Wednesday, December 21, 2011

21211 BLOK UPDATE ON LIFE, LOVE AND THE 'TANE MAHUTA.'

I've been back in Auckland maybe ten days, and have accomplished much.   I've finally 'jumped through every hoop,' that N.Z. Immigration has requested, and finally hope.  I'm waiting for the letter, the best Christmas present I could receive.

In the meantime, doing the 'dance,' the 'dance of modern survival,' having filled in all the gaps (with the perfect kind of glue).  It exhausts me.  Cycling, even with weight, is easier for me, it's all the other stuff that is debiliating.  I 'plaine' is to 'crank' out of Duality (modern life), in the next 2,3 years, but quien sabe (hopefully Bolivia/Andes). I guess that will be another test, the Ego hanging on desperately to the bitter end never giving up (until completely throttled!).

I'm eating well, and sleeping most of the night (Jim's daughter's bed).  I feel stronger, as having cranked up to Cape Reinga.  If only I'd been able to touch the 'Tane Mahuta,' ('The Lord of the Forest').

Now, however, having not touched yet, I have a new story/mopic idea based on the 'Tane Mahua!' ('The Lord of the Forest').  We animate this tree back to 'life,' and s/he tells the story of his 2,000-year old life (both male and female point of view!  And to whom?  Probably an old-guy cyclist having gotten there on such!

221211 BLOK, 'C'mon now!'


"C'mon, now,
Smile on your brother now, 
Everybody get together now,
Try to love one another right now!
Right now!
Right now!
Right now!"
(BIG MOUNTAIN LYRICS)
Now!
Now!
Now!
'Try to love one another right now!'

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, TRY LOVE, BUT THE REAL KIND, THE GIVING KIND, THE UNCONDITIONAL KIND!  YOU'LL BE SURPRISED AT THE RESULTS!

Monday, December 19, 2011

201211 BLOK ‘Creating Singularity, # _________.


201211 BLOK  ‘Creating Singularity, # _________. 

Paul,
‘We’ are everywhere in the Universe!
The ‘reality’ you’re discussing, is ‘Duality,’ for the lack of better description.
‘Religion’ is penultimate, because ‘It,’ lives in Duality (‘I and Thou’).
The ‘trick’ in life is to get beyond, to Singularity, this is
Where there is no separation between you and ‘God!’  
Call it what you want!
Religions fight (and die) over words!
Silly business!
I don’t care what you call ‘It,’ 
‘It’s’ all the same!
We just use different ‘wor(l)ds’ to describe ‘It!’
But, we say this in Tantric Taoism:
‘The God you name God, is not the ‘God!’
The ‘thing’ behind ‘God,’ can’t be named, as ‘It’ doesn’t ‘live’ in Duality!
‘It just was!’ 
‘We’ call that the Tao!  But,
‘The Tao you name as Tao, is ‘knot’ Tao!’  (Chapter #1, ‘Tao Te Ching,’ by Lao Zi)
That’s as far as we can describe in Duality (‘Word Reality’).
The ‘connection,’ (you’re right) is a feeling, an emotional experience that changes your view of the world (and how you live it) forever!  It’s being ‘taken’ by unconditional love!  Note, this has happened to me/us!
Does that mean we have to fight and die over the words we use to describe ‘It?’

THIS IS THE ‘KNOWING,’ VERSUS ‘BELIEVING!’

The huge difference between ‘religion,’ and ‘spirituality!’ 

H.

191211 BLOK


191211 BLOK / 'Creating Singularity,' #

What's the brightest thing in the Universe, our sun, an exploding SUPERNOVA, pulsating madness?  What's the opposite of that?  A Black Hole, sucking everything into it (maybe coming out the other side in a different Universe)!   This is a great example of enantiodromia (opposites attracting)!
We don't 'no,' what the 'Universe' is really, lest we have created!  Note, should be named a 'Duoverse,' or 'Biverse'), because our existence is a dual one (Duality).  'We' create these things (constellations, Universes, etc.), they don't exist objectively!
We are (collectively) everything (and also nothing in Duality).  And 'everything,' is just another word for  'Dog,' or 'God,' spelled backwards!  There is 'know' objective world 'out there!'   'We' project it like a film projector projects the 'pictures' onto a screen.  We are the 'film,' the projector our 'minds,' and what's projected on the screen is dual 'reality!'
I shall always appreciate Chuang Zi's quote/question, 'Am I a butterfly dreaming I'm a man, or a man dreaming I'm a butterfly?'  I would answer, 'Both!' 
Life is consciousness, trapped in a labyrinth, an imbroglio, living in a conundrum!  Yet people die over words and explanations (my 'God,' is better than your 'God!'). 
I just hope we're not too clever, and destroy ourselves before we solve (the mystery).  And penultimate religion isn't any good for such!  You have to find out for yourself!  You ultimately have to 'no!'

H.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

'Legends of the Maori'


'Legends of the Maori,' Volume I, by Hon. Sir Mauri Pomare & James Cowan (1930)

"Maori-Polynesian mythology, like that of the Old World, has numerous stories of unions between gods and human beings.   (Believe it or not, this has happened to me/us!)  In some legends it is a god who descends to earth, attracted by a lovely woman.   In others the heavenly being, who weds a mortal, is a goddess.  There is much beauty in some of these stories of the loves of atua and mortals."
"One is the Arawa legend of Puhaorangi ('Gentle Breath of Heaven') and Kura-i-monoa ('Precious Treasure').  Puhaorangi was a celestial being who beheld the beautiful Kura from his eyrie in the clouds.  He descended to her in the guise of a rupe, a dove or pigeon, just as Jupiter assumed the form of a swan in order to approach the fair Leda in the stream.  The rupe was 'fondled,' by the lovely girl, who became a mother.  Her son was give the name of Oho-mai-range ('Surprise from the Sky, or Heavenly Awakening'), and from him many Maori trace their descent.  Many a genealogy begins with the names of Puhaorangi and his earthly wife and the semi-divine child, Oho-mai-rangi."

On science, religion and mysticism...


Dick, much appreciated, you introducing me to Quantum Mechanics, and the 'New Physics,' (via 'Firtteroff and the boys, Zucough') years ago...
...the 'boundary,' (of science) is Duality ('yin and yang' -- ancient Chinese just as smart as the ancient G(r)eeks)
The trick in life, Dick, is to get beyond to Singularity, a non-objective 'world' of bliss, described so many times as 'oneness,' 'wholeness,' union,' etc.  And Tantric Taoism one way to get there...
Science, to me is just another 'religion,' with Einstein, Heisenberg, Bell, Higgs (Newton and Leonardo, included) some of the 'Gods!'  People believe it's the Gospel.  I don't necessarily, but it's 'won' way of 'seaing' existence (Due-ality).  
When we attempt to think beyond we label it 'mysticism,' or 'spirituality,' as if different from 'science' (or religion for that matter).  They are, we are, in search of the unknowable, just use different wo(l)rds!
Note, my 'doe' is 'knot' your 'dough.'

Hutch

P.S.  I would like always to put whatever I 'right' in quotation marks.  Why?  It's the figurative, not the literal!  I'm a poet.

Friday, December 16, 2011

121211 BLOK


121211  BLOK  (Kaitaia to Whangarei)

Sunday morning (4 Dec.), departure day from Kaitaia... But, it was raining and not just the usual short shower, but hard and looking like it would continue for some time.

I had breakfast, and got packed up anyway.  I asked Dave about the weather, and he said it was predicted to rain for another 12 hours.  I told him, I might stay one more night, or at least get as far as 'Rabbi's' (some 15KM on Highway #1.  Highway #1 in the direction I was going to partake of the Kauri Forest (via Whirinaki).  This, via Mangamuka Pass (all of 383M / 1,300ft. ASL).

