Monday, January 30, 2017

I had a dream...

or should I say nightmare.

In my subconscious, I was seated at a President Scumbag (AKA Trump) rally. Nearby were a few people I recognized but have not seen in years. One was dressed up comically in a Red, White and Blue harlequin outfit. Unfortunately, that's where the laughs ended. 

The speeches were laced with "alternative facts" and a heaping dollop of hate. In other words, a continuation of the Billionaire Con Man's campaign prattle. 

His supporters were getting worked up and frothy. In my dream/nightmare I became scared. The crowd's anger was of the almost tactile variety. I heading for an exit practically shoveling aside the hate. The doors were locked. I was trapped. (That's  a clear violation of fire department's safety code!) 

I woke up in emergency services fast mode. My hair was matted down and icy wet. Definitely a nightmare.

I've been checking into the news from far away New Zealand. I see the reality of President P---y Grabber's regime has been a true nightmare. 

A) So far:  The US will emulate East Germany and its infamous Berlin Wall. (That sure worked). We will build an overpriced physical barrier between predominantly White Folks and Brown Folks. Thus showing the world, we can't get along with our immediate neighbors. Mind you, there was no "Let's get together and see if we can find a workable immigration solution for both Nations." New Zealand's Dominion Newspaper summed it up this way, "Trump's Wall is symbolic of a catastrophic political failure."

B) Gag orders for employees of Federal Agencies? Isn't that Unconstitutional? First Amendment.

C) Ramping up Military Spending. The US already shells out more $$$$$ than the next six largest Military Nations combined! How many times do we need to blow up the world to make it safe for our way of life? 

D) Executive Order for oil pipeline construction with little regard for environmental effects. 

E) The beginning of the end of Obamacare with no program to replace it. 

F) A ninety day ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries and 120 day ban on all refugees. Faster than one can say Bigot, 130 million people (mostly Muslims)  are now "Persona non grata" from entering the former Land of Religious Freedom. Now, that's Un-American. If you don't see my point, I dare you to substitute your race or religion for the word Muslim in the above note. Now, how do you feel? 


All this unpredictability erupting from a formerly stable World Power has caused an international outlash of protests. The symbolic  "Doomsday Clock" has been bumped up 30 seconds to 2.5 minutes to Midnight/Armageddon. The last time it's been so close to "End of Days" was in 1953. That's something a new President should not be proud of. 

What really irks me about all this is knowing the hate mongers/racists now have a Representative in the White House. I think about all the times I've heard the use of the "N" word in reference to Obama, or a recent call for a "Second Crusade" to deal with the "Muslim Problem," or overheard the unfounded beliefs that  "Jew Bastards " control the World's banks and media. All these misfits are now smiling. I'm not. 

Personally, I believe President Tax Evader is insane. I can prove it too. At Zero-Dark-Thirty am, he should be snuggling next to the ever-enticing First Lady Model. Instead? He's Tweeting out angry texts while wearing an expensive suit with an American flag pinned to his lapel. As a single guy who might be a bit harmlessly crazy, I would call this act insane. 
(Maybe he's ingesting too many of these). 

BTW. I hate writing these blogs. In the past, I might not have fully agreed with the agendas of former Presidents. However, I never considered their programs to be unconstitutional or truly evil. (Maybe stupid, but not demon inspired). America is going down the twisted trail of Nationalism. President Combover's "America First!" (AKA F--k the rest of the World, we are going to do what we want) policies have already alienated our Allies.  I predicted this in my last rant. I just didn't think it would happen so fast. 

The America I was once proud to be a member of, used to be a guiding light of Democratic Ideals. (All men are created equal...). Now, we are a sputtering candle of intolerance and lowlife concepts. The US Constitution is being severely tested. It's up to the Senators, Congressmen, Supreme Court and We the People to stand up for what's right. 

President Bluster ran a campaign based upon Us vs. Them. It's safe to say I'm a Them. 

Lastly, I'll forward a link to all those who say to me (and others like me) "Get over it! Trump is the President!" I know he's the President, but I don't have to like it or him.

From far far away,
Good night,

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Windy Place...

For those following along, you know I've mentioned New Zealand is often more than breezy. At times, the President Trump winds (read insane) are both scary and deadly. I've read accounts of huts being blown away (with unhappy campers inside), trains getting pushed off their tracks (passenger trains, not freight) and roofs getting peeled off like an orange rind. That's freaking windy.

So what did I do? 

Go for a hike up to a ridge line where Mount Holdsworth (4,687") resides, on a day when the winds were forecast to be more than refreshing. 

