With Grandma Evie here safe and sound, we could properly begin our exploration of the Northland region! We all enjoyed having Grandma in the van with us, and the kids chatted her ears off. I absolutely love these snaps from inside Big Red. It's really hard to get a genuine photo of Emily, so I think she looks adorable here:
Of course Julia and Mom look gorgeous, too. :) Anyway, all that chatting and catching up and driving made everyone hungry, so after a few hours, we stopped at Ruakaka Beach for lunch. Steve and I stayed back to make sandwiches, while Grandma and the kids walked down to check out the beach up close. It was stunning, to say the least! All photos credited to Rachel:
Julia proudly displayed the sand dollar she discovered:
Doesn't this rock look like an enormous shark fin?
Back to the van for sandwiches (and a change of clothes for the twins, who obviously managed to get soaking wet!).
Rachel's view from the back of Big Red:
As we continued traveling north toward Russell and the Bay of Islands, I was relieved to see that the foliage outside was green and lush. Down south, in our area of the island, we had experienced a long dry spell, which had caused the normally green grass and hillsides to turn brittle and yellow. There must have been more moisture here on the upper North Island, and Evie was impressed. Even when my trusty navigation tool on my phone led us on a L-O-N-G detour, it was really beautiful scenery, so we didn't mind so much.