Monday, February 2, 2009

1/29/2009 - Some Seriously Small World Stuff

Planned on being up at a shocking 6:30, but this stretched to a comfortable 7AM wakeup. The first thing I noticed was a complete lack of padding under me - I was hoping that I was dreaming when I pumped it up sometime during the night. My repairs have done nothing - I am missing a bigger leak somewhere. Ah, well - I will test it in the river at Quinney's Bush Camp, if I can.

A leisurely breakfast. I'm wondering which way my right knee is going to go. Feels better today, but it has been resting. Start out with a nice test - about 200 feet over a rise to get to the coast again as I head for Motueka. I can feel it, but it's not bad, certainly not going to limit me in any way. Excellent.

I am preoccupied and watching the GPS too much. It has definitely picked the right way to Motueka, but for a car, not a bike. Suddenly, I go from being on a nice (if busy) two-lane road to a full-blown motorway. I'm pretty sure that bikes are not allowed here. Just about 40 feet to my right is an idyllic-looking, purpose-made bike path with the occasional relaxed-looking cyclist, but blocking my way are four lanes of traffic and a barrier. I suck it up and just go.

Luckily, no police cars pass, and after 10km or so, things calm back down again as I turn toward Motueka. The road parallels the bay and looks back toward Nelson.

IMGP1499.JPGThe beach is rockier than Bush's presidency. Isn't topical humor fun? I guess we could go further and say he was also often "stumped" by unrehearsed questions. . . But no, that's just too much.

So I have formed an opinion about puncture-resistant tubes. Dad felt that they just add weight. I have been leaning the other way as I have traveled - I blew out one puncture-resistant tire (which also shredded the tire itself), but have had no actual punctures. Until today - the first day after going to a regular tube. Sure enough, the funny shudder I felt just as I was starting down a hill was the sudden loss of pressure in the rear tire. A tiny puncture was the culprit, easily fixed but putting me behind by about 45 minutes by the time everything was back on the bike and I was rolling again. Ah, well. Next chance I get, I am going bulletproof again.

This also cemented my thought about stopping in Motueka rather than going the full 65 miles to Quinney's Bush Camp. Figure allowing the knee to heal is worth the extra day, as I should have plenty of time to make these final 700 or so miles to the southern tip of New Zealand. Therefore, it is only a 30 mile day. Funny that a 30-mile day was difficult a month and a half ago.

IMGP1501.JPGWater on both sides of the road - there are a series of pipes that allow the tidal waters to flow under the road and fill the adjacent lagoons. The lagoons seem to serve a purpose as the final resting place for tires and random garbage.

IMGP1500.JPGQuirky artists are fun. This is the lagoon at low tide, and either STDs in this country have grown with a vengeance, or this artist has done a very nice job of sculpting crabs and placing them into the lagoon.

IMGP1502.JPGOK, really? This is further along down the road. ET is phoning home wondering why he is standing in this random New Zealand backyard. I feel like I have just missed the judging of a quirky competition.

As I come into Motueka, figure it would be a good time to figure out where I am going to sleep for the night. I pull off into a little park just before the city and find that there is a Top 10 Campground at the other end of town. There is a hostel, too, but I just need a tent site.

A young guy walks up to me at the rest area and we start talking. His name is Bert and is Dutch - he has rented a car and is making his way around NZ. However, he is planning on bicycling around 6,000km in Australia as soon as he is done in NZ, so we have a lot to talk about. Great guy. At the end of our conversation, he volunteers some info: "The Happy Apple hostel is great - it's clean and the people are really nice. You can stay there for just $14 if you are tent camping." Done and done - this would be cheaper than the Top 10 Campground. Plus, it's only about 200 meters away. Bonus.

As I pull up to the Happy Apple, I read the sign and the names of the hosts.

IMGP1507.JPGThe Happy Apple sign.

No way.

Here I have to take the Wayback Machine again to 1985. We were taken in around Rotorua by a really nice family, the Waldins. We ended up staying with them for 2 or 3 days, riding the motorcycle, learning about sheep shearing (they raised sheep), and generally enjoying the area with them. I had looked them up while in Rotorua, but could not find them.

Their names (Janne and Wayne) were on that sign.

Excitedly, I head in and talk to the person up front. Alas, I have actually missed them by a measly 6 weeks - they ran the Happy Apple for many years but just sold out to the new owners (who are also very nice). However, I DO get contact information for them as they are now retired and traveling in a camper set up. Excellent!

Anyway, after that initial excitement I set up camp in the backyard of the Happy Apple and go exploring a bit. Find a little walk that takes me to the ocean again.

IMGP1503.JPGPurpose-made track for walking through the swampy area down by the sea. I am the only person on it - at first, this is shocking to me (don't people around here walk?), and then I realize that sometimes people perform so-called "jobs" that allow them to have "income" and provide "food" for their "families" rather than "being a total bum at 3:00PM on a weekday."

Head back to the hostel and bike over to pick up food from the downtown area. Also stop by the library, great source of free wireless internet.

IMGP1504.JPGView of the mountains from just outside town. It's funny, one of the first things that runs through my head every time I see mountains now is "Do I have to cycle over those?"

Back at the hostel, make up some dinner and relax in one of the deep hammock-chairs and chatting with a few people.

IMGP1511.JPGJust chillin' in my personal hammock at the Happy Apple. I could have slept here.

IMGP1510.JPGAnother fantastic sunset. Nothing like playing Ping Pong while watching it.

Head to bed around 9PM, but soon after someone approaches the tent. "Ryan?" It's one of the guys who I met, and there is a problem. A young woman from Chile is having right lower quadrant abdominal pain, getting a bit worse, and he wonders if I can see what I think. "No problem, let me just throw on some clothes."

The young lady is very nice, alas her English (though MUCH better than my Spanish) is not quite enough to get a really good history. Apparently the pain has been off and on for 2-3 days, but since noon today has been pretty constant. I ask a series of questions and do a makeshift exam on a bench in the backyard (it is dark by this time, so no problems with patient confidentiality). Pain isn't bad, but still concerning enough that I tell her to stop by the local clinic in the morning (I suspect a urinary tract infection) and that she is to get to the Nelson hospital if the pain gets much worse (remembering my training in the ER - the first three diagnoses on the differential for a young woman with pelvic pain are ectopic, ectopic, and ectopic). She is to wake me if things get a lot worse overnight. I talk to her boyfriend whom she is traveling with as well to be sure the plan is in place.

Anyway, off to bed - hope she does OK!

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