For a change, the trail was in amazing shape. I made great time getting to the altitude of petering out trees. With no green matter to block the gusts, I was exposed to a dramatic wind chill. I quickly donned my trusty Windstopper jacket. That helped. Eventually the only living things up on the ridge were grasses (blown horizontal) and me. The grasses didn't have a choice to be there, I did. After a Mach One gust brought me to my knees (literally). I went into full retreat. 

Later on, I discovered winds were in excess of 75 MPH. According to : "65-75mph: can barely walk forward, gusts of this type will knock you on your ass! 
75+ Go Home."

'Tis better to retreat at times, to live to see another mountain. 

Another safety tip from the W W Jew,

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Hesitant Mountain...

A  few days ago I left New Plymouth for the object of my desires. On the outskirts of town, I saw what I came here for-Mount Egmont/Taranaki. 

Captain Cook bestowed the somewhat dormant volcano with the Anglo name in 1770. 
The British explorer dubbed the peak after a former Lord of the Admiralty. (What a 
suck up!) The Maori name goes back a lot further then 1770. Personally, I prefer the indigenous handle more.

For a change, the sky was bearing more blue than gray. The incessant winds were taking a breather too. The stratovolcano loomed as symmetrical as a child's crayon rendition of a mountain. I liked it! 

I stopped at the Visitor Center for a map and hiking suggestions. I received both. 

I pitched some gear into my pack with no thought of making a summit bid. I headed uphill. 

The trail was fast and user friendly. In a short time, I was at the base of the summit trail. "Well, I'll just go up the mountain a bit. I'll get better pix." The trail started with stairs but quickly degenerated into a pumice scree field. The one slippery step forward, possibly two slippery steps back variety. It was pretty discouraging. Then a descending hiker wiped out right in front of me. She picked herself up, brushed off 

the grit and said, "this is the worse part of the climb. It gets easier once you get on solid rock." Good to know.

I glanced at the sky, felt for any insidious breeze and gave myself approval to continue on. I passed fellow hikers clad only in cotton and tennis shoes. I guess I was more prepared than that. Barely. I hiked in in a stuttering manner. More like a "Should I stay or should I go" mode than with any great determination. I plodded on.

Finally, I curled around a notch only to find a field of White Death below. (Remember, even the locals are bummed about the lack of summer here). I dropped into the bowl and skidded to a stop. Hmmm. The summit was about 100" above me, but through a very angled icy slope. Joy! Joy! I made a half hearted attempt. No Bueno. Five minutes later, I girded myself for one last try. It's not easy punching steps in snow while wearing trail runners! Second time was a charm. I was on top a few minutes later.

Me and many other ill-prepared hikers were fortunate the Maori Gods granted us Pakeha (White Folks) safe passage from the elements on this 8,261" Beauty. 

Was it worth it? Heck yeah! 

However, always remember these words from Mountain Man, Ed Viesturs. "Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory." 

Enjoy the pix!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Good Die...


I met Cathy long ago on the Bike Across Kansas  (BAK) Ride. We carpooled out to the middle of a stark windswept landscape, set up our tents and waited for the ride to start on the morrow. The winds kicked up, lying our tents down low. Tornado warning sirens went off sporadically throughout the night. 

It didn't matter, Cathy woke groggily, sporting a toothy grin and joked about the scary weather. "That's Kansas! See why I left?" 

That was the essence of this tiny Powerhouse. Cathy generated smiles, hugs and laughs. She was always handy with a compliment, a favor or a welfare check. She was an incredible friend to me and so many others. 

I nicknamed her, "Legs of Steel." All that running she did gave her frog legs. Lots of power and muscle. She would win or place in the many races she participated in. I kidded her about having to build an addition in her home just to hold her trophies. Of course, she was humble about her accomplishments. "There weren't that many women in my age category!" 

Then the scourge of bone cancer attacked her. She sent out notifications to her friends and family of updates on what was going on. She admonished her fans to go out and play and have a good time. She reminded us that life is too short. She was inspiring right to the end.

Cathy, I'll miss you. The World is now at a loss that such a tiny, bright candle of goodness has been snuffed out.

RIP Legs of Steel. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Cow Poop and Private...


would have been a more apt name for the scenic sounding "White Cliffs Walkway." 

After a day of loitering around the CBD (Kiwi talk for Central Business District) of New Plymouth, I had to do something. I set off in the morning to the above mentioned hike. 

