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Posts Tagged ‘Desert Road’

I had a lovely four-day weekend.  I headed up to Tauranga on the Friday at a leisurely pace.  I headed out about 10 am and stopped beside Lake Taupo for lunch.  It was beautifully sunny when I left but was rather cloudy near Taihape and through the Desert Road.  There are only four places you can stop on the Desert Road, overlooking the volcanoes of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro.  Two of those places have no view of the mountains; one has a view of Ruapehu but partially obscured by power lines; and the other is just a space on the side of the road at the top of a hill.  You have to be travelling south and know when it’s coming up to spot it.  I, therefore, had to snap while driving, which is often hit and miss.

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Mt Ruapehu, approaching Waiouru

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Mt Ngauruhoe

Despite the cloud, it didn’t rain and the road was perfectly dry until I got to Tokoroa and it was as if someone had hosed down all the streets.  The roads in and out of Tokoroa were bone dry and the town itself completely wet.  Quite bizarre.  I drove through pine forest country (and behind logging trucks) to Putaruru, where I turned off to drive over the Kaimai ranges.

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I used my new GPS and it was very handy, particularly near Tauranga as I hadn’t been to my friend’s new place before.  The longest stretch when the Australian female didn’t say anything was, after “Continue for 133 kilometers…” 132 km.  Fascinating to hear the mispronunciation of certain place names.  Even Cheltenham, a pretty basic English name, was pronounced “Chel TEN ham”.  “Mataroa” Road (long a) became something like “MaTArola” (short a).  Made me either laugh or frown in confusion.

I reached my friend’s house just at the right time.  She (A) was off with friends to ride horses, while her husband (M) and daughter (K) and her partner were about to head into town to the pub.  I joined them.  After five hours of driving I was ready for a drink.  We sat in one of the many bars opening out to the sea (The Strand, I think it’s called) and had an Erdinger Weissbier (on tap!).  Very nice.  M’s old school friends were at the pub too – nice couple.  Very pleasant.  I enjoyed K’s company too.  She is now living in South Victoria, Australia, and has an Aussie accent.  (I found her much easier to talk to than M’s other, older, daughter.).  After a couple of beers, we headed to an Italian pizza place (where the guy was actually Italian and greeted us with Buena sera).  While we waited for the pizzas, we had a Peroni beer.  Back to their place for pizza and wine.  Old school friend, D, turned up from Auckland.

The next day was all about preparing for M’s 60th party.  They had a marquee attached to the side of the house and we set up tables and chairs, barbecues, etc.  K made salads while A and I went to the supermarket to pick up more stuff, and helium balloons.  A good party, well attended, and their pilates teacher sang a few songs – she has a very good voice.  Another old school friend, F, appeared in the evening.  I hadn’t seen her for three years.   Chatted to various people (including ones I’d never met before), danced a bit, and collapsed about 12.30 am.  I hadn’t slept well the previous night.  I missed the helium hilarity, but did hear people shouting at each other (instead of talking) until past 1 am.

A nice, communal cooked breakfast in the morning, a wander around the property, and I headed off in the car about 1.15 pm.  I returned home via Rotorua, stopping beside Lake Ngahewa for lunch.

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A and M had suggested taking the Broadlands road via Reporoa which I did.  It was a nice straight road, with little traffic.

On the Desert Road, I stopped at the place I’d spotted when heading north, so I could get a good picture of the mountains.

Mt Ruapehu

Mt Ruapehu

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Mt Ngauruhoe

I arrived home at 6 pm.

On Monday, I did some weeding, and planting of the bushes I’d bought previously, and mowed the lawn.  I also organised for a couple of dead trees to be chopped down.  I had meant to get my WOF for the car today, but I completely forgot.

I sat on the new outdoor seats that H had bought and enjoyed the sunshine.   A great weekend.  I actually felt like I’d had a holiday and realised that I didn’t want to go back to work at all.  It suddenly hit me that I found my job incredibly boring and only enjoyed life when I wasn’t at work.

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It was a challenge.  I had no idea what I might be taking a photo of from day to day.  At times it was a struggle to find something.  I lacked inspiration and motivation and just couldn’t ‘see’.  Some days I took several photos and had to choose one (or two).  Other days I felt desperate and only managed one or two and was not happy with the result.  It’s also difficult to see beyond the daily routine when all you seem to do is to drive to work and back.

What I found most frustrating was that I’d see something I wanted to photograph while driving but there was nowhere to stop.  I can see such scenes in my head, such as mist on the hills or the sun highlighting a particularly attractive scene or a cool cloud formation.  It’s my greatest bugbear when travelling.  There are very few places to stop to take photos or just take a rest.  Rest areas are few and far between and where they are placed are uninspiring.  One of them, on the Desert Road in National Park is right beside the magnificent view of the volcanoes, but – BUT, perversely they have placed the rest area in front of a hill which obscures the view.  Absolutely ridiculous.  The other rest area in the region is in a valley with no views at all.  There is only one rest area with a view of the mountain and there are power lines…  Anyway, enough of my mini-rant.

Despite my lack of inspiration, I am taking the brave step of trying this out for a whole year.  I’ve created a separate blog for it so followers don’t have to put up with any interspersed ravings.  It will be a greater challenge as we head into winter (and winters here aren’t pretty) which will be cold, damp and dark and during which I tend to get depressed.

Wish me luck!

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