Family time and Road Trip

Living on a sailboat and anchoring and cruising in places where there is no reliable Wifi makes staying in touch with family a challenge. So going back to the USA and Canada  during the Christmas holiday was special as we got to spend some time with our parents and all of our children.

During this trip home, we also did a fabulous road trip with Denny’s daughter Jenny and hubby Tyler, Jenny’s close friend Kathleen and her fiancé, Jeff and our friends Bill and Ella. As the saying goes ‘Go West young man, go West!!’. It was a 3-day road trip to Deadwood, nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It used to be a lawless wild west town started by the Black Hills Gold rush and it harbored many gambling saloons and brothels. It’s the very place where Wild Bill Hicock and Calamity Jane met their demise.

Jenny planned the whole trip and she was a fantastic hostess. On the way we made a stop in Sturgis for lunch and we tried to imagine what the town would look like during the famous yearly bike rally. Deadwood is now just a modern day gambling town with a lot of history. We tried to re-live the history by dressing up in Wild West costumes and acting out our part!

Deadwood

As far as gambling went, we tried our hand at Blackjack and Roulette and Denny and I can say that we didn’t win or loose but we all had loads of fun and laughter. An afternoon was spent playing shuffle board, drinking beer and eating lots of free popcorn which only made us want to drink more beer. We decided to have a shuffle board tournament with some serious competition. Some of us took it more seriously than others! The pictures tell the story!

Denny 1

Playing with the camera instead of shuffle board

Tyler 1

I can drink beer and play at the same time

Ella 1

I am gonna win!

Barb 1

What is Ella doing that I am not!!

Bill M Deadwood 2017 (32 of 175)

What to do. Wipe them out, hit and stick, how fast to push, where to aim????

But the highlight was our visit to Mount Rushmore. It was a beautiful, cool, sunny day. Even the drive there was spectacular with a stop here and there to play in the snow. Bill M Deadwood 2017 (80 of 175)

Bill M Deadwood 2017 (101 of 175)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill M Deadwood 2017 (115 of 175)We were able to wander around the park and museum at leisure without having to jostle through thousands of tourists that normally go there during the summer vacation. We were told that during peak season an average of 10,000 people a day visit the park. Pictures do not capture the enormity and grandeur of the sculpted faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. I tried to the a selfie of the moment with Denny!! Bill M Deadwood 2017 (138 of 175)Bill M Deadwood 2017 (140 of 175)

Bill, please take the pic!!

Bill, please take the pic!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided that maybe we could make this an annual Christmas Holiday event and next time we would hope that the rest of our children could be there as well!!

2016 Adapting to Circumstances

January 1 – August 17

Posting By Barb:

I love to have good Chinese Takeout. We always make a point of finishing off with the Fortune Cookies. We would each take our turn reading out loud the “fortune” but we would begin with ‘When in bed….’ And finish with the fortune cookie prophecy. It usually created some fun after dinner conversations. But a recent Fortune Cookie gave me an ‘A-Ha’ life moment. It read ‘A wise man adapts himself to circumstances as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it’.

A HA!! That’s what living and sailing our little boat is all about to us. Adapting and shaping to circumstances. Maybe we are wiser than we thought we were!! So circumstances have taken us to in many directions for the first half of 2016 and plans have been continually changing.

IMG_0743In January we were back together again on Landfall in NZ. FirstIMG_0650 - Copy time as an old married couple. We travelled back with full ‘boat supply’ suitcases, including a box with our new ‘Oru’ kayak. (comment by Denny – I hope Barb is good at origami or it could fold up and down she will go).  DSC_9406 - Copy (2)The month was a whirlwind of visits with our new and old ‘cruising friends and local friends. We also managed to complete a short list of boat maintenance and did a little leisurely sightseeing. We weren’t very diligent capturing on camera the moments with our friends or our touristy adventures but we had some great memorable times together. And this moment I did capture; Denis unable to be a menace!!IMG_0648

 

DSC_6241 - Copy - CopyIn February we were back in South Dakota, USA. We worked hard on our cabin (the cabin is owned by Dennis and his 2 cousins). We finished the basement to include a bathroom, bedrooms, storage space and laundry room. We managed to do the rough work and contracted out the visually finishing work. It wasn’t all work; we did manage to spend fun times with Dennis’s daughter, Jenny and her husband Tyler and with his cousin Steve and wife Andrea.  The plan had been to work in South Dakota for a year but we were happy that circumstances changed and we were headed back to NZ to continue sailing.

