California Bill\’s Travel \’n Other Stuff

Travels and occassional rantings of an old guy.

Why California Bill?

For my very first blog site, I chose the name “California Bill.” Why?
Let me back up. I have wondered about doing a blog for some time, but like many, wasn’t sure what I wanted to accomplish. I didn’t want to get into political or social commentary. Plenty of people do that already. I did want to somehow share our travel Meet California Billadventures with friends, family and other interested travelers.
Then there was the technical issue. I mean I can find my way around a keyboard ok, but tech wizard I am not. Then I learned about WordPress, and here I am. At least this is the first excursion into cybertalk. I hope there’ll be many more. We’ll see.
One of the first things they ask you is your blog name. That is a serious question, not to be answered lightly. So how’d I come up with this name? We recently returned from 3 weeks in New Zealand. I intend to file trip reports and pictures on that trip later. But for now, lets stay on point. Which is the name.
We arrived late one soggy afternoon at the west coast town of Fox Glacier Village after a long, wet drive from Arthur’s Pass, via Hokitika. We checked into the Te Weheka Hotel, and were directed to our room. What?!? The sign on the door said “The California Bill Room.”
Ok, so I’m Bill and I’m from California. Boy, this hotel is alright. Pretty nice. Then we noticed that the other rooms were also named. And the names had the ring of local historical figures. Could it be that there was a California Bill in Fox Glacier Village’s past, and the room was coincidentally assigned to me? Ummhhh!
I checked with the desk clerk, who seemed to be genuinely surprised at the connection. Coincidence? Well, maybe. So who was California
Bill, anyway. Here is an excerpt from the written blurb we found in the room.
Many of the gold diggers who rushed to the West Coast during the 1860’s were known to each other only by nicknames, based upon their first names plus references to physical attributes, occupation or place of origin. Among them was California Bill, known for his earlier experience on the California goldfield which distinguished him from Liverpool Bill, Maori Bill, Bill the Packer and all the other Bills who followed the rushes.
As the gold resource dwindled late in the century, California Bill laid down his pick and shovel to take up oars and become a ferryman. He chose one of the worse places possible, near the mouth of the Cook River where water from the Fox Glacier finally reaches the sea. The river was often flooded to a dangerous level and Bill’s boat was always leaky, but he earned a reputation as a ferryman who could be relied upon for a safe crossing, day or night.
So ok. California Bill of Fox Village, New Zealand, c. 1880, got around. He was resourceful, and apparently reliable, leaky boat and all. OK, I like that. A tip of the hat and a lift of the glass to the Fox Glacier California Bill of years ago. I hope his worldly travels were as rewarding as mine have been.

April 23, 2006 - Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized


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