Author Archives: kangamerican

About kangamerican

Originally from America. Proud citizen of Australia. Currently riding my motorcycle around the world. 44 countries so far and counting. ;-)

There’s no place like HOME – South Australia!!

Well I could have done this sooner, but life (living at home) has been super hectic.  Today is the day I can officially finish my last traveling blog post of Sherri Jo’s Because I Can World Tour.  I suppose in the back of my mind I’ve been procrastinating this as well.  I don’t REALLY want it to end.  But I also know when you shut one door, another more amazing door opens and that is something to be excited about.. so lets close this door!

I had just crossed the border from Victoria and I was actually in a bit of a daze while riding along the Princes Highway. I buzzed right past this sign when it hit me!  Sh__!!!  I just crossed my LAST border!!!!!  So I spun the bike around quickly right in the middle of the road and went back for a photo. My home state, SOUTH AUSTRALIA… Lord have Mercy!!!  Is that for real????? It seems like just the other day I was in Brazil.  How did I get here already!??

And then I thought, I better take some photos of myself!  These are the last official photos of me riding on this world tour!  I was trying to be somewhat safe and keeping my eyes on the road while driving with one hand.

Look! These are my South Australian trees!!  Okay, I agree. I’m getting a bit carried away.

I’m truly getting a bit overly excited about being this close to home.  Thank goodness there’s nobody around to see me.  I’m waving the bike all over the road as if it was just given to me as a present. If I could, I’d pop a wheelie! What the heck, one more photo.. 😉

It is still winter here in the south.  The weather changes from downpours to full sun every 30 minutes.  That’s okay, you won’t throw me off today!

Gotta take the obligatory photo by the big lobster.. which is for sale if anybody is interested!  Everybody needs a big lobster in their life, right?

Riding, riding.. I find that the more I think about getting home the faster I seem to go.  I manage to control the speed (most of the time).

This is the Coorong.  This is where I had spent most of my time in Australia when I moved here from the United States many years ago.  That is so in the past, but it’s nice to see my old stomping grounds, which means I am getting REALLY close!

Yep!  There’s my old driveway.  How many times have I jogged up and down that track in my life. Either with my dog, pony or a kangaroo in tow for company! I enjoyed my time there, but I can’t help to reflect at how proud I am to have escaped this place and moved on to an even better life!

Not much further and I met Neil Collard on the road.  He invited me to stay in his house for my last night in the south so I can plan to be home tomorrow at a certain time.  Neil and I take the ferry at Wellington.  I forgot about this ferry!

A few days ago, I got a message from wonderful facebook follower Ally Cunningham asking if she’d mind if she and a few others could ride along with me my final kilometers.  Absolutely!  I would love that!  Then she made a facebook page event and called it the “Because She Could” ride home.  That was super cool and gave me quite chuckle on one hand and a bit of a tear on the other.  I saw a few riders said they were “going” on that page and I was excited. To make it easy to meet them on the road and to let my neighbors and friends know what time I’ll be home, I stayed at Neil and Chris’ house Saturday night with a plan to meet Ally and her friends at 10 AM Sunday at the local coffee shop before riding home.

It was a good final night on the road and nice home cooked meal.

Phew!  I can tell one of the first things I’m going to do when I get home is get a hair cut!!  I heard a heap of motorcycles ride past while I was packing up the bike and Neil said they must be going to the coffee shop to meet us.  I told him ‘No, that was a huge group, they are just out for a Sunday ride.”

We pulled in to the coffee shop and there were A LOT of motorcycles there! I parked the bike to meet Ally and her group.  I don’t know hardly anyone in South Australia who rides motorcycles, I wasn’t part of the culture before I left, so I am still thinking that most of these bikes must be some other group who just pulled in for a favorite coffee spot.

Until I finally met Ally Cunningham in person!  She said they are all here to meet Sherri Jo!  What? I pretty well just want to fall over.  How is this possible??

Big Thanks to Ally Cunningham!!

Even today I’m looking at all the bikes and still can’t get over it!  I feel beyond honored.  Many of them came a VERY LONG distance from other parts of South Australia just to be here this morning.  Thank you ALL again!!!  I remember feeling very humbled and quite honestly like I might throw up at any minute.  But, I will keep my composure as best as I can.

These guys are too cool. And looking at this photo, I’ve just realized that I’ve clearly been on a bike too long.  Am I really that bowlegged??

Brian Campbell

This guy, Andy, freaked me out a bit, the poor dear! He kept making me do a double take.  He was reminding me so much of Kevin. He looks like he could be a cousin! Not only did I quickly find out he’s from Scotland like Kev, so he has the same accent and he stands with arms folded the same. He also has that same confident smirk. If only Kevin could have been here today, I bet they’d find out they come from the same Scottish bloodline somehow!

I had to put this picture of Kevin in from when we were near Medellin Colombia last year.  See!!??  Possible Scottish cousins!!?? 😉

So many amazing people here.  I wish I could talk to them more.  The good news, is these are the local riders I never knew before I left.  I hope to ride and spend more time with them now that I’ll be in one spot again for a while.

Ally who is the master of the day, called the time for us all to get ready to ride!!  A huge group, the Easy Riders were heading on South for their official Sunday lunch ride.  But it was so cool they all came here this morning to say g’day.  I really loved it.  The others are going to ride with me home.. Yeeee Haw!!!

Getting everyone lined up and safely on the opposite side of the road.

I kept looking at all those little headlights in my mirror.  Are they all really riding with me?

We pulled over near Sellicks Beach for a group photo.  Just for fun, Because WE Can!!

Next stop, Sherri Jo’s neighborhood…

OMG… this is my street.. this is it.. It’s nearly over…

A couple of Mark Pearce’s photos.  We were running late.  And they told me they heard the motorcycles a fair distance away and knew we were coming in.  With all those bikes, it sounded great and you’d have to be a very deaf neighbor not to know that Sherri Jo is coming home!!

My previous excitement turned to full-on tears.. sorry for the soppy bits, but this is what happened.

To the driveway, where good friends Clare and Randall had my house open, the garage door up so I can come home and park the bike good and proper.  I got off the bike and went into the most ridiculous cry.  Overwhelmed at everyone who rode with me today, everyone who was waiting for me here, and of course, the official end to Sherri Jo’s Because I Can World Tour.  Thank goodness I gave that tour an achievable name!  Once I got my breath back, then it was.. Woo Hooooo!!!

Tina Haigh, Randall and Clare Kiesewetter

I can’t believe it!!!  I’m HOME!!!!!!

Happy!  I made it!! 😉

High Five!!

Wonderful Mark Pearce who drove all they way down from Port Pirie today! And let me borrow some of his photos. Good to finally meet you in person and thank YOU! 😉

I think Mark was one of my very first facebook friends!  If I remember, he either saw the newspaper article or listened to me on the radio way back in 2010.

Peter Tee who has given me heaps of Apple Computer and camera advice over the years!  Tina Haigh who is one of my first ever Aussie friends and the first host I had when I stayed at her house in Port August on my very first night on the road in 2010… going a whopping 70 km/hr all day long.. haha!!!  I was such a dreadful rider when I started!

Ciao!!  Thanks for coming!!!

I’m in the garage!  This is the last point of panic before I started the bike and rode away alone on June 1, 2010.  The tenants showed up an hour early and I still couldn’t quite figure out how to pack the remaining items in!  So I tossed them in the shed, shut the door and hoped for the best.  Completely shaking when I started the bike, completely wobbly from nerves to rev the throttle, I left.  Now I’m home and know there was nothing to be afraid of.  Tony is safely parked in the same spot.  All is well.

Given that all my furniture is still out in the shed, I set up camp in one of my spare bedrooms.  They have carpet, the master does not.

