Monday, January 31, 2011

Only a day away

I have been waiting and waiting for the day to come where I could have some kind of normal life again. And guess what? It starts tomorrow!!!! This day could not come any sooner. For about a year and a week Matt has been working in West Valley. He would be gone for about 12 hours a day, sometimes longer, working long hours and driving the ever-long construction commute home. So today I celebrate my last day of being a single parent and look forward to dinners with the WHOLE family. Which means I need to start making dinners again. Fine by me. Paid time off!!!! Insurance. Bedtime stories by Dad at a real bedtime, not at midnight. Real time for us to chill and hang out, before and after kids are in bed. Not us just trying to stay awake to see each other. Time, sweet time. This new change will bring a small pay cut but I would take a huge one ( if I could afford it) to be able to spend all this newfound time we will get together this year. Last year was rough but amazing. I'm sure this year will be the same but for different reasons. I'm also looking forward to better sleep!!!! Here's to the new year. Ours starts tomorrow!!!! Sing it with me - Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow, you're only a day away. xoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxooxoxooxoxoxooxoxoxooxo

Most important, now we can get back to doing what we do best - dorking out! Enjoy. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lord of the forest

Day 5: Rawene to Hamilton

Breakfast at the Boatshed Cafe was the perfect way to start a day of driving. We had taken the last few days to drive up the north along the coast on the east side and now we are coming back down all that distance in one day on the west side.

Soaking up vitamin D, listening to the water below while jotting down my thoughts. Wish every morning could start like this while waiting for breakfast.

Our one big splurge was to buy breakfast every morning but one.

It was difficult to sit in the car on a day as beautiful as today.

The call of the wild won us over more than once. It's amazing how one breath of fresh air excites and lightens the mind.

Exploring little streams that make their own grand baby waterfall, up the Waiotemarama Gorge.

Matt took pictures of these tree fern fronds every day. This one is from this day.

Follow the glittering water, you will not be let down.Waiotemarama Falls.

We kept passing the sweetest looking cows. Matt pulled over so I could enjoy their pleasant company. Boy, am I glad I did. They were so eager to chat and mingle. They all came running to me.

Matt ended up getting out of the car to join this party. I was wishing I had a treat to share. Next time I will not come empty-handed.

We found a windy green peninsula surrounded by a turquoise sea at Arai-Te-Uru in Omapere.

Just sky, sea and life at the Hokianga Harbour.

Pebble trails......

to run on....

and be free.

Everyone talks about all the sheep in NZ, but what about the cows?

Had to check this out. The Labyrinth Woodworks. Jarom's favorite thing to do is to make mazes.

At the top of these stairs was a wild peacock that they were nursing back to health. This place was just filled to the brim with homemade wooden puzzles and tricks. The couple who owns it also works here and have of course been to artist/creative central in CA - Nevada City. Crazy how when you are away from home, a piece of home always finds you.

Stopped in the Waipoua Forest, the largest remaining stand of kauri trees. Can't help but want to believe and be swept away into their magical tale of Father Sky and Mother Earth being torn apart by their son Tane (lord of the forest), to bring light, space and air and to allow life to flourish.

Matt and Tane Muhata - the life-giver. Tane is also the largest kauri tree, and the largest tree in NZ.

Hang around long enough and you just might become gigantic and be able to hug him as I did.

See what fresh air can do for a person!

Me and fatty (Te Matua Ngahere) the second largest kauri.

The Four Sisters. Kauri don't usually grow together like this, that's why they're unique. I have four sisters on the Beatty side so I couldn't help but name them - Adie, Heather, Emily and me. Aren't we lovely?

After driving hours on end through forest and neverending winding coastline we made it to a big city, Hamilton. We arrived just in time for dinner, which doesn't matter when you're in the big city since nothing closes early. HA, just our luck.

Hamilton is home to the only temple in NZ. We got here at 9:59 pm, took this picture, went to take another and boom, the lights all turned off and we were locked inside the parking lot. Thank goodness for motion-detecting gates. We then drove another hour (to Raglan, where we wanted to stay), felt like a lifetime in the dark and after driving all day. All was dark but for the moon in the sky and the one waving back from the glossy black sea. I fell asleep watching that moon tirelessly wave back to himself. Everything was closed up or booked in Raglan, a small surfing town, so we had to drive that hour back to Hamilton at midnight and got a cheap motel after much searching to find the only place open (by waking up the owner inside). Something we take for granted in the states is being able to get any motel in the middle of the night.
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 -- more NZ 2010 --
Pre-trip preparation
Day 1: Auckland
Day 2: Orewa to Paihia
Day 3: Paihia to Kaitaia
Day 4: Ninety Mile Beach to Rawene
Day 5: Rawene to Hamilton
Day 6: Hamilton to National Park
Day 7: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Day 8: Taupo to Rotorua
Day 9: Rotorua
Day 10: Thames to Hahei
Day 11: Coromandel

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rollin with the Oldies

Day 4: Ninety Mile Beach, then down to Rawene

Up early for breakfast at The Northerner again. You want to know how good the breakfast was?

