Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tuesday - Friday; We survived our first night in the campervan

Thursday, August 2 
Whew! That was a darn long few days.

 Let’s see. Tuesday morning they actually slept a tiny bit later. I think I got out of bed after 7:30 am. Took the two little ones down to breakfast, and David and Sam actually joined us not too much later.

Then we all got ready for a swim, and laundry. David had a lot of work to do in preparation for a conference call, so I went down to the pool with the kids. Had to wait for the laundry - even though it said there was a laundry on each floor, there was only one set of machines for the whole hotel. Bah.

Sofia swam like crazy, and the boys had fun going between the hot tub and the pool. I did laundry. Again, it said the machines were 30 minutes, but they were more like 45. Hard to plan.

Eventually we all showered and dressed. Once the laundry was done, I got the bags packed and the car loaded, while David started his conference call. At least we had a late (2pm) checkout, so I managed to get the laundry all done (although some of it was still a little bit damp).

Took the kids on a quick shopping trip. I love Barnes & Noble. Micah had bought me a light for my Nook as a Mother’s Day gift, but it shorted out, and the store was able to just swap it for me. Yeah. Also had to pick up some power strips - we do have a lot of electrical items with us!

Picked up David, and drove down to San Mateo. Sofia fell asleep on the way down. We had dinner plans at 5pm, but the kids were hungry, so we had a little snack at 4pm first. And that’s when I noticed that Sofia’s head was a bit warm, and she was complaining about her tummy.

Ugh. That’s what we needed, a sick kid on the airplane. Dinner at the sushi restaurant was lovely, with David’s friend from his Johnson & Johnson days (early 90s) and her hubby, but Sofia fell asleep on my lap, and Micah fell asleep on Sofia’s lap! Ugh. And Micah started complaining about his belly too.

Ok. Off to the airport. Lots of bathroom stops. At least my cousin Bruce needed us to leave the car at the airport instead of back up at the hotel. In the parking garage, we grabbed a few extra changes of clothing, and the thermometer - Sofia was just starting to pop a bit of a temp. By the time we got in the check-in line for Air New Zealand, Sam and David were complaining about their tummies too. And the check-in took over an hour, although at least it was smooth.

Off to the terminal, and I went foraging for Pepto Bismal. Got some into her; the boys were starting to feel better, and all refused the Pepto. Sofia fell asleep in her wheelchair while we waited to board. Boarding was late, because the crew was late to arrive. But we got on easily, second family to load. David managed to get switched to the seat in front of me (instead of 10 rows ahead!), and we had the 4 center seats together. Sofia stayed asleep when I put her in her seat.

The flight was actually really easy. We each had our video screens with tons of movies to choose from. I watched “The Hunger Games” while eating dinner (kids and I had kosher meals, David takes his chances with regular). Sofia did not wake for dinner, and slept a good solid 10 hours. She needed it. She was much much better when she woke up.

In the “morning” I watched an Anne Hathaway movie, “One Day”, which was really lovely and sad, and I can’t get it out of my mind. Also started watching “The Debt”, about a Mossad operation to capture a Nazi war criminal. Unfortunately, the flight ended before the movie ended, so I hope it’ll still be available on the way home.

I did sleep at least 6 hours, with Sofia leaning on my arm. It wasn’t too bad. All in all, it seemed like a much shorter trip than the 12 hours it really took. We did get in about an hour late, at 6:30 am. The wheelchair was supposed to be at the aircraft door but got sent to baggage instead, so we got to ride on one of the carts, which was fun. And since we were the last ones off the plane, the line at immigration was very easy.

Got all the luggage, got Sofia’s clothing changed, and headed into the main terminal. Our ride to the campervan station wouldn’t come until after 8am, so we had a small bite of breakfast and waited around for 45 minutes.

Oh, did I mention that Micah, who had been absolutely fine on most of the trip, turned into a raging demon of a 10 year old about 20 minutes before we landed, and stayed that way until lunchtime? ARGH! Hugh pain in the butt, arguing constantly. But he got better after serious food. He’s still gonna be a toughie.

 Learned all about the care and maintenance of the camper van, while Sofia played in the toy room and Micah watched the Olympics in the waiting room. Unpacked all the bags so we could put the suitcases away. Finally got out of there around 9:30, and went straight to the grocery store. Of course Micah wanted to come in with me, so that took a while.

David had some difficulty getting used to driving this beast. It’s BIG, and everything is on the opposite side from what he is used to. After the grocery store, which was near the airport, we went to the Kosher store at the (downtown) Auckland Hebrew Center. Driving in the city center was REALLY a challenge! But we made it, and even parked on a hill, facing up.

Had a yummy dairy meal - bagels and tuna for the boys, potato latke for Sofia, noodle latke and grape leaves for David, and a stuffed potato for me. Then bought meat for the week (Grey’s Deli sells the frozen meat in the grocery section but serves only dairy).

