Sunday, July 23, 2006

She Brings Me Coffee, She brings Me Tea

Sorry to not have posted much in the last week, but we have just been living the day to day life with no major events.

There have been quite a few minor ones.

First, we must say that Kiwis are happy to indulge themselves whenever they can. The 3 main items of decadence are:

chocolate - Cadbury is a favorite, but there are many fudge and rich chocolate shops all over Nelson crowded with people who are testing the free samples.

Wine - and you better buy NZ wine if you want to avoid a frown from the checkout girl. Luckily, there are about 30+ wineries here and the stuff is as good or better than California. Also, no corks. They have twist off tops, which actually is a better idea unless you are elitist, which people here are not. This trend will soon become international, so sell you cork stock now.

Coffee- New Zealand is like Seattle or Portland in that there are countless shops with sidewalk seating serving lattes and mochachinos with sweets on the side. There is one Starbucks in Nelson and 20 other local coffee bars. We never go to Starbucks. Actually, we may never go to any coffee shop again because...

Dr. Joe has risen from the dead! For those keeping score on my stupid schemes from the past, you will recall my idea of opening a coffee kiosk in California in a medical center. I called my little portable traveling show and java joint "Dr. Joe". I would get up at 5 am daily to make coffee for nurses and patients. After a long day, my gross would be $40. I was there for 3 months, vandalized 3 times, damaging my cart and having candy bars stolen. We finally sold the enterprise to a couple of lesbians, god bless them.

Now, Dr. Joe has 2 customers. We bought a home espresso maker and drown ourselves 2-3 times daily in strong dark brew topped with foamy milk. This one is made by an Australian company called Breville that you can't find in the states. Coffee goes good with the bagels that my golf buddy, Eyal brought back from a recent trip to Wellington. God bless him too. He is not a lesbian, by the way.

Eyal also found us a part that we needed for the BMW. It is a rare little electrical connection and a new one cost $100. He got it for 10 bucks and a salvage yard. God bless him again.

All this winter, the Music School is having a Festival with shows almost every night. So far we saw the tribute to Gershwin, a band called Hobnail Boots, and a very interesting showing of the 1925 Phantom of the Opera. On stage, in front of the big screen, was an organist who played the school'sold wall of sound sized pipe organ for the entire show. In addition a well known NZ opera singer did all the vocals while the screen actress lip-synced.

At midnight, they were showing Rocky Horror but we are getting to old for that midnight show. Been there, done that, did the time warp again. Did you know that the man who wrote Rocky Horror emigrated from England to New Zealand in 1952 at age 10?

Last night, we had tickets for a New Zealand reggae band, all Maori brothers, called KORA. These guys were great! It was fairly crowded and the floor was cleared for dancing. The building is 112 years old and we were told they had never taken out the seats for a show before. We chose to stand near the stage on Phil's side.

There were quite a few younger people in attendance who were really enjoying themselves. Many had those long curls that I believe are called dredlocks. They allow drinking in the hall and we saw quite a bit of that. The beer here in the South Island is Speights, not Steinlager. Ordering a Steinlager is like rooting for the Raiders in San Diego. It's Speights, Mite.

Also I am sure I saw one of those young men with the long hair smoking something they call a marihuana cigarette, which had an odor unlike anything I have ever smelt before in my life. It was a little smoke and a little candy. I'm shocked, shocked to find that toking is going on in here! I cannot believe the bouncers would tolerate this. The fellow was even exhaling toward the stage. I am certain the band members were not in favor of having their concentration spoiled by drugs.

I am told that marijuana affects the brain cells and even the testicles. I pray the young pot smoker isn't planning to have children in the future.

These young men were getting into the music to a high degree and were waving their arms and bodies all over, taking up more than their own space and intruding on others. One fellow knocked over his 7th can of beer right onto my jacket which I neatly folded and placed on the floor near the stage.

I wanted to get up a leave right then, but some of us were jumping up and down and swaying to da reggae beat, mon. Although we were forced to be careful breathing as I for one did not want to infect myself with second hand brain damage, thank you very much.

Also, we chose to stand near a huge speaker. It was very loud and today I can't hear a friggin' thing.

