Road trip, Milo Style! Last weekend we drove up to the St James area, Lewis Pass in the Southern Alps. Milo’s happy to do the road trip if he can watch Sesame Street on the Ipod whilst sucking his chewie. We’re a little chagrined that our 3 year old still wants his “dummie,” as they call it here, but parental embarrassment is a small price to pay for a quiet happy car ride.
I don’t like our 4-wheel-drive Isuzu Bighorn. The diesel is smelly, its uncomfortable, and starts unreliably. But I’ll have to admit that our sleek little VW Golf wouldn’t have hacked it over the road we took to get to the remote St James Cycleway along the Waiau River.
This is a particularly well-formed section of the road, near the pass.
The St. Jame Conservation area is 193,000 acres of public conservation area for our enjoyment, just one of the many public areas for outdoor adventures. it was a working cattle/sheep station until the Gov’t purchased it in 2008 to have as conservation land. now it is open to trampers-a 5 day 40 mile loop and a separate 2 day-33mile mt bike track. We only touched a small portion of the cycleway, many more valleys to explore here!
Here “she” is strutting her stuff while fording a little stream. Though why boats and cars and trucks are feminine is beyond my power to logic. Someone once suggested that it’s because they’re expensive and high maintenance. I wasn’t quite bold enough to give him the dope slap he deserved. Jeremiah’s wearing a silly grin as he surveys the scenery available to the manly owners and operators of 4wd vehicles like his own. Even Milo like the green car, because “its really tough”
No motorized vehicles beyond this point, so our friend Carrie and I put our babies on our backs while they guys put the remaining gear into their packs and hopped on their bikes for the trip into Lake Guyon.
Here we are, four adults and three kids. The guys planned this gentle family trip, a flat track milo could walk/ride. 7 kilometers down the mountain bike track sits a small mountain lake full of trout. On the edge of the lake sits a 4 bunk DOC hut. Surrounding hills are full of deer, wild pigs, and sand flies. What more could a man want?
Milo did great on his little balance bike, and he was proud to be riding like the dads. A couple renditions of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff,” some strategically metered jelly beans, and this rugged little balance bike got Milo to the hut entirely on his own leg power. We were extremely surprised he made it all by himself, Jeremiah brought the trailer only because he was expecting to haul Milo in a majority of the way. Next time the trailer will be staying home. Time to put a set of panniers on Milo’s bike and have him carry his own gear!
Here’s my little bundle!
“Look at me, I’m a big strong boy!” The turn-off to the side valley with the hut meant we were almost there.
Bravo Jeremiah and Milo, you’ve made it to the hut!
For some strange reason, the hut’s one and only small window doesn’t face the lake. But it had a working wood stove and 4 functional bunks. We also set up our two tents for extra sleeping quarters.
Milo spent much of his first day plunking rocks into the lake, endless amusement for kids throughout the ages.
A wood stove and a one-year-old isn’t a particularly good combination, but we managed to keep all children burn-free and the hut warm.
Milo was a hand-full in the small space, but here Ben is playing a game of Uno to help keep the peace. Stella’s first night camping was “a bit average,” to use a Kiwi term. That actually doesn’t mean middle-of-the-road at all. She awoke crying in the tent every 2o minutes for the entire night, and by morning poor Carrie was shattered. Somehow Ben convinced her to try it again for a second night (in the hut this time), and thankfully things went much better.
Ah, those elusive fish! This river had a bridge so Milo did his best to scare the fish upstream toward daddy by tossing rocks over the railing, but to no avail.
Lake Guyon is full of trout, but they were educated little buggers. They’d swim up to the lure, take one look, and reject it as a fake.
Ben is addicted to fly fishing. The evening we walked in he just had to stop at the lower end of the lake, 10 minutes before the hut, to try some casts as the wind was perfect to land the flies out on the water. The small detail that he had his family’s food and gear in his bag and that it was nearly supper time escaped his notice.
Sweet success at last. Apparently the trick with fly fishing is to figure out what the fish are eating at that present time in that body of water, then pull out of your extensive set of flies the fake that looks most life-like. Ben tried the dragonfly larvae lure and that was the ticket. Milo was concerned that the gutted fish was still moving, apparently not dead yet. I would have been too.
Passage into The Hood (manhood) has begun, and I’m watching with concern as my son is indoctrinated into the hunting and fishing guild. Will Naomi be next?
Our second night at the lake it rained a gentle soaking rain all night. Naomi and I shared this tent, enjoying the soothing patter and the improbably dry spot underneath the paper-thin tent fly.
Here we are, cozy in our tiny little efficiency tent. Still, I’m glad we didn’t have to spend a full rainy day cooped up in there. The first day I took Naomi and walked up the hill next to the lake–quiet and solitude, it was lovely. That night the rain started and continued through until morning, but thankfully stopped during breakfast for our walk out.
The extra puddles were a bonus for Milo on the way out–he moved from puddle to jelly-bean stop to the next puddle all the way to the end of the track.
Whee, fording a stream on the balance bike!
A pit stop to scan the valley slopes for wildlife turned up two deer. After many stern warnings of how tardiness back at the cars would annoy the womenfolk, the guys set out to chase those poor creatures.
They succeeded, and luckily caught up to us at the cars just 10 minutes after we arrived. Look at those grins. “Me strong hunter!” “Ug, me Man!” Right. As much as I don’t understand the rise they get from a successful hunt, I know it’s a real phenomenon, and I’m thankful for the meat in the freezer.