But before heading back we decided to have some more family and friend fun time. Road trip with Denny’s Dad to my sister’s condo in Florida!! Denny did all the driving and Eugene and I took turns navigating or sometimes we both navigated at the same time with Eugene saying turn Right and me saying turn left and Denny going straight until we could agree to a route.

Franklin, Tennessee

Franklin, Tennessee

Along the way we made a couple of stops. First stop Franklin, Tennessee to visit the site where 10,000 died during the civil war. It was a must see place for me after reading the book ‘Widow of the South’. Next stop, Alabama to visit with Eugene’s and our friends Bernie and Randi. We stayed the night and had a great, late night discussion. It all started with a round table question to each of us ‘Are you happy’? IMG_0923It’s amazing how often people don’t stop to think whether they are truly happy or not! Denny has a knack of getting people into some deep, soul searching discussions. Last stop Florida Condo. While there we had a visit from Denny’s daughter Becky and her friend Rachel, my sister Caroline and husband Vic and finally we spent some time with my other sister Karen and George, owners of the beautiful condo. As we were there for Easter we decided to drop in and visit our friends Brad and Gloria from ‘Kindred Spirits’ who also have a condo in Florida. We danced the night away and enjoyed being Easter Bunnies as we traded chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday. We did a lot of tourist stuff including a tour of the Yuengling Beer brewery and a few other beer watering holes. What fun we all had!!DSC_9488 - CopyIMG_0925 IMG_0699 IMG_0133 - Copy

 

IMG_0704IMG_0826From Florida I headed back to Canada for a quick visit with family again while Dennis did the road trip back to Minneapolis by himself. He managed a quick stop to visit friends he met while in NL. They have since moved to Florida.

We flew back to NZ together to start our sailing plans when circumstances again changed our plans and I headed back to Canada for a family emergency. I stayed in Canada to help my parents while Dad recovered from major  surgery. So fortunate to have the freedom to stay and help my parents, to have been able to be there and spend precious family quality time  to have Denny  be so understanding while he continued working alone on Landfall in the NZ rainy winter.

But we are both back on Landfall now, docked at Marsden Cove and in the morning after a visit from Customs we are finally sailing again.

First stop Fiji, then New Caledonia and then back to NZ unless circumstances happen and like the water shaping itself around our boat we will shape ourselves to whatever the new day will bring.NZ to Fiji

Road trip with Dylan, River Rafting

March 11 – 15

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

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Posting by Barb:

Last day of the road trip and it was Dylan’s day. After doing the fantasy, high in the sky, volcanic , and below ground adventures the last quest would be in the water, river rafting to be more exact. Dylan booked in for an afternoon of river rafting. I was going to take it easy for the day and let my muscles absorb the pain of the Tongariro Alpine crossing. Dylan managed to negotiate for a free 3 hour mountain bike rental to go with the rafting experience. DSC_8045So the plan was for us to pick up the bike and then for me to relax in the sun until he was done. Well, when we got to the bike rental the lady working there did a fantastic sales job and convinced me to do the bike and river rafting tour.

We were given directions on how to get to the mountain bike trail which meandered along the Tongariro river.DSC_8039 It was a beautiful trail and it gave us a chance to see the river that we would later raft on. Dylan has been mountain biking in Newfoundland so he was off and racing down the track which would be rated as ‘easy’ for any Mountain biker. I had not been on a bike for years and years. After an hour or so I was feeling pretty comfortable and managed to stay on the bike and on the trail with a little exception of a nose dive into the bushes to avoid the tree. Just walked away with a scratch and my pride was a little hurt. But what hurt the most was the leg muscle burn. As if the Alpine crossing wasn’t enough?

