New Zealand 2014

Day 10

March 24

  I'm up early to enjoy the beautiful sunrise.  
  The mists slowly rise from the valleys below as the sun slowly climbs in the morning sky.  
  It is a time of peaceful contemplation for me, soaking up the glorious beauty that my Creator has established for His Children.  
  I very quietly go out on the deck so I don't disturb anyone and begin the packing process of RubyRed.  
  Miss Kay has planted lots of beautiful flowers in and around the house. From bright reds ...  
  to pale yellows ...  
  to orange and yellow bursts ...  
  to pale purples. It is a colorful feast for the eye in any direction you care to look.  
  And when I look upward, I see a bird making its way across the sky. I realize how 'free as a bird' I am to enjoy the beauties around me - nothing I worked for but yet I get to enjoy them.  
  Miss Kay is a registered nurse and teacher, so she is off early this morning after making sure we have ample provision to fight off starvation. Vince has things to tend to around the farm, so Alain and I are left to our own devices for a while.  
  I point out to Alain both of the 'mites' - Vegemite and Marmite - are available as our dining options. But he, like me, decides they would work much better as bearing grease rather than a bread condiment.  
  Miss Kay has let us lots of options for breakfast, so we avail ourselves of them. And as I was taught early on, I clean my plate rather well!  
  Soon we are both packed up and ready to leave this lovely place. Vince is a bit concerned about us having enough fuel, so he insists on topping us up. Given the price of fuel in New Zealand, this is really quite an unexpected gift and we thank him for it.  
  We take one long, last look around, then head out.  
  The gravel road is still a gravel road, but at least we know what to expect and how long it is this time around.  
  Soon we're back on the pavement and hastening our way toward Tongariro, our next overnight stay.  
  We are in the midst of farming country, as we see many herds of cattle and flocks of sheep grazing together.  
  It's pleasant as at this point we have the whole road to ourselves.  
  And again the scenery is constantly changing from the rugged foothills ...  
  to the vineyards down in the valleys.  
  From the meandering rivers ...  
  to the high pasture lands.  
  Then it's back up into the twisties ...  
  where the mountains cast shadows in the valleys.  
  Alain leads the way this morning which is just fine with me. We often swap the leads back and forth during the day since we synchronize our GPS systems every night for the day ahead.  
  We feel like we are out in the 'bush' now and are glad that Vince gave us that extra 'measure' of fuel.  
  We decide it's time for a break, so we take one since there's a generous pull off right here.  
  It's a beautiful day with no rain in sight and no traffic to be bothered with. What else could a rider ask for?  
  I guess some more twisty roads, and we have them coming up shortly.  
  As we move through the countryside, I see this flock of sheep so thick that they look like dandelions spotting the fields.  
  I don't even have a basic idea as to how many there are in the flock, but as we say back home 'I bet it's a bunch!'  
  Then we start to head up to what I would call the 'high' desert in the sense that the vegetation begins to turn from green to brown.  
  The higher we go, the more it reminds me of places in the high desert of California.  
  But I have to be careful as the roads are certainly not straight in this area.  
  They tend to follow every twist and turn of the terrain which makes for some great riding.  
  There's few trees to block the view, so you can really see which way the road goes long before you get there. And this one looks like a real dandy judging by the run up the next ridge.  
  Off to our right, I see an old suspension bridge that I guess is just open for foot traffic now.  
  We soon enter into Waiouru - 'the desert oasis'. It also happens to be the home of the New Zealand National Army Museum. Vince told us we ought to stop by and see it if we have the time.  
  We do and we do.  
  It's well worth the stop as the displays are exceptional.  
  There are current displays ...  
  as well as those that are a 'little' bit older.  
  And there are even some motorcycles in the mix.  
  It takes the visitor from the early days of the New Zealand military when they were part of the British Empire ...  
  and the conveyances of war were 'horse drawn' ...  
  to the time of the First World War  
  and the Second World War.  
  There are exhibits of trench warfare (this head was used as a decoy stuck above the trenches to determine where the shooters were).  
  And there are exhibits of mortars and such used in later combat.  
  The dress and weapons used today are also included in the exhibits.  
  It's a great mixture of new and old and gives the visitor a good sense of the history of the military in New Zealand from the times of the wars against the Maoris to Desert Storm.  
  When I come across this motorcycle exhibit, I am a bit intrigued by the signs on the seat and the rack.  

Upon closer inspection, it makes perfect sense to me -

We have trained our motorcycles not to climb on to children. Please make sure your kids are safe and kept off them.

Enough and well said!

  There are great displays of the long rifles used in the early years.  

And there is a sobering display of the medical tools and equipment used in wars. As the sign solemnly states -

Wounds and Death are the Currency of War

  After the museum, we decide it's a good time to refuel before we get rolling again.  
  I can't help but chuckle when I see this sign, but I decide I'll not enter since the postage back to the States could be pretty pricey!  

While we're taking a break, this lovely 57 Chevy pulls into the pumps. It is in immaculate condition and I walk over to talk to the owner. We talk shop a bit as I used to own an 57 Chevy two door hardtop. His is a two door post Bel-Air, mine was a two door hardtop Businessman's Special - a rare and odd model.

  But time waits for no one and we get back to the business at hand. But everyone waits at a railroad crossing if they have good sense.  
  The skies sure don't look happy but we decide to ride on and take our chances.  
  Cloudy is okay and it appears to be breaking up a bit.  
  I am hoping the weather is moving away from us.  
  And I hope this feller decides to stay put ...  
  We can see the mountains of the Tongariro National Park in the distance.  
  Since Alain has not been able to get a picture of a real kiwi, he settles for the next closest thing.  
  One of the interesting things about this trip has been the splendid accommodations that Te Waipounamu has arranged for us. They have all been different and they have all been excellent. And this one really looks pretty much out of the park from what I can tell.  
  This place was built during the opulence of the Roaring Twenties and it hasn't lost any of its luster during the intervening years.  
  It's swanky from the lounging area ...  
  up the stairs and into the immaculately appointed rooms. It makes me feel a bit out of place coming in here in my road dusty riding suit, but I manage to get over it. We check in, pitch our gear, and then head out for the top of the mountain.  
  The road leads up to ski resort, but we figure there should be some pretty nice views from up there.  
  We can't see much all the way to the top, but ...  
  coming back down is an incredible view.  
  And it's a might nice run back down the mountain to the hotel.  
  We saw a sign for a water fall on the way in, so while we're out we figure we'll check it out too.  
  It's a little bit of a walk to get there, but it's a pretty one and the walk does us good.  
  It falls into a small valley which looks like it could be a mighty fine but chilly swimming hole.  
  The only problem is the steps coming down here are the same steps that we have to climb to get out. At least we get our exercise for the day!  
  It looks like the storm has found us, but we're about done for day so it doesn't really matter now.  
  Laziness over comes us, so we chose the restaurant in the hotel. But it's far from being a bad choice as the food is both excellent in taste and in presentation.  
  It does not take much urging for me to be a good boy and clean this plate up.  
  And what would a great meal be without a little sweetening at the end?  
  I almost lick the bowl but I decide once again to not embarrass Alain in front of other people. But I manage to do a pretty good job of cleanup with just a spoon.  
  However, Alain is no slacker and he does manage to hold his own.  
  We slowly waddle back to our room and I am out faster that a prize fighter taking a dive when I hit the bed.