Sunday, November 20, 2011


201111  Sunday

I'm in Kataia, the last anything town before the 'finger' pennisula on the way up to Cape Reinga.  In Maori myth this is where the Maori spirits 'depart' N.Z. for 'home!'   At this point, cycling in Northland, it feels like I've got my MOJO back and will press on...

But, where was I writing before I was so 'brutally' interrupted....?  This by time, or lack of battery, or limpid imagination!  The problem now I can't remember where I left off writing my BLOK as I'd composed online, and now not until Monday, so can't read to check...?  So-called 'cloud' computing both 'good,' and 'bad.'  Maybe someday I'll learn I suppose compose all here on Ms. MacBook, and upload later.

In my last uploaded BLOK I think I had departed Matapouri (Bruce's property), heading north... Cape Reinga at least another 300KM.  It's been slow going as in 2.5 weeks I'd only traveled something like 200KM from Auckland.  Hills, hills, and more hills, and the ever present west wind making tour cycling in Northland, N.Z. challenging.  

But, I got to Hirkurangi on Highway #1, without too much pain.  I found an open Cafe, in the all-but-dead burgh, where I bought a piece of carrot cake for $2.  But, I had to eat it outside on a public bench (no tables/chairs in the Cafe). 

Later, I stopped at a livelier Cafe, where a band was setting up to play.  A bit early I thought, but people were sitting at the bar and drinking by 2P.M..  Probably not much to do in these parts of rural Northland and it is Saturday!  They like 'country music' out here I've noticed.  Here I sat outside on their table and chair, drank tea and read the newspaper.  One person in the band wanted to know about me, alone, cycling... 

Onward north on Highway #1, I went, trying not to get killed by the traffic on this busy highway, the main one north and south.  My goal for the day was Kawakawa.

I got to 'Kawakawakawa,' at a reasonable time, but I'd done 66KM (in six hours) so immediately was looking for a place to rest.  I asked two women on the street about camping, but they didn't know and suggested the hotel across the street.  'Ask for Frank, he'll fix you up!'  They also mentioned a motel back near the junction coming into town.  I thought I'd seen a hostel, but it turned out to be only 'Youth Center.' 

I was on my way to the motel, pushing, when a man stopped me.  Turned out he is with the local 'Council,' and said it was O.K. for me to camp in the City Park, nearby.  I asked him if it was safe, and he equivocated, but I opted for, as close and with picnic tables a toilet (meaning water, etc.).  The only possible unpleasantness was a group of teenagers 'hanging out' nearby.  But, they got bored and moved on.  

Later, however, after I was set up and in my tent, a couple on bicycles came by and offered their yard.  They said the Park wasn't safe.  People are so paranoid!  I wasn't about to move at that point, but thanked them anyway.

In the morning a kid on a bicycle cruised by and yelled for me to 'get up!'  Then much laughter!  Kids... They don't know that they don't know!

Before departing Kawakawakawakawa (ad infikawa), I had tea and a muffin at a Cafe.  When I was seated outside an older women wanted a picture with my bicycle.  She asked me if I knew Jesus?  I told her I did, and that Jesus knew me too!  This seemed to please her.

Just before the commercial area ended I stopped at the 'Four Square' (or 'Corner' -- i can't seem to remember the name) food market.  Outside again the tourist train gave me a toot as I took a picture.  Ah, the old steam whistles so loud!  Invariably I think of my father whenever I see an old steam train.

About ten kilometers west of Kawa, there's a hill, a BIG hill!  Whoa!  Note, if you want to get into physical condition, come to N.Z., North Island, and crank a heavy bicycle around.  Near the top, I had to stop and rest.  But, the great thing about big 'ups,' there are big 'downs.'  

The goal for the day was the Ngawha Hot Springs (as recommended by Paul Doherty back in Onerahi).  But just before on the south side of the highway, a prison, and a very green golf course (They go together?)!  Maybe they allow the prisoners to act as caddies?  

After the turnooff you pass the golf course on the way to the Hot Springs, some 3KM.  No rooms, however, at the facility but tent camping O.K. for $7 per, the mineral-water baths another $5.

When paying, a guest extolled the virtues of the mineral-laced geo-thermal waters, but had two caveats:  Don't put your head under (possible Mennigitis), and the first time,  stay in for 30 to 40 minutes.  It had healed a broken bone of his, he added.  Wow, I thought!

While I was soaking in the bubbling brew, Alvaro appeared.  I thought he might, so I wasn't so surprised  to see him.  We seem to have some kind of cosmic connection, and meet up occasionally.  This the second time in N.Z. 

I found what I thought was the best dry spot and pitched my tent, leaning Mr. Fetes against a pile of concrete blocks.  Later, Alvaro couldn't understand why I'd pitched my tent where I had.  Didn't I want to be near the pond, as the sun would... To Alvaro, his way is always the best way!  He can't understand how you might think differently.

Eventually, he cooked his dinner outside my tent, and we shared information about cycling our plans, cycling in general, etc.  

Later, he demonstrated why his Danish tent is so good,  light weight, etc. (ah, but expensive and I can't afford).  

Seems whatever Alvaro has and does is the best!   But, his goals and agenda much different than mine.  He's more 'professional,' with sponsors, books, videos, even a satellite telephone, etc. I'm just roaming around discovering the world on Mr. Fetes.   He doesn't understand that I have guarding angels and don't need a watch with an internal compass.

The next morning Alvaro was off, but I hung around to partake of the healing waters a second time.  I ended up sharing my 'tub,' with a caravan neighbor from whom I'd borrowed a tool.

My left big toe nail on my left foot, deformed and growing into the next toe.  This  creates a painful situation.  I have to deal with this from time to time (unable to afford a podiatrist or some such).  But, cranking a heavy bicycle, I can't have!  There's pressure enough on your feet without additional pain.

