangles of a game board and under a three tier bleacher are all the pieces of two chess armies. The queens and kings are over a meter tall. By the statue of Godley, founder of Canterbury and for whom Godley Head is named, there is a sign: Cathedral Photographs. There are a bunch of traditional photographers (cameras with *film* in them) who hang out here in front of the cathedral taking pictures for a fee of tourists who pose formally. I could do that with my fancy new ecamera and provide a floppy disk with your ephoto thereon for you to email from the Internet Coffee Shop.

Rave reviews are pouring in for OTRA. From Glenn at Palmer:
>--ajo: you don't know me, but i feel as though i know you. your "on
>the road" letters are a joyful romp in a peculiar world.
Thanks Glenn.
and from William at maroon:
>[...] I did want to tell you how much you enrich my life with your
>travels and updates ... I REALLY enjoy them.
Thanks William.

October 26, 1995, Thursday, Arthur's Pass

Mitch and me take the train, the TranzAlpine, from Christchurch through Arthur's Pass to Greymouth at the mouth of the Grey River on the west coast. After lunch of whitebait and chips (whitebait is a small sardine like fish, only lighter, a local delicacy) at the Hotel Royal and a look at the sea the train returns us to the pass. On its way west from Christchurch we cross three plains--Darfield, Sheffield and Springfield--before entering the mighty Waimakariri Gorge. There are nineteen tunnels in the 231km route and the pass is 737m MSL. The Otira Tunnel is five and a half miles long with a grade of 1:33. On the way west it is downhill so the diesels are only coasting through the tunnel but on the way east, up hill, they are augmented by three electric engines for that portion.

When I was last on these New Zealand railroads, in 1988, Devonshire Tea was served by the conductor from a stainless tea pot in a china cup at your table. Today the tea was in a plastic cup, the jam was in single serving blister paks and you have order it from the servery and carry the tray back to your seat. The trains are clean and on time as I remember them and the staff are friendly and courteous but still there is something missing. Ahh! I remember. No tipping. That's it. Same as in the restaurants. I spoke with the present condustor, he has been with the railroad 32 years and remembers the china cups for Devonshire Tea. --It was not only the changing economy of the railroad that drove us to plastic, the china cups were always being carried off by the passengers; we were constantly having to replace them.

Next time I will remember to bring my own china cup. And spoon.

I was expecting the pass to be less springlike but for an afternoon walk to the Devils Punchbowl Waterfall I was obliged to doff my jumper and tuque in the warmth. The falls are 131m tall and about a half hour walk; the track goes up the side of the Bealey River and over two footbridges before zig-zagging up steps through the mountain beech forest to the waterfall's base. Almost there and a barricade advises against further passage; there is a danger of rock fall around the base of the waterfall. We go on. We're both wearing our hardheads. Gentle gusts of wind blow at the falling water from the side, the mist wets us and the sun setting over the tall snow cap'd ridge creates a bow of intense colour across the punchbowl. Good thing I left my ecamera back at the inn, now I'll have to come up here again tomorrow. 

October 26, 1995, on the train, Arthurs Pass to CHCH

What A Day! We got up to the bushline on Scotts Track to Avalanche Peak. Trail markers here are orange triangles nailed to the trees. We found the You Can't Go Any Farther sign when the track ran out of trees and the orange markers were nailed to wood stakes jam'd into the rocks. Mitch had just turned back when *keeaaaaaa* yodel'd across the ridge and a green and purple something with talons extended gave him reason to duck. The admonitions say "Please don't feed these native parrots. Kea like to investigate human activities and belongings." Good thing Mitch was still wearing his hardhead. The dance of boy meets bird went on for a few minutes of pictures and conversation. The kea sharpen'd its beak on the rock and left talon marks not unlike those of a dingmaul at Dingmaul Roch on the side of Mount Jefferson. After we had a few leisurely nibbles of chocolate and a sip of water (no point in giving this *parrot* any indication we were afraid of it) we stumbled carefully down the precipitous ridge to the relative safety of the trees. 

Back at the Arthurs Pass Village it was time for soup. At Oscar's Haus we found some made of pumpkin. There was a man asking Oscar for a length of wire to open the door of his car, he said he'd locked the keys in. But I tried to tell him his carkea was right there on the roof. You really had to have been there.  Anyhow... by this time the sun had moved over the ridge enough to shine into the Punch Bowl so with eager anticipation we scurried along upstream against the flow of a group of bus tourists. No bow of colour today but the falls were spectacular nonetheless.

The train ride from Arthurs Pass east to Christchurch seemed to go faster than the ride up the day before--partly the been there done that syndrome maybe, partly that we were looking at the ephotos in my computer and talking about what next for our respective plans. Mitch is going to Akaroa for a few days of sea kayaking; I am going to spend a couple of days getting my pack sorted out and minimised. On some of the flights I have over the next couple of months there will be a fourty pound limit--the last thing I want to leave behind is all the toilet paper I am taking to India.

The grass in Hagley Park is showing worn spots now and the Lone Oak has a bark fungus from my fondling. Only a few more days and I will have to trade in my sandles and shorts of summer for the boots and breeches of wintbrrrr.

Next week Oso con Migo meets Bishopdale Bear.

 A.J.Oxton, OA, OO, OAE,  k1oIq

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