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AeonHunter in New Zealand

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Qantas Flight #25

Los Angeles, United States

QANTAS FLIGHT #25 ~ BETWEEN PAPEETE & HONALULU - It's over. I'm on the plan and it's all over. The last time I was on a plane my emotions were indescribable. It's the same now.

Even though I woke up early again this morning it still managed to fly by. It rained quite a bit last night and the hammock still kept me dry. I did have a puddle of water which kept formin gin the rain fly, but I think that's an easily fixed problem. It kept raining after the sun rose and didn't really stop till about 10:30. We were worried it wouldn't and were so glad when it did. We didn't want to pack wet tents and I still had clothes on the line! Luckily we got everything dryed and packed just in time. Kahu graciously offered to give us a ride to the airport and way too quickly we were there.

We had an ugly surprise when we got to the airport. Shad's flight time had been changed and his plane was departing as we walked in the door! There was a good amount of confusion and worry, as he hadn't been notified and we weren't sure what was going to happen. As I got into the check-in line for my own flight, Shad was sent through a maze of offices to find answers. It turns out he somehow fell through the cracks when Air Pacific notified people, so they put him on my flight free of charge. Now he has a 24hr layover in LA instead of two slightly shorter layovers in Fiji and LA. I'm kind of glad he's on my flight. This way we can still get an end of the road picture and truly finish this trip together.

The flight is only slightly miserable. I've gone through two movies so far and will watch another one or two. I doubt I'll sleep much if at all. The plane is full and I can feel the cramped quarters starting to stress me out a bit. I need to put one of my New Zealand lessons to use:
NZ Lesson Number 1 ~ Just Chill Out.

Other lessons include:
~ Enjoy life for everything it is and don't worry about what it's not.
~ Relish the journey, but don't make the journey so long that there's no time for side trips or that you're too tired to enjoy the destination.
~ You can't truly experience a country without meeting its people, and you can't truly know a people without knowing their land.
~ Always make sure you pack a chainbreaker and some extra links.
~ The best things in life are free. Some of them include: stars, conversation, sunshine, downhill rides, warm sand, refreshing swims, shade trees, fruit trees, meeting new people, and having the wind at your back.
~ Travelling is better with a friend.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on January 12, 2010 from Los Angeles, United States
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Auckland Day II

Auckland, New Zealand

AUCKLAND DAY II (2km, 1458km total) - I woke up early this morning with hopes of getting so much accomplished, but at the end of the day I don't feel like I've done much at all.

I spent the night in my hammock in the backyard, which got its first real rain test, holding up fairly well I might add. The only tricky bit is adjusting the rain fly correctly. I was surprised to find Shad awake before me, but then again he slept in the tiny flat where two young children wake up early and make noise. I finished off the last of the pancake batter for breakfast and then worked on typing up my journal entries so I could finally make some posts online. This lasted until lunchtime, and then after that it was off to return the bike. I had hopes of going for a bike ride or doing some sightseeing or something, but the time and the motivation just slipped away from me.

Shad went with me to return the bike, since he needed to get a box to put his own in. Adventure Cycles is kind of a weird shop. When we got there, the owner Bruce put us to work packaging some shoes for him. This was in return for the box... I think. Then he drove us and the box back to Kahu's, giving us a shoebox full of slightly squished or moldy nectarines. He's an interesting character for sure.

I wanted to walk around and see something, and the mall was the only nearby thing I could think of. So Shad and I set off for a walk. At the mall Shad found some packaging supplies and I was disappointed in my window shopping. Malls are kind of stupid places, and I have to go every once in a while to remind myself of that. We had some slightly questionable mall food (my Chinese smorgasbord perhaps a little more questionable than Shad's Indian dish) and left. At least we got out for a walk, right?