At Ngawha Hot Springs I met a couple (the Scopes) from Brisbane, Australia, traveling around N.Z. in a caravan. First, I went to see if they had a wire cutter, as hoping to prune my problem toe-nail!  He did, and I tried to use, but they didn't work, the nail too, the angle making it impossible to get a good grip on. But, I managed to cut off some and then file it down a bit.  So, I thought the problem solved, at least for the moment.  In the meantime,  Grahame and I  got to talking and ended up sharing the same tub for at least an hour...

Native 'Kiwis' Grahame and his wife (name ?) were full of information about New Zealand.  I think they'd returned to partake of a new grandchild, as all grandparents do (meet them all the time).  He's in the concrete business in Australia, and I shared what I knew about China.  Everyone seems to want to know where China is heading...

Later they invited me for tea, and had laid out several maps to explain how and where to go.  They told me about an association for motor vehicles (www.nzmca.org.nz), one in which provides overnight places to park.  A little like 'couchsurfing.org' but for motor travelers (mostly caravans).  You might call it 'park sharing,' rather than 'home sharing.'  Some times these places just a person's home driveway, or a vacant lot, etc..  But, I got the idea to include cyclists, as so few places to camp in New Zealand (fenced private property, and not so many caravan parks).  Cyclists don't need much, just space for a tent and water.   I sent the N.Z. Motor Caravan Association an email message suggesting such, but haven't heard. 

Off to Kaihoke, only 7KM, I was there in no time.  I went directly to the Library as about 1P.M..    An odd coincidence, however, prevented me from getting online there.  They had just shut off the Internet to the public for a meeting (about a local political debate).  But, I could return at 0900 in the morning as available again.  I asked about accommodations in town.  The woman recommended a motel at the end of the commercial area.

There I went to check out, but the vacant room left was daunting in terms of price ($120 per).  Amazingly, and very unusual, the woman offered camping for $12 per.  I pondered, but then opted to 'go have lunch first.'   But, it wasn't lunch I was after just more time to check out options (as I really wanted a room nee shower, etc.).  

The next two motels were full (TV crew in for the political debate), but the proprietor of one knew about another possibility (off the highway).  There to Sydney Street I went, but not before chatting with this guy.  Somehow, we ended up in an involved conversation about the GFCrisis, China, etc.   He was curious about what I was doing, had some some bicycle touring himself when younger. 

The room at the 'Campbell Motel' on Sydney Street cost $60NZD per ($48USD with the exchange).    I ended up staying there for two nights, but it had kitchen facilities, and I was able to cook meals.  Best of all, i met a young Indian boy (Sharan Singh, for '
 in the laundry.  Later, he came by my room (#7) and offered his WIFI (he was living there, a couple rooms away).  So, without having to go to the Library, I had free WIFI right there in my room (uploaded all my pictures).  Don't tell me I don't have 'guarding angels!'

The cloudy morning I departed, I noticed my bicycle tool missing.  I don't know if I lost it or it was stolen (I'd left out my tool bag on the porch)...  But, on the way out of town I purchased some hex tools for $3.50.  It's not a good idea to be 'out there,' without any tools.

A few kilometers west dark clouds loomed, so I stopped to prepare for the shower I knew was coming.  Sure enough, but it was lessened as I hid behind a traffic sign.  And it didn't last long, and I was on my way before too long.  

Today's goal was Peter Land in Whirinaki some 50KM (I seem to be about be able to manage 50KM per day.).  It was up and down of course, as nothing but hills in Northland.  I remember stopping and taking pictures, one of a scene that reminded me of Oregon, and nearby was some memorial in Maori language, and maybe for those who sacrificed their lives in WWII (the date 1943, was next to one name).

When I came to the junction to the ferry north (at Rawene), I knew I wasn't far from Whirinaki, where Peter Land was supposed to live.

Another 9KM and II was in 'Whirinaki,' and I stopped to inquire about Peter Land at the first house.  They knew about him and 'the family,' and gave me directions.  This included Joseph and Catherine's name written on a piece of paper.  It is up Jackson Road, a good dirt track, that was level and offered no problems.  'They grow everything up there,' the couple informed me.  So, I had some idea what it might be like before ever arriving:  Sounded like some kind of organic farm commune.

After maybe one kilometer, following a stream, I began to see hulks of old Land Rovers, other discarded vehicles and a house-like structure.  The road ended with a group of sheds, various vehicles and other farm equipment.  A man pulling a trailer was backing up a vehicle.  After inquiring he pointed to a gate, and a path at the end of which was 'Joseph and Cathy's.'  

I parked Mr. Fetes, and discovered Joseph, Cathy, two sons and one daughter having lunch (late about 2P.M.).  They offered such, and I enjoyed some good stew with homemade bread.  Everything at the 'St. Francis Farm,' turned out to be 'homemade.'  'We're a 'Catholic Work Farm,' Joseph explained as we sat in front of a burning fire (place).  I began to get the picture:  No telephones, no computers, no TV (good), no drugs, alcohol, or any of the rest of our 'modern conveniences'...  Oh well, I'm into living more simply!

During that first meeting I learned the history of the place and how 'his father,' 83-year old Peter Land, had moved there in 1978.  We talked the family's migration from England to New York, to Canada, across to Vancouver, and finally sailing to Tonga.  The poety of William Blake and Shakespeare came up and I got the distinct impression these were highly literate, albeit barefoot, people. After I explained how I'd found the place (the 'Worzel' story) Joseph invited me to stay in one of their empty caravans.  Although I prefer my tent, not having to set up and take down saves time and effort.  I jumped at the chance, but then later such turned out to be a mistake (the empty caravan so dirty). 

They explained that Peter was up with his wife (at one of his brother's), that she had dementia,' and they rotated taking care of her (wheel chair bound).   I'd get to meet Peter later when he returned.  

I spend the afternoon unpacking and sitting in the sun.  In fact, I took a nap, two horses 'mowing' the grass in the back ground (the caravan inside their horse corral).

Hungry around 5P.M., I prepared my rice dinner in the caravan.  Later they invited me to eat with them, but I declined, and was in bed at 7P.M.