The owner of the hotel I was staying at made an off-hand comment when I told her of  my day's intentions. "The local council is having issues with the property owners along the tract. It might be a bit strange." Well, the weather here has been strange (for so-called summer) why not the walkways? 

After about an hour's drive, I came face to face with a warning sign: "Private Road. No vehicles allowed past this point. Park at the bridge." 

OK. Not wanting to cause trouble or to be an Ugly American (we already have one in the White House), I parked my tiny sedan at the bridge. Then I walked...and walked...and walked for about 1.5 miles of one lane dirt or gravel road, while pirouetting around cow poop piles. It was cold and windy too. At last, I left the road and crested a few hills before I came to a prominent point. 

From the photos, one can see the violence of the Tasman Sea AND the Irish Emerald Isle look of the countryside. There's a reason for all that green. It rains an awful lot and it's too clammy for the grass to dry out. Hence, there's heaps of shocking green. 

Welcome to my summer in New Zealand. Just outside of New Plymouth, there's a large volcanic mountain. I haven't seen it yet, but I've heard it's there. Tomorrow, I'll get closer and hike along its flanks. There's a rumor, the sun might make a rare appearance, but that's just a Weather Channel rumor.

Wish me luck!
Come on Summer!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The trees kept getting in...

the way of the views! Is an apt way to describe the Atene Skyline Tract. The eye candy rewards are few. Those darn trees obscured the possible photo ops that beckoned below those way too narrow ridge lines. I tip toed through a few dicey sections where possible owwies or worse could have happened with one misstep. I came across ferns so huge they required their own Zip Codes. Those Jurassic Park plants kept striking me on my exposed body parts, greatly impeding my forward progress. The tract went missing a few times as I found myself off on a goat trail. I know it was a goat trail because I saw and smelled a goat. 

In other words, another day of Kiwi hiking. Oh well, I got a great workout for those 11 miles. 

Now I'm in a cozy New Plymouth hotel room while another squall rages outside. It's going to last another 24 hours. 

Good thing there's a movie theatre and bars in this town.

BTW. The locals concur that this Southern Summer of 16/17 stinks on ice. (Like our new President) Spit! 


Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Hut too far...

After spending two nights at the Big Bush Holiday Park, (their motto: We Welcome you 
like the Black Death) I set off uphill on my second of six Great Walks. The Lake Waikaremoana Track.

It was a 1,500" ascent to a ridge line overlooking a large lake lying amongst a series of 
rounded hills. It looked sort of Appalachian in nature except for the forest. I was hiking 
within a temperate rain forest. The trees were gnarly, misshapen and draped with green 
mossy beards. The forest type would have been an appropriate backdrop for the "Headless Horseman" chase scene. It wasn't a "Joy!Joy!Happy! Happy!" looking place. It was sort of spooky. 

Perched at the highest prominence of the ridge line sat the Panekire Hut. If you've been following along, by now you know my Hut angst.

I made entry while saying "Hello!" to my future too-cozy roommates. A quick look around 
made me realize the joint was dirtier and grimier than most. (That says a lot!) My fellow hut mates were cooking on a few backpacker stoves. Strange. Why weren't they using the hut's stove? 

Because the Lake Wiakaremoana Great Walk's Huts didn't have any stoves! Or Toilet Paper! A few huts further down the tract even lacked water! I made the Yank mistake of assuming all Great Walk Huts provided these simple amenities. Silly me! 

However, what these huts provided was a warning sign concerning a rat and mouse infestation in the hovels. The Department of Conservation politely suggested we campers hang our meager provender from the hooks provided. 

I mentioned my no stove plight to a family of Kiwis. The patriarch came through when he said, "No Worries! You can use ours for a few boils." Kiwis are very kind, generous and hospitable. 

That problem solved, I found a reasonable sleeping space with no personal space and pitched my gear on a mattress. (Eventually there were eighteen men, women and children sleeping in a 12"x16" room.) I grabbed my Kindle for a read, and took a seat outside, waiting for dinner 

My library quiet was shattered by the sound of a helicopter landing. Out of the Chopper emerged a Maori crew geared out in "Ghostbusters" attire. (Wasn't Halloween awhile ago?). The headman gathered us around and made a speech. The gist? We're from the Government and we're here to help you. Seems there's been an outbreak of Norovirus along the tract. Another apt name for this bug is the "Lose weight! Ask me how!" Virus. The crew came equipped with spray bottles of diluted Clorox to sterilize all surfaces (including the 
mattresses). They went about their business as I pondered this new development.