We spent the night making things out of discarded bamboo we found in Kahu's bamboo grove. They're not extremely Kiwi souvenirs, but I reckon we made some cool things anyways. Then we spent the rest of the night hanging out with Kahu and one of his friends. I didn't get the blog updated. I didn't really explore Auckland. I didn't call our New Plymouth host Kim like I had said I would. I feel like this trip is ending too quickly, perhaps not too soon, but definitely too quickly.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on January 11, 2010 from Auckland, New Zealand
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Auckland, New Zealand

AUCKLAND (15km, 1456km total) - The trip is coming to a close. Tomorrow I'll turn my bike in and the day after that Shad and I will leave this country. It's gone by quick, and yet still been quite long.

I woke up early this morning when the sun streamed through the stained glass window of the gypsy wagon onto my face. I got up and had breakfast - porridge with stewed plums. It was actually pretty tasty. I did my best to wake up Shad and enjoyed the company of Rosalie and her overseas friend. Old women are funny people. They just sort of stop caring what other people think and will do and say all sorts of things you would never expect. Perhaps that's wisdom...

After we took our picture and said our goodbyes, we biked the short distance to the bus stop. The ride to Auckland was forgettable, except for a cute old man who kept forgetting where he was going and why he was on a bus. His family and kind passengers helped him remember. Is that the joy of family - that when you enter the mists of old age you don't have to do so alone?

We only made one wrong turn on our ride from downtown Auckland to Kahu and Beca's house. I'm glad we're staying with them again. I didn't get to spend a whole lot of time with them before. When we arrived Kahu asked us if we wanted to go to the beach with his family that afternoon. Of course we agreed. Laying about in the sun always sounds like a good idea.

Tonight we didn't do too much, just spent some time around the house unwinding. We made chocolate chip pancakes for dinner. The pancakes turned out very well, but we didn't notice the ants crawling all over the bottle of syrup (and some even in it) until much too late. I spotted them before pouring it on, but no one else had - just a bit of extra protein right?. I managed four and I think Shad put away seven or perhaps more. I'l need to remember I don't need to eat as much when I get home. This trip has been great for food. We could eat as much as we want and always know we were going to burn it all off. I have a feeling that won't be the case when I'm surrounded by cold and snow and the farthest I have to travel is across the street.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on January 10, 2010 from Auckland, New Zealand
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Gypsy Wagon

Thames, New Zealand

GYPSY WAGON ~ THAMES (36km, 1441km total) - Today was the best day of biking of the entire trip. It was a stunningly beautiful road, narrow and curvy with sheer cliffs on one side, blue ocean waters on the other, and pohutakawa trees lining the edges. It was also our last day of real biking, since we decided to buy those bus tickets from Thames to Auckland, spurred along by yesterday's constant bike mishaps. We knew we didn't have far to go, so we took a nice relaxed pace all afternoon. Short, slow, beautiful, and it being our last day was just the perfect cherry on top.

The morning featured a slow, unhurried start and a breakfast of toasted museli with honey and nutella. We got out riding about 12:30. We stopped just a little bit down the road at a rare open space with a restroom and a beach. I spent some time writing and Shad busied himself exploring the remnants of the ocean which had washed up on the beach. After a while I explored a bit as well, coming away with two mussels.
I cracked them open and Shad and I each had a little raw snack.
They actually weren't too bad... for being found on the beach.

We biked a little further then, just until we ran across a store where we picked up some cheese, crackers, and wine to go with the smoked fish that Rob gave us. Biking just a bit further, we then pulled off and went down to sit on some rocks to enjoy our quite decadent meal.

After that it was pretty much a solid ride to Thames, with only a short bathroom stop to break it up.

As I was riding today I thought about two things. First I was reminded of my childhood and playing make-believe in the woods around my house and out at Grandma's. I also thought about this whole trip. It's ben a much more authentic New Zealand experience than when I was here last time. Even though it's shorter, we've run into and talked with so many Kiwis. Whereas last time I was mainly around other Americans and travellers the entire time. It's truly been a great trip. Today was probably the best bike ride of my life and one of my top 5 life moments altogether.

