Gypsy Jottings #4
“When it’s time for you to venture out, don’t let fear get you looking back at what you’re leaving behind.” (Dau Voire)
“Travel. As much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can. Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.” (Gentleman’s Wisdom)
IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE THOUSANDS OF FRIENDS (well, I know of at least three) who are following this blog with baited breath, I owe you an apology. Because, having admitted last time I wrote that we had quite likely gone barking mad, I then went off the radar. And, chances are, you’ve been worrying ever since that Mrs Cooney and I have disappeared somewhere in the Far North, giggling uncontrollably and totally off our rockers – right?
Sorry about that …
The truth is, we did get kind-of lost. (You’re allowed to do that when you’re gypsies – it’s half the fun!) And, as we continued our northbound wanderings up the long, skinny bit at the tip of New Zealand, we almost drove off the end.
I can’t remember exactly when we did what, and where, but I can remember:
- lunching on fresh-caught bluenose fish, hot chips, and an exploding egg-burger while sitting on a retaining wall overlooking curvy, picture-perfect Matai Bay (on the Karikari Peninsula)
- following a very dusty road to the giant Te Paki dunes where, while walking backwards to reconnect the car’s towing-frame to the truck, I tripped on a tiny Te Paki dune, went sprawling backwards, and was nearly run over by my wife who was driving the car (you had to be there)
- checking out some other dunes (dazzling snow-white ones, this time) at Rarawa on the other coast, and letting the fine, highly-prized silicone sand run through our fingers
- feasting on magnificent ice-creams at Te Kao on our way down – and even more magnificent peach-muffins at Gumdiggers Café at Ahipara
- tramping back through pioneer history at the Ye Olde Gumdiggers Park just north of Kaitaia … learning about the ancient kauri forests that were buried up here a zillion years ago by events cataclysmic … marvelling at the tough life of the early NZers who poked around in these peaty soils searching for kauri-gum that was worth more than gold … and oohing and aahing at the beautifully-preserved timber that is still being milled from those centuries-in-the-ground logs and stumps
- heading off the beaten track in the Mangamuka Gorge … eyeballing the astonishing Wairere Boulders … meeting Rita (the delightful, animated Swiss woman who co-owns the farm) … hearing the fascinating story of this massive unique-in-the-world river of rocks … and walking the extensive bush-track built by Felix, her engineer-husband.
However, our highlightingest highlight was the two days we spent at Godzone’s Top-End … overnighting in the lovely, right-on-the-beach DOC park at Tapotupotu, where we shared a sunset with some wary dotterels … and reacquainting ourselves with nearby Cape Reinga, towering with its iconic lighthouse above the frothy seas where two great oceans collide.
This spot on the map has sacred significance in Maori mythology – and it’s not hard to see why, because it kind of overwhelms you. It’s from here, legend says, that the spirits of the dead finally leave behind the world they’ve known and depart for the afterlife. And DOC have done an excellent job in presenting that story to visitors who pass through the entrance-arch and walk the winding pathway down to the lighthouse.
“LEAVING BEHIND THE WORLD THEY’VE KNOWN” is something we’ve done, I guess. We’ve abandoned our life in the suburbs and driven off in a motorhome … free as the birds to roam at will and enjoy New Zealand at large.
Pretty-much everyone we talk to admits they would love to do something similar … except … WE SOLD OUR HOUSE, for goodness sake!
Is that wise …? Are you sure …? Have you really thought about it …? What if …? What if …? What if …?
We can understand the hesitation. I mean, ‘owning your own home’ has long been a Kiwi dream. We dreamed it and DID it (with the help of a mortgage or two) – and someday somewhere we’ll happily do it again. But, after nearly half-a-century of home-ownership, we were feeling a little trapped … a bit boxed-in … and, well, overdue for a change.
Mrs Cooney and I have always had a tendency to do things boots-&-all. Half-hearted has never excited us. And early in our motorhome-research phase – should-we/shouldn’t-we? this-one/that-one? will-we/won’t-we? – we agreed: If we’re gonna DO this crazy thing, we have to do it PROPERLY!
Yes, of course, it’s taken some time to get used to. And it still feels slightly weird, having ‘no fixed abode’. But, 10 months down the track, we’ve LOVING our gypsy lifestyle. We’re loving having no mortgage … no debts … no bills to speak of … no rates to pay … no maintenance to attend to … no lawns to mow … no gardens to weed … no trees to prune … no leaves to sweep up … no decks to scrub … no spouting to be emptied … and no slimy green pool to clean.
We’ve been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt. And, right now, we’re LOVING our big warm TrailLite (plus the little Suzuki we tow behind). We’re loving being able to stop wherever takes our fancy … stay for as long or short as we want … head off the main roads… poke around in unheard-of places … and check out cafés along the way.
We’re loving that there are few things to rush back for … way less pressure … (mostly) no hurry … hardly a traffic-jam in sight … still time for catch-ups with friends … and more hours than ever with our grandkids.
Having spent 45 years giving our family roots, we Cooney-Seniors are spreading our wings. And you tell me: WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?
Take one sunny Thursday last April. We were stopped for coffee in the main street of Ohakune – with Mt Ruapehu as a glorious backdrop, smothered in fresh clean snow. This guy gets out of his car to admire our TrailLite, and he calls to me across the road: “What an AWFUL way to live!”
I reply, “Yeah, aint THAT a fact!”
And he laughs, with a shake of his head, “I’m SOOOOOO envious!”
Yours (from somewhere in the Central North Island) – JOHN & ROBYN
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