Saturday, February 28, 2015

Weekend off

I took the weekend off from riding due to heavy weekend traffic around the coastal resort area I am heading to next. I have enjoyed my time off. I did my laundry and repacked my stuff then lubed the bike and made sure things were tight on it. The rest of the time I went into town and hung out at the cafes and pubs. Not drinking a lot but rather just hanging out and talking to locals. Tonight I am having dinner with one of them at their home.

There was a group of antique tractor fans at my campground here in Waihi. They drove their tractors here to camp and then all just sat around having fun. They were entertaining. They fed me twice with their huge piles of food they had that they could not begin to finish. SO I ate well.

Now I am rested up for hitting the road again on Monday. I do not plan on a long ride just over to the coast and have a look around and when I feel like it I will stop in a campground which there are a lot around. This beach is one of the most popular in the country everybody tells me. I shall see tomorrow.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tararu to Waihi via Rails to Trails Path

Today I rode from Tararu to Waihi NZ. Most of the ride was on the Hauraki Rails to Trails bike path. The trail is crushed shell and gravel but it is packed fairly hard so it was a fairly easy mostly flat ride.

The first part of the ride was through dairy farms and such in a big flat valley following the Thames river. The last part of it was more interesting for me going through the Karangahake Gorge along a faster flowing river. The gorge was a big gold mining area so there were gold mines to visit and trains to ride that used to carry the ore. I did not do those things because I have done them many times in the past. The people I talked to that did them all liked it though.

I am in a Holiday park again tonight. The guy next to me has spent 4 months riding around the country so we have had a good talk with the maps out about where to go and where to avoid. He was a young Londoner and we enjoyed our evening. He goes home in a few days.

There was lots of talk about riding here in New Zealand. There is a ton of animosity between vehicle drivers and bike riders. The accident rate reflects this with the third most dangerous roads for biking in the world. The roads are narrow but a lot of bikes and cars both do not share very well. I just hope I don’t pay for this stupidity by getting hit.

It is already 8pm and I have not made a plan for tomorrow yet. I may just stay here or I may head down to the coast. Who knows??? not me.

Miranda Hot Springs to Tararu NZ

Today I rode from Miranda Hot Springs to Tararu NZ. I am spending the night in another Holiday Park which is a chain of campgrounds that also offer old trailers and caravans or an old bus or something like that to sleep in. They also have a variety of cabins from dorms to fancy homes. I had planned on riding around the Coromandel Peninsula but there is a big snapper fishing tourney this weekend so everything is booked up and traffic will be crazy. Instead I am going to ride the Hauraki Bike Rails to Trails down to Waihi which is a two day ride through dense forest and shrub then into a valley that is all farms. Missing the Coromandel is a bit disappointing but it is a tough ride in the best of times over lots of steep mountains with twisting winding narrow roads with no shoulders and there is more rain in the forecast just to make it more fun.

Heading south there should be less rain than up here in the northern part of the country is what all the Kiwis tell me. I hope so. After the Rail ride I want to go see the glowworm caves and see Rotorua but I have no firm plans with anything as you all know.

The wifi really sucks so far. The campground I am in offers wifi but it can’t even open Facebook without a data overload error. I have had a hard time finding any wifi that will allow me to upload pics to my blog. Google is also messing with me. Google tries to predict what I want to do and messes me up by changing the account I want to use. I wish they would stop trying to make me fit into normal patterns of anything cause lets face it I am just not normal. More later...

Kawakawa Bay to Miranda

I went from Kawakawa Bay to Miranda today so I am now about 110 miles from Auckland. Again today was a wet misty ride that pretty much eliminated a lot of the views I could have had. The rain actually felt good on me as it kept me cooler. Visibility for drivers to see me was good enough plus on the winding hills I always pulled off the road on the blind curves when I heard a vehicle coming. There were big tandem logging trucks on the narrow road today so my caution was not unfounded because they have to cut the corners short or risk hitting oncoming traffic.

I stopped at a pottery shop and talked to the owners that make dragon and abstract fish pottery. Their daughter is going to Austin on a full boat scholarship and they were very proud of her. We talked about a half an hour and I got back on the road. I also met a Kiwi couple on a tandem bike that live in an RV and ride their tandem almost everyday. They were fun to talk to because they were complaining about how the cost of accommodation has skyrocketed here in New Zealand which I have discovered first hand. My hotel last night was $130 and that is not in my budget but it was an emergency hotel stay due to the cold heavy rain.