Tonight we're couchsurfing with Rosalie - an older woman who lives with her grown son Mark. Her sister and some friends were also in visiting from abroad, and Rosalie cooked us all a fantastic meal with fish, potatoes, salads, and zucchini fritters. Afterwards we staid up late drinking and talking with Mark. He seemed to not have much direction in life, spending all his spare time drinking and smoking. He spends $80 a week on each. He says he's on the verge of giving them both up, and for his sake I hope he does. he was a good storyteller though, and we had a nice long talk between the three of us. Now Shad and I are scrunched in a small gypsy wagon, hoping we wake up in time for our bus tomorrow morning.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on January 9, 2010 from Thames, New Zealand
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The Wool Shed ~ Wilson's Bay

Kereta, New Zealand

THE WOOL SHED ~ WILSON'S BAY (64km, 1405km total) - It was a day of celebration, followed by defeat, followed by celebration, followed by defeat, followed by celebration.

We woke up early this morning and packed up to leave our stealth campsite before we were discovered. Well... I woke up early. I had to wake Shad up three different times before it finally stuck - and he had been the one who had insisted that we leave as soon as possible! I spent my extra time waiting in the sun where I found a paddock with two huge Clydesdales. They kept me entertained while Shad slept in.

We got out early nonetheless and stopped for breakfast at a hilltop picnic area. There was an unusually high number of cyclists on the road this morning. When we got down to the coastal town of Kuaotunu I discovered why. Kuaotunu had a lovely little cafe with a great view of the beach and there had been some sort of organized bike ride out to meet there for morning coffee. It was so relaxed and peaceful in Kuaotunu, I wanted to spend the whole day there under one of the big shade trees, writing and drinking coffee. Shad wasn't so enchanted with the place though, so before too long we took off again down the road.

My bike made it up the first big hill out of town, but only halfway up the second one before the chain broke again. This time there was no hope in finding the missing link and as we were still without a chain breaker, I was royally screwed. Our only hope was hitchhiking. We walked our bikes up to the top of the hill and miraculously a little blue truck stopped when we stuck our thumbs out. Merv and Janice were an older couple perhaps in their late 50s who were out on a holiday. They offered to take us and our bikes into the next town, and when we couldn't find a mechanic there they drove us all the way to Coromandel Town. We couldn't believe our luck! Merv dropped us off at a garage where they just so happened to have a chainbreaker. We took out a couple of the links and pieced the thing back together. It seemed to work.

It started to spit rain as we made our way through town for lunch at an amazing little cafe on the edge of town that Lonely Planet had recommended. Driving Creek Cafe was fantastic. They had good music playing, very original and warm decor, and free tee with every meal. We spent a lot of time there, Shad on the internet and me writing while we waited out the rain.After it stopped, we spent a little bit of time at the shops in town before setting off to find a campsite. As we left town we still hadn't found a place to do the dishes and refill our water, so we hoped we would come across a stream or gas station or something on the way. We found a little river that we could scrub the dishes in, but the water looked too questionable to drink. Soon we were headed up our second to last huge hill of the entire trip. At the top we found a neat little clearing with all sorts of native plants and trees all labeled. Shad enjoyed digging through the large amount of garbage and bones he found back in the woods. It would have been a decent place to camp, but we still didn't have any water so we had to press on.

The little town at the bottom of the hill had nothing but a school and a few houses, so we dug in and set to climbing the last hill of any reasonable size on our entire trip. We stopped at a panoramic bit that we imagined was the top.

We celebrated and took pictures and did all that sort of thing, only to find when we set off again that we were still a steep incline away from the actual summit. As we were climbing up that, my chain broke again! I was so angry! I just wanted to be done with the hills and this stupid rental bike. We tried pinching the chain back together with pliers, but the links had bent too much to hold. o in defeat, we had to walk the rest of the way to the top. I don't care what Thomas Friedman says, the world is not flat. In New Zealand there are still plenty of hills, and they suck.