I just joined a squash club I may not work out at to replace the racketball club I did not work out at. Squash is harder because the ball does not bounce as much. When we go back to the states next week, I will see Bill Gansline, the best player in the new world, for some instruction and encouragement.

Finally, we have been here for 2 months and we knew there was a beach in Nelson. We just never took the time to find it. Well, we took the time the other day and it is a GREAT beach. Reminded us of Coronado in San Diego. Miles and miles of sand, and smooth water because it is on the bay. Few people, many with the happiest dogs in the world. No seaweed or litter. Who knew? This is a picture of the beach in summer.We are off to Tucson for a week of weddings and parties. We will see a lot of our readers there. Much to tell on the next post.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Stuck in the Middle With You

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the I am.

As promised, we took another hike up to the Centre of New Zealand, a hilltop landmark. Actually, after improved GPS positioning it has been discovered, but not well advertised, that this location is NOT the center of NZ. That distinguished spot is 35 km away. But who's counting? This is a beautiful site with nice benches and a swell marker.

Actually, we were over doing some measuring in the pink house (AKA terra cotta) and looked up at a nearby hill and saw the shrine to centerdom right above us. We decided to run up and take some pictures.

The walk up was tougher than I remembered. Perhaps I have gained a few lbs. When I got here, I certainly was carrying about 10 pounds of extra baggage around the waist. But here they don't talk in pounds, but grams, milligrams, kilograms, megaton-agrams.

Besides, I lost my scale in the fire.

Be that as it may, I think my pounds have made some new kiwi kilogram friends. They seem to be hanging around the house all the time now. I am afraid they will start bringing even more buddies over, hidden in the ice cream.


The hike was steep, but at the top was the aforementioned sculpture and a great view. I snapped pictures N-S-E-W and here you see the different views. I even took a picture of the pink house from here.

The walk down was easy.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Looks Like Rain

" Everybody's making love or else expecting rain "

Golden Bay was pretty wet for the next few days. Totally acceptable. There were enough breaks in the showers to get out and poke around the area.

Nearby is a little spot, 30 minute walk through typical splendiferous forest and bush. Pupu Natural Springs. (Insert joke) These are not hot springs, but water bubbling from deep below the surface up into a natural pond. The water from these springs is some of the clearest and purest on the planet.

When got out of there, we drove through the rain to some spots on the bay.

One was this suspension bridge over a deep gorge. I am trying to look not scared. Fortunately I am quite the thespian so nobody can see my true cowardice...unless they check my underpants.

We went as far as the road would take us toward the lighthouse on Farewell Spit.
(Insert joke here)

There was also an historical cemetery that was well worth the visit.

Even a llama farm.

Lew McGinnis' influence is everywhere!

This llama actually knows Lew. He worked for him in Oklahoma. He said he was a "fluffer", used only when the other llamas needed a little help in the mating game. He said Lew was a good guy. The only problem was that Lew told him to fire one of the llamas and made him wait until 5PM on a Friday so he could get one more day out of the guy.

He said he was pretty happy here in New Zealand.

We got back to clear skies and a sunset walk on the beach. We did not see any other people yet all day.

The following day began with a true heavy rain. It looked like we weren't going anywhere. We had plenty of food, wine, other supplies, bay view, dvds. So we ate, drank, and looked out the window at the shore until we were able to take a long walk on the sand. We saw Gordon, the physicist owner with the dream, who showed us a blue penguin nest.

Friday morning began with a blinding sunrise right into our bedroom window. Gordon told us we could stay another day if we wanted...for free.

But enough with this anniversary already. I have promises to keep.

We declined another night because we have tix in Nelson for the opening of the Winter Concert Series. There is an orchestra and female singer doing a tribute to Gershwin.

On the drive home, we checked out a cave.

It was wet and active (insert sexual reference). Kimberly took the last photo. I have no idea.

Cheers for now. We hope your week was as fun as ours.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Anniversary Waltz

Red and white, blue suede shoes, I'm Uncle Sam, how do you do?

As we sit here watching the sun rise over Golden Bay, listening to Dylan and having a grand organic food breakfast, we realize that somewhere in the world, it is the 4th of July... so "wave that flag, wave it wide and high."