About 3P.M. in the afternoon, the rain slackened so I headed out, eager to get on the road again (after an entire week in Kaitaia).  It took little more an hour to get to Victoria Valley Road.  But, I was wet by the time I got there, as the drizzle was steady all the way.

There was a gate, and dogs (always the same for rural houses), but 'Rabbi'  (Alan real name) came running, and the dogs were friendly.  

'Rabbi,' turns out, lives with Sean (who I'd met at the Hike and Bike), a woman (the house owner), and another unnamed guy.  I might have guessed, however, as there was no hot water (for shower), in fact a problem with any water...  What came 'shooting' out from the tap was from the river.  I was concerned about such as they boiled before using.  Thus, I used my own (carry 2 liters with me).  It was like being with the 'Beverly Hill Killies,' without the 'Beverly!'

I had brought a little present for 'Rabbi,' and we shared such.  But,  they partake in the most unusual way, and I've been doing such for forty years!  They hold a bit on an electric burner, then suck up via a beer bottle (with the bottom cut out).   This, the 'no evidence' way!  Talk about paranoia!

They brought in the metal cot from the porch, which I tried to sleep on, but maybe the worst bed I've had in two months in New Zealand.  I would have slept on the floor but was rightly concerned about fleas (with the dogs in the house).  In fact, they told me that the couch was 'suspect,' as the dogs slept on.  There was some mention of 'a bed in the shed,' but when I saw, I, ya, yi, yippie, ah, 'rubbishville!'  Note, I don't understand how some people can live in such squalor!  

That evening I gave them $20 (basically a Christmas present), but at first, they wouldn't take it.  I insisted however,  and put the bill on their mantel.  It 'disappeared' by morning (one of 'Santa's elves'...).

What contrasts for me cycling from place to place on No. Island, N.Z.!  From the very best and most sophisticated, to the lowest fleabag hostel and also attacked by kids at Whatiki Landing (in my tent).  On the '5-star end,' the Dohertys of Onerahi/Whangarei, and the 'Wave FM,' family of Scottish Waipu!  On the 'low' end, 'The Hike and Bike' Hostel in Kaitaia and Rabbi's house.  Note, the situation at Jim's house in Mt. Eden/Auck., rates '6-stars!' 

The next morning I had to depart early as 'Rabbi' and the group were driving into Kaitaia early (by 0900).   So, I was on the road earlier than usual.

Following Highway #1, I went up Mangamuka 'mountain' pass.  Someone had warned that this was 'challenging' but it turned out to be much less than advertised.  But, because I had 'thought' it would be difficult, I was mentally prepared. That's the solution, being mentally prepared.  But, sometimes the 'low' turns out to be 'high,' and the 'high' turns out to be 'low.'

But, it was a long 'down,' from the 383M /  1,300ft. crest.  I almost laughed about such, but refrained.  These, N.Z. hills, are steep, but not 'mountains' to us who have cycled in Tibet.  On the other hand, sometimes they're difficult as so steep (11% grades).   Small country N.Z., steep grades, a land of rolling green pastures, ocean vistas, gray skies, and the incessant wind (at least 'Northland' / No. Island).

On the ferry, from Kohukohu to Rawene, a tall gray woman checked me out (my legs), but we never spoke.  Most people curious about an old man on such a bicycle.

In Rawene, I had the best muffin in N.Z., at the Boathouse Gallery and Cafe.  

After another 20KM and two pretty good hills I was in Whirinaki, which is nothing basically.  But, up Johnson Road a kilometer in the world of the Peter Land family farm.  

I had returned to play Santa Claus, giving them three small gifts (printed photographs, and a poem).  In return a 'stream'  of interesting stories out of Peter Land, the Patriarch (now with something like 60 grand children).  

I have found this 83-year old man who was born in Tonga, fascinating!  Before meeting him I'd never even heard of 'Tonga!'  Additionally, the Land family... An interesting migration from England to New York City, to eastern Canada, to western Canada (Vancouver), and then sailing to Tonga in the 19th Century.  Peter's virtually 'famous' for  teaching himself Chinese (has never been to China) and then translating the 'Tao Te Ching,' into English (although there are many).  He calls it a 'literal' translation.  I bought a copy while I was there.

Sleeping in one of the Land's caravans (the same as the first time there) was a trial, but I got out the next morning only partly 'eaten' (by bugs).  I didn't see Catherine (Joseph's wife) the entire time, but they come and go. Brendon, from Ivercargill was new to me, yet helpful finding the book I'd loaned Peter, 'Chuang Tzu.'   Gilbert, Joseph and Catherine's son gave me a big hug when I departed. 

Then, I started out again, on to the Kauri Forest via Opononi (named for a famous Dolphin).  

But first, whoa, some big hills climbing up over the ridges to Waimamaku.  Down in Waimamaku (I love the Maori names!) I stopped to recover and partake of a blueberry muffin.  Sitting outside in the 'partly sunny' skies I observed the tourists coming and going in their motor vehicles.

The 'big tree,' according to a woman, was only a 'thirty-minute' drive away.  Note, motorists know time (if takes to get somewhere) but not distance.  Cyclists always want the answer to 'how far?' in kilometers (or miles)!  

Going up it turned out to be the most arduous part of the trip (so far).  For the first time in N.Z., it was a long up (15KM.  The grade wasn't steep, just long and curvy.  

But, the big tree (the 'Tane Mahuta' / 'Lord of the Forest') was certainly worth the effort -- in fact, the highlight of this circuit ('Northland') so far!

In the dense sub-tropical forest grows this oldest and most majestic tree in all of N.Z. (that I know about).  When I finally glimpsed it, I burst out loud, OH, MY GOD!   Maybe it was the setting, the angle, the sun on it, but it's something seemingly animated in a 3D fantasy movie a la Spielberg.  I've been in the Red Woods, the Sequoias in California/U.S.A., but this tree is more stunning somehow.  It dwarfs all so majestic, so big, so old, and still living!

Then, down, down, and more down passing other, smaller, Kauri trees (note you can see up while riding a bicycle (yet another advantage).  I stopped to touch one, as couldn't touch the 'Lord of the Forest.'   Note, I'm a 'tree hugger!'   'Woodman, woodman, spare that tree, touch not a single bough!'  (George Pope Morris).

After so many more kilometers, down and down now, I caught a glimpse of some buildings to my right.  I thought they might be the Waipoua Forest Information Center, and sure enough!  Down at the Waipoua River Bridge I turned right and followed the gravel road for about a kilometer.  I checked out 'The Cafe,' but I was too late at 5P.M.  They close at 4:30P.M.  

So, I pressed on another 300M to the 'Camping Area.'  Here, after 5P.M., it's 'self registration,' but I couldn't find the forms, etc.  So, I stopped a man who called for a woman, who showed me 'the ropes.' 

I'd first walked the area to see where to pitch my tent, passing a group of 4 couples, sitting having drinks.  I silently smurked as just exactly how I don't want to end up, sitting around with the same 'ole:  being a 'snow bird' (in the U.S. the older, retired couples who follow the sun).

I pitched my tent down near the 'parking lot,' as it had a low table.  

Tables, always useful when tour cycling, at least for me.  They provide Mr. Fiets a place to lean up against, and secondly a staging/storing area for gear.  

I have to be organized when cycle camping, as it's so easy to misplace something.  I'm a 'stage artist,' never going from disorganization to org..  I move things (gear in this case) a step at a time.  

That evening nothing much, as too tired.  Plus, sometimes I just want to be alone, and a tent offers unusual privacy!

