Pennies from Heaven?
01.09.2008 - 01.10.2008
On our way north to the beautiful Bay of Islands, the scenery was familiar from the day before. The grassy hillsides, the jungles, the sheep, the cows, the windy roads, the little bisected towns, they were all familiar. The rain wasn’t. It was raining off and on as we traveled up the coast to the Bay of Islands, it started to clear just a bit as we got nearer. We arrived at the Bay of Islands Holiday Park and it was gorgeous. It was on a beautiful river, had huge mature trees of all sorts throughout the park and large grassy campsites. It had a pool, a trampoline, a playground, kayaks, a zip line, and even had cute little cabins. This is the kind of holiday park we’d been reading about. It was top notch all the way through. It was pretty empty as well. We picked a lovely site under the branches of a giant and very old eucalyptus tree. It seemed perfect. That fresh eucalyptus smell and a bit of breezy shade flowing through the camper made the entire scene seem idyllic. A steady drizzle began later in the evening as we ate dinner, and it slowly turned to light rain as the evening progressed.
As we laid down to sleep, we realized that this tall and gorgeous Eucalyptus tree that seemed heaven sent only hours ago was actually born of demon seed or seed pod. A steady rain on a roof top can lull you to sleep. It’s benignly pleasant to hear the consistent patter of tiny drizzle droplet’s on a roof top, and it can even send you off to slumber. But oh, what an Evil Eucalyptus can do… When those tiny, consistent, pleasant, drizzly-drops build-up on Eucalyptus leaves, it seems that some bizarre alchemic process takes place that converts tiny water droplets into coins. Yes, coins. Pocket change. Pocket Shrapnel. Throughout the night, it sounded like someone was dropping dimes and pennies, then nickels, then quarters on top of our camper van – from the height of the empire state building. The sound was deafening, especially when you consider that Carol and I were sleeping in the cab-over area, with our heads a scant eighteen inches from the fiberglass ceiling, which, as it turns out, is a fantastic amplifier of coin size. There was a pattern to the sounds… it just wasn’t pleasant nor consistent. First the pleasant hum of drizzle. Hummmmmmmmmmmm, then… pop, POP, bang, bangBANG… bang…. BANGboink, pop, KROING, pop….. POP, pop, … KACHING… and so on…. Needless to say when we both “woke up” the next morning, neither of us had slept longer than 5 minutes in a straight shot and we both looked like it. The kids of course slept straight through and wondered why were moving the van to a “tree free” site just 50 feet away first thing in the morning. Being so relaxed from the previous night’s sleep, we decided to bite their heads off. They were tasty. It rained all morning while we did homework in the van – but it was a soothing rain at this point. Our friends the Sweaseys called from further north at Ahipara Beach, which was also to be our next destination for some good west coast surf. They reported that it was pouring down rain and the surf was totally flat. They’ll come down to meet us on their way to the Coromandel Peninsula for some better waves and weather. This shot is of the van after we moved it a "tree free" site.
They arrived at about noon, and after a quick lunch, we headed out to Paihia and Russell which are the two “big towns” in the bay of islands. New Zealand’s Bay of Islands area feels much like the San Juan Islands, especially on this day because it was drizzling and you couldn’t see 400 meters. I’ve seen pictures of the Bay of Islands on sunny days and it is gorgeous. Not today. After taking the ferry to Russell, and having dinner in Paihia, we decided to head out a day early and head out to Baylys Beach on the west side of the Island as the Sweasey’s headed for the Coromandel.