We left Nelson some time in the recent past for a little weekend road trip. It is our 20th anniversary, don't you know? We had reserved a few nights in a health resort in Abel Tasman Park. It has now been 5 days and we are still out here on the road with rather big smiles on each other's faces.

New Zealand has been like the 4th of July every day.

Back on Friday, we drove up to Marahau, which we thought was far away. Turns out, it is 1.5 hours through green hills, rainforests, farms, beaches, and wool and dairy making animals of every sort. Our reservation wasn't until the next day, but we figured we would go up and grab an extra day in some campground and rough it.

There are pristine campgrounds all over NZ and they offer housing from tent sites to cabins. These bedding-less cabins have an ensuite, which means a bathroom/shower. They also have community kitchens, which are always interesting. We decided to worry about housing later in the day.

Marahau is the entrance to Abel Tasman National Park, the smallest but most awe inspiring spot in the country. There are no big signs, a dirt parking lot, no enery fees, no park rangers. People hike anywhere from 1 hour to 4 days. There are good, marked trails and bathrooms, and huts all through the park.

Since it was still early, we took a short hike into the estuary.

Soon thinking that we better secure lodging, we left. Across from the carpark was an unusual sculpture gallery, being run by a kid, Mattie, who said we live in Paradise.

We left and immediately noticed a small sign for the Ocean View Chalets.

They were up the hill and were individual full service cottages. Great views of mountains and bay, kitchenettes, deck, privacy, stereo, TV, bath. It is owned and operated by Robert, from Europe. He managed the Kimi Ora Health Resort for 15 years and decided to build his dream and put up 10 Bavarian style ski chalets in Abel Tasman.

Of course we threw down or EFTPOS cards, (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Service), which is the ATM here. Then we drove over to the small nearby market to stock up on food.

The choices were slim, but Kimberly figured it out without the use of my choice of Mac n' Cheese, which was removed from the shopping cart when I was not looking. It was replaced by 3 bottles of NZ wine.

Dinner, music, all the stars in heaven, comfy warm bed. Hot shower, tasty breakfast. Blah, blah, blah

"Summertime done come and gone, my oh my."


Walk me out in the Morning Dew.

Crisp frost coated the fields of grass waiting for the sunrise. 3 blanketed horses snuffed around for something soft to chew. The air was clean and odorless. The only sound came from morning birds who sang a rare and different tune.

So I lit a fire. Isn't it good Norwegian Wood?

Today we were going for a 5 hour hike in the park to a secluded beach. The weather man promised a glorious day. There were 3 other cars in the carpark when we got there.

Possibly one of the best tracks in the world and it is not strenuous. You need good footwear, several layers of clothing and a backpack for water and snacks..and a camera.

We took side trails, picnic breaks, beach stops. Never saw anyone.

Do you know how great the world is without people all over the place?

We did talk to a local man who said it gets real crowded in the summer. I asked him how many people is too much.

He said, "2".

Sadly, we had to leave after 5 hours of tramping around. We had reservations at Kimi Ora for the next two nights.

It only took us 30 minutes to get there and this place was also built about by a German guy 20 years ago. His dream was to put up a European style wellness resort. It has hiking trails, spa, pools, exercise, organic veggie food. This place is apparently the Canyon Ranch of New Zealand, but it is not Flash, very subtle and local. Only 10 units. Things are different here.

They were only able to provide breakfast during winter, so we were on our own for dinner. Barbara, our hostess, recommended The Gothic, which is a 100 old church refurbished and masquerading as an elegant restaurant.

These places are all one of a kind, "mom and pop" operations. Lots of people seem to be acting out their dream around here by creating their own business and working hard. We are always greeted by the owner who is happy to chat about the history of the area and whatever else anyone wants to know.

Exceptional meal, but we added vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce, 2 coffees which was a bit of overkill. Some of us in the group needed to undo a top button on our pants.

When we returned, to Kimi Ora, we noticed some instructions concerning the Glow Worm Trail. Apparently, there are these little beasts around the property and one can observe them in the dark. We needed to don our head lights.

See ridiculous photo.

