Monday, July 22, 2002

Don’t think I remembered to mention one incident of our Rotorua trip. As we drove into town we saw several areas with steam rising up from the ground and the odor as we went by was not that pleasant. We shortly pulled up outside the museum and gardens to get our bearings. Pete headed off for a short walk. Phyllis announced that she would change Quincy as he clearly needed it. You can probably guess where this is going… I am sure I looked quizzically at her and indicated that I didn’t think that he needed a change. Sure enough, sulphur was the cause of the stink. To get us back he presented us with 4 poops the following day!

Pop arrived bright and early Wednesday morning. He was apparently waiting for Pete and Phyllis when they arrived before 7 a.m. They stopped off in our little village and picked up some still warm from the oven croissants. Quincy was in my arms when they came in. You should have seen his head whip around when he heard that new voice. Aidan was delighted to have a new addition to his audience. He took a bemused I’m sure Pop on a long tour of the house. He spent probably 45 minutes just explaining all the contents of this computer room/mezzanine – as far as I knew it just had a desk, computer, and changing table! But he managed to point out my reading glasses and who knows what not (I was listening with only half an ear from the kitchen). He later went on to show Pop the contents of Nanma’s case from on her dresser even to explain that she uses lipstick and this is how it opens and this is how she puts it on! I didn’t even realize that he had been in there to observe this ritual. Pop brought with him our longest string of calm sunny weather. He was quite impressed with our situation here – house, village, Auckland. I dropped Pop and Nanma off down in Mission Beach for brunch and a walk back to our village and house. I took Aidan off to Jumping Beans – I thought. Oops – doesn’t start til next week! We did have a rain cloud come through that day – just as I was walking Aidan down to our designated lunch spot (Atomic Café with the sandbox). He was not happy about the distance we had to walk although he was well protected from the weather with rain boots, rain coat and his own umbrella.

Thursday we got off to a very late start. It was our second day to not have enough hot water to shower (except Pete!!). Apparently a few years back the electric companies made a move to take over control of people’s hot water heaters. They have a relay on ours and when there is high “load demand” they can shut you off for 5 hours. And this can be at 7 a.m.!!! Barbaric. So it is Russian roulette every morning – will it be cold or hot today… I have told Pete he is on a strict water ration. So Nanma didn’t get showered and dressed til after 2 or so and Pop around 6 after waking from a nap. I have a few photos of them out on the patio with the kids. Aidan was extremely grumpy when he got up – much too little cumulative sleep. I had the bright idea of letting him loose with some colored water and a bunch of dishes and spoons. A hit!! At the end of the 3 or so HOURS he happily played he was able to tell you how to make green, purple and orange! I don’t think it has really stuck with him as he had to rediscover how he made that purple…he very much likes the game and asks for it a lot.

Friday the lot of us (excepting working Daddy of course) headed back to the zoo. They have a nice area called Pridelands where they have several types of animals in same large enclosure – giraffes, ostriches, antelope etc. They were all off exhibit! Fortunately they were allowed back in before we left the area and we got to see them amble off towards their snacks so it was interesting. And before they showed up some loose roosters were having a crowing match to Aidan’s fascination. We also heard very loud noises from across the zoo. We headed off in search and discovered the Gibbons. Their calls are supposed to be heard up to 1 km away – I believe it! A cloud and breeze came by and I pushed the crew on to lunch time. I took them all back to Atomic Café where Nanma and Pop joined me in my favorite roasted root veggie on greens salad with a Trim Mocha Latte.

Saturday we had a van reservation for Waiheke island – the largest island around here at 23 km long and 93 or so sq. km. It is a bit over ½ hour ferry ride through the bay – very attractive. The car rental guy recommended a specific vineyard for lunch – and as it was nearing lunchtime that sounded attractive. We stopped at a beach or two and did a bit of scenic driving on the way. The vineyard is called Te Whau (pronounced like ‘fowl’). A beautiful building perched on the crest overlooking the harbor to one side and Auckland on the other. They have a very limited production – you have to be a subscriber or visit the vineyard to try their wine. I rate it one of the 2 best meals we have had here. They only serve lunch as I understand the family currently lives below the restaurant and have a couple of young girls. I read in their newsletter that Wine Spectator is including them as one of the worlds best restaurants for wine loves in August issue. Pop and I had seared tuna, Pete had lamb chops and Nanma had salmon – Aidan (with Pete’s help) had some very yummy sausages. Quincy wanted food… After lunch we headed off to do the back loop around the rural part of the island. They didn’t tell us that it was a dirt road! Very attractive though. Pop had wanted to see some sheep – and got his wish. We just missed the 5 p.m. ferry by a few minutes – it was still there as we pulled up but we had to get rid of car etc – so we stopped and got coffees while waiting for 6 p.m. ferry. Too bad we missed the sunset ride. We all then hopped on a bus for home – the younger 4 of us had our car parked a short way out of town. The elder two continued on to our village and had dinner sans kiddies.

Sunday I turned a blind eye and drove the crew out to breakfast and a visit to One Tree Hill (missing any trees at all on top currently). I say turned blind eye as there wasn’t room for everyone PLUS Quincy’s car seat… A nice breakfast – Quincy slept through it !!! The park was very enjoyable. It is the largest park in town with the possible exception of the Auckland Domain. There are also quite a number of sheep and cattle in various parts of the park. Other parts have attractively landscaped walks. We even saw a little troup of men practicing their medieval fighting skills with broadswords, lances and shields. We also saw people out bar-be-queing. We noticed on Waikeke Island – they had flat stainless cooktops that have gas heat source underneath that you start with a push button on the side. No fuss no muss! After checking out the playground we headed home to drop off Nanma and Pop and pick up salad fixins for a bar-be-que at Pete’s co-worker’s house. There were 3 families and 3 other children (a little older than ours). It was enjoyable but not overly memorable i.m.o. I was surprised to learn that I have taken better advantage of some of the things available to children than the native’s wife who said she’d been there 2 years (they have a 4 yr old).

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