Casita Chronicles Down Under
Before leaving Taupo I went to the council and wrote them a personal thank you for making available a place for “freedom campers” signed thanks from the Yanks. for what its worth. We did make it to the valley of hot springs. Kerosene creek was a very nice hot water creek in a deep forrest complete with waterfall. It did indeed smell like kerosene? We met another elderly american couple like ourselves from corpus cristi Tx. They and we were the only ones picking up trash in this beautiful place. We are products of the commercial in our youth of the indian getting out of his canoe on the banks of the river strewn with garbage and the tear runs down his cheek. This is fine country with rolling hills of grass, forrest livestock and farm. This is one of several thermal hot spots in the country which are well used for energy. The last eruption here was in the 1880′s. Interesting enough that the people that were here died not from lava or fumes but were scalded to death by hot water. A small lake was enlarged many times. What is more interesting is that the land completely devoid of plants afterward had ancient spores deep in th soil that began to appear. These plants had not been seen for many hundreds of years!! The earth is quite remarkable. It will indeed outlast the human race. As a side note in the U.S we have the crater of the largest super volcano on the earth in New Mexico and what some geologist consider the makings of an even larger super volcano in Yellowstone. Wyoming has the largest hot spring in the world at thermopolis. Sadly we do not take advantage of this geothermal energy probably because it is mostly in the National Park system.
Headed over to the coast and made it to Mikato. A very nice beach with campsite. i followed Mrs O with a box while she picked up her treasures. A swim was short as the ocean is no warmer here than any other place we have been.
IN SERVICE TO THE QUEEN
The morning starts with the arduous task of making coffee which I deliver to the queen in bed or wherever she deems she wants it (this morning it was on the beach). I set up the tent, I take down the tent. I do all the driving to wherever she wills to go. I pay full price of $10 each for a camp-spot and 75 cents mind you for a 4.5 minute hot shower so she can wash her hair despite having been soaking in hot springs for the last 3 days. Christians would call this going the extra mile but for Luallin men this is SOP standard operating procedure for their women. And I do it all willingly and lovingly. Just thought I would let you know. Truth be known, she is saintly putting up with a meiser of epic proportions, living like some young backpacker and still keeping things clean and tidy as they say here. On top of that gourmet meals. It is a privilege to serve the Queen.
I have not done any writing on political issues of late, I must be having too much fun. Without a doubt many are wondering –now when is he going to rant some more? This one came to me and none of my farmer friends would verify or deny any of the details but here goes.
Government intervention and repercussions in agriculture
In the Late 70′s and early 80′s there was a large movement among the farmers for parity. That is to say, equality. For example the price of wheat per bushel had remained static since the 30′s while the price of bread, fuel, fertilizer, equipment had risen steadily. To maintain solvency farmers had to farm larger parcels of land and seek better producing grain by the use of hybrids and fertilizer and larger equipment to farm it. In the process they produced far more grain than could be utilized compounding the problem. Left alone to the supply and demand process the results would have been either the failure of many farms economically or the change to other crops that could be viably profitable or some other use of the land. The farmers formed Co-ops and attempts at solidarity to reduce production and supply so prices would go up were unsuccessful. This was due primarily to the basic human element of greed. The suspicious nature that if I sacrifice and do not plant then the price will go up and those that do plant will reap a huge profit kept anyone from not planting. Since the Government deemed food production an essential national security issue and the prospect of many farms failing, action was taken. These actions came in the form of subsidies and breaks in taxes and fuel prices. These government programs came with strings attached, concessions by farmers in the form of being told how much to plant, and how to plant etc. The Government also purchased the tremendous overage produced and then gave it or traded it away to countries like Russia and China as well as many others. The problem was not solved so the Government took further action and actually paid farmers not to farm in what is called the Crop Reserve Program=CRP. This program put large tracts of land out of cultivation and back into native grassland at taxpayer expense. The resultant farm bill is now second only to National Defense in government spending, it includes food stamps and a beaurocracy on a grand scale. At this juncture there are few farmers that cannot or will not function without some type of government assistance and are not under the thumb of government direction. While the price of commodities has risen somewhat, particularly corn with the mandate for ethanol use (also a boondoggle) the CRP programs are expiring and it is unclear how much of that land will go back into production. Government intervention did not solve the underlying problem of supply being greater than demand which still exists and in the process of meddling in the free market the tax burden is high and a completely unnecessary beaurocracy created.
