Friday, July 19, 2019

Photo Friday: South Island Road trip, Part I

Still working my way through the photos from our time in New Zealand! Back in late February, we did a trip from Christchurch down the east coast of South Island all the way to Invercargill, then up to Te Anau, the launching point for our Milford Track tramp. I've picked a few highlights from the trip south, into an area that gets a lot less attention than many parts of the island. We weren't sure what we'd find, but we found more than enough to fill our 4 days

Oamaru: Steampunk HQ
This trip included not only our 21-y.o. son, but a friend of his as well (I'll call him Friend B). It was in part with the boys in mind that we planned a visit to Steampunk Headquarters. We didn't regret it.
At the entrance. Kind of a Mad Max feel.
 Out back there were a lot of interesting machines welded together from stray parts and a lot of imagination.
Definitely a Mad Max feel.
 One of the fun things was the Metagalactic pipe organ, which played sounds picked up from around the universe when the keys were pressed.
Friend B playing the organ. In a way, I was sorry the pipes weren't hooked up!

Moeraki Boulders
These spherical rocks are concretions of Paleolithic mudstone. I'll let you look it up yourself if you want more specifics about how that worked, but the result is fascinating spheres that have eroded out along the beach by Moeraki, like giant dragon eggs.
As you can see, they are near to hatching. 
This one hatched, but the baby dragon was long gone.

Dunedin--the Otago Peninsula
Dunedin town was mostly a place to spend the night, though it's an attractive setting and if we'd had more time, a bit of an explore of NZ's most Scottish city would have been fun! The real attraction for us was the Otago Peninsula, renowned for wildlife and spectacular beaches.

Allen's Beach was justly renowned for being a glorious expanse of beach. We had to walk wide around the occasional seal or sea lion.
Eldest Son looking small in the vast expanse of sky and sand.
In other places, the kelp clings like a hula skirt to the rocks.
Sandfly Beach was another noted for the sand, surf, and seals.
A nice breeze kept the namesake insects from being nasty.
We drove up Sandymount, between Allen's Beach and Sandfly Beach, for great views of the area.

A two or three mile hike around the Sandymount took us to various scenic features, like this arch dubbed "Lovers' Leap."

We eventually continued our journey south, stopping not far along to admire the Nugget Point lighthouse.

It's fully automated now, but I'd assume someone still needs to polish the lenses.

The Catlins (Cathedral Caves, McLean Falls, Petrified Forest, Slope Point)
The Catlins is the farthest-south region of South Island, encompassing both the Catlins Forest Park and some amazing coastline with a few hidden gems. We stayed two nights in Fortrose so we could spend an entire day exploring. Since at least two stops were dependent on the tides, we had to time things carefully.

Cathedral Caves are aptly named, as the sea-caves have vast vaulted ceilings. Openings are accessible only for a couple hour each side of low tide, so visitation is concentrated.
Openings of two of the caves, which connect farther back in.
 The cliffs are limestone, which lends itself well to cave formation.
Eldest Son and Friend B rounding the point to look for more caves (they found them).
Some of the cracks didn't look promising, but led far back under the cliffs.
Eldest Son disappears into the depths.
Go toward the light!
As this post has become terribly long, I am going to break it here and continue next week!

Patterns in a beach stream
 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Writer's Wednesday: #amwriting

Yep, you read that correctly! I have actually resumed work on my MS, and while the first thing I did was get distracted and went down a rabbit hole (or maybe a wormhole) of fixing some issues with an earlier book, I HAVE started! I have also started my story for the IWSG anthology. Unfortunately, I've started that 4 times (maybe 5. About 2 for the story I dropped because it's fantasy and adventure but not necessarily historical, and 3 starts on the story I want to write, a pure historical adventure). So I can't say the writing is going well, but the very fact that it's happening at all is huge.

Oh, and I've been working over the blurb for the new book, because my cover artist gave me a nudge...

Yeah, there's some hope that I might be a writer.

