Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Tailwind Until the Tail End Or...

Meeting Up With Friends Again!

This morning was a coooolllldddd one! The wind was whipping pretty good. Right away, I noticed it was in my favor! I packed up and cooked my breakfast under the shelter. The wind blew the stove out once and I never really got the water hot enough for the oatmeal (it ended up being more like oatmeal soup). But, no worries! By the time I was on the road it had warmed up a bit and I was not hungry.

Just a few km down the road I came to Blue Pools trail. Two couples arrived at the same time. I kind of thought outloud, "Are there really blue pools?" according to the sign, there really were and it was just a 30 minute round trip walk. So, I locked up Betsy and walked with the couples to the pools. I asked them where they were from as I didn't detect an accent. They said, "Washington State". I said, "Oh, where abouts?" They said, "Bellingham". I told them I was from Olympia. Now I have met, here in New Zealand, people from Seattle, Gig Harbor and now Bellingham! Crazy!

Anyway, the pools were indeed blue (glacial runoff) and so clear, that I could see the fish (large brown trout) from the bridge above.

I returned to Betsy and headed down the road (down being the operative word). The wind was a tailwind and it was GREAT!

Soon I could see small plane after small plane taking off in the distance. When I got to Makaroa, I could see why. They were all scenic flights heading up the valley to Haast Pass and the glaciers of the mountains. I watched a couple take off and land on this tiny grass airstrip. If I hadn't done the heli-hike, you can bet I would have checked into one of those flights!

Since I really didn't have much food for lunch, I went into the cafe and bought a sandwich and a dessert bar like a Nanaimo Bar. I packed them away in my pannier for lunch later.

I continued to be blown down the road at a good 30kmh. Pretty soon, Lake Wanaka was in view on the right. Except that it was a lake and not a river, the scenery reminded me of the Columbia Gorge. The wind also reminded me of the Gorge! I was having to use very little effort to even climb the hills! It was an awesome ride!

After a number of kilometers, I turned to go up what was called "The Neck". It is a strip of land between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. At the top, I could look back and see Lake Wanaka and look ahead and see Lake Hawea. Both are big lakes. From there it was a screaming good downhill where I reached my maximum speed (with the Da Brim) of 72 Betsy kmh!

Going along Lake Hawea, there were some pretty good climbs. I was extremely grateful for the tailwind! At some points, the wind was really pushing the Da Brim up from behind and the chin strap of my helmet was almost gagging me! I didn't care though! Plus, the sun was out in force so I wasn't going to remove the Da Brim.

I worked my way along the lake going up and down. I got to the town (well, the turnoff) of Lake Hawea. There I left the lake and headed back over to Lake Wanaka and it's namesake town.

When I got closer to Wanaka, I encountered a strong headwind for the last few kilometers into Wanaka. That wind coming down the lake was now pretty much smacking me in the face. Fortunately, I didn't have much further to go!

When I got to Wanaka, I stopped at a Four Square to pick up some food. I tried to be careful to not get more than I would eat before heading home.

As I headed through town toward the Top 10 Holiday Park, I heard my name. It was Dick and Pauline! This is the third time I've run into them! They were staying at Aspiring Campervan Park and said they had tent sites (plus a spa and free wifi!). Of course, I decided to stay there too. It is probably even cheaper than the Top 10!

Pauline and I met up in the jacuzzi. Boy, did that jacuzzi feel good! The massive amounts of sand fly bites on my ankles and legs were somewhat soothed (actually, I think just getting the bug spray and sunscreen and grime off helped alot). After showering, I went over to Dick and Pauline's campervan spot and we swapped snacks (I gave them chocolate and they gave me snack mix). We chatted for awhile then I went to put some warmer clothes on and fix my dinner. They did the same and we met up in the kitchen/lounge to chat some more.

Tomorrow I head over the Crown Range to Queenstown. That means tomorrow is my last full day of riding. Then I will have two days in Queenstown. The finish has sort of snuck up on me! I can't believe it has already been almost 5 weeks! But, I guess when I think back to Hihi Beach, it does seem like it was awhile ago. So much has happened and I've seen and done so many things since that first day!

I will enjoy what Queenstown has to offer for my last two days. But, first I need to climb one last mountain range!

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