Monday August 13
Yes they did! I found my credit card! Once we left the campervan parking lot, we drove back to the Jewish Center. The Kosher Co-op was locked (doesn’t open again until Wednesday), but I went in to the Holocaust Memorial to inquire, and sure enough, they had it in the office!
That was the highlight of the day.
It was a rough night for me. We had the heat on, which is run off the diesel fuel. And which STINKS. I just could not breathe. I was up from midnight until well after 2am. At one point, I even sat outside (it was a gorgeous, albeit damp, night) reading my Nook. Andd I turned off the heat and opened some windows.
I also don’t feel well. First Micah and then Sofia had stuffy noses (she still does) and now I do, too. Stuffy nose, post nasal drip, clogged ears, the works. Yuck.
We got up, I showered, and we went across the street for breakfast. Poor Sam was freaked out by the city noise: he’d counted 14 police sirens and 8 fire trucks over the course of the night, and he was just SO not comfortable! He’s been reading “The Freedom Rider’s Diary” for school, and it’s about inner city toughness and gang wars and drug dealers and drive by shootouts. Not comfy for my well-sheltered child!
After breakfast, we stopped at the Jewish Center, and then headed off to Weta Caves in Miramar, the museum for Peter Jackson’s shop for Lord of the Rings and all his other movies. Cool, although small. There was a little boxed in play area, and Sofia was SO happy to stay there. “Bye, Mommy. Stay here.”
[Oh, that was another funny Sofia story. Yesterday, at the Wellington Museum, during the holographic movie that she liked so much, one of the characters says, “Who are you?” in a very strong tone. Sofa obligingly answered: “Sofia. And Mama. And Micah. And Wheelchair. And Stuff.”]
On the walk back to the van, Sofia was dancing, and then suddenly called out “Fosse. And Robins!” (quotes from Madagascar 2).
On the way to Weta, David had done a U-turn, unfortunately using a very steep driveway. The spare tire is now in the middle of the living space rather than under the back bumper...
After Weta, it was time to get out of Wellington. We drove up Route 1, which is the highway along the West coast of the North Island. We stopped at a McDonalds for a while so David could try to download his emails. I made some tuna sandwiches, bought the boys their fish sandwiches, and some fries. Sofia played in the play area (they have nice ones here), and Micah watched the animated “The Sword in the Stone” in the Birthday Party room. Sam, of course, thought we were not allowed to be in the Birthday Party room, so he stayed in the main restaurant section with David.
Then we drove up to Wainganui. I slept most of the ride, to catch up on last night. We decided to come this far rather than stop in Palmerston North. It was a gorgeous day, really pretty sky. Of course it started raining when we pulled in to the campervan park!
We stopped in town at the Visitor’s Center to get info, and then came straight to the park. I had TONS of laundry to do. Fortunately, this time the machines all worked well. Then Micah and Sofia and I walked across the street to the extensive playground (complete with zip line!) next to the beach. David joined us, but Sam was still freaking out so he stayed in the van and read his book.
We watched the sun set, and had fun with the zip line and other climbing structures. Then we came back to start on dinner.
The kids watched a movie and David did some work while I cooked on the grill and in the public area. Yummy meal of lamb shoulder and rice and broccoli and onions and a few pieces of kosher pepperoni.
The boys did the dish washing while I got Sofia ready for bed. David was about to take some more things to them in the kitchen, when he fell getting out of the van (we’d put the spare tire down as a step, and his foot got caught inside!). His ankle is sore, but the worst is that he chipped his front tooth :( So he’s pretty bummed now, and trying to figure out what to do.
Sam is finally on an upswing, and being REALLY helpful now. He’s made all the beds and swept the floor and put away the laundry. Ah, I love a good mood swing on the up-side!
Getting ready for bed, and I’ll probably watch a movie with the boys. Some cool stuff to do tomorrow in this area, and then probably continuing north.
Wednesday August 15
Well, Tuesday was odd. We left the campground and went to the Towers. One of the only two Land Elevators in the world - you walk through a tunnel for 200m to get to an elevator that goes straight up through the mountain! At the top are these two towers, which I think were built as memorials. I climbed one of them with Sofia and Sam. Possibly not the best idea for someone who is claustrophobic, afraid of heights, and has a head cold. But I made it.
The kids had fun climbing to the tops of the towers. The view was spectacular. It’s right on a river, and near the Tasman Sea.
Then we drove. David was in a grouchy mood because of his tooth, so he wanted to move on to someplace else, so we headed to New Plymouth.
I had not slept well at all, due in part to my cold and in part to Sofia sleeping on top of me all night. So I slept in the car again, which did not cheer poor David any. We stopped in the middle of nowhere for lunch at a small cafe. Great fish burgers and chips. The cafe/teahouse is for sale, and also has a whole “garage sale” section of antique junk.
