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Published: March 12th 2018
Back o' the Bus Gang
I doubled my smile to make up for Mike's lack consciousness
It was another long drive back from Milford Sound. I bounced around in the back of the bus, slowly getting some writing done. I’ve sat here pretty much every day, for no particular reason. It’s not like there were assigned seats. The back seats were rough riding and often uncomfortably warm. They didn’t recline and you were always the last person off the bus. But you could say hi to people coming back to charge their phone and you could watch who was asleep and about to fall out of their chair on the next bend. These seats were charming in their own way. Though Mike might disagree as I’ve just accidently elbowed him in the ribs for the 3rd
There were a bunch of options for dinner, most of them busy, expensive or both. We went with an Indian restaurant. Ever since that incredibly mediocre $6 butter chicken in Wellington I had been craving something more. This place was better but not as good as home. Apparently dinner was a bit more dramatic for the many of the rest of the group. From what I understand they had booked individual tables at an Italian restaurant, which quickly morphed into
Questionable history fact: Arrowtown was named after the extensive arrow mining operating which took place there between 1907 and 1936.
one giant table. Anarchy descended when the server forgot to ring through the entire group’s order. They had been waiting for almost an hour when the Scotsmen showed up at the same table. They sat down, ordered, and received their food within 10 minutes. Management wasn’t overly sympathetic for the wait time and some incorrect orders but Sarina was able to negotiate a small discount without things getting too dramatic.
After dinner a big group went to go hang out and chat about nothing in particular at Bec and Katie’s room. Dave held an exclusive interview for all the people who didn’t realize he was only 18, born in California, living in France, but went to school in England. I think he answered the same 5 questions multiple times but was a great sport for his adoring fans. Before calling it a night I dropped by to chat with Ben, Lani, Larissa, Emma, and Whitney, who were hanging outside listening to tunes on Ben’s Bluetooth speaker. As one song ended Ben asked me what we should listen to next. I smirked. “Insane In the Membrane.” “Really?” he replied. “…Let’s do it.” So there we were, loitering in a motel
Arrowtown bike ride
Nice to get outside again
parking lot, drinking beer, and listening to 90’s hip-hop like a bunch of hooligans. I showed off my “sick gangster dance moves” like only a white Canadian engineer could.
It was not a restful night. Between the caffeine in my bourbon and cokes and Dave’s snoring little sleeping had been accomplished. Jacob seems to have had an exciting night as well. At some point he sliced his ear lobe tripping and falling in the dark. He had it bundled up in a bandage, but it still looked… well, kinda gross. We drove to Arrowtown, a former gold mining community with a frontier feel to it. Here we would be going for a bike ride along the river valley. We all grabbed a bike and helmet and set off. I loved being able to ride outside again. It hasn’t been the same riding at the gym, staring at the wall or a TV screen. I rode ahead a couple times to take pictures of our group as they made their way along the path. I made decent time even with my many photo stops, arriving somewhere the front-middle of the group. Kris informed me that I had a rather unflattering
splash on the back of my shorts from a puddle back up on the hill. I’m hoping no photos had been taken before I had a chance switch to my jeans.
We stopped at a fruit farm for a snack before heading into Cromwell, a sleepy retirement community. During this time Jess and Jacob went to find some medical assistance. This meant we had more time to chat. It was funny; 30 people can be both a big group and a small group at the same time. You know of pretty much everyone but every time you stop to talk as a group you usually learn something new about someone. Sarina and I were able to talk cars and Ben had a long conversation with an elderly gentleman about the first and second world wars. Soon the clinic was able to stitch up Jacob’s ear so he could enjoy the rest of the trip. He was welcomed back onto the bus with cheers and applause. We were glad to have our resident Dane back in one piece.
We had another long, quiet drive to Lake Ohau. I enjoyed slowly plinking away at my blog while glancing up at
Ready to hop in
"C'mon guys, let's go!"
this amazing countryside we were passing through. As the lake came into view Jess challenged us to hop into the 8 degree water after dinner. There was a free shot for all of those “brave” enough to do it. Joke’s on her, I would’ve done it for free. So down to the shore we went in the fading sunlight and blustery wind. Jacob, Dave, Lewis, Bec and I jumped in first before being briefly joined by Charlotte and Luisa. Everyone else came to watch, probably snickering to each other “look at those lunatics.” The water had passed that critical temperature where instead of feeling cold you just feel numb so it really wasn’t all that bad. The bigger hazard was all the large, slippery rocks that made up the lake bed near the shore. After a couple minutes we got out, tried to laugh off how cold we were then walked back up the hill to the lodge, where our tequila shots and a pair of hot tubs were waiting for us.
Following the hot tub I got changed and joined my fellow Top Deckers sitting at the line of picnic tables outside. Tonight would be the last night
Bit chilly. I think. Couldn't feel much of anything.
of the tour so everyone was ready for a last hurrah. A bus from Top Deck’s nemesis, Contiki, was staying at the lodge with us. Bah, Contiki. That’s for heathens. Like a bunch of school children we all kept our distance from the newcomers at first but we later learned to tolerate and even accept their presence. As it got dark the number of people at the tables dwindled. Izzy and I ended up chatting about the finer of points of the 50’s and 60’s (music, cars, fashion = good; racism, nuclear threat = bad) before sliding down the bench to join Mary, and the two Johns (one being Mary’s husband, the other our bus driver). I finally had to admit defeat as wind did not make for shorts and t-shirt weather. I went inside and was immediately greeted by Della and Jacob, who were far ahead of me with their… let’s say “partying level”. They wanted to go back outside to look at the stars. So back out I went. We were joined by Charlene, Masaki, and Helen and we all just sort of collapsed in a giggling heap on the deck boards to stare at the night sky.
Post Lake Hot Tub
Ahhhhhhhh much better
I came back inside again to be greeted by a circle of group members chilling on the couches outside the bar. After what evening gossip I had with them, Ben and I were craving another round of “Insane in the Membrane”. But there was no wifi. What were we to do? We went to grab a drink. Hmm. The bar tender. He’s controlling the music. We can ask him! He was all too happy to oblige. When the intro came on Ben turned my hat around backward to ensure I looked the part. Looks like people wanted to see some more funky fresh Canadian dance moves. I admittedly have a very small library of moves, so I felt put on the small when I found my self standing in the middle of a circle of cheering people. We gave my Then I started to watch my new hat make its way around the room. Bec had borrowed it a few times already, but always gave it back in short order. I had to draw the line when it was given to one of those Contiki hooligans. I took it back in the most Canadian way possible. As I tactfully lifted it off this gentleman’s head I sheepishly said “Uh hi, yeah, sorry, I um, need this. Thanks, bye.” After a few more amateur dance moves it was time for me and my hat to retire for the night.
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