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...




1 Comments:

Blogger valfrid said...

I am impress about this post..
winter tyres

10:48 PM  

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