Today I am staying in Miranda Holiday park which has a hot springs pool, TV lounge, full kitchen, nice bathrooms with hot showers and laundry. I am going to kick back in the pool when I am done with this post.

Not much for pics today because the misty rain obliterated the views. I was impressed with the density of the forest I rode past today. It looked primordial. I have expected dinosaurs to step out of the bush. There were lots of dead opossums and hedgehogs on the road today. The possums here are cute not the ugly things we have in the states. The
hedgehogs are small and cute also but there must be a ton of them both cause there was so much roadkill.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Auckland to Kawakawa Bay

Today I road from Auckland all the way out of the city and over to Kawakawa Bay. I had planned on going another 10 miles but the rain that had been light showers turned into a downpour. I saw a hotel and my first thought was I can’t afford it. My second thought was I have no choice cause I was cold and wet with strong winds blowing. I stopped and Tony the owner came out and we talked for a while while the water dripped off me. When I could see that the weather was not going to improve, I just gave up and took a room. I now have all my stuff scattered all over the room trying to dry it out before morning.

The ride was frustrating to start. I do not have a gps this time so I wrote down the directions in a list such as L on Main Right on Willow etc. My plan only lasted a couple of miles because I ran into a detour and once the detour ended I was no longer on the route and had no idea where I was. I tried to find it on the map I had but with my old man vision and the tiny print I was struggling. I stopped a couple time to ask for directions but I found that the Kiwis I asked were not very good at directions. It isn’t really their fault because the roads have no planning at all. They all just go where ever usually in winding curving or which ever way the drunken cow walked that they followed when they laid out the roads.

I did manage to find my way out of town but most of my riding today was urban rush hour type riding and I did not like it very much. There was one bike path that was good with two bike bridges over freeways. When the city finally ended the road turned into a two laner with 4-10” of shoulder. There was not much traffic but due to that jerk Murphy they always seemed to be where I was at the same time and there just wasn’t room for two cars or trucks and a bike on the narrow road. The drivers played well except for a few that came way too close at about 55 or 60 mph.

The rain started just as I left the city. It felt good when it was the nice light mist here and there. The wind picked up and of course blew right in my face. Then as I neared the ocean the heavy rain started. I was pumping up rolling hills on winding roads with poor visibility. It was just not safe so I stopped at a store and waited. The heavy rain stopped and I took off again only to have it dump again. That is when the hotel just happened to be there. Here I sit short of my destination but slowly drying out. I hope the weather tomorrow is better. Hotels are just not in my budget. I can’t post this because the hotel has no wifi but the campground I was going to did so go figure. Not much for pics because of the rain, More later…

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Auckland recovering from flight here

After a restless night of sleep because I was too tired from my flight getting here, I took a lazy day today. I took the bus into downtown Auckland and booked a lunch cruise around the bay. While I waited for the cruise I ate a nice breakfast and had some coffee while I sat and watched the city stroll by my cafe. I sat there about 90 minutes enjoying the parade of people walking by along the waterfront of Auckland on Quay Street. There was a large cruise ship and a smaller one docked and they created a lot of foot traffic pouring off the boats. When it came time for my cruise I slowly walked across the street to the dock where my boat was leaving from. They were setting up for the big Volvo sailing races along the waterfront. Those races start next week on the 27th and go for more than 2 weeks. Auckland is called the City of Sails for good reason. There are boats everywhere.

On my cruise I met some nice people that shared my table at the safety talk as we departed the dock. There were people from the states, Japan, Australia, Korea, India, Indonesia and other places. The boat was smooth on the water with rain clouds building as we left the pier. I had a beer while I watched the city skyline shrinking and all the islands in the bay growing ahead of us. The Captain was giving us the historical and geological background for the area as we slowly cruised the bay surrounded by sail boats and power boats. There were a lot of people fishing for snapper because there was a big bite going on with lots of action even though most of the fish were undersized. I did see a few decent snappers though. My meal was good, not great but the company was fun to talk to and I enjoyed their company. The people sitting next to me were from Pasadena and were on an around the world cruise. On the other side were four people from the UK two of which now resided in Auckland. I took a few pics but the drizzling rain and dark overcast did not inspire me to take any great pics, sorry about that.

