We don’t get to take very many trips, which is fine with me, being a homebody, but ever since May we’ve been planning to go to the West Coast while Mom is here. Gayle has a very hard time getting permission to take time off from work, even though he is legally entitled to it, so we were excited a couple of months ago when his request for a week right now was finally approved—after waiting three or four months for his boss to make the decision! We borrowed a neighbor’s pop-top camper again, and Wednesday morning last week packed it and the van with all we thought we’d need for a week of camping, and then took off!
We made it across the range of hills directly to the west of us, and passed through the little village of Waiau, then crossed the Waiau River on this long one-lane bridge. It’s a good thing it has a passing bay in the middle, as someone was coming toward us and had to pull off for us to pass!
We saw snow on the high peaks as we drove toward the mountains, and then as we got closer could see that it was snowing at that moment, up high! When we reached the top of the pass, there was actually snow on the ground! We haven’t seen snow up close for over two years, so we stopped a few minutes to let the boys check it out. Our youngest had never touched snow, and he was thrilled. His biggest brother was very happy to help him investigate this new stuff.
When we reached Reefton, we could tell something was different from home—we smelled coal smoke in the air! Apparently, that’s what people heat with there. We saw a coal mine near the township (village), and a train of coal cars on a siding.
Soon, we were driving along the Buller River. There is a pretty wild gorge that the river, and the road, go through. One place, a road had to be carved out of the cliff. As you can see, there is only one lane! Quite the engineering feat.