August 9: On my way to Kona, HI for a few days in Hawaii followed by a week in New Zealand. It’s maddening difficult to pack for two different climates in one trip as it’s a summer vacation followed by a Winter Vacation.
Lovely flight, if a bit long. Oned advantage of going seven different airlines this trip is that you get to sample 7 different in flight magazines and 7 different airline meals.
Alaska airlines has the most amazing 1st class food I have ever eaten…
Kona airport is charming, built in the 70s on an open air design you would never see in today’s security environment. The place is basically impossible to secure and there’s not even a fence to the sea.
The Hilton Waikoloa Village: Jack’s Review
Good: Impressive hotel, large grounds, with boat and train service.
good art collection featuring many cultures art, ocean front location.
No beach (sharp Rocky coast) but 3 pools.
No resort fee. Food is expensive but good. In room ps3
Cautions: Avoid this place if you smoke. All of Hawaii bans indoor smoking but this place also bans it outside while providing only 3 poorly marked smoking areas in a huge complex. Expect to walk half a mile or more for each cigarette.
Response from the owner 3 weeks ago
Jack, we are happy to see that were parts of your stay you truly enjoyed, like our gorgeous views, art collection, and comfy rooms. As for our smoking areas, we do want accommodate our guests who smoke, but we also want to make sure our non-smoking guests can enjoy a smoke-free environment. We hope you understand. Wit that said, we appreciate your feedback and hope we’ll get another chance to host you down the line. -Simon At Hilton Waikoloa Village
Kona Day 2: Volcanos National Park
In Volcanoes National Park you can look down into the crater of an active volcano. It has erupted as recently as 2018 and parts of the park are still closed.
My demon beast loves the smell of sulphur coming from these volcanic vents. We’re standing on an active volcano, play nice with the local spiritual entities, boy. Pele is a notoriously fickle goddess after all.
Kona Day 2b: The Proposal
After the hike I had a question for Rubber Pig and he had an answer. YES!
So, of course, I had to take him back to the room and breed his ass as deep as humanly possible afterwards. See Hawaii Hotel Bareback for full pics.
Kona Day 3
Another day in paradise, breakfast at the hotel and returning the rental car, A bunch of hasty engagement calls were made …
It’s literally got it’s own waterfall that you can swim through!
Kona Day 4: The Dolphins
The hotel has a pod of live dolphins which they use as a tourist attraction
There’s a pack of three dolphins who swim and play when not working, and their work is mostly playing with kids and tricking the occasional unsuspecting tourist into a hand job like this guy here did…
I know there are folks who would be terribly opposed to keeping animals for public display but, honestly, I can think of much worse fates for a dolphin than being well fed with his fellows in the hotel pool.
Day 5: Kona to Waikiki
A trek out to a big silver plane and an island hop to Ouahu to stay in the Ilikai hotel in Waikiki
A piece of history you can stay in, famous for the opening credits to Hawaii Five-0 it’s still in it’s 1960s glory.
Spacious rooms with a view of the harbor or Waikiki skyline
Suites with a full kitchen and apartments you can buy. Key system is a little finicky, and the elevators are crowded and slow. Othewise a great place.
romantic sunset with a view of Diamond head with the new fiancee and dinner at Moose McGillicuddy’s. Finally got an AA meeting while Mike was crawling the bars.
Kona: Day 2:
In the morning, a lovely breakfast, and a very boring timeshare presentation.
Then some Tai Chi on the beach to work up a sweat
Then a lovely romantic stroll around Honolulu harbor that night with the new fiancee.
Honolulu to Sydney
Honolulu’s airport had the coolest grounds and best lounge of any airport we traveled through on the whole journey.
The Qantas lounge has a japanese garden.
And a gorgeous polynesian themes lounge.
It’s going to be a LONG flight to Sydney! I logged over 6,000 miles on this one alone.
Sydney Day 1:
The Old Clare hotel in Chippendale, Sydney, NSW, Australia…
Uber trendy neighborhood with prices to match. The kind of gentrifying trendy district you see featured in the in flight magazine.
The hotel itself is Very stylish in a 21st century modern sort of way.
Reminds me of Hotel Beckett’s 968 Park property in Tahoe with all the reclaimed materials.
Plus, the lighting in the hotel bathroom here makes me look buffer than any other place I have ever posed in my life. Bob thinks it’s too much… do you agree?
Sydney Day 2:
Sydney is a large city with a rich and beautiful history.
I could easily spend a week touring everything I walked past in 2 hours today. The Cathedral, the Victoria Building, the Maquarie era city hall.