The next morning the usual tasks:  shower, laundry, bicycle maintenance.  

Later, after lunchtime, I had a piece of carrot cake in The Cafe.  I also bought some herbal 'bug repellent,' in their gift shop.  The tiny container costing too much, but I was slightly desperate trying to keep from getting 'eaten!'   Afterwards I was off to hike in the forest.  I started up the gravel road toward the highway and soon came to a trail to the right (sign:  'Lookout' - 1 hour').

This trail started out fairly well, but as it progressed there was more and more mud and slippery roots to deal with.  Also, it wound around so many directions, I was never quite sure where I was, except going up.  Up and up we went, the hour slipping away.  Finally, and suddenly it opened onto some mowed grass, so I knew I was close to something.

At the top I discovered a parking lot, and the old fire-lookout building.  From the 'observation deck,' there was a view of the Tasman Sea to the west, in the foreground 'waves' of green hills.  I took my usual pictures, and then scouted the area for an alternative route down.  But, when I didn't find anything promising, I took the same trail back down.  

I hadn't gone very far when I ran into a young couple hiking up.  It didn't take too long to guess they weren't from N.Z.  Turned out, they are from The Netherlands, so we chatted for a bit.  Later, we met up again as they had parked their van not far from my tent.

On the way down I slipped and fell into the mud twice, cursing myself both times.  I'm an experienced hiker/climber, and shouldn't be falling in such circumstances.  But, some sections of the trail were like a swamp.  When I got back down, I informed the woman running the gift shop, and she called someone who dealt with such.  This trail, first of all, is at least 90 minutes up, possibly 1-hour down.  Secondly, these trails need to be maintained -- this is New Zealand, not China!

The following day, cycling to Dargaville, I ran into a French cyclist (Cyril) at the Aranga Store.  A wood sculpture had caught my eye, so I'd stopped to take a picture (Note, all now available at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery/ .)  We chatted for some time (even the French can speak English).  He was on his first tour-cycling trip, and heading up to Cape Reinga (where I had just been).  I gave him some advice, and then back into the wind.

It became easier and easier, however, as downhill.  Then finally the wind helping the last 10KM, zooming me into Dargaville!

I went immediately to the Library to get online (only 3:30P.M.).  I wanted to make sure Paul knew I was coming to Whangarei.  This,  to deal with my chest-Xray (for visa application).  I needed to collect a document from the Whangarei Hospital, and include it in and mail the application. 

After the Libary, the next step was finding a place for the night.  I happened to see a sign, 'Backpackers,' and an arrow.   I decided to check this out before finding the caravan park I had noticed coming into Darga.  Am I glad I did!  Even though relatively expensive ($28 per for a common bed), it turned out to be the best Hostel ('The Green House') of the entire trip!  Clean, organized, just the opposite from The Hike and Bike' in Kaitaia.  Additionally, Mr. Murray, the operator, had WIFI (for a price).  So, I didn't have to use my bank card in the pay telephone.  Paul had responded, via email, and seemed happy I was on my way to Whangarei.

I thought I was going to have the prevailing Westerlies helping me to Whangarei, but guess what?  By the next day a front had shifted the direction, and once again it was in my face (now from the southeast).  Highway #14, my route, takes you across the Northland Pennisula (Dargaville to Whangarei), roughly 60KM.  It's hilly, of course!  

The 'crank' was basically uneventful (I prefer) except for another 'first,' for me tour cycling (11 years now).  Somewhere, my front derailleur wouldn't shift to the largest (fastest) crank wheel.  I couldn't figure this out until, upon closer examination, I noticed a piece of gravel lodged inside the derailleur.  I tried to pry it out with a stick, but it wouldn't budge.   

I stopped at Tangiteroria (I love the Maori names.), this to rest and deal with the derailleur.  I went looking for a small screw driver,  but not to be.  I walked across the highway to a motor vehicle garage, but no one was about.  Finally, I dumped some water on the derailleur.  Interesting, how inventive you can get, when the situation calls for it.  I had been lucky, the crank wheels I needed most (middle and small) hadn't been affected.  And actually I could have made it all the way into 'Fang.' without using the largest.  What you need on a heavy touring bike in N.Z., is the low gears (because of the steep hills).  You can always coast downhill.

There was some more hills around Maungatapere, so I stopped to rest before (drinking/eating a Turkish fig).  Again, I tried to pry out the little 'rock,' from the front derailleur, but I discovered it had come out by 'itself' (maybe the water had helped).

Once, over the hills, it was down and down into Whangarei and 'see' level.  

I was nearing 'Center City,' still on highway #14, when I noticed a sign for 'Hospital.'  Perfect, I thought to myself, as I'll stop now and retrieve the visa document I came to pick up.  This went 'lickety split,' and conveniently a 'Cafe,' just happened to be next door to 'Radiology.'  Thus, I sat eating a  muffin to discover my heart and lungs are 'normal' (something I didn't need to spend $165NZD to learn).

The last couple of days with Paul and the girls in Onerahi, have been so different from 'my' life on the road.  I've been able to partake of a N.Z. family with two young girls ('Maddie,' at 14, and 'Freya' at 8).  Amazing for me to be around western children, the energy, and these are good kids!  

But, 'm so glad I never had any of my own, as children's energy (noise) 'nos know' bounds!  I would have been driven more insane than I am now (having had my own)!   Maybe it's my age as I've noticed how grandparents are with their grandchildren... They're eager to be with them for a few hours, but then happy to have mom and/or dad take them back!  Whew!

Note, as I 'right' this, Freya (the 8-year old), is playing 'Rudolph, the Red Nose Reigndear' on the computer next to me!   She did ask me, however, if it was 'too loud?'  Of course, I said 'know!' 

It's difficult for me to get into the 'Christmas spirit' this year, my first in the southern hemisphere.  I keep smelling the gardenia blossoms.   It's Spring here!  This is my first 'summer' Christmas ever!  All the Christmas' of my life before have been in the winter (cold and snow), not summer (warm, blooming flowers)!

But, whatever hemisphere you live in, whether it's summer or winter wherever you are, try to make something out of it!  Christmas is more than just shopping, parties, and gift giving!

This time next year (12.12.12), I will be at Macchu Pichu in Peru!  That should make for an interesting Christmas!

Feliz Navidad, y prospero ano nuevo!

P.S.  My Leftwich grandmother called, 'Hutchie,' said this about children:  'Children should be seen by not heard!'  I agree.

Let us make these wor(l)ds our new American anthem!


Part of the Introduction to a 'coffee table' book entitled, 'Canyon of Dreams,' (about Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles):

"There was always some magic afoot in that canyon.  The light and the sun infused that zone with a sense of joy.  There was always  something spiritual about that slice through the green earth, but never more so than in the 60s.  A generation had opened the William Blake/Aldous Huxley 'Doors of Perception.'  We had seen the oneness of all creation.  We had left behind the strictures of organized religion. We had become the new 'tribe:'  inter-racial, inter-generational, inter-national.  And it felt as if we were speaking the message of (dare I say it today) 'Love' to a new world!
Come join us in this celebration of the planet we cried out!  Come,  join us in this celebration of the light, of potential, of magic!   In fact, of enlightenment!  We are all one!  And for the time that it lasted we were golden!  We were precursors of the Golden Race, of that time to come when the races and religions of the earth will blend together to become the new people of the world.  The lovers, not the killers!  Born to dance and sing and have great, golden 'copulations!'  (Note, this is what 'Tantric Taoism' is all about.)  The caretakers of this Garden of Eden.  Bedazzled by this thousand-faced diamond that we call existence.  Nurturing the soil.  Honoring all the creatures we share this globe with.  Ultimately being the new Adam and Eve!  Alive!"