On the happy dance list:
--started to work on the MS
--started on my IWSG story
--enjoying tons of garden produce--canned 7 quarts of tomatoes on Friday, and made a peach pie for Sunday dinner with the family
--working out daily and starting to feel the difference (in something besides pain)
--installed a new light and ceiling fan in my work space, making it much more livable

On the er, um list:
--still haven't finished unpacking the boxes of books
--still haven't got the garage sorted and the tools/workshop set up
--no one has vacuumed or mowed the lawn anytime recently (not my job!)
--haven't touched my NZ photos in weeks, and they won't edit themselves... (this is changing, thanks to scheduling a photo post for Friday!)
--the watering system is acting up and I'm a bit out of my depth with it

Okay, you get the picture! It's a mixed bag. I'm trying hard to hang onto the successes and not beat myself up about the failures.

An inspirational quote to keep me writing!
And, finally--if I'm writing, I need readers! So take advantage of the Smashwords Summer/Winter sale and get my books for bargain-basement prices.

Monday, July 15, 2019

YA Audiobook Review: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes


Title: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
Author: Chris Crutcher. Read by Johnny Heller
Publication Info: Recorded Books LLC, 2007.  Original: Greenwillow Books, 1993. 224 pages.
Source: Library digital resources

Publisher's Blurb:

Sarah Byrnes and Eric Calhoune have been friends for years. When they were children, his weight and her scars made them both outcasts. Now Sarah Byrnes—the smartest, toughest person Eric has ever known—sits silent in a hospital. Eric must uncover the terrible secret she’s hiding before its dark current pulls them both under. Will appeal to fans of Marieke Nijkamp, Andrew Smith, and John Corey Whaley.

My Review:  

I'd heard about this book for a while, though I can't now recall why or where. I was vaguely under the impression that it was a middle grade book (for the 8-12 crowd), but in spite of having gotten it from the Kids' section of the library's Overdrive collection, it is definitely YA. The book deals with some pretty heavy issues (including child abuse, suicide, abortion, and sex), and does so frankly.

Now that's out of the way, on to the review. 

I was totally gripped by this book. I had no idea what to expect, and in fact I didn't really even read the blurb. I was just looking for something to listen to while I do chores, and thought "oh, I've heard of that. It's supposed to be good." So I wasn't prepared for the emotional power of the story, which was expertly balanced with humor and a lot of insight into the teenaged mind. The story is narrated by Eric Calhoune, and I liked that he doesn't totally justify all the sometimes hurtful things he's done over the years. Instead, Sarah's crisis triggers him to make a step forward closer to adulthood, and to consider himself and his actions a little more carefully.

Some tense moments round out the story, some just plain adventure-story tense and some tense with importance and emotional power. I might offer a critique that the danger-tense part felt a little contrived, though it's consistent with characters' actions throughout. On the other hand, it is also told in Eric's note-perfect self-deprecating style, so that even while I held my breath about the outcome I was also close to laughter at the process. A larger criticism might be that the author's political position and opinions come through perhaps a bit too loudly at times. That didn't bother me, because I largely agreed with them, and because Eric isn't rabid, but rather is trying to understand things. In fact, the strongest stance, in my opinion, is against those who think they know all the answers.

My Recommendation:

This book has both won awards and been banned about as much as any YA book. I get why both have happened. I come down on the "awards" side, because the book offers teens an avenue to start thinking critically about important issues. That it also offers a strong argument for backing away from dogmatic beliefs will make some parents and teens uncomfortable. My recommendation is that they read it anyway, and keep an open mind. I don't recommend it for kids under at least age 12. 

FTC Disclosure: I checked Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Friday Flash:

No, I haven't been writing enough to have a new flash for you today. But no fear--I have plenty of re-runs you probably didn't see or don't remember!

As a little encouragement to myself as I get back to work (at last!) on Death By Library, I have a short story from Pismawallops Island. Unlike the books, this is from the perspective of the town's police chief, Ron Karlson. I picked it in part because it features a character who plays a larger role in the new book.

