Today started out raining. Actually, it started raining last evening and rained steadily throughout the night. I packed up everything and put my raingear on. The rain let up just a bit so I could fix my breakfast. Soon it was raining lightly again. I finished packing and hit the road. It wasn't really that cold, so I didn't wear any gloves (didn't want to get the short finger gloves wet and the long finger "waterproof" gloves take so long to dry that I only wear them if my hands are cold).
When I was about 5 km down the road, I realized I had left my small bag of trash on the picnic table (the DOC campground did not have trash bins). I felt really bad. I had meant to tie it onto the back of the bike and dump it when I came to Hari Hari. Honestly, if it hadn't been raining, I would have gone back. As it was, I just continued on with guilty feelings. I decided the reason it continued to rain was my punishment for leaving the trash behind.
I got to Hari Hari at about 10:00. On the way there, I had passed 11 cyclists going the other direction. I stopped in Hari Hari at a cafe/small store. Sitting outside was a gal with a bike and rear panniers. Turns out Gaye was part of the group of cyclists, but had to be in Nelson by tonight. She was taking the bus. The group had started in Dunedin. After Gaye's bus came, I went into the cafe and decided it was a good day for a second breakfast. Particularly because they had my favorite mince and cheese meat pie. I'm not sure if it is really breakfast food, but I didn't care. I also had a custard and coconut thing and hot chocolate. Okay, maybe it was more like "pre-lunch".
Back out in the rain I was soon to Mt. Hercules. It was the only real climb for today. I made it to the top with no problem. Coming down I didn't think it could rain any harder but, I was wrong. It poured! I came down quite slowly for fear of hydro-planing (I don't think I really would have, but...).
I reached the bottom and continued on. Down on the flat, I could see a white van parked ahead on the side of the road. As I came closer, a guy got out of the van. Then I looked at the license plate and it said "DAMVAN". It was Gerard! I was very happy to see him! I pulled over and he opened the door of his campervan and said come in. I told him I was very wet, but he said it was okay. I got in and he fixed some lemon and ginger tea on the stove. He asked if I would like a ride. He could fit Betsy in the back. I took a look out the window at the blowing rain and thought, YES, I would definitely like a ride!
We loaded Betsy in and I took a seat up front. At first it was really weird to be riding on the left side and not driving. Gerard said he was going to Haast tonight because the weather was too bad at the glaciers (Franz Josef and Fox). Plus, he has glaciers in Austria. I told him he could take me to Fox Glacier. I was going to go to Okarito today, but with the weather so bad there was no point in going to the coast. There would be nothing to see. And...if Gerard took me to Fox Glacier, it would save me the huge 1200m climb from Franz Josef to Fox Glacier.
We stopped in Franz Josef and walked around the village. Gerard was looking for a stuffed kiwi bird to take to his girlfriend. He didn't find quite what he was looking for--plus, what they had were ridiculously expensive.
When we got to the turnoff to go the 4 km to Franz Josef Glacier itself, we turned and went there. It was great because I would not have done that if I was riding. From the car park we walked about 20 minutes out to the viewpoint for the glacier. From the viewpoint, it didn't look very far to the other, closer viewpoint (and it had stopped raining) so we started walking out there. Then it started raining again and, it was a lot further than it looked. We went for awhile then we decided we were just getting soaked so we turned around. Still, we got to see the glacier!
We got back to the van and started the climb to Fox Glacier. I'm rather glad I didn't have to ride it! It was very steep and winding.
Anyway, we made it to Fox Glacier Village. Gerard dropped me at the Holiday Park and I have paid for THREE nights here! The weather is supposed to get better tomorrow and even better on Tuesday for my Heli-Hike!
I set up my tent and dried it out with my dish towel. Now I'm in the kitchen/TV/Internet Room watching, of all things, Survivor! Bill just got voted out. I only saw the first episode before I left home.
Sadly, I won't see Gerard again. I guess I'll just have to plan a bike tour of Austria now!
Oh, I dried all my wet stuff in the dryer so all is good! Now, I think I'll go cook myself some dinner (in the Holiday Park kitchen of course!).