The Vegetarian Option
Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
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We made it down to Wainui Beach with plenty of time and took our place on a natural bench among the grassy banks with our cameras and a Foo Young we'd tucked away securely from last night's whim at the local takeaway. It took everything not to interfere with it overnight.
The show started within minutes. It always amazes me how quickly these moments pass. As soon as that first spec of lava meets the horizon it's over before you know it. It was no disappointment, and of particular significance for me as it was only weeks ago that I watched the sun set over the Pacific from San Diego. Since then, I've itched to link it all up like this - a highly satisfying moment, and all very silly.
4:38pm - Bethlehem, Pacific Coastal Route, Gisborne to Tauranga:
'...long straight, 140km's/hr, wind howling, Bandit screaming. Chicken two-taps me on the left leg. This means I have to pull in at the next available stop. It could be a leg-stretch, squirt-stop, general meander, anything. I keep an eye out and hit the throttle. At the same time she two-taps me on the right leg, adding emphasis to the second tap. I grind to a halt. She jumps off and throws her helmet to the ground. Then the gloves. I look on startled and confused and then wince as she spills carrots all over the side of the road. I note with particular interest how she didn't chew them up properly earlier. She keels over for some time, hands on knees, spitting , traumatised. I don't envy her. Not one bit..'
Today was the longest and most enduring. We made it over to the Bay of Plenty by mid-afternoon, our arses proper sore following the hundreds of kilometres of twists and turns and endless straddled straights.
Mount Maunganui - known as 'The Mount', from the huge dome shaped mound of earth that marks the start (or end) of the bay - is a little surf town, a bit like an east coast Raglan, only more concentrated and condensed with positive cheery glow. We got here a couple of hours ago, sun scorching, atmosphere humming, and managed to secure ourselves a great room in a downtown hostel. As far as evening life goes, this is probably the best we've encountered so far. The bars and restaurants are diverse and plentiful, the smell of fresh garlic permeates through every street, while dozens of happy diners sit outside in the sun supping wine and cracking shellfish. It's Kiwi-Europe - very unusual for New Zealand - and a perfect end to our motorcycle adventures.
...which is why it's a great shame that Chike will see none of it. Right now she's minced, wounded and wrapped tightly in a blanket breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. I've just been out to find her some medication. We've no idea where it's come from, though I suspect it's got something to do with the Foo Young we wolfed at sunrise. It's unfortunate really as mine was the one with the dodgy looking raw jelly-like meat, she took the vegetarian option. Cruel, and always the way of course. For now all we can do is wait, see what tomorrow brings..