About 8P.M., (takes me a long time to go to sleep) I heard what I thought was a 'knock,' but hoping whomever would go away I ignored.  Several minutes later a louder knock.  I got up to behold a Santa Claus-looking character, his legs wrapped in skirt-like material, wearing an old plaid woolen shirt and stocking cap on his head.   Of course, definitely, Peter Land!  I apologized for going to bed so early, and we agreed to meet the next morning.   

The next morning, I wasn't disappointed!  Peter's memorable in many ways.  We hit it off in fact, discussing a wide variety of topics, as he's highly educated, a teacher by profession.  Amazing to me he taught himself the Chinese language (never having been to China)!    

He had come across the Lao Zi's 'Tao Te Ching,' in a 'hippie,' house (they lived there before), and became fascinated as I had been (some forty years ago).   He explained how his first effort to translate the Tao was bereft, and that he's completed several editions since.  I bought the latest, a paperback, and spend the rest of the day reading it.  I wasn't disappointed!   It may be the best I've read, albeit with a slight Christian slant (as he's a practicing Catholic).

That afternoon, after the usual tasks, washing the dishes and some of my clothing, I walked with Gilbert back up the dirt track.  Earlier he had invited me to join him as he worked weeding the garden.  That's his task, weeding.

Gilbert, an interesting story (as told by Peter his grandfather), is 'handicapped.'  Or, that's what I thought when I first met him.  Seems when just a baby Gilbert fell into the stream (can't call it a river), floating down several hundred meters where they found him caught in some rocks.  Rushed to the nearest hospital he was pronounced dead.  But,  they managed to revive him, and he has since (he's 23-years of age now) developed to being understood (I could understand most.).  He has some trouble walking, but manages.  I found him an engaging young man, and was really touched when, on my way out, he thanked me for coming!   In fact, I was invited to 'stay as long as I wanted' by both Joseph and Catherine.  Note, I think some people come and stay for years, attracted to the 'back to the earth,' life style.

I had a second session with Peter the following morning, as he wanted to know about China.  We parted friends.  And I will make some effort to stop off again, on my way back from the Cape to Auckland.  The only thing I didn't like about the place were the 'no see-ums,' the tiny 'knats,' that liked taking my blood (mosquito like).   My legs looked like l'd contracted measles for several days after.  And the worst part, the itching!  I'm not a low, wet, green and gray kind, as too many biting insects.

Heading north again, I had to retrace the 9KM of the highway returning to the junction for the ferry (at Rawene).  This to take the Twin-Coast Highway to Kaitaia, via Brownwood.  On the way, my large water bottle fell out of its cage, and I had to spend some time finding it in the tall grass on the side of the highway.  But, still 80% full and with only a few 'scares,'  it's with me still.  I'd forgotten to secure it with the bungie cord which, appears like, I've lost.  I seem to lose some many things along the way...  Maybe I'm 'pre dementia?'  

Dementia, I learned from Peter, is when you can't remember from one moment to the next.  Me... my short term fails me, but long term better than ever.  It's a fallacy you tend to lose your memory as you get older.

I felt stronger back on Mr. Fetes, like my 'MOJO,' had returned after three weeks!  But, maybe it was the helping wind or the rest day with the Lands, or the rest days before, or soaking in the mineral water.   When you're older, it's day by day, your physical well being...

Arriving at the ferry dock in Ravene (where the hospital had saved Gilbert's life) it was almost perfect timing, as the ferry boat was just arriving from the opposite shore.  I was allowed to push aboard ahead of the motor vehicles.  Ah ha!  

The $2 ride across to the landing only took ten minutes.  On the way I met a couple from 'Britain,' there in N.Z. visiting their new grandchild (another example of such).  They were dreading their return to winter in the U.K.  I suggested they stay, but they shook their heads as if couldn't.  

Most people choose to 'incarcerate themsleves, rationalizing their lives, preferring such 'slavery' to the unknown that complete freedom challenges!    

I stopped at a small food market in Kohukohu (love these Maori names), where I paid too much, some $23 for a few items (one can of tuna $4.25).

Outside, sitting in the sun, I ate some dried figs (my 'lunch').  Then off again... 

I had the wind helping me while heading north along the inlet (upper reaches of Hokianga Harbor).  Then, as I knew from the map, turning west I'd be going up hill and into the wind.  I opted for this highway, versus Highway #1, as skirts the south side of the Raitea Forest  (the highest peak some 750M).   I thought this route had less steep climbs with less traffic.  I was wrong about the first, but right about the second.

It was up and down, but nearing 50KM I was suddenly going down, and down into Brownwood.  I noted a 'tent' and 'homestay,' sign, and stopped at the 'General Store.'  Both the people whom I asked said Kaitaia was 52KM (from Brownwood).  Another 52KM too far to make in one day (total of near 100KM).  So, I returned to the 'homestay' sign, seeking a place to stay for the night.  The gravel road, initially up, was easy until I turned into their 'homestay' driveway.  Here awaited me the steepest climb yet encountered.  The picture I took later doesn't do it justice, the grade at least 13%!  I struggled up it, having to stop to rest, one time almost losing control and falling.   But, I got to the flat garage parking area where I tried to catch my breath.  Then there was another 10M up to the house, but again so steep.  By the time I got to the house my heart was beating out of my chest.  I could hardly talk to the man who greeted me!

A room inside was $24 per, tent camping but $14, and I only had cash for camping and one beer.  I could have broken my $100U.S. Benjamin bill (I carry for emergencies.).   But, it's wise to hang on to U.S. dollars when traveling, at least for now.  

Andre, the 'homestay keeper,' turned out to be a good listener.  I babbled from too much beer but we shared had a good conversation!  I learned he'd been born in N.Z., of Flemish parents (born in Amsterdam who knew Anne Frank's family).  We sat chatting until I knew I had to eat something.  Then I put up my tent, while his Sheperd dog 'Costa' became bothersome (just a curious pup).

