Thursday, March 20, 2014

Day 20: Timber Trail to Owhango

March 17th 2014
Distance cycled: 47 km
Total distance to date: 1066 km

Three weeks ago, I was just starting my cycle tour at Cape Reinga! Wow. All I can think is that I should be further along than I am... The thing is that I keep taking the scenic route which my guidebook always recommends over the more direct way. Which can be good, because you see a lot of nice stuff and avoid traffic. But I'm a decent road rider and would prefer to avoid some of the gravel roads and single tracks I've been riding. 

Today was supposed to be a rest day. I was going to bike the 28km from the Timber Trail trailhead into Taumarunui (the next town), and then take the rest of the day off to rest, recharge, and restock. Which kind of happened.

The first thing I did today was talk to the German couple, the only other campers at the trailhead. We had coffee together and they gave me a very lovely peach to go with my campstove oatmeal. 

Then, as I was packing up camp, this huge logging truck rolled up and stopped next to my campsite:

I noticed the company was called Jack Turner, which is my uncle's name. Otherwise I wouldn't have taken a picture of this particular truck. The driver got out and talked to me a bit. Turns out it wasn't a logging truck; this guy was hauling livestock and was early for his shipment of deer, which is why he had time to talk to me. He seemed amused to find out I was biking the length of the country, and said he'd watch out for me on the roads. I told him he was one of the good ones.

After a lovely, scenic backroad ride into town, I went to the library for wifi, and then to the bakery for a pie. Kiwis are crazy for their pies and I've become just like them. Then I went to the i-Site for some local info about trails and where I could stay the night. The holiday park outside of town looked like a nice place to camp and would allow me to do laundry, use the kitchen, and even borrow a kayak. I called them to get prices but no one picked up. I asked the i-Site staff and they looked it up for me: $18 a person, power or no power. Usually these campsites charge per person, no matter if you're tenting or in a campervan, which I find to be unfair, but then again I'd camped for free the last 2 nights so I was willing to pay, especially since I'd get to use the grounds all afternoon. And get a shower, which I desperately needed after 2 days in the backcountry. And do laundry, and dry out a bit from the weekend of rain, and so on. 

I went for a coffee and realized I was hungry again, which should not have been such a surprise because I am always hungry when I am cycle touring. So I had another lunch, this time at a Thai restaurant. It was my first time having Thai after being in Thailand and I found the lack of spice disappointing and the price shockingly high. But this is New Zealand, so again, shouldn't have been so surprised. Despite the lack of spice, it was still very tasty pad see yew. 

After second lunch, I went back to the library and did some catching up with the outside world. Before logging off, I offhandedly checked Warm Showers and was surprised to find a host directly on my route that I was to ride in the morning. I called them on the off chance that they would host me on short notice. Mark was amazingly unfazed and told me to come on over! So just like that, I had a free place to stay and another 19km to ride. Mark and Toni cooked me dinner, too - delicious homemade lasagna and steamed veggies. Amazing! I love WS; I cannot stress this enough. 

Before leaving Taumarunui, I stocked up on stuff that I needed - food, stove fuel, OK and a beer in honor of St. Patricks Day - and then almost immediately regretted buying so much because the ride to Mark and Toni's house included a long 300m climb on a gravel road. Man! I thought it would never end! But you can't say that I didn't earn that beer because I totally did. Anyway, I had to get the food and the fuel because Taumarunui was the last "major" town before I hit the backcountry again. 

I didn't think it would be possible to lose things on a bike tour, since I'm carrying so little. But I have! I've lost a long-sleeved shirt and a bar of Doc Bronson's soap, both of which I'm sad about because my sister has a matching shirt that we both debuted on the camino, and that brand of soap is the only thing my sensitive skin doesn't react to. Well! Interesting because I've had dreams two nights in a row about loss. Lots and lots of dreams this week. It's been nuts in my psyche!

Update: I just found the shirt in my sleeping bag. Let's hope my soap turns up as well. 

Nice big moon tonight shining over Toni and Mark's farm, where I am camping in their yard. Goodnight moon!


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