Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

September 16, 2001 -- Day 850

Good Times in NZ, bad times back home

-- Story by Erin --

Back on the farm in Waiterere Beach:  Most of the property is given to tree farming. Went out into the woods with Murray to learn about growing, thinning and harvesting pine trees. For every 1,000 you plant you can expect to yield about 350 at the end. Each mature tree should fetch about $300-350 NZ.  All around the farm is the sweet smell of pine.  In between the blocks of trees are open paddocks, which are leased out to local farmers for cattle grazing. 

During the day, Murray helped us make small modifications to our bikes: strengthening our back racks, making foot peg extensions, painting rusted bits, etc.  During the night we were treated to other activities like rabbit and possum hunting!  Chris took to hunting immediately.   After a short lesson by Murray on how to shoot the 22-caliber rifle, we were off in the ute (pickup truck) driving through the forest at 10:00 at night.  Renate, Chris, Sheba (their mixed breed dog) and I were in the back of the ute while Murray and Waka (their slightly spoiled Jack Russell terrier) sat in the front.  Renate used a spotlight to shine on the paddocks and trees while Chris readied the gun.  I just held on for dear life.   Surprisingly for someone with no experience, Chris shot with great accuracy and bagged 3 possums and 1 rabbit (moving at speed!).  The dogs ate well that night!  For those of you non-New Zealanders, possums and rabbits (non-indigenous animals) are considered pests (similar to rats) and do considerable damage to the flora and fauna.  They are actively culled to allow the native plants and animals to eke out an existence.  The next day I played Shotgun Annie out in an open paddock aiming for an old beer can. 

Besides the tree farm, Murray and Renate also have a horse trekking business called Black Forest Horse Treks.  On a beautiful Sunday, sunny afternoon, they treated us to a 2-hour horse trek.  We walked (well mine walked while the others trotted and cantered) through the forest and then came out of the trees and onto the beach. 

Chris was on Prince and I was on Jazzy. Chris looked like a real jockey, lifting out of his seat while trotting like he’s been doing it all his life. I on the other hand feel very foreign on my horse. The horse wants to trot and canter straight away and I get a quick lesson on using the reins to get him to slow down. The horse trails around their property are really scenic, lots of ponds, pine groves and meadows. Prince and Renate take Chris on some fast cantering trails while Murray takes me on a slow walk.

Go Chris, Go Chris, Go, Go, Go!

Chris was having fun galloping his horse until his stirrup broke and he fell to the ground.   There were no injuries and he hopped right back on to gallop again.  On the beach, the horses loved being in the surf.  Chris' horse liked it so much that he decided to lay down and roll in it.  Luckily, he was able to step off the horse before being rolled over upon.  After the roll in the surf, Chris and his horse galloped down the beach past me and my horse.  My horse got jealous and wanted to gallop too.  I'm a very novice rider and held on for dear life.  I was doing well and even felt like I was enjoying myself until the horse slowed down.  The only problem was that my body kept going forward and, losing my balance in the stirrups, tipped over the right side of the horse's head and into the surf. 

No injuries, just a wet bum and lots of sand everywhere. When I get up I realize how many muscles have been pulled and wonder if I can get back on. Renate can't resist, and tells Erin the best thing to do is get right back up and ride! When we returned to the farm my leg muscles were so sore that I couldn't walk for the next two days.  Whoever compares riding a motorbike to riding a horse is crazy!  It's far more tiring riding a horse.

Erin, Renate, and Murray -- along with Waka....

Tuesday the 11th, we said goodbye to Murray and Renate, promising to see them in a few years whilst on their own RTW trip.  It's another beautiful day as we make our way up through Lake Taupo to Rotorua.  Our friend Sally Turner from Queenstown now works in I.T. for the Dynasty property group which owns the luxury Heritage group of hotels.  She happened to be working in Rotorua while we were there and invited us to stay with her in the hotel.  That night after a wonderful dinner in the hotel with John the GM, we jumped into our bathing suits and headed off to enjoy what Rotorua is really known for, it's thermal pools!  Smelling like sulfur but feeling like being wrapped in a warm blanket we bathed for almost 2 hours at the famous Polynesian Spa.  What a nice way to end a long day of riding!

