A cat and a witch on a mission

I can’t remember now how it came up in conversation, but a while back lytteltonwitch and I discovered that neither of us had ever been over Danseys Pass. Which was all the excuse we needed to plan a trip over there for Show Weekend.

As seems to be all too common lately, I was nowhere near organised for the trip, so Thursday night saw me sitting up until the small hours labelling books (and I still didn’t get them all done), and I completely forgot to recharge my phone. But by the time lytteltonwitch arrived early on Friday morning I was ready enough, so we set off south.

We wanted to have as much time as possible to explore the pass, so we were determined not to stop before Oamaru. And we almost managed it – we had a quick stop at Rakaia to release books (The Women’s Room by Marilyn French and Dance With Death by Jean Ure), of course (the Rakaia fish is a compulsory stop on all our trips south, it’s such a great location for catches), then a stop in Timaru where my brother wanted me to pick something up for him from a shop, and one *small* detour to Waimate for lunch (remembering the great roast lamb we’d had last time – and we weren’t disappointed, it was just the same time-warp, with the same fabulous time-warp prices: a full roast lamb dinner, plus “pud” all for $11!). I left Felicia’s Journey by William Trevor in the tea-rooms, and Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde and The Haunting of Sophie Bartholomew by Elizabeth Lindsay on statues.

But for us we made very good time, so once we turned off from the highway after Oamaru we had plenty of time for a bit of exploring. We spotted a name on the map that amused us, Five Forks, so took a route that would lead us through it. The “town” turned out to be a school, community hall, church, and about 2 houses, with no sign of any forks of the cutlery, road, or river variety. We left some books behind anyway 🙂 (Crowded House by Tom Bradley)

The next stop was Livingstone, just before the start of the Danseys. Lytteltonwitch went in search of a geocache in the cemetery, while I took (hopefully) atmospheric photos of the old graves (expect several more to appear in my next NoNo entry). She didn’t find the cache, but she did discover that hawthorn trees are quite spiky, and not much fun to crawl around under. Memento Mori by Muriel Spark seemed the obvious book to release.

Then we left the tarseal behind, and headed up the narrow dirt road over the pass. It wasn’t nearly as bad as we were expecting, and there were only a couple of scary moments – one when lytteltonwitch pulled over to let the Rural Delivery van pass, and when she pulled back onto the road almost ran into a motorbike that had appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

At the top of the pass there was another geocache, which we passed before lytteltonwitch realised, so she stopped a couple of hundred metres down the hill. There wasn’t a lot of room to pull over, but she parked as far off the road as possible, and we ran back up the hill (ending up having a race, which I won!!! I was totally shocked to beat the super-fit lytteltonwitch!) to look for the cache. As we were looking, a BMW came past, and we got some nasty looks from the driver when he saw where we’d parked. We started to walk back down to the car to move it for him, but he was obviously in a hurry, and squeezed his way past anyway then roared off down the hill.

We followed a couple of minutes later, and got a dreadful shock when we came around a corner and saw the car I posted a photo of yesterday, teetering on the edge of the cliff. My first thought was that it was the BMW that had passed us (it wasn’t), and my second was “there’s going to be someone seriously injured, hope I remember my first aid training!”. We stopped and leapt out to check the car, but there was nobody in it. There was still luggage and stuff in the back seat, so we assumed the driver must have got out ok, but was too scared to risk going back for his stuff. We could see from the tyre tracks over the skid marks on the dirt road that we were only the third vehicle to come past since the accident, so it must have only just happened, and we hoped one of the other vehicles had stopped to pick the driver up, but I was a bit concerned that he could have been in shock and wandered off, and that’s not good country to get lost in.

There was nothing we could do though, so we decided we’d just contact the police when we got back to civilisation and make sure someone had reported the accident. We did take lots of photos though – I mean, it’s not every day you see something like that – it looked just like a scene from a movie!

We were going to stop at the Danseys Pass Hotel for a look around, but it was closed for a wedding. We were going to ask them if they knew anything about the accident, but the BMW people were there, and gave us such a dirty look (and we overheard them saying something to the other guests about bad parking) that we chickened out and left.