Later I met MaryL, his partner, and took a hot shower.  I had asked MaryL if I could take a bath, but only reluctantly as she explained 'not too full, as a bath consumes more water.'  I then begged off, and took a shower.  As an Innkeeper you should never say 'no,' to a paying guest requests (unless unreasonable)! 

The great thing about being in N.Z. (western culture), however, are the bathrooms... Generally clean, and always with hot water.  At least you get to take a hot shower, if not a bath and in a clean environment.

The next morning, I made my porridge breakfast at the picnic table.  I'd slept fairly well, on their grass lawn (Mother Earth).  It turned sunny later, and after signing their guest book I departed at 11P.M.   I paused to take a picture of the road up, as wanting to remember!

Back on the highway, through Brownwood, up and down through green pastural hills (seems all of Northland).  I struggled against the wind until turning north, and then had it helping me.  I stopped to calculate I'd done 25KM in 1.5 hours.  I was surprised as so fast under such conditions.  (Note, I ended up that day managing 50KM in 3 hours, but this with help from a strong tail wind.  Nonetheless, amazing to me!)

Then the 'big,' hill up and up, but now with the wind.  Then down and down, and finally at the junction turning east and now with the wind at my back!  And for the 11KM into Kaitaia it was like having an engine... I made the distance in 20 minutes, zooming along.  Because of so much traffic I was, at first, a little confused as I thought maybe this was the highway north to the Cape.  The map had indicated otherwise, plus I needed to stay in Kaitaia regardless (I needed shower, Internet, etc.).  Note, turned out not the case. 

In Kaitalia, I first found the Library as hoping it would still be open on Saturday.  But, I was too late closing at 1P.M.  All this meaning I'd have to stay in Kaitaia through Monday (more money).  Not much is open on Sundays in Christian countries (especially Australia and New Zealand).

I checked out the first 'backpacker hotel,' but whenever it says 'gaming,' I tend to avoid (as noisy).  

I asked two girls walking on the street where the Post Office was, and they pointed north.  So, I rode north, and withdrew $100 from their 'Kwik Cash' ATM.  I then continued on north until suddenly, 'Bingo,' the 'Hike and Bike Hostel!' was there on the left.  Of course, I had to check out, but at first glance seemed empty.  

After a time, however, the 'hostel keeper,' appeared, a middle-aged hippie-looking guy.  When he smiled there was a huge gap in his teeth.  

Rooms were $25 per, so I opted for two nights.  When he found I was from the U.S., he (David by name) told me of his 'horror' story.  Seems he got ripped off in Santa Cruz (California) during a 1997 trip (I read the newspaper article about it later.).  Someone stole his backpack with everything in it, money, traveler's checks, passport, the works.   

Later when I decided to stay Monday night (for a total of 3) I ended up giving him an extra $10.  I was, in a way, trying to make up for what had happened to him in the U.S. in 1997.   I wanted him to know not all Americans are thieves!  

Then guess what I discovered the next morning...?  Someone had taken my cycling glasses from my helmet (my fault for leaving them outside on Mr. Fetes)!  I guess no good turn ever goes unpunished.  Or, was it karma, one New Zealander getting even with an American?  Not a big deal to me, these glasses, but all this stealing from people... It's the feeling you have after getting ripped off, not the item lost.  It makes you unhappy to realize people think so little of you.  That things are more important than people!  Sad, the byproduct of capitalism, bringing out the worst in people, not the best (most of the time)!

Sitting, eating my breakfast I chanced upon a book about Children's literature.  Suddenly I was reading about Lewis Carroll's life (I didn't know he was a photographer!).  

Hostels generally have a used-book library, and I've discovered interesting books (or magazines) by investigating their collections.  I remember in one Caravan Park in W. Australia, an article (in 'Reader's Digest' no less) about tour cycling around Australia! 

Waiting for the washer to finish with my laundry, I was writing THIS listening to Eric Anderson's 'Thirsty Boots' at the same time (thanks to Jim Berger, iMusic and my MacBook).   

When I returned with more hot tea to continue writing, a young woman, asked if I had a mobile telephone.  I said yes.  She wanted to go buy a SIM card at 2 Degrees (a N.Z. provider, like Vodaphone), so she could put it into a mobile to text someone.  She seemed desperate to 'text' someone.  I thought this a bit odd, but told her if she did, she could use my mobile (I haven't used it since being in N.Z.)  So, the next thing I know she's gone off and bought one (for $5).  

I think all of this had to do with a boyfriend, and wanting to get taken somewhere... I never knew for sure, but she would 'text,' and wait, and wait.  She'd return my mobile one moment and then ask to borrow again the next.  This happened three times, when I finally told her, I'd loan it, but to keep it until she got the message she seemed to need so desperately.  I was tired of getting it out, and then putting it away, distracting me from what I was doing.   She then disappeared out to the back yard to smoke a cigarette.  I first thought, now paranoid, she'd stolen it.  But, she returned.   Ultimately, I gave it to her as a present, wishing her a 'Merry Christmas!'  I'm sure she has more use for it, than I will.

'Christmas is coming the goose it getting fat, please put a penny in the old man's hat!  If you haven't got a penny (to give), then God Bless you!'  Strange to me that Christmas is coming here in N.Z., as it's Spring with summer coming (December 21st!).

In the meantime, 'Happy Thanksgiving!' in the U.S.  Several times cranking along I've thought of Thanksgiving in the U.S.  Then later I happen upon turkeys (N.Z. doesn't celebrate such, nor have seen or heard of turkey meat for sale in the food markets.).  Think this is a coincidence, me happening upon live turkeys (after thinking about Thanksgiving in the U..S)?  I don't!  We create our worlds from our minds.  There's no such thing as an objective world!

MORE WHEN I CAN...




