So much for a full night's rest. Logan woke up at 4:30am and ate about 6-8oz before we all finally fell back to sleep. When he woke up again for the day (7:30), Jon - blessed husband that he be - was kind enough to go exploring with Logan, Eric and Jill (who were also now up), walking out to a local nature preserve with cool rock "terraces" while I relaxed and showered back at the cottage. Unfortunately my relaxing shower was cut short as the water turned ice cold toward the end when I was washing my hair - which, for those of you who know how thick my hair is, can only imagine how really icky it was for me. Yeah, I'm not really one for camping in the outdoors and all that shit. I definitely need my hot showers yo.
We had another yummy breakfast with homemade muffins, fruit and cereal and of course The Toast. Eric and Jill were silly AGAIN and gave up their extra toast to Jon and I. AGAIN. Little did they know, we had a long drive ahead of us and of course, they needed to CARB UP. Newbs.
Our 2 hr drive to the town of Matamata seemed even longer, since Logan only napped for about 45 minutes the entire time. He was getting really cranky and tired of all the driving. Note to self: don't plan so many car rides back to back on our next family vacation.
Jon noticed we were running low on gas, yet we were in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, we had our trusty GPS (who we've called Molly O'Shannon, ever since our Ireland trip. Not to be mistaken with this Molly of course) with us. Thank GOD for Molly! We punched in "gas" and she directed us to a small gas station on a dirt road, off the beaten track, with one pump, perhaps two tops, available for service. Logan needed to stretch - so I took him across the road to say hi to all the cows that were slowly meandering their way over to us - of course he didn't notice them for a long while (here's me, the dorky mom holding a baby on the side of the road making "moo" noises and pointing to the cows plodding in our general direction, trying to get her kid to notice the HUNDREDS OF HUGE COWS COMING OUR WAY). Instead, he was way more interested in the swampy ditch between the road and the fields, at my feet. Apparently, he saw something glamorous in that ditch that I hadn't quite noticed just yet.
So, after a few minutes of this, I turned back to look and see if Jon was done pumping gas yet and if we should head back. And, a familiar sight, to me at any rate, hit my eyes. Jon was standing at this broken down dilapidated station, chatting animately about God know's what, to the owner who's leaning against the doorway chewing baccy (or should have been), looking as lazy and unmotivated as can be. Eric and Jill, on the other hand, were patiently sitting in the car, waiting for Jon to finish his conversation, waiting for me and Logan to come back, waiting to get back on the road. I wish I had grabbed a snapshot.
I knew what was going through their minds - even 25 ft away. What the HELL is Jon doing?!? Why is he talking to that guy? WHAT is he talking about? WHY is it taking so long?
Right Eric? :)
I walked over, spent a couple minutes politely listening in on Jon and the owner (or perhaps he was the mechanic?)'s conversation. About what, I don't remember, but it was probably everything, from Logan to traveling to New Zealand and which towns we were seeing next, to the weather, to the States, to Lord of the Rings, oh and of course, to Rugby, and whatever else goes through Jon's head anytime he sees a stranger he feels like striking up a conversation with. And then motioned to Jon that it was time to get moving, packing Logan back up in the car.
I realized, though Jon and Eric have been long time best friends, Eric and Jill haven't really had a chance to travel with us too much. So, they've never had a chance to experience Jon's, shall we call it, friendliness? with strangers. What can I say, it's one of the many reasons why I married him. :)
We arrived into the small town of Matamata, and decided to grab a bite to eat for lunch first before hitting the Lord of the Rings movie set tour - Hobbiton and The Shire (which is probably the only reason why anyone drives through Matamata). We found a little cafe that looked promising on the outside, but was a grave disappointment when our food arrived. None of us had a very good meal, sad to say, and we were charged an arm and a leg to boot! Damn tourist towns.
While the other three relaxed at a local coffee shop, I walked to the tourist info station to find out about how much the Hobbiton/Shire tours cost and what times they started, etc. since our tour books mentioned the tours were pretty pricey. As it turned out, there was a tour leaving the station in about 10 min. that we could join. It was pretty cold and rainy - and Jon was feeling a little under the weather - so he actually almost said NO TOUR. But, I insisted we go anyway. All he could talk about before leaving for New Zealand was being able to go visit a few of the Lord of the Rings movie sets, and this was our chance! Rain or shine, expensive or not, I said we should go. I even carried Logan during the tour (the one time on our entire trip that he rode the backpack carrier on me instead of Jon) since Jon was feeling so crummy.
I'm so glad we went! (hopefully Eric and Jill feel the same) The tour was super cool and very beautiful, even with the rain, wind and cold. The set is on private land, where a sheep farming family has hundreds of sheep on thousands of acres. Most of the movie set has since been destroyed, but a few hobbit homes were left up for tours like ours. We walked a lot of the grounds where various scenes were shot and heard a few stories about the making of the film. It's amazing to think this small sheep rearing family, with thousands of acres, lucked into such a cool deal. And, have such an amazing home/land to live on as well! We took tons of pictures and I think Jon's spirits lifted a bit by the end. We even got a quick sheep shearing demo at the very end of the tour (since that *is* the family's business afterall) - which was a little scary, and a little sad (this particular farm sells mostly for food, not wool) :(
We still had more of a drive ahead of us after the Hobbiton/Shire tour, so we hit the road again, heading out to Waitomo for the night. Since we had spent quite a bit of time in the car, I was pretty car sick and exhausted by the end of the day. We knew the cottage we were staying in was far from any stores or restaurants (they told us ahead of time), so we stopped in a small town called Otorohanga for dinner. Logan had finally fallen asleep, and slept all through dinner as we chowed down on some good grub in a little pub-like joint called the Thirsty Weta Bar and Cafe, "where everything weta is beta." While at the pub, we finally learned all about the weta, which is a really large cricket/cockroach looking insect, native to New Zealand. And, also explains the name for Peter Jackson's Weta Workshop and Weta Digital Studios. Ahhhhhhh.
When we finally reached the town of Waitomo, it was super dark and extremely windy out. And to top it off, our cottage was quite a ways out of town, on a windy small little dark ass road with no lights and no buildings nearby. It was all very spooky. ('Course, I could have also been spooked since Jill had just insisted she saw a ghost hanging from one of the billboards as we drove into town - it turned out it was an advertisement for the caves, with a spelunker "dummy" hanging down from, and in front of, the billboard. But in the middle of the night, as it flashed by the corner of her eye as we were speeding down the highway, it appeared to be something else entirely!)
The cottage was more like a cabin (with headlamps - that were out of batteries - so you could make your way to the outhouse at night!!), which we shared with Eric and Jill. Of course, the first night we share a place together, also happened to be the night Logan threw up all over the crib, shortly after I had put him down for the night (about 10pm?) . It was awful and stinky and since the small cabin was pitch dark and I didn't want to wake anyone up, I just quickly changed him and myself (it had gotten on me too when I picked him up to change him - yay!) and had him sleep between me and Jon for the rest of the night.
I could still smell the sweet scent of puke on my son's breath, but honestly didn't really give a damn, as exhaustion took over me and I finally passed out.