Our last two days on the south island began Sunday morning as we set off from Hasst to travel up the west coast of the south island. Our destination was Greymouth for the night. I wasn’t feeling well either day with worsening chest wall pain but improving elbow pain. I had a persistent cough that made the pain in my chest worse. Also, the pain kept me from having a deep cough so I was coughing more often!
We drove down the coast and paused to walk out to the beach. The Tasman sea is that part of the Pacific between New Zealand and Australia. And, a cyclone had come through New Zealand recently. The seas were very rough. It was obvious from the driftwood thrown up on the beach it was NOT safe to go swimming! Here are some photos of the beach just north of Haast.
We spent most of the day driving northward and stopped to view two glaciers in the area, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier. The walk up to the glaciers was long and uphill and the pain in my chest prevented me from making the entire journey. But, here are some photos of the Fox Glacier. Look carefully and you will see a tiny line of red and blue dots mid way up the glacier. Those are a separate party of brave individuals hiking across this massive glacier.
As we traveled on toward the north we encountered the snow covered peaks of the Southern Alps.
That night we arrived at Greymouth, a city at the mouth of the Grey River. The next morning (today— Monday, St. Patrick’s day) we arose and headed for Shantytown. Shantytown is a recreation of an old gold mining and lumbering town that flourished from the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. Here are some photos from our visit. Some are serious. Others, well I’ll let you be the judge!
Waiting on the train to take us out into the bush.
A public toilet.
Once we left Shantytown, we headed up the coast to Punikaiki to the pancake rocks and blowholes. This very unusual arrangement of rocks along the coast was fascinating.
We drew closer to our final destination on the south island, Blenheim but saw a sign for “the longest swing bridge in New Zealand”. How can anyone resist?
Our final two hours of driving took us across the north of the south island from west coast to east coast through winery country. Once again, I was stunned by the awesome beauty of this country. At every turn, there are sights that defy description.
I decided to take Sherry to the beach for a week in March. She needed a break from responsibilities and stresses at home. We had no idea it would barely get out of the 40’s our first day here! Gulf Shores, Alabama is a place near and dear to our hearts. We have vacationed in this area many, many times before. Lately, we’ve been staying just a few miles down the beach just over the state line in Perdido Key, Florida.
Just to show you how cold it is, take a look at these pictures from our balcony. The beach is deserted!!!
But, what I wanted to share was a story of a beach house. I first saw this beach house in 1999. It was August and we were staying in Orange Beach, Alabama (part of the Gulf Shores area) and I walked down the beach and saw this house. The week before we left to come to the beach, I had begun the rough draft of a novel that would become “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye”. I was 16 chapters into the book when we arrived at the beach. After an evening walk down the beach with my wife, I saw this house. It was huge. And for some reason in the fading, gray evening, it creeped me out. So, naturally, I put it into my story. If you have read the first book, you know that this is the beach house where Jonathan Steel completed his physical recovery after waking up on the beach tortured to within an inch of his life. It was this house owned by the love of his life, April Pierce that would haunt him and in the books, haunts him still.
You see, there is a secret hidden in this house. It is a secret those of you who have read my first two books know nothing about. That secret will eventually be revealed in later books. I hope to continue to write the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel and at this moment I am currently looking for a new publisher.
In 2004, Hurricane Ivan took out this house along with much of Orange Beach. It no longer exists. Today, I walked down that cold, empty beach and I missed the house that inspired the story of Jonathan Steel. It now only remains in my imagination along with a picture or two. And, of course, the real owners miss it also!