Saturday, August 18, 2012

Clean At Last!!!

Friday August 17, nearly 7pm

Ok, that was easily the best meal we had the entire month! Grilled polenta with warm goat cheese and balsamic vinagrette and various vegetables; creamed pumpkin soup; warm bread with oil and balsamic and nuts; spiced “chips”. Wine, coffee. Really yummy. (And free WiFi). The name of the restaurant was Huhu.

We left the Waitkoto Caves area, and then drove out toward three more scenic stops. First was the Waterfall. Awesome! Then there was another cave; only David and Sam got out of the car for that, which was good because it was really dark. The last stop was actually wheelchair accessible, a natural rock bridge (used to be a cave but the sides fell in). Lovely hikes, all.
Then we headed north, kind of toward Hamilton, but actually off to the coast. We ended up in a seaside resort town, Raglan, at the largest Holiday Park I’ve ever seen. I bet it’s really nice “in the summer” - the kitchen amenities were lovely, and I grilled again.

There’s nothing like a warm bathroom. And that was NOTHING like a warm bathroom! Ice cold, no doors so fresh brisk air from outside. Perfect for summer cleaning off the beach sand. That’s about it, though.

I made a nice dinner of lamb chops (from Wellington) and pasta. In the morning, pancakes. The instant pancake mix here is better than the Bisquik at home, and all the butter I’m usuing certainly helps.

Got out, drove around the area a bit, and then off to another waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls (I know, there’s one in Yosemite too). Met up with an older couple, Lynne & Les, who we’d also seen on yesterday’s afternoon stops, so we walked first to the top and then to the bottom of the falls while talking to them. Interesting couple, from Napier. Their grandkids had spent three and a half years living in the Czech Republic.

Then we drove. And drove. Through the middle of nowhere (again) for a long time, until eventually we got to Route 1. We made it to the area of Auckland we needed by about 2:30, so we stopped for a quick late lunch before David’s dentist appointment. The dental clinic was in  the shopping mall (where we had lunch), so the kids and I walked around while he was in his appointment.

Only took 30 minutes, and his tooth looks perfectly fine now! And since there was also a medical clinic, I decided to get Sofia’s finger checked out. It had been really infected, and although we’d lanced and drained it, it was still hurting her. So now she’s on an antibiotic.

Then we made our way to our LAST campground. One more night. We decided this morning that we will check in to the hotel a day early. Whew.

This campground is north of Auckland, just about 10 minutes out of the city. Very urban, sort of slummy area, but we met some really nice people, who apparently live here full time. Apartments in Auckland are very very expensive and hard to come by. This one lady, Elaine, lives in one of the motel bungalows, and is loaning her campervan out to another young couple.

It was so nice to have conversation again! Elaine is really interesting. She’s from England, and has lived in China and Australia and Canada, as a single mom. Ex husband is Nigerian, in China. Converted a school bus into a camper home. I gave her some advice on blogging!

Now we’re eating dinner, and getting ready for our last night of campervan. Hooray!

Saturday, August 18

Well, it really was quite the trailer park. Lots of chatter all evening. But we made it through, and got out before 10am.

Into Auckland we go. Went directly to Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Adventure - mostly an aquarium, with a really large penguin cave and a huge tank with a conveyor belt through.

Then we went to the hotel! Nice hotel. Huge. Nice. Flashy/fancy. Clean. Lovely.

Checked in; of course could not park the campervan in the regular parking, so we’re parked in a little side cove. Got our rooms, an immediately discovered that they were not actually interconnected, so then they moved us to another floor. We’ll have to move again tomorrow. When we added the extra night, the connected rooms note got ignored. So we’re on the 6th floor now and moving to a club floor, either 11 or 12, tomorrow, but at least with two connected rooms.

The rooms were not totally ready, so we walked down to find food. We were really hungry, and it took a long time to walk down, but eventually we found food. Then we walked around the waterfront for a while, and then up Queen Street to return to the hotel.

Got the kids settled into the rooms, and David and I went down to pack up the camper van. Got everything upstairs with the help of one of the Concierge trainees who has been very helpful all day.

Let the bathing begin! Sofia had a really nice long soak, and then so did I. Each bathroom has a stall shower and a huge bathtub. Lovely.

Now I’m trying to rearrange all the luggage. We have an enormous pile of laundry; we’ll go do that first thing in the morning and then drop off the van. Everyone is bathing, and watching TV and relaxing. Ahhhh...