Adventures of Frangipan

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Friday 20th April - Tuesday 24th April

Friday. Grateful of the four-hour work day after the crossing yesterday! Spent the afternoon reading and organising my trip, after grocery shopping. Then watched TV in the evening.

Saturday. Longer day, but still fairly easy - lots of services and not many full cleans. Schnapps in the evening, which was fine until some bitchy drunk girl pissed me off. I was almost ready to start snapping back at her.

Sunday. Worked until 3.30pm and felt like I was going to throw up all day. You guys wanted to know that right?! Schnapps was easy - last customers left at 8.30pm, so we closed up and then me, Spud, Ray and Chef had a "new veggie dish/pasta dish" taste test. There were about eight different options to try. As you can imagine, I was in veggie-pasta heaven. Ray's creation was the nicest.

Monday. Only two more weeks of work left! Cleaning only took 3 1/2 hours, and I spent the afternoon reading. I was in Schnapps until 10.45pm, but only because we didn't have a potwasher so me and Chef had to do it between us.

Tuesday. Another short day of work, and since Freddy didn't have much work either, we spent most of the afternoon chatting. Then we watched Shrek on DVD, and House which I haven't seen in weeks. And Zues came up with a new nickname for me: Frantastic!

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Thursday, 19 April 2007

Tongariro Crossing

The main, possibly only, reason people come to National Park Village in summer is to do the Tongariro Crossing: "the finest one-day walk in New Zealand". I've been here for six weeks, and finally, it's my turn!

Amazingly I was up and out of bed by 7am, with enough time for breakfast and coffee before the shuttle. The walk starts and ends in different locations, and the start is 7km off the road, so there are loads of shuttle buses available. Ours leaves at 7.45am, getting to the start of the track at 8.15am.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day for the walk. Barely a cloud in the sky, which meant it was freezing cold at times. The walk takes 6-8 hours, and there are two additional summit side trips you can take, from 1 1/2 hours to 3 hours. I walked the first stretch quickly, to ensure I would have enough time to go up Ngaruhoe should I want to. However, after the first uphill stretch, I decided it was best to conserve my energy for the rest of the walk proper (another 4 hours!), and not kill myself trying to get up one of the volcanoes!

On the way up, I could see all the way to Mt Taranaki on the west coast. I got great photos of Ngaruhoe, with its black and red soil, and steam coming off it. Then across the central crater, and to great views across to Desert Road on the east side of the crossing. The walk then turns north-easterly, and up again to Red Crater. The whole central crater onwards had a proper LOTR Mordor feel to it, except it was sunny! Red Crater was steaming too - half the people who made it into my photos are lost in all the steam!

After Red Crater is the highest point of the walk (1886m), followed by the really fun scree slope to slide down to the Emerald Lakes. I was surprised how few people knew the trick was to walk on your heels and go fast - loads of people were taking tiny steps are struggling really slowly (and I passed them all!).

So Emerald Lakes. Three incredibly green lakes, thanks to high mineral content and geothermal activity. Really beautiful colour, but kinda smelly! Then through another crater, to Blue Lake, where I stopped for lunch. Blue Lake is also self-explanatory, and also gets its colour thanks to the mineral content.

After Blue Lake is the long, quite boring walk down to Ketetahi Hut and then on to Ketetahi Roadend and the end of the walk. The views over to Lake Rotoaira, Lake Taupo and the surrounding countryside were fantastic though.

So I finished the walk at 2pm, and Cy wouldn't arrive until 4pm. It was at this point that I wished I'd brought a book! I managed to sleep for an hour, then woke up with pins and needles in one arm. Then I looked through all my (250) photos on my camera (not all from the walk! Since Cairns). Then I sat and waited. I kinda wished I'd taken the side trip at this point! Or at least slowed it down a little! I was actually about the tenth person to finish. If you don't count food breaks, I walked it in five hours. Very proud of myself!

After getting back to the lodge, showering and telling Freddy all about it, we got Cy to put his Lock, Stock DVD on for us. And after that, I slept very soundly!

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Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Beautiful Sunset

Worked until 1pm, went on the internet updating the blog, worked in Schnapps in the evening.

Nothing really of note today, except the beautiful sunset through the clouds. I mean really beautiful. Cars were pulling of the highway and stopping at the side of the road to take photos. I had my camera with me too, so got a few photos myself.

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Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Thursday 12th April - Tuesday 17th April

Thursday. Started at 10am, and finished by 3pm. Watched Ocean's Twelve, then in Schnapps by 6pm. Not busy but kept myself amused. Felt much better today than yesterday. There was a local business meeting in the back room which Spud and Ange were both in. Since no-one had cashed up the tills, I stuck around until they were done. Not all bad - watched CSI and had ice cream!

Friday. Seemed to motor through cleaning today. Then spent the rest of my afternoon/evening watching Scream, going to the shop, watching Madagascar, the end of Scream 2 and all of Scream 3. Also read some too. Dad text me today, and I tried calling him and Nain in the evening, but no reply at either.