And how good was it the next morning to find my kettle and tea cups right at the shed door!  Smart one Sherri Jo!  The happiest I have been in a long time is to be in my own home, drinking my own tea out of my own teacups in my OWN kitchen!!!  Love love love it!!

I worked all day bringing boxes down from the shed, and then on the bike running around to my first day appointments.  There was literally no rest, but I will not complain.  I’m so happy to be home.

So there we have it.  After everyone left and the sun was going down I took a moment to breathe.  Look at Tony parked in the drive. So surreal and I’m thinking that it seems like it was only a couple of months ago that we were here, but it was actually 1,160 days (3 yrs and 2 months) ago. I look at my yard and the wonderful views and feel really really grateful.  Like anyone in life, I’ve had my ups and downs over the last 3 years, but mostly ups.  I’ve seen so many amazing places, things and met the most incredible people.  I had no idea what an impact the people of the world would have on me.  The overwhelming generosity from strangers is still my biggest surprise.

I’m so happy the idea to ride around the world on a motorcycle popped into my head one day.  Horses for courses, I’m glad it wasn’t to sail a boat around the world!  I admire the people that do, but having spent some months on a sailboat before, it’s so limiting and boring in comparison to the experiences and places a motorcycle can take you.  I’m glad it wasn’t a bicycle that popped into my head.  I wouldn’t have had the patience!  Would I do it again?  Absolutely!  But if I don’t, I feel that I can leave the planet at any time from now on knowing that I’m proud of my life. I gave it a go and didn’t sit back and waste it. I love my life!  (There, that is the last time you’ll hear me say that for a while…)

Hearing your comments and knowing that somebody out there was actually reading this gave me inspiration to not only keep writing, but to keep going when I needed a boost just to keep going sometimes.  I only started this blog so I can have the memories for when I’m an oldie.  I never really expected that so many people would actually read it.  That has also been a huge fun surprise and I’ve made a lot of good friends because of it. Thank you ALL for following!

Thank you to my wonderful sponsors.  In particular Rukka Riding Gear from Innotesco in Melbourne http://innotesco.com.au/.  They really did so much with 3 amazing riding suits and gloves keeping me warm and dry the entire time.  And a huge thanks to Safari Tanks http://safaritanks.com.au/ and Touratech http://www.touratech.com.au/home/.  Still my favorite accessories and proven they can take a Sherri Jo beating and still function perfectly! 😉

And lastly a super huge hug and thanks to my family and friends.  I’m so lucky to have the best in the world.

It’s time to bid farewell. I know it’s a common cliche, but honestly and truly, if I can do this, ANYBODY CAN!

Lots of Love,

Sherri Jo Wilkins xxx


Coming Home!! Australia once again after ALL these years.. ;-)

Wow… how did I get here?  It’s gotta be done. Time to officially finish off this long journey and go home.  I land in Melbourne where I will wait for poor Tony to arrive by ship.  It was exciting to land in my own country followed by a crazy taxi ride through the night, but not far to my wonderful hosts house in Essendon.

I had a couple of days to get to know where I was, try to accomplish some “home” goals, getting my mobile number re-established, internet,  preparing to have things and people organized to move back into my house, etc etc.  I really got to know the trains and trams of Melbourne!  I was never a fan of this city before, but I’m most impressed with the public transport system!  I was really into hitting the ground running with projects, that I didn’t take time for photos. Ridiculous! So I borrowed one online at this website, http://us.123rf.com.  Boring, I know.. ;-(

But! Good news! Literally the day after I arrived, Robin Box from Safari Tanks and Touratech called me. I can’t remember in my mad 6 month planning to take this journey in 2010, how I got on to Robin.  I think I had questions about some Touratech products.  He graciously gave me partial sponsorship on those things.  And then one day I got a call about the Safari tank he was recommending.  I never heard of one, but when I heard the story, and he offered to send me one free of charge.. well okay then! I really didn’t know what I was doing setting up my bike and I think he caught on to that.  But it’s special people like this that has made the journey for me, and this was the start of it.

Robin  knew I had a few days to wait for my bike so he invited me up to his family home near Wangaratta, about 3 hours north of Melbourne.  So, I took the train!  Haha, well for that public transport system? There is a buckle in the train lines, so they put us on buses instead.  Oh well, it was a nice ride and one I didn’t have to navigate or think much about.

Into the R & V Aqualine warehouse, they built this business way out in the country and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw size of the factory.. on a remote farm!  Heaps and heaps of Safari tanks in all different sizes and colors… everywhere!  Very well organized and super impressive. I have always said since day one, that my Safari Tank that Robin so generously offered is my all time favorite accessory.  Forget the leather purse or pearl earrings, I’m in and have been in love with my Safari Tank the entire time!  I know I’ve said it a million times, but stock fuel capacity on my bike was only 12 litres.  With the Safari Tank, he gave me an extra 14 litres making it 26 litres when both are full.  This completely made travelling to remote areas possible.  Now I can only imagine how much I would have missed in the best remote parts of the world if I didn’t have this extra fuel tank to take me farther.  Freedom and peace of mind. I can’t be more proud to get to know the people who have helped me so much.  And I’m more than happy to say if you need extra fuel capacity on your bike, check them out at Safari Tank Website

While in the “Safari” shed, I’m eyeing a new Triumph Tiger 800 equipped with one of the Safari Tanks.  Robin asks, “Do you want to take it out for a spin?”  I initially told him no, because I don’t want to fall in love with another motorcycle until I know I can get a new one for myself.  Plus I still don’t have any riding gear as it’s still on the shipping crate with my own bike.  He says, “You can borrow my daughters gear!  What size are your feet?”  I tried on her boots, they fit perfectly. I tried on her Touratech jacket, it fit perfectly.  No more excuses, Let’s go!

It was a big bike!  It felt all right but so much bigger in comparison to my own that I didn’t go crazy on it… yet! 😉  Robin kept saying, go faster.. open it up!!!  That man has speed in his blood!!  It was only a small ride. But I really enjoyed it and would love to do MORE! 😉

The following day is Sunday and the Box family take me out (in a car) to show me around.  I just keep noticing the smell and the sounds of my favorite Aussie birds.  The Kookaburras, Cockies and the Galahs. Beautiful Lorikeets. It feels so good to be in familiar territory and I’m really recognizing I’m nearly home…  The bird photos are not mine.  I just threw them in so people from overseas knows what I’m talking about.

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 Galah

 Lorikeet

Beautiful lunch and small hike near Bright, New South Wales.

Thanks again for a super fun weekend..  Big thanks for helping an ignorant ol’ girl prepare a motorcycle properly for a huge trip around the world!  With that Safari Tank and the Touratech Panniers, I couldn’t be more grateful.

I made it back to Melbourne.  This time on the train, not the bus!  With only one more day to be reunited with Tony.

Couldn’t wait to get to the warehouse and unpack Tony from the little crate.  Did he survive the smallest crate of all?  Yep! Perfect and I didn’t have any quarantine or cleaning fees.  My toothbrush cleaning job in New Zealand worked again!  Ivan from Bikesabroad was there and he helped me unpack and put the bike back together again.  I love the photo of him on my bike.  I love the smile that motorcycles bring to peoples faces as soon as they’re on one!!

Once I got organized and packed up the bike, It was time to hit the road!!  Riding out of Melbourne city was entertaining.  I left my Australian gps map card in America with a stash of other things a couple years ago, and I neglected to pick it up last time I was there. Not to worry, this is MY country and I know my way around.  For the most part.  The city was easy enough, I found my way with only one unnecessary diversion.. haha.  The main highway south to Geelong and on to the Great Ocean Road.  All of these roads I’m familiar with and easy peasy all the way back to South Australia from here.

