Our original holiday plans involved a three week trek through the US visiting the loved ones and hopefully getting in a little Southern Gothic sightseeing along the way.  Like all best laid plans, they came crashing down in the span of about 24 hours.  After a few phone calls to the parents and behing assured that they will still continue to live and function without a special appearance from us, we decided to plan a little vacation closer to home.  So instead of hopping flights, jumping over international datelines and sacrificing a talisman to the god of baggage claim in hopes our luggage would make it with us to the final destination, we just threw a bunch of borrowed camping gear in the boot of the car and took off heading east.  Our plan – drive northeast towards Napier and continue north hugging the coast all the way up the East Cape.  When we run out of land running northeast, we head west and follow the coastline eventually ending at Hahei Beach to cap off our journey at Cathedral Cove with a bit of sea kayaking.  And then a massive final push to drive all the way back home.

Day 1 – With the little car carefully packed, we head off from Palmy to Napier.  Napier is known, at least in NZ, to be the art deco capital of the world.  It’s quite nice and a perfectly lovely place to come shopping but what won my heart was stumbling upon an absolute gem, Opossum World.

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The front of the shop sold all the usual possum wares but it’s the free artificial bushwalk in the back of the store where you encounter what is probably the most unfortunate taxidermy display of possums.  Tell me I’m not right, I dare you.

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I was dismayed at the thought of leaving this possum Disneyland without a memento.  And then I saw it – a barrel filled with possum hide scraps.  For the amazingly low price of $9, I left that wonderland with a plastic bag overflowing with possum scraps.  We could have ended the trip then and there and I would have gone home with a smile from ear to ear.  Nay, I could have died that night and all would be a-ok with me.  Possum World is just that amazing.

For some, the charms of the possum aren’t quite as profound.

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After getting Steve a well deserved beer, we hit the road again in search of Gisborne where we’d camp for the night.

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Aside from Burning Man, this is the first time we’ve dared to camp at a planned camping site.  I honestly did not expect us to be able to set up the tent and was mentally prepared to sleep in the car for the duration of our trip.Image

But a Christmas miracle occurred.  Perfect site, perfect weather, perfect camp.

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