October 10, 2017
Awoke to another bonus sunshine day that we did not expect. However, our spirits were immediately dampened when we learned of the devastating fires burning in Napa and Sonoma Valley. Many of our friends and/or families were fortunately evacuated but they lost their homes. So far our house has no electricity but is not yet in danger. All of our neighbors evacuated because of smoke, no electricity etc. Our VRBO renters could not get the car they reserved in SF but hired a car/driver to take them to Sonoma. When they arrived they found our house had not been cleaned because the cleaning crew had been evacuated, there was no electricity AND they had no transportation! Felt terrible for them trying to find lodging anywhere. As with any catastrophe people raid gas stations, grocery stores etc. We experienced this with earthquakes in SoCal. Our friends the Ganleys who have house keys collected some stuff for us but we learned that we need to update our key access as they could not access a particular area. Sandy Atwood, who manages our VRBO, did a great job of coordinating with us by phone in NZ and the renters. (Several of the houses she manages are gone because of the fires.) Fortunately, the town of Sonoma is very philanthropic so we are comforted that people will be helped by the community at large. Rick Lee, one of our Rotarians, drove by our house and reported back to us.
Foxton Beach is lovely. Right outside our camp is a path along the beach and bird estuary where there were lots of guys in waders netting white bait. The houses along the esplanade looked very new and quite nice. We walked for about an hour in shirtsleeves along a flowered footpath where we saw white faced herons and lots of pukekos, often thought brainless as they do not fly away from danger when crossing a road. Still sobered by the fire devastation.
Drove on to Whanganui with a brief stop at Viv’s kitchen for lunch in a small town called Sanson. What a hoot! 50’s dressed waitresses with pretty good food and known for their cream horns (puffed pastry horn filled with a variety of flavors) Worth a stop and inexpensive!
Lots of verdant pastureland along the way. Camped at Whanganui Top 10 about 5 kms from the city on the Whanganui River. Checked into camp and then went to town for a walk. Victoria Street, the main drag, seems to go on forever with various shops. Many of the old buildings have been rejuvenated and the tree lined street is very attractive. We did not go to the Sarjeant Gallery and the Riverboat Centre was closed. We did see the Waimarie ( that sunk in 1952), a restored paddle wheeler that had been submerged for 41 years. You can take a 2 hour ride down the river on it. Town is worth a visit. Lots of scullers, canoers on the river, the longest navigable river in NZ. Lots of tramps as well.
Raining at camp but there is a covered BBQ. Having steaks and nice wine just because the day was a bit “blue”.
Tomorrow we go to Mt Taranaki, a classic volcanic cone which is overdue for an eruption. Weather is supposed to be bad and very cold, -16 degrees.
Steaks, baked potatoes and Pegasus Bay pinot. Will report year tomorrow as it is stashed away!
Our hearts are with all our friends in Napa and Sonoma.