Well I didn’t get to far, only to the coast, a town called Anglesea.  The bike was revving up on it’s only especially when I took a left turn.  The throttle cables were installed on the wrong side of the bar causing them to be too short and straining. There’s no hurry getting home as I’m not due in to Adelaide for a few days, so I park the bike in a very abandoned camp ground (winter!!) on the ocean and had the place to myself.  Love that!

I went back to Geelong and a great mechanic helped me sort the cables out, and a couple of other tidbits that I should have attended to, easy done.

Now, time for the Great Ocean Road!  I’ve travelled this road twice in my life already.  I’ve stopped and seen everything before, so it’s less eventful than it should be on a world journey.  Yet spectacular enough that I’m so happy to be experiencing the curves this time on a motorcycle.

I’ve marvelled at this house every time I pass it, but this time I thought to take a photo.  I also remember seeing it on an Architectural Building show in Australia in the past.  Yes, I love those shows..  But I can’t help thinking that it’s a bit surreal after riding to very strange places on this motorcycle in the last 38 months, that I’m now in places I know well and seen before. It would take a special person to think of building a house on a stick like that!

What’s also cool is that this is a week day during winter.  Otherwise this road is full with tourists during summer or the weekends.

Snack break!

Morning Walk!!  Soooo happy to be here.

It was so funny to come across the Plovers.  The silly dears have laid eggs next to the parking area.  A lot of large sqauwking and those raised wings.  Ooooooo, I’m so scared, little one!

I see your eggs are safe.  The screeching calms down and now I think she wants to sell me a new watch under the jacket.. ?  Tourist business is slow at the moment.. 😉

Back on the great road..

Just out of curiousity I stopped at Logan’s beach.  When I pulled up, I saw several cars, so it might be a good day to see if the Southern Right Whales are around.  Yes, they are!!  Probably a bit hard for you to see in the photos, but there is one on the right about 2/3 down.

Not a clear photo but with the zoom and crop I got him!  Little baby was doing tiny breaches!  So cute.  It just makes me feel good to stop and see the whales.  I’m glad I did that, familiar or not.

Logan’s Beach, NSW

I decided to stop for the night in Port Campbell.  I stopped into the camp ground first.  It put me off a bit, and I thought, I’ve done enough camping and stayed with the most amazing hosts in Melbourne. Tonight is a hotel night! It’s been a really long time since I’ve stayed in one. The cheapest I could find of course!  This lovely hotel in the photo has much cheaper rooms out the back.   How many times in my life I’ve stayed in Outback pubs, and this one is a classic beauty.

Next stop, South Australia!!!!!!!!!! (If I think about that too much, I get a bit teary. So let’s push that aside for now..) Cheers!


Back down to the south of the South Island to find my way north on the North Island, Again!

After I sent the motorcycle to Australia in a ship (so sad!) from Christchurh New Zealand, I had plenty of time to waste over the next 3-4 weeks.  You can always count on the Gold’s to pipe up and they invited me back down to their place!  The day I rode my motorcycle north from them a month ago was full of rain and I didn’t get to see the spectacular views they insist I see now.

So I got a bus ticket, only $35 to Omarama from Christchurch.. cheap!  It was a 5:30 AM depart time, and with advise from Carole to sit on the right hand side, I enjoyed the most amazing views all the way there.  We arrived at Omarama about 15 minutes early, but not to worry!  The Gold’s are there and already waiting!  Carole has picked up some groceries for her upcoming 8 course meal tonight!  But it’s hard to walk past and give a hug when a huge FOOTLESS dear stealing the show!

They have really good friends coming over for dinner and for them it’s a normal meal.  For us it would be Thanksgiving!  Carole made 2 meats, lamb and chicken.  And 11 vegetables.  Eleven!  And each of her friends brought beautiful deserts.. along with the wine.  I’m so full I could bust! I’m so happy to be back!

That was Saturday and on Sunday we pack up the car and head south back to good old Mosgiel.  Ross plans on driving me back the other scenic route that I missed last month.  Remember the Brass Monkey Rally I attended and the roads that were closed due to strong wind and snow?  Today’s the day to see what I missed.

On the way out, we stop to visit family friends and their new baby.  What a gorgeous family and beautiful place to live!

This is the South Island New Zealand and very much winter.

Lindis Pass, New Zealand

Once through the pass, we come back down to a non-snowy elevation.

How pretty is this!?? I’m really glad to be here and see this.  Most riders experience New Zealand in the summer.  Pretty, yes, but this is more spectacular!

On Monday the Gold’s go back to work and what am I to do???  I did a sneaky one.  I told them I’d have dinner waiting for them when they get home.  No problem.  Carole is humming along and says that she wants me to come back for Christmas.  She is thumbing through her wall calendar and marking down the days I will be leaving NZ and home to Australia.  And she says, I need to mark your birthday on my calendar too.  “When is your birthday Sherri Jo?”  I couldn’t tell a lie, I said, “Today!”  What!???  I’m sorry for the blurry photo because the light was low, but I love her excitement!  It’s nearly an exact match to the way my Mom used to smile and react.  Those two would have been best buddies, I can assure you!

Firefighter Dave came to dinner too, which was really nice.  He even brought me a cute birthday present!  How perfect is this?? Legos, one of my favorite childhood toys (along with Matchbox cars AND Barbie)  I probably shouldn’t admit that, it’s a strange indication to my adulthood. Anyway, this Lego set is a firefighter AND a motorcycle. Perfect!

Dave has just bought a motorcycle, so it was good for him to meet Carole and Ross as they are having a big Ulysses Moto party on the weekend.  I won’t be there, but it will be fun for them!  But he did invite me out for a great morning hike near Dunedin at Tunnel Beach.

Last night Carole was explaining how she likes to liven up a party if it gets boring with planking.  I’ve never EVER heard of such a thing.  So Dave was happy to demonstrate for me here on the beach.  We all will just have to imagine Carole doing this on furniture at a party??!!  haha  It’s really quite strange, but funny! Is this just a Kiwi thing?

We took turns taking photos of each other up on the cliff.  Cool!

So beautiful here, I think we might need to sit and ponder the world around us. I didn’t get to sit down before the self timer sent off.. ha!

Afterwards we went back to the Port Chalmers Volunteer Fire Station for a proper firefighting experience?! Well nearly.

I got to wear the gear and ride in the big truck!  Everyone should do this!

So if I want to make myself known, which siren sound should I pick??  I don’t see myself as a wailing type of girl, definitely a yelper for sure.

Thanks again for showing me around Dave.  Gee whiz, since the time I met Dave when the firefighters invited me to lunch at the Dunedin Firehouse, he has been the most excellent local tour guide!

Back home to Mosgiel where I plan to pack up and head to Auckland for a few days before making my way to Australia.  Lovely Carole couldn’t help herself and she gave me a heap of birthday presents to open.  Since I didn’t give her advance warning, she came home with all of these wrapped the next day!  She knows I’m looking forward to being back in my own kitchen soon, so I got lots of fun kitchen gadgets AS WELL AS, the local favorite Kiwi cookbook, Edmonds.  These are perfect and awesome too.. Between them and Dave, hey all made this a great birthday to remember. Thank you!!

The next day I flew up to my other home away from home, the Hubbard residence in Auckland!  But unfortunately they are not here. They are riding a motorcycle completely around Australia at the moment! But I’m grateful as always to have wonderful place to stay as I finalize my last bits of New Zealand. Here in the hot seat salivating over one of Diana’s local New Zealand cookbooks…

What a difference in weather from the South Island to Auckland!  It was so hot I couldn’t even wear socks and shoes whereas yesterday I was wearing 3 layers of socks on the South Island!  I love the Birds of Paradise they have on the veranda, and it was more spectacular with the sun shining through.

I took a little wander around the waterfront downtown.  I hadn’t done this before and was really impressed by this modern city.  Amazingly, it’s very overcrowded.  New Zealand is accepting huge amounts of immigrants and from their news reports, the people land in Auckland to set up a new life and tend not to venture any further.  Housing is nearly impossible to find and the prices for rent or ownership are beyond normal and through the roof.  I hope they get a grip on it soon.  It is a very good looking city though, with lots of good energy.  I like it!

