Rest Area 300m: August 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

"The Duck Who Went To Heaven"

The Paradise Duck mates for life. They are native to NZ. It is actually a shelduck, and is a bit bigger than a mallard.
Rural burglars & hunters hate them because they are exceptional at guard duty, as good as geese. If one of the pair is injured the other will stay around, obviously distessed. If a duck hunter shoots one, he will always get the other.
All this raced through my head yesterday, as I drove around a corner to see a dead drake on the road, and a hundred metres ahead a terribly injured female. I thought of a little story about how the name came about. I pulled across the road and ran her over in a cloud of feathers, eyes closed.
Photo Link


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Wireless

I can remember a time, children, when there was no TV...
I remember the day in the 50's when a brand new Pye radio suddenly appeared in our house.
Everybody spent hours twiddling the dials and listening in wonder to far off voices.
The ether was full of whistles and Morse Code, cricket commentaries and jazz bands.There seemed to be something deliciously subversive about listening to Radio Moscow.
Over on the amateur band, Don in Invercargill would discuss his gippy leg with Bruce in Baton Rouge.
One day twiddling, I suddenly heard an operator on a NZ bound ship, passing on a radio telephone call of which I could only hear one side, a woman tearfully telling someone that her hubby "wasn't too good". Days later I read in the paper of a passenger dying at sea near Tahiti. I was blown away by the dramatic immediacy of it all.
Now we have live pictures from Mars & shuttle launches are Ho Hum. People read this in Croatia and Venezuela, and I can watch history happen every day on my PC screen. It's all a bloody marvel really.
I wonder when they will cure the common cold?
Pic Link

Monday, August 29, 2005

Station 42040 - MOBILE SOUTH 64 nm South of Dauphin Island, AL. A 3metre discus buoy is telling a graphic story as Hurricane Katrina approaches

Wikipedia is doing a great job covering Hurricane Katrina. There are also bloggers in the bunker, and Livejournal is on the job. " If the waters get deep, I can leave with no problem. I do wish I had a good quality Mae West floatation jacket right now. Not sure I can stray afloat with an air mattress. I do plan to buy a good quality flotation vest & flare gun if I get thru this."

Buoy Readings (click latest observations) best windspeed so far 118.5 knots, ... wave height 47 feet.

The Cruel Sea

For a few months now there has been a desperate, but futile effort to save some of the baches in Mokau, as the sea steadily erodes the land they were built on. One of them (in the background) is being demolished before the sea gets it. On the beach are remains of large sandbags, which a month ago were at the foot of the bank. The bach closest to the camera had a lawn last time I saw it, now that is gone. I take a bit of spoil down there in the truck now and then, but I know it is just a futile gesture.

Looking north

Rest Area 300m

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Little Town Flirt

My old truck had a bit of a turn the other day.
I was not far from home when it started to splutter & sneeze. A bit of cajoling got it to my gate and it coasted in, then refused to move. I know how it felt, I was a bit knackered myself and the weekend had finally come around.
I tried prodding it, and bleeding it, which is a secret truck driver ritual thingie not involving leeches, but to no avail.
Bright and early on Monday morning the mechanic arrived, who it transpired had worked for the firm some years ago and knew the truck well. He talked to it as he worked, quickly discovering the injector pump was falling off, and also spotted a missing hose.
"There you go, sweetheart", he said as he finished working on it, and it burst into life.
It has now developed a new lease of life, and can really kick it's heels up.
I thundered past a startled Kenworth on the Mahoenui Hill yesterday. Amazing what a few kind words can do...

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Friday, August 26, 2005

The long arm of the law dipped into my paypacket this week. A long forgotten speeding ticket came back to haunt me as the Court ordered my wages docked. Looks like Donna Awatere's weetbix are on me this month. Hope she chokes.


Mission Statement

High on the hill overlooking the intersections of State Highways 3 & 4 is a cross. It is almost invisible in this photo. It marks the grave of the Rev Frederick Miller, sent out to "convert the natives" by the London Missionary Society in 1840. He liked to call the hill Mt. Zion
At the foot of the limestone cliffs is a cairn marking the Wakatumutumu Wesleyan mission site.

"Here, at this lonely place, this Godly man with his brave wife led a ferocious, primitive race from heathen darkness to the light of Christian civilization.
Died at his post of duty in 1848 aged 32 years.
The cross on the hillside marks his tomb."

