Just Gorge-ous!

Well it’s been a while since our epic road trip through the USA and for the most part it’s been back to the “business as usual” of every day life.   Fortunately we have managed to fit in the odd weekend away re-visiting the beautiful country we live in, New Zealand.

Not too far from home is the Coromandel region which is a popular holiday destination known for world-famous beaches and bays.  We stayed a bit further inland though, and spent a few days in the historic gold-mining town of Waihi and the nearby Karangahake Gorge.

Waihi has been a gold mining town ever since gold was first discovered in 1878 and grew around the Martha Mine until it closed in 1952.  The mine is once again open and we enjoyed a scenic walk around the rim of the mine.

New Zealand bush

New Zealand bush

Looking into the Martha Mine

Looking into the Martha Mine

One of the ore trucks they use in the mine

One of the ore trucks they use in the mine

The Cornish Pumphouse, built in 1904

The Cornish Pumphouse, built in 1904

Later we visited Karangahake Gorge just a few kilometres down the road.  The road is narrow and twisty but very beautiful.  The area is famous for, you guessed it, gold mining.  There are some stunning walks you can enjoy in the area through and around the old mining ruins.

Waterfall

Waterfall

The road through the gorge

The road through the gorge

Bridge across the river

A swing bridge across the river

Nathan having fun on another swing bridge across the river

Nathan having fun on another bridge across the river

Walking along the old railway they used to cart ore along

Walking along the old railway they used to cart ore along

You can walk through some of the old mining tunnels that have "windows" where they used to tip ore out into the river below.

You can walk through some of the old mining tunnels that have "windows" where they used to tip ore out into the river below.

The view from one of the windows

The view from one of the windows

Another window

Another window

We had lunch in the cute Talisman cafe, named after a nearby battery.

We had lunch in the cute Talisman cafe, named after a nearby battery.

Driving through the gorge

Driving through the gorge

The historic Waikino station

The historic Waikino station

The Victoria Battery and cyanide tanks

The Victoria Battery and cyanide tanks

We certainly had a great time rediscovering some of the stunning spots in our local area, and hopefully it won’t be too long before we have our next adventure.

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Home Sweet Home

Well I guess this is the final official “Road Trip” blog post, as we’re no longer on the road and no longer in the air, we’ve touched down safely in New Zealand and we’re back “home” in Tauranga.

On Monday morning in New York we were sad to say Goodbye to Lance as he headed to Spokane to visit friends, but not so sad to say Goodbye to our hotel in Queens as we headed to JFK airport for our very easy six hour flight to Los Angeles.

Dropping off the Chrysler at JFK airport.  It had 12,949 miles on it when we picked it up, 17,858 when we dropped it off - a 4909 mile road trip!

Dropping off the Chrysler at JFK airport. It had 12,949 miles on it when we picked it up, 17,858 when we dropped it off - a 4909 mile road trip!

Once we got to LAX we had a few hours to wait for our Qantas flight to Auckland, which was fortunate because our flight was cancelled due to the Peru volcanic eruption!  Luckily us Kiwis aren’t as scared of a bit of ash as our Aussie mates, so we hitched a ride with Air New Zealand instead, no worries!  We even got into Auckland two hours earlier than the Qantas flight and got to catch up with our wonderful Mums who were there to greet us.

I was nervous about being back in Tauranga, as the UK has really become “home” to me over the last two years, but it has truly been lovely to be back.  We’ve had a chance to catch up with some friends and family already, check out the town (nothing’s changed) and the weather has even been beautiful.

Mt Maunganui - Home Sweet Home.

Mt Maunganui - Home Sweet Home.

Nathan and I are already planning our next road trip here in beautiful New Zealand, so although our USA road trip adventure is over, keep an eye out for some more adventures closer to home.  Thank you so much to everyone for reading the blog, I really hope you’ve enjoyed it.  oxo

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Pocono 500 NASCAR race

NASCAR is fun.  You know, just in case you were wondering…  Because I was wondering, before we went to the Pocono 500 on Sunday.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect…  I’d heard there’d be a lot of rednecks there, and like Indy it’s just cars going around in a circle, except Indy cars are faster.  I wondered if NASCAR would hold my attention after the excitement of the Indianapolis 500, but I needn’t have worried.

They had a "Fly By" of two army helicopters, then a "Drive By" of this beastie and a few other army vehicles.  That got my attention!

They had a "Fly By" of two army helicopters, then a "Drive By" of this beastie and a few other army vehicles. That got my attention!

We had a good view of the start/finish line

We had a good view of the start/finish line

...and a glimpse of turn one as well.  The Pocono racetrack is different because it only has three corners.  It's known as the "Tricky Triangle".