At the top I tried again to pinch the chain together, and that time it seemed to hold. We tentatively set off down the hill, but about halfway down the road went up a little incline and my chain broke yet again. I was fed up. I chucked the chain in one of my bags, walked up the rest of the hill, and finally FINALLY coasted to the bottom.

The road came down to the beach at Wilson's Bay and there was a little farm house just where I stopped rolling. People were about, so Shad went to ask for water while I tried once again to pinch the chain back together. Minutes later Shad was back with not only full water bottles but also with Marcus, an avid mountain biker who just so happened to have a chainbreaker and some extra links. My chain was fixed within seconds and Marcus even pointed out a nearby campsite where we could spend the night. We bid him farewell and set off for the campsite, only to find Marcus pedaling speedily after us. When he caught up he told us that the farmer had offered to let us stay in his wool shed where we could be sheltered from the wind and even have a shower. We happily accepted.

The wool shed was fantastic, not much more than an old wooden barn with a few random shearing implements, a dart board (but no darts), and a gold painted fridge. It brought back a lot of old memories of my grandpa and his little hideout "The Corn Crib". We would go there with my dad and uncles and play cards when I was really little. Those are good memories.

Anyways, we got ourselves cleaned off in an outdoor shower cold enough to wake you up from the grave. Then we hung up our hammocks and made a delicious dinner of spicy salmon burritos. There was so much food we both had three huge burritos each. After dinner we headed over to the house to have a beer with our hosts. ob was the owner and farmer. He bred cattle on the hilly 1000 acres of land behind the house. His wife was from Germany and then there were Marcus and Garth who were visiting them. It was great conversation and we laughed and shared stories for a good while. These people were skilled at the art of conversation. I felt like Shad and I were just there to provide fresh material. Eventually we all grew tired and found our way to bed, Shad and I swinging to sleep in our hammocks in the wool shed.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on January 8, 2010 from Kereta, New Zealand
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Roadside Camp Outside Whitianga

Whitianga, New Zealand

OUTSIDE WHITIANGA (73km, 1341km total) - For a day where we weren't supposed to go very far, we sure spent a lot of time on our bikes.

I took my time waking up this morning. It was one of the few mornings where Shad woke me up. The beach got a little busy in the morning with joggers and people walking their dogs and all that. We had our oatmeal breakfast on the beach looking out upon a beautiful view. Then begrudgingly I got on my bike.

Pumpkin Hill was indeed horrible, one of the steepest we've had to climb all trip. My bike wasn't really shifting quite right still, which only made it that much harder. As soon as I saw the top I gave up and just walked the last 50m.

After the morning's mountain climb, the rest of the ride to Haihei seemed relatively easy. We made it there quick and had lunch in town. I'm starting to run short of money, so I limited myself to just a chicken pie and a coffee. After lunch we set out to find Cathedral Cove. The trail started at the top of a huge hill which we had to bike up. There were heaps of people all over the place. It was about a 25 minute walk then down to the cove.

Cathedral Cove is a natural land formation where two pristine beaches are separated by a huge opening in the cliff face. There were some impressive rock formations both on shore and in the water.
We finally got in our first ocean swim of the entire trip. The water was quite cool at first, but was incredibly refreshing. Shad and I swam out to one of the little islands and climbed around on it. To finish, we jumped off the top into the sea.

After Cathedral Cove we pedaled 8km over to Hot Water Beach. This is a beach where at low tide a section of sand is exposed where you can dig a hole and water from a hot spring will bubble up and fill your little pool. It sounds cool. The reality was a mess of people digging holes in the sand.

It was fun to dig, felt like childhood, but I found only a little bit of hot water and a lot of cold water. This made for a lukewarm, sometimes kind of hot experience. My hole kept filling back in with sand too, so I could never get it more than maybe 8" deep. It was neat though... and kinda fun.

