The Rurus - Adventure Before Dementia

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Month: October 2016 (page 1 of 2)

21-24/10/16 Rangataua Part 3: Gallipoli Revisited

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The Carrot Capital of New Zealand is Ohuakune.

Many of the early growers were Chinese who cleared and ploughed the free draining soil and habitated the cool climate which is ideal for growing conditions.  It’s also a popular base in winter for skiers using the nearby ski fields and in summer for trampers hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

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Lake Rotopounamu made for a lovely stroll into the native fauna and expose kids to giant Rata trees, Fantail birds and ripples of inland lake water.  Nothing here made in China!  Vents of vapour escape what lies below the crusted earth reminding us that we were in a thermal geothermal area.

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The Tangiwai  Rail Disaster monument is a memory of such.  On the 24th December 1953, 151 passengers lost their lives as the express train derailed into the river bed due to a collapsed bridge caused by a ‘Lahar’ that raged down the mountainside only minutes before the train reached the bridge.

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It is New Zealand’s worst rail accident.

A soak in a hot pool at Tokaanu Thermal Pools soothed the bones after the mountain bike ride the day before.  Stay in the jets of heat too long and you too can age prematurely with water wrinkles.

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The ‘haere ra’ to new friends made had us retrace our route back to Wellington.  We are so fortunate to have a magical land where parts of Canada ridden was replicated here.  It stirred the emotion of why we travel.  Goosebumps too.

Our flights are booked for us to make our way to the top of this island. Not long now before we take the first steps on the Te Araroa Walk.

A visit to Te Papa Museum in Wellington itself served two purposes.  A catch up with a close friend Delwyn for my regular clip around the ear for cheeky comments made from behind a keyboard.  And, to wander through the Gallipoli exhibit.

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Jeez, this was impressive.  Not the clipping of the ear but the exhibit!  The life like giant figurines portraying life on the peninsula were realistic, right down to the veins on arms and beads of sweat on the brow.  It brought home the significance of us having walked from Istanbul to Gallipoli back in 2011.

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Te Araroa, the Rurus are coming!

Happy birthday Barry.  Cheers Cuz.

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21-24/10/16 Rangataua Part 2: Bridge to Nowhere

An organised ride in the hinterland was part of Barry’s birthday bash activity and it was anticipated to take 4-6 hours to ride the 35 odd kilometres.

“If you only have the chance to do one adventure ride this year, this is the North Island’s best.”

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This was the quote by Jonathan Kennett on the Mangapurua Track / Bridge to Nowhere brochure.  It’s all I heard listening to the safety brief after we boarded the bus.  All hands went up when the question was asked, “is there anyone here wanting to be resuscitated?”

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The previous days rain made for a muddy track.  Dodging mud puddles was administered after a fellow biker in the group rode into one and nearly arsed over the top of the handle bars because is was a deeper shallow.  It was funny to watch, there was abuse and certainly laughter.  Taking turns at the front was with caution!

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The incline up had views of awe across the crinkled landscape horizon; stops to scrap off the caked on mud around the chain and gearing were frequent or the momentum came to a complete halt; and one had to stay alert on the technical downhill gradients given the conditions.

Confidence grew the longer we stayed upright.

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Returning soldiers from WWI were given parcels of land in appreciation for their duty to King and Country however, the land for conversion into farms was just untenable because of it’s ruggedness and isolation.   A monument dedicated to the poor buggers and signposted sites of their abandoned farms with the names of the original settlers is all that remains of their presence that shouldered the track ridden.

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The drop off cliffs where we had to disembark the mountain bike to navigate the track on foot made for the adrenalin to pump.   The hillsides swarming with punga ferns giving birth to new fronds made for beauty at it’s best.  The ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ itself quite aptly appeared out of nowhere.

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A little further rotation of the pedals and we arrived at Mangapurua Landing.  We caught a jet boat that transported us and chariots down the Whanganui River back to Pipiriki.

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Definitely a mountain bike ride to put on your bucket list and if you get the chance, be resuscitated to tick off.

 

21-24/10/16 Rangataua Part 1: Igniting 50 Candles

No sooner had we landed back onto Aotearoa’s (New Zealand) god’s own before we were heading back toward the airport to catch a domestic flight north to Wellington, our nations Capital.

