Friday, 12/24 Affordable West Shore Holiday Park – Napier
It's Christmas Eve, but the only reason I can tell is the shopkeeper's, “Merry Christmas.” Time loses some meaning traveling like this. We know what day our ferry to South Island leaves and returns and we know what day our plane takes off (but not lands). These are our only benchmarks of time. So the holiday is very external this year. This should make me sad.
It was brisk this morning, prompting a long sleeve which I promptly traded for a t-shirt once we got walking. Today was good if only because it wasn't a travel day. It was good for other reasons of course, but even if was had sat in the caravan park all day it still would have been good.
An aside to describe New Zealand: I read in the paper a few days back that a man robbed a bar in Auckland with a knife. Yes, a knife. How strange is that to an American? You think bartender, a few staff, some patrons...we could take one guy with a knife. He can't have my wallet. A gun? Yeah, here. It's empty. Sorry. Teacher. But a knife? No way. But these people aren't armed like we are. Their cops don't pack. The public isn't strapped. Like Robin Williams once said about the English police, “You don't have a gun, they don't have a gun. If they're chasing you it's like, 'Stop! Or I'll say stop again!'” Happy ending, they caught the guy a half hour later. What boring crime.
Anyway, we spent most of the day checking out Napier. Its claim to fame is being the Art Deco city of NZ. Seems most of the town burned down a few decades ago and they thought it would be cute to do it up Art Deco style during the rebuild. So all the building have a 1930's America feel to them. Which isn't what I want from a New Zealand town. Be more rustic, damnit! So we were both underwhelmed by Napier as an Art Deco town. As a place to wander around and shop it was ok.
Our big time was spent at the aquarium. The New Zealand National Aquarium, a big deal. And decently nifty. Worth the price of admission. Angela loves aquariums. We probably took half a card's worth (welcome to the 21st century!) of pictures just walking through. The only thing they had neither of us had seen before was the Kiwi Room. It was kept very dark and no flash was allowed so as not to scare the birds. So we saw them but the camera couldn't. Bigger birds than either of us imagined. Large cantaloupe-sized bodies. Thought they were smaller. Neat.
The walk-through underwater tube with sharks and rays was cool too. We went twice. Shark!
Lunch was sandwiches and snacks in the caravan and then off to the wander! I've talked about our impression of the town. The only finds we found were a good picture frame with a Maori twist meaning two lives joining as one and rugby shirt salt and pepper shakers (at some point we started collecting salt and pepper shakers. I don't know). We happened upon a camping store that sold Vibram FiveFingers and had a good talk with one of the sales guys, who managed to sell me two pairs of toe socks. I need more anyway. He said VFFs have only been available in country six months or so. Score one for America, still number one in product placement. On the way back to the caravan my nose led us to a bakery and we left with a fresh pesto baguette. We nibbled from the paper bag. It is excellent. We are doing very well eating local. More on that in a tic or two.
On impulse we drove a few km to Havelock North. The guide book said there was an excellent wine store there and Angela wants to try some more NZ wine. I want to have zero hang-ups about this. So far I'm doing ok.
It being Christmas Eve, the wine shop, Advintage, closed at 3:30. We got to the door at 3:40. D'oh! If only we hadn't stopped for coffee. But what good coffee.
Not sure if I've mentioned this, but NZ does not have straight brewed coffee, The closest I can get is a long black, which is an espresso with hot water added to make it fill the cup. Whatever, I've adjusted an no longer stare at the nice lady behind the counter wondering why I can't just have a cup of joe. We bought a bag of their dark. It smells divine. 100% locally grown and roasted.
Two more stops before we got back, both at produce/food shops/stands. At the one in Havelock North we (she) bought some veggies and a bottle of Frizzle Pinot Nior 2008. At the little stand outside of town we (she) bought more veggies and fruit. Everything local. We like this. Healthy and more fun. Mmmm, native and fresh lettuce, tomato, and avocado salad.
I hadn't run all trip and the guilt was starting to bug me. So today when we got back to camp I decided it was a jog day. We're doing laundry and showers today anyway. Well guess which moron forgot his running shorts at home. Go ahead, guess. Clue: Angela hates running.
I swear I got them out and packed them. That means right now a pair of workout shorts are sitting sadly on the bed wondering why I didn't love them enough to bring them on the trip and how I could be so clue as to taunt them by getting them out like that. So I ran in my board shorts. Good enough. Not fast, kinda slow, ok pace. Don't know how far but I ran for thirty minutes, so whatever that is in metric. Maintenance is all that is. Have to do it more. Once a week will not cut it.
Some she-devil took both laundry machines and we are having to wait for her stuff before we can start. Jerk.
And I got soap in my eyes during my shower because I mistimed the how water cycle (50 cents for 4 minutes). By the time I blindly found my 50 cent coin I was calmly wondering if I'd burned my corneas out. Scown.
Windy today. Got real bad on the way back from Havelock North. Captain Slow is not good in gusting winds. He dances and pushes and makes the wife nervous. I was fine except once, a big gust hit us just as we were clearing a wind-break and pushed us almost on to the shoulder. Not fun. Hope it dies down tonight so we don't get bounced around in our sleep.
Wonder if Santa will find us? I may have written her a little something so she has something to open on Christmas. Awwww.