Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Tale of the Tan Titan

Let me begin with where I left off last. Talking about the Northland. I spent the night in the Bay of Islands in a town called Paihia. It is a seaside town that makes it living of the families on vacation. There are lots of boat trips to the islands in the bay. I choose to skip this due to the fact it was a 5-6 hour boat trip with a stop on a small outer island. Not really my thing. I started my drive north, stopping along the way to take pictures. My next stop was Doubtless Bay for a few quick photos. SIDEBAR - (The 17-35mm Nikon lens I got before the trip is worth every penny I paid.. Don't leave home with out a wide zoom lens like this.) I few klicks down the road I come to the bottom of ninety mile beach. This is the almost the top on New Zealand's north island. The Tasman Sea beating the coast. Like a jockey whips a has been to the last furlong. (Sometimes my imagery is stunning (I am in a bar that has internet access)) As far north as you can see, this ribbon of sand going straight into the horizon. The wind was blowing like Lewinsky. I stopped in Kaitaia for a quick bite to eat and then looked at my route for the rest of the day. A local in Paihia told me about a back road and ferry to get where I was going. He said the ferry leaves every hour on the hour, be there or wait. So I thought I would give it a go. The backroads are not all that different from any mountainous region, but at least it was sealed (rock over tar). I keep pushing the White Whale through swichback after swichback. Becoming more confident with it's handling. The air pressure made a ton of difference. Before I made the pressure change she was loose in and tight out but now she was as neutral as I could want. I noticed I was not going to make the 2pm ferry, how did I know this, I watched the 2pm ferry pull away 2 minutes before I got to the dock. So a opened the windows,cranked up the ipod (a must have for all trips) and chilled in the back of the RV. I then continued on south to Hokianga Harbour. This was a spectacular place. On the south side of this large harbour was green mountains, on it's north side Sand dunes gently slopping to the sea. I stopped at many different locations for photos. This was the last thing I would stop for today. It was 4pm and I wanted to get father south for the night. The next three hours where mainly road I had traveled. I ended up south of Auckland for the night.

And that is where we pick up the story of the Tan Titan. I wake up and take the RV back and get the Toyota and begin my drive to Coromandel Town to visit with Jen and her husband "Brown". I called home and while doing so missed my exit. I grabbed the map and saw a back road that got me back on track. I started down this road winding back and forth over the next 25k. The Titan then showed his true colors, handling the corners, smoothing out the bumps and the turbo giving me all the power I needed. I made the drive I loved the other day again, this time a little slower than in the rental car but the Titan showing no ill handling. I meet up with Jen and told her about the RV and that I was going to stay in town for a few days. She told me her mother in law owns the motel a block away and she will take care of it. I chilled out for a while, wrote postcards and walked around town. Later that evening I headed out to capture the sunset. I drove a few klicks out of town and found a nice hill to get some shots. As I was about to move locations a older couple came over and started to chat with me. Well we got to talking about why I am here and if they could tell me where some good vantage points where. They invited me back to there house to shot the harbour from there back deck and the sunset from the hill in front. I talked with them for over forty minutes before I had to go for dinner. Great people. I headed to the restaurant Jen and Brown own and waited for the staff dinner. He chowed on some great food and just hung out talking. around midnight I helped them close up and then went to bed, or so I thought. I happened to turn on CNN and they where covering the Airbus A380 introduction so I got sucked into seeing the huge plane get unveiled.

This morning I got up and decided to go to the top of the peninsula to Port Jackson. 40k north of town and all gravel road. This is when the Titan came into his own. the huge tires eating up the gravel and spitting it out. (remember I'm in a bar, I am going to ramble on from time to time) I stop many times for some great pictures. The road was at best 1 1/2 lanes wide and at worst down to one. The good thing is there is not much traffic on the road. I passed 30 cars going up. I then backtracked 15k and headed east to Port Charles , again good photos. I then backtracked from here to Kennedy Bay. A spectacular view coming out of the mountain pass. On the last pass coming back to Coromandel Town I stopped for the best shot of the trip. To my right 5k away the Pacific and Kennedy Bay and to my left Coromandel and the Hauraki Gulf, and 30-35k due east of Auckland. I drove no more than 100k and it took 4 hours, but the photos will make it worth the drive. Only once did I wish I had on a pair of depends, in a narrow section of road a few miles from town I and another truck come with in 15 feet of a head on. Both of us came out of blind corners.

Ok I have been typing and correcting this for some time now and have neglected my beer. So for now....

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