I have made it to the West Coast, and a day early to boot!
After going to bed rather early last night to escape the hoards of sand flies, I awoke this morning ready to hit the road for Day 19 and a 65 km ride through the rest of Buller Gorge to Westport. Interestingly, after I was zipped into my tent, a campervan parked next to me. From the voices, I think there were three people. One gal and two guys. One of the guys sounded, by his speech, to be deaf. He was also German (I heard the other guy mention that). The three of them were speaking English, but it was not their first language. I decided it must be the language they all had in common. Anyway, they were using the picnic table that I had locked Betsy to. When they sat down to eat, the not deaf guy said, "And now we eat with a bike". When I got out of my tent this morning, I saw they had moved Betsy down the bench.
I packed up all my stuff and didn't cook breakfast. Instead I had a couple of oat bars I had picked up in Murchison. Consequently, I was on the road by 7:50.
It was foggy (or low clouds), but not raining. This makes two days in a row of no rain...no blue sky either, but I don't care! It's not raining!
I worked my way over a number of one lane bridges and mostly rolling hills. I continued to follow the Buller River with it in view for much of the day. Some of the bridges had traffic lights. At first I was concerned because I didn't think Betsy would trip the signal to change the light. I needn't have worried as there was a button for cyclists to push. It also kept the light green longer. How great is that??!!!
One of the one lane sections with a light was not a bridge, but a narrow section of road called Hawk's Crag. In one the photos below, it is in the background of the Kilkenny Lookout. The road had been carved out of the rock.
Today was also a day to see lots of Pukeko birds. They are a medium size bird (a little bigger than a crow) with a red beak and dark blue feathers. I put a photo below, but it's not the best for seeing the colors. I also saw a long beaked shore bird on the beach. I don't know what it is called.
Yesterday, I had planned to maybe get to Berlins (thus combining two days). I'm glad I stayed at Lyell instead. For one thing, Berlins would have been a 152 Betsy km day. Also, when I got to Berlins this morning the place was closed and for sale. I could have camped there anyway, but I would not have had water. Lucky choice I made!
Even going 65 km (real km--not Betsy km) to Westport, I made it by noon. What should I happen to see as I rolled into town? A Subway! Since I hadn't sampled a South Island Subway yet, I thought now was a good time! Besides, I was hungry. The few times I had pulled off the road I was brutally attacked by sand flies even though I covered every open part of skin with DEET (which worked, but still they were hovering around me in clouds). I didn't spend much time to eat anything. Plus, a couple of oat bars, although delicious, do not a hearty breakfast make!
As I pulled up to the Subway, there was a large group of high school kids there. I thought it must be lunchtime at the school which must not be far away. Nope, when I asked some of the girls where the library was, they said they weren't from here. Must have been some field trip. The Subway people were thrilled with all the business. Oh, and one of the things Subway has here is pineapple. So I had it on my sandwich. Pretty good!
After lunch, I asked one of the Subway people which grocery store was cheaper, Countdown or New World. They were both in Westport. They said Countdown was cheaper. That was fine with me because I have a Countdown Shopper Saver card that I got in Taupo.
After I got some groceries, I headed back out of Westport. I decided to stay at the Top 10 Holiday Park in Carter's Beach. It's just 3 or so km from Westport, but it is on the road to Cape Foulwind and the Seal Colony where I want to go tomorrow on my way to Charleston. I also found out I don't have to backtrack to the Westport/Greymouth junction. There is another road I can take over to SH 6 from Cape Foulwind.
So, I am at the Seal Colony Top 10. I just talked to a guy who said there was only one seal at the Seal Colony. Hmmm...maybe that's why they call it the "Seal" Colony and not the "Seals" Colony! I will find out tomorrow.
Here in the Office the nice lady also let me use the phone to call the Fox Glacier Heli-Hike people to see if I could change my booking to a day earlier. It was no problem. Now, after Fox Glacier, I will be able to split the long 122 km day into two days. WHEW!
Down on the beach there were some pretty colored shells on an otherwise deserted beach. I've included some photos below.
Oh, one other thing. The rooster at Lyell went around to all the campsites and cock-doodle-doo-ed at each one at 7:00am this morning. It was pretty funny!