Then we wait until darkness and use the light to illuminate the trail. The light is white and makes everyone expect a visit from Blair Witch. Kinda scary, if truth be told.

Then there is a sign on the trail that tells you to grab the rope on the right and use it as a guide while all lights now get turned out. Extremely freaky now because stumbling along for about 100 feet, we see all these tiny twinkling torches. "Little New York". Here is some information on Glow Worms.

We ended up right by our room and jumped into the jacuzzi spa on the deck, watched "Whalerider" before passing out.

Anniversary -Day 3
July 3, 2006
actual anniversary
Breakfast was delivered..all organic, all grown in their gardens, all good. If this eating style keeps up, I will need to go to a tailor and have my robe let out a few inches.
Let's take a hiking trail was the thought for the day. There is a 5 hour trail marked that leads straight up the mountain and across the ridge overlooking the beautiful and famous Kaiteriteri Beach.
This hike was very tough and very long. Plus we left the trail and had to walk along the sealed pavement for a few miles.
Still way on the
plus side.
Kimberly had a spa treatment scheduled..The Cleopatra Package. It involves some sort of mummy wrap with a massage and facial. Instead of a happy ending, they let a snake bite you.
Before that we went into the spa and took sauna and steam.
Anniversary - day 4
We awaken to a beautiful sunrise, organic breakfast in the room, blah, blah, blah... attempt to get to our next destination early, Golden Bay, THE tip-top of the South Island.
From Kaiteriteri to Takaka, our first stop, is maybe a 45 minute drive.
We found Internet services in the local library and checked e-mail and researched Adrift,
our nest for the next two days.
Mike called & got directions, we had a cuppa' (latte, etc) at The Dangerous Cafe, where in usual Kiwi style, you order at the counter and are delivered the goods by a young one with dreads and or a nose or lip ring.
On to Adrift. 20 minutes later we find the ubiquitous tiny sign indicating our turn. A long, narrow, secluded, and gravel drive takes us past several local artisan huts barely visible, sheltered by rain forest bush. However, pottery, candles, and woodcarvings are sighted by my trained eye.
An arrow indicates we turn again. We are greeted by organic veggie gardens, pounding waves, a sweet aroma (lemon?) emanating from some tree as well as Gordan, the builder/owner of Adrift.
He has been here 20 years, built the place, lifelong dream, you can fill in the blanks yourselves by now. Adrift currently has only 3 cottages, with 2 more in it's future. The present ones are on the beach, all glass in front so views all around from the kitchen, living room and adjacent bedroom. Huge private deck, beachfront. The decor, simple elegance; tasteful... beautiful. It has a full ultra-modern kitchen, huge bathroom with the biggest jacuuzzi tub available, plus heated tile floors. We immediately opted for an extra day here. Gordan told us the last couple to visit was slotted for 2 days and stayed 2 weeks. It was their 20th anniversary as well.
Gordan also threw in free wireless internet.
We sped back into the town of Takaka for supplies, 3 nights dinner, wine, so we could get back to, oh yeah, our private beach.
Best. B&B. Ever.
Later that evening, Gordan brought us organic breakfast supplies.
Did we mention he is an Astro Physicist?
We started talking about Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth", (we have not seen it playing here in NZ), and he enlightened us on some physicist's recent opinion that global warming is "all poopycock".
Apparently there are over 19,000 scientists worldwide who think the earth is going through what it normaly does, and though humans never help matters, it is arrogant of us to think we can do much about the day to day happenings of the planet.
Some cynics think that politicians and big corporations are looking at the global warming scare is a way to accumulate power and money. After some deep and heady banter on the subject he excitedly offered us the video, "A Privileged Planet".
Believe it or not, we took the time out of our hectic schedule to view it.
It said the odds of a planet like earth existing in the universe, able to support complex life are one thousandth in a trillion and had the facts to prove it. (Whooo, I'm getting a headache!! ) It gives one renewed respect of the planet because as it turns out, it is pretty unique. Lucky us.
We ended our day with a wicked pasta dinner; bread, salad, wine, and all it implies. A zillion, trillion stars and goodnight..
Anniversary - day 5
coming soon