Southern Cross(ing)

The Cook Strait crossing, from Wellington in the south of the North Island to Picton in the north of the South Island, is notoriously rough. Or so I am told. Locals had spun horror stories of the ferry having to make three or four attempts to get into Wellington harbor, of swells worthy of “The Perfect Storm” and behemoth Kraaken attacking the ship, tearing it to pieces…

Okay, I made that last one up, but these are the waters of the colossal squid. It could happen.

Anyway, the day Karl, Skylon and I crossed Cook Strait it was ridiculously calm, so much so that I didn’t even feel the boat moving. Under the bright, cloudless sky, the scenery was indeed as spectacular as promised, from the backside of Wellington to the famous Marlborough Sounds.

Though I have to admit my favorite moment had nothing to do with the scenery. There was a guy onboard that I’d also seen at Te Papa museum, probably ten years younger than I am, also traveling alone. I said hello to him figuring he would also remember that we’d seen each other at Te Papa (he got in the way of one of my photos) but, then as now, he did the “oh, I’m too cool to be friendly” thing. I wasn’t offended… Lord knows I prefer to be left alone when I travel.

Anyway, on deck with a dozen or so other tourists, I took Karl out of my pocket to pose for a few photos. I saw Mr. Cool watching from the corner of my eye and thought “that’s right, bucko, I carry a plush kiwi around in my pocket and enjoy photographing it… chew on that like an herbivore!”

After I moved away from the railing to where it was less windy, he got up from the bench where he was sitting and walked to the same spot. Somewhat sheepishly, he opened his backpack and pulled out a ragged red gingham stuffed rabbit, held it out and photographed it, put it back in his pack and walked away.

I just smiled.

Let’s hear it for the socially awkward independent travelers who bond more with plush toys than people!! Whoo hoo!

I so totally expect to run into him at some obscure LOTR location.

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