Saturday. Woke up late today, just in time for work. Lots of rooms to clean, and more twats leaving their washing up for me. Zeus said he would make the beds today, but seemingly got bored after one, so I had to motor through the rest before people tried checking in. We had a DJ on in Schnapps tonight - local guy. I worked until 12 - Ange signed me off first because I was starting earliest in the morning. Chatted to Kyla for a while after finishing though, and home by 12.45am. Tried phoning Dad again - still no answer. Got Nain this time though, so chatted to her until about 1.30am.
Been feeling really homesick today. Don't know if it was the text from Dad that set it off, or not being able to get in touch with anyone yesterday, or whatever. But homesick. I miss family, friends, work, home, Denbigh, my car (RIP), my independence, my clothes, not having to clear up after people, not being stuck in the middle of nowhere, not worrying about money so much, my computer, my internet, dogs, horses, locals, familiarity.

Sunday. Another morning of not being able to wake up. Finished by 1.30pm today though, so I went down to The Station for lunch. Toasted sandwich with brie, tomato and avocado - delicious! And then a huge slice of carrot cake (yes, I'm getting fat!). I finished Issac Asimov, which although confusing, is still very clever. I've now started Deception Point. Watched Cassanova when I got back - didn't recognise Sienna Miller. Then went on the internet, and then CSI. Tried phoning Dad again, but still no reply. Homesickness has dissipated. I expect there'll still be a few days over this trip where I'll feel as bad as yesterday, but as I'm only 3 months into an 8-month trip, home still feels a long way off. Hopefully it'll get easier after the half-way point.

Monday. Brett called through my door at 8.30am and told me to stay in bed another hour. No argument here! Still struggled to get up by 10am! Worked until 2.30pm, then spent the afternoon reading, until Schnapps. It was quiet so Ray sent Terrilee and Aaron home at 7pm. We had a bit to do after that but nothing we couldn't handle. Had some American cowboys who've been over on a hunting trip. They kept calling me "ma'am", and one said the Speights Barmaid (tall glass cylinder you fill with beer, with a beer tap at the bottom, allowing people to serve themselves) was the best thing since nuclear fission!

Tuesday. Out of bed 15 minutes before work - the earliest since Friday at least! Worked until 2pm, then had lunch and read. Switched my days off, so I'm working Wednesday and doing the crossing on Thursday. Schnapps in the evening, fairly uneventful.

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Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Wednesday 4th April - Wednesday 11th April

Wednesday. Day off. Planned US trip stuff, booked my flight from Seattle to NYC on 3rd Sept. Worked in Schnapps in the evening. Not a lot to do. Got back to the lodge and watched Miss Congeniality 2 with Freddy.

Thursday. Big day today. After cleaning the lodge, the second two motel units needed cleaning ready to be used, since they only had an initial clean the other day. I was supposed to go to Ohakune with Dhruv tonight, but cancelled because of my long day of work. Can't say I was overly bothered - I'd been looking for an excuse to get out of it! So I had a leisurely evening of internet, TV and straightening my hair.

Friday. Easter weekend. Very busy, so Cy made the beds and I just did the cleaning. Finished by 2pm, then went over to the Easter sale at the ski shop. They're going to do me a deal on a five-day rental since I'll be working in the village. Back in the lodge I had the misfortune to be walking down the corridor while one couple were having loud sex. Wondered if maybe I should tell them the rooms weren't soundproof! In Schnapps by 6pm. NZ law says you can't drink on public holidays unless you're dining too, so we got to close the bar at 9.15pm, right after the kitchen closed. Yippee! Staff still stuck around until 11.30pm though. And the joke now is that I've applied for citizenship!

Saturday. Took a little longer than yesterday. Also discovered that the couple having loud sex were both girls. Unfortunately, today wasn't a public holiday, so work was really busy all night. There was a crowd in from Auckland who were good fun and stuck around til last orders. We had a few drinks after work, and ended up walking home at 2am. Fairly certain the Indian family who arrived today stole some of my teabags, so I put a big "FRAN" label on my shelf in the kitchen.

Sunday. Worked until 4pm today. Would've been less but for the twats who left me all their washing up. That put me in a stink of a mood. Then the family who were going into that unit were told they could just put their luggage in until I was finished. They translated this as 'please use the bathroom, kitchen and living room, and Fran can work around all seven of you'. I had to ask them to leave until I was finished. To put me in a good mood, there was a photo in the paper of a Bichon Frise who got a buzz cut for charity, and then I watched Harry Potter 4 and CSI in the evening.

Monday. Easter weekend ends! Just about every room needed cleaning, but Freddy was vacuuming and making beds today. The family from yesterday left me a horrific mess to clear up. I've had more fun clearing up sick! I was in Schnapps in the evening, which was quite busy, but everyone left by 9.15pm and we were all closed up by 10pm. Staff had drinks after that. Lots of drinks. Stupid drinks. Don't remember much after making my choice of shots, except trying to beat up Spud (my boss) and failing miserably! Don't remember getting home either.

