February 18, 2002- Only One Sunny Day At A Time, A Gray Monday

After I finished with the computer last night, I stoked the wood stove, shut out the lights and went outside for a look at the sky. It was still clear and it was moonless. The only light was a little glow from the direction of Oamaru, 20km away. The stars were absolutely clear,with the Milky Way standing out.

The clouds have returned, but not the cold, at least for today. It was cloudy and warm and humid when I got started this morning. The route out of All Day Bay goes along the coast for about 5km and then inland 5km back to the main road. On a gray Monday morning it was completely deserted. I met a farmer on a tractor and a woman out with her dog on the entire route. The part along the coast was quite interesting. It continued up above the beach, which still has a pretty good surf. There was one area near the mouth of the Waianakarua River (say that even once, much less three times) where about a half mile of the beach was just covered with huge tree trunks and stumps that had washed up as driftwood, probably from stuff washed down the river at some point.

Once the road turned inland it became hilly again. I had to stop on the first hill. I don't know if I am getting any stronger. It seems just the opposite some times. Once I got to the main road, it continued to be rolling hills until the road ran along Katiki Beach. As I rode along, I was mostly looking out at the beach and the ocean, at one point I looked inland and knew that trouble was coming, since the rail bed, which had been running along side the road, was now 40 feet higher than the road and still rising. I came around a curve to a really big hill. Once over it, with much struggle, the road was fairly level to Palmerston.

At Palmerston, my technique of finding a decent place to stay by looking at the Information Center was foiled. The Info Center at Palmerston was merely a rack of brochures at a gas station. There wasn't much to choose from. I ended up at the Pleasant Valley Camp, about 3km south of town, just off the main road and up a hill, of course.

It is an old fashioned campground with cabins and tent sites and centralized blocks with the kitchen and showers. The cabin I have is pretty nice, with double bed. It is only NZ$15 + NZ$3 for linens. More comfortable than some of the hostels that I've stayed in that cost more. The kitchens are a little more primitively equipped than in most hostel. I expect that people camping and caravaning at these places usually bring their own stuff, but it has the requisite stoves and refrigerators and sinks and hot water.

There seem to be only one other set of guests, a 60-something couple from Australia, who are tenting out.

The day was not very exciting as rides go. The views were nice, especially along the coast, but there were a lot of hills over the 50km I rode. I didn't even stop anywhere to take pictures. I was considering going further, but was pretty tired after 50km and the next town was another 15km of hills away. I did see two other solo cyclists at Hampden. As I stopped at the store there, for a break, a woman cyclist was coming out and heading south and, as I left, a fellow from Sweden arrived, who was also heading south. I didn't see them again on the road. I also passed a couple heading north with two big two-wheel trailers and the guy was also encumbered with full panniers and bags. I don't know how they pull that much. It must be lower gears.

Tomorrow, I am heading to a place called Seacliff, on the coast south of Karitane. It is a route that is hilly, but supposedly avoids Kilmog HIll, which looks steeper than the Hunderlees that I climbed after Kaikoura. It also has a hostel that seems to be in a spectacular location.

Updated: 26 March 2002