Since learning I would be losing my day job, stress has been an infrequent visitor in my life. Sure, there's the ever-present uncertainty about the future, but nothing of the "things could go really wrong really soon" type stress that occasionally comes with corporate life.
Kylie and I drove from Queenstown to Glenorchy one morning, and out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a ruined pier jutting out into Lake Wakatipu. I made a mental note to stop and photograph it on the way back, but by then the rain had come so I just continued on back to Queenstown.
So, later in the afternoon, when the weather had cleared, I decided to head back out and try again. While it may look like a pretty serene photo, it was responsible for one of the most stressful afternoons in my recent life.
When I jumped in the car, noticed that the fuel gauge was a little low, but figured it would be enough to get me there and back.
Turns out the location was a little further along the road than I remembered. And just as I finished up and got back in the car, the fuel light came on. So here I was, on a winding, narrow road with no real shoulder, with no phone, and at least 30km between me and the nearest service station.
I had no idea of the fuel range in the unfamiliar 2006 Toyota Corolla rental car, so I've never driven so conservatively in my life - smooth around the corners, coasting down the hills, gentle acceleration up the hills. At the 10km out of town mark, my thoughts turned to "well, it's not too far to walk now, but Kylie will start wondering where I am."
I made it to Queenstown, but of course, the nearest fuel is a few kilometres on the other site of the town centre. So, I gingerly drove through town keeping an eye on potential places to pull over. I made it in the end, pulling into the service station just as Queen's "You're My Best Friend" came on the radio. I think I was down to the final 2 litres.
Totally worth it.
In 24 hours at Milford Sound, we experienced just about every mood that this magical place offers.
After the long drive from Queenstown, we arrived to a blue-sky, t-shirt weather afternoon, but within a few hours, the clouds had come down the valley and winds picked up, giving us a taste of the moody, primordial Milford Sound.
The rain settled in for the evening, but then we awoke to more blue sky, and Milford shone like a jewel for our cruise around the fiord.
It was cold, it was raining, it was misty.
But you kind of feel like you should see as many glaciers as you can while you still can, you know?
I've been in New Zealand for the last two weeks, touring from Auckland in the north, down to Milford Sound, staying in a different place just about every night. We spent two nights in Queenstown, and are now back for one more night before flying home.
What an amazing, spectacular, awe-inspiring landscape.