Wednesday, December 17, 2008

12/17/2008 - Dismembered legs and Kauri trees

A truly pleasant morning. Using my fancy kitchenette, 6 eggs and toast were prepared and put down with gusto, along with coffee and milk. Thirty-four miles today, half of that on Highway 1, the only artery to the Northland.

Took my leave of Helen and Rob and started out. Spit a bit of rain, but nothing serious. A nice 68-70 deg F by my bike computer.

IMGP0798.JPGFantastic place. Where else does a complimentary ride to a nearby town for bike parts come standard?

Country was quite beautiful, winding through small national parks.

IMGP0802.JPGFarmland seemed to dissolve into thick forest all day.

IMGP0803.JPGNifty little peak. I was just relieved that the road engineers had pity on me for once and didn't put the road directly over the top.

The greatest thing about starting back again was that the crash weight loss made a huge difference in hill climbing. No more was I stopping for breaks a third of the way up a hill to "get a drink". I actually averaged faster speeds overall. It felt blissful.

The only negative to this was the following:

IMGP0800.JPGUsually, buses gave me plenty of room. . .

IMGP0809.JPG. . . But these guys had me wondering if I would end my trip with a reverse Scania tramp stamp and some expensive medical bills. Stuff of bicyclist nightmares on bridges.

It must be said that most of the trucks were very good about giving plenty of room, but when there was a car, or, occasionally, another truck in the other lane. . .Whoa. It felt like an industrial-strength hair dryer on full-force, especially when they are at 60mph or more. And LOUD! When they are that close, the air compression actually sucks you toward the truck, so you learn to lean out a bit.

But I was able to turn off the main road after about 17 miles onto highway 12. It was much calmer, but a bit weirder.

IMGP0807.JPGThese legs do NOT go "all the way up". They are actually nailed to the fence for some reason.

I found later that there was a store with two legs sticking out of the roof, again just for "kicks". Ha.

There was also this interesting sign along a flat farming stretch of highway:

IMGP0806.JPGThank goodness for America teaching me to always do what advertisers say, or I would have probably have been dehydrated by the end of this ride.

Stopped at a small town, lured by promises of pastry and coffee.


Finished out the final 7 miles to the campground. Immediately noticed that it was very well-kept, and paid the NZ $17 without question. They have wireless internet here. Let me repeat that for all my Alaskan friends: When you camp at this campground, you can surf the internet. Wirelessly. Not for free, though. NZ$6 per hour. Not bad, really.

Grabbed a quick shower and realized, looking in the mirror, that I am a kaleidoscope of interesting shades.

IMGP0813.JPGHey, kids! Here's a fun game! It's Guess the UV Value. Which is the best way to repel sunlight between a shirt, cycling gloves, watch, or a one-time application of sunscreen? Bonus points if you can match up where each one went!

After a freaking spectacular shower (the floor is TILE. At a CAMPGROUND. And CLEAN.) I headed for the Kauri Museum. The Kauri is a very tall, slow growing tree here in New Zealand. It's a very spectacular wood. Why see a museum devoted to it? Good question. However, having seen it, I can clearly rate it as the #2 museum I have ever been to. No lie. The New Zealanders are quite proud of their logging heritage, and the place is massive, with original steam engines and old diesel engines used to turn saws and all the other equipment they had. Several of them were massive and actually WORKING. All restored to their 1800s-1900s glory. Plus a full-size house within the museum restored to look like a real old hotel, with rooms devoted to specific people from over 100 years ago (including the dentist). The mannequins were very realistic, down to occasional nicks on their knuckles, and were modeled after people in the community who actually did this work or who were decendents of the people who actually did that work. Amazing.

IMGP0818.JPGThis is from the railing on the boarding house. The machinery is actually working down here.

IMGP0819.JPGThis old-time chainsaw is over 10 feet long. Anyone who can use this at the Lumberjack Competition just wins for picking the thing up.

My energy finally ran out around 4:30PM, so back to the tent for some reading of Miles from Nowhere and rest. Will try out the wireless internet to post this and catch up on e-mail - I have 60 minutes of time.

Tomorrow, goal is Dargaville, just 27 miles. Will try to make it to the real Kauri forests the next day. Expecting pretty significant rain on Saturday (it is Wednesday now) so maybe a day of rest among the giants.

Nice to be back in the tent, actually. I love my Exped mattress. Just so you know, I am typing and will be sending this out wirelessly from my tent. Spoiled? Just a bit.

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