An unexpected AmeriCARna 2016 event in New Zealand!…A road trip like none other…Photo shocker at end of page…

This 1946 Chevy had “Tom” on the license plate.  Go figure!

When we noticed a brochure under the doormat outside the front door a week ago we decided attending this American only traveling hotrod and classic car show could be fun.

This map we keep in the car confirmed the easy route from New Plymouth to Opunake.

Although we’ve never attended any car shows in our travels, especially now that we don’t own a car, attending the AmeriCarna 2016 event in the Taranaki Region held special interest for us as Americans.  To be able to see the Kiwi’s enthusiastically waving the American flags was delightful, beyond all expectations.

The quaint town’s variety of farm and implement stores were decorated with American flags and banners.

Detailed information on the many stops the 650 classic cars make on their journey through the Taranaki Region provided many options with one in particular that appealed to us, the hour drive along the ocean to the quaint town of Opunake on the Surf Highway (SH) 45.

Before the cars arrived at the event centre some were parked along the street while owners stopped for coffee and breakfast at the various cafes.

Other options included a litany of locations where the parade would travel over the full three day event, beginning on Thursday, February 25th, ending today, February 27th with no locations more than a few hours from downtown New Plymouth.

The main street was lined with US flags and decorations.

Based on the location of the farm the most logical venue for us was the show was yesterday’s event in Opunake.  Neither of us are big on crowds and traffic, avoided when possible. Opunake provided the most suitable opportunity appealing to our preferences. 

Even the local bank got into the festivities.

The biggest and most crowded events (with all the same cars) were last night (Friday) and again today and tonight in downtown New Plymouth where the  main streets are closed for the parade and the later parking of the vehicles for viewing. 

Tom dashed across the street for this photo op.

Street vendors with fabulous smelling burgers and fried foods is a vital part of the festivities.  If we attended the evening events, we wouldn’t be able to dine when nothing would be appropriate for my way of eating.  The visit to Opunake was perfect when during the day, we easily bypassed the delicious smelling food vendors to later head home to our own tasty dinner.

As we wandered down the street we continued to be amazed by the festivities and enthusiasm of the locals.

Yesterday, in Opunake, we had the benefit of both the full parade and later the parked viewing on all of the cars which had made the drive as we had.  We left an hour earlier than the cars were due to arrive in Opunake leaving us time to visit with many owners of the shops and restaurants that lined the streets of the cozy town.

The café owner stopped to say hello as she finished decorating this mannequin.

After our tour of the town, we found a great parking spot close to the Sandford Event Centre and we were able to watch each of the cars as they arrived twice, once as they entered a nearby intersection as they headed to the event centre, again as they drove into the event centre and a third time while parked on the grounds of the event center.

The procession of car began from the highway to the event centre while we stood with the crowds at the intersection.  We started taking more photos when they were actually heading into the event centre at a much slower pace. More photos tomorrow.

Although the event in Opunake was crowded we were freely able to park, move about and be up close and personal with the cars.  It was ideal when we had to opportunity to talk to some of the car owners as they proudly displayed their own unique vehicles. 

We couldn’t have been more surprised to see this Minnesota State Trooper vehicle (we’re from Minnesota, USA) at the show especially when we didn’t see such cars from other states.  Ironic, eh?

From the AmeriCARna’s website“Americarna’s first event was in February 2007 and limited to 550 vehicles.  We wanted the event and every aspect to be about quality not quantity.  From those who attended the inaugural event, you (the public) told me we had it right.”

Tom couldn’t resist being in this photo!

As Americans, it was a special day for us, away from endless political spewing on the news and sad state of many US and world affairs.  The waving of the American flag by the joyful Kiwis, driving their American cars and having the time of their lives, made it a special day for us we’ll always remember as one many meaningful experiences we’ve had in this magical place.

More car photos with a new story will follow over the next few days. Please stop back!

CARpe diem!


Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2015:

One year ago on a last night out of town in Kauai, a little strip of clouds added to the view of the setting sun in Poipu Beach, Kauai.  For more photos, please click here.

Hot today!… Happy 4th!…

Here it is, our last 4th of July in Minnesota, except for perhaps a time in the future, when we’ll return to visit family and friends.  It’s a mixed bag of emotions.  

Tom set out the 200 plus flags along both sides of the peninsula on Sunday as we’ve done for over the last two decades, boaters driving by waving at us for our festive display.  Fortunately, there were no storms, these past three days that may have blown them away.

Overlooking our yard on the smaller side of Lake Minnewashta.

Yes, it hurts to leave all of this behind. It’s sad to leave our three adult children, their significant others and six grandchildren who live nearby.  We’ll miss them and we’ll miss all of our relatives, neighbors, friends and co-workers we’ve come to love after all these years.  We’ll no longer be Minnesotans.

My favorite spot where we lounge in “comfy” outdoor chairs
With our new upcoming residency in Nevada, where eldest son/stepson, Richard lives in Henderson with our funny grand dog, Monty; my eldest sister living in Boulder City (25 minute drive); and dear old friends also in Henderson, we won’t be lost making Nevada our new address. 

Nevada offers many retiree benefits of which we’ll partake. Change is not easy, especially as one ages. We worry about finances, health, available services and basic creature comforts. We long for a certain sense of familiarity to bring us comfort and peace.
Overlooking our peninsula yard and dock on the bigger side of the lake.

In a short time, we’ll take a risk with our health, exposed to disease in strange lands. Although we’ve carefully planned, some of our funds may be at risk at times, less services (dentist, doctor, vision care) will be available to us and we will forfeit the familiarity that brings us comfort and peace.

According to the app on my phone: Retirement Countdown Free, we leave Minnesota in 3 months, 29 days.

Photo of Retirement Countdown Free app on my smart phone

For today, we’re heading outside to enjoy the sunshine, the heat, the flags, the festivities, the great meal we’ve prepared, and the people we love. Have a happy day!