...and a glimpse of turn one as well. The Pocono racetrack is different because it only has three corners. It's known as the "Tricky Triangle".

To be fair, the racing at Indy was more exciting.  This was partly to do with the speed of the racing and agressiveness of the drivers, and also had a lot to do with following Scott Dixon’s very exciting race.  At NASCAR we didn’t have any NZers in the field so we picked Marcus Ambrose, a Tasmanian V8 supercar driver, to follow instead.  He started in 7th position and that was the best he did all day, until he gave up at around lap 130…  Also, there were no crashes at Pocono.  Not one.

Pit stop!  The pit lane got very busy on each yellow flag, which was awesome for us because we had a great view.  The pit stops were very entertaining to watch.

Pit stop! The pit lane got very busy on each yellow flag, which was awesome for us because we had a great view. The pit stops were very entertaining to watch.

Number 9, Marcos Ambrose.

Number 9, Marcos Ambrose.

Once Ambrose bowed out I followed number 48, Jimmie Johnson, who did considerably better.

Once Ambrose bowed out I followed number 48, Jimmie Johnson, who did considerably better.

So, based on my experience, Indy racing might be more exciting, but that doesn’t make NASCAR any less fun.  I think if I lived in the States it’s definitely the kind of thing that could keep me entertained most weekends during the season.  The atmosphere is fantastic – everyone is very happy and having a great time, and despite cooler bags full of beer being standard issue, no-one was too rowdy or unpleasant.  Also, the weather was perfect which always helps.

Congratulations to Jeff Gordon in the number 24 car who won the Pocono 500.

Congratulations to Jeff Gordon in the number 24 car who won the Pocono 500.

So I can pretty safely say we all had a fantastic day at Pocono on Sunday, and came away with plenty of merch to remember it by.  :)

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Would you like your Big Apple baked or fried?

It’s summer time in New York city and it’s been hot, hot, hot!!  But we’re trying our best to enjoy the heat, because in a few days we’ll be in the middle of a New Zealand winter, brrr!  We drove from Niagara Falls on Wednesday to our hotel in Queens.  Umm, word to the wise…  Don’t stay in Queens!  Not sure where you should stay in New York though, it’s a whole different world…

A day driving - boring for some, fun for us!

A day driving - boring for some, fun for us!

We passed a bit of a "milestone" - 4444 miles and counting!

We passed a bit of a "milestone" - 4444 miles and counting!

Hmmm...  Not what usually comes to mind when you think of New Jersey...

Hmmm... Not what usually comes to mind when you think of New Jersey...

Welcome to Queens!  The sign says "A pedestrian was killed crossing here".  Nice.

Welcome to Queens! The sign says "A pedestrian was killed crossing here". Nice.

On Thursday we put our tourist hats on and spent the day on one of those new fandangled double decker bus thingeys.  It’s a great way to see New York, especially if you’re too lazy to walk, like me.  Highlights of the day included spending a couple of hours of quality time in the Disney store (yes, I know they have those in the UK, but this one was amazing!), seeing the progress of the new World Trade Center memorial site, seeing the gorgeous old Brooklyn Bridge, realising that Manhattan is really quite huge and generally riding a bus around all day.  Oh, and driving over the Manhattan bridge at night, just in time to see an incredible fireworks display over the Brooklyn Bridge.  Awesome!

Grand Av Subway station.  The New York subway system could learn a thing or two from London's underground, but it seemed to work for us.

Grand Av Subway station. The New York subway system could learn a thing or two from London's underground, but it seemed to work for us.

Times Square!

Times Square!

Unlimited Advertising...

Unlimited advertising...

...and unlimited traffic too!

...and unlimited traffic too!

The Fuller Building, nicknamed the "Flatiron Building" because of its shape, is 22 floors high and was built in 1902.  1902!!

The Fuller Building, nicknamed the "Flatiron Building" because of its shape, is 22 floors high and was built in 1902. 1902!!

A nice fountain in City Hall park.

A nice fountain in City Hall park.

Even the squirrels seem somehow sinister in New York...

Even the squirrels seem somehow sinister in New York...

I'm on a bus!  And so are they!

I'm on a bus! And so are they!

On Friday it was back to Manhattan to tick a couple of major boxes – the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building!

Manhattan downtown as seen from the Staten Island Ferry

Manhattan downtown as seen from the Staten Island Ferry

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty

Lady Liberty a little closer

Lady Liberty a little closer

I'm on a boat, I'm on a boat, everybody look at me, 'cause I'm sailing on a boat!

I'm on a boat, I'm on a boat, everybody look at me, 'cause I'm sailing on a boat!

Nathan's hot dogs are really popular.

Nathan's hot dogs are really popular.

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building

Nice view from the ESB, including the beautiful Chrysler building.