Hyde Park with its glorious fountains and cathedrals…
To the Royal Botanical Gardens and the government house where the NSW Territorial governor lives.
And finally to the harbor to see the famed Sydney Opera House with Iron Bridge.
Reflections on Austrailia
In Australia, it’s tomorrow already:
People believe in facts here, and there’s no enormous gulf between political factions on the basic truth or falsehood of news events.
Everyone believes in global warming.
Everyone does their part to help the environment.
A university education is available to all at a very reasonable price.
Big banks are forced to operate ethically.
People actually care about the behavior of the companies that they spend money with and companies are forced to comply or the customer won’t buy from them.
There’s a universal consensus that government should represent the will of the people in a fair and democratic way.
Elections are publicly funded (mostly) and the dollar values are quite low.
Bribery of politicians is truly scandalous.
Health care is universal, but you can backstop it with private insurance if you want better.
Guns are strictly regulated and automatic weapons are turned in and melted down.
OF COURSE they have problems, but they are regarded as solveable and there is substantial cooperation towards resolving them. And this is a right-of-center country by global standards: Rupert Murdock’s homeland with a porn ban and a draconian immigration regime like ours.
Once you get out of the US propaganda bubble, all sorts of things that corporations pay billions of dollars to make “politically impossible” in this country seem perfectly attainable.
And with that I catch Qantas to Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland, NZ Day 1
Arrived safely in Auckland, New Zealand at an airport that reminds me of Seattle but scaled down to the size of RNO.
The hotel itself is a cross between late 60s Palm Springs and Hawaii
with little doffs of the hat to Maori culture everywhere.
Nice solid bed, but it kinda sucked to fist on and we moved out to the couch in the front room. Was perfect for side fucking, though.
New Zealand Day 2: Aukland Reflections
If yesterday’s lesson was “Travel is fatal to prejudice” then the observation of today’s drive from Aukland to Rotarua is “Wherever you go, there you are.”
Here I am on the far side of the world, it’d be hard to get further away from home. Yet somehow, no matter where I go I still carry my own frame of reference with me and find it utterly inescapable.
The suburbs of Auckland look a lot like the south Bay, the drive South reminds me of the Willamette Valley of Oregon,
and thence into ranching territory that reminds me a lot of Carson Valley, NV with a range of high mountains bordering lush cattle ranches and sheep paddocks with cutesy little roadside cafes.
I compare it’s size to California and it’s population to the Bay Area, the roadside cafes to Nevada along US 395, even the newspaper I read at this diner somehow reminds me of the Tahoe Daily Tribune…
Somehow New Zealand is both more and less foreign than Australia, with it’s wide open spaces and small population. Yet my mind is from California and can only comprehend it in terms of my own familiar experience. I carry it with me wherever I go, and obligatorily so.
New Zealand is itself alone, unique in all the world. But by the same token so is my experience, and I suspect that I will be using Auckland, Rotarua, and Wakatani as future points of reference after I return.
Moral: You can never escape yourself, but perhaps your mind can broaden to include new frames of reference for future situations.
New Zealand Day 2: Whakatane
Breakfast at Poppy’s in the center of Whakatane, then a walk back to the motel. Kiwis are very into the big breakfast just like Americans are. Best bacon I ever had anywhere.
Getting a handle on the national vibe: rural, friendly and polite. Unhurried: low speed limits, traffic circles EVERYWHERE (Whakatane has more per capita than anywhere else on Earth) little inspirational quotes on the business signs.
70s modern never really went out of style here.
Tile roofs, exposed beams, little doffs of the hat to Maori culture in all the archetectural details and art.
A predominance of one and two story buildings. Low desity, good sidewalks, manicured lawns.
New Zeland Day 3: Ohope Beach
From halfway across the world in California, my friend who taught in Matamata told me the legend of these mysterious islands. How a team of miners was lost and never found…
So since I had traveled all the way to the Bay of Plenty I decided to go look at them from the famous Ohope beach. In the summer this is a famous surfing beach. This time of year it’s just dog walkers.
My local contact can confirm that these islands, White Island and Elephant Island are an active volcano and that people used to mine sulphur out there until volcanic eruption stopped them because a team was lost. It is true that the team was never found.
But the coolest part of the legend remains unconfirmed. My way my friend tells it the mining team had a dog. When they returned to find the miners after the eruption there was no trace of the miners. Except for the dog, who was found unharmed and returned to his owner’s widow on shore.