Then we were off to our first campsite, the Miranda Holiday Park in Thames, on the Coramandel Peninsula. Took just under 2 hours, and we are in the middle of nowhere! There are Hot Springs here; I think I’ll take a dip in the hot springs pool later, but I really really wanted a shower first.

David is napping now (it’s 4:45pm) while Sam writes thank you notes, Sofia watches a movie on her video machine, and Micah watches a different movie on Sam’s iPad. I have to figure out what to make them for dinner. I don’t think I was fully awake when I went shopping.

Still trying to map out the rest of our trip. We just priced the ferry between the North Island and the South Island, and round trip would be over $800. So now David has to wrap his head around skipping the South Island, which is where he really wanted to go. But if we skip it, we don’t have to do as much driving between places, and could actually stop and see more.

 It’s winter here, so everyone is wearing sweaters and light coats. I spent most of the day in a tank top ;) but now I think I’ll need my sweatshirt if I go outside. The campground has a public-use kitchen, so I’ll cook there instead of messing up the van. We’re still settling in, and trying to take it easy. At least most of the tummy aches have calmed down now!



After I finished the last journal entry, I made dinner, which tonight was simply noodles and cheese (rice noodles for Sofia). I cooked in the public kitchen, with Sofia for company. After dinner, I went back to the kitchen to wash our dishes, and when I got back to the camper van, Micah was sound asleep. Sofia wanted to get ready to sleep also, although it took her a little while to actually settle down. Right now, Sam has the bed up above the driving cabin, Micah has the bed where the passenger seat usually is, and David, Sofia and I are sharing the very large bed in the back, where the table usually is.

After I got Sofia to sleep, David, Sam and I went for a dip in the Hot Spring Pool. Very nifty. The temperature is not bad: feels like mid-50s, but wet and occasionally rainy. Very damp ground. Cloudy sky. But if this is the middle of winter, I’ll take it. It feels more like April at home!

This morning, while we were unpacking the suitcases, Sam was a total nutcase. He had it set in his mind since we booked this trip that he wanted to sleep in the bed up above the driver cabin. So he started putting all his stuff up there, but he was hogging a lot of the cabinet space. He nearly short-circuited when I told him to stop and told him that the pillows and blankets needed to “live” up on his bed when we were not using them.

He’s such a mix of mature and baby still. He gets so focused on some things, and completely ignores others. It’s fascinating (except when it’s horribly annoying).

 Micah, as I mentioned, keeps getting into arguing jags. He just cannot stop arguing, about everything. He’s annoyed because the power cord for his Nintendo is not working, so now the battery is nearly dead and he cannot recharge. He’s annoyed because he doesn’t have anyone to play with (except when he plays with his siblings). He’s annoyed because we are not interested in his Nintendo games. It’s tough to be a 10 year old boy, I guess.

Sofia seems to be having a blast. Sometimes, especially when she is tired, she says “Home”, but she’s usually happy with whatever location is our temporary home that day. She is talking so much all the time. It’s wonderful (when it’s not annoying!).

Oh, another cool thing: when we went to Grey’s Deli, the kosher deli at the Auckland Hebrew Center, we had a conversation with the counter guy. Turns out he attended the Reali School in Haifa, which is MWJDS’s sister school!

Other stuff: the ride out here to the camp ground was beautiful (when I wasn’t terrified that David was going to go too far off the edge of the road!). I don’t believe I have ever seen so many sheep and cows out grazing. And at one point, we saw a long line of “cows coming home” - literally, the cows were walking along the path to go back to the barn. And of course there was a gentleman waiting at the gate for the cows to come home!

It’s 8pm, everyone is asleep already, and it’s raining again. Hopefully we will get our Internet access worked out tomorrow morning so I can post this. Not sure what tomorrow’s plans will be, but we have to check out of the camp ground by 10am. It’s a starting point.

Friday August 3 

Wow, 4:30 am came quickly! And that’s when Micah and Sofia woke up. Still dark outside. They snuggled in bed and watched a video on something (not sure if it was the portable player or the iPad).

We all woke up for real a little after 7am. Gorgeous day - not as overcast (although now, at 12:44, the clouds are coming back in), sunny, blue sky. We ate breakfast and got dressed and packed up. Check out time at the campground 10am. Headed East to Thames. Really cool ride. I’ll post pictures tomorrow, I promise.

First stop was the Visitor’s Center, to get an idea of what the heck we should do. Then lunch, and now we are at the Thames Public Library, where the WiFi is free. Micah and Sofia are reading books in the children’s section while the rest of us check in.

Heading to an old mine today, then eventually to Matamata. Tomorrow we will take the Hobbittown tour - Matamata was where they filed the Shire parts of the Lord of the Rings movies.