February 13, 2002 - Summer is Still Missing

It's another gray day in paradise. It was raining when I got up and it drizzled all morning, but stopped by about 11. So, I decided to cycle on in the gray, since the weather report didn't indicate much improvement for the next couple of days. It was real hard decision to pass up on Kelley's wild duck for dinner.

I went around with Kelley in the morning as she fed her horses. She has a stallion, three mares and two foals, plus two others that are there temporarily, one just bred to her stallion and another who is the mother of one of the foals, that she had leased for breeding. It is a lot of work every morning. She competes in equine endurance events. It is evidently the most popular equine sport worldwide, but doesn't get much exposure since it isn't much of a spectator sport. The rides are through varied terrain for as much as 160km. Just finishing the long ones is an accomplishment.

I also talked a bit with Brent about fishing when he got up. He was showing me pictures of the last trip he guided for an American. They were catching 25lb trout. He had a picture of the daily catch with five 25 pounders all lined up with the puny looking 10 lb one they also caught. The fillets from these things looked like they came from salmon.

The ride today was pretty cool, temperaturewise, and to windward. Fortunately, the wind wasn't really strong. I put on both my long sleeve and short sleeve cycling jerseys under my windbreaker (which sometimes doesn't seem like it breaks much wind). I was still pretty cool when I stopped. The sweat just doesn't evaporate in the dampness.

I decided to deviate from my course along the main road and go to a town called Geraldine, about a 40km ride. It is about 15km inland from the highway and is where the road heads upward towards Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook. I'm somewhat tempted to go in that direction but there is too much climbing for me at this time.

Once I got off the main road for the last 15km to Geraldine, it was a whole lot quieter,and, even though it was a side road, a bit smoother. The only challenge was the fairly long one lane bridge with no shoulder, but that wasn't as bad as the other really long bridge that I crossed on the main road today.

The really long bridges are quite nerve-racking. They have no shoulder and are pretty narrow, so you can't really get over far enough to let traffic pass. To make it worse, they have been repaved several times and, as a result, have a narrow deep gutter right next to the concrete railing. Getting a wheel caught in that would really hurt.

Geraldine is a town that is partly a tourist spot, so it has a selection of accommodations, but it is still not on the main path and is pretty quite. I'm staying in the one backpacker hostel in town, The Olde Presbytery, which is quite small with a double room, a single room and a four bed dorm. I splurged and took the single room for NZ$22. It is full tonight, so I was pretty lucky to arrive when I did. It is pretty comfortable and the rooms all come with full linen and blankets on the beds and towels. It is more like a guest house than a backpacker hostel. The only weak spot is a primitive guest kitchen, with a single burner and an electric fry pan as the cooking sources. I decided to eat out tonight--blue cod fillets with a salad and baked potato, which was pretty tasty.

The guests are a bit older as well, there is a Dutch fellow traveling on his own and a Dutch couple, also cycling. They are all about my age. There is another American, probably in his 30's and a young Korean couple arrived last to fill up the dorm room. I guess that they are fortunate that I took the single.

The building was the old parish house for the local Catholic church (this is the second ex-catholic building I've stayed in), having been replaced by a new one recently and my hosts are a 40ish couple, Peter & Faye Koelet, with a teenage daughter.

I think that I will go on to Timaru tomorrow, which is about 40km from here and on the coast. It will mean that I'm about a third of the way to Dunedin. I hope that the weather gets a little better soon.

Updated: 19 March 2002