Monday, February 2, 2009

1/30/2009 - Reliving Old Memories at Quinney's

Wake early this morning - no emergency consults overnight, so I have to assume that the Chilean woman is doing all right. On the road for the easy 35 mile trip to Quinney's Bush Camp.

Did I say easy? Actually, the entire way there is uphill, sort of a "death by a thousand cuts" kind of thing because it's not steep, just constant. Knee is doing all right, I am pre-loaded today with 800mg of ibuprofen (AKA, "Vitamin I"). The terrain is very nice as well, with mountains on either side and lots of forest interspaced with fields.

IMGP1512.JPG Lots of green, including the water.

I am really dragging today for some reason. I think the long, slow uphill is contributing, but just no energy. Stop for some lunch around noon, and then off again.

IMGP1513.JPGA bit 'o' lunch. The undergrowth here is almost creepy thick, with vines climbing on vines.

Soon enough, however, I hit the main road, and my energy comes back as I read the sign for "Quinney's Bush Camp".

Back when we last bicycled New Zealand, I was more interested in whether Optimus Prime would defeat Megatron rather than whether the US would defeat the USSR in the cold war. Given that age, Quinney's Bush Camp was the source of many of my fondest New Zealand memories.

As I remember it, it was a big campground with little paths through it going between these nifty flying foxes (ziplines), tire swings, and other playground equipment that was much cooler than I had seen before. There was also a river that you could swim in.

But none of that measured up to the best thing that Quinney's had to offer. Mr. Quinney, elderly even back then, used to attach a horizontal plank to the back of his tractor, tie a bunch of ropes to the plank, and attach burlap sacks to the ropes. He would then drive around the field with kids sitting on the burlap sacks. It was, in a word, awesome.

3969 Sack ride at QuinneysThe sack ride back in '85. The guy on the left is Mitsuru, a Japanese student who we became friends with. This became, really, one of the big things we would point to as a cool thing in New Zealand - you KNOW this could never have happened in the US without someone getting sued.

3972 Quinney with kidsMr. Quinney surrounded by kids. That kid on the right has started her morose teenage years a bit early. I remember Mr. Quinney as a really lovable old man. Two kiwis I talked to about Quinney's Bush Camp the few days before mentioned it with as much enthusiasm as I did.

Pulling up to Quinney's now is a bit different - there is a main office with a chain not allowing cars through until they've paid. The lady at the front is very friendly, and also had a great time at Quinney's back when she was a kid. Alas, however, Mr. Quinney died back in 1996. His son has taken over the business and has even expanded the park, she says.

They don't do the tractor pull for the kids anymore, though, due to government regulation. Sad.

But it is great biking back into the park. It is a lot more open, with much of the underbrush now removed and turned into tent sites. It is crowded, as well, full of happy, yelling kids ranging in age from 2 to 16. Dirt bikes are the preferred mode of transportation. All of the play equipment is in use, and there is a BMX dirt bike track as well as a new skate park which are heavily in use.

I camp in a nice spot right next to a hammock. Not bad, not bad at all.

IMGP1529.JPGTaking a little rest after biking. I seem to be developing a knack for finding hammocks lately, and that is not a bad thing.

I decide that, once and for all, I am going to find the leak in my sleeping pad. I grab it and head down to the river.

IMGP1517.JPGThe river, now with a big dredged pool, a slide, and a rope swing. Fancy!

3966 Boys in creekThe river back in 1985. No, your eyes do not deceive you, those ARE rainbow swimming trunks. The Queer Eye guys would approve.

Alas, after 20 minutes of folding and submersing, no major leak can be found. As it's wet already, sounds like a great time to just float a bit.

IMGP1518.JPGNot only do I get to float on my air mattress, but I am also washing my bike shorts and t-shirt. I will stop short before claiming I was getting a shower. Bonus for efficiency!

Back up to the main campground to explore a bit.

IMGP1522.JPGThe field, now. Full of barley rather than tractor and burlap sack tracks.

3968 Quinney's bush camp rideThe same field, then. Being dragged by the tractor and looking out for rocks.

IMGP1530.JPGThe BIG flying fox now, with new waterslide. . .

3973 Ziplines at Quinneys. . . and then, with no major enhancements.

IMGP1531.JPGThe hot water boiler now. . .

3963 Quinney's Bush Camp showersAnd the very similar hot water boiler then (that's my mom looking very interested in the hot water boiler).

IMGP1525.JPGI am proud to say that I am such a good swinger that this kid came over and asked me to show him how to properly swing. (Is there a way to write that that doesn't sound pornographic?)

IMGP1528.JPGProbably the biggest tire swing in the world. For some reason, the adolescents all seemed to meet here.

IMGP1535.JPGMet up with some very nice people who are here with their children and kindly took a picture of me on one of the flying foxes. Note the inner 5-year old is back out again.

After a long day, I creep into the tent and attempt to go to sleep. It's a big climb tomorrow going over Hope Saddle and I will need the rest. Alas, the local children have no such concerns and the laughing, screaming, and yelling continues despite me OBVIOUSLY going in my tent to sleep. No problem - I find my noise-canceling headphones and am soon out like a light.

Mr. Quinney will be missed, but his legacy definitely lives on.

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