In which we go mountain biking in a California redwood forest…in New Zealand

One of the big things Eric and I were really looking forward to was mountain biking in Rotorua. California redwoods were imported there in 1901 to support the logging industry and while they didn’t really take off as a new source of timber, some part of the forest remains. The upshot is that in the middle of New Zealand is a gorgeous California Redwood forest just begging to be ridden through. 
We asked to stay at the farmstay an additional day since we figured we wouldn’t want to bike and get muddy and then have to pack up and go somewhere, and man, were we grateful for that decision later! It made me even happier that we had been able to add some flexibility into our schedule and not have everything booked solid before we left. 
We called the lovely people at Planet Bike in the morning and made sure they had rental bikes for us. They were so nice, even to switch the brakes so we wouldn’t have to brake backwards with the back wheel brakes on the left! I was so glad of this at many times in the ride. The kids were fitted on fat tire bikes, a first for them! And we were off on the muddy trails. Both kids tried to hit all the mud puddles as fast as they could so that by the end of the day they resembled little else than mini mud monsters. We had them strip before they got back in the car.

Riding through the forest was so, so beautiful. The entire time I was riding I just couldn’t believe how happy I felt. We ran into maybe another 3 people along the way and the feeling of cruising through a dappled forest with birds and animals chirping about you is unparalleled. The girl got a bit nervous at times with the isolated feeling, and I told her assuredly that it was impossible to get lost in this forest. 

About 5 minutes later we got lost in the forest. We had taken a bit of a wrong turn and found ourselves off trail. We used my phone to figure out the compass directions and headed that way, only to find ourselves in denser forest and the clear disappearance of the trail. Under his breath, Eric asked “you sure this is right?” And I replied quietly so the kids wouldn’t hear, “ummm, not really.” Out loud we acted like grown ups and kept saying that we were going the right way. 
After we came back out to where we had made the wrong turn, we simply turned around and saw the right road about, oh, 5 yards from where we had been. Eesh. We were able to make it back to the trail and then, the fun part after all the hard uphill riding we had done! Going downhill on a muddy trail with bumps over tree roots was exhilarating! 
We had initially intended to go to the Waikiti hot spring before going home, but instead decided to head back to the farmstay to make lunch and de-mud first. After this we didn’t feel like the long drive to Waikiti and instead went to the Polynesian Spa hot spring in town and loved it. There was a pool for the kids to frolic in and they made some friends with two local Kiwi kids who gave their opinion on US politics (Summary: Trump is bad, Clinton is okay but not as good as Obama). Given that I couldn’t tell you anything about who runs New Zealand, I’m amazed at the overall cultural dominance of the States in this regard. 
Back home for a peaceful night in, having made some pesto pasta at home for a simpler night of food comfort. 


Snow Mountain Ranch

What a fabulous Memorial Day weekend we had.  My high school friend Geoff and his lovely wife Karen and their twins came out to visit and we went up to Snow Mountain Ranch for the weekend.

I love that place-if you live in Colorado and haven’t been, you are missing out.  Here’s the view from our cabin:


ah, mountains!

Not too shabby, eh?

Later that afternoon some of us went for a hike.  There’s been a lot of snow and a lot of snowmelt so it was a bit muddy, and someone slipped and got a muddy butt, which didn’t bother our intrepid explorer one bit.


just keep hiking, just keep hiking


what’s in the water?

The next day we rented mountain bikes and tagalongs and went for a ride!



badass mountain biker


actually having fun


mountain biking with a trailer, not for the faint of heart

It just couldn’t have been better. Nights were filled with good food, good drink, and a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity. I wish I could post some of the funnier game responses, but then this wouldn’t be a family blog, now, would it? The other thing that was great was that all the kids were old enough to explore on their own.  There were many hours where they would simply head off into the woods next to the cabin and create their own secret games and just play while the adults would relax in the cabin. If it sounds too idyllic to be true, well, I can’t help that.

The next morning we went for one last hike


The whole crew


Walking stick in hand


Hiking children


Running to catch up


Careful apple slicing

And then the trail got super super muddy (as the girl would say) and some of the hikers took off their shoes to squelch through the mud.  One of the hikers simply squelched through with her shoes on.  I’ll let you guess which one that is.


muddy paws


barefoot snow survival

When the trail got snowy, the barefoot hiking came to a quick end and we headed back.  By this time I had started to recite the poem, “Mud, Mud, glorius mud! Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood! So follow me, follow me, down to the hollow, where we will wallow in glorious mud!” which is from a children’s book of poems we have at home.

The girl, of course, began to sing this over and over again and then began to take it quite literally.


mud bath

Sadly, vacation was over after this.  Our friends had to head south and I had to head back to work a night shift at the hospital, which was even less fun than usual given what I’d just been doing.

I know I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again–there is something that is so wonderful about seeing your kids become friends with your old friends’ kids. It makes me feel hopeful and gives me a sense of generations and seeing the future being created now, and it’s good.