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Cousin Barry was going to be igniting 50 candles to celebrate the turning half a century and being close, we were keen to share the experience of witnessing him having the puff to blow out soo many wicks.

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However, this was not a usual party to be had at a pub, local hall or at ones residence.  After touching down we then by car traveled north to a lodge called ‘Harrods’ situated in a small village Rangataua located at the southern ends of both the Tongariro National Park and Rangataua State Forest.

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dsc08414-1280x853It adjacents the Southwestern slope of the active volcano Mount Ruapehu, right up the guts of the North Island and here we were amongst the landscape splendure – what a way to get over jet lag!

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Other friends soon arrived and it didn’t take long before the scene was set with a blazing log fire, glass of plonk and intermingled conversations.  We just spoke louder as hypo kids echoed the sound of play and contributed to the atmosphere in readiness to give Barry a birthday bash worth remembering.

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Finding the chocolate cake hidden in the cupboard was by accident.  Sticking my finger in wasn’t.  If anyone questioned who the culprit was, point to any kid was my strategy.

No-one noticed in the long run.

It was great to be able to play with kids like a big kid.

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14/10/16 This Is It!

It’s hard to believe that we have been off the tandem for well over a month.  Fatty 29 has been sitting in a box under cover patiently waiting.  Waiting for us to be reunited again.  Waiting for us to leave the Americas Continent.  Waiting for us to head home to New Zealand.

This is the final blog post from the US.

Tomorrow, we leave to go home.

Now and again, it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

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Our visiting Kevin and Joan and Joan’s Mum Kate has been just that.  An exceptional pause.  The heartfelt hospitality has been on-going since we first hongied (rubbed noses) up until we hongied for the last time.  This time.

We are so lucky.

Many thanks K, J and Mum.  It’s been momentous.  It’s now precious.  Heartfelt at that.

To all that have continued to support us through following, again, a huge thank you to you too.

Love to one and all from the Rurus.

Every ending is just a new beginning.

This is it!

When An Acorn Falls

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12/10/16 Manhattan: The Heart Of “The Big Apple.”

Manhattan is the most densely populated of New York City’s 5 boroughs.  It’s mostly made up of Manhattan Island, bounded by the Hudson, East and Harlem rivers. Among the world’s major commercial, financial and cultural centers, it’s the heart of “the Big Apple.” Its iconic sites include skyscrapers such as the Empire State Building, neon-lit Times Square and the theatres of Broadway.

Today we took some bites from the apple itself!

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A deep blue sky made for a magnificent skyline as downtown rose up from the horizon from the ferry.  The copper statue of a robed female figure with a torch raised high and holding a tablet symbolises freedom of liberty.  It was the first bite of the apple.

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Wall street led us to the 9/11 Memorial.  Who can remember what they were doing (let alone forget) the morning of September 11, 2001?  We stood in silence at the two pools set in the footprints of the original Twin Towers with thirty-foot waterfalls that cascaded into pools that descended into a center void.  The names of the victims are inscribed in bronze parapets around the pools.  There are nearly 3,000 of them.

A Callery pear tree known as the “Survivor Tree” found by workers in the wreckage at Ground Zero has been nursed back to health.  It’s resiliency a show of respect preserving the honor of those affected by the event in history.

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Taking the underground subway today was not an option.   We walked the umpteen many blocks we clocked up today looking up, down, left and right; it was just a spectacle of old and new, high and low, historical and current, poor and rich.

From the 86th Floor Observatory (320m) of theEmpire State Building, we looked down on what we looked up at.  It was panoramic views for as far as the eyes could focus from the 360-degree open-air deck.  It stood as the world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years from it’s completion in early 1931.  It regained that mantle again after 9/11 till the World Trade Centre surpassed greater height in 2012.

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The old decor is intertwined with a modernisation retrofit to improve it’s energy efficiency.  The box that pulls you up and lets you down gently eased any vertigo thoughts.  If you can manage conquering a fear of heights, the experience was nearly the apple fully eaten down to it’s core.  It’s exceptionally well worth it.

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Times Square was all in your face pulsating lit up bill boards.  It’s okay to swallow an apple pip isn’t it?  The neighbouring streets are where you can find the true glitz of Broadway shows with live theatres.  How old were you when Frank Spencer first appeared in the Phantom of the Opera?  And there it still was, the mask displayed to be the longest running show in Broadway history.