It's all in the face. It was better than last night's dinner. It was just so eerie to have this place to ourselves.

Our grand tour with Harrisons Cape Runner (recommended by the old couple). I wanted to do everything this tour was doing, and booking a room at the creepy hotel was our 50% off ticket.

It was us and them. Hold on grandma. Why oh why are we on a bus with a bunch of old people? Are tours really for the old? I think they're just for the young at heart. There actually was one other young couple, and they sat behind us. Just like the good ole days of riding the bus to school - the cool people sit in back. Well, all the old people want to sit in front to make sure they can hear our tour guide. Who, by the way was a HOOT. The old couple we meet at the Beachcomber were right, he was very merry. He laughed and hollered at his own jokes the whole time and pleased everyone.

First stop was outside of town at the Ancient Kauri Kingdom gift shop :) Just what we wanted. No, not really, at all. But it was full of wood and carvings from the ancient kauri trees that ended up buried in a swamp which they now unearth. These trees are huge, like giant sequoias in California (well, almost - though behind sequoias, they are the second largest trees on earth). Unlike the sequoias, kauri have amazing wood. Except the living ones are protected. So if you dig up ancient 45,000-year old, perfectly preserved kauri wood, you sell it here for big bucks.

a Maori archway at Houhora Heads

Got to climb trees that are made for climbing.

I had read about NZ's special ice cream and had been on the lookout for it since day one. The hokey pokey ice cream lived up to its name and we got it at the perfect place, the Te Kao store - the most northern general store in NZ. They know how to pile it on high.

First beach stop was this amazing white sand beach, Rawara Beach. The sand was super fine, like flour. In the olden days, the women would polish their silverware with it, shine it up real nice.

Endless beautiful beach and no one is here.

Wishing to stay FOREVER. But granny is calling me back to the bus.

Another hidden gem, far far north by the cape. Tapotupotu Beach. This was a longer stop because they served lunch (mostly scones and crackers and granola bars). We hurried and pocketed all we could and went for a swim. Matt had decided to at least jump in, if not swim, at every place we could. NO excuses and no regrets.

That dot is me. My only proof that I did indeed swim. It was a little windy and cold but who else was going to keep the old people entertained?

Here we are at Cape Reinga, just about as far north as you can get.

Taking the more scenic route down to the lighthouse.

I don't know what to say. It's so beautiful it hurts.

Cape Reinga Lighthouse.

What you are looking at is not just another beautiful beach. This is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet and collide. The color in person is unreal. This place has great spiritual significance to Maori people. It is believed that the spirits of the departed leap from the 800-year pohutukawa tree on the windswept Cape Reinga to begin their journey back to their final resting place in the ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.

After the cape we headed down to the Te Paki sand dunes. All ready to sand toboggan. The stream was our bus's road.

Going up (if you are seeing anyone remotely young it is because the buses travel in twos just in case one gets stuck).

Getting a little worried. As I walked up I watched everyone fly down and most don't make it to the end without crashing and rolling to their death. Matt went before me and his was the slowest one. I laughed so hard. He hurried and switched sleds when he got down and ran back up. It is safe to say he is the only person who went twice. I, on the other hand, had the shortest, quickest ride and was launched from my sled within seconds and rolled the whole way down. It was a blast. But I have to admit, I was pretty embarrassed with everyone watching. We crunched on sand for the rest of the day. It was everywhere, everywhere -

Ninety Mile Beach. This is our one very lovely photo of the bus driving in the water on the beach. This beach is famous for being a legal highway road (but mostly buses and 4x4 vehicles are able to drive on it).

Last stop of the tour.

Grave of the seashells.

After being on the bus all day, our cozy car and our own musk was nice to come back to. We will miss our new, old friends. I honor them by eating this farm fresh kiwi.

Walking around the Hokianga arch in Kohukohu, waiting for our ferry across the harbor.

Our car could squeeze into any tiny nook or cranny on this boat.

Matty chillin

The ferry brought us to our next stop, Rawene, the quietest little green hill over the ocean. Places like this made us want to park the car for a couple days and just bask in the sunshine, tumble down grassy hills and just lie down and watch the clouds move.

Matty captured this beautiful reflection in the stream on our sunset walk through some more mangroves.

Me and my trusty blanket

Matty showing us how easy pull-ups are - not really when I'm fumbling with the camera.

Our very favorite shoebox ever. This place was the best. Less is more. Rawene Motor Camp.

It had all sorts of cute little cabins

Being up on the hill brought in views of the water and sunset from every angle.

This night was just what we needed. Some time to lie back and wonder at all we have come across so far. We love to squeeze in as much as possible, but it's not worth it when you don't know when to stop and fully enjoy it.
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 -- more NZ 2010 --
Pre-trip preparation
Day 1: Auckland
Day 2: Orewa to Paihia
Day 3: Paihia to Kaitaia
Day 4: Ninety Mile Beach to Rawene
Day 5: Rawene to Hamilton
Day 6: Hamilton to National Park
Day 7: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Day 8: Taupo to Rotorua
Day 9: Rotorua
Day 10: Thames to Hahei
Day 11: Coromandel