Nice view from the ESB, including the beautiful Chrysler building.

It's a long way down!!

It's a long way down!!

Hey look, this picture is self-captioned.  :)

Hey look, this picture is self-captioned. :)

We have only one more day remaining of our epic USA road trip, so I think it’s appropriate that we’ll be spending it driving and watching NASCAR racing!  After that we’ll be on a plane and heading back to New Zealand.  Keep an eye out for one more blog post, but it might be a few days away.

Thanks for coming with us on our journey, it’s been fun!!

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The Mighty Falls!

Monday was another driving day for us, but a nice, unexpected surprise, we ended up driving through part of Canada!  The first thing we noticed about Canada was how smooth and nice the roads are compared with the USA.  The other thing that amused us was the place names – we drove through Windsor, London, Paris and Hamilton.

Bridge to Canada

Bridge to Canada

Awesome Canadian Roads

Awesome Canadian Roads

A huge thank you to all the many people who recommended we see Niagara Falls from the Canadian side – I can understand why!!  And if you’re thinking of visiting Niagara Falls in the future, make sure you see them from the Canadian side!  :)

The "American Falls", as seen from Canada

The "American Falls", as seen from Canada

The "Horseshoe Falls", as seen from Canada.  You can also see a "Maid of the Mist" boat in the middle.

The "Horseshoe Falls", as seen from Canada. You can also see a "Maid of the Mist" boat in the middle.

Nathan getting friendly with a local in Canada

Nathan getting friendly with a local in Canada

Tuesday we stayed on the American side to see the falls from another perspective, and went on the Maid of the Mist, which was just awesome!!  You get a stylish blue raincoat and jump on a boat which takes you right past the American falls and then stops right at the foot of the horseshoe falls.  You get absolutely soaked, but it’s incredible!

A Maid of the Mist boat.  We highly recommend doing this!  You get to keep the groovy raincoat too, if you want.

A Maid of the Mist boat. We highly recommend doing this! You get to keep the groovy raincoat too, if you want.

The American Falls, seen from the observation tower on the American side.  You get a better view from Canada, but you get much more "up close and personal" from America.

The American Falls, seen from the observation tower on the American side. You get a better view from Canada, but you get much more "up close and personal" from America.

Wednesday will be a long day driving to our final stop – New York, New York!

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Detroit, Motor City

Warning:  If you are not a car enthusiast, most of this blog post may not interest you.  Having said that, if you’re not a car enthusiast you probably got bored of this blog a long time ago…  Bring on the cars!!

Friday we said goodbye to Chicago and headed east into Indiana and then Michigan to Detroit.  I drove most of the way, and the roads ranged from pot-holed, narrow lanes to long, smooth multi-lane highways, and everything in between.  It was a lovely day though, and nice to just have a quiet drive without a million stops along the way.  We even had time for a dip in the pool at our hotel when we arrived.

Saturday we went to the Henry Ford Museum, which disappointingly didn’t have most of their cars on show due to renovations, but was still an entertaining day trip.  It would be a great place to visit for families as there are heaps of interactive exhibits and fun things for kids to do.

A 1962 experimental Mustang.

A 1962 experimental Mustang.

Nathan in a 1975 Combine Harvester.

Nathan in a 1975 Combine Harvester.

The Oscar Mayer Weiner-mobile.

The Oscar Mayer Weiner-mobile.

The Dymaxion House was designed to be built after the war using old aircraft factories.  It was cheap, lightweight and could be assembled in a few days.  Oh, and it's completely round!  The concept lacked funding and never took off...

The Dymaxion House was designed to be built after the war using old aircraft factories. It was cheap, lightweight and could be assembled in a few days. Oh, and it's completely round! The concept lacked funding and never took off...

We got to have a go at putting a few parts on a 1917 Model T Ford.  They take it apart every morning and let the visitors put it back together!

We got to have a go at putting a few parts on a 1917 Model T Ford. They take it apart every morning and let the visitors put it back together!

The "Tower of Power".  You cranked the handle to generate power, which was measured in 40 watt light bulbs.  It was hard work!

The "Tower of Power". You cranked the handle to generate power, which was measured in 40 watt light bulbs. It was hard work!

Sunday we saw the Walter P Chrysler Museum, which is significantly smaller than the Henry Ford Museum, but for car enthusiasts we HIGHLY recommend it.

Appropriate parking for the 300C.

Appropriate parking for the 300C.

1934 Chrysler Airflow - the first car to be designed in a wind tunnel!  This was my favourite car in the museum - it looked very "Al Capone" gangster-ish.

1934 Chrysler Airflow - the first car to be designed in a wind tunnel! This was my favourite car in the museum - it looked very "Al Capone" gangster-ish.