I was lucky to meet another fantastic motorcycle rider. Shock1 He invited me for a day out to ride his KTM 990 while in Auckland!!!!  Would love to!!! But I had sent every bit of my riding gear in the crate along with my bike from Christchurch.  I have nothing!  Supersize bummer!! But he was kind enough to offer a tour on 4 wheels.  I can do that!  He came and picked me up for a drive to his part of the world near Hanua Falls.

These are cool.. what’s next?  “Do you want to hike up and stand on top of the falls?”  Sure!  Nice little heart pounding hike, I needed that!  Water drops on the camera lens.. sorry!

I’ve been to a zillion waterfalls on this world tour, but I can say that I’ve never stood right on the top edge of one. Awesome!

Next a drive to the other side of the North Island.  It doesn’t take long in New Zealand!  And we go to check out another beautiful view, the lighthouse at Manukau Heads.  It’s easy to imagine what it would be like to be the lighthouse master guiding ships into the harbour.

I can’t get over the colors here.  Just gorgeous!

Not a bad spot!  Thanks Jock!

This was so much prettier in person than through the camera.

Well, that was a wonderful and successful wrap up to New Zealand.  I was lucky enough to spend 3 1/2 months in this country, and it quickly felt like home to me. I’m still blown away by the wonderful new friends I have here.  Everyone treated me like family and I couldn’t be happier.  I will greatly miss New Zealand.  But! The good news is that it’s only a hop over to these islands by airplane from where I live in Australia, so watch out!! 😉

One final bit of excitement.  I am about to board the famous A380 jet liner.  I couldn’t get over it.  I bought the cheapest ticket available from Auckland to Melbourne and this is what they put me on!?  I feel like I won the lottery!

I’ve wanted to fly in one of these for years and it met my expectations.  It felt like flying in first class even though I was very much in economy.  Well done to the designers of this awesome flying machine.  My last country of Sherri Jo’s Because I Can World Tour is now complete. See you in Australia!


Devastated Christchurch and Waikuku Beach New Zealand

A very long full rain day riding from Omarama in Central Otago, north of Christchurch to Waikuku Beach, where I’ll be housesitting for another month!  Hey! I spent a fortune shipping my bike from South America to New Zealand.  So I’m going to take my time! I met a wonderful couple who are going to Europe to visit family and tour Italy and while they are away…  I will be looking after 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 turtle, 6 chickens, 12 white doves, 8 (?) parakeets outside, 1 Gallah and 1 Cockatiel inside.

I particularly loved the doves.  Besides the fact they are so pretty, they are free all day to fly around and they come home at night by choice.  Nice!

And this goofball, the Gallah.  He is quite a character and had me dancing and laughing all the time!

HI Gaffa!

The two dogs are as cute as they come and full of energy.  Lucky for them one of my favorite things to do is to go for a walk!

Such a lovely place to spend a month of my life… I like it here and love having the animals around.  Me ol’ mates, now adoptive parents (haha) from the South are coming up to stay with the permission of the homeowners! Yay! They want to show me around Christchurch and even Carole hasn’t seen the damage since the big earthquakes 2 years ago.

More than two years ago in February 2011, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake hit the city, killing 185 people and injuring many more.  I can only imagine what it was like to see the damage 2 years ago, but there is complete chaos even now in 2013.

Our first stop is the Brighton Pier.  Interestingly, it stands just fine!  I would have thought if anything would go down that thing would!  There is a video on youtube that shows it waving, but like the weebles, it won’t fall down! They temporarily closed it for a safety check, but quickly reopened.  A real credit to the builders of this pier!

Brighton Pier, Christchurch

I feel heavy and sad here.  I’m not comfortable walking around this city at all.  I’m not putting the earthquake photos in here to make light of this place.  I remember thinking as I’m walking around that I’ve been in some really rough countries on this journey.  I’ve been in some really bad cities.  But this one is the worst I’ve personally seen and it’s not a fresh disaster.  This is 2 years later!

For any building that might be open, the pipes are on the street for sewer and water.  I’ll let you pick, blue line or yellow line.  Gotta through in a bit of humor, even the Kiwi’s will tell ya! The earthquake ripped up all infrastructure. The city nearly has to start rebuilding from scratch, starting with all new pipes.  Which hasn’t been done yet and needs to before the future new buildings can start connecting.

There were several churches we saw today that have steeples on the ground conserved for a future rebuild.

A LOT of buildings have been completely removed.. That in itself is unnerving to walk around these empty spaces where people made their livelihoods!  The shipping containers are being used to save a historic building facade.  I imagine if you are in the temporary fencing or shipping container business, you are one of the few doing really well in Christchurch!

I just saw this green building in the news. Somebody has bought it!  Must be sentimental value here..

185 White Chairs “Reflection of Loss of Lives, Livelihoods and Living in Neighbourhood is an installation by Peter Majendie, standing on a vacant lot in the heart of Christchurch. Where a church once proudly stood, the 185 white chairs each represent one of the 185 lives lost in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Each chair, just like its owner, has its own distinct personality, with the installation including armchairs, dining room chairs, a wheel chair, and even a baby capsule. The 185 square metres of grass that the chairs sit on represents new growth and regeneration – something which you can see and feel across the whole city. The artist’s statement poetically reminds us all that the ‘installation is temporary – as is life’. ” Written by Elise Boyd in the link above.

On a positive note and a complete change to the sadness, here is what the city is doing that I really liked.. Shipping container shopping!

 Shipping container bank!

 All shipping containers.. impressive!

I think they’ve really organized this well and happy to see some hope here. Even the banks are using the shipping containers.. smart!!

None of us are really sure where this little girl’s parents are.  She is basking for money.  A lot of people are being really creative to earn some money.  There is no question that is going to take YEARS to get Christchurch back on it’s feet.

Back on the road, we venture out to see more.  These shipping containers are doing the job of holding a hill up!

You can see why in the photo below!

The stadium.  A centerpiece for most cities. Looking very modern and new but very closed..  So sad..

I’ve heard that getting windows, darn near everything is on a huge back order.  Remember that New Zealand is an island, and not very large.  Larger countries would have more resources quicker I would guess.

Carole keeps wanting me to sit in the front of the car.  I keep saying no, that I’m happy to ride in the back of the car.  It’s kind of like being driven around with parents and I like it!  But she demands I will see more from the front seat.  The stand off beings.  “No!”  “Yes!”  At the corner stop, Carole gets out of the car and refuses to get up until I go to the front seat.  I locked the door and refused.  (Poor Ross.. he’s got 2 of us!! 😉  The cars are piling up behind us.  She is clearly the tougher lady.  I give in out of guilt for the waiting cars and go to the front.  Score Carole!!

We contemplated the Whitebait sandwiches.  Carole makes the best Whitebait, so we will leave her with the top status and pass these guys up.. haha..

Even the beach rocks are fenced off.. everything is fenced off!

The neighborhoods are surreal.  So empty.  The red zone is where nobody can live.  All the pipes and infrastructure is broken, and the rebuilding has not begun as of yet.  Carole and I got out of the car just being nosey.  It’s like a ghost town and I can only imagine.  What if you didn’t have earthquake insurance.. where did they go?

The city provided these temporary toilets for all residents in most areas.  I can only imagine what it was like to share these with your neighbors every day.  Most residents have moved away. And even during my stay here 2 years later, they had a report on the news that the post is no longer delivering mail to the red zones… I can’t imagine anybody is still living there, but there must have been a few that had no choice.

My visit from Ross and Carole was over far too quick.  They are heading back down South, but it was great to have them here! A really eye opening tour of Christchurch and I can only hope that everyone has found a way to either move or recover from the devastation quickly.

