Thursday, 12/23- Affordable West Shore Holiday Park- Napier
What a long driving day today! But on some incredible roads that gave me motorcycle sad. More on that later.
We woke us rested, if a little stiff. The bed is ok, it'll do. It's the table, dropped down between the benches, then the seat pads become the mattress. We had some of our local coffee and it is excellent. Wish I had more to take home. Have to keep searching for new kinds. There was only a few clouds in an otherwise deep blue sky and it stayed that way all day. Hooray for no rain!
First off was an easy drive to Rotorua, suggested to me by Mr. Sing from school. Pretty cool little town. Our main business there was the museum/bathhouse. Watched a movie on the volcano eruption that destroyed the area and the local beliefs surrounding it. Elsewhere in the museum we watched a very moving doc on the Maori contribution to World War II. Worth the money right there.
The whole building used to be a world class spa/bathhouse, using the supposed healing properties of the hot spring sulfur pools all over the area. These same pools gave Rotorua the wonderful aroma of rotten eggs is the wind carried right.
Ate lunch at a cafe suggested by a heavier (but not fat) employee of the museum. Good deal, great food, awful service. First place that it was clear wait staff here doesn't work for tip because they are paid a real wage. Our waiter sucked on all levels. Of course he wasn't a loca. He was...American! A Texan, damnit! Fail.
We walked through the town, a cute little tourist trap, but didn't buy. There were five (!) cycling shops. I've decided I need to bring home a New Zealand cycling jersey as it is more affordable than it seems at first blush. NZ$105 is not US$105. Must keep that in mind to help the self-delusion. I might bring one home. Its a wearable souvenir! So there.
We also had the worst grocery experience ever. I'm not even going to touch on parking, but the place was a madhouse. Pak N Save is Costco but with WalMart's DNA. All those fatties we've not seen? They shop here. It was not fun at all. Crazy busy. Part of it was people prepping for their Christmas feasts but I think its always a little like this. We made a team decision not to go back to another.
I've noticed the occasional barefooter out and about in public. I wonder if it is slightly more acceptable here or if I'm just noticing all the alt-people.
The drive to Napier was as epic as any I've ever been on. I have so much to say. To start, our trip is real because we made a U-turn and everyone knows its not a real trip unless you've done that. Also, Captain Slow has come equipped with a radio and a tape deck. That's right, a tape deck. There are exactly four places in the world that still sell tapes and none of those are near to us. So that means we get stuck with whatever radio stations come in. Two problems: 1) We are traveling long distances each day and out-pacing every decent station I can lock on to. 2) Most of today was up and down mountain passes. So something would come in and then static away, and so on. A few times I would tell the radio to search and it would be quietly scanning the airwaves for five minutes or more. This, by the way, it just long enough to forget the radio is scanning and be startled by the half-static blast of reception it does manage to pull through the ether.
But the 5. Oh, the 5. Epic. To begin, everything about this trip is slightly more dramatic than it would be normally. Captain Slow makes it more dramatic. He is big and he is loud. We must speak up to be heard across the cavernous cab. He blows in the wind and struggles mightily up grades. This makes things more exciting.
The landscape it also dramatic. You've seen Lord of the Rings. Wow. Today we spent kilometer after awesome kilometer on a bendy two-lane mountain roadway that would have easily become my number one or two motorcycle road ever. It was, not to belabor the point, epic. I spent the entire time in Bike Jealous spasms. Oh, Ms. Riley and I would have destroyed it.
Along with that, I am very conscious of not being That Guy. We all know That Guy in a caravan on these roads. Captain Slow is not built for the bends, the climbs, and the descents (ok, maybe the descents). He is, well, slow. And he sucks to be behind. I tried to be very good about using turn-offs and passing lanes to not be in the way. There was a short stretch, maybe .5k, where a sport bike was stuck behind me and I had nowhere to go. I felt so bad. I was apologizing out loud to him. All in all, I think Captain Slow and I did a good job of not being That Guy.
Homi-side Note: We may befriend a motorcycle owner and then either kill or disable him that I may steal his bike and ride that road. It's just a thought.
I'm also getting used to down shifting to climb. The Captain spent some time going from 4th to 3rd and lugging it up. Gearing is fun. Driving is becoming easier as well. Once, leaving the first camp area, I ended up on the wrong side of the road. But only for a moment and there was no one coming. Safe.
You know, I have to go back to the drive. Tall, tall, tall trees on both sides of the road, dozens of shades of green. And when there was a break in the tree line huge expanses of farmland and pasture. Words like “awesome”, “epic”, and “fantastic” were created to describe things like this. And the thing is, I'm pretty sure there are other roads on this island that compare. Amazing.
*Wife Thought of the Day* “I couldn't be laughing at you without you. You are an important part of this relationship.”
Angela does not enjoy those kinds of roads on a regular basis so she wasn't as thrilled as I. Pretty tense most of that part, actually. She sometimes seems convinced we are way too far over on her side (sometimes we are, still getting used to this) because she can see the edge of the road so clearly.
Thats not to say she's hating this. Far from. Every time we pass a herd of cattle, which happens quite often, she leans towards them and moos. And gets very excited about pointing out the baby animals. Its cute. I love her.
We drove through one campsite before finding our home for the next two nights. Spend the day in Napier tomorrow and stay here again. Yay for no long drive! That'll be nice. Yummy spag dinner again. Time to set up the bed and crash out.