Monday, November 14, 2011

151111a BLOK

Departing from the Doherty's house (in Onerahi/Whangarei was painful!  I didn't want to go, their hospitality lulling me into a sense of security, comfort, etc.!  But, I did go, fighting the urge to retreat, not having to think about the unknown, 'out there!'
I'm going 'soft,' at my venerated age (71), I'm beginning to like (too much) the feeling of comfort!  Gad, what am I saying!  I have miles to go before Bolivia, thousands!
Paul went with us (Alvaro and me), cranking Freya and his two dogs (see the pictures at in the Gallery ('North of Auckland,' album).  This on his tandem bicycle (dogs included).
After saying goodbye, and thanking Paul (maybe a hundred times) I went on without Alvaro.  I'm slower, plus he has different goals and agenda than me.  Paul had invited us to join him at a cafe, but I knew I had to keep going or stay forever!   Alvaro loves good brewed coffee and wanted to have 'one last cup before (he went), to the valley below!' (Bobby Dylan)
I was on my way to Matapouri (a vacation beach/bay community).  This an invitation to camp out on Bruce's property.  Bruce had given me the directions, and it wasn't that far, maybe 40KM from the Doherty house (in Onerahi).
But, the hills in Northland, they are killers!  At least back then, as I'm getting stronger now (writing this a week later)!  As they say...
I was in Matapouri by early afternoon, the only mishap on the way my sleeping bag slipped out and fell onto the highway.  This the second time since departing Auck.  Sometimes I'm stupid about packing, and even with much experience.  I thought to myself, maybe I need the B.O.B. trailer, as things piled too high on the rear rack.  I'd had a problem with that too days before, the rack, a screw coming out.
Once in 'Mata Hari,' I got out my notebook and reread Bruce's directions.
The first 'clue,' was the 'school yard.'  Then the 'first left,' then 'a road following a creek.'  The sealed road turned into gravel and then a driveway to the left, but I wasn't sure that was the 'first left.'  Just beyond was a bridge where I paused.  Then deciding, I pushed down this ('first left') a slightly overgrown two-track 'driveway.'  But, then there was the bridge over the creek as he had described.   Lo and behold there was the 'Bryan Family' sign on the gate.  Elation swept over me, as I'd found his property!
But... The 4-wheel track up the hill, lumpy/bumpy from cow hoof prints .  This part of the challenge, as in the soft wet soil I slipped myself some gear slipping off the rear rack!  Damn, this push was getting daunting!   I kept pushing, however, but having to stop and rest regularly.
I got to one crest, where there was a shed and some corrals.  I sat down for a few minutes trying to figure out the best place to camp.
It was there I discovered my front brake not working.  At first, I didn't know what was the problem, I thought maybe the cable had slipped.  But, with one working brake I wasn't too concerned, at least immediately.
I scouted the area, and came upon another gate, with the name 'Lewis' on it.  I initially thought this was someone else's property (Mr. Lewis').  Later I figured it out that it was Bruce's, as the brown color paint on the sign matched that of the one below.  Plus, the final 'clue,' the 'concrete water sistern,' at the top of the hill (I could see in the distance/).
It turned out the perfect place to camp (for four nights).  There wasn't a sound up there except for the birds, the wind flapping the rain fly on the tent.  Once in awhile I heard some human sound from the road below, a dog barking in the distance.  But, I was in my element up there communing with Nature, serenity at last!
When the sun was out I went 'buck naked' and sunned parts of my body that hadn't seen a 'ray,' for years!   I performed an offering, blessing the land for its abundance, its help in sustaining me!
The following day I discovered, to my dismay, one of the pads had come out of the brake, and why it wasn't working (I'm not too swift about mechanical things.)!  Murphy's Law, as I've cycled 100K KM in eleven years, and this was the first time a brake pad had ever fallen out of the 'shoe!'  I spent the day pondering what to do... Then it occurred to me to retrace my push up the hill and see if I could find it.  I think I said a prayer!
Damn if I didn't find it laying right there in one of the tracks, and not that far down the hill either.  I took a picture of it lying where it had fallen.
Then I returned to get Mr. Fetes.  I would need something to hold the pad in the 'shoe.' The pin that secures it had come out, and the reason the pad had slipped out.
Walking through the 'Lewis gate' I ran into a woman riding a horse.  I asked if she was coming through, but said no.  Then she turned and galloped back down the track.   I soon caught up with her as faster riding down.  When we met I asked if the bicycle would scare her horse.  She said yes, to wait, and she would move out of the way.  We chatted for a moment, her name 'Sandy,' and when I explained, she said she'd met Bruce when he first was there purchasing the property.
At the store in town I bought water and chatted up the Indian proprietor.  I asked if there was a 'handy man' kind of guy in the community, that I had a minor problem with my bicycle.  When I explained what exactly he produced a safety pin that ended up working perfectly!  Sometimes 'guarding angels' are more important than mechanical expertise!
The following day, I walked down to the road in search of water.  I saw two men in a field and approached them.  Turned out to be 'Bob and Jenbei (young Japanese guy), and, 'no problem,' but to meet me at the house.  Bob explained that, 'Charmaine,' was living there and I was welcome to ask her when I needed more water.   What we do without the kindness of strangers?
The next day walking down again I ran into Kevin driving a 4-wheel ATV (heard him coming of course).  He's a local, setting traps to kill varmints that eat the Kiwi (national symbol of N.Z.) eggs.
But, Charmaine turned out to be the most interesting of all the locals.  She was 'hip' to 11.11.11, the following day. When I informed her it was also a full moon, she rushed to check the calendar.  She made tea, and we chatted for some time.  Before departing we exchanged contact information.
The following day, I packed up and headed north, for God knows where.  But, at least I had/have two working brakes!
Originally, my goal has been to reach the tip of the North Island, Cape Reinga.  But, at this point I was not so confident I'd have time to make it, another 300KM, and then return to Auckland.  I need to apply for a visa before the Christmas Holiday.  My 3-month's 'free ride,' in N.Z. ends January 4th, 12.
Tricky business 'out here' cycling the world, dealing with things like government holidays and visas, deadlines, etc... You develop the ability to plan ahead!