It was the TB that got him, not the ferocious primitives who nursed him.
They called him Mira & this is carved into a rock at the foot of the cross.
Rest Area 300m

Thursday, August 25, 2005

31 January - 3 February 1701 There is much discourse of a monstrous Giant, said to be brought over from the Indies, and now in the River of Thames. They report he is a Cannibal, or Man-Eater, all over hairy, and 16 Foot in height, and was taken by a Stratagem, For the Ship lying near the Shoar, the Seamen observed his usual Haunts, tho' being very swift they could not come nigh him: So they set a small Cask of Wine near the place, with the Vent open: when they were gone, he came and tasted it with his Finger, and liking it, held up the Cask to his Mouth, and swilled so freely, that he became Drunk; whereupon the Men coming ashore in their Boat, seized and carried him aboard. We hear he is sold by the Captain for 1000l. and will be publickly shewed in London. [The English Post]

5-7 February 1701 There having been no News of the Monstruous [sic] Cannibal Giant, since the several accounts that have been Published of his Arrival in the River; it's now given out, that going into a Boat, in order to come Ashoar, his Weight overset the Boat, and he went to the Bottom, so that we shall never have the Satisfaction to see him; even, tho' we should give never so much Money to satisfy our Curiosity. But as good Fortune would have it, there was no Body else in the Boat with him. [The London Post]
Text Early 18th Century Newspaper Reports; Graphic


I have climbed Mt. Everest.
Twice actually over the last two pothole seasons.
I climb 1.7 metres up into my truck, at least 50 times a day. Every 104 days then, I scale Chomo-Lungma [Mother Goddess of the Land] without oxygen, unroped, fag in hand.
So if you take a climbing holiday, and as you struggle up the South Col, spot a roadworker with a wheelbarrow full of pavelay, don't be alarmed.
It is I, Fart of The Himalayas, smoothing the way...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Google Prattle

I'm a sucker for anything from Google. Their new Talk & Instant Messaging looks like fun.
You have to be a Gmail client. I have a heap of invites if anyone wants one.

The ACME Junior Lollypop Kit

A toy truck, loaded with cake and cookie crumb "dirt," is the perfect treat to unload at a preschooler's construction party..
2 baked 8- or 9-inch round cakes.
2 3-oz. pkgs. prepared chocolate pudding.
3 to 4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs.
Clean plastic toy dump truck and shovel
Step 1: Cut the cakes into 3-inch-long slices, then cut them in half.
Step 2: Layer the cake, pudding and crumbs in the clean dump truck and serve with the shovel

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Crash On The Highway

My trusty home built steam computer had a bit of a sulk yesterday and refused to get out of bed. The little XP dots would merrily glide across the screen, then suddenly grind to a halt. I tried curses and entreaties, grovelling & pleading,even scanning and defragging. Still no joy. I tried Safe modes and system restoration, howls of abuse and sobbing, gallons of coffee and scheming.
Then as the horror of a week or so of talking to real people and no Doonesbury began to loom large, on the zillionth try the little dots marched on and here I am....
So I will back up the back ups to my back up, scrub & polish the rams, and then when I have the nerve to turn it on again, I'll tilt the screen so the dots can run downhill. I hope I don't have to buy new ones.


Monday, August 22, 2005

In the Awakino Gorge it is cold in the shade, and there are pockets and corners where it is still winter. This time of the year, you start a huge clothing collection in the truck, as you gradually peel layers of clothing off as the day warms up. Soon it begins to look like an Op Shop in the cab. At Midday there is now quite a bit of heat in the sun, the road is beginning to dry out, and we are starting to catch up on the potholes, which is a joy in itself.
Soon we should hear the first shining cuckoo, back from it's winter holiday, and looking for this years unknowing foster parents, the poor Grey Warbler which hatches the egg the Cuckoo sneaks into the nest.
"The grey warbler is the host of the shining cuckoo on mainland New Zealand. This brood-parasite slips an egg into the warbler's nest, and the warblers rear the baby cuckoo alone after it has evicted the warblers' own eggs and young"

Bloody Charming behaviour, Try that at Play Centre and see how you get on ....
Rest Area 300m

The Few.

At a secret location, the newly reformed Strike Arm of the RNZAF, practice a surgical strike on the Kingdom of Tonga, as reports of escalating violence reach our shores.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