I’m going to be shipping my motorcycle from Christchurch to Melbourne Australia by sea.  Australia has really strict import cleanliness rules, so I start the process of cleaning the bike with a toothbrush.. again!  I just did this from Buenos Aires to New Zealand! I still feel really grateful for all the border crossings I did that didn’t require Tony to be perfect and spotless!  I do appreciate their reasons for this, it’s just nice I didn’t have to do it 49 times to 49 countries… only 2! ;-))

There is only a small window of warm sun during the winter days down here.  And I’m not in a hurry, so I do a little bit each day.

After my nice walks with the dogs! How pretty is it here….

Firefighter Dave was up the next weekend visiting his friends in Rangiora and asked if I’d like to go check out the Antarctic Center.  Sure!  Dave has worked 3 times in Antarctica and has a real passion for it.  He’s worked for 2 countries even.. New Zealand AND the United States.

Replica of Scott Base in Antarctica

It’s fun having Dave show me around because he’s had personal experience with all these things.  What a unique life!

They really want you to get a feel for Antarctica..and do so by offering an ice slide. ha!  Froze my bum!

We were looking at the center’s map and it shows the rest room locations.  That’s all good, but what’s up with the sleeping or dead seal on the map?? 😉

That was actually really cool.  Unlike a museum, the Antarctic Center is a working center, where the scientists are completing studies or preparing for their next season.  Super interesting and thanks Dave!

Back home and I take the dogs for another nice walk.. Sorry to be boring, but I like it and only a couple left before I start packing and moving on.

Poor little Spirit dog won’t leave the fire.. so cold!

Down to the shop to pack up Tony.  He’s going be leaving before me as that ship will be a bit slow.

Tim, a very cool American KTM rider!!!!  Helped me a lot to pack and crate the bike for which they kindly donated from a previous Kawasaki shipment.  Obviously a bit smaller, but we made it work!

Then he had me around to share a July 4 celebration with his super cool American girlfriend (not only American, but from Indiana!!!) who has a serious world record herself.. in rowing across the Atlantic Ocean!  Hoosiers unite! 😉

We just made it a full on American night in New Zealand.  Hamburgers with lots of ketchup!!  And I donated macaroni and cheese.  They brought in the American beer and I was reminded why I never drink beer in America.. ick!!  Haha.. It didn’t take long for Tim and Sarah to drink the NZ beer I brought along.  But it was fun that we could be totally American today..  Independence Day!!

Happy 4th of July!!!

 American Invasion… New Zealand!!  Ok, so it’s a very tiny invasion, but we’re here!! ;-)))


Brass Monkey Rally, Central Otago New Zealand

Finally time to move on and head to the north of the South Island.  But not without a proper motorcycle send off by attending the famous Brass Monkey Rally.

As mentioned before, Bill Veitch from McIver & Veitch KTM, whom also happens to be one of the founding members of the BMR 33 years ago, invited me to what is usually the coldest place on the south island to ride your motorcycle, camp, drink and be merry around the largest bonfire in the world.  Anyone who has attended has told me their stories of surviving the snow and cold at the Brass.  Now to see if I have what it takes! 😉

The road takes me into Central Otago, where there are cute little outback towns and scenery to boot!

I noticed early on that the road had a very slippery brown “layer” on my side sometimes.  It looks like diluted manure.  Well I found out that is exactly what it was!  I passed an animal hauler that was spraying the lovely mixture of poo and urine and hoped that was the end of it, but there was plenty ahead of him so he wasn’t the only problem truck.  As you can see the road is nice, smooth with plenty of twists and turns and on one of my turns, I was going up hill in the curve when around the corner came another animal hauler coming down hill.  I had seen enough for the last 2 hours and knew to keep as left as I could.  Never mind!  He totally sprayed me with the disgusting mix.  Both me and the bike were covered head to toe in shit!!!

I was so ticked off.  I kept riding and wiped my visor clear with my gloves.  Thank goodness the visor was right down!  The more I thought about it, and smelled it, the more ticked off I got.  At the first fuel station I came to in Ranfurly, one very pathetic looking Sherri Jo went inside and asked if they had a hose I could use.  The super nice lady did. You could see in her eyes how sorry she felt for me, and I went to spraying down everything I own.  I was so mad, I didn’t think to take a picture until now, after everything was clean again.

I arrived the Brass Monkey camp soaking wet, a bit late, but happy to be here.

As soon as I got in, there were people waiting for me, expecting me.. ME???  The newspaper wanted to do an interview as it seems I might be the most foreign and farthest traveled bike.  Plus they wanted to enter me into the show and contest.  Heck!  Let’s get to work!

Bill found me and asked, “Where have you been?  I found your bike and your tent, but not you!” Sorry Bill,  I’ve been meeting so many people since the moment I arrived.  He said, “we need your bike in the contest.. Go back and get it!”  I did..

Where have you been Sherri Jo?

I’m clearly behind.. I need a drink to try to start catching up!! 😉

When  I arrived and set up my tent, there was nobody here in this particular patch of grass. Now it seems a little group is forming and by the time I return a second time, you wouldn’t be able to see my tent as I got completely and thoroughly surrounded.  I had to walk over plenty of tent lines and dirt bikes to just get to my own.  There’s 500 acres here to camp on do they really need to be so close? This is one very tight community!  It was actually quite cool.  I mostly got surrounded by heaps of 20 year old guys who had just ridden the Dunstan Track to get here.  Really nice kids and super passionate about their motorcycles.

Whew, got my bike up to the contest area just in time!

What sort of lights are those, Sherri Jo?

Chainsaw bike on the run!

Mmmmmm… me wants… ;-)))  KTM 1190 Adventure

I love being here.  Every where I look there is somebody or something interesting to look at and talk to.  I needed to go back to my tent to change a camera battery, and I found the young guys had started the campfire, but nobody was in sight.  There was only a slight wind, but enough to blow the embers close to my tent and I didn’t want either burn holes or to loose my little house for the night completely.  So I moved a burning fire.. Yes!  It can be done, to relocate a burning fire. (very quickly and with minimal damage to my riding boots! 😉  The boys wandered back with beers in hand and asked what I was doing, and I told them the fire is too close and down wind for me.  They were cool and that was that.  During the night, the wind picked up, I heard them talking around the fire. They said, “We need to move this fire out even more, I think our tents could catch fire too!”  I had a little grin…

This man was so sweet.  Do you remember I have a photo of him in only 2 posts back?  We met him riding along the coast in the Catlins and he was traveling by motorhome with his wife. Here he is again?  He comes up to me and asks, “Do you remember me?”  Of course!

Some real Kiwi characters at the gate!

Well, it looks like the bike show is over, the bonfire is definitely started.. let’s get this party started! 😉

Wowee, I’ve heard about this bonfire from tales of past years, but it’s so much better in person!  That is IMPRESSIVE!!

I wandered down to the front gate and they ask me again, “Sherri Jo where have you been?”  What?  Walking around meeting and talking to people.  “Didn’t you hear your name called out on the stage?”  No, why did they call my name?! “You’ve won an award!”  Really???  From the bike show they have given me the first ever “Longest Distance Traveled” Award.   Awwww, that is very cool!  Why didn’t they tell me to stay within ears distance!?? I didn’t hear it at all!  Never mind, the award is very very cool.  I got a plaque and and a gift certificate to use at the sales trailer.  THANK YOU again Otago Motorcycle Club!!

Inside the volunteers tent I see Nigel making a little teeny tiny coffee. I’m sorry, not coffee, espresso.

It’s so little and easy to take along on your world adventure!  I don’t drink coffee, but even so, I’m quite impressed with the little gadget.

Now this guy is a different story.  Dude!  You’re drinking radiator fluid!  He said, “Yeah, it stops the leaks!”  OMG… what a character!

