When I woke up, my parents had already left the camper. I made myself a cup of tea, and headed to the beach, where I knew I'd find them, and we had a nice walk along the shore. The water was perfectly calm, the sun just starting to burn off the morning haze in an otherwise blue sky. It was going to be a beautiful day.
My parents turned back first, and when I caught up with them, Dad was suggesting they start the process of applying for residency when that option becomes available to them next year. Just to keep their options open. On the road less that twenty four hours, and I know what Dad was thinking: Living like this, driving around the country, wouldn't be a bad thing to do full time. Hole up in a Northern beach town such as this in the Winter, make their way down to Wellington to visit their daughter in the Spring. A leisurely tour across the South Island in the height of Summer, perhaps? It wouldn't be the first time my parents had lived out of a camper van.
We set our sights on Whangarei that morning, figuring it was probably all the farther we'd go North before needing to head back to Auckland to pick up Loren on Sunday (day four). We wanted to set a leisurely pace.
This was our first 'real' day on the road, and I was determined to take spur of the moment detours whenever I felt like. The first was The Honey Centre in Warkworth. (Incindentally, Mom and I found the name of this town to be so silly-sounding, that we couldn't help exclaiming "WARK-worth!" like some kind of anthropomorphic duck every time it came up.) The Honey Centre had hexagonal windows, doors, and rooms, and a working bee hive behind glass took up most of one wall of the gift shop. The whole place reminded me of the "Betty's Bees" set from the show Pushing Daisies:
We made good use of the honey-tasting counter. I bought some lemon-honey for toast, and my parents bought sever small jars for gifts. Sadly the mead shop was closed, on account of the guy with the liquor license having the day off.
A little down the road stopped for a hand-painted sign advertising free-range eggs. The sign led us to a lady's house. She opened the sliding-glass door of her living room to sell us half a dozen eggs, and asked us where we were from. We had a conversation that would be repeated several times while during our visit in Northland.
Us: "The weather is so nice and warm here!"
Lady: "This is awful weather. I'm sorry you're having to put up with it on your holiday."
Us: "Well its a heck of a lot better than Wellington!"
We waved good-bye to the free-ranging chickens in her side garden and went on our way.
Our next stop was Cafe Eutopia:
This crazy art sculpture of a building was hard to miss and even harder to resist checking out. The food was good and unsurprisingly featured a lot of veggie/vegan/gluten free/organic fare. But the real draw was this crazy artsy building and decor inside and out, right down to the bathrooms which used water piped from a nearby stream. Needless to say Mom and I had a lot of fun photographing this place. A few of the results below:
By the time we arrived at Whangarei, it was nearly evening. We chose the one holiday park that was located right in town. It was not particularly flash, but it had all we needed (most importantly hot showers) and the owners were nice. When we asked them for a restaurant recommendation, they readily admitted that they'd eaten out all of once in the several years they'd lived there. Mom wasn't feeling well, so she stayed in the camper while Dad and I set out to try our luck in town.
That's how we ended up standing outside of a flower shop which our Lonely Planet guide strongly indicated was supposed to be a Cuban restaurant. Two ladies at the flower shop were just closing up, and asked if they could help us find something. We explained ourselves, and they happily recommended a couple of tasty and inexpensive restaurants, one of which they were headed to that very night. We aimed for an Israeli restaurant called the Camel-something-or-other and were pleased to discover it was exactly what we were looking for: tasty, healthy, and reasonably priced. We made a pleasant evening of it, and brought Mom back plenty of left-overs.
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