Over the last week I went touring around the north island on my trusty Xelvis. It was an interesting trip that could have been a lot worse, and a lot better.
I started last Sunday with a tank full of gas, a backpack full of stuff, and a plan to get to New Plymouth on day one. I had originally been thinking about going up to Taihape to see my grandparents, then around the loop through Ohakune and Ratehi and down the Paraparas to Wanganui, but was strongly advised against it as I was told the Paraparas were a good day's drive all by themselves.
I got as far as Wanganui for lunch. I was quite sore by then, so stopped for quite a while. Wanganui really is a beautiful city. I sat in a park by the river and enjoyed the sun. The main street there is very beautifully done up with flower baskets and was full of colour.
I pushed on Hawera. Unfortunately, a nasty cross/headwind cropped up, and combined with the lack of comfort in my seat and the heavy bag on my back, I only got as far as Hawera before stopping for the day. I stayed in a cheap villa and hacked on Pieforms into the early hours of the morning. In that hack session, I managed to get templates working, which means you can now lay out forms however you like - you don't have to be confined to renderers. I think this will be a handy improvement that we'll use a lot in Mahara in future.
The next day was overcast and windy again, but I decided to continue around the surf highway to New Plymouth. The road was shorter than I though - only 105k - but by the time I got to New Plymouth my right ear was numb. I'd had a cold in the few days before the trip, so I was worried I was getting an infection. I found a medical centre and got told to come back in an hour, so I wandered up the main street and had lunch. I went back and waited another half hour, then saw the doctor. He took one look in my ear and said "yep, that's infected" almost before he'd put the scope in. So I got some meds, and headed to a motel to spend the night.
I got to texting my cousin, and established by some amazing fluke that he was also in New Plymouth with his girlfriend. So the next day, we met up and had a chat. He told me that you shouldn't really operate heavy machinery while on medication, but since it was an amazingly nice day, I was feeling a lot better, and besides, Xelvis is only 156kg, I decided to push on. I rode over Mount Misery through some beautiful country to Te Kuiti for lunch, then made it all the way to the north shore in Auckland to see some other cousins.
I stayed there a couple of days. My uncle helped me adjust the chain on my bike, and I helped him build some veggie gardens. There's a random kid who wanders their neighbourhood and into other properties to see what people are up to. She didn't want to try on my sunglasses, but was very interested in my bike. According to her, four comes after two - she's not the brightest that's for sure. She's 10, with the education of a five year old, and seemingly has parents that don't abuse her but don't really care what she does. Very strange.
On the second day up there, I rode to Gulf Harbour, then up to Wellsford and back down through Helensville to my cousins again. Some family friends of theirs came for dinner. They were all old ladies, but they were incredibly sharp and witty. Joan had got into computers and cellphones even. They were smarter than most of the people I meet every day. I hope that I'm like them when I get old...
The next day I left, heading to Taupo. That was a good ride. I stayed at the Anchorage, a motel my family has stayed at before. It still looks the same on the outside, but the $150 room pricetag didn't match the room quality I was expecting. The motel in New Plymouth was nicer for sure. I hacked some more on Pieforms and watched the sun set over the lake.
On the final day, I planned to go home via my grandparents. On the desert road, I was tailed by a cop all along the straight bits. He must've thought that I was going to open up the throttle or something. But I wasn't on a superbike and wasn't in a hurry, so he gave up after a while.
I tried calling my grandparents at Turangi and Waiouru, but they weren't answering. I went to their house in Taihape but they weren't in. So I went down some gravel roads to the Kawhatau Valley and called in at the family farm. It turns out that they were all there, so I had lunch there and caught up with the goings on. Apparently times are not too good for sheep farmers due to synthetics being produced cheaply in China, but that may change as the oil price goes up.
Using some of the local knowledge and a map, I took a little gravel road onto a backroad that took me all the way to Fielding. From there I went through some more back roads until I ended up on State Highway 1. I took the Akatarawa road back to Upper Hutt. That road was by far the worst I drove on through the whole tour, but the most fun too :).