After cleaning off the sand, we headed out to the ferry at Cook's Beach. On the other side at Whitianga we filled up on water and Shad bought some beer to go with dinner, then we biked north out of town. We had been hoping to find a campsite before the sun set, but that didn't quite happen. We had to go off into the hills before we found anything suitable. We've ended up on a short cattle road maybe 50ft from the road behind some tall grass and trees. We have to turn our headlamps off everytime we hear a car coming so we don't get discovered. Dinner was mac & cheese with tuna and veggies - it turned out quite deliciously.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on January 7, 2010 from Whitianga, New Zealand
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Sailor's Grave Beach

Tairua, New Zealand

SAILOR'S GRAVE BEACH (72km, 1268km total) - We woke up early this morning because Stuart needed to run out early to do a job. By 8:30 we were ready to hit the road. our first job was to go into town to check our couchsurfing emails and make sure we had places to stay in Thames and Auckland. Then I had a look at their little gold mining museum. There's still an active gold mine in Waihi that's been producing gold since the late 1800s. I'm glad mining techniques have gotten better. The old mine is a huge hole in the middle of town where a mountain used to be. The new mine is an underground mine that's not much more than an angled shaft into the earth. We get so many things from the material that's pulled out of mines... I wonder what the world would be like without any of it? Is a bit of rock more useful to us than plants and animals?

After the museum we had a breakfast at a place Stuart recommended called Banana Pepper - french toast with bacon and roasted bananas. Then we headed for the phone and the bike shop. I called the rental company and asked what I should do about my busted chain. They said find a chainbreaker and take the offending links out. I've also been having trouble with my front derailleur. They told me how to adjust it. With this knowledge I borrowed the bike shop's chainbreaker and and just pushed in the pins properly that had come out before. I left shortening the chain for if I had further problems. Then I played with the shifters a bit (riding my bike into a wall in the process). While I managed to improve it, I still couldn't get the bike to shift into third gear. I've been without it almost all trip, so I just let it be. After all this we finally set out for Tairua around noon.

I was making pretty slow time at the start. There was a hill and there was wind and I'm just plain getting tired of biking all the time. Shad wants to take the bus from Thames to Auckland instead of biking it. With each day I get a little more keen to agree to it.

We stopped and had lunch in the little surf town of Whangamata. I wanted to stay longer and was not happy to get back on the bike. A few big hills later we finally came into the last stretch to Tairua. We stopped for a bit at a gas station in the middle of nowhere 12km from Tairua. I think every single employee took turns coming out to have a breack and chat with us. We learned about a good spot to camp on the other side of Tairua 2/3 of the way up Pumpkin Hill. We also learned of the ferry between Cook's Beach and Whitianga that would save us over 30km and only cost a couple bucks.

The last 12km to Tairua took forever. The wind was against us and I was moving slow. When we got there we set about trying to find a campsite close to town. Although the Pumpkin Hill spot sounded nice, the idea of climbing up a hill then descending it to the beach, then climbing it again in the morning was not something that sounded too good. There was some bush down by the beach, but when we checked it out we found too little of it on too steep of an incline to be any good. There were too many people around to do anything more out in open (camping being prohibited on that stretch of beach).

So, stuck with no other options, we were forced to climb up Pumpkin Hill. Our turn-off was more like 4/5 of the way up than 2/3, but we made it alright. At our turn there was a sign pointing us dow a horrible steep road to Sailor's Grave beach. The ride down was fun, but I know already that tomorrow morning is going to be horrible. A little trail through the bush then put us out in an isolated cove on the beach. It was absolutely gorgeous, with a little stream feeding down through some rocks into the ocean. I've got my hammock set up in the trees on one bank of the stream and Shad's got his in some trees on the other bank. A group of 4 Germans have a couple tents set up on a solitary grassy patch in the middle of the valley. Shad and I both washed off in the frigidly cold stream and had a dinner of pasta, chicken, tomatoes, and vegetable. It was alright, but lacked a good sauce or a strong flavor. Now the stars are out and the waves are singing me to sleep.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on January 6, 2010 from Tairua, New Zealand
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Gypsy Housetruck