For Bill

S Series Bedford Truck

Haymaking used to be a job for all hands. As a spotty youth living in the country it was difficult not to get press ganged into hot exhausting haybale lifting. A truckie lived next door, he ran a small fleet of stock trucks and I used to wag school and travel the lower North Island with him. Often at 5 a.m. my bedroom window would slide open and I would be shaken awake to end up in a paddock in the Wairarapa or somewhere, with haybales as far as the eye could see. There where no elevators or machinery involved in stacking the truck, only muscle. It was here I learnt to drive a truck. It was a S Bedford, 7 ton, with a 2 speed vacuum operated Eaton diff. I graduated from a slow trundle around a paddock to a stately trundle down the road, from haybales to sheep.
In those distant days you got your driving licence at the local garage, where the Traffic Cop met you and took you for your test. I had passed my car licence on my 15th birthday.
I arrived, slightly late, for my Heavy Traffic licence on my 18th birthday with a fully loaded truck and trailer, 200 odd sheep for the freezing works. I told him I was running a bit late and could we please get on with it.The cop just threw his hands in the air and muttered something about " ... the youth of today ", and then handed me a licence.
We were having lunch the other day and an 8 wheeler stock truck pulled into the metal pit to pick up its trailer. This was done with a modicum of fuss, and the driver hopped out to connect up the airlines. He was spotty and not much older than 18. It turned out he was the owners son. All power to him. This is the other side of the driving age debate.... In the rural areas the kids have driven farm bikes, tractors, and help with machinery. The nearest shop could be miles away. So how do we deal with the urban boyracer and not penalise the farmers kids?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Why don't we do it in the road?

So I trundle into the riverside rest area. The river is high and noisy. A motorbike is parked up under the trees. I fire the rubbish onto the truck, and have a wander about with my litter spear. On the wooden steps down to the river are a couple going hard at it. They don't see me. I slide back to the truck, and quietly drive away. Spring is truly here.

Why don't we do it in the road?
No one will be watching us
Why don't we do it in the road?


Friday, August 19, 2005

"How Highs The Water, Mama ?"

Near the Awakino Gorge Tunnel is a monitoring station that records the river level. If you are a whitebaiter who is also a techie, this can be quite handy. It is available on the web here. You can just see the 3 metre level, which is the top of the graduated board on the left of the walkway. The one on the right takes it up to 6 metres. If it ever got this high it would be bye bye recording station, and most of the properties downstream. The Awakino is a dynamic river, it has a big catchment and can flood very quickly. We have had little trouble in the Gorge this winter (touch wood) despite some big rains. Christmas before last we had 11 slips down at one time, and some of them were very big.
Rest Area 300m


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Glide Time

Early morning Whitebaiter. Awakino River

The "Whitebait For Sale" sign has gone up at the local gas station, which is an early sign of a good season. It usually means someone has had a big catch, or several people have done well. I have never before seen the sign go up only 3 days into the season. Our chooks have started laying too, so it's all looking good on the fritter front.

Beats working in an office!
Rest Area 300m

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Add Extra Horsepower....

You do see some odd things going past you when you are toiling over hot asphalt. I have yet to see a horse go by in a car. We did see a pig once though, - it looked quite comfy in the back seat. (and no, it wasn't wearing a uniform...)
One of the Fart sisters, who shall remain nameless, did once smuggle a pony across Cook Strait in a small caravan. But I'm sure lots of people do that.
We often get rather large dogs attempting to snatch a limb or two as they pass by, and a rather haughty Emu gazed at us rather quizzically from a trailer a while back.
When I see a Killer Whale riding a motorbike, I'll Know I have seen it all.
photo Glossario Tullico

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Grass Has Riz

From Madonna Falls SH4

We had a nice peaceful day today, fossicking about looking for culverts, patching the odd spot on the road, and enjoying the spring sunshine after a frosty morning.
It is not so peaceful on other roads. They are shooting and beheading some of my fellow road workers in other parts of the world.
But here Spring has sprung, calving is in full swing, there are lambs everywhere now, and it is getting easier to find my truck in the morning.
I can also report that this seasons whitebait are as tasty as ever, and all is optomism on the river.
Rest Area 300m

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Gotta Run

In a matter of hours the North Island whitebaiting season starts. The quiet rivers I pass every day will suddenly have a horde of expectant, ever hopeful band of fisherfolk all trying to "catch a feed". Whitebait are the young of several species of small native fresh water fish that travel up the river in spring in schools. They are delicious. Traditionally cooked in fritters, they have a subtle flavour, and are highly sought after. If the whitebait are running the absenteeism around here soars, Grannies pass away in droves, and "sickness" stalks the land.
Ever optimistic, but full of excuses, the whitebaiter has all manner of theories about tides, wind, moon, current, water quality, and types of net. The river is always too high, low, slow, or fast. These matters are discussed at length in the pub. Rumours run stronger than the whitebait. Whispered stories of how so and so got 15 kilos yesterday, and more the day before.
Disputes over position, (or pozzies) are not unknown, and those that grossly breach river etiquette have been known to end up in it.