New Zealand Day 3:
rainy day rest day to cope with my achey body, some laundry…
a quick car ride out to Whakatane’s cute little general aviation airport to price tickets to White Island (out of my league)
I’m blown away that a town smaller than South Lake Tahoe has daily flights to Auckland on Air Chatham.
Whakatane is also home to a regional magazine and a PhD granting educational instituion.
Though smaller than my home town it’s Bay of Plenty’s regional center.
It boasts a fine harbor occasionally frequented by friendly dolphins.
Had lunch at an old school irish pub by the quayside
Where I had a lovely guiness pie and cruised balls out in their bathroom.
and tweeted this lovely gem out to my social media:
One thing you notice traveling is how insanely euphemistic American Culture is. On the road to Rotarua I see an American company selling “biological fertilizer solutions” while the kiwis at the farm down the road have a sign that says “Sheep Poo” and a price.
Aussies and kiwis are very direct, even cheeky about their openness. The information folio at the swanky Hotel Claire is labeled “Random Crap” The number for the septic tank company 0-800-POO-TANK.
The local equivalent of Grocery Outlet is Discount Traders, even the Asbestos remediation company chooses to call themselves “Asbestos Solutions Services” so they can proudly emblazon the acronym A.S.S. on the backside of their trucks.
Maybe it would be better to be more cheeky and less offended by everything.
New Zealand Day 4: Hell’s Gate
Hell’s Gate volcanic hot springs, Rotarua district.
New Zealand’s equivalent of Yellowstone it has volcanic pools with both extremophilic organisms and mud volcanoes found nowhere else in the world.
George Bernard Shaw visited Rotarua in the 19th century and named it the gates of hell and named several of the more accessible features
My demon came out and began to chant the Enn of Asemodeus (the demon I am ensigiled to) and pray at the gates of hell. Rubber Pig’s Demon declared his love for mine.
I saw a 40 degree Celcius healing waterfall with fizzy sulphur mineral water.
I got to see some virgin New Zealand fern forest. Silver Fern is a national symbol (to the point of being on their passports) but they’re getting choked out by Lake Tahoe’s favorite pine tree Douglas fir!
There’s so many Douglas Fir’s on the North Island of New Zeeland that if I didn’t tell you I’d snuck in a picture of US 50 on the way to Carson City, you’d SWEAR it was from the road to Rotarua.
This is Blue Lake, from the actual raod to Rotarua is New Zealand’s contender for world’s clearest lake. They don’t measure the same way Tahoe does. (See the Tahoe Summit for for more info)
Rotarua is erriely similar to South Lake Tahoe to me complete with duck boats, banned in Lake Tahoe after one got into a traffic accident and then sank in shallow water a few years before the tragedy that got em banned nationally.
a sternwheeler named The Queen that docks by a lakeside ampitheatre
that when finished will be not unlike Lakeview Commons with a walk along the lakefront and docks and a music venue. Like Tahoe local development signs sing the praises of waterfront redevelopment.
The lake itself is a volcanic crater with a central island that reminds me of Wizard Island in the middle of Crater lake in Oregon.
And just like Tahoe has little doffs of the hat to the famous building in its local archetecture, except in this case it’s a 1908 neo-elizabeathan bathhouse that the tourisim office here looks like.
Unlike Gates of Hell, Rotarua’s volcanic vents are tamed. The volcanic pools are unlike anything I have seen in an urban area in the USA, more like Baden in Germany.
going off in parks with statuary and signs and public pools for bathing
The park harbors extremophilic bacteria found nowhere else on Earth.
Personally, even though it’s a hot spring on cold on a rainy day in southern hemisphere winter I’d rather not bathe in that.
So we went back to Whakatane in a total winter downpour.
New Zealand Day 5: This is What a Well Governed Country Looks Like
On my last day in New Zealand, I feel like commenting on the state of the country overall because it’s such a powerful contrast from America.
Not only is it beautiful and peaceful here, well blessed with natural wonders, but everywhere I go I noticed the little things.
There are no potholes, anywhere. Not even in rural places.
The roads are safe and carefully laid out.
There are pedestrian and bike paths everywhere, and well used by all. which are much improved with public art because they are so used.
There’s so little crime the police have to warn foreign tourists that crime EXISTS here.
The main threats to life are natural disasters, smoking and road accidents judging by the local propaganda.
Local and national government is packed with smart, powerful women from the PM down.
It’s an election year and there are no negative ads. It’s illegal to campaign against your opponent and you are expected to run on merit
Politicians run on balanced budgets, equality, and environmental protection.
They fret about a 50% turnout in LOCAL elections we’d be proud to have in a presidential election year.