TO BE CONTINUED...
 


Saturday, November 05, 2011

061111 BLOK


041111 BLOK  Onerahi, No Is., N.Z. 

Alvaro and I are staying with Paul and Carol Doherty (two daughters, Madoline and Freya) on the outskirts of Whangarei, in a suburb called 'Onerahi (next to a little airport). This, about 200+ KM north of Auckland, right on the east coast, the Bay of something(?).  
Note, like Australia, the larger cities all on oceans, bays, harbors, rivers, water...
It's all about water, sailing, dairy, timber,  the environment, Mauri, and Rugby, in the 'Land of the Long White Cloud!' 
We haven't cranked very far, in one week+, but in no hurry.  Plus, cycling in N.Z. different in that the roads are narrow with endless steep, but short, hills.  You're basically slow up and fast down, up and down, up and down.  I'd name N.Z.,  at least for cyclists:  'The Land of the Roller Coaster!' 
I almost 'killed' myself the second day out of Auckland, going too far (60KM) with too heavy a load.  
Now, after one week I'm getting back into it, the heavy load feeling less and less.  This is what happens when an older person (me) sits around for three months, and then does what I did recently starting out in N.Z., (too much, too quickly).  I ended up having to rest in Wellsford, for one entire day, and spending too much in the process (paying for two nights in a motel).
But, now ten days later (as now 0611), feeling more 'like home' again.  'On the road again!'  I'm on the road again!'  (for Willy, who once said, having been arrested for smoking a joint, 'It's all a part of life.').  Note, I spent one night in a Dallas jail, when Jaime and me caught 'doing it!'

We've met some wonderful families in Northland, N.Z.:  The Worthys of Waipu, and the Dohertys of Onerahi/Whangarei.  
www.warmshowers.org hosts don't normally charge for opening their space to cyclists.  But, I feel honor bound to pay them at least a token amount of $.  This to cover what food (the preparation of), electricity, toilet paper, soap, and Internet we've used.  They've cooked us some wonderful meals!
You can't just take, you have to give as well!
For the last few days we've partaken of the Doherty's hospitality, which like the Worthys, knows no bounds!  When they say, 'Make yourself at home!'  they mean it!
The Dohertys particularly sophisticated in little ways that one can only 'feel.'  Additionally, their little 'cottage,' so well done, so well decorated.
Alvaro and I are sleeping in the attic/office of a converted garage.  We would have been happy to pitch our tents, but all of our hosts so far have real grass lawns, and tents (left even a few days) tend to weaken and/or 'kill' the grass.  Out of the 1st ten days on the road, I've only camped out one night.  
In fact, in my first one month in N.Z., I've only camped out one night.
We've even found a good bicycle mechanic only 3KM away (courtesy of Nadia Worthy in Waipu).  His name, Brent Love/Missing Link Cycles.  He did a once over of Mr. Fetes the other day, only to pronounce him 'sound.'  The spokes on the front wheel were a little loose, so he tightened.  But, guess what?  He went to bicycle mechanics school in Colorado Springs!  I was dumbfounded when he explained it's one of the best for such in the world.  In retrospect, I should have gone, but never even knew about this 'school,' the four years I lived there in Colorado Springs. 
Today, Sunday, Brent is building a new wheel for Alvaro, as he has had a breaking-spokes problem.
I don't mean to appear ethnocentric to my Chinese or Nepali friends, but there's something about people of British Isles genes (me excluded of course).  Maybe it's the way they think, as organized, thoughtful, ultimately able to communicate so well.  Maybe it's that we speak the same language!
Anyway, both Alvaro and I departing here on Tuesday, the 8th, each heading north, but taking different routes.
I need to go to Matapouri, and check out Dr. Bruce's property.  I'll probably camp there a couple of nights and experience the full moon.
Then on north to the tip of the North Island, Cape Reiga.  This where the spirits of the Mauri deceased depart 'The Land of the Long White Cloud.'  The North Island in the shape of a stingray, and the northern tip, the 'tail' of the stingray.

In the meantime...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

BLOK, 021111


BLOK, 021111, 'One Tree Point,' Jorge's house

Shakespeare defined life in 7 stages -- and from 'As You LIke It!' paraphrased:

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
They have their entrances and exits.
And one person plays many parts, his 'acts' being 7 ages:
At first, the infant mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whirling school child with their books and morning faces!  They creep to school hardly wanting to.
And then the lover, sighing like a bellows!  This, a wonderful ballad composed for the desired's delight.
Then soldiers, full of strange oaths, dedicated to honor, quick to quarrel seeking courageous reputations!
And then justice, now overweight from too much good food.  But, now full of advice from experience.
And so they play their parts!
The sixth age shying into the lean and comfortable, spectacles on the nose. The clothes of youth now put away.
Then, from loud and knowing to childish treble, sounding like pipes and whistles, the last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth!
Sans eyes!
Sans Taste!
Sans everything!"

In which stage are you?  I think I'm in the penultimate stage, sans sexual desire...

And in that 'stage,' at Jorge's with Alvaro, resting, eating, and writing, as Jorge has WIFI.   We're 'high,' if we have 'Fi!' 

Tomorrow, on to Paul Doherty's in Whangarei, some 40KM to the north.  Paul operates a tour cycling company in Whang, and we look forward to all of that.  

In the meantime, dinner with Juan, Jorge's friend!

P.S.  Yesterday, Alvaro and I cycled up here in the rain and a strong headwind (but only 23KM).  This in three hours, with two stops.  The first, at a food market to buy wine for Jorge.  The second, for Alvaro to admonish a driver that had almost killed us.  But, great fun all!  The harder, the more difficult, the better I like it!  

BLOK 011111


BLOK 011111

I'm up at 0800 on this Halloween Monday morning, but moving slowly...

