A few words from the Apprentice

It is an absolutely stupendous day on tour today ……….the lady who looks after the “P”s has given the travelling Apprentice the opportunity to create today’s blog POST, by way of an assignment to see if the Apprentice might be sufficiently skilled to do this on more occasions on tour. The Apprentice is really flattered that his huge potential in blog writing has finally been recognised by TL. Only problem is he has to “hand it in” when finished so that TL can review and mark it to see whether he has passed the test!!!! Oh well…..lets see what happens!!!
BUT…… It is with very heavy hearts that we write this blog, as we have recently received the very saddest news of the death of Shannon’s young niece Taryn Bartlett, in tragic circumstances in Australia. It feels real lonely here right now being so far away from home and family, and our thoughts go out to Lianne, Leon, Corlette and Jordan and their families. Taryn should have been starting the most exciting period of her life and her passing is such a waste of a talented life. Be at peace, Taryn.

On a lighter note, (well not really, as in my opinion this is a real issue here), it is obvious to an unbiased travelling Kiwi that America has a real culture issue with its community service organisations, namely the police, park rangers, and fire fighters. It smacks of macho male bullying and the Wild Wild West. We have watched white policemen on TV shoot black males including innocent helpers on the street. We have personally witnessed a male park ranger walk out onto a congested street at Yosemite and whistle and shout at a lady driver going thru an intersection that she had already been waved to go thru by another young female park ranger controlling the traffic, and we witnessed a fire engine in a very congested San Francisco yesterday afternoon go roaring around a 90 degree turn at high speed (way higher than was safe at the time, in my opinion) whilst still putting on his fire jacket at the same time. It really was a close run thing. At Yosemite I was moved to give the Ranger a quiet blast about his behaviour but before I did so I did check he wasn’t carrying a gun in case he got carried away!!!!! He thought he had the last word and whistled and shouted at me when I was 25 metres away and said “I am the Boss”. But a burst of “I don’t care who the hell you think you are, and I am a visitor in your country, and you should probably listen to what I said”, along with the famous one handed Kiwi salute which seemed to shut him up!!! The politicians really do need to do something about this ugly culture

And talking of politicians, there have been 150 channels on some of our TVs and 149 of them have been covering the Republican or Democratic Conventions live, the same conventions by political commentators, or advertisements (which go on forever). Repetition, repetition, repetition……. Boring. Couldn’t find a decent program to watch anywhere……… Except MMA of course but TL can’t stand it so guess what……we move on!!!!

The political choice facing Americans is quite stark. Trump vs Clinton. Now that the conventions are over, the alternatives a very clear and very different. It should be obvious to all thinking Americans that there is only one real choice……and its Clinton. Trump’s foot and mouth are both getting larger every day and by November the Apprentice thinks it will be no contest!!!! You heard it here first. The Trump choice will change the world, change America, and change NZ for the worse if it happens. I hope the Democrats can find enough thinking Americans!!! This is not a politically based statement but an observation from a travelling Apprentice who admits to not understanding the basics or the nuances of the American political system…….don’t want to be shot by the CIA or monitored by the NZSIS you see!!!

Well, I must tell you about a strange call I had from TL the other night whilst watching the politics on TV (I told you there was nothing else on). “Vern, could you bring me a can of soft drink from the fridge please?”. Nothing wrong with the request, except if the person asking is in the shower!!! You all know that the Apprentice is not very smart (otherwise he would be TL wouldn’t he) but he thought……why would TL be wanting soft drink in the shower? Well turns out that TL has got ready for her shower without her glasses and has taken the Cortizone cream which I have been using for some heat rash on my forearms from my toilet bag, put it on her tooth brush, and started to clean her teeth!!!! But she is very quick on this matter and has figured that something, perhaps the heat, has ruined the toothpaste!!! Then she realises the real possibility, actually the reality, so I check out the warnings on the Cortizone which say consult a doctor if taken!!!!! Smart eh, but where do you find a doctor in the Yosemite National Park at night, and in the absolutely darkest sky. What to do? Easy……consult Doctor Brendan back in NZ…….yeah right…..no cell phone coverage. But all is not lost……call on the landline from the lodge/hotel. Great, the good doctor is just finishing his operating list for the day and can take the call. The Apprentice explains the problem…….and there is this huge burst of laughter from the other end of the phone…….just tell Mumbo to clean her teeth with toothpaste a few times and all should be well. (The next sentence something about foaming at both ends has been censored by the editor!!!).