Ray Manzarek
March, 2009

P.S.  I love this, wish I'd written it myself!  And interesting how this came to us!

'D for Divine!' A poem inspired by Nathan Dignam (in Adelaide, So. Australia)


'D for Divine!'

I saw love today,
A boy and his dog!
Simple,
Direct,
Real,
Love,
Unconditional!

What a great thing to witness,
I'm blessed,
'Hear' at the D. House,
'D' for Divine!

Real love, not the 'Hollywood' version!

H.

WHIRLING IN WHIRINAKI (a poem for the Lands, in Whirinaki, 'Northland,' N.Z.


WHIRLING IN WHIRINAKI 

(Dedicated to the Lands and what they have developed in Whirinaki, Northland, N.Z.)

Tiger, tiger,
Big and bright,
Yet yin,
Not yet,
Net 'tete a tete!'

The Lands so green
I want to scream!
The peace like war,
But, in between!

The horses so strong,
Peter so Tao
With all the rest,
Six boys; three girls,
A working fest!
Not bored, but birth
A genuine mirth!

The cry of life,
The sigh of death,
In between the best,
The yin and yang
A literal test!



Sunday, December 11, 2011

121211 BLOK (Kaitaia to Whangarei)


121211  BLOK  (Kaitaia to Whangarei)

Sunday morning (4 Dec.), departure day from Kaitaia... But, it was raining and not just the usual short shower, but hard and looking like it would continue for some time.

I had breakfast, and packed up anyway.  I asked Dave about the weather, and he said it was predicted to rain for another 12 hours.  I told him, I might stay one more night, or at least get as far as 'Rabbi's' (some 15KM on Highway #1.  Highway #1 in the direction I was going to partake of the Kauri Forest (via Whirinaki).  This, via Mangamuka Pass (all of 383M / 1,300ft. ASL).

About 3P.M. in the afternoon, the rain slackened so I headed out, eager to get on the road again (after an entire week in Kaitaia).  It took little more an hour to get to Victoria Valley Road.  But, I was wet by the time I got there, as the drizzle was steady all the way.

There was a gate, and dogs (always the same for rural houses), but 'Rabbi'  (Alan real name) came running, and the dogs were friendly.  

'Rabbi,' turns out, lives with Sean (who I'd met at the Hike and Bike), a woman (the house owner), and another unnamed guy.  I might have guessed, however, as there was no hot water (for shower), in fact a problem with any water...  What came 'shooting' out from the tap was from the river.  I was concerned about such as they boiled before using.  Thus, I used my own (carry 2 liters with me).  It was like being with the 'Beverly Hill Killies,' without the 'Beverly!'

I had brought a little present for 'Rabbi,' and we shared such.  But,  they partake in the most unusual way, and I've been doing such for forty years!  They hold a bit on an electric burner, then suck up via a beer bottle (with the bottom cut out).   This, the 'no evidence' way!  Talk about paranoia!

They brought in the metal cot from the porch, which I tried to sleep on, but maybe the worst bed I've had in two months in New Zealand.  I would have slept on the floor but was rightly concerned about fleas (with the dogs in the house).  In fact, they told me that the couch was 'suspect,' as the dogs slept on.  There was some mention of 'a bed in the shed,' but when I saw, I, ya, yi, yippie, ah, 'rubbishville!'  Note, I don't understand how some people can live in such squalor!  

That evening I gave them $20 (basically a Christmas present), but at first, they wouldn't take it.  I insisted however,  and put the bill on their mantel.  It 'disappeared' by morning!  

What contrasts for me cycling from place to place on No. Island, N.Z.!  From the very best and most sophisticated, to the lowest fleabag hostel and also attacked by kids at Whatiki Landing (in my tent).  On the '5-star end,' the Dohertys of Onerahi/Whangarei, and the 'Wave FM,' family of Scottish Waipu!  On the 'low' end, 'The Hike and Bike' Hostel in Kaitaia and Rabbi's house.  Note, the situation at Jim's house in Mt. Eden/Auck., rates '6-stars!' 

The next morning I had to depart early as 'Rabbi' and the group were driving into Kaitaia early (by 0900).   So, I was on the road earlier than usual.

Following Highway #1, I went up Mangamuka 'mountain' pass.  Someone had warned that this was 'challenging' but it turned out to be much less than advertised.  But, because I had 'thought' it would be difficult, I was mentally prepared. That's the solution, being mentally prepared.  But, sometimes the 'low' turns out to be 'high,' and the 'high' turns out to be 'low.'

But, it was a long 'down,' from the 383M /  1,300ft. crest.  I almost laughed about such, but refrained.  These, N.Z. hills, are steep, but not 'mountains' to us who have cycled in Tibet.  On the other hand, sometimes they're difficult as so steep (11% grades).   Small country N.Z., steep grades, a land of rolling green pastures, ocean vistas, gray skies, and the incessant wind (at least 'Northland' / No. Island).

On the ferry, from Kohukohu to Rawene, a tall gray woman checked me out (my legs), but we never spoke.  Most people curious about an old man on such a bicycle.

In Rawene, I had the best muffin in N.Z., at the Boathouse Gallery and Cafe.  

After another 20KM and two pretty good hills I was in Whirinaki, which is nothing basically.  But, up Johnson Road a kilometer in the world of the Peter Land family farm.  

I had returned to play Santa Claus, giving them three small gifts (printed photographs, and a poem).  In return a 'stream'  of interesting stories out of Peter Land, the Patriarch (now with something like 60 grand children).  

I have found this 83-year old man who was born in Tonga, fascinating!  Before meeting him I'd never even heard of 'Tonga!'  Additionally, the Land family... An interesting migration from England to New York City, to eastern Canada, to western Canada (Vancouver), and then sailing to Tonga in the 19th Century.  Peter's virtually 'famous' for  teaching himself Chinese (has never been to China) and then translating the 'Tao Te Ching,' into English (although there are many).  He calls it a 'literal' translation.  I bought a copy while I was there.

Sleeping in one of the Land's caravans (the same as the first time there) was a trial, but I got out the next morning only partly 'eaten' (by bugs).  I didn't see Catherine (Joseph's wife) the entire time, but they come and go. Brendon, from Ivercargill was new to me, yet helpful finding the book I'd loaned Peter, 'Chuang Tzu.'   Gilbert, Joseph and Catherine's son gave me a big hug when I departed. 

Then, I started out again, on to the Kauri Forest via Opononi (named for a famous Dolphin).  

But first, whoa, some big hills climbing up over the ridges to Waimamaku.  Down in Waimamaku (I love the Maori names!) I stopped to recover and partake of a blueberry muffin.  Sitting outside in the 'partly sunny' skies I observed the tourists coming and going in their motor vehicles.

The 'big tree,' according to a woman, was only a 'thirty-minute' drive away.  Note, motorists know time (if takes to get somewhere) but not distance.  Cyclists always want the answer to 'how far?' in kilometers (or miles)!  

Going up it turned out to be the most arduous part of the trip (so far).  For the first time in N.Z., it was a long up (15KM.  The grade wasn't steep, just long and curvy.  

But, the big tree (the 'Tane Mahuta' / 'Lord of the Forest') was certainly worth the effort -- in fact, the highlight of this circuit ('Northland') so far!

In the dense sub-tropical forest grows this oldest and most majestic tree in all of N.Z. (that I know about).  When I finally glimpsed it, I burst out loud, OH, MY GOD!   Maybe it was the setting, the angle, the sun on it, but it's something seemingly animated in a 3D fantasy movie a la Spielberg.  I've been in the Red Woods, the Sequoias in California/U.S.A., but this tree is more stunning somehow.  It dwarfs all so majestic, so big, so old, and still living!

