Skedaddling is the revolutionary departure strategy for today: enough with the floral. Rain dissuades us from tackling the Catlins, a further leg of the Scenic Southern Route that runs along the ocean for 120 kilometers east from Invercargill. We take the inland route instead. Small towns and sheep pasture roll by. A motorcyclist ahead of us seems to be engendering terror in sheep. Each time he passes a flock by the roadside, they scatter, usually in unison. We marvel at his anti-magnetism. It is gradually apparent that this reaction is caused by his horn. We, too, have the power to repel sheep. Honk.
Our lodging, St. Leonard’s Lodge outside Dunedin, looks out over a shipping channel, a railroad line, and a busy road. It’s a lovely brick arts-and-crafts house, yet no one answers the bell. I guess it’s another case of nobody’s home until check-in time, usually two or three o’clock. Okay, so we’ll go get lunch. Dunedin is on a generous slope with streets that radiate from a central octagon. Navigating is complex and parking incomprehensible. It continues to rain, but, of course, stores are open.
It happens; Joss finds the symbolic item that makes the trip. A sheepskin jacket, all fluffy white, with luxuriant combed fleece trim that extends from around the collar down the front and around the hem. It looks stunning. And it was made in Invercargill. And the price is right. But it forces the packing issue. We’ll be flying tomorrow. She needs another bag. Suitcase? Where to find a suitcase? NZ has a department store chain called Farmers that I thought at first was a Home Depot kinda place. “Go look. I’ll park the car and meet you inside or circling the block.” This $20 striped zipper thing’ll do just fine. Oh, we’re good. We’re so good.
Sue opens the door at St. Leonard’s Lodge and the incredible details of the place dazzle, beautiful woodwork, stained glass, and brass and copper fixtures. We’re shown the skylit billiard room and the lawn chess set and the over-stuffed living room with baby grand piano. I, of course, take The Albatross Room. It’s time to pack, to make order out of suitcase chaos. I promised Joss that I’d try the ‘rolling of the garments’ technique. It mostly fits, though I must abandon my unread novel and my trusty umbrella. One carry-on is devoted solely to doll-size Gandalf hats and red tomato squeeze bottles.
Pizza is our farewell dinner.