A run on the beach. There were many live fish flopping around and I asked someone what was happening. Apparently a critter Orka, shark was chasing them and they get stranded on the beach. If I had known I would have picked up a few for dinner!! We made our way north to the gold fields of the north island that took place in the late 1800′s. This was primarily hard rock mining in a deep gorge called Karangahake. It is scenic and there are still lots of machinery and bridges. Strangely the trails lead though old mine tunnels and many are left open for people with good flashlights to explore. The dichotomies of society. I enjoyed the walk up the valley and the campground for the night is a flat area near the same creek upstream. The weather is warming up and so out some the sand flies! Once again a couple of wierd things on the bulletin information boards. The first is they describe the roasting of the ore before crushing a method which took lots of wood. They deforested the entire area and it was determined that it was ecologically unsound since the erosion from loss of trees was silting up the stream (not to mention the tallis from the mines). So they went to a more sound method? Cyanide!! one of the most lethal poisonous methods ever. One can only imagine what havoc that created on the environment and people. How about they went to cyanide because there was no wood left and it was cheaper and better. Another item was like Arrowtown, where they talk about how many people lived there, in this case 2,000. They list the schools and church’s newspaper etc but never any mention of cribs, brothels, bawdy houses, saloons, dance halls. These guys were either the most chaste bunch in history or they had no libido, neither which was true. The political whitewashing in this country would be akin to going to the smithsonian in the U.S. and there is no mention of slavery or the civil war. Oh well, whatever makes them feel good. Another oddity is that despite taking out and processing millions of tons of rock from within the mountain there is not a single tallis pile?? Did they throw it all in the river and its washed to the sea or did they surgically truck it away to some other undisclosed location? Maybe the aliens came and took it. We hope to make it to Hot Beach tomorrow. The famed beach where you dig a hole by the sea and sit in hot water while you take in the sun. Should be fun.
Its Friday and the morning started out with a nice run down the valley. Well well, there is a tunnel some 600 ft long, you can see the other end a window of light in the distance. Best of all inside are the famous “glow worms” these little creatures give off light as small dots by some chemical in their body. I went and got mrs O and we took a lunch and hiked back and thru the tunnel. The best part for me was it saved us about $60 each to go to some private cavern to see this. It was interesting but I am glad we did not pay for it. The lunch by the river in this nice valley was even better. We met a wonderful couple on their anniversary. They made a conscious decision not to have children in an already overpopulated world. We hit it off with them right away. They had been tour guides in Africa, Middle East and South America. They convinced me that Venezuela would be the place to visit next winter and for a summer trip Kazakistan. We will look into it. We got a chip in the windshield driving in a construction zone. At the grocery store was a guy who fixes windshields and after calling our rental company who were going to charge me $200 he said he would do it for $60. He had been in the States and wants to go back, in fact all his equipment is U.S. he also bought a camper in the U.S. for half of what he would pay here in NZ and had it shipped over. Used it for 6 years and sold it for a profit. He likes the yanks. Our afternoon stop was the last of the must do Loopy tour things. The hot beach where you dig a hole and hot water comes up. It is a novelty and of course everyone and his brother was there. The water was constantly changing from scalding to cold and of course digging in the sand is nearly impossible. I would have to rate this as one of the least enjoyable hot springs. More interesting was listening to all the different languages being spoken. The guy that rents shovels (which we did not) for $5 a piece was making a killing. Capitalism at its best. I am also glad we did not pay for this experience as it is on the beach public in New Zealand. We ended up paying for a campsite it was outrageous $40. This are is the most stringent against freedom campers so it was better than a $200 fine. The last DOC camp host told me that even many kiwi’s do not like this policy as it restricts them as well. Many have boycotted areas that ban freedom camping. She is also of the belief that members of the local councils are also private camp ground owners. business has invaded the state here as well.