Wednesday 8am, September 12th = Tuesday 4pm, September 11th in New York: Tragedy strikes!  We turned on the news, waking to the horrific news of the terrorist attacks in the United States.  At first we thought it was a promotion for a new movie, some Bruce Willis action/adventure flick.  Very slowly, we realized it was very real.   It's hard to find the words to describe what we felt, sickness, sadness, disbelief, fear, anger, all of it.  We were glued to the hotel TV and watched CNN all that day.  Thank goodness for cell phones and email as we scrambled to contact our families and friends in New York.  My brother Mike works across the street from the Pentagon in Washington, DC but had taken a sick day to celebrate his birthday.  We were very fortunate, having many friends that work in the World Trade Center complex, all of which were lucky enough to get out alive.  Many no longer have offices or even jobs to go back to now.  Their buildings are just a pile of rubble now.  Many have lost friends and colleagues.   Now I fear hearing about the deaths of former coworkers at Morgan Stanley (one of the biggest tenants in the World Trade Center towers) or former students from Columbia University who I taught and worked with.  This will certainly haunt us for the rest of our lives.

What does hearten us is the support we've received from our friends around the world and our Kiwi friends in particular.  That first day of the attack we received many phone calls on our cell phone from friends offering their condolences for what had happened in our home town, our home country.  If we had to be away from home for this, then I am glad we were here and not somewhere else.  Now, nearly 5 days after the attack, we see many homes and businesses here flying the American flag at half-mast to show their support and solidarity with us.  The flowers and cards left at the US Embassy is overwhelming.  The US may get a lot of criticism but at a time like this, all peace-loving countries are coming to stand beside us (and to aide us) against this most evil act of terrorism.  On a global scale we have many more friends than enemies.

Sept. 13th, we tore ourselves away from watching the news, said goodbye to Sally and drove to the East Cape. As it was not the happiest of times to say goodbye to Sally we hope to see her one last time in Auckland before we leave.  It was a very nice drive, but we didn’t make it all the way out to the East Cape, only as far as Te Kaha. The weather was gloomy and Chris was tired.  Driving back towards Whakatane we decided to stay at the pretty little beach town of Ohope. Ohope is wealthy, by the looks of the big fancy homes here, and has a wonderfully long, sandy beach. There are good views of White Island (still active volcano) and its white plume of smoke and Whale Island.    I could just make out the outline of an oil rig way off in the distance. Still needing to reflect on all that had happened in the last 48 hours, I took a walk at sunset from our caravan park and was amazed at the colors of the sky, deep orange and yellow to violet and soft blues. Magic place.  I made a mental note to keep this place in mind for a summer holiday home some day.

September 14th we awoke at sunrise and took another walk on the beach.  The sky was as clear as could be with only the white plume of smoke rising up from White Island.   We set off early and stopped for breakfast and a look around the town of Whakatane (pronounced Fawk-a-tawny with the wh sounding like an f in the Maori language).  It has a pretty little waterfront area and a busy harbor with little fishing boats coming and going.  It is white bait season so many were out in the shallow water with their big nets, hoping to grab the white bait as they swim out to sea.  At the head of the harbor on top of a rock is a beautiful slender statue of a woman. 

Around lunch time we met Arne Rohde in the Karangahake Gorge.  He knew of a winery near by so we went there for lunch.  On the drive back to Arne's we passed through a small town where I spotted an American flag hung at half-mast in someone’s front yard.  Warmed my heart immensely....

  Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | Related Photos


TOP | About Us | Costs | FAQ | Journal Entries | Links | Motorcycles | Photo Gallery | Supporters | Guestbook | HOME

  Sure, send us an email E-mail Us

There are probably dozens of errors on this website (if not more).   
If you notice/have any problems, please send us an email: Webmaster

The goal is not the destination, it's the experiences along the way.