In the Line of Duty

When his radio disturbed him, Ron Karlson was sitting in his police cruiser staring out to sea and thinking.

“Chief? You out there?” The Pismawallops Island police force, having precisely 2.5 officers, could be informal.

He reached for the handset. “Karlson here.”

“Homer’s lost his car again.” The dispatcher sounded like she was rolling her eyes.

Homer Roller. The biggest disaster ever to grace a cop car. He had a tendency to leave the car in odd places, forget where he’d parked, and hit the panic button, sure the car had been stolen. So far, it hadn’t been, but there was a first time for everything. Ron put the cruiser in gear and backed out of the overlook, not entirely sorry to leave his thoughts.

He picked up the deputy on the side of the road near old Mrs. Halsey’s place.

“Where did you leave it this time?” Ron asked, trying and failing to be patient.

“Right here. Honest, chief. I parked here, and was investigating a disturbance in the woods over there,” he gestured at the opposite side of the road from the ancient farmhouse where Mrs. Halsey refused to be removed. “There were some kids building a treehouse. I was my duty to ensure they weren’t trespassing.” Homer memorized a lot of his dialog in advance.

“Were they?” Ron pretended an interest.

“Naw. They said it was their old man’s property.”

Ron wondered if that were true, but didn’t press. He didn’t really want to know.

“And I came back here, and the car was gone. That’s all I know!”

“You left the keys in it?”

Homer kept his eyes on the floormat. “Yeah.”

Ron sighed. “So anyone could have taken it. Including one of those kids.”

“I don’t think so. They were little kids. Unless,” Homer conceded, “they had an older brother hiding somewhere. I didn’t hear any cars on the road,” he added before Ron could ask.

Ron drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, thinking. He knew what JJ would say about what he was about to do, but she’d lost the right to nag since she wasn’t talking to him. “We need to go ask Mrs. Halsey about this. She might have seen something.”

Homer turned pale. “The crazy lady? No way!”

“She’s not crazy. She’s old.” And suffering from dementia, which Ron knew very well was next door to crazy, at least by Homer’s standards. Ron wasn’t totally happy going in there himself. Mrs. Halsey had shot at him in the past. “I confiscated her shotgun last spring, so it should be safe.”

Homer sunk low in the seat as his boss drove them into the old woman’s yard.

“Huh. She’s not on the porch. Wonder where…” Ron had a sudden idea where the woman was, and he didn’t like it. They had to be sure, though, so he unbuckled and got out. He couldn’t help it; he twitched a little as he approached the front porch, but no one shot him, even after he hammered on the door.  He turned back to the car, where Homer continued to cower. “I’m going in—welfare check.”

“I’ve got you covered,” Homer quavered.

They needn’t have worried. No one was in the house. His suspicions confirmed, Ron went back out to the car. “I think I know who has your car,” he told Homer.

It took the deputy a minute, but he got it eventually. “Mrs. Halsey?!” His voice broke a little. “She can keep it!”

“No, she can’t,” Ron said, not that either of them needed telling. “She doesn’t have a license anymore.” Which was the least of it. He reached for the radio. “Tacy, we have a problem.”

They eventually found the car—and Mrs. Halsey—at the overlook. There were sometimes teens there necking, but they would have fled, not from the police car, but from Mrs. Halsey. She was in the car, grinning and playing with the lights and siren. Ron was happy to see that she hadn’t figured out how to remove the gun from its locked rack.

Even so, he approached with some caution. “Mrs. Halsey?” he called from a few feet away. She turned to greet him, still smiling. The car had made her happy, which made his task both harder and easier.

“It’s time to let Homer have his car back, Mrs. Halsey,” he said. “I’ll give you a ride home.”

The smile left her face. “I found this car. It’s mine.”

“No, it’s not. That’s not how it works. You know that.”

Her face fell. “I like it.” She showed no signs of moving.