We made a stop at the Turangi Trout farm and watched some anglers fishing and catching some pretty impressive trout. It was a catch and release program as they try to rebuild the fish stock.

We made our way back to the River rafting hut and got suited up for our next adventure. I was given an extra little fleece sweater as they were aware of my dislike for cold water. And so we were off! IMG_1802This wasn’t a gentle float down a river it was a hard paddle in rapids with the guide yelling ‘harder, harder, paddle harder, ok we made it again. Thank you folks!!’.

IMG_1784It was 3 hours of intense paddling and some floating with a couple of swim spots. For the swim we were given the option to get off and climb up a rock outcrop to jump into the river. I declined but Dylan did an impressive Topsy Turvy jump into the cold water. DSCN3750We did one more stop where people could jump into the water in a spot where the water was gentle and calm. Three hours of rafting and we arrived safely back. Although being with Dylan made me feel young as he challenged me to do things I may not have ordinarily done all I can say is that every muscle ached after the last 24 hours of hiking, cycling and paddling.IMG_1812

That was the end of a truly exceptional bonding experience with Dylan but it was time for me to head back to the boat. Cyclone ‘Pam’ was heading to NZ after devastating Vanuatu and I wanted to be back to help Denny in case the weather got really bad. Dylan continued his NZ travels. We did hope  to get together for one more road trip before he headed back home to another island, Newfoundland!

Road trip with Dylan, Tongariro Alpine Crossing

March 11 – 15

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

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Posting by Barb:

Tongariro Elevation chart

Tongariro Elevation chart

DSC_7981My turn and I of course would pick a hike. Tongariro crossing is something I wanted to do since I arrived in New Zealand. It wasn’t something Denny was keen on doing with the trouble he has been having with his knee. The hike is just short of 20 km and it traversed over a glacially carved out valley and quickly started ascending to the highest point called the Red Crater before starting the long descent to the car park.

Mount Doom

Mount Doom

The day started at 6 am and we had to drive to the end point of the hike where we took a 20 minute shuttle bus to the beginning of the track. I did feel like an ant climbing the ant hill as hundreds of people were being dropped of by shuttle buses and we all walked single file through a well groomed and stepped trail. Regardless of the vast number of people it was a stunning hike! We could see Mount Ngauruhoe in the distance and this was the site for Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings!

Let's go to the top Mom

Let’s go to the top Mom

There was a side trip we could take to climb to the top and Dylan was very excited about doing that. I was adamant about not doing it as I knew we still had quite a long hike back to the car and my knees were feeling a little shaky already.

As we approached the

At the top on Red Crater

At the top on Red Crater

Red Crater we could smell the sulphur and saw pockets of steam rising from the ground. I found it invigorating to be walking in an active volcanic area. There had actually been a small eruption in 2012 so there were lots of warnings to be vigilant and to obey all warnings! They did have red flashing lights installed which waned people to quickly exit the track if flashing. The track continued from the red undulating red ridge to brilliant emerald lakes. It was a feast of

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

 

colours but there were long lines for the best picture spots. From there it was all downhill and I felt the stress on the leg muscles. We practically sprinted down the hill to catch the 3:30 shuttle bus and save us another kilometer walk to the car. We arrived at 3:35 and decided to finish the walk versus waiting and hour for the next shuttle. Spectacular hike that I could tick off my ‘to do’ list.

