BLUFF, NEW ZEALAND. The end of the road.

Bluff is a venerable place for New Zealand. Probably the first place settled by whites. Yet it sits in the farthest of the South Island, just buttressed from being last stop before Antarctica by the small, wild Stewart Island. You can get a taste of remoteness here. Most Kiwis have never visited the place.

Bluff has been considerably more prosperous than now. Invercargill 50 miles up the road has captured most of the action. Groupings of no longer used commercial buildings speckle the small downtown facing the commercial wharf. The winds of the Southern Ocean make Bluff a bedraggled sort of place: cold, tattered. But it remains famous for the wild Bluff Oyster and to a lesser extent blue cod, fisheries.

The Foveaux Hotel echoes some art deco touches in the town. The name is taken from the Strait between the South Island and Stewart Island.

Old Bar or Resto?
Window in defunct marine engineering works
Denton Motors Ltd.
Revitalization downtown
Old Housing Facing the Wharf
Old Commercial Building
The wharf for ocean going ships
We missed it. Would have LOVED to go.
Good Deal.

Some artists have made a home here. Clever statuettes all on a theme.

It’s supremely difficult to revitalize large old commercial buildings and make it economically viable. Cheers for trying.

Wall Mural showing the good old days

Gentle Annie’s

Way up on the remote west coast of New Zealand. Not to far from the end of the road. Gentle Annie’s is a long beach at the mouth of the Mokihinui River. The beach ends at Gentle Annie’s point…a rocky mass of erosional features. This place is cold, windy, fairly wild, and magnificent.

The Tasman Sea is wild, even on a sunny, mild day
but when the weather hits…
A tough place
And a lonely place
Full of driftwood from who knows where
And big fellas beneath the sea (photo by Vivian)
With Massive Moods
And peaceful quiet
The New Zealand Westlands are amazing

Cisco, Utah

Another in my series of almost, semi-, and partially ghost towns. Cisco, Utah is off Utah route 128, coming from Moab towards Interstate 70. Once a bustling cattle town and then railroad town, it was bypassed when I 70 was built, and when railroads didn’t need as many section towns as they once did. Not particularly good country for making a living otherwise. So it bakes in the hot sun. And freezes in winter cold. At least three films have used the desolation for background, most notably Thelma and Louise. And it is NOT a ghost town because at least one house is permanently occupied. And the inhabitants rightly don’t appreciate the taggers, graffiti artistes, and just plain juveniles who attempt to trash whatever seems free to do so. I don’t blame them. I stayed on the main road to photograph and showed the proper respect. I hope others will too.

This has got be original. The squared logs are amazing. Note the sod roof.

Wharariki Beach, New Zealand

WHARARIKI BEACH, NZ

One of the best ever beaches for exploring that I’ve found anywhere. Wharariki Beach is near the far northwest point of New Zealand’s South Island. After driving 153 Km winding miles from Nelson, over the Takaka Hills, and further along the coast of Golden Bay, you eventually run out of paved road. Carry on for at least 6 more Kilometers of gravel road, past the turn off for Cape Farewell, and you’ll arrive at the parking area. Now its a 20-30 minute hilly hike through sheep country, back dune forests and then deep sand.

And it is worth it. Wharariki Beach is totally undeveloped. There are 4 Archway Islands barely offshore from this extensive beach. Just a few sunbathers/swimmers, and all forms of coastal exploration available from caves and arches, through fascinating conglomerate rock layers, to baby (and adult) seals, not to mention pure white sand dunes, and native forest on the back dunes. The wind blows in from the Tasman Sea which means no bugs. The place is brilliant.

Archway Islands


The south end of the beach is a maze of arches and caves. You have to be careful when the tide is coming in, like here.
These 2 Islands are the stars of the Beach. Massive with arches as well. I couldn’t stop from taking pics.
The shoreline rocks are pitted with some large caves. Cool refuges on a hot day.
When we were there, the largest cave was being used by a ballroom dancing group. Perhaps an incongruous site for the activity, but they were enjoying their Sunday far from the crowds.
The dunes are pure white and towering.
Local seal. Long lens kept me far enough away to be non-intrusive.
Large shoreline Arch. Had to do the limbo through a smaller arch on the extreme right to get beyond to rock pools. (Watercolor treatment via Topaz Studio.)
The wind doesn’t stop often here. These back dune trees show some effects of that.
Walking back was hot and steep. in some parts the trees shaded the trail.
Then open trail across the Department of Conservation-run Puponga farm. The terrain is dramatic.