I had to go see that bonfire again.. wow..

It was nice to stand by the fire and listen to good ol’ live music.  The party was definitely going with lots of drinking and dancing!!

The band was really rockin’ it at the Brass Monkey!

Sometime after midnight the wind kicked up.. and then it really kicked up.  I parked the bike the best I could without having a tree to lean it against like I did in the strong winds down at Ushuaia.  I hardly slept.  Not only was it a late night in general, but I kept worrying about the bike.  I’m still not convinced that laying it down with fuel and oil is a good solution, but that’s exactly how I found it on one of my worried peeks out my tent door. Around 2:30 AM, the Fire brigade came out with the big hoses to put the big bonfire out because the wind was over 100 km/hr.  (62 mph).  Volunteers were going around to everyone’s campfire to make triple sure they were out too.  While they were at ours, we managed to prop my bike up with the remaining firewood and it lasted the rest of the night.  The winds got stronger and stronger. It was total dejavu with my camping in the Patagonian Argentina winds.

I decided to pack up in the dark around 6 AM… and I waited in my tent for that time.  I wanted to get going earlier!  When I came out with my head torch on, I had a look around and nearly everyone’s tents were destroyed by the wind.  I’ve got my black bag on the bike, everything tucked away and you can see the mess the others have to deal with in the photo below.

I rode my bike through the dark and slippery little track to the make-shift office and asked if there is anything I can help with.  Turns out there is!

A lot of the riders come from as far as the top of the north island for this event and they are well known to leave super early to make the ferry and the journey back home on Sunday.  I’m up there thinking I’d be one of the first, but some have left already. The police have come in to tell us some bikes have been blown off the road.  The first one was a man on a Honda Goldwing.

The wind is at 120 km/hr (75 mph), and I know we rode through this strength in Argentina.  I hated it and it was difficult but knock on wood never got blown off the road while in motion (while stopped, yes!) I wonder what made these guys go down.  Could be some freak gusts? Or the size of the bikes?  Not sure.  Anyway the police asked us to have all bikes stay put until at least 10 AM.  The managers made a couple big signs and I walked around to all the campsites making sure the riders understood the weather before they go.

The sign was upgraded to… Road Closed!

Radiator man is still smiling!

It didn’t matter much, there were plenty of riders who left anyway.

I took some photos as I went to warn everybody..  I hadn’t seen the chainsaw motorcycle up close yesterday and it sure gave me a chuckle this morning!

Very distinct remnants of a wild child on alcohol!  I hope he didn’t burn his toes..!

As I was talking to this guy about the wind warnings he wasn’t fussed at all, so I asked him if I could take a photo. He said, “Sure, whatever turns you on!”  I hate to say, but turn-on is not how I would describe why I wanted to take a photo! 😉

Regardless of the wind, it’s such a beautiful place to be.  I am so in love with this event, I’m sure I will come back someday.  To be out in the middle of nowhere gorgeous South Island New Zealand with a HUGE group of people that are “my people”.. I absolutely loved it.

Bill Veitch asked me to ride with him as we left the event that he created with his buddies 33 years ago.  It’s technically the event of the Otago Motorcycle Club, who have made me a lifetime member.. So you know I’ll be back now!!! 😉

Bill rode with me to the east coast where he headed home to Dunedin and I turned north.  I’m riding up to another historic town in the center to stay with Ross and Carole again in Omarama.  I would have continued to use central roads but they were all closed due to the wind.  It was a rough ride for a bit, but the closer we got to the ocean, winds died down and were nearly non-existent at the water. Usually it’s the other way around!

Bill suggested I stop in for lunch at this scenic little spot, Moeraki Boulders.  They are these perfect round spherical rocks on the beach.  I’ve never seen that before.  They say it’s natural erosion.

Once I turned inland, the wind started getting quite strong about 60 km from the shore.  Then it got super strong, and then I was cursing at it!  I knew it was going to be windy when I rode toward the center, but I knew I could handle it.  It was never as bad as the wind this morning, but it’s all a mental thing really, isn’t it?  When it feels like somebody keeps shoving and pushing you over and over? I stopped here for a moment behind this tree line for a moment.

I made it to Omarama a bit grumpy, where I found a very warm and cheerful Ross and Carole.  They were well worth the hassle I can tell you.  The fire was going, I had a nice warm shower and lots of laughs.  Carole is showing me a photo in a local history book with her Grandfather in it for inventing.. the flat bottom paper grocery bag!!

They keep telling me how beautiful it is here and that it rarely ever rains.. Well lucky me!!

It was still pouring a heavy rain the next morning and they need to head back to Mosgiel. I’m due to go up north of Christchurch to my next house sitting assignment for another month.. woo hoo!  I don’t NEED to be there today but I do need to be tomorrow.

Ross and Carole’s close friend Georgie rang up and asked how I will be able to travel in the rain today and if I didn’t need to I was welcome to come and stay at her house.  Wow, and yes!  Perfect solution!!  It was so kind of her to think of it and ring!!

It rained most of the day but near sunset the clouds lifted a bit.. Have a look at the view!!!

Georgie and Tim have retired, sold the family dairy farm and built this gorgeous eco-friendly house right here.  I was so excited to see the view and the sunset and I found them in the lounge room watching television.  I said, “You gotta have a look at this colorful sunset, it’s unreal!!”  Georgie looked at me and agreed but said, “Sherri Jo, these beautiful sunsets are just normal, nearly every day..”  Right, of course!!  I’m definitely the tourist here.. ha!

Thanks again to Ross, Carole, Georgie and Tim, for a super warm and cozy weekend in Omarama!!

Now I can ride north to Christchurch.. I was hoping the rain last night was stopped for good, but today is not meant to be.  So it’s a rain day for Sherri Jo.. No worries. I can always count on my Rukka Gear keeping me dry. At least there’s no crazy wind!

See you in Christchurch!


The Catlins, Mosgiel and Port Chalmers, New Zealand

After the presentation I did at the Ulysses Club last week, I got a call from Ross, Carole and Terry who wanted to know if I’d like to go for a ride down to the Catlins.. Of course!  The Catlins is an area in South New Zealand well-known for it’s coastal ride between here and Invercargill.  I did not come up that way from Invercargill on my original ride, and with such nice weather today, it will be good to back track and see what I missed.

Good Morning Ross and Carole!

No matter where I go in New Zealand, it’s beautiful in every direction.  How about this coastline?

At this one little stop we met this man from Te Anau, the place I stayed on the west coast.  He’s not on a motorcycle today while on holiday with his wife in a campervan.  Otherwise he does ride and he offers motorcycle friendly accommodation in Te Anau (I’ve already been through, but I still wish I wrote down the name he told me.. ;-(.  A couple minutes later we met another man who just pulled in with a campervan as well, who is visiting from South Africa!  He’s right into his motorcycle club in that part of the world.  I’m not joking, it’s hard to meet anybody in New Zealand who is not passionate about riding!  I love it!

He was telling the truth!  Proudly sporting his Ulysses Club sticker, where the motto is “Growing Old Disgracefully”  Yes!

We pulled off for a coffee break at Kaka Point and they tell me that the “famous” Nuggets are something to see out the peninsula but it’s a dirt/gravel track.  I say, “That’s all right, I can do dirt!”  They laughed and said, “Yeah, but we can’t.”

It’s not far, so while they have a coffee, I take off to have a look.

Easy peasey!  I understand their concern on a big touring road bike riding on a gravel, but this one is quite safe.  Hard to know unless you’re out there though.

More beautiful views! It turned out to have a look at the actual Nuggets (rock formations along the coastline) required a 900 meter walk.  I didn’t want my friends to wait that long for me to hike that far and then to return, so I took a couple photos and headed back.

Tony loves the gravel.. it’s so much more fun when I don’t have to carry all my gear.