Then, down, down, and more down passing other, smaller, Kauri trees (note you can see up while riding a bicycle (yet another advantage).  I stopped to touch one, as couldn't touch the 'Lord of the Forest.'   Note, I'm a 'tree hugger!'   'Woodman, woodman, spare that tree, touch not a single bough!'  (George Pope Morris).

After so many more kilometers, down and down now, I caught a glimpse of some buildings to my right.  I thought they might be the Waipoua Forest Information Center, and sure enough!  Down at the Waipoua River Bridge I turned right and followed the gravel road for about a kilometer.  I checked out 'The Cafe,' but I was too late at 5P.M.  They close at 4:30P.M.  

So, I pressed on another 300M to the 'Camping Area.'  Here, after 5P.M., it's 'self registration,' but I couldn't find the forms, etc.  So, I stopped a man who called for a woman, who showed me 'the ropes.' 

I'd first walked the area to see where to pitch my tent, passing a group of 4 couples, sitting having drinks.  I silently smurked as just exactly how I don't want to end up, sitting around with the same 'ole:  being a 'snow bird' (in the U.S. the older, retired couples who follow the sun).

I pitched my tent down near the 'parking lot,' as it had a low table.  

Tables, always useful when tour cycling, at least for me.  They provide Mr. Fiets a place to lean up against, and secondly a staging/storing area for gear.  

I have to be organized when cycle camping, as it's so easy to misplace something.  I'm a 'stage artist,' never going from disorganization to org..  I move things (gear in this case) a step at a time.  

That evening nothing much, as too tired.  Plus, sometimes I just want to be alone, and a tent offers unusual privacy!

The next morning the usual tasks:  shower, laundry, bicycle maintenance.  

Later, after lunchtime, I had a piece of carrot cake in The Cafe.  I also bought some herbal 'bug repellent,' in their gift shop.  The tiny container costing too much, but I was slightly desperate trying to keep from getting 'eaten!'   Afterwards I was off to hike in the forest.  I started up the gravel road toward the highway and soon came to a trail to the right (sign:  'Lookout' - 1 hour').

This trail started out fairly well, but as it progressed there was more and more mud and slippery roots to deal with.  Also, it wound around so many directions, I was never quite sure where I was, except going up.  Up and up we went, the hour slipping away.  Finally, and suddenly it opened onto some mowed grass, so I knew I was close to something.

At the top I discovered a parking lot, and the old fire-lookout building.  From the 'observation deck,' there was a view of the Tasman Sea to the west, in the foreground 'waves' of green hills.  I took my usual pictures, and then scouted the area for an alternative route down.  But, when I didn't find anything promising, I took the same trail back down.  

I hadn't gone very far when I ran into a young couple hiking up.  It didn't take too long to guess they weren't from N.Z.  Turned out, they are from The Netherlands, so we chatted for a bit.  Later, we met up again as they had parked their van not far from my tent.

On the way down I slipped and fell into the mud twice, cursing myself both times.  I'm an experienced hiker/climber, and shouldn't be falling in such circumstances.  But, some sections of the trail were like a swamp.  When I got back down, I informed the woman running the gift shop, and she called someone who dealt with such.  This trail, first of all, is at least 90 minutes up, possibly 1-hour down.  Secondly, these trails need to be maintained -- this is New Zealand, not China!

The following day, cycling to Dargaville, I ran into a French cyclist (Cyril) at the Aranga Store.  A wood sculpture had caught my eye, so I'd stopped to take a picture (Note, all now available at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery/ .)  We chatted for some time (even the French can speak English).  He was on his first tour-cycling trip, and heading up to Cape Reinga (where I had just been).  I gave him some advice, and then back into the wind.

It became easier and easier, however, as downhill.  Then finally the wind helping the last 10KM, zooming me into Dargaville!

I went immediately to the Library to get online (only 3:30P.M.).  I wanted to make sure Paul knew I was coming to Whangarei.  This,  to deal with my chest-Xray (for visa application).  I needed to collect a document from the Whangarei Hospital, and include it in and mail the application. 

After the Libary, the next step was finding a place for the night.  I happened to see a sign, 'Backpackers,' and an arrow.   I decided to check this out before finding the caravan park I had noticed coming into Darga.  Am I glad I did!  Even though relatively expensive ($28 per for a common bed), it turned out to be the best Hostel ('The Green House') of the entire trip!  Clean, organized, just the opposite from The Hike and Bike' in Kaitaia.  Additionally, Mr. Murray, the operator, had WIFI (for a price).  So, I didn't have to use my bank card in the pay telephone.  Paul had responded, via email, and seemed happy I was on my way to Whangarei.

I thought I was going to have the prevailing Westerlies helping me to Whangarei, but guess what?  By the next day a front had shifted the direction, and once again it was in my face (now from the southeast).  Highway #14, my route, takes you across the Northland Pennisula (Dargaville to Whangarei), roughly 60KM.  It's hilly, of course!  

The 'crank' was basically uneventful (I prefer) except for another 'first,' for me tour cycling (11 years now).  Somewhere, my front derailleur wouldn't shift to the largest (fastest) crank wheel.  I couldn't figure this out until, upon closer examination, I noticed a piece of gravel lodged inside the derailleur.  I tried to pry it out with a stick, but it wouldn't budge.   

I stopped at Tangiteroria (I love the Maori names.), this to rest and deal with the derailleur.  I went looking for a small screw driver,  but not to be.  I walked across the highway to a motor vehicle garage, but no one was about.  Finally, I dumped some water on the derailleur.  Interesting, how inventive you can get, when the situation calls for it.  I had been lucky, the crank wheels I needed most (middle and small) hadn't been affected.  And actually I could have made it all the way into 'Fang.' without using the largest.  What you need on a heavy touring bike in N.Z., is the low gears (because of the steep hills).  You can always coast downhill.

There was some more hills around Maungatapere, so I stopped to rest before (drinking/eating a Turkish fig).  Again, I tried to pry out the little 'rock,' from the front derailleur, but I discovered it had come out by 'itself' (maybe the water had helped).

Once, over the hills, it was down and down into Whangarei and 'see' level.  

I was nearing 'Center City,' still on highway #14, when I noticed a sign for 'Hospital.'  Perfect, I thought to myself, as I'll stop now and retrieve the visa document I came to pick up.  This went 'lickety split,' and conveniently a 'Cafe,' just happened to be next door to 'Radiology.'  Thus, I sat eating a  muffin to discover my heart and lungs are 'normal' (something I didn't need to spend $165NZD to learn).

The last couple of days with Paul and the girls in Onerahi, have been so different from 'my' life on the road.  I've been able to partake of a N.Z. family with two young girls ('Maddie,' at 14, and 'Freya' at 8).  Amazing for me to be around western children, the energy, and these are good kids!  

But, 'm so glad I never had any of my own, as children's energy (noise) 'nos know' bounds!  I would have been driven more insane than I am now (having had my own)!   Maybe it's my age as I've noticed how grandparents are with their grandchildren... They're eager to be with them for a few hours, but then happy to have mom and/or dad take them back!  Whew!

Note, as I 'right' this, Freya (the 8-year old), is playing 'Rudolph, the Red Nose Reigndear' on the computer next to me!   She did ask me, however, if it was 'too loud?'  Of course, I said 'know!' 

It's difficult for me to get into the 'Christmas spirit' this year, my first in the southern hemisphere.  I keep smelling the gardenia blossoms.   It's Spring here!  This is my first 'summer' Christmas ever!  All the Christmas' of my life before have been in the winter, not summer!

