Monday, July 01, 2002

Got some pictures put on a disk – but unfortunately they didn’t get all of them on for some strange reason so I’ll have to go back tomorrow – missing are all of the pics from this past weekend. Did have some nice pictures of last Saturday. We headed over to Mount Eden volcanic hill. Pete had slept in and then had a late breakfast, but by the time we headed out my tummy was already rumbling. We thought we might want to walk to the top. I took one look and thought that we should save Phyllis’ and my knees for another day and drive up to the summit instead! And then thought that maybe poor little Aidan was hungry and needed lunch… So Phyllis and I left Pete & Aidan playing in a playground while we walked sleeping Quincy down to Mount Eden Village to suss out a place for lunch. We made plans for them to drive down and meet us at the Post Shop – but forgot to say what time! We did meet up for a nice (although slow) lunch. Then with full bellies we headed to the top of the hill for a windy view over the city. The Mount is a fairly perfect cylinder and there was a nice circular crater in the middle. All covered with lush grass. It is used as grazing grounds but we didn’t see any cattle or sheep. Aidan suggested “maybe they already took the cows back to the zoo mommy”. A city kid or what?!

This past weekend was our first (long awaited!) overnight trip since we arrived in this country. We chose to visit the Coromandel Peninsula – the base of which is about 90 minutes from here. The first town, Thames, was a bit of a bust. It wasn’t particularly scenic and we had a so so lunch thanks to one of our guide books (don’t believe all you read!). It did have a lovely church we visited with natural Kauri wood interior. While there Aidan had to do his first poop of the day (there were to be 2 more!!). They lent us a key to the building next door. While there I noticed that the Hall was set up for what looked to be Christmas dinner! Down to a Christmas tree in the center. Guess people are looking for some mid-winter festivities. Down in Queenstown (South Island) they have started a Mardi Gras week which will be in a couple of weeks. I noticed a local restaurant advertising their mid-winter “Christmas” dinners.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the greatest. It looked pretty good right up until the peninsula where the clouds seemed to be gathering. I drove us over the ridge – theoretically past nifty pinnacles but we couldn’t see very far. Phyllis and I did enjoy the scenery anyway while all 3 boys snoozed in the back. Good thing or Pete would have been feeling a bit woozy from the curves. We managed to time it to Hot Water Beach for low tide (about 4.30) although I had thought low tide was a bit earlier. It was a nice beach – and quite long. We knew there was supposed to be an area where you could did down at low tide and hit hot water and make yourselves little hot tubs out of the sand. I dug a hole – no water at all! There was a cluster of people far off – so we headed that way. Turns out the hot water is in very specific areas – we saw basically 2 zones quite close to each other where people were successful. In between if you dug you got cold water. It was really really hot! Just 4” or so down and you really wanted to be using your shovel instead of your hands to dig. We didn’t strip down but did enjoy watching those that had. Very interesting phenomena.

We cruised up the road for another hour or so to Whitiangia (sp?) at dusk. Here in NZ “motel” means place to stay with rooms that have full kitchens and come in Studio, 1 or 2 bedroom varieties. Some look like 1 star places though. We passed a place Waterfront Motel that appealed although then stopped off at another that had a ***** designation. Pete panned it and we headed back to 1st place. A hit! One suite with one room with King bed and the other with 2 twins. And fronting on the waterfront. There was also a very nice restaurant a block along – On The Rocks. Aidan slept for his first time on a twin bed. We pushed it against the wall and he didn’t fall out. I had actually found him on the floor next to his bed at home the night before – sound asleep. He also went to bed with no protest – 1st in a long time – Nanma sang to him and they thanked the Lord for all the good things that happened that day and I think having her share the room was a big plus. He always plaintively asks “will you sleep with me?” or now “who is going to sleep with me?”. In the morning we were sitting on the sort of enclosed porch area. Aidan came bouncing in “I locked the door”. We didn’t take him seriously or at least care – it was a sliding door. But we were looking in – or out! Nanma was showering but soon came to our rescue. Phew! Who would have guessed you could lock a sliding door and then close it and have it latch? We didn’t. It was my first full night sleep in over a week and a half – much improved my disposition! [Quincy is back to waking sometimes as often as 5 times in a night] [I meant to tell the Bed Story a while back – I was hating our bed upstairs and kept complaining about it to Pete – very hard. I found both beds downstairs to be quite nice. I finally decided we must be sleeping on a boxspring. When I investigated I discovered that we had a Sealy Posturepedic – but it was upside down! We were sleeping on the bottom – might as well have been a boxspring! Pete actually did sleep on a boxspring – wood slats with only a thing cover over them – one semester in college – so guess he isn’t too picky! I have been much happier since we turned mattress over.]

In the morning we shared banana bread bought the day before and leisurely got up. (Enjoying the whirlpool tub, watching the waves break etc). I then had the foresight to take us to Café Nina for a Mocha Latte and a Savory Muffin (feta & bell peppers this time). They advised against route 309. The guide books had made it sound like a pretty reasonable route across the hills to Coromandel although mostly unsealed (aka gravel). After a couple of locals said “it’s a real adventure!” and especially in the rain… we went the other way. We saw a lot of Cala Lillies growing near streams. Also palm trees, Silverfern trees and Papyrus to go with the Norfolk Pines and logging type trees. Lots of diversity in plant life as it is so temperate. And of course lots of green grass grazing hills. A very nice drive over to Coromandel about an hour away. There it was a very wet afternoon. We retreated to Uma Café for a scrumptious lunch – they had a nice blackboard that Aidan couple draw on – a big hit. I was impressed with the little galleries we saw – much more interesting local art & crafts than I have seen since being here. We then headed out to Driving Creek Railroad – a narrow gauge railroad a guy put in to haul clay for his pottery. It starts at the pottery area and heads up to a look out point. I was very impressed with it – I hadn’t had much in the way of expectations though. They have put in a few bridges and did a couple retaining walls out of bottles and have some pottery sculpture scattered here and there. They have also been busy planting native trees and plan to leave the 60 acres to the National Trust when the owner dies. I found the engineer/driver to be quite entertaining in his commentary but didn’t realize til just before we got off that Phyllis and Pete were missing most of what he said. Phyllis has also had trouble understanding the Doctor (when she went in for allergy shot) and the bakery folks. The train had a roof but no enclosures at the sides and of course the 50 minutes we were on the train were when we had the hardest rain of the day. Thank goodness for Phyllis’ poncho that we laid across our laps! We ended up fairly dry at the end. The poor driver had to get out quite a lot as there are 5 switchbacks where the train changes direction and he has to manually change the track and then head to other end of train to drive. He didn’t even have rain gear on! He was a bit soggy by the end. We got to the top – clearly it would have been a spectacular lookout point on any other day – and across on a ridge at about our height – crack went lightning. Have to say I was happy to head back down into the trees! Ironically the sun came out as we got back to the end of the line. We had beautiful weather as we headed out of town and drove back along the west side of the peninsula to home. At least we got to enjoy some of the famed views. All in all a nice “adventure” (as we sold it to Aidan).

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