Kathy offers breakfast, the Internet, people to stay with in Whangarei, and to purchase items for me in town -- this woman can't do enough for guests.  In addition, she's going off to visit her 92-year old father in a nearby facility.

Wow, 92-years old!  That means he was born in 1918, when the 'Great War' (I) was still going on.  Think about all he's experienced in his life time.  He was one of eight children, his father a coal miner in New Zealand.  They lived in three rooms, all eight children sleeping in one room.  I'm reminded of the Dignams (in Australia), with their 8 children.

I get online as I have to plan ahead for Whangarei, and attempt to contact Alvaro (who I thought was on his way to Whangarei).

Kathy returns shortly, and inquires if I need something.  Then moments later she's there again to announce that 'I have a guest!'   Who could this be I wonder?

It's none other than Alvaro!   He was on his way to Whangarei, but, something happened in Waipu (that directed him to the Worthy's).   He had stopped to food shop.  When getting back on his bicycle he noticed a broken wheel spoke.  At a shop that might repair, he's informed about me ('another cyclist') the local man knew about, having heard my interview on 105.6FM ('Radio Waves,' Ashly's Community Radio Station).  This, just yesterday -- talk about 'coincidences!  So, Alvaro decides to at least check out the radio station (at the Worthy's house) as it's on his way to Whangarei.  But, when he saw my bicycle he's as surprised as I am to see him!

Alvaro and I must have some kind of 'cosmic' connection as this has happened before with us.  For example, there was our first meeting in China -- missing me in Lijiang, he ends up in the room next to me in a hotel in Litang (600KM to the north).  What are the odds?  Then we arrive in New Zealand almost at the same time.  His first Warm Showers hosts (house) in Auckland is only 100 meters from where I was staying at Jim Berger's.  Now, the meeting up in Waipu,  By chance?  I think not.  On Halloween?  A treat, rather than a trick!

Anyway, I'm glad that Alvaro's at the Worthy's.  I knew they'd want to interview him on the radio.  He sells his DVD, 'The Nomad's Smile' at various farmer's markets and I know publicity helps.

We spend the day in the care of the Worthys, who I wish I could 'clone,' to have waiting for me every evening in every country of the world.  

After dinner, Nadia plays her guitar for us, almost as good as Tommy Emmanuel (Australian).  No, I'm not making a joke, she can really play, and I'm thinking about making her famous. She would laugh about such, of course.  But, I'm impressed with her ability.  By the way, I first learned about Tommy Emmanuel from friend Paul Josephs Cullen in Adelaide.  He's supposed to be the best guitarist in all of Australia.

I'm off to bed, as departing the next day.  Alvaro and I will cycle together to his Argentine friend's house (Jorge) who lives in 'One Tree Point,' just south of Whangarei.

There may be challenges cycling the world!  There may be surprises!  But, it's impossible to be bored!

BLOK 311011, No. Island, N.Z.


311011, Monday, 'Day 4'   'Trick or Treat!' (It's Halloween in the U.S.)

Wow, what a 'treat' in Waipu staying with the Worthy family!  They're in the same class as the Dignam's of Australia, and Jim in Auckland.  This in terms of kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity!  Kathy and Joe can't seem to do enough for me/us.  Of course, Ruth Dignam in Adelaide, the same way.

But, back to the future,' and Wellsford...  I'd had to spend another night in the motel to recover.  Did I ever need it after going 'too hard,' for too long (60KM from Parakai Hot Springs to Wellsford on highway #16).  Later Joe Worthy (in Waipu) informed me that I had done the steepest, hardest hill in all of the Northland.  No wonder I was exhausted, as this was only my second day in three months to go so far with so much weight.  But they say, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.'

But, getting to Waipu, on Sunday... an interesting day cycling the world... I was up by 0635.  

The power had failed in the middle of the night, but didn't bother me until the morning when back on again.  The WIFI didn't work, and so I couldn't get online.  I waited until the Innkeepers were up, and told them how to recycle the modem/transmitter.  Then it worked again.

Messages from warmshowers.org hosts, and Alvaro made me feel more secure about having some place to stay at night (rather than expensive motels).

Note, N.Z., unlike Australia, doesn't have a caravan park in every little burgh.  Additionally, most of the land is owned and farmed, so where to camp and/or where to stay?  I can't afford to stay in motels.  The motel in Wellsford, cost $95NZD per night!  But, it was fortuitous as I met a couple who live in Wellington, and invited me to stay with them when there (maybe January).

But, thank God for www.warmshowers.org!

Also, when you travel you meet fellow travelers who, at the very atleast, have good information.  I was about to depart the motel in Wellsford met a man from South Africa who'd emigrated to N.Z.  Young,he was amazed I was cycling the world.  Later when I couldn't find him so I hung my card on his door.   The Innkeeper had distracted me suggesting I take the east coast highway, as fewer demanding hills.  'On highway #1 going north to Whangarei there's a big one,' he explained.  That's all I needed to hear after the 11% grades going into Wellsford. 

Thus, about 10 kilometers north of Wellsford, I turned off highway #1 and headed for Mangawhai.  This took us (James B. Feeney always with me via his helmet) through some rolling, bucolic farmland.  I passed many a picturesque farm, glades, and flowing rivers.  And the trees, the stunning trees of New Zealand I stop to take pictures of when they 'call.'  I'm a tree hugger!  But, this route too the narrow with too much traffic.  I remember a group of boys on 'crotch rockets,' spoiling the quiet with their orgasmic screaming engines!

I stop at Mangawhai deciding whether or not to shop in an open food market (it's Sunday).  I help a woman overloaded with boxes into her motor vehicle.  

It seems modern life dictates we must own a motor vehicle, 'burning oil rather than fat!' 

On the way out of Mangawhai I double back after seeing a charming-looking store advertising organic fruits and vegetables.  I end up eating lunch sitting outside on the wooden ramp for handicapped people.  This of one avocado and crackers called, Lavosh.'   It's sunny, and I'm in no hurry.  Before departing I purchase an apple/raspberry drink in a glass bottle, spending a total of $8NZD.