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From below the aching plodding legs, undergrond trains rumbled with vents of steam wifting into the breathable air space.  Yellow Taxi’s honked effortlessly in traffic jams; peddlers selling their wares were plenty beit food stalls, clothing stands or shoe shines.

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We wandered into the lower realms of the green belt – Central Park.  Horse and carts, rickshaws, grit iron balls, runners and cyclists, walkers like us and heaps of people just laid out on their backs basking in the sun.  A little girl tendering to a rabbit she had taken on a picnic stole the camera frame. It was so cute.

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Retracing our direction up Fifth Avenue to the train station, we window perved the high end shops.  Wealth can be exchanged for a slinky fur or bedazzling hand bag; a swanky suit or spit polished footwear.

The Library that appeared in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ movie was although concrete in colour, splendid and graceful.  TheTrump Tower was a beacon for publicity with protesting placard welding people fronting the entrance.  I guess iconic in it’s own right.

There is always at least one bad apple in a crate!

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9-10/10/16 Vermont to New Jersey: Peaks

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When Sally and Murph communicated the concept of crossing the land of the ‘Stars and Stripes’ by tandem cycle to respective parents, they were surprised with the positive parent responses.  They were prepared for the sinking of such a notion before a single pedal was rotated.

Sally’s Dad offered some advice that there will be valleys and peaks as you travel across.  However, when you reflect back on life, it will be the peaks that you will always remember.  How cool was that?

Agreement was reached that they would phone home (back in 1988, the only telephone technology were landlines) to let them know that they had arrived at their daily destination safely.  Parents need that peace of mind to sleep easy at night.

And so they crossed the US safely through phoning home.  Regularly.

During the coast to coast adventure, Murph proposed to Sally at Jenny Lake.  With a resounding “Yes.” it would prove to be a peak of the journey.  How could it not be?

Sally purchasing two wedding magazines each weighing a tonne was a valley.  Let’s focus on the peaks!

Huh, remember Sally’s Dad being comfortable with them cycling across however, keep in touch by phone.  Well, unbeknown to Sally and Murph, he called ahead to the local Police enforcement regulary asking them to keep an eye out for them.  And so they did.

Sally’s Dad was in Central Intelligence.  Kid’s need that peace of mind that parents do care so as kid’s too sleep easy at night.  A peak on top of a peak.  How cool was that?

The weekend spent in Vermont was certainly amazing.  Whenever we get asked what is a favourite spot on the planet we have travelled to, the autumn fall kaleidoscope in Vermont has to be up there.  It’s was certainly a peak.  Our peak.

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The people we shared the view from the top, precious.

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8/10/16 Vermont: When Will I Be Holding The Book?

We stood at the back so as not to stand out.  Wearing jandals and shorts, I stood out.

When the fella at the front of the room welcomed everybody, the buzz of noise abated and only his voice was to be heard.  Welcome salutations were short and sharp and then bam, straight into it.

“Lot 1, an Oak table that extends to seat six in excellent condition, it’s value is three hundred, who will give me a starting bid of three hundred?”

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We had ventured down to a local shed in Newfane where the weekly auction was taking place.  Having arrived a bit earlier to follow the line of people shuffing to look at stuff to be put under the hammer, the only piece that stood out as being something worth a raised paddle wave too was a trombone!

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In quick fire precision, item after item was bid for and when the successful “sold” sounded, the item was exited outdoors to another area for the lucky purchaser to uplift when proceedings concluded.   There was no way my weekly allowance in my wallet was ever going to see the daylight.   One buck doesn’t go far these days!

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Great to see stuff getting repurposed versus ending up in a landfill somewhere.  We departed before my dream piece of brass made it to the front of the crowd leaving the hill billies to it.

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We returned home to help with stacking wood till the first creepy thing wiggled.  Orange midget snakes had me drop a pile of wood and scream.  Had the others pissing themselves when they turned out to be Salamanders.  They may have been innocent.  So the hell was I trying to be put to good use and contribute to our lodgings!

Later, aroma’s from the kitchen  where Red Wine Braised Five Hour Short Ribs were being prepared.  Kevin and Ken are reknown for their apron teamansmanship and culinery area of ‘enjoy cooking for others’ pursuits.

