Monday, November 14, 2011

151111a BLOK

Departing from the Doherty's house (in Onerahi/Whangarei was painful!  I didn't want to go, their hospitality lulling me into a sense of security, comfort, etc.!  But, I did go, fighting the urge to retreat, not having to think about the unknown, 'out there!'
I'm going 'soft,' at my venerated age (71), I'm beginning to like (too much) the feeling of comfort!  Gad, what am I saying!  I have miles to go before Bolivia, thousands!
Paul went with us (Alvaro and me), cranking Freya and his two dogs (see the pictures at in the Gallery ('North of Auckland,' album).  This on his tandem bicycle (dogs included).
After saying goodbye, and thanking Paul (maybe a hundred times) I went on without Alvaro.  I'm slower, plus he has different goals and agenda than me.  Paul had invited us to join him at a cafe, but I knew I had to keep going or stay forever!   Alvaro loves good brewed coffee and wanted to have 'one last cup before (he went), to the valley below!' (Bobby Dylan)
I was on my way to Matapouri (a vacation beach/bay community).  This an invitation to camp out on Bruce's property.  Bruce had given me the directions, and it wasn't that far, maybe 40KM from the Doherty house (in Onerahi).
But, the hills in Northland, they are killers!  At least back then, as I'm getting stronger now (writing this a week later)!  As they say...
I was in Matapouri by early afternoon, the only mishap on the way my sleeping bag slipped out and fell onto the highway.  This the second time since departing Auck.  Sometimes I'm stupid about packing, and even with much experience.  I thought to myself, maybe I need the B.O.B. trailer, as things piled too high on the rear rack.  I'd had a problem with that too days before, the rack, a screw coming out.
Once in 'Mata Hari,' I got out my notebook and reread Bruce's directions.
The first 'clue,' was the 'school yard.'  Then the 'first left,' then 'a road following a creek.'  The sealed road turned into gravel and then a driveway to the left, but I wasn't sure that was the 'first left.'  Just beyond was a bridge where I paused.  Then deciding, I pushed down this ('first left') a slightly overgrown two-track 'driveway.'  But, then there was the bridge over the creek as he had described.   Lo and behold there was the 'Bryan Family' sign on the gate.  Elation swept over me, as I'd found his property!
But... The 4-wheel track up the hill, lumpy/bumpy from cow hoof prints .  This part of the challenge, as in the soft wet soil I slipped myself some gear slipping off the rear rack!  Damn, this push was getting daunting!   I kept pushing, however, but having to stop and rest regularly.
I got to one crest, where there was a shed and some corrals.  I sat down for a few minutes trying to figure out the best place to camp.
It was there I discovered my front brake not working.  At first, I didn't know what was the problem, I thought maybe the cable had slipped.  But, with one working brake I wasn't too concerned, at least immediately.
I scouted the area, and came upon another gate, with the name 'Lewis' on it.  I initially thought this was someone else's property (Mr. Lewis').  Later I figured it out that it was Bruce's, as the brown color paint on the sign matched that of the one below.  Plus, the final 'clue,' the 'concrete water sistern,' at the top of the hill (I could see in the distance/).
It turned out the perfect place to camp (for four nights).  There wasn't a sound up there except for the birds, the wind flapping the rain fly on the tent.  Once in awhile I heard some human sound from the road below, a dog barking in the distance.  But, I was in my element up there communing with Nature, serenity at last!
When the sun was out I went 'buck naked' and sunned parts of my body that hadn't seen a 'ray,' for years!   I performed an offering, blessing the land for its abundance, its help in sustaining me!
The following day I discovered, to my dismay, one of the pads had come out of the brake, and why it wasn't working (I'm not too swift about mechanical things.)!  Murphy's Law, as I've cycled 100K KM in eleven years, and this was the first time a brake pad had ever fallen out of the 'shoe!'  I spent the day pondering what to do... Then it occurred to me to retrace my push up the hill and see if I could find it.  I think I said a prayer!
Damn if I didn't find it laying right there in one of the tracks, and not that far down the hill either.  I took a picture of it lying where it had fallen.
Then I returned to get Mr. Fetes.  I would need something to hold the pad in the 'shoe.' The pin that secures it had come out, and the reason the pad had slipped out.
Walking through the 'Lewis gate' I ran into a woman riding a horse.  I asked if she was coming through, but said no.  Then she turned and galloped back down the track.   I soon caught up with her as faster riding down.  When we met I asked if the bicycle would scare her horse.  She said yes, to wait, and she would move out of the way.  We chatted for a moment, her name 'Sandy,' and when I explained, she said she'd met Bruce when he first was there purchasing the property.
At the store in town I bought water and chatted up the Indian proprietor.  I asked if there was a 'handy man' kind of guy in the community, that I had a minor problem with my bicycle.  When I explained what exactly he produced a safety pin that ended up working perfectly!  Sometimes 'guarding angels' are more important than mechanical expertise!
The following day, I walked down to the road in search of water.  I saw two men in a field and approached them.  Turned out to be 'Bob and Jenbei (young Japanese guy), and, 'no problem,' but to meet me at the house.  Bob explained that, 'Charmaine,' was living there and I was welcome to ask her when I needed more water.   What we do without the kindness of strangers?
The next day walking down again I ran into Kevin driving a 4-wheel ATV (heard him coming of course).  He's a local, setting traps to kill varmints that eat the Kiwi (national symbol of N.Z.) eggs.
But, Charmaine turned out to be the most interesting of all the locals.  She was 'hip' to 11.11.11, the following day. When I informed her it was also a full moon, she rushed to check the calendar.  She made tea, and we chatted for some time.  Before departing we exchanged contact information.
The following day, I packed up and headed north, for God knows where.  But, at least I had/have two working brakes!
Originally, my goal has been to reach the tip of the North Island, Cape Reinga.  But, at this point I was not so confident I'd have time to make it, another 300KM, and then return to Auckland.  I need to apply for a visa before the Christmas Holiday.  My 3-month's 'free ride,' in N.Z. ends January 4th, 12.
Tricky business 'out here' cycling the world, dealing with things like government holidays and visas, deadlines, etc... You develop the ability to plan ahead!

TO BE CONTINUED...
 


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