Saturday, April 11, 2009
A few weeks ago, Laura, Caron, Scott, little Owen, and I had a adventure! We started a Sunday morning off early at 7am with a three hour drive up the Wanganui river road to a small town of Pipiriki--end of the road. Then we caught a jet boat for an hour up the river to a landing to the Bridge to Nowhere. We disembarked with our backpacks(with lunch and supplies) for a 40 minute hike through the Bush to find a beautiful stone and concrete bridge spanning the gorge and river--but no road into or out of the area, just a hiking trail leading to and from the bridge. We had our lunch on the bridge, took pictures, and was told the story. The land was leased to the returning soldiers from WWI for farming. But after clearing the mountains the topsoil was washed away and they couldnot farm the land. This was after the government had build the bridge and roads to the area in the NZ Bush. So the farmers left in the late 1930's and the road and land was allowed to return to it natural state, thus the Bridge to Nowhere! After lunch and the hike back we were dropped off and given canoes to meander down the Wanganui River to Pipiriki. The true adventure starts!! I have never been in a canoe, and I do not swim (thank God for the life jacket). There are two graded rapids and several smaller ones on the return. Fear!! Thankfully Laura had been in a canoe at least once or twice before, she was the captain I just paddeled like hell when we hit the rapids. We actually did very well navigating the river. Except for the largest rapids when we took on a lot of water. Laura was sitting in the back with water up to her ass yelling we have got to stop and drain/bail out the ship before we sink. We beached and flipped the canoe and was on our way again(without our bottled water forgotten on the shore). But...Scott, Caron, and little Owen did not make it so successfully. Little Owen got to "go kick, kick" in the big river along with Mom and Dad. Luckily a group of women--experienced canoeists saved the day with dry clothes for the little fellow and help retrieveing the canoe, paddles, shoes, etc. We were no help because we were trying to find a spot to beach our canoe!! But, little Owen then slept quietly the rest of the trip.
The bottle of home made Sangria I lugged up to the Bridge and did not have for lunch was finished off in the car on the return trip by Laura and I (since we had no water for the four hour return trip in the sun). Damn I slept well that night!
On Friday I got up early and headed to a remote area of beauty in NZ Bush. The Forgotten World Highway is one of the 101 Places and Things to do in NZ (book published by the Automobile Association Club of NZ--AA). The center of the highway is a small quirky village/town of Whangamomona. It is the only "Republic" in NZ. The town's folk(population 40) when the governmental councils were trying to shift the jurisdiction from Taranaki district to the Manawatu (meaning they would have to play for a rival rugby team) dumped both councils and became a republic with presidential elections--Billy the Goat, Tai the poodle, etc. The current president is the town mechanic and only road worker in the 100km area. He keeps everything vehicle running and the roads cleared of rock slides and ditches draining for emergency vehicles and tourists. He has a long graying beard down to mid chest and rotund belly--would make a great Santa.
In the center of town is the Whangamomona Hotel and Pub built in the 20's. This little town is SOOO much like Rabbit Hash Kentucky!! They should become sister cities. Maybe I will suggest it!
I made it to the Bridge to Somewhere (I had previously been to te Bridge to Nowhere) although I missed the turn and drove about an hour down the wrong gravel road. Yes most of the roads are gravel--even a long segment of the Highway! The mountains, gorges, vistas, rivers and farmland are spectacular. Everyone should see the Forgotten World Highway.
I thought I would try to update the blog with pictures and info from my travels over the last two months. It is Easter today. I hate Holidays here in NZ because they do not seem like Holidays. Holidays are made by friends and family. Laura and I will be having dinner at Tracie's house with her family. She is one of our nurses and the family we had Christmas with. She understands how hard the Holidays can be for us and really makes us feel welcome.
I am just sitting in te recliner after having coffee and toast in front of the heater--it is cold in this house!! As you can see from the picture Bruce is enjoying the warmth and leisure.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Death follows regardless of were we travel. A cycling friend I had met here in New Zealand had an MI this week. Robert was a long time marathon runner, and as with many runners, when his knees complained he took up cycling. He loved his new all carbon fibre Pinarello bike. I hope he's riding or running in his next life.