Road trip with Dylan, Waitomo

March 11 – 15

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

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Posting by Barb:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur next stop was Dylan’s pick, a Waitomo caving adventure. Back to the world of Glow Worms but with some heart thumping action. The first Waitomo quest was called Black Odyssey. It was a couple of hours in the cave with emphasis on different caving techniques (zip lines, rope work, swings, heights) over glowworms. Before being able to participate we would have to pass a test where we had to squeeze ourselves in OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa tight box and move through a narrow cardboard tunnel to come out at another opening. I didn’t even attempt that test as I am slightly Claustrophobic.  Dylan would have to do that escapade all by himself. All I can say about that adventure was that when I saw him again he was grinning from ear to ear. As I looked at the pictures I almost wished I had muddled through the test because I think I may have enjoyed the thrill of climbing and swinging above the Glow Worms.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second Waitomo quest was black water rafting, the Black Labyrinth. It was another couple of hours in a cave but this time we were dressed in wet suits and given a large rubber tube so that we could weave, jump and float our way through the glowworm flecked underworld.  It was dark, cold, wet and we floated and jumped off some ledges to the next pool, rear end first! We even floated by a nice size,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA fresh water eel, which we took a picture of. Although I have a dislike for cold water, I actually did enjoy the tube ride. Lucky for us it was only a 3 hours experience whereas  the Glow Worms live their entire lives underground in the cold, wet caves eating other bugs or each other. Quite a miserable life but they provided such beauty for us!

 

 

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Road trip with Dylan, Hobbiton

March 11 – 15

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

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Posting by Barb:

Dylan and I wanted to do a road trip  to see some of New Zealand and spend some quality time together. Dennis decided to stay behind on Landfall as he had lots of boat projects to work on and he wanted Dylan and I to just have some time to ourselves. We planned our 4 day trip and we each picked places we  we both wanted to see and places we individually wanted to see.

DSC_7832DSC_7919First stop would be Hobbiton!! Yes, it’s a tourist trap but both Dylan and I were huge Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie fans. Actually our love for the story started long before the movie was made when we read the J.R.R. Tolkien’s book the Hobbit. We probably both immersed ourselves in the fantasy at about the same age, many years ago when I was 16 and not so many years ago when Dylan was 14 or so. It would be a Mcisaac family tradition to see the Lord of the Ring movies when it premiered every Christmas. This last Christmas I watched the last 3D Hobbit movie with our good friends Tina and Sonke. Never would have dreamed that I would actually be here in NZ for a premier showing!

DSC_7824DSC_7881When we got there we were greeted by Gandalf himself. We, that is Dylan, I and 20 or so other people, followed the tour guide, along the Shire. When Peter Jackson began to look for suitable locations for film series he first saw the Alexander Farm during an aerial search. Peter Jackson nailed it because the Shire was everything I imagined when reading the book.

 

 

 

DSC_7957DSC_7920Our tour ended at the Green Dragon where we enjoyed a good craft beer and a traditional New Zealand pie. Everyone visiting in NZ must have pie!!

After visiting Hobbiton,  it made us want to go back and have a marathon day of Lord of The Rings and Hobbit movies. Get the popcorn ready Denny, I know you can’t wait for that day to come!

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Hikes and Road trip with Dylan

February 15 – 20

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

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Posting by Barb:

As Landfall was on the ‘hard’ we could not take Dylan sailing so we planned a couple of road trips. Close to Whangarei we decided to take him to the highest point, Mount Mania and then to an underground experience, Abbey Caves.

DSC_7686DSC_7729I had already hiked up Mount Mania but this time we decided to do a sunset hike. We  packed a couple of head lamps for the return trip and a couple of beers to enjoy while the sun was setting. Denny decided that he should not go as DSC_7749he was not sure if his knee would survive the hundreds of steps up and down, approximately 3.5 kms of stairs. There were a few people at the top when  we arrived but we were soon left alone to sit and watch the sunset. It was an incredible experience to be able to have front row seats to a beautiful sunset while sipping on a cold beer and being able to enjoy great conversation without trying to compete with social network pings and tweets.

Just a few minutes from Whangarei is Abbey Caves and Glow worms! So off we went with our headlamps and Denny was all over this hike! I never could understand why a cave would be more appealing than a mountain top with sunsets but that’s something Denny would have to answer to. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a short hike to the mouth of the cave and then with some encouragement from Denny and Dylan I followed them into the cave.  The warning “Only experienced cavers should enter underground, as there are risks from rapidly rising water and roof falls” was enough to dampen my enthusiasm. I did follow the boys for a while but as it got wetter and narrower I was out of there. Denny and Dylan did discover a chamber inside the cave that contained abundant glow worms. What is a glowworm you may ask? Although we see them as a dreamy mass of twinkling lights they are actually larvae (maggots) of a species of fly called a fungus gnat. Maybe not so dreamy!

