Sunday, January 30, 2011

NZ- Wednesday, 12/29

Wednesday, 12/29- Alpine Adventure Holiday Park, Hanmer Springs

I continue to be stunned by the beauty of this country. Almost immediately today the road dove into twisting, turning, climbing mountain excellence. I miss my bike and say to every passing biker, “I hates you. Seriouslys.” Though I was Helpful Camper Guy today for a huge group of at least 20 riders. Thumbs up out the window to let them know it was safe to pass Captain Slow's slow ass, thumbs down to hold the group up. Got a few waves. I was helpful. Hopefully.

We had to stop twice on the side of the road today. Not for anything important, just because I knew the scenery was breathtaking and I was too busy navigating motorcycle-sad bends to take it all in. Pullouts: Not Just for Passing Anymore. I had a deep thought based on how I feel about traveling on the bike. Taking your time can make it true even in a caravan. This kind of traveling is about being a part of the world, not apart from the world. Get it? A part. Apart. Slap that bad boy on a t-shirt and we'll sell 10,000 units in Portland alone. Check please. Seriously though, that's what we're going for here.

As with every other day we passed thousands upon thousands of sheep and cows. And each time Angela leans towards them and either moos, baas, or exclaims, “Sheeps!” But since she's been buying a sheepload of yarn and cooking with lamb (yummy!) now she'll point at them and say, “I got summa you back here!” The cows get it too because beef was bought at our last grocery stop.

I noticed I drive faster with someone behind me, and on the straights that's mostly ok. But in mountain bends I need to go at my own pace. Angela is not a fan of going too fast anyway. Helps viewing and driving pleasure.

We went to one produce stand on the roadside today. It was off someone's backyard and had a sign telling us to, “Toot and Pull Through.” Neither of us have any trouble with that. Then I honked the horn to get the lady's attention. (Ha! Fart jokes! Classic.)

I continue to use knowledge based almost solely on Top Gear to help me get through situations here. Today's example: A lady asked Angela to hand her a “spanner”. Because of Clarkson fumbling around and breaking cars and May being anal-retentive I know a spanner is a wrench and was able to translate from English to, uh, English. Thanks Top Gear! *thumbs up*

And on that bombshell we arrived in Hanmer Springs, nestled in the mountains of northern South Island. A cute little mountain town (I've gotta think of another way to describe cute, little towns) who's sole reason for existence, if I'm honest, seems to be the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa. We were going to go, but with water temps from 28ºC-42ºC (you do the conversion) we didn't think Angela's sunburned feet and legs would be all that happy. So we skipped it and did the shops and a short nature walk.

We walked the 2.5km from camp to town and I, in my infinite wisdom, decided I am still Barefoot Man and brought slippers (Jandals here. How weird is that? Japanese sandals = Jandals). I, of course, immediately stepped on a nettle or something and hurted my poor toe. Slippers on. Toe stopped hurting. Barefoot. Crossing the street with pointy rocks and step in wet-from-the-heat tar. This makes my foot sticky. This causes little sharp road rocks to stick to my feet while I hop the next 2 meters across the road. Which I then have to peel off my sole and out of the tar, which would not wash off or scrape off for a while and made me sticky. I am Barefoot Jackass. Slippers on.

Did ¾ of the scenic walk hobbit-style though, mud squishing between my toes. Crossed a freezing cold stream on rocks while the much more practical wife took the bridge. Whatever, my way was cooler. (Get it? Get it?!?)

Once we got back we decided to walk through and explore our Holiday Park of the Night. We were down by the children's play area when we saw a little boy and girl of about equal size trying to take advantage of (surely that's the correct term) the seesaw. It wasn't working. She was seated and down, he couldn't pull himself up or pull his side down. So this little four-year old boy decided to start at the pivot point and crawl up the beam to his seat. This was when I decided to jump in and lend a hand. What is cool about this is at the same time his mom came walking up to help too. She called him by name so I stopped and looked and she told the kid basically, “Look, this nice man is going to help you. Get down and let him.” She let a complete stranger, long hair, bare-chested, tattooed, get her son started on the seesaw. Very cool. We stood and talked with her for a while, her husband too when he showed up. Very nice people, super friendly. It was neat to be able to laugh at kids who aren't ours as they play without being creepy. And it was nice to talk to nice people. Nice.

Cute little kid moment- Small boy child, also in the family we met, is on the trampoline with the little boy and girl from the seesaw. She is in control. Seesaw boy has been following her around. She first asks him how old he is. “Five.” “Me too!” she cries. She then turns to much smaller boy and asks him how old he is. Small boy says, “Four.” Mum laughs. “How old is he really?” we ask. She tells us he's two and a half. “Tell her you're a doctor too!” small boy's dad yells.

I'm excited about the next few days. Found a place on the west coast called Hokitika that looks neat. Will finish there tomorrow. Might be a two-nighter.

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