#11 - hamilton...more than you expect!
Hamilton Travel Blog› entry 11 of 113 › view all entries
*****DAY TWELVE (Sunday, December 14th) - THE HAMILTONS IN HAMILTON*****
I was originally going to stay in Whangarei on today because Kevin's friend was going to have some sort of sheep-herding party...but since the weather wasn't that great, she cancelled it. So, I decided it made sense to keep heading south and head to Hamilton. I originally decided to go to Hamilton because it made it easier to get to the Waitomo Caves on the bus schedule. Basically, I couldn't go straight to Waitomo from anywhere, so I thought I'd spend the night in Hamilton.
So, I had a five-ish hour bus ride from Whangarei to Hamilton that day. You know what....it really wasn't that bad. I've enjoyed just zoning out at the beautiful countryside, listening to my iPod, or just sleeping on these bus rides. They tend to stop every once in awhile too so it's nice to get out, stretch my legs, get a flat white (I'm OBSESSED with these), or something like that. On this bus ride, I actually had a very crazy emotional experience.
So, Craig picked me up at the bus station in Hamilton around 8pm & brought me back to their place. They have the NICEST, WARMEST, MOST COMFORTABLE place. Sarah (Craig's wife) greeted me with a big hug and then I met Katie, their daughter. Instantly it was clear that they were all so nice, happy, and welcoming. We all sat around the living room with a glass of wine getting to know each other. I was very comfortable right away and really enjoyed their company.
Then, they made me the nicest meal! Craig threw some steak on the barbie (like that? :) barbie...not BBQ.
*****DAY THIRTEEN (Monday, December 15th) - BELINDA'S ARRIVAL*****
When I woke up, Craig had gone to work and Sarah had gone to bring Katie to school. I walked into the kitchen and saw a complete spread for me to help myself to breakfast. I almost cried! It was so nice!!! :) So, I had a little brekkie and just enjoyed chilling in their house! They have the most beautiful, big, green backyard.
Today was the day that Belinda and I were going to try to reconnect. She was going to possibly borrow a car from a friend in Auckland and she was going to drive down to Hamilton & she was going to pick me up & we'd continue on southward. In the meantime, while I was waiting to hear the verdict, Sarah drove me out to Raglan. Raglan is a famous NZ surf spot....unfortunately, the day we were there, there were no waves and no surfers. Oh well! It was still beautiful.
On our way back to Hamilton, I got a text from Belinda saying "Joehoe, I got the car!"....what is so funny about that is that "joehoe" is the dutch version of "woo hoo" and she pronounces is "yoo hoo". So, I knew she'd be the perfect travel buddy! :) So, we went back to their house in Hamilton and waited for Belinda to arrive.
Around the time we thought she would arrive, I got a call from her. "The worst thing happened....I drove the car into a ditch," she said.
What ended up happening was that she got it checked out & the tow truck guy ended up following her to the Hamilton's house in Hamilton. Sarah was so quick to say that she could spend the night and Craig hopped on the phone immediately to find a shop that would look at her car the next day (didn't I tell you they were the nicest people?!?).
We all sat around the living room again, now with a new guest, and had some wine. We definitely wanted to make sure Belinda was feeling okay!!! Sarah made us the MOST delicious dinner....it was lamb and roasted potatoes & kumra and salad. Belinda almost cried when she saw what was happening! It was really so nice.
*****DAY FOURTEEN (Tuesday, December 16th) - HAMILTON....MORE THAN YOU EXPECT!*****
Today was the day we had originally planned to be in Rotorua. (We found out that you can't get straight to Waitomo from Hamilton, that you had to go through Rotorua) But, since we needed to deal on Belinda's car the day changed a bit from what we had originally expected. To be honest, I had a bit of a hard time adjusting in the morning. I really wanted to make sure we were heading south so I'd have enough time in Taupo & Wellington and I had the plan mapped out in my head.
So, we hung out at the house a bit...and then when Katie got home from school, we did the funniest thing. Somewhere in our conversations, me being a cheerleader had come up. We were probably talking about the very typical "American" things that come up in movies, or something like that.
After our cheerleading practice, Craig took us to the Hamilton Gardens. It was Belinda, Ben, Katie, Craig and I. It was really nice to be outside and to see a bit more of Hamilton. I had felt like I had spent a week there and hadn't even ssen the town! The gardens were great & we all had fun roaming around them.
That night, we had another AMAZING meal. Meat, meat, and more meat! It was so yummy. Vegetarians, close your eyes....we had steaks, sausages, and hamburgers. It was nuts! All of it was so delish. And of course some more potatoes & salad. It was so nice to have fresh food! When you travel, it's typically grabbing pizza, or a sandwich or something easy that's not always the healthiest.
At dinner, I did my third interview session! We were all talking about Obama (it does seem to come up everywhere) and when the kids were talking about it - I asked if I could film them. It was AWESOME. I will figure out how to get those linked to this at some point. Anyway, it really is so great to hear how positive everyone is about the US & Obama and everyone's hope for change.
I can't thank Craig, Sarah, Katie and Ben enough for having me (and Belinda!!) in Hamilton. It was such a memorable experience. And the cool thing is that I really think they loved learning about the US (and about Holland) and getting to spend time with us too. I hope I'll get to see them again sometime soon. I told them they have to come visit me in San Francisco!