|Richard & Stacy's Round the World Trip 2001|
Monday, June 4, 2001.
We woke up early at Granny Stanton's place. It wasn't as cold as it had been - the clouds had rolled in over night. It wasn't a morning for moving too fast - Richard's cold was pretty set in. But we spent the morning over breakfast and more family photos, some of which were capture and put in the digital Family Album. Then, after slightly less than 24 hours, it was time to part ways again - this time with a promise to come back more often (every thirty years seems to be a bit much of a gap).
As we got back on the road it started to rain a bit, but we soon drove out of it over the flat roads that lead north from Levin. We had decided to take the western road back up the other side of Lake Taupo. While the first part of the road was pretty flat, suddenly the foothills rose up, and the drive became reminiscent of driving the Fraser Valley - narrow winding roads punching between (and through) hills that open into great big valleys covered with agriculture. Only where the Fraser Valley is brown, New Zealand is green - and covered with sheep!
We stopped in Rauhiti for gas and a bathroom break. We had learned that most gas stations and restaurants in the small towns of New Zealand do not have public bathrooms - they are usually beside the tourist information centre. In Rauhiti they have a Centennial Memorial Rest Room, built in 1940 across the street from the County Offices. There was hardly anyone around at all, and we were alone when we walked into the rest room. It turned out there was a single room with two bathroom stalls in it - we didn't see a men or women sign anywhere. Each stall had a toilet and a sink in it. We did our business and then headed out.
Only when we were leaving did we see the Men sign around the side of the building - looks like we both went in the women's bathroom. Good thing it was quiet that day.
We had agreed that we would only travel while it was light - finding hotels, restaurants and things in the dark is hard in any city, and the little towns of New Zealand its nigh impossible. Based on our pace we decided to stop in the Taumanunui, which was one of the larger dots on the western side of Lake Taupo. It was really a one street township with a few homes off one side, and not much else.
Our guide book showed three hotels and four restaurants in Taumanunui. The best of the hotels had a decent room for us, and also a restaurant - which was unfortunately closed. They told pointed us in the direction of another restaurant down the main drag... which turned out to be closed as well. They suggested the restaurant in the hotel!
The two remaining restaurants were really greasy spoon Chinese take out places, a block apart. We picked one, ordered what seemed harmless, ate it, grimaced and headed back to the hotel for some sleep.
The night in Taumanunui was probably the hardest of the trip - not that the bed was bad (although it wasn't great), but Richard's cold was at its peak, and there was much tossing, turning, sniffling, coughing and blowing of nose the entire night. The morning he would improve as we returned to Auckland for one more night in New Zealand.