I made it back to the coffee stop and they’re still here!  Thank goodness I didn’t take that longer hike as it turned out poor Carole had the coffee from hell.  She found that they used old sour milk!  Sometimes you gotta take the good with the bad.  Not a “bad” view! ;-))

Now we travel south and I’m wondering if Lake Wilkie is a “sign”… ha!  I love this place and it really doe seem like home!

We stopped for a wonderful lunch at the Whistling Frog Cafe.  I had Blue Cod for the first time.  It’s one of the most popular fish dishes on the South Island, but somehow I’m only now trying it.

After lunch, Ross and Carole needed to get home for other family plans, and Terry wanted to show me a different route home that included some spectacular falls.

The Purakaunui Falls are just gorgeous.  I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls on this trip and I think this one looks like a wedding cake!

Purakaunui Falls

Terry is great fun to travel with.  He’s been all over the world and has lots of good stories!  What a perfect day.. thanks guys!

Now I need to get home in time to feed the chickens! I’ve never looked after chickens before.  I counted around 50 of them.  I always thought of them as being quite harmless, but not when it comes to the roosters!  They are down right evil!  The roosters would go around raping every hen and little chick as they are trying to get a feed.  They were so forceful, it would make me so mad. But I guess that’s life and how it works in the chicken industry… I just had no idea they were so mean.

Here’s a good example.  The hen and her chicks hiding out by me and the front door.  The rooster comes in to sight and you can see the fear in their eyes!!  Run Chicks Run!!! There are so many roosters here the poor things don’t stand a chance..

From that newspaper article the other day, I got an email from Howard Weir.  He surprisingly recognized me and the bike from the time I rode through Siberia with Walter Colebatch by following his ADVrider posts!  That was way back in 2010, so he’s got a heck of a good memory!  Anyway, he invited me around the fire station in Dunedin for lunch.  That was a no-brainer decision for me, how lucky can I be!??

They made a darn good meal, including desert!!  Great cooks they are. Yummm!

Howard and Dave showing me the “Jaws of Life”.. Wow!!

I take guys like this for granted, unfortunately.  I don’t think of it often but I know they are there. Super humans who dedicate their lives to saving people. What an honor it is for me to meet them and to get a real insight to what they do and how they do it.

I’m also lucky to be the proud new owner of this t-shirt. At the bottom it says Whakaratonga Iwi.  Maori words meaning “To serve the people”.

Another day, another presentation in Dunedin!  This time it’s the official Otago Motorcycle Club (the last one was the Ulysses Club).

The wonderful people of the South Island are filling up my Ortilebe travel bag!  I’ve got a new long sleeve Ulysses Club shirt, my new Fire & Rescue Shirt and now a new Otago Motorcycle Club shirt made with the thick merino wool so famous for New Zealand.. I am one very lucky girl!  And with the winter coming, all 3 shirts will and have been put to very good use!  Thank you ALL so much!!!

Ross and Carole invited me over on a Saturday night dinner party. It turned out to be quite the seafood extravaganza!  First up was Whitebait.  I’ve seen it advertised everywhere, but I’ve never had it.   I think it’s most commonly on the menu as a fried ball of fishes, but Carole makes them with an egg mixture.

I have a look at them, and find that they’re all looking right back at ME! I quite honestly had a “No way” attitude at first, but as soon as I tried it, the little fishes tasted fantastic!

A very light fish with a very light taste.  I never noticed the little eyeballs after that.. yum!

Carole even managed to get me to eat Bluff Oysters.  I hate oysters!  And I warned her to not even try.  The last one I tried years ago came right back up as fast as it went down.  She convinced me these little oysters in the deep fryer will be different.  Yep, they were good too and stayed down! Amazing!  Then she served up a crayfish mornay with rice.  Gee whiz, I’m getting full.  They laughed at me and said, but we haven’t eaten yet!  What?  The main course is still on the way, grilled Blue Cod and salad!  Lord Have Mercy. Now that was a dinner party! Even better because I’ve now tried and like things I never did before.  Cheers!

The family at the other house I was looking after came home early at 3 weeks instead of 4.  My next housesitting assignment is up near Christchurch, so I have a free week.. What to do?  Ross and Carole said, “Well you coming back to stay at our house, end of story!”

So I said goodbye to all my new animal friends…

And found myself back at the Gold Residence, which I’ve renamed the Mosgiel Spa…

Ross wants to pick up some meat at his son’s butchery shop in Outram, a small town about 10 km from Mosgiel.  I walked in the door and wasn’t sure I’d get out alive! Just kidding. These guys were great.  I’ve never been behind the scenes at a butchery and they are masters of using a knife!

I’ve had a sore back for a few days, so I had a nice soak in their spa..  It’s like being with family. Nice warm house, good meals, motorcycles and hot tubs! And not a mad rooster in sight! ;-))

Firefighter Dave sent a message inviting me to tour around his part of Dunedin, just up the Dunedin coast at Port Chalmers.  Somehow.. during lunch at the fire house, I probably carried on a bit about Sir Hubert Wilkins, the greatest polar explorer of all time.. in my humble opinion! 😉  And Dave thought I’d like to see a bit of polar history around here.

He took me to the Scott Memorial.  I won’t carry on too much, but a bit about Sir Hubert Wilkins.  Wilkins’ goal was to be the first to fly an airplane to the South Pole where he would map thousands of kilometers of uncharted territory in Antarctica (amongst a zillion other ‘firsts’ he accomplished in his super full life).  He achieved this goal, and on any detailed Antarctic map you will see “Wilkes Land” as well as the Wilkins Sound, Wilkins Ice Shelf (which has recently broken up due to global warming) and Wilkins Peninsula!

I’m really bad.  I’m carrying on AGAIN about Wilkins, when this is supposed to be about Robert Scott. The prevailing history is of two other great explorers.  One being British explorer Robert Scott who was here, using Port Chalmers as the last base before sailing to Antarctica.  And the other was a Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen. They were both keen to be the first to make it to the South Pole and were in an unofficial race.

They would have to be the toughest guys on the planet.  There is no lightweight polar fleece, no Gore-Tex. I quite like those straps holding up the big furry gloves.  They look really convenient.

Captain Scott had no way of knowing it at the time, but the first expedition to reach the geographic South Pole was achieved by Amundsen. He and four others arrived at the pole on 14 December 1911, five weeks ahead of the British party led by Robert Falcon Scott as part of the Terra Nova Expedition. Amundsen and his team returned safely to their base, and later learned that Scott and his four companions had died on their return journey. Wikipedia.  The photo above is a memorial of Capt. Scott’s last message, very thoughtful words.

From reaching the South Pole by foot for the first time in 1911, it was only a few years later in 1929 that Sir Hubert Wilkins flew there by airplane.  Check it out, I just found out there is also a Wilkins Aerodrome AND a Wilkins Runway!  Well deserved…!  Amazing photos of Wilkins Antarctica Aerodrome

Hardihood from all!! (We loved that word Capt. Scott used in his last message above.. ) I’ve always got to stick in a bit of Wilkins history, just because I love his name and still wonder if he is a long lost great Uncle of mine. If not, I claim him anyway! Great history!

Port Chalmers, New Zealand

I remember looking at this and wondering which way should we go?  To Church or to the South Pole?  What a unique option!! Dave’s already been to the South Pole.  He has worked 3 seasons on the New Zealand and American bases in Antarctica as a carpenter.  But I wonder if he’s ever gone to Church?? 😉

Wandering about the port.  Firefighter Dave makes quite a good tour guide!  His family and history is here, so he had lots of great stories to tell.

Thanks so much for showing me around Dave.  Another way of getting to know this part of the world is fantastic! Normally I’d have a night or two in a city and move on with my journey.  Stopping here for a whole month has made a huge difference to me.

