New Zealand: Franz Josef

Dave and I drive south to Franz Josef playing “name that tune” using the 80s playlist on my iPod. It occurs to me that I haven’t yet told the saga of the iPod.

Five minutes before the cab was due to pick us up at our house and take us to the airport for our initial flight to Auckland, my iPod had a seizure. Maybe it freaked out because Dave switched users on the Mac while it was syncing. More likely, I probably lifted it from the cradle at some point while it was writing something important. At any rate, the iPod got wiped clean. Empty. Zero songs. Nada. And with a more-than-20Gb collection of music, there wasn’t even time for iTunes to figure out which songs needed to be added, let alone put anything back on there. I’d still be able to use the iPod to offload pictures from my camera, but I wouldn’t be able to try out the iTrip to play music in the car. I was devastated.

After the first week, I finally ran out of space on my camera, so I decided to dump the pictures onto the iPod. I attached the camera to the USB cable to the Belkin transferring thingy (thanks, Winsha!) to the iPod and pressed the button. For some time, the transferring is covered in flashing lights a la Close Encounters. Then it becomes quiet. I’m trying to see if it worked when I notice that the iPod is down more than 20Gb. The pictures wouldn’t be anywhere near that big, so I look at the menu. IT’S A MIRACLE! THE SONGS ARE BACK! THE IPOD HAS BEEN FAITH HEALED WITH THE LAYING ON OF BELKIN TRANSFERRING THINGY! WOO HOO!

Needless to say, Dave and I have been happily listening to music in the car ever since. (Or perhaps I should say that I’ve been happily listening to music, since I’m doing all of the driving, and thus get to choose the tunes.) Some of you might be interested to know that the iTrip works like a charm here, since the radio station density is really, really low. (Thanks, Jack!) (For the iTrip, not the low radio station density, which AFAIK he isn’t directly responsible for.)

Back to the driving. Couple of interesting observations. One, NZers feel pretty comfortable with multi-use bridges. There are positively scads of one lane bridges (which are fine as long as you understand the yield rules). More nerve-wracking were the railroad trestles. These handle cars in both directions as well as trains (presumably in both directions). I’m not quite sure of the rule here, but common sense says traffic of all kinds is going to yield to any train that gets anywhere near the thing. Yikes. At least you don’t have a moment of concerns about weight limits when 3 or 4 cars pile on at the same time.

Another observation. A cow crossing sign shows a cow’s silhouette on a yellow diamond. A pedestrian crossing sign shows the silhouette of two people on a yellow diamond. But a sheep crossing sign shows the silhouette of a sheep on an orange diamond, as if to suggest that the warning is actually to indicate “sheep at work”. I know sheep are important to the economy here, but are they actually responsible for doing road work? How do they operate the machinery?

Another observation. A “wh” in a Maori word is typically pronounced like “f”, but (based on regional differences) can be pronounced like “w”. It’s confusing. When we pass Whataroa, Dave summed up the difficulties with “We’ve reached ‘wataroa’. Or ‘fataroa’. Or whatever the wuck it is.”

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we’re taking a helicopter up to the top of Franz Josef glacier to hike around. If you don’t hear from us again, send up one of those St. Bernards with the barrel of rum.

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