The main threats to democracy are people being so satisfied with the way they are governed that they don’t bother to run for office even though it’s cheap and easy to do so.
The government is so squeaky clean that Australia looks corrupt to them (😆😂😆😂)
Wages are decent, prices seem reasonable (on par with Honolulu or SF, but with VAT included) and income taxes are what upper middle class people pay here on a middle class salary not sky high if you consider that nobody has a health insurance premium. Ever.
The effect of women is government is everywhere:
Women get a full year of maternity leave
Small towns have advanced universities.
Nobody gets shot in school (or anywhere else)
because their bad-ass lady prime minister banned guns in 7 days!
The quality of the meat is spectacularly good.
Passports and even grocery clubs have an X gender and it’s completely uncontroversial.
The social consensus is remarkably strong.
There’s suprisingly little controversy.
There’s a cultural emphasis on kindness and understanding of people different from you.
The United States of America is a fabulously wealthy and powerful country compared to NZ, but when it comes to quality of life and cleanliness of government New Zealand has us beat hands down.
Kiwis are very nice. If we ask politely, maybe they’d tutor us in effective self government.
New Zealand to Brisbane
Alas no time to go see the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata.
I had a Virgin Austrailia flight to Brisbane to catch.
Got to Brisbane late at night.
Alas the train doesn’t go downtown to the swanky new W hotel we were staying at and we had to take a bus.
Nice view of Brisbane from the bus window.
From the lobby up this place is insanely grand.
So of course I had to shoot nudes up in the room
You can see the full series nudes with a jackoff tape with Brisbane’s famous feriss wheel in the background here.
Then cruise up to the pool level so Rubber Pig could get a drink at the bar
While I got a view of the city of Brisbane I’d get only 16 hours in, mostly sleeping.
Brisbane Day 2
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 4am local time.
I wake up jet lagged from the two hour time difference from New Zealand to begin what is going to be the longest day of my life in the most literal possible sense.
And as I make the strange pod espresso I ponder the fact that I will leave here at 7:37am local time on August 24th
and by the miracle of the international date line
I’ll be landing at LAX at 7:10am local time on August 24th.
Time to catch a 13 hour flight back to the United States.
My t shirt in the photo below totally describes my attitude towards traveling today.
13 hours later, at 17:10am…
We’ve cleared customs in 3 countries and the US is typically fucked up about it. There’s a machine, but it only sort of works, and they wouldn’t trust it even if it did work, so they send you through a long line to have an agent ask you the exact same 5 questions the machine asked so you can go pick up your bags so you can go through another long line so yet another agent can ask you the same thing (except he doesn’t, and just takes the recept from the machine and doesn’t even check your bags to see if you are smuggling anything).
Underfunded, understaffed, needlessly complicated, and not half as effective as what both Australia and New Zealand pulled off in half the time with a quarter the inconveniences. (And both of them scanned my bags to be sure that I wasn’t smuggling)
Welcome to America! San Fransisco’s skyline has never been more welcome. And I come home, and I look at my computer, and I look at my desktop which is this and I think of Rotarua…
At the end of a long journey
you finally come home and
You bring your map of the world
Home with you changed forever.
And you notice all the little things
That you took for granted before.
This is why travel is fatal to prejudice
Because it never lives up to
The experience you once imagined
Yet somehow, if your mind is open
It turns out the reality wildly exceeds it
Once dreams have turned to memories.
So the moral of the story if it has one Is that
THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR BEING THERE
It’s one thing to note that Mark Twain said
“The air in Lake Tahoe is so pure it is
The very air the angels breathe…
And and the water is so clear to look down
That it feels like balloon voyaging
To look down upon the submerged rocks”
It’s another thing entirely to breathe it yourself
While staring down through the window
Of a glass bottomed boat in clear waters
Like I used to in my own youth up there
Before the Tahoe Queen burnt down.
Yet I know right now that somewhere
On the far side of the world a sternwheel
Is still propelling tourists across the waters
Of a pure and serene mountain lake
As they dance and eat and watch the sunset
On a boat called the Lakeland Queen.
In a town just like my hometown
Yet unlike any other place I’ve ever been.
Only I could have this insight
Because only I can come from my perspective
And that, in the end is why it is that
there is no substitute for being there:
Wherever you go: there you are,
And your experience is unique to you,
Seen through the lens of your map of the world
In a way that no one else can see it.
Brought home forever expanded by new places
And perhaps in all your travels
You’ll someday encounter something
That’s entirely off of your previous map
And you will say like the mural in Tahoe:
“There is no other place
Anything like this place
So this must be THE place”