I decided to sleep on it and wait to see what manana would bring. 

I was up and about by 5 am. I wasn't the only one. Outside,  a westerly wind was screeching along. There were heaps of clouds scuttering by as well. I made a snap decision. 

I was still dealing with one stubborn virus, I wasn't about to go for twofers. I begged a boil of water, inhaled my trusty shot of instant Starbucks buzz and headed back down the way 
I came.

If I went on, a sixteen mile trek in wind and maybe rain awaited me. My goal would have 
been a hovel contains 39 other two-legged strangers and who knows how many four-legged vermin. Not very appealing. Was it? 

I'm in Napier hotel room which according to New Zealand's DOC would sleep about a billion campers with gear. I'm not too bummed to have it to myself, although female type company would be nice too. (I'm still  looking for my potential First Lady.) 


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Eight Cups of coffee...

later, I set off for my first of six New Zealand Great Walks. (Tongariro Northern Circuit)

Why did I drink all that Java Juice? 
I needed to gird myself for another day of cool, grey and possibly wet weather. The method behind the caffeine is to get so wired, I have to do something with all that black liquid energy. 

 Off I went at a brisk pace for a short day of hiking. My goal was to arrive before the hordes at the first hut. I wanted to score the choicest nighty-night spot in the joint.

The trail was relatively flat and uneventful. I didn't shoot one photo. I made it to the hut before the winds kicked in. sleeping pad sat alone. It was away from the no-personal space how-many-mattresses-can-we-cram on a platform arrangement. I tossed my ULA backpack on the loner. Mission Accomplished. 

I kicked back, read, drank tea and waited. Backpackers began to drift in. I acted as the unofficial Welcome Wagon. Eventually the lashing rains arrived with a sustained 30 MPH wind. Temperatures began to fall. The tent campers abandoned ship. Before one could say, "G'Day!" there were about 40 relative strangers crammed into a space smaller than Trump's (spit) broom closet. 

Yet, more arrived. A father and son team wearing nothing but cotton showed up in the wash-cycle wet mode.  Ironically, they were both Eagle Scouts from Tennessee. So much for the Boy Scout motto-"Be Prepared." They shivered by the fire staving off hyperthermia. 

At 7:30 pm, Marcel the Hut Ranger arrived. He gave a safety talk, told a few stories and informed us about the weather. "I think this storm will be gone in the morning. When I get the forecast at breakfast time, I'll let you know." 

We guests retired to our all-too-communal bedroom and tried to sleep. Not an easy task with a symphony of rattling windows, snoring hikers and one coughing, sputtering W W Jew. 

Next morning met us with a gentle drizzle minus the cold breeze. We packed silently while waiting to hear our fate. 

Marcel strolled in around 7, "The forecast is a good one for your crossing. It should get sunny. The winds will die down to a mere 40 KPH (25 miles/Hour). Get out of here before it changes. I don't want to see any of you back here tonight." 

I was the first out the door. 

The Tongariro Crossing was the goal of the day. An approximate 2,200" climb to a saddle straddling two still-active volcanoes. 

It's also the most popular day hike on the North Island. A whole cottage industry has sprung up to cater to these day tripper Warriors. Tours can practically be booked while you are ordering fries at a Burger King. The Crossing has apparently achieved "Bucket List" status. I shared the trail with this ill-prepared for the elements, selfie stick carrying mob. 

It was a steady climb to the first of three ascents. As I ticked off each ridge line, the wind speed turned up a notch. (A 120 MPH gust was reported within the past week). I donned my Windstopper Jacket after the first ridge. I guesstimated the winds to be in the 40 MPH range. It was enough, that I wasn't comfortable getting too close to the edge of the ridge. I shot photos, had other hikers shoot me and thought, "Now this is good scenery!" There's mineral laden lakes bearing blue-green hues,  steam vents off-gassing sulfur (rotten egg smell), one Red Crater and of course the mountains. It was all worth the physical effort. 

I descended to less winds and warmer temperatures. Once again, I was the first to make entry at the hut. Unfortunately, there were no hermit mattresses lying off to one side. I chose one adjacent to a wall. At least I would half my exposure to flailing arms and legs. Trampers arrived displaying tired yet satisfied looks. The most difficult leg of the circuit was in the books. 

I woke, saw a good window of weather and decided to walk back to civilization. I yearned for a hotel, hot shower and no roommates whose names I did not know. After 14 miles of effort, I got my wish. 

In retrospect, I would have signed up just to do the Crossing. I'm starting to get to the point where a night without a hut is fine with me. 

