Tuesday, May 31, 2005

eNZed - day 17 (31-5-5)

We woke up in anticipation of scattering goats away from our leftover veggies, or at least excited at the prospect that our veggies would be eaten and gone, but no such luck. Must have had too much human stink to them. Yuk!

We headed out to the Skytrek hike, but instead of a nice trail, we ended up following a muddy shit filled animal track. We crossed 2 streams, slogged up a poop covered hill (those of you who know me well, know how I giggled about this, and talked about how there were different kinds-clearly the difference between the sheep, cows, and goats), and over a fence to finally get a nice view of Old River Valley. This valley, of course, houses a oxbow lake and a good sized marshy place.

Off to Taranaki!! Oh man, so exciting! A Kiwi volcano! And it will have snow on it!! What will I do with myself? We had some bread with oil and vinegar on the side of the road ( I ate 4 feijoas) and we watched the river from waaaay up.We stopped for groceries in Wanganui first and stocked up on Feijoas, cookies (biscuits), and bread.

We saw some very cool clouds on the way, right before the town of Hawera (ha-weerrr-uh) and decided they were forming above the volcano, so we definitely had to stop and take pics!

We stopped after that for a bathroom break where A and I got some much lusted after chai and Dave got some fries (I don’t know how he deals with that sauce!). It was so windy!

We arrived in Taranaki and decided to stay at the Holiday Park cause we thought it would be like the one in Rotorua.. could not have BEEN more wrong. The kitchen consisted of a toaster oven with a hot plate on top, with no shower or toilet attached. Man were we spoiled in Rotorua! At least there’s a sink to wash all the dishes out! They definitely needed a good washing.

We went to bed hoping to see Taranaki when we woke!

Monday, May 30, 2005

eNZed - day 16 (30-5-5)

I woke up and ate the ambrosia of the gods… feijoa yogurt! Dave just couldn’t pass up another ride along that crazy-ass road from yesterday, so we headed back up to Reatihi (rrrray-uh-tee-hee) to go back down the Whanganui National Park Road – I wonder what it looks like in the summer – with the goal of hiking to a ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ at Pipiriki (pee-pee-ree-kee).

On the way, we got stuck in the middle of a cattle drive. I had NO idea how big cows are. And loud. MMMMAAAAAAAHHHHHHOW…. I’M A COOOOW…..

How could we not get hungry after that? So we stopped at Café Angel Louise for lunch. YUM! Of course, Jack Johnson’s new album was on repeat, but I just love that constellations song and now it will forever remind me of this place. We went next store to this little store where I bought postcards and Dave bought maps. Dave got grumped at by the funny old lady behind the money box for not having exact change (he seemed a little befuddled), but I was told that I was allowed since I did have exact change : P naaaaahhh – that’s my sticking my tongue out sound haha!

We saw all the slips from yesterday, but the sunlight cleared up the story a bit. Definitely not rock/weathered rock, but fairly highly compressed fine grained sand to silt. There’s absolutely no cementation of any type. The cliffs are very steep, especially the areas that have been recently cut. There’s lots of places where the road is only one lane cause the other side fell off.

We arrived at Pipiriki and were heading down the road to the hike when Dave said he didn’t want to go because it was going to take too long since the road was so bad and we still had 30Km to go. I must still have been annoyed about the goat situation from yesterday cause I got all bitchy, then he got all bitchy, and A was stuck in the middle. We ended up turning around and trying to go to the hike that Dave was really thinking about the whole time instead of the one I wanted to do.

Dave’s hike ended up having a closed sign, but being from Hawaii, we just figured it didn’t mean anything, so we tried to do it anyway. When we got up to where the trail crew was working we felt a little sheepish, but played it off. They were clearing a land slip that happened a year ago! It definitely looked like a big one.

So we headed back down the road stopping in many places to take pics.