After the cruise around the bay, I rode around town in the rain with a couple guys from Denmark. We tried to see the major sights and views around town but it was a dark dismal day not very conducive to good pics. We had good fun and conversation though and saw enough of the city to get a basic feel for the place. My impression was positive for the most part. getting around is a pain in the butt because the very narrow roads go every which way twisting and turning in odd ways and learning the way around is difficult. Parking was not easy either. There was a Foo Fighters concert coming up that night and two cruise ships in port so the sidewalks were crowded. We stopped and watched the many fishermen landing lots of snappers with long surf rods along the shore.

So in general it was a good relaxing day for me. I took the bus back to my hotel to get an early night. I had a beer in the hotel bar and met a woman from the US that now lives in Bali for the last seven years. We had a great time talking about her travels around the world and here in New Zealand. My early night was getting later and later as we chatted and laughed while watching a rugby game on tv. We finally both got tired and called it a night. It was a fun way to end a good day on the road.

Tomorrow I need to pack my bike up and get a few last minute items before my ride starts on Monday morning. Now I need to learn how to post pics from my new computer...Well it took me way too long to do this photo upload due to data limits on my wifi. I hope this is not the future of my posting here in New Zealand. I do not want to spend hours a day doing this. Good fast wifi is crucial. I hope it is just my hotel's wifi slowing this process down.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

My flight to Auckland New Zealand to start my ride

I have finally started my latest adventure. With a little help I purchased a ticket to Auckland New Zealand then on to Sydney Australia three months from now. I left San Francisco last night at 7:30 on Air New Zealand. All I can say is the flight sucked right from the get go. At SFO people were pushing and shoving to board the full 777-300. I do not understand people that behave like this. Everyone has reserved seats so just board peacefully for christ sakes. It is not a cattle call boarding. Once on the plane I was crowded in my seat by large passengers in my aisle and surrounded by 4 or 5 infants for the almost 14 hour flight. I buckled in and tried to put my feet under the seat in front of me and I could not even fit my feet under the tiny space they allow for leg room. It was more like a torture seat than a comfy seat I wanted to spend the next 14 hours sitting in. The flight departed on time and we were off. The babies started to cry right away. The seatbelt light stayed on for most of the flight as we were tossed up and down and right and left in all the turbulence. They announced that they had to skip serving drinks and that the restrooms were closed until the pilot turned off the seatbelt sign. It stayed on for almost the entire flight. The poor guy sitting next to me was squirming and crossing his legs and complaining and trying to use the restroom but the flight attendants kept telling him they were closed. They could have at least tossed him a bottle. The dinner meal was served a bit late and my neighbor spilled his on me due to the plane jumping all around. What can I do, it wasn't his fault.

I tried to sleep after watching a few hours of movies or tv shows and listening to some music. The rough ride made it almost impossible to sleep. The nursing mom across the aisle from me managed to get some sleep while nursing her maybe 18 month old kid and the kid took her blouse off for her while she was sleeping and she was sitting there snoring with her boobs totally exposed and the baby asleep too. Nobody tried to wake her up or cover her up they all just smiled and hoped the baby would stay asleep. I got a kick out of that little scene. Finally we were approaching Auckland almost an hour early thank god. We landed smoothly but it was 5am local time. I wanted to drop my bike off to get it assembled and adjusted nicely but they did not open until 9am so I hung out in a chair in the airport trying to sleep but it was not going to happen. I am not a very good sleeper. I ended up eating and drinking coffee until it was time to take a taxi to the bike shop.

The bike shop Natural High a couple kilometers from the airport was very friendly and helpful with my bike. I had made an appointment in advance but when I arrived they laughed and said the office in Christchurch does that kind of thing but they never informed him of the appointment but that he would have it done in a few hours anyway. I enjoyed talking to them at the shop.

Next I took a shuttle over to my hotel and checked in but had to wait for my room for a bit. I was in the room by 11 which was good since checkin starts at 2pm. I like the hotel, Heartland Airport Hotel. The room is quiet and the attitude at the hotel is laidback which I like. I showered and napped for about an hour and a half then decided to go pick up my bike. I rode back to the hotel on my bike and it seems to be assembled very well by Natural High Bike Shop.

I have tomorrow and the next day free here at the hotel before I start my ride around the island on Monday morning. Tomorrow I will try to wander around the city to get a feel for it but on Sunday I will just pack my bike up and relax a bit. Then on Monday morning I will ride out of town to a campground over on the coast. I am dead tired now so I am going to eat here at the hotel and then watch some tv before trying to catch up on some sleep tonight and get my body adjusted to the brutal change in time zones I went through to get here. PURAVIDA
no pics yet, sorry