Cursing the woman’s family, who dealt with her increasing dementia by staying as far away as they could, Ron tried another tack. “Come on with me, and you can run the lights and siren on my car, without the trouble of driving.” Creating a disturbance on the sparsely inhabited roads between the overlook and the Halsey home was a minor price to pay to get her out of the car.

“I like to drive.”

“Well, yes, but you know, it’s getting dark, and you don’t see so well in the dark. Better to let me drive and you have fun. Besides, the deputy needs the car. His mother’s expecting him home for dinner.”

“Fool kids,” the old woman muttered. Ron wasn’t sure to whom she referred—him, Homer, Homer’s mother, or all of them—but it didn’t matter. She climbed slowly out of the car, and followed him back to his cruiser.

Homer, seeing them coming, bolted. He was in his own car with the doors locked before Ron had helped Mrs. Halsey into the passenger seat. He made sure her seat belt was fastened.

Siren blaring, lights flashing, they headed back to the Halsey home.

The only thing the old woman said the whole way was, “Faster!”

Ron sighed. He liked happy endings.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Release Promo and Review: Poisoned By the Pier

I missed release day by a couple of weeks, but I'm here at last with a review the latest in Ellen Jacobson's delightful Mollie McGhie mystery series. I just finished a binge-read of the whole book!

Title: Poisoned by the Pier (Mollie McGhie Sailing Mysteries #3)
Author: Ellen Jacobson
Publication Info: June 2019, 242 pages
Source: I was given an ARC by the author in exchange for my honest review

Publisher's Blurb:

When Mollie's husband signs the two of them up for an extreme diet, she's not amused. When someone ends up poisoned by a cake, things get even worse.

While she tries to identify the killer, Coconut Cove’s annual boating festival is in full swing. In between getting ready for her first sailing race and cheating on her diet, Mollie and her cat, Mrs. Moto, uncover clues, interview suspects, and do their best to avoid rutabagas.

Can Mollie nab the killer before someone else is poisoned?

If you like quirky characters, adorable cats, and plenty of chocolate, you'll love this cozy mystery. Pick up a copy of Poisoned by the Pier and laugh out loud from the first page to the last.

My Review:  

First, though this is my honest review of the book, I can't claim to be wholly unbiased. I didn't beta read this one, but have been a beta reader for the first two books in the series, Murder at the Marina and Bodies in the Boatyard (which I apparently didn't review). Still--it's the third in the series, and no one paid me to read it (in case you're wondering, I don't take money to read books), so you know I'm enjoying the adventures of the somewhat scatter-brained Mollie McGhie.

In fact, I think this is the strongest of the series so far. Ms. Jacobson has hit her stride, and her experience shows in the tight writing, and the more believable characters and situations. Mollie and her husband, in particular, have more depth to them and the book retains the signature humor and touch of absurdity without going over the top. I admit I had a pretty good idea who did it, and why, from about the mid-point, the author does a nice job of tracking Mollie's process of getting there. There's no question her route to the truth is more interesting than mine!

My Recommendation:

Summer's here and it's the perfect time to nab a copy for some vacation reading. Like the others in the series, it's a perfect beach read--nothing too substantial, and gripping enough to keep your attention. I do recommend reading the series in order, though there are no spoilers here--it's just more fun to watch the story unfold in order.

FTC Disclosure: I was given an ARC of Poisoned by the Pier, and received nothing further from the writer or publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

Here's the info on the author, and where to pick up the book on sale.

Poisoned by the Pier, the third book in the Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery series, is now available in ebook, paperback, and large print.

New to the Series?

If you're new to the series, you might want to start with Murder at the Marina. Now is the perfect opportunity as the ebook is on sale for 99c/99p for a limited time.

About the Author

Ellen Jacobson lives on a sailboat with her husband and an imaginary cat named Simon. When she isn't working on boat projects or seeking out deserted islands, she writes cozy mysteries and sci-fi/fantasy stories.

Connect with Ellen on her

You can also sign up for her newsletter for updates about new releases, current projects, sales and promotions, and other fun stuff.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Cozy Spotlight: Out of Options

Cozy novella spotlight!