I am sure some of you are interested to know how my cycling has been going whilst on tour. Well I am pleased to report that it has been going extremely well. I must tell you that we have had Tino Tabak and Nola on tour with us this time. If you don’t know who Tino is, google him. In my opinion, he is one of NZ’s best ever cyclists, perhaps even the very best of all time ……Dulux 6Day Winner, Olympic and Commonwealth Games representative, Dutch Road Cycling Champion, multi Tour de France rider, professional rider in Europe for several top teams

Tino and I have been riding together most days. We love the climbs, long and steady and on that smooth Tarmac that NZ cyclists rarely see at home. We share the work and cover distances anywhere up to 150kms at a time. We are able to use the tour bus as our support vehicle and enjoy the cold cans of drink from our driver Tutti’s chilly bin at the back. Generally the traffic is well behaved and we have not had any close shaves as yet. Whilst riding along for so long together, we enjoy talking about the recent Tour de France, how Chris Froome can be so strong (we are going to check out what milk he is drinking!!!), who’s going to win the Olympic road race, the use of performance enhancing drugs in cycling, and wonder how the Russian cyclists are going for Rio. So you can see we are developing into a great team together, Tino and the Apprentice. Only problem so far…..he doesn’t ride a Pinarello!!!! So my riding is going really well and I should be really fit by the time I return home. Sorry, seems I forgot to clarify that we were riding in the bus!!!!


Also, congratulations to my great riding buddy Lynley for a top performance in her latest Ironman event at Challenge Roth in Germany. Great swim, usual very good ride, and a solid run to finish. Wish I could have achieved that time!! Well done, and with all the training I have been doing I am looking forward to some more Sunday long rides again.

TL had created a big buildup for San Francisco and the wonder of the Golden Gate Bridge. We duly arrived but unfortunately so did the sea fog that is frequent at this time of year and all TL could see was a very small piece of red poking out above the fog for two seconds. TL is hard to pacify in these circumstances. We revisited the bridge the following day and lo and behold, so did the fog!!! But this time we could see the bottom half of the bridge. Enough is enough for the Apprentice and we didn’t go back the next day to see the missing middle section of the bridge!!!  


However, the visitors park near the bridge had some outstanding engineering, physics, and bridge construction working models and information. They were very very educational and I thought just how much Oliver would have enjoyed and could have learned by being there with us. Great shame every inquisitive young boy could not see this open air display

We enjoyed an afternoon at Pier 39 and watched an English street entertainer fleecing the crowd of their money. Said he had come to America to follow his dream of making it as an actor. He hammered the Americans with his humour at their expense and at the end asked for their help in achieving his dream. They poured forward with big notes for the hat. For 40 minutes work he did very verysbad well, dollar wise!!! And they loved him taking it off them. Slow learners??

Got an email from Adrean, my Little Buddy’s Mum, explaining that she had discovered I was sending postcards to my young mate but to the wrong number in the street, 28 not 18!!! Sorry mate. All is not lost tho, a young girl in the class below Marcus at his school has been collecting them all and will deliver them to him at school tomorrow. Must be the extreme heat that is destroying my memory……..that’s my story anyway. 

Well we have come to the end of the second tour on our trip and are now heading to Vancouver and Victoria to start the final tour to the Rockies, Alaska, and the Arctic Circle. This has been a better tour than expected, and the stunning grandeur of what we have seen has been mesmerising. Truly spectacular. The Apprentice learnt it is better to view the 1000+ foot canyon walls from the canyon floor rather than the canyon rim!!!! So it’s two down and one to go. We are suffering a little with the relentless up and go every day, but it has been huge fun with a good tour group. So on we go today with still a month to go!!!

Our altitude maxed out at 10,000 feet at the pass into Yosemite National Park, on the Tioga Highway (slight misnomer here….. It is a narrow road climbing the last 2000 feet in altitude in very short distance, and is only open 3 months of the year in high summer). It is very very scenic with drops of 3500 feet to the valley floor of the side of the road. But the apprentice was huffing and puffing at the smallest exercise here and had a blinder of a headache all day, presumably because of the sudden rise in altitude. So family at home will be pleased to know that any slight dreams the Apprentice may have harboured to climb on Mt Everest have been quietly but deliberately removed from the bucket list. If the old and weary body won’t work well at 10,000 feet, it certainly won’t do so at Base Camp (18,000 feet) nor at the summit (28,000 feet)!!! Oh well, just proves what he has been reluctant to accept…….we all get too old for some things at some stage. Future climbing will be restricted to Mt Pauanui with the grand kids ……..can’t be too bad, can it.

But now for the real test of the day. The Apprentice has handed over his assignment for marking and the results have been Posted by TL. Reader Interest = Fail, Humour = Fail, Grammar and Language = Fail, Future Potential = Fail. General comments = should have been written on tissue paper and it would have found its way to the right place

So it is with some regret that the Apprentice will not be appearing again as writer of the blog Post and TL will be back on the job tomorrow again. But he will go back to carrying the bags and keep practicing in private in the very faint hope the lady who looks after the “P”s may further review his performance and will relent a little!!!! Unlikely, I know, but I know just how much you all are wanting to hear from me again!!!

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