Friday, March 5, 2010

The Road to Dunedin

That's the view from our balcony in Queenstown, looking out over Lake Wakatipu at the mountains known as the Remarkables. We had a lazy day and a half here (OK, we being LK and me; Jaki and Robert went for a very vigorous walk), and this morning it was time to pack up the Rav4 one more time and head to Dunedin.

First stop was not too far from town. The Cheesery at Gibbston Valley had done a fair amount of promotion, and we were ready to try their wares. They promised a variety of cheese styles and a combination of cow, goat and sheep's milk cheeses. (Whenever I think of that, I always have this mental picture of a barn full of sheep with little mini-milking machines attached. Although the option - thinking about someone whose job is to milk the wooly little buggers - isn't much better.)

It's good that we're leaving soon because they offered tastings of about six types and each was fantastic. As it is, we got three different kinds but in small portions. It was only last year that my doctor told me my cholesterol numbers were good. "But that doesn't mean you can start eating cheese again," he said. I didn't bother to tell him that I never stopped.

Our next stop was about 20 minutes down the road, when we pulled into the Clyde Dam Overlook. From the car we could see that we were, indeed, overlooking a dam. And we could also see that there really wasn't anything interesting to look at, either.

The only good thing is that Robert started the ball rolling by making a joke using the word "dam". Then LK, then Jaki. OK, maybe even me. Pretty lame stuff, I suppose, but that's what happens when you've all been driving for days on end and getting a bit loopy. Mind you, my joke was dam good, not like the others.

After that, we hightailed it to Ranfurly, a city that is known for two things: 1) it is the largest settlement in the Maniototo district of Otago, New Zealand and 2) every year in February it has a festival to celebrate the town's heritage of art deco architecture.

Now, to put things into perspective I probably need to tell you that 1) its population is about 1,000 and 2) it has perhaps three buildings that kind of, more or less, are art deco unless you also count places like the accountant who put up a sign with art deco lettering. I can only surmise that the February festival is more about having a party than actually celebrating the two or three buildings they have. I suspect it is so popular that the town's population actually swells to 1,200 during the week.

The scarcity of art deco buildings was pretty disappointing because we were looking forward to seeing an interesting place and it didn't turn out that way. Well, I should say that is true for the others and not for me.

While they were wandering around the shops (all two of them) and otherwise searching for art deco buildings, I went down the block a ways and found culture - a statue dedicated to John Turnbull Thomson, chief surveyor of Otago in the mid 19th century and eventually Surveyor General of New Zealand.

Judging from his statue, I have to believe that he was also on steroids and spent the first three hours of the day working on his upper body. Or perhaps that is a statue done in the art deco style.

After that, we took the road to Palmerston, where we turned onto the highway to shoot down to Dunedin. It was uneventful.

Unless you count this. I guess the only real surprise is that it wasn't sheep:

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