Roland and I left Turangi around 9:30am. I had been up since six, writing and posting. The morning is such a better time to do this – at the end of the days here I am almost catatonic. It’s hard work being on vacation.
We expected the drive to New Plymouth to take around 2 hours. What we didn’t count on was the “Forgotten World Highway.” We both had the idea it might be more interesting to get off the main highway north a bit and come into New Plymouth via the coast. What we were treated with was 100km of dusty, gravelly, winding road in thick bush. The Forgotten World. It was quite beautiful and I think the whole way we only passed three cars. Good thing because I had taken to driving down the center, evidently just like everyone else. The tires that had passed before created little valleys in the gravel straddling the middle of the road.
I stopped for a picture. And both Roland and I went to the “toilet”.
We didn’t get to New Plymouth for about three hours. I forgot to mention that Roland and I also share a love of coffee. Not just the coffee itself, but the whole process of getting and having coffee. Roland had described to me earlier how he would leave his lab mid-morning for coffee. On the walk back with his cup he would pass by people on the trolleys. Coffee signified a break. And even if he was working at his desk with the cup of coffee nearby, it still felt like a break. Having coffee in New York is much the same for me. It means leaving my house, getting on my bike and riding into Williamsburg. Then getting to sit for hours at Variety with a book or my laptop. Watching people come and go and pass by the shop as I read and sip. It is mainly a solitary activity, but not lonely, Occasionally I chat with the baristas. Friends come and go. And the coffee is excellent there. Not a point to be taken lightly – the whole scenario falls apart without excellent coffee.
So we went for coffee as soon as we arrived. A place called Chaos. Very good. A woman came around and asked if I wanted another coffee before they turned the machine off. They were closing? At 1pm? Just like last call in a bar I ordered another one that I didn’t need. My coffee consumption has gone way down since I’ve been traveling. Good tea is far easier. Boil water, put in tea bag. Good coffee is far too complicated to do on your own while traveling. And I have become a snob about it. I’d rather drink tea than bad coffee.
We checked into Sunflower Lodge near the center of town. Sharing a room with one double bed and one twin bed. Far better setup than the first night we shared a room in Waitomo. There were no twin rooms, which have two little beds. Only a double room, which has one “big” bed. After surmising he was comfortable with sharing a bed, we booked the room. When we walked in, the bed was really too small for two people that don’t know each other well and weren’t planning on getting to know each other better. So we pushed the bed to one side after I volunteered to sleep on the ground. Even that was a real step up from some of the nights I had already spent in the tent.
The lounge had a large TV with DVDs stacked in front. I said to Roland that maybe we should watch The Lord of the Rings later. They were bound to have it. He laughed though I was at least half serious.
Then off to surf! We headed to Back Beach after the very friendly lady at the fully booked Seaspray Lodge recommended it. The waves were small and super fun. Not too many people out, we got to catch a lot and practice popping up and turning. Not very powerful, they were no problem to paddle out over. Of course that also makes them kind of hard to stay on once you are up. Nonetheless it was exactly the right break for us. I think Roland and I are about the same skill level, which is very useful in a surfing buddy. The sun was setting right in front of us and the glare off the water was almost unbearable. When I would look back towards the cliffs, unreal yellow splotches would dance around as my eyes strained to readjust. It was far too much fun to leave though. Roland gestured to his eyes and said, “We are going to go blind.” After about two hours I saw he had paddled in and I had already been fighting the headache, so I paddled in as well. Back at the carpark Roland told me I already had “that easy longboarding style” and he imitated me standing straight up on the board turning my head from side to side. I got what he meant though the choice of words was maybe not quite right.
Where we were surfing, as viewed from the carpark:
Closer view of the three beautiful islands:
A shot looking down the beach in the other direction:
Back at the Sunflower Lodge after showering Roland found me to tell me that some people had just started watching the Lord of the Rings in the lounge. I had plans to write some more, but was sucked in anyways. Fun to watch it again and be able to pick out some of the locations.
Right now I am sitting at the Wheatley Farm Stay in Ararata – outside Harewa on the southern part of Taranaki. I am a day behind in this journal now – trying hard to catch up. There is much to tell about today, a rough one. All I keep thinking is that Ararata sounds suspiciously like errarata. Isn’t that latin for many mistakes? That was certainly the destination today.