Don't forget the canned goods when you camp

Trip Start Oct 28, 2004
Trip End Aug 08, 2005

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Sunday, January 9, 2005

It was early yesterday morning when us five girls (Molly, Megan, Naomi, Danni, and myself) decided to back up the black 1988 Nissan Blue Bird that Megan and Naomi had just purchased from our neighbor Brad for $150 and spend the weekend camping in Milford Sound. We packed the car full with tents, three bags of groceries and lots of sleeping bags thinking that we would be well prepared for 3 nights of camping but turns out we had no idea what we were in for.

The four hour drive was nice and took us through amazing forests and outrageous mountains. At one point we even had to drive through a tunnel which looked as if someone had spend their entire lifetime pick axing their way through this huge mountain. It could have been the scariest drive we have ever encountered. With no lights inside and only one lane of traffic we inched our way through this neverending tunnel hopping that there would be no run in with opposing traffic. Lucikly we made it through twice but can't imagine doing it again.

After the tunnel we were officially at Milford Sound. There was heaps of snow and huge mountains and waterfalls at every turn. The road abrubtly ended and the only signs of life were in the forms of a cafe, boat yard and bar. Considering it was pouring rain we sat in the bar and watched music videos with no sound. Didn't drink, just sat and watched. We all came to the same conclusion: rap music usually is horrible, but it is even more horrible here in New Zealand, especially when they are forced to make low budget rap videos.

The rain began to subside and we decided that we should take advantage of the break in weather and take a short tramp. We found the enterance to the tramp but much to our disappointment were greeted with a large piece of plywood with a sign that read, "Path closed to geological instability." Of course we decided that they weren't serious and jumped the sign and continued along with our walk. In 5 minutes we were starring at a rather powerful waterfall (and as I pointed out, "wow...look how the water just seems to be falling off the rock."), took a few pictures, and turned around and walked back. We had to laugh at the signs on the side of the boardwalk that were actual road signs that you would see on the interstate that read, "Do not stop for the next 60m due to falling rocks. Walk quickly." We thought about just running back the length of the tramp but we figured we'd take our chances walking. I guess that could be the geological instability we were warned about.

Due to the strenious tramp we had just taken we were famished by the time we got back to the car. Turns out that Milford Sound is not only a breeding ground for tourists but also for the pesky sand fly. More than just being pesky this bug could quite possibly be the most horrible and evil bug alive. They travel in swarms of at least a few hundred and follow you where ever you go. It's just like the cartoon characters that are chased by the swarms of bees...just like that. Megan and Naomi explained that in Australia people wear hats that have strings with corks attached to the bottom hanging from the brim. As the walk, the cork swings across their face like windsheild wipers keeping the bugs from attacking. But since we didn't have hats, string, or corks we all ran to the car and locked ourselves inside with our bags of food.

Having no way to cook and trying to ration our food through the weekend we each claimed a can of food for our dinner. Megan and Naomi in the front each had a can of baked beans and Molly, Danni, and I each ate a can of spaghetti. We felt like huge losers siting in a car and eating canned goods and someone decided that the only thing lower would be to take off all the labels on the cans so that the next night's dinner would be a Blind Can Grab. We took the next fifteen minutes peeling off labels and discussing how great the next dinner would be.

Not wanting to leave the car again to face the bugs we drove to a free camp site in the national park. We were so excited about our campsite...there was a great river that flowed right through and the area was completely covered in purple and pink lupines. It was so gorgeous and we couldn't get over how lucky we got in finding a great spot that was free. We got out to set up our tents and of course decided to see who could set their tent up first. And in the spirit of competition it was West Coast vs. East Side with Danni judging in the middle. Megan and Naomi got theirs up first and left Molly and I struggling with the tent pegs of our rather archaic tent. The ground was full of rocks and there was no way to push a peg through. I took to the river and began collecting large boulder type rocks that Molly then would tie the tent ropes around to secure the tent to the ground and keep it from blowing away. And while Megan and Naomi won in putting up their tent, they were the first ones to take it down. They couldn't find the rain guard that went over it and Naomi's rain coat didn't fit over the opening. So they decided that they would be sleeping in the car. Since Megan drove all the way down to the sound Naomi took one for the team and slept behind the steering wheel.

Naomi and Danni started a rather impressive fire and while we were all quite tired from our long day of hiking we couldn't go to sleep because it was still light out. And it was 11pm. Finally, around midnight we were able to pile in the tent and get some sleep. Good thing the girls slept in the car because it rained all night and Molly, Danni, and I woke up in piles of water and bugs. Ugh. We frantically made our way to the car and decided that the only reasonable choice would be to go back home. We actually even thought about leaving the tent there and not going back outside to get it.

But we did get the tent and did make it back safetly. The label-less canned goods are still in our cupboard and I fear they will always be there, if nothing as conversation pieces, because we are all quite ashamed for even thinking that was a good idea.
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