Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Over the rainbow

The four-hour bus trip to Milford Sound was wonderful, but we decided to forego taking it in reverse at the end of the day. We splurged on an airplane flight back to Queenstown. The plane in question was slightly longer, but narrower, than a VW bus, and looked just about as sturdy. Five of us and the pilot squeezed in, and off we went. You can see Barb, slightly hysterical, with Michele, in this picture. She was in the first step of the process of overcoming her fear of flying.

We took off towards the Tazman Sea, and flew right over the fjord and the boat that we had been sailing upon. The clarity of the water became even more apparent. The only other place I have been that compares with this spot is Yosemite Valley, where the granite monoliths rise steeply from the valley floor. These peaks rise in a similar way from the fjord. But the length of the fjord and the height of the peaks seem to dwarf Yosemite's grandeur.

As we approached this waterfalls, we gasped and shouted and pointed, in awe of the size and power. It wasn't until we got this close that I realized there was a lake at the top of the falls. These high alpine lakes were pristine and unmarked by any sign of humans. There is a single hiking track that we could see from the plane. The rest of the area is quite untouched.

It started to rain as we approached Queenstown. The pilot took us to a lower altitude to avoid some turbulance. Suddenly, a rainbow appeared below us, and I just couldn't help it, I burst into song.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Milford Sound

I can with certainty say that our daylong visit to the Milford Sound was one of life's perfect days, a day that will resonate and be remembered and be savored for as many years as I am able. The sound's color was an exquisite blue and the clarity of the 1000-foot deep fjord expanded the dimension of the views.

The rainforest came down to the waterline with ferny delight. The waterfalls, minimal due to a two-week drought, still threw themselves gleefully over the edges high above, racing to the clear blue waters below.