Dragon Boats Wellington NZ

We were in Wellington NZ Feb 23 this year and wandered down to the harbour. Luckily the Dragon Boat Festival Fun Day was in action. Wellingtonians have a harbour they can use, at least when the wind isn’t howling. One thing I like about New Zealand, among many, is the widespread participation in sport. In the pictures you will see you and old, male and female, pounding across the harbour in their dragon boats.

The person at the front is the drum, the back person is the sweep or oarsman. There are typically twenty paddlers. Never really watched before.

Barkerville

At the end of the road. Old Gold Mining Town that lives again. Very well done. Using original buildings and authentic recreations. A must-see in British Columbia.

Main Street
Mass Transit
Anglican Church

Dentist Lying

Log home
Chinatown.
School
Ornate Safe in the Assay Office

Vivian, South Dakota

Vivian is a small town, like Belvidere, on the South Dakota plains. We diverted there in September largely because Vivian is my wife’s name. The town, like almost all smaller places, is clearly suffering from rural depopulation. Services have been captured by larger places and concentrated there. Once a place loses its school, post office, active grain elevator, church, and store…then it has lost most of the structural components of community. The inhabitants must struggle uphill to keep there sense of place, of home. The town becomes just a collection of houses.
Vivian is clearly struggling. There are positive signs, flowers in the streets, a tiny museum, a newish cafe. But still most of the few active commercial enterprises are outside of town on the local county highway. Hopefully, the home of the Bearcats continues to be a vibrant community.
Unused tracks at the end of the main street
Once the Fire Department..
weekday afternoon
Museum

Belvidere, South Dakota

Defunct store Belvidere SD HDR 1898 -2Junk cars Belvidere SD 1916-2Workshop tree Belvidere SD HDR 1902 -2Meat Market Belvidere SD clarity 1900Stream lined trailer Belvidere SD 1919-2Collapsing House Belvidere SD 1915-2Upstairs window 1915DSC_1922On our 16,000+ Kilometer (10,000 miles) trip this summer, we came back through South Dakota. Like almost all rural places, the tiny towns of the Dakota plains have been hit hard through the years. Their purpose long taken over by a few bigger towns or cities. I have an affinity for these sad places. Belvidere is only one. I don’t choose it to make light; it is merely one of the many we visited. There is an archeology of hope and dreams and Belvidere is rich in the artifacts of lost community life.

Some Mushrooms and Lichens of the Northern Boreal Forest

The variety of these life forms in the Yukon and Northern British Columbia Forests was eye opening. I’m neither an expert, nor a collector. I just love wandering in the bush staring down at my feet. Later I try to research what I’ve seen. Some are extremely interesting. The orange lichen with the little black dots was about 1/3 hand size. Above that the yellow and green  colours of the lichen were eye-opening. The pink dots are called fairy barf! Really! I call the big white one a bottle cap mushroom, and the lower red ones are obviously boob mushrooms (although I think they are Mycena haemoptus). On a slightly related salacious theme, the small mossy picture shows numerous little erect mushrooms….thousands of them.

This was early to mid September. Early autumn. Ran across a couple looking for ‘shrooms, ie. psilocybin or psychedelic mushrooms. I have no idea if I saw any or not. I think they thought I was lying.

The Northern Rockies’ Route

Snow covered mountain II

Mid September first snow

Toad River

Toad River

Folded Mountain

Folding from mountain building

 

Muncho Lake

Muncho Lake

entering more mountains 1103

Beautiful drive…just amazing

Northern Lights

Northern Lights at Liard Hot Springs. Not a good pic cause it was handheld, and I was freezing. See, I got out of bed around 1 AM and looked outside. Then I ran outside wearing, well, very little. Not awake enough to grab tripod and other necessaries.  Stayed outside 20 minutes, shivering but totally into those Lights. You can never see them often enough.

In northern British Columbia, the Alaska Highway is route 97. It traverses the Northern Rockies which are, almost entirely, true wilderness.Wildlife everywhere..we saw Dahl’s sheep, caribou, bear, bison and mule deer. One of the most amazing roadtrips in the world. The Rockies section starts at Watson Lake, Yukon and ends at Fort Nelson, BC.