Dave kept going on and on about how great it would be to camp on the side of the road here. I told him he was nuts, I didn’t want to be trying to sleep wondering if every little noise I heard was a mountain of mud and water rushing down to crush me. He scoffed at me and told me I could inspect the chosen grounds to ensure our safety. We ended settling on a little camping area on the river side of the road.

We decided on mushroom-tomato-basil-shells for dinner, which A did a wonderful job cutting all the veggies up for – even with me “helping” =). Dave worked on a tarp made out of rain-fly and tent footprint to shelter us from the rain and wind. We decided to be daring tonight and try sleeping with the back door (A and I even were going to put our heads towards the drivers seat..) of the van open so we didn’t have to dismantle Daves excellent construction job, but mosquitoes quickly found us – Plus, Dave didn’t think he could take down a goat with his knife if it took the Nutella, so we’ll have to wait til morning to see if the goats came sniffing out our veggies scraps!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

eNZed - day 15 (29-5-5)

We woke up and squealed about the frost on the windows. Yes! Frost! So we (me and A) reluctantly got up (you know Dave was up and ready to go) and at soup at the shelter area that was the dining room last night. As it was still freezing cold, windy, and raining, we went over to the visitors center where I bought some rain pants (for $55! So expensive!) and gloves and we looked around at the volcano stuff.

Since I was newly outfitted for the rain and cold, Dave convinced me that the key to my day was hiking with him to Taranaki (tar-ah-nah-key) Falls. I thought for sure it would be just like yesterday and turn into amazing sunshine as soon as we set out (it worked for Dave didn’t it?). It was a fun walk in the rain and wind and the falls turned out to be crazy!! There was a cheater (small motivational) waterfall at the beginning of the hike that told of what was yet to come (not really, but it was pretty) and I watched it for a while, Dave took the oportunity to snap a few. Taranaki Falls is a 60’ drop of gushing water coming out of a very small notch of rock! It was spraying all over the place in the wind, but we came very close to the bottom without getting too wet. On the walk back, Dave and I had a nice talk about the novel Dune and having a terrible purpose.

We met up with A at the Skotel fireplace before going off to try and fine some food and a mailbox. We ended up at Fergusson’s. Yuk! Crap music playing and the food was too expensive and wasn’t really something I would go back twice for. I ate fries with a scrunch face. I can’t wait to get away from this weird tomato sauce that’s supposed to pass for ketchup!

After catching the weather back at Skotel, we decided to blow the pop-stand that is Mt. Ruapehu with hopes of finding sunshine over to the west. Mt. Taranaki (aka Egmont) is calling – once we get through Wanganui (wahn-gah-new-ee).

We took the Whanganui (fahn-gah-new-ee) Park Road and got to see lots of sheep and chase some baby goats (after seeing a dead one, and chasing off the mother/father) – which of course led to a classic Liz and Dave bicker – they were so cute! And Dave was trying to get me to run them over.. never mind that they actually did finally get out of the way.. that’s not the point.

The Whanganui river cuts into these small mountains that aren’t rock, they’re just compacted dirt. Walk up to a chunk and you can break it with your hands. Which, if you think about it, does not seem like a good material to cut through to make a road, does it? I’ve never seen so many small landslides (slips in kiwi) in such a small area. It was impressive, but it definitely made me nervous with all the rain we were encountering. There were definitely recent slips all over the place.

The river
was very brown and full of mud and dirt and was flowing high, but
very beautiful none the less. I wanted to raft it, but it’s cold, and I’m not crazy about getting wet right now. It got dark before we got to finish the drive, but we stopped and star gazed for a bit for a bathroom and roadside encounter. Dave taught me and A about Magellanic Clouds while he took Milky Way pics.

When we finally got into Wanganui, we found out that everything is closed on Sunday after 7pm. Luckily the only thing open was the grocery store. I stocked up on Feijoas, and we had a nice dinner of mushroom soup and bread a the park. Only a couple of loud cars snooped by us, but we slept well.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

eNZed - day 14 (28-5-5)

We woke up to sun today and got excited that we might be able to canoe to the Maori carvings along the lake shore, until we came out of the grocery store. Wouldn’t ya know, it starts raining the minute we walk out. We went to the park along the lake front for breakfast – this wasn’t the best idea since it was raining and quite windy (and cold), but that soup was the BOMB. * sigh * I get all hungry just thinking about it.