Stories abound about the huge catches in "the old days" when hauls were measured by the kerosine tin and were fed to the chooks. Meanwhile I have a good mate who lives on the river. I might go and see him tomorrow, about dinner time.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Life, Death, & Drains

"The koru, which is often used in Maori art as a symbol of creation, is based on the shape of an unfurling fern frond. Its circular shape conveys the idea of perpetual movement, and its inward coil suggests a return to the point of origin. The koru therefore symbolises the way in which life both changes and stays the same."

Tree ferns are a feature of the "bush" or forest in New Zealand. They are everywhere. It is their symbolic property of regeneration that causes us on the road a fair bit of work. New fronds constantly grow as others die. The dead fronds find their way into the drains, culverts and watercourses, and they are marvellous silt traps. Not just silt, but stones, vegetation and inevitably plastic soft drink bottles. This mess blocks culverts, and then the road workers real enemy, water, can get to work, tearing into the road foundation, or percolating under the seal.
We watch culverts and drains, and every now and then, usually at least annually, a thorough check is made of each culvert along our 200+ Kms of road. We have to find each one off a ream of computer sheets that are often not in order, and all have a cryptic identity code. Culvert No 62 may be at 118/12.68. (68 metres past the 12 Km peg, in the 118 Kilometre block) we may be able to clear it with shovels, it may need chainsaw work clearing away vegetation, or may be put down for a visit from a digger.
We are making good progress. Soon I will be revisiting quite a few and carting the silt and dead fronds to the dump site, getting ready for another winter, and so it goes on. Perpetual movement, yet staying the same.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Lots of potholes means lots of wheel trims, hub caps, and goodies that rattle off trailers. We have a goodly collection, and on rainy days hang them on the walls of the shed. It is a big shed and we have 3 walls covered, and a pile more to go up. These days they are mostly cheap and made of plastic, but we do have a few "collectors items". A big Kenworth truck hissed to a stop the other day and the driver asked us if we had seen one he was missing off a front wheel, we hadn't but found it a day or two later He was one happy truck driver. The things we find along the road are often unusual, strange mechanical gubbins off trucks & machinery, trailer parts etc. This weeks haul included 50 litres of calcium concentrate (for cows?), a car door, and a bunch of buckets. I have found wallets, (empty) cell phones, a dog kennel, (also empty) and a trailer with no drawbar.
Rest Area 300m

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005


We have another rubbish problem now and then. Here a fridge, washing machine and oven have fallen from a truck carting them to a recycling plant in Auckland. Lucky this happened out on the open road and not in a built up area, they are heavy and it was a bit of a struggle for two of us to lift them onto my truck. The crosses mark the spot where a family were wiped out some years ago. The crosses and roadside shrines pop into the news now and then, some politicians would like to get rid of them. We have all types along the road, often just a simple cross, but also stuffed toys, plastic windmills, and rather poignantly down the road is a lone red rose on a fence post. It marks the spot where after hitting a tree, a young woman died in the arms of a road worker who was repairing a bridge nearby. I started to take photo's of some of the rather pathetic little shrines, but then decided I was being morbid and deleted them.
Rest Area 300m


Monday, August 08, 2005

Your Name Here ?

One of the joys of working on the road is the ever changing scenery. No office walls or partitions for us. We are fortunate in New Zealand to live in a beautiful country, but sadly there some arseholes out there who use any pull off area to chuck out their rubbish. My work mates resignedly will collect it and haul it away. I get so angry I always launch a full scale forensic investigation and nearly always work out where it came from. In the above photo a name in the gumboot gave the first clue, some vehicle warrant of fitness papers nailed it. I have brooded over various incidents like this, and suggested to my workmates that we could put details on this blog, or even a new "Litter Blog", and shame the bastards who do it. Opinion is divided. Some feel that we are not judge & jury, and should just report them to the authorities. I always put details of these incidents forward and the perpetrators could be fined up to $500, but probably after a warning. On one occasion I gleefully returned a lot of rubbish to one address I found & left it on their lawn. I sure am tempted to "out" a few of these arseholes.
Rest Area 300m

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Place We Have Lunch (9)

Tongaporutu River Mouth

Holiday baches along the river mouth. The bach is the kiwi holiday home, alas now slowly becoming extinct as property prices climb and transportation improves. They usually started life as a single room with bunks and a coal range. Generations of Kiwi's spent their summer holidays in places like this. Some still do, but only the lucky ones.
Rest Area 300m

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Madonna Falls, Kurukuru Hill, State Highway 4

