New Zealand 2014

Day 07

March 21

  Our server at the pub last night gave a few ideas for breakfast so I'm up early to check them out. One thing I am noticing is that the people of New Zealand hold their military members in high regard. I see markers, memorials, and parks like this one every where I go. Having served during the Vietnam era (but not in Vietnam), I remember well the less than pleasant treatment I received any time I went out in my USMC uniform ...  
  which is a double reminder when I pass this street sign. Funny how old memories of forty or so years ago come flooding back on an early morning walk.  
  Soon I am at my desired destination and it looks like I am a bit early, but at least I beat the rush!  
  It's a pleasant view so I just grab a seat and enjoy while they open up the place.  
  Mr. Pigeon comes a looking as is his usual habit, but he should know pickings will be slim around a fat man like me.  
  I remind him that the sign clearly states 'Do Not Feed The Pigeons'. Maybe that is why he keeps telling me he's a black sea gull and not a pigeon ....  
  Breakfast is simply delightful and plentiful and the bread is out of this world. It does not take me long to do due justice to what is laid out before me.  
  I notice a 650 BMW parked nearby and figure the rider is probably at one of the tables.  
  His name is Kevin and he has just taken up riding again. As he waits for his breakfast, I tell him a little bit about Alain and my adventure around the islands. We share riding stories until his breakfast comes, then I wish him well and leave him to his food.  
  Since I have the time, I decide another nice walk back along the beach would be good. There are not many people out this early so I have it pretty much all to myself.  

Down the beach comes a beautiful yellow Labrador bringing his staff person with him. He allows her to speak to me for a few moments as he patiently looks on. We chat a bit about life and the strange turns it sometime takes, and I tell her -

"Well, I reckon a dog will love you when nobody else will."

The dog sagely nods his head in approval.

"Yes, and you know he never asks me how much I spent when I go shopping like my last husband!" she says with a smile.

"That's for sure" I reply.

On this note, the dog seems to be making a mental note for the need for an audit of the finances, or least that's what it looks like to me. Soon I wish her and the pooch a safe walk and I head further on down the line.

  There are a few runners on the beach, which makes me a little sad as I really miss running. I remember the great times I have had running on the beach with the ocean lapping at my ankles. But with replacement knees, it is something that I have put aside but not something that I have forgotten.  
  Soon I'm back at the motel and Alain is already up and stirring about.  
  We get our trusty steeds saddled up and ready for the adventures of the day.  
  Just at the edge of the parking lot is another one of those strange and wonderful looking trees. They still look like to me they came straight out of an enchanted forest somewhere.  
  It is a bit unusual for us, but we didn't fill up last night, knowing there will be plenty of gas stations in route back through Auckland. So the first one we see, we pull in and feed the mechanical beasts.  

The route today takes around the outskirts of Auckland and back along some roads that Keith (Right Way Around) has suggested we ride that are a bit off the beaten path. Morning traffic is not too bad but it does keep you on your toes.

  As we work our way around the outskirts of Auckland, I spot the spire I could see from the hotel room in Parnell.  
  Much to my joy, we are finally back out in the lovely country.  
  The roads that Keith suggested take us away from the city and out through small villages perched on the hillsides.  
  After getting a bit 'clutch weary' driving in the traffic, this looks like a grand place for a break.  
  It makes me just want to break out a beach towel to stretch out for a while, but we do have a destination and it is a ways off from where we are.  
  Down the other way, a little girl is having a big time playing in the sand with her mom. How much happier children would be if they spent more time outside doing things with their parents instead of thumb attacking some electronic device in the house.  
  Soon we are back at it, enjoying the lovely run alongside the ocean.  
  When I see this sign, I have to chuckle, since I've ridden the one down the Oregon and California coast.  
  And pictures from this one could easily be substituted for ...  
  ones from California, especially on the lower end past San Francisco.  
  There's a certain joy about riding a motorcycle alongside the ocean or river that is hard to describe.  
  It's just a different sense of time and space that comes to my mind as I look out in the distance.  
  The presence of the bench makes me want to pull over and just sit for a while and think, but it's best that I do my sittin' and thinkin' on the ST1300 seat for now.  
  As we move up into the hills, it's time to really pay attention as the roads start to get technical again.  
  But as we approach Matingarahi, we see the ocean again - back like an old friend.  
  It's such a pretty little bay, that we have to stop and take a 'calendar' shot.  
  As the peaceful waves wash ashore, I'm reminded how blessed I am to be able to experience all of this. How far away this place is from where I started out in the hills of Tennessee in a four room shack. The idea that I would ever travel as I have been able to do and experience the people and places that I have was far beyond my dreams as I played around the coal pile with my homemade toys.  
  But you do have to pay attention as most of the roads do not have oceanside guide rails and I don't believe the ST1300 does well in deep water.  
  When we round the corner, the blue of the flowers almost assault the eyes with their vivid color that the picture does not do justice.  
  One of the most interesting things about New Zealand so far, is that the terrain is constantly changing. You will be in the hills, then beside the ocean, and then down into a valley that looks like you are a thousand miles away from the ocean.  
  I notice up ahead that some one is hauling away a piece of treasure which appears to be an old Ford Model A Coupe. I hope it gets a royal restoration by loving hands.  
  We decided that we would not take the 'direct' route to Coromandel, but run it the 'long way' around counterclockwise. This takes us through the lovely town of Paeroa before we head back north along the coast.  
  And what I find interesting is that usually in every town of any size, there will be a McDonalds and a KFC cross corners. I can figure out the McDonalds as I see them about every where I travel, but the KFC really surprises me. But then the Colonel does do chicken 'right'.  
  Soon we are back out in the country, quietly cruising between the cornfields and the grazing fields.  
  And there are always plenty of twisties which just add ...  
  to the pleasure of the excellent weather and ...  
  the rugged scenery.  
  But before long the humans and the beasts need some refueling and defueling, so we pull into this station.  
  And I get educated a bit as I never heard the term 'dunny' before in this context. But then I've led a sheltered life ...  