Dylan had obtained tickets to the yearly Splore festival which included 2 nights of tenting with all day music and festivities. In Mrs Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words; defines Splore as ‘Merry making festivities, carousing and frolicking or a good going session.’ Just what Dylan was looking for!015fb71a5ce3ed5dd31c4b6a339c3ebfaa228e798b The festival was to take place in a location  South of Auckland so I decided that I would do a little road trip with Dylan to Auckland, enjoy the city and then drop him off at the festival. We stayed at the International Youth Hostel and had a clean,  sparse room for $70 in the heart of the city and it included free parking. Everything was within walking distance so we did a lot of walking. We enjoyed a fine, large mug of Belgian beer at a nice little pub and we now understand why Belgium has won ‘World Beer Awards’. We drove and walked on a few of the volcanoe craters in the city and took the usual visiting family/friend iconic picture on Mount Eden. It was a great bonding weekend. Loved it!!

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Cruising with Becky, New Zealand

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

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Posting by Barb:

DSC_5228_1
So you all know that based on our previous blog postings that our trip from Fiji to New Zealand with Becky was a ‘cake’ walk. The only thing we worried about was running out of fuel. The only thing Becky worried about was catching that one last fish. Yes, Becky actually wanted more fish. Well 2 days before landing in New Zealand we did catch a Yellow Fin Tuna and it was a Big One!!

Becky spent 3 weeks with us in New Zealand. During the 3 weeks stay we did have to haul boat out at Dockland 5 so we couldn’t go very far. The weather was cool and Becky even thought it was freezing. That was before she arrived back in Minneapolis!

We celebrated Thanksgiving on the boat and managed to find and buy a small turkey to cook. It was so long since we had had turkey and the smell of it roasting in the oven  brought back so many family Christmas / Thanksgiving dinner memories!

 

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We did one road trip that took us all the way to Cap Reinga. We drove the car a little way on the famous Ninety Mile beach and ended up with a flat tire. Has anybody ever tried to change a flat tire on a beach? Well it cant be done. The tide was rising so we had to drive off the beach. We demolished the tire getting back on the access road and then drove the rest of the weekend on a little spare.

 

 

 

 

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We made it to the famous giant Te Paki sand dunes. Dennis, Bill, Ella I had already been there but with Becky we managed to work up the nerve to actually try the sand surfing. It was a long hike to the top and then we flew down the sand waves. Denny gave me a great tip to stay far behind the board so I didn’t get a face full of sand. The challenge was to go downhill without dragging the feet to slow us down but neither one of met that challenge. Doing a ‘sand’ face plant at a fast speed was not that appealing to either one of us.

DSC_5273DSC_5337We did the usual tourist stops which included Cape Reinga and a visit to Tane Mahuta, Lord of the
Forest, New Zealands oldest Kauri tree.

 

 

 

DSC_5300DSC_5318But one of Becky’s favorite stops was visit to Parrot Place. We played and fed the beautiful birds. Becky wanted to figure out a way of smuggling a parrot back to Minneapolis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_5397 One can’t go to New Zealand with at least spending one day in Auckland. Aside from the shopping and dining we did visit the Sky Tower. The view from the top was impressive. If it wasn’t for the cost we may have almost convinced Becky to bungee jump from the top. But all we did instead was sit at a window seat in the café  and occasionally see people flash by screaming as they fell to the bottom, attached to their bungee cords of course.

DSC_5415Naturally we had to do the signature picture from Mount Eden. Every one of our guests visiting us in New Zealand will have their picture taken from this spot, the one of many volcano craters in Auckland.