Tuesday. There was some half-eaten toast in the kitchen this morning. Same type of bread as I eat. Don't remember making toast when I got in last night! Luckily I had a quiet day today, since I was really feeling the alcohol! Did my washing and went on the internet, then in Schnapps in the evening. Busy, but finished by 10pm. Still stuck around until 12.30am, which I regretted because it started raining and all my washing got wet.

Wednesday. Lazy day. Put my washing back on the line, but it rained all day on and off so it still wasn't dry. Surfaced around 1.30pm, after watching most of Alexander. More travel planning - East Coast USA. Schnapps was crap. Low morale and slow service. Spud and Ray were both off, and I get the feeling we need either one or both there to keep us up.

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Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Tuesday 27th March - Tuesday 3rd April

Tuesday. Worked until 3pm. Did my laundry. Spent the evening watching TV and reading. Freddy's mum was upset when she called home because she hadn't told anyone here that it was her birthday. Her mum made her promise she would tell someone, so she told me. I said I knew what it was like to be on the other side of the world and have no-one know it was your birthday, so I was glad she told me.

Wednesday. Day off. Had to get out of bed at 10am because it was raining and my washing was on the line. But I climbed back into bed and read for a while anyway. I spent the rest of the day going through the Lonely Planet, trying to determine where I would be going and how long I'd need in each place. Worked in Schnapps in the evening. Not hugely busy. Freddy and Marion came down for a couple of drinks, but they left before I'd finished, so I had a drink with the guys before Ray drove me home.

Thursday. Finished cleaning by 1.30pm today, and I was dragging it out. I watched The Wedding Crashers in the afternoon, ate far too much of the fudge I bought in Taupo, and did more trip-planning. I phoned Qantas to change my flights - I'm now leaving New Zealand on the 17th August, and flying to Los Angeles. In Schnapps in the evening. Not busy, but a lot of the locals came in later and were getting merry, Spud (the boss) included. I didn't finish til around 12, but it was fun. Spud loves me (mostly for me dancing to U2 behind the bar), and reckons I've got to be here in winter. Rick gave me a lift home around 1am, and I slipped on the wet floor as I walked to my door. Landed on my elbow and it really really hurt!

Friday. No-one had checked out by 9am, so I didn't start work until 10am. One guy decided the no-smoking rules didn't apply in the motel bathrooms and the place stank. Worked until 4pm, showered and read a bit before Schnapps. It was pretty quiet so I was finished by 9.30pm, and had a few drinks with Dhruv. I was back home by 12, and put the TV on waiting for the cricket, but fell asleep until 2am, when I decided it was best just to switch it off and go to bed!

Saturday. Worked 9am to 3pm. One couple apparently emptied all their rubbish with us before moving on. But it was too much effort to take their eight plastic bottles to the recycling box in the kitchen, so they left them for me in the room. This is the same couple who reversed their car 20 yards to load their rucksacks in, and insisted on filling the kettle to the top only to use one cup of water. And it wouldn't surprise me if it was one of them who cut their hair in the bathroom, or stuffed a whole apple down the in-sink-erator only for me to have to fish it out later. On the plus side, it appears the guys have a very cute cat which sat in the lounge all day today. And Spud found an article on the web about Llanelli rugby team getting through to the European finals. And I went to a house party after Schnapps and people recognised me!

Sunday. Struggled to wake up this morning, so I was quite grateful that I didn't need to start work until 10am. There was absolutely no-one here, so I got through all the cleaning undisturbed until 3pm, when the guests started arriving, as if on cue! Found out the cat is called Snotty. You can tell boys named her can't you?! Schnapps was fairly average. Dhruv asked if I wanted to go to Ohakune on my night off for pizza. We had the IRB sevens on the TV, and Wales did great to beat Argentina. Gonna have to start following sevens! Left around 11.15pm, and walked home. Dhruv was in Eivins and invited me for a drink. After about an hour he insisted on walking me home (100 yards away!) and decided to tell me that I was the reason he'd been in Schnapps for four nights running. Flattered, but just not interested. And very sneaky of him to tell me that after asking if I wanted to go to Ohakune!

Monday. Even less to do today than yesterday, but I had builders and electricians in my way, so had a 90 minute lunch break. Started a new book - Issac Asimov's Second Foundation. Having to read some paragraphs twice! Schnapps was average again, but Kyla (who works in Mt Ruapehu) got promoted today, so she was celebrating with some friends and a few bottles of bubbly. I had pizza for my dinner because they had some left over in Basekamp (Spud's other restaurant). It was delicious, but I ate it way too fast! Kyla invited me to celebrate with her, and Spud was talking about winter again. He wants me to come back for three months, but I can only do two. Need to talk about it when we're both sober though!

Tuesday. The next two upgraded motel units were ready for the Special task Force today, but Cy got Freddy onto that, so I just had to do the lodge. I'm getting really fed up of people's lack of common sense and manners. Simple things like putting pans and crockery back in the right place, or getting mud all over the bathroom within hours of it being cleaned. Some people just shouldn't be allowed out in public. In Schnapps, all of about 10 people came in. I was all finished with the bar closed down and doors locked by 9.30pm. When I got back to the lodge, Cy was struggling with his new website. I tried solving the problems, but only managed to half solve it.

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