1953 Hudson Hornet.  Whether you're a "Driving Miss Daisy" or a "Doc Hudson" fan, this car is cool either way!

1953 Hudson Hornet. Whether you're a "Driving Miss Daisy" or a "Doc Hudson" fan, this car is cool either way!

1956 Custom Royal Lancer D-500.  Complete with sound system - an actual record player!

1956 Custom Royal Lancer D-500. Complete with sound system - an actual record player!

1955 Chrysler 300, named because of the 300 horsepower Hemi V8 engine - the most powerful production passenger car engine in the world at the time.

1955 Chrysler 300, named because of the 300 horsepower Hemi V8 engine - the most powerful production passenger car engine in the world at the time.

1950 Jeep "Jeepster"

1950 Jeep "Jeepster"

1969 Dodge Charger Daytona.  Also known as the Plymouth Superbird, or "The King".

1969 Dodge Charger Daytona. Also known as the Plymouth Superbird, or "The King".

Test driving* a 1999 Plymouth Prowler.  *I wish...

Test driving* a 1999 Plymouth Prowler. *I wish...

Aaah, the classic Dodge Charger.  I heart American muscle cars.

Aaah, the classic Dodge Charger. I heart American muscle cars.

Other than being “Motor City”, Detroit is also famous, or infamous, for being a bit run-down.  What people often don’t mention, is this is a stark contrast from Detroit’s “glory days” when it was obviously a rich, prosperous, beautiful city.  Much of this beauty is still evident in the magnificent buildings in the down-town area.  Some are lovingly restored and maintained.  Others, are not…

General Motors World Headquarters

General Motors World Headquarters

Inside the very impressive Guardian Building

Inside the very impressive Guardian Building

The breathtakingly beautiful Michigan Theatre was built in 1926 and could seat over 4000.  It is now used as a parking garage.

The breathtakingly beautiful Michigan Theatre was built in 1926 and could seat over 4000. It is now used as a parking garage.

Looking towards the back of the theatre.  It was partially demolished in 1976, but you can still imagine how grand it must have been.

Looking towards the back of the theatre. It was partially demolished in 1976, but you can still imagine how grand it must have been.

I think this was originally the lobby.  It's now a home for several families of birds...

I think this was originally the lobby. It's now a home for several families of birds...

It’s hard to believe we only have one more week to go.  Next stop, Niagara Falls.

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Chilling in Chi-town.

For the first time during the holiday we’ve managed to have a bit of a break and just relax and take things slower.  It’s been nice to catch our breath, in what’s known as the “Windy City”, Chicago.

Chicago is the beginning (or the end, depending on which way you go!) of Route 66, although being such a big city, there’s not much sign of the old Mother Road.  Except for, of course, the signs…

Chicago is the traditional start point of Route 66.

Chicago is the traditional start point of Route 66.

Of course, we had to be different and go backwards, so it was actually the end point for us.

Of course, we had to be different and go backwards, so it was actually the end point for us.

As well as going end to end of Route 66, we went "Pier to Pier" - from Santa Monica Pier to Navy Pier.

As well as going end to end of Route 66, we went "Pier to Pier" - from Santa Monica Pier to Navy Pier.

We had lunch at Lou Mitchells on Route 66 in Chicago - it's been there since 1923!

We had lunch at Lou Mitchells on Route 66 in Chicago - it's been there since 1923!

If you are looking for Route 66 stuff in the Chicago area, look for the Route 66 museum in Berwyn.  It’s only small, but well worth a visit!

We’ve also enjoyed doing a bit of sightseeing in Chicago.  It feels like the biggest city I’ve ever been to – even though I’ve been to London many times!  The buildings are fascinating, an interesting mix of old and new side by side.  Plus there’s the beautiful Lake Michigan Lakefront.  Add to that some friendly locals and awesome Pizza and I have to say Chicago’s made a pretty good impression on me.  :)

Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park

Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park

Inside Union Station

Inside Union Station

Gorgeous architecture

Gorgeous architecture

Willis Tower - the tallest building in the USA.  (Formally Sears Tower)

Willis Tower - the tallest building in the USA. (Formally Sears Tower)

The view from Willis Tower.  You can see the Hancock building and Lake Michigan.

The view from Willis Tower. You can see the Hancock building and Lake Michigan.

Me, in a glass/perspex box, 103 floors above the ground.  Fun!  They wouldn't let me jump off though...

Me, in a glass/perspex box, 103 floors above the ground. Fun! They wouldn't let me jump off though...

Traditional Chicago "deep dish" pizza at Giordano's.

Traditional Chicago "deep dish" pizza at Giordano's.

Next stop, Detroit!

P.S.  I apologise for the distinct lack of car pictures lately…  Let me make up for that.  oxo

Yes please!

Yes please!

So pretty...

So pretty...

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