But, whatever hemisphere you live in, whether it's summer or winter wherever you are, try to make something out of it!  Christmas is more than just shopping, parties, and gift giving!

This time next year (12.12.12), I will be at Macchu Pichu in Peru!  That should make for an interesting Christmas!

Feliz Navidad, y prospero ano nuevo!

Friday, December 02, 2011

021112 BLOK. December summer (a first)!


021112 BLOK.  December summer (a first)!

Cycling in 'Northland,' North Island, N.Z.

Ah, I'm still in Kaitaia!  And after all this time I still don't know how to pronounce the name properly.

I ended up staying at the Hike and Bike Hostel in Kaitaia, for one full week.  I had to deal with three things:  One, my visa extension, a 'deal,' and being eaten alive by little critters.  I hadn't planned to stay for so long, as it's December now, and getting on to the Christmas holiday.  But, sometimes you have to 'go with the flow,' whether you want to or not.

The fact, that Christmas was coming fast, made for a visa deadline.  Thus, I thought best to deal with such in Kaitaia (large enough to have what's resources needed).  I had called N.Z. Immigration (toll free), and ended up talking with a 'real live' human being.  

The woman that day at N.Z. Immigration turned out to be one of the most intelligent government workers I've ever had the pleasure to talk with.  This woman knew what she was talking about, understood me, and solved the 'problem' efficiency.  I wrote down her name, a Maori name, 'M,' something...  Maori language seems to start with 'k,' 't,' or 'm.'  

What I learned (talking to this N.Z. Immigration woman) was that I have to mail the application, with all supporting elements to arrive in Auckland by 15 December..  So, I pursued what was required as I want to stay in N.Z. another six months to partake of the South Island.  For example, I had to obtain a 'certified' copy of my passport page (don't have to show the real one).  Fortunately, the drugstore nearby, the owner, offered such 'Justice of the Peace-type' (notary) services.  Best, por nada!  Note, I thought I was going to have to pay some lawyer $50N.Z.D.

At the same time I'd given, reluctantly I might add,  $150 to S. who was supposed to deliver the goods in three hours.  It took three days!  And during that time always the same 'ya ya,' which didn't help the feeling I'd been ripped off!  Eventually he came through, but with much less than expected (told incredible stories of difficulties).  Now, I'm so stupid, I'm doing another!

While all this is going on I'm 'attacked,' (not sure when or where) by small vermin, maybe sand fleas, gnats ('no see 'ems'), etc.  The bites, little red dots that itch.  I thought maybe they came at night, me lying in an infested bed and/or from the carpet.  David hasn't cleaned under the beds for years.  I sometimes am aghasted at people's lifetyles.  He diminished it all by saying 'the building was made of old wood!'   It was about like with the kids up at Whatiki Landing, basically the avoidance of all responsibility.  I made him wash all the bedding, in the meantime I moved to another room.  But, I'm still itching even after applying Tree Tea Oll and a hydro-cortisone cream.

N.Z. has the reputation of having no bugs, flies, predators, etc.  All of that is crap!  The sand flies on South Island are notoriously bad.  I was 'eaten alive,' in the trailer at the Land Farm (in Whirinaki).  I had some unpleasantness with aggressive flies in Australia, but N.Z. has been worse for creepy-crawley things.  I have thought the sand flea bites possibly were the result of walking in the 'Giant Sand Dunes?' 

Hike and Bike Hostel (in K-town) is funky, but if dirty as well, I couldn't stay there for every long (or I'd pitch my tent in the backyard).  When I first returned to Kaitaia, from the Cape,  David bemoaned a water problem (broken pipe).  I was unable to take a 'warm shower,' for three days.  To David's credit, however, he offered to comp. one night's rent.  Note, as an aside, he got ripped off in Santa Cruz, California in 1998 (hitchhiking around the U.S.).  He showed me the newspaper article.  And he lost everything!

My week working/waiting in Kaitaia should be entitled:  'The visa business, 'waiting for godot,' and bed bugs!'  Welcome to Northland, N.Z.  We're (U.S. and N.Z.) even, David!

I spent the week rushing around Kaitaia getting what I needed for the visa application.  After reading it, I knew I had to get a chest x-ray (N.Z. Gov. afraid of TB).  This (their rules) because I'd spent 'three months outside my country on the list' (U.S.A.).  The total cost $165N.Z.D. ($130USD).  Whatever, too much!   

O.K. I did the 'shuck and jive,' for the x-ray only to discover that the 'radiologist,' the guy that writes off on the document, is in Whangarei, not here in Kaitaia.  I had planned to mail everything from Kaitaia before leaving, but now that became impossible.   Of course, to cover her ass, the attendant in the X-Ray Department blurted out, 'Had we known of your situation we would have recommended you to go to a private physician, who could manage the entire process in one day.  Of course, I had assumed... I had assumed that an X-Ray Department in a Hospital had a radiologist... Wrong again!

What was I going to do, as I needed to start south for Auckland?  More correctly I should say/write, 'What am I going to do?' as I'm still deciding (as I compose this)...

I may have to return to Auckland, via Whangarei, not entirely out of the way, but some.  I would cost me maybe two extra days.  On the other hand, Paul and Carole Doherty are there where Alvaro and I stayed in Onerahi.  Wonderful people, and a '5-star' situation for touring cyclists (staying at their house).  So, the compensation would be seeing them again.

The good news while in Kaitaia, the meals I've been preparing have been a delight!  I've cooked pasta (spaghetti) at least three times, and managed other interesting combinations.  Of course, I'm getting fat (too many temptations).  

Ironically, Kaitaia, has one of the best food markets I've been to in all of N.Z., the 'PaK N Save.'  Maybe because there are so few shoppers when I've been there. Additionally there's something else about this huge market that is appealing, a nice feeling!  Note, the population of Kaitaia is only 5,000.

And then about S. and all that, 'waiting for godot!'  Many scenarios went through my mind during the time I was getting the 'ya ya.'   But, S. came through, if not for the amount discussed, at least something.  With it came many apologies, illustrated with stories of angst and woe!  O.K., I forgave, even coughed up some for him.

We've all tried to be good to each other here, at 'Hike and Bike!'  I think that's good, as it could have deteriorated into ugliness! 

I'm here tomorrow, Saturday, to check email, then departing Kaitaia Sunday.  Finally!  I'm like Alvaro in that, if I stay anywhere too long, I get the urge to crank!

In the meantime, I'll decide about how to deal with the Whangarei x-ray, and how to get my visa application to Auckland by15 December.  Now, Jim wants to meet me in 'Northland,' to cycle through the Kauri Forests.

I just met a lone female cyclist (unusual) here on the street today, Kelly Smith, from Anchorage, Alaska.  I remember saying to her, 'The cycling isn't the difficult part (that most people think), it's dealing with the associated lifestyle that can be challenging!'  She agreed!

More, when I can...

281111 BLOK 'Cape Regina or Bust!'


281111 BLOK  'Cape Regina or Bust!'

I'm back in Kaitaia after our trip north to the Cape, the Lighthouse and what is called Te Paki (the northern most tip of the Aupouri Pennisula).   This 250KM trip, took five nights, and six days.  I basically cycled from 4 to 6 hours each day, getting to wherever, and then setting up (camping) long before darkness.  Cycling is only a part of the lifestyle.

The first day, we managed 70KM in just four hours, but with much help from a tail wind!  I felt like I had an engine!  I was wearing Rabbi's (new friend in Kaitaia) sunglasses, seeing the world through his creative eyes!  It was so different from cycling during the first three weeks.

