As usual with a family bereavement, it was really great to catch up with the whanau and see cousies, nephews and nieces that I hadn’t seen for ages, but with mum’s passing I lost a few days at work and found myself in the precarious position of running out of time to get renewals done at a time when it is near impossible to see clients.
Fortunately we had no plans though as Ann’s new salon is a 7 day affair so she had to work through the holiday period and the same happened in my office.
We ended up having a very pleasant Christmas though with family and our resident migrants meaning we set for 12, then we just chugged on with no riding on the radar.
I say ‘chugged’ but there was a bit of huff & puff in there as well because on Friday 12th January, we were off and I had to ensure I was up to date by then …and I only just made it!
Ann’s salons use predominantly Joico hair products and as well as that, the good folks at Joico also provide us with in-salon training for our staff on a regular basis. This training is a major part of our salon’s culture and has resulted in a very good relationship with our major supplier, so over a year ago (when we only had one salon), we were invited to attend the Biennial Joico Destination Education. At that time Ann approached the staff and made the really tough decision to close the salon for a week and a bit to take the staff to Punta Cana, which is in the Dominican Republic!
So on Friday morning 12/01/18 we settled down in the Wellington Koru Club lounge before embarking on one of those really crappy two day scenarios of planes and airports. Yep, 23-24 hours in the air and about the same in layovers! Starting with Wgtn-Auckland via Air New Zealand, then a 3 hour stint from Auckland to Nadi on Fiji Airways for a 4 hour pause there.
I’ve written a couple of blogs about Virgin (here: https://longjohnbiker.weebly.com/old-blog/virgin-sux-again ) and I have to say this experience wasn’t a lot better, although to be fair, apart from the lack of legroom, Fiji Airways were pretty good, but transiting via Nadi was a joke!!
Normally, one can fly into an airport on an international flight and walk from the arrival gate to the departure gate and depending on the airport, taking in whatever food or other entertainment that is available. eg At Changi Airport in Singapore, one can take a monorail between international terminals, check into a hotel, have a workout in the gym or swim at the pool or just shower up, go shopping, watch a movie, have a few beers and a feed, or just lie down and have a sleep on the carpeted floor at the gate …but Changi is a bit nicer than most!!
At Nadi we hopped off the airplane, then found we had to pass through a security check on a single machine that seemed to keep stalling and that also meant that we had to dump the water and any food we had bought in the Auckland departure area?? Well that wasn’t too bad, but when Julia, who was travelling with us had to dump the duty free Moet she had purchased at Auckland, I was gob-smacked. What a bloody joke!!!
11 hours later we were alighting in LA for a 13 stopover, so we had arranged a couple of rooms close by for that one, then checked in on United Airlines for a 3 hour hop to Houston, another 4 hour layover, then our final 3 hours to Punta Cana, arriving at about 1600 on Saturday 13th, at which time it was 0900 on Sunday 14th in Wellington.
Punta Cana is a very under-developed airport, but Melia Caribe, the Club Med resort where the event was held was something else. There we over 1,000 people from 28 countries attending the event and we didn’t go near filling the venue, not to mention the more family oriented resort attached ….and then there was just resort after resort stretching over a Km along the beach! In Kiwi terms the scale was just off the charts.
The big trouble with this event was that being a club med, we had paid for all the food, booze and sailing before we got there and we tried about 8 of the dozen or more restaurants …I did try very hard not to make a pig of myself!
It was very much a Yank type scenario where they existed in the sheltered environment without leaving the resort, but we managed to organise a trip to Santo Domingo to check out how the locals were living and that was a culture shock in itself, especially when strolling through the local market and a decision was made not to eat local. After a week of absolute luxury we were winging our way back to Houston, on to LA for another lengthy layover, then on to a week in Hawaii, where are currently doing our time. So far, that has involved a bus tour around Oahu on Tuesday and a doors-off helicopter ride Wednesday, and by the end of the week we will have toured Pearl Harbour and done the museum thing.
I am sort of keen to get home and have entered the TT2000 in February so I just hope I can manage to get away for that.
*Sigh* ….another big gap in my wee blogosphere! …so I will try to fill in the gaps.
I’ll start with my mum. She was the third of four sisters plus a half-brother and sister, all orphaned when mum was three and that landed them into an orphanage in Upper Hutt. The reason I mention that is to explain that a lack of good nutrition, in particular milk, led to osteoporosis in later life. That in itself also isn’t of much consequence because the old girl just accepted it, took any shitty outcomes without complaint and still got on with life and that probably pretty much describes much of that generation, born in the 1920’s & 1930’s.
A great example of this was that in November, they were having a bit of a fling in the retirement home where mum was staying, which of course involved a bit of dancing and twirling, which I might add, the old girl was into, however on this occasion, the twirling resulted in a very painful string of minor fractures opening up in her spine …..Bugger! She ended up in Masterton Hospital for a few weeks. She healed up pretty well and was probably within a week or two of being released when a dose of Noro Virus went through the hospital and resulted in a lock-down.
At 91¾ Mum survived that but didn’t recover and passed away on 11th December. She was amazing, just taking it all in her stride, no complaints, no regrets and no doubt, now that she doesn’t need sleep, she will be doing double time on the prayers that all her kids need.
That buggered up December a bit, but did result in a few rides over the hill when I was visiting her ….and riding the Rimutaka Hill never gets tiresome. I must say though, the multiple trips did reveal a full compliment of Kiwi Drivers!
I encountered people who were very spatially aware, would see the bike coming well before I was there and couldn’t wait to slide across as soon as possible, with one chap even slowing significantly on a passing lane to let me catch and get by.
Then there were the ones that would realise they had a bike up their date after a corner or two and would pull over when they could…..
And then there was a smattering of idiots, incompetents and absolute-and-utter-arseholes!! Let me elaborate. I encountered twats that thought their suped-up cars could go toe-to-toe with a 1300cc motorbike in both power-to-weight and handling!! ….pfft!! (In some ways it was sort of amusing) Then there were the spaced-out junkies or whatever that had no idea of what was on the road except for anything up to 25mtrs ahead of them. The ST is a relatively big bike with a bit of presence and twin headlights, which positioning the bike can place them in the car’s mirrors and passes on the message to make room, but these saps are oblivious to anything behind them. …and they have no idea about the existence or purpose of a slow-bay, although why pull over if you aren’t aware there’s anything behind …and then there’s the arseholes!
After a hundred thousand Km or two on a bike, one gets quite good at reading the body language of vehicles, so it’s generally quite easy to identify who’s on their phone, who is going to turnoff or change lanes and although it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the incompetents and the arseholes with things like slow-bays, there are generally a few indicators. …Like easing to the right when most drivers would slide across to the left, staying in the right lane on passing areas, but not overtaking anything, sitting up the date of the car in front in order to make an overtaking manouvre just that bit harder ….and I came across a couple of these guys!! Fortunately though, those sort of drivers are very much the minority.
And so it was that Christmas came and I was totally unprepared and up to my eyeballs in work!
This blog is pretty much just about motorcycling ...but every now and then I might rant or dribble on about other things.