We are presently working on State Highway 4, which is also part of our network. It is a busy road at the moment with skiers & snowboarders heading for the slopes on Mt Ruapehu. The two guys who mostly look after that stretch have their hands full with heavy frosts and icy roads. There is a local mufti traffic cop who is also doing a roaring trade. A lot of the traffic consists of young snowboarders from Auckland in turbo charged Japanese rocket ships intent on getting to the Mountain as fast as possible. They ignore signs, sail off corners, go through fences, plough into banks, and fill up the ditches. It is so prevalent that they get little sympathy from the crew, who are a friendly bunch. The ones who drive 4x4 SUV's will, to our amusement, go to great lengths not to get mud on their vehicles when we are clearing slips, and will pick their way around us.
Web Cam
Rest Area 300m


Thursday, August 04, 2005

This truck crashed into a bank on Mt Messenger killing the driver. It was parked behind the testing station where an investigation into the braking system is being done. A rental truck, It had automatic transmission, and was carrying several large spools of cable when it crashed. Though securely chained down they broke free on impact. I have been told that the hazard lights were on before the crash, which would indicate a problem with the truck or driver.
The wreckage was a sobering reminder that good brakes are important. Mine were brought up to spec today. They had degraded so slowly over time that I had not noticed that they needed work.
Rest Area 300m

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Good Oil.

I'm not sure where old trucks go when they die. Mine is starting to feel it's 570,000 kilometres and is a bit reluctant to start on a frosty morning.
Today was it's day for a thorough Certificate of Fitness (COF) check. Trucks & buses at the testing station rightly get a very thorough going over, a much more intensive check than a car does.
The chassis is inspected for cracking, welds are looked at, brakes especially getting the once over.
My old girl failed the brake check, the machine reckoned the front braking was uneven with contaminated brake linings on the left front wheel. The mechanic and myself were somewhat puzzled by this, the braking is done by air.
Back at the workshop the wheel and drum were removed, and sure enough, oil on the linings. But from where? Then the light dawned. It was linked to a rather embarassing incident a while ago.

Note the oil on the inside of the tire, where it has drained from the engine.
New Linings are in the process of being fitted, and tonight it is in the workshop under cover, chatting with it's younger mates.
I hope they don't forget it's cocoa.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Didn't Spill A Drop..

"A photograph of an upturned Rolls Royce, belonging to Mr. Benjamin Guinness on the road between Pisa and Rome. All the passengers were saved due to the body pillars in the car which withstood practically the whole weight of the car."
Thank you Rolls Royce for those door pillars, Cheers!
The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News

Self Expression

"BOSTON -- A Chelmsford, Mass., man has complied quite a collection of road signs, traffic signals and even a railroad gate in his front yard
Dan Pascucci said that his neighbors don't like his music or art collection.
"It's my form of decoration. People like pink flamingoes and wooden animals, and that's my kind of show, you know. I like the signs and the signals. That's my thing," he said.
One of his neighbors says it's a driving distraction, and wants a judge to red light the display.
"About two years ago, my neighbor moved into the neighborhood. He's got this unique hobby of putting up signs on his property, which are fine. One, two signs are OK, but as more and more signs accumulated, we got very nervous," he said.
But then, came the piece de resistance -- a full-scale, fully operational, railroad crossing.
"That was the straw that broke the camel's back," Steven Giles said.
Giles went to court, insisting the signs violate town bylaws. The town isn't sure what it can or will do. Meanwhile, Pascucci's lawyer advised him to take down the signs before things got too confusing. All that remains is a vintage, filling station driveway bell.
"Yeah, it kind of stinks," Pascucci said. "It's my way of expressing myself, you know."

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Monday, August 01, 2005

A Midwinters Day Dream

One has a lot of time to think driving a truck.
Odd thoughts and people pop into your brain on a somewhat random basis. I think it may be a bit like trying to find something you mislaid. You can feverishly rack the brains and have no idea where you lost it, but go and have a shower or do a crossword & suddenly you remember. The other side of the brain has kicked in, or you are in an Alpha state or whatever. Every day I think of a zillion things to blog about. Every day I walk in the door and they are gone. Maybe I need to do a brain defragment & disk cleanup, I'll have a chat with the task manager.
I did, today for some reason, start thinking about quill pens. When I was at primary school we still used them. They had a metal nib that could inflict a satisfyingly painful jab in the bum of any mortal enemy, and could also be used as a primitive dart. They dribbled ink and my schoolwork always looked as if an ink dunked drunken spider had crawled across the page.
Which all gives me the greatest respect for William Shakespeare. He used a feather quill pen for all those hundreds of thousands of words, and was restrained by the such primitive technology in the speed with which he could put words onto paper. I wonder if his writing would be better or worse for a computor, or if a quill pen taught him economy in his craft.

Male. Lives in New Zealand/North Island/The Road, speaks English. Eye color is blue.
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