It turned out to be just an all-around perfect day, that made up for the previous 21 days!  I had 'struck the jackpot' at the 'Hike and Bike Hostel,' by meeting some interesting local people!  But, it went from that (sitting around talking), the first days to succeeding days which became more of a challenge as the weather deteriorated (more wind, showers, etc.).  Plus, after the first 70KM, the hills got steeper, and the wind got stronger.  Cape Reinga makes a cyclist 'pay' for it!  It you cycle all the way from Auckland, even the most direct route is 500KM.

I had been struggling the first three weeks out of Auckland.  The steep hills, the wind, and the weight I'm carrying (55KG), all proved daunting.  It was more a mental than a physical test, however, as I started making excuses for myself.  Excuses to quit, to take the bus, to whatever I was making them,  excuses!   However, if you persevere, things change.  And if you try and keep trying you're rewarded.   The 'hard' road, 'the road less travelled,' always 'pays off!

After 70-years of age your overall health becomes fickle.  By that I mean, you might feel fine (strong) one day, weak the next.  You never know exactly, depending on the air pressure, humidity, temperature, digestion, distraction, problems with bicycle, weather, other, even fear!  Sometimes I just want to play it safe, and cuddle up next to a fire!

BUT, IN KAITAIA I GOT MY 'MOJO' BACK!  So, the going has gotten a little easier!

That first afternoon, I opted to stop and camp at Rarawa Beach on the Pacific Ocean (government camp ground). The gravel road to it was some 4KM, but not too bad with my 'Extreme' treads.  But, sometimes, especially when much is loose, it's tricky business. 

When I got to the campgrounds, there was no one there, maybe a caravan parked somewhere.  But, just about as soon two boys pulled up in an automobile.  They turned out to be most helpful, giving me .50 cents to make up my $7.50NZD fee (1 adult).   In return I offered them some dried figs which they took.    Note, at these Government Camp Grounds you fill out an envelope, and deposit it into a lockbox (as no human there to 'register').  Then you attach a portion onto your vehicle (to prove you've paid).    

After surveying all of the campgrounds, I finally chose a tent spot distant from the boys.  I liked the spot I chose for other reasons (Alvaro would not understand).  

There's a spiritual element to my selection of where to sleep, etc.   The boys (at this campground) chose a spot near the river.  I choose drier spots to pitch my tent (as need it dry quickly in the morning).  And of course there are other reasons.   Xutan thinks it's best to sleep in a north-south attitude, a la 'Feng Sway,; as they say!   I don't bother with such.  I look for level, good drainage, away from trees, water, sheltered from the wind, where the sun comes up first, etc.  Camping is an art form you learn after much experience.   The one I picked at Rarawa had little wind, our spot sheltered from the prevailing 'westerlies.'

Other vehicles arrived later.  A woman parked her van just opposite the toilet where I was (on the other side).  She departed early the next morning.

I walked down to the beach at twilight, hardly anyone there.  There was little surf.   My bare feet walking on sand!  I looked eastward toward Chile, my next country, some 10,000KM distance.  The Pacific Ocean so vast!   In a commercial jetliner it takes almost 12 hours (Auckland to Santiago)!  The Maori did such distances in canoes how, no one will ever know:  I guess fishing, catching rain water and shitting over the bow,
Thats how
Now, brown cow!

Later, I walked all the way back to the grass, sometimes wincing from a thorn, a branch or a rock my tender feet had encountered. 

Such was our first 'perfect' day!  From 'Hiking and Biking' in Kaitaia, sped by the wind some 65KM, the only decision of the day was, 'Should I go further?'  I wisely opted not to, and camping at the Rarawa Beach Campground turned out good!  Note, I've learned not to push it too far!

Next morning we headed north to the next goal, Whatiki Landing some 50KM distance.   At this point,  the wind was coming from 1000 (compass direction):  a headwind from my left (or northwest in this case).  This with the hills, made it more challenging.  The good news was that I'm feeling stronger (my legs for one thing).

I think i managed the 50KM in four hours, compared with 70 the day before.  Up and down through bucolic, green hills we went.   To the east from time to time, you glimpse the Pacific, 'Parengarenga Bay, sail and fishing boats, etc.  

All the outdoor stores in Kaitaia have fishing gear.  But, up here the tourists come for things like sand surfing (on boards from the top of giant sand dunes).  Note, see pictures at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery/

Whatiki Landing is operated by Maori people.  They seem to have wonderful dispositions, but this group was completely disorganized.  Maori, the native and/or eastern way of thinking about things, is different:  more relaxed, more open, more fatalistic.  And maybe to their credit, as they seem happy!

Full day, #2 (Tuesday), back in Kaitaia (after cycling up to the Cape and back.).  It's so weird seeing signs of Christmas coming, while it gets hotter and hotter, the days longer and longer.  This will be my first 'Summer Christmas' ever!

Where was I...?  Alone at Whatiki Landing, and happily alone the first day.  The second day there was Cape Day, so 'time to ride!'  I loaded up Mr. Fetes with as much as possible, not wanting to push a lighter bicycle.  The ride was challenging from the beginning.  as you seem to go up to the Lighthouse, not down (as expected).  There are three distinct hill ranges (ups/downs) on the way (the last right at the end).  Plus, there was a headwind (at 1000, compass direction).  Both hills and a headwind together make for daunting tour cycling.  But, always, my motto, onward!  So, I got there!  I forget how long the 22KM took, but something like three hours.  This an 8KM per hour average, which is pretty slow.  I was glad I wasn't fully loaded (55KG).

Arriving at the Cape you see the sea first.  It was stormy gray seemingly restless, even angry.  Think of this huge body of water as a living thing:  and this can be a churning mass, of swirling suds, as if they had a life of their own.  Sailors know about the sea of course!

I'm not a sea person, but I can appreciate such, the water, the waves, the vastness of it.! Att Cape Reinga the Tasman Sea, between New Zealand and Australia, and the Pacific Ocean, meet.  This, 'meeting' as if oceans had borders, and being named gave them distinction.  Before people, the world's oceans, seas, water, whatever you want to name such was just that:  One big mass of salt water covering the earth's surface.  They didn't 'meet,' as they weren't separate (or named).  But at Cape Reinga I did notice, just to the west of the Cape, some 'churning' as in 'meeting.' But, maybe this is waves over a reef...?  I took a picture of this (www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery/

At the parking lot/Entrance I parked Mr. Fetes in the shelter of the toilet building.  I locked him, and then took the, almost 1KM, walk down to the Lighthouse.   There were many tourists, going/coming, climbing the hills, taking pictures, reading the information 'plaques' about the history/geography of the area.  As everywhere in N.Z., these things are in both English and Maori.

On the way down, the two cyclists that had passed me on the highway, were cranking back up from the Lighthouse.  They'd ridden all the way down (note, most walk).  We 'high-fived' it, as they passed.  

There exists a special bond between people who participate in the same activity. They acknowledgement each other as understanding the challenges.  Only people who actually do it, know what pain you go through!  

The Cape Reinga area (Te Paki), is sacred to the Maori.  One of their myths has to do with deceased Maori spirits returning to, from whence they came, Hawaii.  They call it 'Hawaiki.'   It is, in fact, the most spiritually significant place for them in all of N.Z., as it's here, they believe, that deceased spirits depart for 'home' (Hawaiki').  Their spirits travel to the Pohufukawa tree (I took pictures.)   They descend into the underworld (reinga) by sliding down one of the roots and fall into the sea.  They climb out again at Ohaua, the highest point of The Three Kings Islands (you can see them on a clear day).  This to bid a final farewell before returning to the 'land' of their ancestors.

Note, the idea of 'death,' and returning to the source ('home'), a powerful myth in all cultures. 