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Kevin once tried out for second season Master Chef USA and our senses from the lounge were being confused with what was being infused.  All was defused later.

Rumours were afloat that both  were keen to write a cooking book based on the signature dishes they have had glasses raised to in salute, many an occassion.

When the dishes were plated and served up, glasses again were lifted together around the table.  The 1999 Te Motu red wine from New Zealand just another smiley face collected from their extended hospitality.

The meal was just equisite; the wine to savour trying not to swallow so it lasted; and the conversation not as horrible as the night before. Serenading music with the trombone was the only thing missing!

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As the last of the meal morsel was lost to the mouth, I so wanted to lick the plate for every last residue remnant but knew that would result in a slap.

Instead, it was high five’s all round.  Then the question asked.

When will I be holding the book?

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7/10/16 Vermont: It Was So Easy To Be Lost In Thought.

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dsc07643-1280x853The girls were a good 200 metres out in front.  Every now and again I would catch a muffle of their voices conversing.  Lola was running and darting and sniffing. I wondered if the pads under her paws would ever get sore from so much distance covered through nose to ground exploration.

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dsc07652-1280x853I was in my own little world trailing behind and although we knew the route taken would lead us back home, it was so easy to be lost in thought.  Cloudless blue and pungent autumn.

We had to step into the undergrowth off the road as vehicles passed so as not to become road kill.  Care had to be taken not to tread on anything living within.  There are snakes in these part of the woods. Bears too.

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Once off the tarseal and onto the gravel road, it cut through forest and small pockets of farmland.  Black coloured sheep spoke to each other that echoed across the valley.  A couple of pick-up trucks passed us and sadly, one of them had flattened two snakes at different parts of the road being trodden.   No bush wee’s this walk; hold and burst!

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It was a magical five miles of beauty and had the mind, body and soul energized.

Just as well.  New folks Ken and Danielle arrived, as did Paul a little later.  Great friends of Joan and Kevin, they were joining us for the weekend.  Ken is a Life Coach; Danielle a full-time Mum to their son Cai; and Paul a writer for a Corporate.  Paul and his late wife Sally cycled across America on a tandem back in 1988.

With the opportunity to associate with a cool bunch of like-minded people, woven conversations were enthusing and enlightening and full of banter and laughter.  Especially when we were introduced to a game called Cards Against Humanity – a party game for horrible people.

Unlike most of the party games we have played before, it was as dispicable and awkward as we wanted it to be.  We have learnt some new vocabulary!  The Rurus were outright winners and let me add, it’s not for the politically correct nor mamby pamby person – so be warned.

We will be bringing one home with us!

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6/10/96 New Jersey to Vermont: Mother Nature’s Canvas

Our noses were pointed toward part of the New England region as we headed into the wilderness for the weekend.  Joan and Kevin wanted us to experience a piece of the countryside where the colour of seasonal change would take your breath away.

That had nothing to do with their driving on the inter-state neither!  That was a separate gasp of breath encounter.

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Our leg stretch was at Woodstock made famous for a 1969 music festival that attracted over 400,000 ‘love and peace’ counter culture generationals.  Creedance Clearwater Revival, The Who, Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin just to drop some names of musicians who attended over the three days of drugs, mud (from downpouring rain) and hippie-ivities.  It’s one of the 50 Moments that changed rock and roll as stated by Rolling Stone.   No magic mushrooms for us during our stretching!

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Vermont, known for it’s natural landscape with thousands of acres of mountain terrain, it is the capital for the production of the gooey sticky stuff, maple syrup.  The first spring thaw signals the beginning of harvest season, from tree to table pancakes; it’s the place where is all begins.

Today though, the foilage is reaching the full aging cycle turning crimson, orange, and yellow from the once lush green.  Eventually, everything turns brown.  The sap went indoors to hibernate long ago.

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As suburbia lessoned, the forrest lands strengthened.

And so did mother nature’s canvas of water colour or pastel or oil or acrylic.

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No artist could ever capture what we were experiencing.

The sound of a leaf drifting toward gravity and it’s touchdown spot like a space capsule returning to earth is a soft silence.  There were literally millions of touchdowns already.  And a whole universe still to go.

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As we sat on the front deck over looking more of the same, the shadows became twilight as the sun disappeared over the horizon.  It was just picture perfect.

It really did.  It took our breaths away.

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