We decided to try driving to the volcano (Ruapehu) to see if we could get out of the rain by getting above it (it works at Haleakala..), but no such luck. It was raining the whole drive there and at the top. We stopped up there and drank hot chocolate and called the parents for a check-in (aren’t we good kiddies?). I had a terrible kink in my back which I tried to stretch out while Dave decided which hike to go on while A and I entertained ourselves out of the rain.

Dave headed to Silica Rapids while A and I got toasty by the fireplace at the Skotel (ski-hotel… get it?) at the bottom of the mountain. I started reading my new book The Totorore Voyage (about a Kiwi guy who sails around Antarctica) and caught up with postcards and journaling. Of course as soon as we settled in on the couches next to that fire with all our clothes and shoes drying, the sun broke through the clouds and gave Dave a nice dry beautiful hike.

I festered about it for a while, but then decided that it would have rained if I had gone with him, so I should stay inside and let him enjoy it while I occasionally looked out the window.

Dave met us at Skotel for sunset and we had spiked hot chocolate (A and me) and a beer (me) and enjoyed the fire.

Dinner found us (freezing our asses off) at the open air visitors shelter (sounds like a place for the homeless, but it was a covered area with toilets - not too much different) cooking marinated veggies. We slept at the Silica Rapids trainlhead, marveling at how cold it was. Good thing there's three of us!

To look at all the pics from Day 14, click here!

Friday, May 27, 2005

eNZed - day 13 (27-5-5)

We woke up and I decided to shower for a second time… ahhh.. so nice. =) but it was mostly to wash off the chlorine from the hot tub. We had breakfast of PB and N dunked in milk (such luxury) and buttered noodles in the not heated, and therefore cold kitchen. Then we enjoyed re-arranging the cooler and repacked the van– these were much needed tasks. Then we were off for a drive around the lake, but as I see I forgot to mention, it was raining again…. Naturally.

We stopped many times for picture taking and to look at rocks and the lake. There was an especially fun spot on the lake that was full of pumice. We showed A how it floats and then we spent the next however long time throwing it all into the lake and watching it float around. It looked like tiny ice bergs.. or styrofoam, but I prefer the ice bergs.

I got cranky cause Dave didn’t want to share his rocks with me, and he wouldn’t play my driving game - which consisted of me trying to turn Dave’s persistent questioning back on him by asking him: if he could invent his own culture, what kind of customs would he choose.. specifically for

greetings and such. He said he wouldn’t have any. BORING. But luckily, I got over it

(after grumpily writing it all down) when Dave and I

went for a small hike/walk around a nice blue river while A read in the van.

We saw some weird fruit growing on a tree and lots of pretty flowers and water caught on leaves.

And I got to jump around on a suspension bridge and make Dave nervous =)!!

We finally got back to A in the van and tried unsuccessfully to find some food in Turangi (too-rain-gee), so I used the ole lead foot to get us back to Taupo before the hungry monster poked it’s head out. Of course there were complaints, but we were all hungry, so it was soon forgotten when we decided upon the Westside Grill for dinner.

OH MAN…. Can I just say, BEST POTATO SOUP, EVER. Yummmmmmmm!!!!!!! Dave had a steak and A had some baked fish. I amused the restaurant staff by asking, all excited, for some soup to take home. Apparently this is highly irregular, but it was so good! And I might not ever be there again!

After dinner we went for a walk and found a place for Dave to check email and (!) another place to download pics and get cds burnt. A was on a quest for brown boys who smoke, but returned unsuccessful =( aww..

We slept by the Huka River and had a bathroom party in the middle of the night. funfunfun!

To look at all pics from Day 13, click here!