Trip Start Apr 22, 2011
26Trip End Jul 19, 2011
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Where I stayed
Amanda's * Bream Head Coast * Amanda's * Tui Oaks
What I did
A rainy day, but no worries. I downloaded a new book on my Kindle - Gift of Rain (no pun intended), settled in on the bus for a three hr ride north to Whangarei, the first of what I hope will be lots of hiking. Claire (owner - along with her husband, Mark - of Bream Head Coast Walk (coastwalks.co.nz) met me at the bus station and we're off, 40 minutes east to Whangarei Heads
Day 1 - torrential downpours with gale force winds. Sofa & Gift of Rain. The storm finally broke late afternoon giving me a chance to venture out. Rolling hills and nature at it's finest. 5 miles. Met Lucas, the most adorable kid who was walking home from school. Nice chat.
Day 2 - up bright and early. More rolling hills (high hills that consistently made me break a sweat) sprinkled with cows and horses that dumped me onto the beach. OMG. OMG! That's all I have to say. 13 miles. Claire invited me to dine with her family - Mark, Eva (Scarlett Johannson look-alike), and Clive. Roast lamb. Red wine. Great conversation. (oh - ran into Lucas again. So cute)
Day 3 - Whoa. Mt. Manaia. To preserve the trail, steps were added - 1,800 of them at practically a vertical incline. Marine Reserve Loop, Taurikura, Mt. Aubrey. I don't know the distance, but I was dragging back to the lodge. Took a long, hot bath (in the outdoor tub overlooking Mt (can't remember the name). More red wine. After a scrumptious homemade dinner and even more wine, I managed to read 3 pages from Gift of Rain, I think. Out like a light.
The next morning, with achy calves and quads, Claire brought me back to the bus station
A quick aside. I left my converter at Amanda's. Couldn't find one in Whangarei, so called Amanda to ask if she could drop it off at the bus station (30 minute "layover" between trips).
Of course she would, but she was on a tight deadline. As luck would have it, we were running late. I was the first off the bus when we arrived so I could quickly meet Amanda. Three minutes. That's all it took. Three minutes. And my luggage is gone. My 50 lb duffel bag. Gone. Shit. My first thought was - thank god I have my laptop/phone/passport/credit cards in my backpack. But shit. Filed a report with the bus security and the police (both experiences pretty underwhelming). I called Amanda (she's probably now wishing she never met me) to see if her room was available for the night. Then proceeded to cry for the next 2.5 hrs. My pity party finally ended and planning started. I needed clothes. A toothbrush.
15 or so blocks from the bus station, I walk into a dept store. Quickly noticed it was Neiman Marcus level so quickly walked out. A few stores further, a 50% off sign screams at me.
45 minutes later, a pair of jeans (that actually look pretty good), 2 pullovers, 2 cammies, and an XL men's t-shirt that will be my new jammies, I head to the cash register. I turned around and went back to the woman who had been helping me to ask if she could recommend a place to buy undergarments. I mention that my luggage was stolen.
Get this - she says "some guy came in earlier today and said - does this luggage belong to one of your customers? It's sitting outside your store"
Ripley's Believe It or Not contender, you think! Seriously, this was a miracle. Not luck, a miracle. I still can not believe it. Luggage stolen (did I mention it's 50 lbs) and then abandoned (totally intact) 15 blocks away. A miracle. (when telling my brother today, he suggested I might want to play the lottery. Ha) REALLY. What are the odds that I would walk into THAT store, and mention my stolen luggage, and ... the miracle.
That night, a new friendship unfolded. Amanda and I shared a celebratory dinner and great conversation. She was my guardian angel. She is my new friend.
So here I sit in my hotel room in rainy Taupo. The view - Lake Taupo. Ahhhhh. Maybe I'll move on tomorrow if it's still raining. I'm heading in the direction of Wellington, New Zealand's capital and the coffee mecca of the country. Thinking I'll play there for a few days.
One week. Despite yesterday's ordeal, I feel a deep sense of calm here. I don't have a game plan from day to day. Those of you who know me know that's not my norm. But maybe it will be from hereon.
One week. Eleven to go.
That's it for now.
Big hugs & Big love to my peeps back home.