Back home again to the Mosgiel spa!

I’ve so much enjoyed my week here at Ross and Carole’s house.  Kiwi hospitality is unreal and these two have really raised the bar!

However, the time has come to leave my Mosgiel temporary home and head to the Brass Monkey Rally in Central Otago.  It’s a winter rally and it takes a true blue hard core Kiwi to attend this motorcycle event, most often in the snow!


Invercargill, Burt Munro and Dunedin New Zealand!

On a very rainy day I left the Doubtful and Milford town base of Te Anau and rode to Invercargill.  The road was as beautiful and scenic as ever, but in a chilly rain I didn’t photograph anything. It’s all stored upstairs.. !! ;-).  My goal was a simple ride to the town of Invercargill where I set up in a very shonky little room in a campground. The tent leaks and it was only $10 more.

Not only was it raining but gale force winds kicked in shortly after I arrived.. good timing!  Even the camp manager said I couldn’t have timed that better.  Whew!

I actually had two days hiding from bad weather in my little room.  The good thing is that the internet worked really well.  Better than a regular hotel, which surprised me.  New Zealand has been really difficult internet-wise. I’m still not sure why such a progressive modern country has worse internet access than a super poor country like Bolivia, but I find my ways to do what I can.  I was lucky this camp gave me free access for one of the 2 days.

When the weather cleared, I was out!  Off to see Burt Munro! ;-)))) I hope all of you have seen the movie “World’s Fastest Indian” with Anthony Hopkins??  One of the greatest true motorcycle stories of ALL time?!?  IF you don’t know about the legend, here is a great Wikipedia link.. Burt Munro Wikipedia.

Also, in the nearby Southland Museum there’s a Burt Munro showcase. A 26-minute movie runs showing the actual life and times of Burt as he ventured to America in the 1960s in pursuit of world speed records (this film is also often included on the DVD version of The World’s Fastest Indian). The film is a fantastic homage to a small-town Kiwi who dreamed big and then had the verve to make his dreams of speed records and world travel come true. – See more at: http://motorcamps.com/content/oreti-beach-invercargill#sthash.OGu5gi9e.dpuf

In a nutshell, Burt was a man from a small Kiwi town who dreamed bigger than big.  He followed through on his dream of beating the top speed record and world travel way back in the 1960’s and amazingly, this speed record on a motorcycle still stands today! Just this one story alone is a reminder that against all odds, anything is possible. Burt was from Invercargill where I am now at the very bottom of the South Island, New Zealand.

The film is a fantastic homage to a small-town Kiwi who dreamed big and then had the verve to make his dreams of speed records and world travel come true. – See more at: http://motorcamps.com/content/oreti-beach-invercargill#sthash.OGu5gi9e.dpuf

The film is a fantastic homage to a small-town Kiwi who dreamed big and then had the verve to make his dreams of speed records and world travel come true. – See more at: http://motorcamps.com/content/oreti-beach-invercargill#sthash.OGu5gi9e.dpuf

The film is a fantastic homage to a small-town Kiwi who dreamed big and then had the verve to make his dreams of speed records and world travel come true. – See more at: http://motorcamps.com/content/oreti-beach-invercargill#sthash.OGu5gi9e.dpuf

The film is a fantastic homage to a small-town Kiwi who dreamed big and then had the verve to make his dreams of speed records and world travel come true. – See more at: http://motorcamps.com/content/oreti-beach-invercargill#sthash.OGu5gi9e.dpufAlthough Burt has moved on to the big highway in the sky, his bikes are on show here at E. Hayes and Sons Hardware Store.

The original bike, a 1929 600cc Indian Scout that Burt achieved his still-standing world speed record is on display inside this hardware store, E. Hayes and Sons.

The Original Burt Munro’s “World’s Fastest Indian” (without the outer shell)

The reflection from the case made a tricky photo, but it says he was officially timed at 191.34 mph (308 km/h), and reputed to have exceeded 200 mph (322 km/h) on his 1929 600cc Indiana Scout!

I climb into the replica to get a feel for what it must have been like!  The biggest thing I noticed is that Burt must have had smaller hips than me… ;-/

Although his world record was achieved at the Bonneville Salt Flats in America, here at Oreti Beach, about 10 km south of Invercargill is where he did a lot of racing, testing and practice.

This is not Burt, but another photo I picked up at a museum in Dunedin.  That beach is very popular with motorcycles to this day!

I find New Zealanders as a whole to be so passionate about motorcycles.  I really feel at home here…

From Invercargill I ride north to Dunedin.   What I decided to do early on to be able to stay in this expensive country is to house sit!  I got online, found many options to choose from and I chose one just outside Dunedin.  I knew the South Island is a place I’d like to get to know better.

Dunedin, New Zealand

Dunedin used to be the most wealthy city in New Zealand mostly settled by the Scottish people.  From Wikipedia, “The Free Church of Scotland founded Dunedin at the head of Otago Harbour in 1848 as the principal town of its Scottish settlement. The name comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the Scottish capital.”

Dunedin is also a huge University town.. and you don’t have to doubt that when you see an entire shop window dedicated to Jagermeister! Ha!!

I was waiting for some service to be done on my bike at McIver & Veitch KTM, where I met Bill Veitch.  He suggested I take a wander around the Settlers Museum close by.  I love history, so off I went.  He didn’t tell me he has some of his own motorcycles in the museum!

The museum is all about Scottish settlers and it just so happens this motorcycle is called Scott.

Love the helmet, love the jacket, love the glasses..

Smoking a ciggie helps you go faster.. ?? 😉

It wasn’t just Burt, they’re all about speed down here on the South Island!

That was cool.  And here I am many years later on my own motorcycle.  Not setting any speed records whatsoever, but I’m in good company here!

Next I ride up the hill to the house I will be “sitting” in Mosgiel.   The owners are off for a one month holiday to China and I’m here to look after 2 dogs, 1 cat, 2 goats and many many many chickens!

One of the first things I did was run to the grocery to stock up on my Hubbards Muesli, out of respect and love of good food from my friends Dick and Diana Hubbard!

When I was at the KTM shop in town, I met Ross Gold and Bill Veitch whom both invited me to do a presentation at their Ulysses club meeting.  I knew I liked these guys, so I said yes!

Meeting the locals!  I really enjoyed that.  And in this this motorcycle-mad community they welcomed me like family!

We are in the Otago Motorcycle Club meeting rooms, and the walls are covered with even more history!  Pointing out photos of Bill Veitch in action!

Then I got a call that the Otago Daily Times newspaper wanted to meet..  They’re keeping me busy down in this part of the world!

I escaped on the first Saturday to just go exploring.  The guys gave me lots of suggestions and I had a beautiful ride down the Otago Peninsula.

View to Dunedin City from the Otago Peninsula

It’s kind of nice just riding the motorcycle around all day but not actually having to make a destination.  I arrive back home to some very hungry animals!

And somebody wants to play. You can’t say no to that face!  I love this dog, his name is Luke.  But he doesn’t look like a Luke at all.  My dog’s name was Luke and he was a big strong boy, so that’s what I relate to the name.  This dog has great personality and he reminds me more of the dog in Argentina at the Estancia El Chalet.  That dog was called Monkey and I loved him too, so I accidentally call this one Monkey.  He didn’t care, he’d flop around and answer to anything as long as we play. 😉

Below is a photo of Monkey in Argentina.  Both of them make a total sucker out of me… 😉

Walking the dogs on Pineapple Track.  Lots of great walks here the owners showed me before they left.  Every day we’d do a different one.

So, life is good in Mosgiel, New Zealand.  The only other time I stopped to house sit was in Italy in 2010. It’s not an option in most countries, but it’s been a great help here, especially with as expensive as New Zealand is.  It’s also great way to stop and get to know where you are, make new friends, and have more time to enjoy everything.. literally!