Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Becoming a blur, somewhat, in Napier

As time flies, all of this is becoming a blur, somewhat. A very pleasant melange of history, lifestyle, culture, excitement, surprise, and confusion.

The first day, the camper van took us from Auckland to Rotorua. A pleasant enough roll through some of the interior of New Zealand, as we make our way south to the South Island. Most of the signs along the way have Maori names, adding another touch of mystery and intrigue to the driving experience.

During my year in Europe in the early 1970's, Bill Whitman and I purchased a Volks Van in Lahr. They may have reintroduced that vehicle here. It has suspiciosly similar rattles and vibrations. The gauge indicates that it only has 377 854 kilometres on the beast. We all know how they can roll back those suckers. The main difference is that they have moved things around a bit from the German vehicle, and renamed it a Toyota: the gear shift is on the left, the signal arm is on the right, the windshield wipers are on the left, the steering wheel is on the right. I have concluded that this is a left brain-right brain exercise, and I am not doing well. When I need to make a desperation signal, I always put the windshield wipers on first, in thirty degrees gorgeous weather.

There is no doubt in my mind that these countries which insist on living backward should put labels on tourist vehicle: "Dummy at the wheel. Give lots of space!"

The Maori have established an area not far from Rotorua called "Hell's gate". Most aptly names by George Bernard Shaw, on his first visit. Picture the man, with his entourage, strolling along the two or three mile path between these bubbling thermals. He named several of the individual areas at the heat park. Hone, a man we met at the end of the walk, was quiely carving a wood block with the symbol for strength. He smiled, I gave him a Canada pin, thanks to Daryl Kramp. He gave me the wood block, after coating it with shellac. He told me he went for a thermal bath every day after work, always followed by a couple of cold beers. Where is the employment office? I know I have a couple of friends who need application forms! No names. (Malette, Svboda, Vos. Might even suit Mav!)

The drive from Rotorua proved to be interesting. Massive stretches of rolling hills, a gorgeous lake, the largest in New Zealand, climbing and rolling down hills with the loggers. We have ended up in Napier, Hawke's Bay, on the east coast. The surf is dangerous, according to the signs. The beach is made up of very small black rocks. There are about thirty vineyards nearby, and the bangers went off early in the morning to keep away the varmints. Just like home! Lewis, Kevin, and Lee used the same to keep the raccoons at bay. We are in the incoming flight path of planes arriving at the Napier airport. No big deal: only two after 8:00pm and a couple around 8:00am this morning.

While waiting for the "Hop On, Hop Off Bus" in Auckland, I noticed a Canada hat on a chap. One thing led to another. His wife went to D. R. Atkins and Moira. She asked if I knew her cousins Jack and Gary Thomson, who went to BCI. Gary lives in Napier. A couple of emails from them to North America, and we were locked in. We will be dining with him and his wife this evening. Of course it is a small world.

We also reconnected with Bill Dalton and his wife Cherl here in Napier. Bill will be driving from Chicago to LA this year, on Route 66. That is where one gets one's kicks, according to Ed "Kookie" Burns, if I am not mistaken.

March 10, 2010

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