I strike up a conversation with the owner of the place. It seems that they used to be a John Deere Dealer and did a great business since they are in the middle of major farm country. Corporate decided to take away their dealership for no apparent reason as corporations are known to do. I tell him -

"Yep, it's the ties that those type of folks wear. They restrict the blood flow to the brain which causes them to make stupid decisions that nobody with one eye and road walking sense would make."

He just laughs and says "Yes, I believe you are right."

Out on their lot, that have the remnants of an old steam engine tractor. I can see that this thing could do some serious pulling in it's prime.

  We wish them well, then get back to thing that we came here to do - ride and ride and ride. Before long, we encounter another of many one lane bridges.  
  And once we get up into the highlands, we see our old friend the ocean once again.  
  It's just a lovely view from any direction you want to take a look.  
  As we descend, the ocean disappears again ...  
  but not for long. This reminds just a little bit of the white cliffs of Dover where I took the ferry across to France on my Alps trip.  
  The gulls appear to be having a major meeting here but it is closed to outsiders like me.  
  So we move right along, enjoying the spectacular scenery, reminiscent of the area near Hearst's Castle in California.  
  It's just a never ending calendar of beautiful scene ....  
  after beautiful scene as we make our way ...  
  into Kikowhakarere Bay on our way to Coromandel.  
  Once again a lone bench on the seaside calls out to me, but I know better than to stop for we still have miles to go before we sleep ...  
  and plenty of twisty roads to navigate to get there!  
  You just never know what will be over the next rise or the around the next bend, but often it will be a lovely ocean view like this ...  
  or some heavy forest that the road weaves its way through.  
  It's time to take a break, so we pull into the next ocean side park.  
  The tide is way out, so Alain gets a picture of his lovely STeed before we head out on the last leg of today's journey.  
  With Alain in the lead, I just kick back and enjoy the road and the view.  
  And quite the view it is as we head for Coromandel proper.  
  The main area we have ridden today is known as the Coromandel Peninsula. It extends about 50 miles out into the Bay of Plenty, creating a gulf known as the Haruaki Gulf. It was named for a British sailing ship, the HMS Coromandel that stopped here in the 1820s. We will be spending the night in the village of Coromandel. We've got a pretty good run tomorrow so we go ahead and fuel up tonight as is our usual custom.  
  Our lodging for the night is at the Coromandel Court Motel, right behind what was once the military service center. It is now a museum and memorial dedicated to those that served in the New Zealand military.  
  There are various memorials to veterans that served their country proudly.  
  This one honors and lists those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their homeland in World War I.  
  The room is really nice and has a full kitchen. It would be a great place to base out of for riding in this area. But we will only be here for one night so we won't be doing any cooking!  
  The owner recommends we eat at the Pepper Tree so we follow his advice. It's just a short walk from where we are staying, and it feels good to stretch out the legs for a bit.  
  And it is based right around a 'pepper tree' as you get to sit in the shade of it if you sit outside like we do. It's a pleasant evening and a perfect end to a wonderful day of riding great roads with incredible scenery.  
  I decide to go with the fresh fish and have another type that I've never herd of - gurnard. The meal tastes as good as it looks and I thoroughly enjoy it. But then again, I thoroughly enjoy most meals that I partake of...  
  With a full stomach and a little walk back, I'm pretty quick to hit the sleeping appliance. For some reason I am unusually tired tonight so I drift off quickly, with pleasant thoughts of another great day of riding coming up tomorrow.