#11 - hamilton...more than you expect!

Hamilton Travel Blog

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What I woke up to at the Hamilton's house in Hamilton.

*****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.

The Hamilton's backyard.
  Chris and Wendy Scahill's best friends live there and they offered me a place to stay.  The warm, welcoming hospitality that I have received in this country has been ridiculous.  So, I called Craig and Sarah Hamilton (yes, their last name is the same as their city) and they arranged to pick me up from the bus later that evening.

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.

The Hamilton's sheep. That's Jacko & Jacko's lamb.
  You know when you are listening to your iPod and a song comes on that TOTALLY affects you.  Well, that happened.  It was a song I had forgotten I had on my iPod and it totally made me cry the second I heard it. The song is "Now and Forever" and it totally reminds me of my friends from camp.  We had even written a song about camp to that song.  Anyway, it was crazy, it really made me cry....it was kind of happy tears though.  I just have such great memories that it made me so happy I cried.  (Ok, I think I was a bit PMS too - but still - it was just this overwhelming thing that happened.)  THEN, it was awesome....Coming to America, by Neil Diamond, came on next and there was this little asian kid sitting in the row next to me tapping his feet & bobbing his head to the beat.
Blackie & Blackie's lamb.
  It looked like he was dancing to my music and it made me laugh.  Anyway, just a little insight for you into how some of my bus rides go! :)

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.

Bridal Veil Falls.
...i'm such a local already) and Sarah made a gorgeous salad for me.  How great is that?!?  It was so perfect because I hadn't really eaten since breakfast (which I forgot to mention before, but Kevin made me DELICIOUS french toast!  These NZers are really feeding me well - it's crazy!).  Anyway, after dinner - I had a wonderful night sleep in this cozy room! 

*****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.
Sarah Hamilton & me at Bridal Veil Falls.
  They also have four sheep - Blackie, Blackie's lamb, Jacko, and Jacko's lamb.  So cute.  I tried to feed them but they were very shy!

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.
Raglan Beach - NZ's famous surf spot. There are typically much bigger wavest there than we saw!
   And we got a great lunch in town at the Tongue & Groove. Oh - and I forgot - on the way out there, we stopped at Bridal Veils Falls.  It was a quick 15 minute walk in & then we saw the gorgeous falls.  I was glad that we made that stop - it was definitely worth it!

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.

Flowers at the "Indian" gardens at Hamilton gardesn.
  I was quick to remind her that it was not the WORST thing because she was okay - but it really wasn't a good situation.  I couldn't quite understand what had happened to the car....but she said she looked back into the rear view mirror for a second & then next thing she knew, she was driving down a ditch off the road.  She also mentioned something about her bumper being off the car?  She actually handled the situation very well.  She was super calm and just dealt on what she needed to deal on.  I was very impressed that she wasn't hysterically crying like I may have been in that situation. 

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?!?).

Ben Hamilton, Belinda Verrijdt (my travel buddy), Kate & Craig Hamilton at the Hamilton gardens.
  When Belinda arrived, Craig took her to the shop right away to get the car assessed.  She basically had to get the bumper put back on, the lights fixed & I think also the radiator needed some fixing?!?  Anyway - the MOST important part is that she was totally okay.  Everyone kept telling her how lucky she was.  It was definitely a crazy experience to have and I'm just glad we were able to have her come to Hamilton so it could get taken care of.

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.

This was in the "American" garden at Hamilton gardens.
  The meal was delicious and again, it was wonderful to hang out with the Hamiltons & I was so glad Belinda had arrived and that she was okay!!

*****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.

Belinda, Kate & Ben taking a dip.
  I went on a run and as I was running, I totally talked myself down and realized that it was totally FINE that our plans changed.  There was really nothing I could do about it - and it really wasn't bad AT ALL to stay there another day.  We actually ended up having the best day.    First of all, Belinda got the information she needed to get about her car - how much it would cost, when it would be done, etc...so we could make a plan.  We decided to take the bus the next day to Rotorua instead of taking one late at night that day.

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.

Yay! My favorite - Adirondack chairs!
....yes, we were talking about Bring it On & I mentioned I was a cheerleader.  Well, Katie really wanted to learn some cheerleading moves....so the next thing you know....I was teaching Katie, Belinda and Sarah "It's up to us to show, we're number one so say let's go....let's go, let's go (clap clap) let's go!".  I think Ben (their son who had just gotten back from their grandparents that day) got some video of it on Belinda's camera.  I *might* attach a link at some point...we'll see.  Anyway, it was just so funny! 

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.

I tried to catch Kate & Ben jumping!
  We had looked up what Lonely Planet had to say about Hamilton and they didn't give it the best reviews.  Not bad reviews....just that there's not a ton to write about.  Anyway, we decided our tagline for Hamilton was "Hamilton...more than you expect" - b/c we ended up having the most amazing time there.  Of course it was totally due to our amazing hosts....but Belinda & I will always have a very special place in our hearts for Hamilton!

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.

Meat, meat, and more meat!
  It was nice to have such wonderful real food!

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! 

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What I woke up to at the Hamilton…
What I woke up to at the Hamilton…
The Hamiltons backyard.
The Hamilton's backyard.
The Hamiltons sheep.   Thats Jac…
The Hamilton's sheep. That's Ja…
Blackie & Blackies lamb.
Blackie & Blackie's lamb.
Bridal Veil Falls.
Bridal Veil Falls.
Sarah Hamilton & me at Bridal Veil…
Sarah Hamilton & me at Bridal Vei…
Raglan Beach - NZs famous surf sp…
Raglan Beach - NZ's famous surf s…
Flowers at the Indian gardens at…
Flowers at the "Indian" gardens a…
Ben Hamilton, Belinda Verrijdt (my…
Ben Hamilton, Belinda Verrijdt (m…
This was in the American garden …
This was in the "American" garden…
Belinda, Kate & Ben taking a dip.
Belinda, Kate & Ben taking a dip.
Yay!  My favorite - Adirondack cha…
Yay! My favorite - Adirondack ch…
I tried to catch Kate & Ben jumpin…
I tried to catch Kate & Ben jumpi…
Meat, meat, and more meat!
Meat, meat, and more meat!
Obama fans!  Woo hoo!
Obama fans! Woo hoo!
This is the guy from Rocky Horror …
This is the guy from Rocky Horror…
Craig & Ben preparing the barbie!
Craig & Ben preparing the barbie!
It was steep - not sure you can te…
It was steep - not sure you can t…
Belindas shirt - a cool Dahli Lam…
Belinda's shirt - a cool Dahli La…
Kate Hamilton.  Hyyyy - yah!  (how…
Kate Hamilton. Hyyyy - yah! (ho…
The Hamilton gardens.
The Hamilton gardens.
The Indian garden.
The "Indian" garden.
photo by: Koralifix