Waihi, New Zealand

WAIHI (63km, 1196km total) - Today was a frustrating day. It started out well enough. We woke up and had breakfast with Melissa. After that she took us to the grocery store to buy some supplies for the last leg of our trip. She had to go too because she is hosting her daughter's 4th birthday party tomorrow. We were very grateful for the ride. When we got back I made lunch for everyone. Shad and I had toast and she had toasted sandwiches. Toasted sandwiches are an everyday item down here in New Zealand and Australia, as ubiquitous as meat pies. They're basically a griled cheese with 2 or 3 various ingredients. She had hers with cheese (not always included), capsicum (the down under name for bell peppers), and "capery things" (green onions, apparently). I first tried to find a frying pan to cook them like I'm used to, but Melissa didn't have a frying pan. So I discovered the grill function on the oven and cooked them in a baking dish. I'm not sure if I prepared them right at all, but apparently they came out "perfect". We finished lunch and said our goodbyes around 1:30.

The real trouble didn't start until we got out of town and after Shad had a second lunch of chicken vindaloo at a takeaway Indian place. About 15km out, just after a short break, my chain broke. Shad was in front of me and out of earshot, as I yelled his name at him and he just rode off.. I spent probably 20 min trying to find the borken pieces of link in the roadside gravel and at least another 20 trying to smash the whole thing back together with my pliers. Shad eventually figured out I wasn't behind him anymore and turned back to help me. Together we got the thing pieced back together as best we could, cursing ourselves that the one tool we didn't pack was a chain breaker - the one tool we desperately needed. Our pinch job worked, but I was scared it wouldn't hold if I shifted it around too much or put too much strain on it. So I picked a lower gear and was determined not to shift from it unless I really had to. Then we set off with me praying for forgiving terrain.

The chain actually made it most of the way. About 12km out from Waihi I noticed it breaking again, so we stopped and pinched it back together. Some nice guy noticed us and brought over two oranges for us to snack on. Then we set off to finish the last bit to Waihi.

Because of our delays we didn't make it to our couchsurfing host's house until just after 8pm. He was a real nice guy about it though. His name was Stuart and he was in his 40s, living in a housetruck he built himself while he was a part of the gypsy fair. Now he runs 3 businesses of his own: renting bicycles, renting motorbikes and guiding rides, and doing canvassing work (think boat covers and sunshades). Stuart lived a real "cruisy" life of independence and regaled us with stories of enduro motorbike races, old girlfriends, and life as a gypsy. He drove us into town to a Chinese takeaway place where he was friends with the owners and managed to get enough food to feed all 3 of us for only $10. We just finished having a few beers and a cup of coffee while watching a DVD of an enduro race he was in in Auckland and looking at pictures in various magazines that he had collected to illustrate his stories. Stuart's got a very interesting life, perhaps not one that I would want to live, but very interesting nonetheless. Tonight I'm sleeping up in a loft in the house truck and Shad's got a bed in the office/shed.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on January 5, 2010 from Waihi, New Zealand
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Tauranga, New Zealand

TAURANGA (72km, 1133km total) - I took full advantage of my hungover state this morning and slept well past 11. Shad was up a little earlier and hung out some more with those of last night's guests who were still around. We made a slow morning of it, eating breakfast, cleaning, and packing up. It was just after 2 by the time we left.

The road out of Rotorua was easy enough, although there was about 20min where I was deeply worried we had missed the turn to Tauranga. Luckily we didn't and were soon climbing into the hills. The hills were tough, but not extreme and for the first time on this entire trip I felt the wind helping me up a few of them. About 1/3 of the way to Tauranga we dropped into a massive gorge, only to quickly find ourselves struggling up the long & steep road on the other side. Shad hit some of the gravel on the side of the road as we were climbing and his bike slipped out from under him again. The wounds on his hands reopened and there was a lot of angry yelling into the wild. Fortunately it wasn't too bad of a stumble and we were soon able to continue to the top. At one point near the top it got so steep that I was pedaling slower than I could walk, so I got off and walked the bike up. I don't want to have to go up another hill like that again on this trip.