We did though stop in Naseby, and after discovering there’s no police station there, we went into a café and asked the owner if she could ask around. She rang the fire chief, who told her they knew about the accident, the driver was safe, and they were sending a truck up to tow the car back onto the road. So, our civic duty done, we relaxed in front of the fire and admired the artwork (and a very impressive slice of spiced apple cake!). And naturally left behind a few books: Flowering Wilderness by John Galsworthy, and The Big Country by EV Timms.

Then followed a case of major miscommunication. I rang my brother to let him know we were almost in Alexandra, and to see what the plans for the evening were, because I knew they were going away for the weekend, so that night would really be my only chance to see them. He asked were we going to Dad’s for dinner, so I assumed he meant that’s what they were doing, and agreed we’d go there.

We stopped off at Mum’s place to say hi and drop off our bags before going back out to Dad’s for dinner, and then discovered that it was Stepfather’s birthday (I probably should have known that, but I have enough trouble remembering my immediate family’s birthdays, let alone all the Steps), and Mum was expecting us all there for dinner. Brother and family turned up, and brother said he was surprised when I’d said we were going to Dad’s – well why didn’t you say so on the phone then???? It was too late by then to cancel going to Dad’s, so I got about 5 minutes to see my nephews before we had to leave for Omakau. Grrrr!

Anyway, we had a really nice dinner at Dad’s, even if it was accompanied by watching the netball 🙂

We had plans to get away early the next morning to go down to Invercargill, but by the time we had a leisurely breakfast and gossip with Mum, and then popped in to see my brother’s new house before they left for Ranfurly (and Nephew #1 showed me all his new toys and explained in great detail which Exoforce Lego robots he does and doesn’t have (hmm, hinting for Christmas much?)), then stopped off at the photography shop for an extra memory card for my camera, and the Sports Depot to release Learn Golf Backwards by Reg Knight and A Qui
ver Full of Arrows
by Jeffrey Archer
, it was late morning before we got on the road, so we didn’t have time for any geocaching or much bookcrossing on the way down. Our only stops were at Gorge Creek, where there is a memorial to the gold miners (Digging Up the Mountains by Neil Bissoondath), and at the Roxburgh dam so I could release Electricity by Victoria Glendinning in front of the sub-station.

In Invercargill lytteltonwitch somehow managed to find otakuu’s place, despite leaving the map behind (Master 11 standing out on the street waving to us was a good clue that we were in the right place, though 🙂 ). It was great to see otakuu again, and (despite having a cold) she was looking much better than last time we saw her. That didn’t last long, though, because when I handed over the hug box she was quickly reduced to tears! I’m not surprised, considering the wonderful treasures she was pulling out of the box – she really does have a fabulous group of friends. (I’ll post pictures later – they’re on my computer at home)

After exploring the hug box and exclaiming over the contents, we sent the kids away to a neighbour and took otakuu off for the afternoon. In search of food, places to release books, and things to photograph, we found all three in the museum, which has a much better café than most I’ve been to. I released Homecoming by Belva Plain (a bit of an in-joke of a themed release – although I was born in Dunedin, I was conceived in Invercargill) in the café, and The Bird Smugglers by Joan Phipson on a couple of stuffed penguins. Then we went for a stroll around the gorgeous Queen’s Park gardens, releasing books as we went: For Love of a Rose by Antonia Ridge and Blood Red Rose by Maxwell Grant in the rose gardens; The Twisted Playground by Bryan Forbes and The Slide Area by Gavin Lambert in the playground; The Italian Garden by Susan Moody on a statue; and Three Sea Stories by Jean Watson on some old anchors in front of the museum.

We’d promised to be back in Alexandra for dinner, because Stepfather was barbequing, but stopping for a cup of tea back at otakuu’s meant we left Invercargill much later than planned (though when I texted Mum to let her know we were running late she said it had been such a hot day up there they weren’t planning on eating until late anyway, so it wasn’t a problem). We stopped at Gore to leave books (A View of Vultures by Alan Scholefield) on the giant fish, seeing as the Rakaia fish has been so good to us, and tried to find a sign we’d seen on the way down (but didn’t have time to stop and photograph) advertising “Jones Dag Crushing, dags crushed to order”, but couldn’t find it again.

To be continued… (and NoNo pics to follow when I get a chance to sort them out)

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