From a comfy Quality Inn in Napier, NZ

PS. I picked up antibiotics from the local hospital. Total cost for seeing a Doc and medicine = $65.00. Why is our health care so expensive? 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The coldest winter I ever saw...

was a summer in New Zealand." 
Jeff Sambur

Prologue: As I was having my Passport stamped at Kiwi Customs, the friendly Agent said this, "Welcome to New Zealand! Be sure to pick up your complimentary cold germ before you leave the airport. You can choose to be infected with a head or chest cold, or both."

"Heck! I'll take both!" I can never pass up a good deal.

Now The Saga:
The Round the Mountain backpack trip in Tongariro National Park.

Laden with a frightfully heavy backpack, and a energy sucking virus, I set off to my first Hut. The reason for the ridiculous load was a crappy forecast. Gale force winds, threat of rain and sub-summery temperatures. I was carrying kilos of warm clothes. 

Let's talk Kiwi wind. It's no summer breeze and it won't make you feel fine. When the winds take the Express Train out of nearby Antarctica, there's practically ice crystals accompanying them. It's an instant chill despite the sunshine. I tried to limit my fuss breaks, the sweating to clammy cycle was too harsh. 

It can get psychotic windy in Kiwi-Land. Long ago a backcountry Hut near Mount Cook blew away. There were four unhappy campers inside. Now I noticed steel guy-wires holding down outhouses. That's extreme wind. 

A word about Kiwi Huts: The sleeping arrangements are not set to Americans idea of personal space and privacy. Mattresses are placed side by side on a wooden platform. There's not a toothpick-thin space of wiggle room between them. You can be facing a grimy stranger (like me) face to face with less than an arm's length separation. It freaked me out. I ended up carrying my mattress to the kitchen area when everyone settled down. 

Back to the Hike: The tramp was described as a route. Luckily, neon-orange poles are placed about 60 feet apart. Without them, one could quickly get lost in a sometimes featureless landscape. The trail (that's a joke!) is more like an obstacle course. There's relentless climbs and descents bisecting gulches, gorges and canyons. There's no wimpy switchbacks or contouring involved. The routes goes straight up and straight down. It's in-your-face hiking. 

The other obstructions to forward progress are mud, bowling ball-sized boulders, tree roots, scree fields and icy river crossings. (I was up to my waist in one snow-melt waterway.) There were times I was crawling on my knees. I fell a few times each day. On the really hard parts, I averaged about one mile/Hour. It was all so humbling. 

I returned back to civilization the most thumped and exhausted I've ever been from a backpack trip. Ahh...but the scenery was there. Tongariro National Park is comprised of still active volcanoes. I stumbled my way around one of them.

Oh yeah, I also nearly chopped off my finger while splitting firewood! So far, this has been a rough start to my Kiwi Adventure. 

Now as I cough, sneeze and drink an IPA outside my hotel room, I'm feeling warm for the first time since my arrival here. Maybe my fortune is changing. I can only hope.

On the positive side, locals are incredibly friendly and I've adapted to driving on the opposite side of the road. 

Tomorrow I'll start another three-night backpack trip on a far gentler trail. Wish me luck. 

Come on Summer!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A day in Auckland..

It took me nine hours of sleep to get over the forever flight from LAX to Auckland, New Zealand. Today, I had a very productive day of picking up supplies for two months of Kiwi-style hiking and sightseeing. After my chores were done, I strolled around.

First off, Auckland is not only the largest city in NZ, it's also the most cosmopolitan. There's people from everywhere here. I overheard many strange tongues including the Kiwi version of English. I had meal choices from all over the globe, even Botswana! The locals are friendly and everyone seems to get along quite splendidly.

This two-island Nation has a total population of 4.7 million. Tomorrow, I'll be happily leaving one third of those Kiwis behind. I'm ready to see some seriously Southern natural places. After spending two months in Scottsdale, I want out of the city scene.

New Zealand! Show me the scenery!


Sunday, January 1, 2017

So Long ...


I'm worn out from being a lonely Blue Jew in an overwhelming Sea of Red.
Next stop, New Zealand. Those British White Folks sought peace with the native Maoris instead of war. See? It's possible to get along. 

I'm looking forward to meeting my first Hobbit. 

Happy New Year in an uncertain World,

PS. To be honest, this is what I'm escaping from. I'm in Fight or Flight mode from President-Elect SB Tweets. See below. Enemies? Aren't we all mostly tax paying Americans? 

Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”