After the hill the road was considerably easier and more fun to ride. It rolled through the top of a long plateau. We stopped on a side road with a magnificent view and enjoyed some of our poor attempts at cookies. The good news is that they tasted a little better when we were exhausted. From the cookie break it was largely downhill all the way to Tauranga.

We stopped for dinner in Tauranga before going over to our couchsurfing host Melissa's. I found another Turkish to Go and Shad had the New Zealand attempt at sushi. Downtown Tauranga seemed cool enough, just a single strip of shops, cafes, and bars on one side of the street with the open bay on the other side. We didn't linger though, just rode through. The only other thing of note that happened on the ride was that just before we got to Melissa's, as we were climbing a slight hill, I managed to ride straight into the back of a parked car. You have to watch out for those parked cars... they're wily.

Melissa's home had a bright green mailbox and a bright green garage door with kids toys, a kiddie pool, and a little swingset strewn across the lawn. Inside it had all the chaos you would expect in the house of a young single mother. Melissa was making us cookies and a little frozen pizza as we walked in. Once we had the gear off our bikes we sat down and enjoyed the pizza and cookies and got to know our host a bit. She has a 4yr old daughter who is currently on vacation with Grandma. She has dreams of becoming a cop and recently found the motivation and inspiration to get into shape and follow her dream. She's a belly-dancer and enjoys medieval combat reenacting. Fantastic. She invited us to watch the second part of a TV movie about Queen Elizabeth called "THe Virgin Queen". The first part had been on last night and they were showing the second part tonight. After showers, we did just that. I couldn't believe how nice it felt to just sit down and watch a movie at home. It has been a wonderfully relaxing night.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on January 4, 2010 from Tauranga, New Zealand
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Rotorua Day II

Rotorua, New Zealand

ROTORUA DAY II (20km, 1061km total) - I woke up this morning in time to go to church for the first time all trip. I rode in to go to St. Luke's Anglican church in town. It was a nice enough service, although the preacher's point was a bit muddled and theologically sparse. "It's a new year, so make every day count," about sums it up. They had communion though, which is what I was really missing, so all was good.

I rode back and found that Shad had spent the morning sunbathing and helping Deborah clean for her birthday BBQ party that she had tonight. We did a bit of laundry and headed out to see the sights of Rotorua. We rode our bikes into town and through the geothermal part of Kuirau Park. There were pools of boiling mud, hot springs, a couple of really hot foot baths, and the strong eggy scent of sulfur.

It was pretty cool all together. From there we headed down along the shore of Lake Rotorua and ran into an open air market. We spent a little time checking out the stalls, including one that sold handheld "massaging" devices which sent small electric shocks through your muscles.

We continued our ride then down along the coast until we arrived at the government gardens and the Polynesian Spa. The Polynesian Spa housed Rotorua's main thermal pools, and Shad and I decided that was exactly where we wanted to spend the rest of our afternoon. The section we went in had 7 pools, some good for muscle relaxing, others good for your skin. They ranged in temperature from 36 to 40 degrees Celsius and were all fantastic. I think we spent over 2 hours there.

After our soak in the hot pools, we biked back to Deborah's to join her in celebrating her birthday. She had a bunch of her friends over and we enjoyed ourselves by eating huge quantities of food and drinking large quantities of wine, beer, and white russians. Shad really came into his own as a bartender and was producing all sorts of shots for us to drink. Shad, myself, and one of Deborah's friends Raymond staid up the latest, challenging each other to drink the other one under the table. I think we finally called a truce and each went off to pass out in our respective places around the house.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on January 3, 2010 from Rotorua, New Zealand
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Heading South?

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