Out of Mangawhai we start climbing up some hills, but nothing like before Wellsford.  On the left 'The Sanctuary,' a nature reserve of some sort.   There's an 'art de object' in a pond.  This kind of sophistication reminds me of what the 'Nature Conservancy,'  does (buys land converts it into a public 'park').  

Up higher the highway turns curvy and a little dicey cycling with so much traffic.

At one point 'nature calls,' so I lay Mr. Fetes down on his left side, as no structure to lean against (the highway reflectors flimsy plastic).  Pulling him up to take off again I notice the screw holding the left support to the luggage rack missing.  No wonder I felt something amiss,  the weight shifting back and forth as I rode.  What to do, as I have no extra spare screws with me (stupid)?  I move the support onto the external axle, and it seems to hold.  But, I know I can't ride until I find a more solid solution.  I start pushing up the highway.  Fortunate as I always seem to be, there's two signs on two wooden poles up ahead, and not too far.  They turn out to be perfectly situated to lean Mr. Fetes against (on level ground)  I take off all the items on the rear rack, and ponder how to solve the problem. 

The front side racks are connected by a curved rod (for what reason I've never been sure).  But, it's attached on both sides by screws/nuts.  I decide to see if one will fit the hole to reattach the rear rack.  Voile!  It fits, and problem solved!  I then take a plastic cable tie to substitute for the missing on the front.  Feeling smug about solving the problem so easily, I ride off ...  Note, I'm not known for my ability to deal with mechanic things.  

Down on the other side, I stop at Lang's Beach for a respite.  There are picnic tables on the green, an open cafe, and people enjoying their Sunday.  Some are out in the waves, some exploring the adjacent woods, or eating at one of the tables.  A young girl does a split in the mud in the creek flowing into the ocean.  An old man sits at one of the tables.  Soon a teenage boy walks up as if hunting for something in the grass.  Soon a woman arrives to dole out drinks to the boy, and probably her father.  I drink water, eat raisons, and take some pictures before moving on.  I'm not a 'beach person,' but this is a lovely ocean setting.

I'm not 100 meters down the road, when I hear a loud 'bang' in front, immediately thinking 'broken spoke.'  But, it turns out the plastic cable tie has broken, the rod flying out and about, ending up against the rim of the wheel.  Again, no major damage (none of the spokes broken)!  I bend the rod up and into a position where I can ride, and start off again.  But, this time concerned with the 'Law of Threes:'  Note:  If two events happen, you can bet there will be a third, and  similar.

In Waipu, I start looking for the Worthy's place, as she has sent directions (via email).  But, unable I resort to asking the bartender in an open restaurant.  He knows, and directs, 'Just past the bridge, on the right.' 

It's easy to find, and I'm cranking up their driveway by 4P.M. (started from Wellsford at 1000). In front of their house the dogs barking brings a woman I mistake for Kathy.  Turns out she's Nadia, their 20-year old adopted daughter.  Nadia invites me inside, explaining 'mum and dad' will return shortly.

it isn't that long, sitting in the sun, that Kathy and Joe appear.  I'm offered tea, and we sit outside and chat.  We share the usual information, what older people want to know when meeting for the first time.    

I'm introduced to their son Ashly in a wheelchair.  He is afflicted with some genetic disorder (the technical name I didn't remember), but it appears to destroy the flesh of the body).  To his credit, Ashly has started their community radio station, 'Radio Waves1'  He's simply overcome his 'challenge!'  So, we who are so fortunate (not to be wheelchair bound) should not complain!  Right?

Nadia, born in Russia, was an orphan (don't know the details).  But, God was watching over this child, as Joe and Kathy flew to Russia and adopted her.  Now, a fitness instructor, she competes in bicycle races.  And a talented guitar player.

This middle-aged couple maybe an example for other families.  Joe, operates a local construction company.  Kathy, does everything and more a good wife/mother does, besides taking good care of guests (me in particular).  Everyday she visits her 92-year old father in a nearby home for the aged.  I figure out he was born in 1918!  Me, a mere 71, could be his son.

Kathy and Ashly escort me 30 meters to meet the 'radio guys,' this Sunday afternoon's DJs for a two-hour program.

One, with the mein of Zeus and the hair of Samson, is called 'Worzel!'     I'm immediately offered a beer!  Soon, I'm on the air being interviewed by 'Worzel.'   We take to each other as kindred spirits.  The other, Steve, another interesting local with shaved head and goatee (his van reads, 'Coffee Espress).  (Note, pictures at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery/ ).  I feel like a 'time machine,' has propelled me 'back to the future.'  We discuss, life, love and the pursuits of happiness.  Turns out, 'Worzel,' owns a 400-acre pig farm up in the hills. I'm dying to ask...  Time runs out, however, credits roll, and I'm off to eat dinner with the Worthys!

After a wonderful dinner, I'm taken on a tour of the property (beyond the radio station).  I meet the chickens, and Kathy's pet pig.  She, and Nadia, shows me their jetty, where when the tide comes in, they dive off to swim.  There are kayaks on the lawn.

I take a hot bath, and then fall into bed in the 'bicycle room.'  I'm at 'home,' as that's how the Worthys make you feel!  How Jim Berger made me feel in Auckland.  How the Dignams made me feel in Adelaide, Australia.  How Nola made me feel in Perth!  How... The list so long, I would bore you to recant.

How did all this happen, this interesting day cycling in New Zealand?  You may think by chance, but I know better.  It was by the divine grace of my master, lord, and God (the Tao), with the help of my living 'guardian angel,' Rucha in Germany!

Nothing that happens to me is by 'chance.'   I don't believe in Free Will!

P.S.  'Worzel,' finding out I'm a Taoist gave me the name of a New Zealander, Peter Land, who has translated the 'Tao Te Ching,' into English.  Guess who I'll be visiting?  You will think by chance.  I know better!