Out of Options: A Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries by Dianne Ascroft

About the Book

Cozy Mystery Prequel Novella  
Independently Published (April 28, 2019) 
Paperback: 126 pages 
ISBN-10: 1096163373  
ISBN-13: 978-1096163374 D
igital ASIN: B07R4GQWQN
Out of Options is a prequel novella to the Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries series, and introduces Lois Stone and her companions, Raggs and Ribbons, a pair of perceptive calico cats.
A dry district, a shocking secret, a missing person. When Lois Stone’s friend, Beth Darrow, arranges to meet her to reveal an astonishing discovery, Lois’s curiosity is piqued. Then Beth doesn’t keep their lunch date and Lois becomes worried. What has happened to her friend?
Middle-aged widow Lois is settling into life on her own in her neighbourhood and in the library where she works, and she is just about coping with her fear of strangers after her husband was mugged and died in the park at the end of their street. But her quiet existence is rocked when her friend and fellow local historical society researcher, Beth, arranges to meet her to reveal an exciting and shocking discovery she has made about the history of prohibition in West Toronto Junction, the last dry area in Toronto, and then goes missing before she can share her secret with Lois. There isn’t any proof that Beth is missing so the police won’t actively search for her. Only Lois and Beth’s niece Amy are convinced that Beth’s disappearance is very out of character, and they are worried about her. Where has Beth gone? Is she in danger? And, if she is, who might want to harm her and why? Lois knows she must find the answers to these questions fast if she wants to help and protect her friend.
And so begins a weekend of skulking in the park, apple and cinnamon pancakes, familiar faces staring out of old newspapers, calico cats, shadows on the windowpane, and more than one person who might want Beth to disappear from the quiet, leafy streets of the historic and staunchly dry West Toronto Junction neighbourhood.

About the Author

Dianne Ascroft is a Torontonian who has settled in rural Northern Ireland. She and her husband live on a small farm with an assortment of strong-willed animals. She is currently writing the Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries series. Out of Options is a prequel to the series.

Her previous fiction works include The Yankee Years series of novels and short reads, set in Northern Ireland during the Second World War; An Unbidden Visitor (a tale inspired by Fermanagh’s famous Coonian ghost); Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves: A Collection of Short Stories (contemporary tales), and an historical novel, Hitler and Mars Bars, which explores Operation Shamrock, a little known Irish Red Cross humanitarian endeavour.

Dianne writes both fiction and non-fiction. Her articles and short stories have been printed in Canadian and Irish magazines and newspapers. When she’s not writing, she enjoys walks in the countryside, evenings in front of her open fireplace and folk and traditional music.

Author Links

Website: http://  
Facebook page:  
Twitter: @DianneAscroft
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Purchase Links:  

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July 8 – I’m All About Books – GUEST POST
July 9 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 10 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
July 10 – The Ninja Librarian – SPOTLIGHT
July 11 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
July 12 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW
July 12 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
July 13 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
July 14 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW
July 15 – Sapphyria’s Books – REVIEW
July 15 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST
July 16 – Here’s How It Happened – REVIEW
July 17 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 17 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
July 18 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW
July 19 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW
July 19 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 20 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
July 21 – Literary Gold – REVIEW

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Monday, July 8, 2019

YA Spotlight: Magic at Midnight

A few weeks ago I reviewed a short story/novella from Ronel Janse van Vuuren. I'm back today to spotlight another novella, just because it's free this week at Amazon! I'd hoped to do a review, but, yeah. Later :D I'll be picking up a copy while it's free!

Title: Magic at Midnight
Author: Ronel Janse van Vuuren
Publication Info: May, 2019. 98 pages

Publisher's Blurb:

Amy has only known one life. Now she needs to put it all on the line to save what is precious to her. Can this simple farm girl survive court life? Can she stop a war from burning down her world? And what of the mysterious princess of Hazel Wood and her covert glances…? Not to mention the prince of Acacia Wood who might or might not be involved with the prophecies ruling their kingdoms. With mysteries and secrets threatening the life she longs to return to, can she separate her feelings from the mission?

