We were on the South Island of New Zealand, scooting down the Fox Glacier Highway, with maps and signs telling us that we should we be seeing this majestic 12,000 foot crown jewel of the Southern Alps. But nothing.
A gray mustache of cloud snaked above us - reminding us of New Zealand's fabled nickname: "The land of the long white cloud." But it was barely enough to conceal a molehill, not a mountain.
Finally, in futility, we turned off the road to take a drive over to Lake Matheson, which our brochures said was worth a hike. Suddenly we passed a lone hotel on the roadside, and I did a double-take at its name: Mount Cook View Motel.
"All right, that's it!" I said to my wife, whipping into their parking lot. "I'm pulling in and asking where they hide their mountain during the day."
I climbed out of the car, and turned around, and nearly jumped out of my jeans. For there it was peeking over my shoulder the whole while. The most pristine, perfect, diamond-studded mountain I had ever beheld.
Needless to say, once I had picked up my lower jaw from the ground, I grabbed the camera and captured the image, fearful I might count to ten and find it gone again.