As the weather in New Zealand started warming up and one could actually sit out on the beach it was time for Becky to head home to the ‘real’ cold.  We loved having Becky on Landfall!DSC_7202

 

 

 

A week with just Allison

Posting by Barb:

After Mike left I had a week with just Allison. It was kind of nice to have her all to myself. So we rented a car and just did some road trips. Our first stop was a visit to the big city, Suva. It was quite the contrast from cruising the Yasawas. We walked for miles, meandering our way around heavily trafficked sidewalks and made a few stops. The museum was interesting and my favorite exhibit was the double hulled canoe which was used hundred plus years ago to cross oceans with nothing more than one sail, huge oars and a little enclosed deck for inclement weather.  We stopped at Albert Fiji - 2014 133Fiji - 2014 121Park and it was sad to see how run down and dilapidated it had become with fountains devoid of water and overgrown with vegetation. Our highlight of our trip to Suva was the dining experiences. We had a meal at Daikoku, where the chef cooked a dinner in front of us using his acrobatic, culinary skills. We ate at Ashiyana where I experienced the best, authentic Indian cuisine that I have ever had. That is the  best Butter Chicken I have ever had. Suva made Allison a little anxious as for the most part it was overcrowded and dirty so we headed back to our quiet little boat after one night.


 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe spent an afternoon visiting the Sabeto hot springs and mud pools. Once we arrived there we quickly put on our swim suits and covered ourselves with thick mud. We OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhad to wait for the mud to dry before we could wash off. The cleansing process involved dunking ourselves in 3 different pools all heated by a hot spring. The mud is supposed to cleanse and rejuvenate the skin. I am not sure if it did that but we had a lot of fun. We finished the mud bath experience with a $7 traditional Fijian lunch. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis included a whole fish, eyes and all, cooked in coconut milk. The vegetables were green Taro leaves and a few pieces of cassava ; all to be eaten with our fingers as cutlery was not provided. So it was eaten in true Fijian fashion. Probably not the best culinary experience but it was definitely a ‘must do’ when in Fiji.

DSC_6574Our last road trip was a visit to Sri Siva Subramaniya, the largest Hindu temple in the Southern hemisphere. We took the guided tour and got a small introduction to Hinduism, the worship of a number of personal gods. It was interesting even if the tour was a little rushed.

I loved and cherished every minute of my time with Allison and it was a tearful good bye. Next visit will hopefully be Christmas in New Zealand with Allison and Dylan!!      

NZ North Island trip – Kohukohu, Hokianga, Waipoua

Posting by Barb:

On the last day of our memorable road trip we took the north-western route back to Whangarei. DSC_5428Our first stop was Kohukohu, one of the first European settlements in NZ and it boasted to have the oldest foot bridge built in the 1840’s. We took the ferry to Hopianga, a dying little town with lots of ‘For Sale’ signs advertising ‘life style’ change as the sale pitch.  We followed part of the road along the 30 km estuary with the thought that it would be a beautiful place to bring the boat. We did talk to some locals about the possibility of doing this and the consensus was that it would be treacherous to do especially getting through the sand bar across the mouth (another navigational challenge for Dennis, maybe next year).   DSC_5473-1We had a nice picturesque stop with some roosters for company and then on to Waipoua Kauri Forest to see the largest Kauri tree in NZ called  DSC_4143Te Matua Ngahere, meaning Father of the Forest. It  was 2000 years old. Kauri trees usually live to be 4000 years old but in 2007 a severe winter storm damaged the tree therefore shortening its life. To be sitting there underneath the tree was mystical and made me feel humbled and I wondered how many living beings had sat in the shadows of this great tree in the last thousand years. As we continued our journey through the forest, Bill, who was taking a turn in the back seat as Dennis drove ,inadvertently found out that the sunroof in the back seat could open. I suggested he stand up and take a video of twisty, winding road while hanging out of the sunroof. He was like a little kid discovering a new toy, whooping and hollering as he stood in the back seat hanging out of the sunroof. When he finally settled down his curls were all windblown straight!! Too bad we didn’t realize we could open the sunroof when we were on 90 mile beach.  We had a really nice meal in a little restaurant called Jo’s in Dargaville. We will definitely go back there and recommend it to anybody looking for a great place to eat!

That was end of our memorable road trip with never ending laughter and unforgettable scenery and experiences.