About the author:
Award-winning author Ronel Janse van Vuuren mainly writes for teens and tweens, though she is known to write mythology-filled short stories for anthologies aimed at older readers. Her dark fantasy works, usually full of folklore, can be viewed on her website and on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

All of her books are available for purchase from major online retailers.

Sign up to be notified of new releases, giveaways and pre-release specials – plus get a free eBook – when you join Ronel’s newsletter

Connect with Ronel online:
Amazon author page
Ronel the Mythmaker, Website of Dark Fantasy Author Ronel Janse van Vuuren

Friday, July 5, 2019

Photo Friday: Paddling and Hiking Abel Tasman NP

It's been a while since I got out a photo post, but I haven't forgotten that I've a bunch of trips and sights still to share! I also realize I still haven't shared a couple of other trips we did before this one, including the Milford Track, but since I've started here, I'll do this and get back to the others.

Our visit to Abel Tasman National Park on the northern end of the South Island of New Zealand (got all that? :D) was a special one. We broke from our standard hiking pattern, as well as from the huts, and rented kayaks and reserved spaces in the beach-front camping grounds. The three-night, four-day trip involved two days of kayaking, then two days hiking back.

Abel Tasman is probably the most heavily visited of New Zealand's national parks, with as many as 5-7000 people on the water, beaches, and trails on a peak-season day. I could see why (and was glad that we were a bit off the peak).

On the drive north from Christchurch, we spent 5 or 10 minutes waiting while this crew figured out how to get their very oversized load around the curve at the end of the one-lane bridge. New Zealand driving has its own challenges!

After getting into camp in Marahau just at dark, we grabbed a quick dinner and a night's sleep. Our trip began early on the first day, with a quick orientation from the rental company, and an even quicker on-water test to see if we could paddle the kayak.
Our first effort went well, but we were missing a crucial element.
A second attempt went better, and we passed our on-water test and headed out with food and gear for 4 days loaded into the boat.
Photos on the water are all done with my somewhat antique cell phone. Apologies for the quality!
The route up the coast included several islands that serve as nesting and resting areas for birds and seals, as well as for kayakers unused to spending long stretches in the boat. We were happy to reach our first stop on Fisherman's Island, both because we needed to get out and because our long crossing of Sandy Bay was a bit more wind-blown than was comfy for rank amateurs just starting out. We enjoyed wading in the water, as ocean temperatures were mild and the day warm.

A short time later, we stopped at Adele Island to enjoy a snack, the bird life, and a little psyching up for the "Mad Mile" we'd have to traverse to get to camp.
Making sure the boat is well above the tide, which in fact was going out.
Going to launch the boat again on the lee side of the sandspit where we'd stopped, we discovered just how heavy that boat full of food and gear was. Happily, we were able to team up with another couple who'd stopped there, and four of us managed to drag the two boats over to launch. 

The Mad Mile proved well within our ability, and we soon landed at our night's lodging. The campsite at Te Pukatea was small, so it had a wilderness feel we got nowhere else in the Park.
Te Pukatea Bay was about as perfect as you could get.
We had time for a walk before dinner, and a 2 or 3 mile loop took us to visit the giant, bustling campsite at nearby Anchorage.
In the forest
Sunrise from camp

Day two saw us back in the boat early. The idea was to do the paddling in the mornings, before the wind picked up in the afternoons, and it worked especially well the second day. We enjoyed cool temperatures and calm water (especially appreciated when we were doing our awkward landings and launches).

Our route to camp 2 was not that long, so we had plenty of time to explore some beautiful lagoons on the way. Happily, Sandfly Bay didn't live up to its name, and we enjoyed the calm water.
Deep into Sandfly Bay for a preview of the trail we'd hike out.
Bark Bay had another large campsite on the sandspit, but we paddled farther in and enjoyed the quiet, making it back to the entrance just in time to avoid an awkward portage over the bar!