Drove on, through some rain but mostly decent weather. The highway goes fairly close to the Sea, so the view was lovely. Made it to Oakuna for the campground aroudn 4pm, which is early for us. The campground was right on the beach! When Sofia saw it, she started screaming “Beach! Beach!” We had to run up to the grocery store first, and of course when we got back to the campground it started raining. But only for a few minutes. Then it was actually fairly nice (although still damp) for a few hours. I cooked dinner (a huge kosher chicken that I’d bought in Wellington on Friday) while David and the boys took a walk along the beach and Sofia played. Most of the campgrounds have trampolines (or, as Sofia says, “jumpoline”), so that keeps them busy and happy. We got to watch the sun set over the water while I cooked, and then we came inside the trailer once it got dark, to eat dinner.
I fell asleep on Sofia’s bed while she watched a movie on her machine and the boys all watched a movie on my laptop in the back. I really needed the sleep. I must have had a fever, because a few hours later I woke up sweating and feeling MUCH better. This morning I continued to feel better, so I guess I’m back on the upswing.
It POURED all night. Monsooned. So much rain! We ran between ...
(We just passed a dead cow on the side of the road!)
...the raindrops to get to the bathroom. I have managed to take a shower all but one day here, when the cost was just stupid. Today it was .50c for 5 minutes, which I could handle. (I think the day I skipped, it was something like $2.00 for 5 minutes).
I tried to find David a dentist in New Plymouth, but the soonest they could see him was Friday, so we decided to try for Auckland on Friday. So we drove in to New Plymouth, to find the library.
Awesome library. A huge research center, with multiple floors and sections. Made me wish I was working on a research project again! The WiFi is free at the libraries, so that’s a good place for us. David settled in upstairs, while the kids and I went to the Children’s Section in the basement for a few hours. Sofia played with toys and on the children’s computer, the boys played on their iPhone/iPad, and I got online (although since I had not written this yet, I could not post a blog post).
I found a dentist in Auckland who can take David on Friday afternoon, which gives us enough time to get there. His tooth doesn’t hurt, and we spoke to our dentist yesterday. All he needs is to have it bonded, to cover up the crack. He did not chip it far enough to damage a nerve, which is great news.
After a couple of hours at the library, we went to the food court at the mall for lunch. The kids finally had sushi, and grownups finally had Indian food. Both are plentiful in New Zealand, although I was completely unimpressed by the Indian food. Very bland. Maybe a real restaurant would be tastier.
Now we are driving (in the rain, or course) up to the Waitomo Caves. The rain is coming down sideways, and it’s quite windy. My husband just commented that “all we need now is lightening.” I’m a bit afraid...
Did I mention it’s raining?
It just keeps coming down. Driving was interesting. Like driving in a cloud. It was dark the whole time. And the land is very lush, volcanic, dense growth. Really unusual. The ride would be pretty in the summer (we decided that everything here would be fine “in the summer”).
We got to the iSite (Visitor’s Center) at the Caves a bit after 5pm (which is when they close) but the guy there was still able to help us book our tour for tomorrow. We’re going on a boat ride to see the glow-worm caves, and then some other tour.
Picked what we thought would be the less expensive Holiday Park (what they call a Camp Ground, since they also have cabins). There was one, a Top10, right across the road from the Visitor’s Center, but Top10 usually is the most expensive.
Can’t imagine it being more than this, a Kiwi-brand park about 15 minutes away. $70! They charge per person, not per site. Outrageous. And the laundry was $4 for wash, $2 for dryer (which needed to be run twice anyway). I think we’ve spent more than $50 just on laundry this trip.
Dinner was all leftovers, except I had a Meat Pie (very popular here, and I picked up a couple at the Kosher Co-op). Sam also got a Smoothie at the Fitness Center (which of course was an extra charge, so we did not go in.
We did manage to get Sofia showered. The bathrooms are nice, individual unisex units like in Masterson. We took Sofia to the Accessible stall, and put her on the shower chair and used the sprayer to clean her and wash her hair. At home she still takes baths, so she hates showers, and squirms like crazy. This at least was a little easier, because she was stuck on the chair (which was actually quite high).
I picked up some Sudafed back in New Plymouth, and gave to both boys (and I took some). I’m feeling much better, so hopefully the boys will be better tomorrow. They are being real troopers, though. Micah especially. I did make him use his inhaler tonight. He’s been coughing a lot today.
Kids are all in bed, either asleep or reading. David has work to do on his computer. I’m gonna read my Nook book (some Youth series in to “The Giver” and “The Hunger Games” genre of creepy future society). Tomorrow, caves, and then off to either Hamilton or Auckland.
And did I mention it’s raining?
Thursday August 16
After a damp night, stressing about missing our ticketed time, we got up and showered and fed and out the “door” in plenty of time.
The first stop was the GlowWorm Cave Tour. Really spectacular. The boat ride portion alone was worth the price of admission. Simply magical.
Then we raced over to the Aranui Cave, but somehow missed the 10am tour. We sat around for an hour waiting. It was kind of nice to have some down time. The kids explored, David made a call, and I read.
The guide came back for the 11am tour, and he was very nice. It was really spectacular in the caves.
Now we’re stopped for lunch - and free WiFi - so poor Sofia is the only one not frantically typing away!