Wednesday, December 10
I love trains but there's not a lot of chance on Rarotonga to ride them.
There is a steam engine here, in the upper Tupapa valley but sadly it no longer operates.
However, whenever the opportunity arises I'll take the train.
In 2013 we had to get from Raro to Boston to visit family so after travelling by Air New Zealand to Los Angeles (on a 777-300R - one of Air NZ's premium quality planes and very nice too) I decided that if we were going to cross America from one side to the other I wanted to see something of it. My husband wan't quite so keen but he came along for the ride anyway.
Amtrak operates some interesting long distance routes and one of these is the Southwest Chief from Los Angeles to Chicago. It travels through eight states; California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Iowa and Illinois. That's almost 3600km (2200 miles). The train left Union Station LA in the late afternoon and arrived at Union Station Chicago in the early afternoon two days later.
That's a long journey but we were in a two-person cabin with a shower and toilet, cramped but comfortable. The dining car provided breakfast, lunch and dinner; and coffee, water and juice were available all day at one end of the sleeping car.
So here's a very much condensed video of the trip - 2 days in 2 minutes.
Sunday, December 7
The eleventh Vaka Eiva festival recently took place on Raro with about 600 paddlers from all over the world heading for the water.
There were many regulars from New Zealand, Hawaii (paddling legend Nappy Napoleon's Anuenue) and Australia (especially Rogz for Dogz who always come loaded up with supplies for the Esther Honey animal clinic). This year we alos had teams from Canada, England and Tahiti.
The weather was, shal we say, variable. No problems with Friday's canoe blessing and Saturday's V1 and OC1 races, but some of Monday's V6 iron races (12km or 18km six-person, no changeovers) had to be postponed because high winds made things dangerous. It rained fairly solidly for the juniors' Muri lagoon sprints and marathons but that apparently didn't dampen the enthusiasm; rain stopped for the senior sprints on Wednesday and although it started off dull for Thursday and Friday's V6 round the island relays the sun came out later on and some of the postponed V6 iron races were held on Friday afternoon.
A great innovation this year was DotVision's live view of the races - each vaka was fitted with a GPS gizmo so you could see online where the boats were.
This video is a brief look at Vaka Eiva as viewed from the shore. The VE Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/vakaeiva?fref=ts) has some neat videos including footage from the air and the water. I think there may be more of these coming but they weren't online last time I looked. The videos will probably also end up on the VE website but again they weren't there last time I looked. However, all the results are there (V1 and OC1: http://vakaeiva.com/index.php/information/race-results/race-results-2014-singles
For more stories on the biggest soprting event in the Cook Islands check out Cook Islands News (http://www.cookislandsnews.com/sport/paddling)
Tuesday, November 25
As usual there was plenty of action both on and off the field at this year's Sevens in Heaven.
Here are the results:
Men's Cup Final:
Teimurimotia Stallions 10 - Tabusoro 5
Women's Cup Final:
Suburb Angels 12 - Royals 10
Men's Plate Final:
Takuvaine Reds 24 - Tupapa Panthers 22
Men's Bowl Final:
Tauae Bulls 41 - Araura Enua 7
Men's Shield Final:
Edgewater Resort (Arorangi Rustlers) 31 - Titahi Bay Panthers 1
Good to see the Rustlers taking away the Shield. Apparently a couple of teams had to pull out of the tournament at the last minute, one from overseas the other local lads from Ngatangiia. Would have been awkward rearranging things but Avatiu and Arorangi stepped in and fielded a second team each, Avatiu Boyz and Arorangi Rustlers. The Rustlers even managed to secure sponsorship from the Edgewater Resort. A great show of support for local rugby from both clubs.