Another hour of paddling, and we rounded Foul Point and crossed more open(ish) water to circle Tonga Island. The law said to keep 5 boat lengths off to protect the seals and birds, but that was close enough to enjoy the wildlife. The rocky shore didn't exactly beckon for a landing in any case! Finally, after our longest span in the boat, we drove right in to Onetahuti Beach for our camp, and managed our most graceless landing yet. My bum had gotten so stiff sitting on the hard kayak seat and pushing the rudders that my legs wouldn't work right! I narrowly avoided taking a swim right there (which wouldn't have been that bad except for the embarrassment. The water was nice, but there were too many witnesses).

This campsite was quite a bit larger, and much busier, though we got there before most people (in time for lunch) so got our choice of tent site.
I always like a room with a view.
 After lunch, the water taxi came and hauled away our boat. It was feet from here out.
A little sad to see it go. We enjoyed the paddling, and it was much faster than hiking.
 Again, we took the afternoon for a modest hike, following the Abel Tasman Track on to the north until we reached a viewpoint that allowed us to gaze off into eternity. We caught a glimpse of the long sandspit that is the northwesternmost bit of South Island. Beyond that, continuing in a straight line, you might just catch the north end of North Island. If you missed that, you'd keep going until you ran into eastern Siberia. 
My camera couldn't pick up Siberia, so I stuck with Awaroa Bay. That's the last pick-up for water taxis, and as far as rental kayaks are allowed. I suspect the coast, and the track, get a lot wilder from there.
 The main track is pretty much a highway, complete with some fantastic bridges.
Avoiding a wade across the end of the estuary.
The Onetahuti campsite is well-used, and the wekas (chicken-sized flightless birds with a taste for people-food and trouble) know it. Here and the next night, at Anchorage, pretty much anything that wasn't nailed down and zipped in was subject to theft by weka. We speculated that there must be quite a bit of trash in the woods around the camp, because we stopped several thefts from other peoples' camps, and were unable to stop several more. Most of what they took wasn't edible (like our map, which we got back).
A weka pulling snacks from an unattended pack.
The next morning saw us loading our packs and hitting the trail/track in the more usual way. We still wanted an early start, since even with the season shifting on towards fall it was plenty warm at mid-day. In any case, the light is best early and late.

It was interesting to walk back along the coast we'd paddled. Particularly fun was crossing the high bridge and taking the trail around the back of the lagoon at Bark Bay.
We'd paddled into this just 24 hours before.
We bypassed the chance for a 4-mile RT detour to Cascade Falls (by this point in our NZ trip, we'd seen a LOT of waterfalls!), but dropped our packs and took the shorter trip to Cleopatra's Pool. Lots of folks dayhike there from Anchorage after boating in, so it wasn't a solitary spot. If it had been, I'd've been skinny-dipping in there!

Even with the detour, we managed to reach camp by early afternoon, and were able once again to pick a site with a water view. It was a bit of a madhouse for much of the day.
Serious kayak parking lot.
Once the last water taxis left, however, things got a lot quieter and we enjoyed a peaceful night--aside from periodic weka attacks, which fortunately ceased with darkness. In the morning, the beach which had been teeming the previous afternoon was utterly deserted when we started off at 7.

For a coastal walk, we found that the track did a lot of climbing and descending. One of the biggest climbs was up from Anchorage (the other biggest was just before dropping into it at the end of the previous day), but the view back was worth it.
Looking back in the early light.
The last day's hike was the least scenic, but it was still worthwhile as we circled above one cove after another. Nonetheless, we were happy to reach the trail's end (or beginning), though we had to flip a coin to see who'd walk another 3/4 of a mile to get the car (actually, I volunteered, as my husband was having foot issues).

Another trip successfully concluded! The kayak rental included showers at the end of our trip, even though our boats had been returned two days before. So we were able to eat lunch in a civilized manner before driving to Picton to catch the ferry for the North Island.
Half fish & chips, half vegetable sandwich. Our last meal on South Island.
©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019
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