Posted by: Talie Morrison | November 15, 2017

Back in Kiwi Land!

So, yes, I am back again!   Surely I must have been a New Zealander in one of my past lives because  I sure feel at home down here!

When I got ready to leave the USA, there was some worry about how I was going to manage my baggage and flight, since my leg wasn’t up to 100% yet.   But everything went smooth as silk!    Steve was out of town (helping with relief efforts for the people of Puerto Rico) so I got an Uber Ride to the San Diego airport.   The Uber driver loaded my bags into his car (how I can manage to end up with so much stuff amazes me – 2 full bags at close to 50 lbs), and then when we got to LAX, he waited while I got a trolley.   (Side note here: the USA is the only place that I have been to where you have to “pay” for a luggage trolley – everywhere else they are free!)   So I wheeled my bags to the airlines and checked them all the way to Auckland (they were not quite 50 lbs each – so I got in under the weight limit).

On the long flight – from LAX to Auckland, 12.5 hours – I had decided to try staying on my schedule of “intermittent fasting”.   That would mean skipping the meals on the flight – could I really do that?   Yup – worked perfectly!   It was a bit of a “mental game” as much as anything to have everyone around me eating and me just drinking water, but I managed.  And actually one of the people sitting next to me asked if she could have my meals so that they wouldn’t go to waste.   No problem!

I drank a lot of water during the flight – that is always good – and since I had an aisle seat, I got up and down all night going to the toilet.  I don’t usually get much sleep on these long flights, so that part was pretty normal.   I also went to the back of the plane and stretched and did “laps” in the aisles when they weren’t serving meals.   I had worn a compression stocking on my leg – and the leg didn’t seem to be any worse for wear after the flight.   When I arrived in Auckland, Dianne was amazed to see me looking so good!

We visited with some friends we met in China, Phillip and Bonwyn and checked out their boat.   And then I met a new friend, Kevin, who has restored a 1925 Model T car – of course we had to go for a drive!

Since I arrived in New Zealand about 6 weeks earlier than normal, I decided to spend a little more time on the North Island.   After getting my van all organized and ready to go, I headed to the Coromandel Peninsula.   An old friend from Australia was on holiday at Whitianga (a beautiful spot with great hot springs!).   Tracey and I had met years ago on the Routeburn Track and hadn’t seen each other since (other than on Facebook). So it was great fun to re-connect with Tracey, meet her husband and her sister and parents.   We had a great couple of days – going to see the ancient Kauri Trees and, of course, soaking in the hot springs.  Before I left the area, I had to check out a spot called “hot water beach”.   It was amazing – at low tide, you can dig down in the sand and create your very own little hot tub.   I didn’t think the water would be very warm, but when I walked across the sand between the digs it almost burned my feet.

I headed to the West Coast of the North Island and found a couple of lovely little beach spots over there.   One weekend was a holiday, so I had to “hide out” from the crowds.   I found some cute little campgrounds in Piha and Muriwai, and visited a Gannett colony.  There must have been about a thousand birds – amazing.   I was still a bit of a “gimp” – rehabbing my leg – so most of my “walks” were easy hikes along the beaches.   I have done a couple of forest walks but I was “going slow” so I wouldn’t do any damage.   I want this leg back to normal as soon as possible and as good as possible!

I came back to Auckland to be with Dianne while she had minor (meniscus tear) knee surgery – she sailed through!   Then we did a quick trip to the beach together and stayed in her son, Murray’s, beach house. (They call a beach house down here a “bach”).  More walking on the beach – so lovely!

Then I headed to the “far North” for 10 days.   I stopped to meet a new friend in Whangarei.   Leeanne had read my book and contacted me on line with lots of questions about backpacking (they call it “tramping” down here!)   So it was fun meeting her and her husband.   Before I left her home, we scheduled me to come back and talk to her tramping group.

I drove all the way up to Cape Reinga.   I had been there in 1992 but hadn’t been back since – hasn’t changed much!   I found lots of lovely beach campgrounds and did lots of lovely beach walks.  I think I have “turned a corner” and I am finding that now I can push my leg a bit more (I am 2 months out of radiation – that should be long enough!).   I did a 10-kilometer walk a few days ago – it was an easy walk, but on a trail with the usual ups and downs and roots and rocks.   I thought my knee did well, but it did bother me in the middle of the night after that.   But then the next two days, I did more challenging (but shorter) forest hikes, and my leg is definitely getting stronger!  It is such a balancing act:   work it enough to get progress without working it so much that it makes it worse.   I don’t think I have ever had something like this situation where it is taking so long to get any effects from my efforts.

So back to Leeanne’s home and met with her tramping group.   It was fun talking about my book, showing some photos on her television, and then doing a “show and tell” with gear.   We had 13 people show up, and I sold 4 of my books.   Mostly it was just fun to be hanging out with “like minded” people.

I’m now in Auckland again…. I’ve now had another trip to see the physio-therapist.   I have a ton of stretching and strengthen exercises both for my leg and my back.   I still am looking to December 15th to make a decision as to whether I think I will be strong enough to do all the Great Walks.   I am sure I can do some of them, but I may have to “back off” trying to do all 9 of them in one season.

Dianne and I will be heading South in a couple of days, and I will probably be booking a ferry trip to the South Island in a couple of weeks.   I am glad that I have spent extra time on the North Island this trip and have discovered that the Far North is a world in and of itself – it is a bit more my style – less people and more forests and beaches.

 

 

 

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