When I was at the Lighthouse there were many tourists (from buses).  A young couple asked me if I would take a picture of them in front of the lighthouse.  Then they offered to take one of me.  Note, I don't need pictures of me, but sometimes just to prove I was there.

Walking back to the Entrance, I was engaged by a young man from Austria, a cyclist who was sorry he hadn't cranked up from 90-mile beach on his bicycle.  

Back at Mr. Fetes (next to the 'Men's,'), I sat on the 'sealed' surface out of the wind,
and ate my lunch . Nobody bothered me, although some shot curious glances.  'What's an old man doing, sitting on the ground, eating?   And is that his bicycle?'

On the ride back to Whatiki Landing it seemed easier going.   I had some help from the wind.  If it took 3 hours to get there, it took only 2 to return.  

I got a surprise when I returned, however!  Now, there were many people, campers everywhere, children running hither and yon, and a couple sitting at 'my' table drinking a beer.  We chatted, and 'Ron' turned out to be a good guy.  He explained this was a weekend camping trip for a Rugby Club (20 kids).  They try to do this once a month, where they camp out, provide instruction in sports, etc. for the children.

I had dinner in the Community Kitchen, observing a Maori crew prepare dinner for 80 people (was surprised at the number).  I opted out of a hamburger, but eyed their desserts (sitting on a table).  I offered them some crackers, which most declined (left them there when I left).

Later trying to sleep in my tent, the children became more and more of a problem.  First, just the noise, then as the evening went on I became a target to upset..  I thought it would subside, but they didn't retire until close to midnight.  

One 'knocked' on my tent to offer me a hamburger.  I begged off, but asked about their dessert.  Damn, if they didn't deliver the most wonderful, but decadent dessert I could imagine (chocolate cream cake and ice cream).  Note, no wonder most New Zealanders seem overweight.  I thanked the boy profusely!  Later, I made a big mistake when I left the remains inside the ten without closing the zipper 'door.' 

Some of the children took to knocking on my tent.  They became noisier and crazier.  They would trip, on purpose, over my tent stakes/cord jarring the tent in the process!   They tried yelling at me, thinking I'd be scared.  I yelled back at them, but it had no effect..  I thought of getting up and out to try to scare them off, but sometimes it's better to 'play dead.'  Finally, they were called to bed, and it was suddenly quiet.  

The next morning I noticed the kids had broken one of the cords on my tent, ripping it at where it's sewn.  When I complained to the elders (a group of Maori men in charge), all I got were blank stares.  One did offer 'how impossible it was to control 20 wild kids!'   But, basically I was S.O.L., as this came under the category of 'Tough Shit!' (to the Maori men).

But, guess who came through for me, a 'Pakeha' (European) the guy I mentioned earlier, Ron.  Not only did he try to repair the rip, by sewing it (with my needle and thread) but he apologized (on behalf of the parents).  Is this a difference between the Maori and the Pakeha?'

The next day I managed to ride and walk to 90-Mile Beach.   This, via the 'Giant Sand Dunes'  at Te Paki Creek.   First, the crank against a stiff west wind, then slipping and sliding on the gravel down to the parking lot.  This is where the 'river road' begins, but only for 4-wheel drive vehicles, or a bus (with experienced driver).  I walked.  And it turned out to be a long walk to the beach, maybe 3 kilometers!  First, I tried the dunes above, but too steep, the sand too soft.  Then I returned to walk on the riverbed, the hardened sand making driving on it possible.  Walking on it was like walking on concrete, the sand is so hard.

Halfway, I stopped to take pictures of people partaking of sand surfing.  Two experienced at such, slid all the way through the river below.  Most, however, tried in fits and starts, some falling, and, of course, always some screaming teenage girls!  What a sport, sand surfing!  I'll stick to tour cycling, discovering the world!

Full Day #3 back in Kaitaia, and remembering the trip up to Cape Underworld...

I had a good night (at Whatiki Landing), as the group had departed (Thank God!).  Just as it had become noisy in an instant, it became peaceful in an instant as well!  People!  People!  People!  I can understand why people become hermits!

There's a good reason I never had any children of my own!   Even now with my informally 'adopted' Chinese children, as they are so much work!  So much pain!  So much misunderstanding between, not only cultures, but generations.  I used to tell Richard, that our differences wasn't because he is Chinese and I am American, but that he is 27-years old and I am 7!'   I forgot, and so much money (children cost)!  Anyway, I've been lucky in that regard.  I didn't have to go through the changing diapers cycle, but even with my 'adopted' Chinese 'adults,' challenging! 

I had stayed one extra day at Whatiki Landing to visit 90-Mile Beach and the Sand Dunes, but now it was time to return to Kaitaia.

On the way up, I'd stopped at a general store in Te Kao.  At the same time a bus had arrived to let the passengers partake of whatever.  I was just about to depart, when they arrived.  A man engaged me in conversation, wanting to know the usual.  Later, his wife asked more questions.  Older people who do the 'group bus' thing are curious about a lone guy traveling on a bicycle.

Sometimes, I don't know what to say to people, except give the 'usual rap,' trying to motivate them to do, or try, the same!  But, sometimes I wonder if I do it to get attention?  If the latter, then shame on me!  I suppose my Ego is involved, but hopefully for good, rather than unpleasant, reasons!  

KNOW THYSELF, the Oracle at Delphi told Socrates!  And such is an important, if not the most important task, in life!  If you don't know, that you don't know, then you've got a problem, living in darkness!

On the way back to Kaitaia, I stopped again at the General Store in Te Kao.  But, this time I met the owner, a friendly woman named, Bonnie, the 'Ice Cream Woman!'   She invited me in for tea, and then told me interesting stories of people who had come through there.  She mentioned two books as well, one by the Lighthouse keeper (author, Clarke maybe?), one about Mt. Camel.  She was engaging, but finally let me go with, 'Tell them to give you a bed for the night!' (referring to the people who operate, Houhora Hotel/Tavern),  'Tell them, Bonnie, the Ice Cream woman said so!'  It's people like this that enliven my life, the reason I travel.  

What happens to you 'out here,' isn't always good, but at least it's interesting.  I basically got bored in the U.S.  I seem to crave experience!  I rush in where angels fear to tread!

Well, it turned out Bonnie was right about the InnKeepers at the Houhora Hotel and Tavern (Russell and Helen McAlees).  Good people!  I camped there with their two dogs, this out back near their (shipping) 'container' and an old garage. I befriended their two dogs and had no trouble with them (little barking)!  So, I had a good night, finally.

In the morning I did whatever in leisure fashion, knowing I had only 50KM to Kaitaia.  It became sunny, and after breakfast I walked around and took pictures.  They've done a good job with this place, organized, clean, and decorated.  The Houhora Tavern, 'New Zealand's Most Northern Pub!' I recommend it!  I'm not sure if I can recommend Whatiki Landing!

I had some help from the wind getting back into Kaitaia, arriving about 3P.M.  I stopped off at Pak 'N' Save, to buy some food (using their ATM for cash).

I was back at the Hike and Bike Hostel by 4P.M., and in room #5 by 5P.M.  I needed to take a shower, but David explained there was a water problem, a leak somewhere.  No problem at that moment, as I'd gone six days without one.   Worse, I needed to use his washing machine.

Anyway, I was back in Kaitaia.  My first dinner, I cooked asparagus and ate crackers with a basil and cheese dip.  I think maybe I had a tin of tuna (olive oil and garlic)!  I'd purchased some unusual yoghurt ('wild apple')!  Whatever, it was, it was much enjoyed.

Next, about being in Kaitaia, 'the second time around'...  This all about applying to extend my visa, and 'Waiting for Jack!'