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Ellen McCallie's Diary

Photo: the glacierDay 3: Rest Day

The flight on the way over was decent, very good as flights go. It took several hours to get to Phoenix, then an hour to LA. I got in at 11 am and my flight out to Auckland wasn't until 9:45 pm, so I caught a public bus to see a bit of LA.

Back at the airport I whisked through Customs without problem and sat down at a restaurant for a dinner of nachos with everything. A couple hours later I saw Kate and part of the crew wandering by. I whistled and ducked. It was good to see them.

Kate and I sat together on the flight. Arriving in Auckland was uneventful until we tried to transfer our luggage to our Christchurch flight after clearing Customs.

We were on the ground in Christchurch by 8:15 am. The hotel rooms weren't ready so we had our third breakfast in the hotel. Wonderful omelets. To stay awake Kate, Kathy and I ran to the Christchurch Botanic Garden, which doubles as a public park. I love small scale, well thought out gardens. Very manageable and beautiful. The Missouri Botanical Garden has used this concept as we have continued to grow and add more specialty gardens. I already miss my daily walks through the gardens.

By 3:30 pm we were really dragging. It was also heading toward sunset. Back in my hotel room I was dying to sleep so I set the alarm and slept an hour, before getting up for dinner out with the entire gang. The tastiest, most amazing calamari ever. Maybe it's like this all over New Zealand.

We gathered the next morning at 7:45 am to load the bus for an eight-hour ride crossing from the east to the west coast of New Zealand's South Island. It started off quite flat with perfectly square paddocks with sheep, deer or ostrich. We got into hill country and were soon up our first mountain pass. Everyone drives so slow. We passed glacier-fed lakes with perfectly still water, beautiful reflections of the green hills.

By 4 pm we were checked into "Tree Lodges" in Franz Park, South Island, New Zealand. They are brand new — still smell of paint. Our first meeting with the production crew was this evening, a toast to Rough Science 3 actually. Then out for pizza. This town is four blocks long and two wide, plus a national park visitor center down the way. Lots of trails, plus the place we are staying has a sauna with water to pour over rocks. This may work — yoga, sauna, running if we ever get back before dark — enough stress and tension relievers to keep us all going for six weeks. Plus, it is a tourist town, so it isn't like we've descended on a tight-knit community that isn't unused to the presence of outsiders.

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Photo: Ellen McCallie
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