New Zealand Bicycle Tour by Leo Geary

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Leo on bicycle

© Carol Geary 1995-2001 All Rights Reserved

Note from Carol Geary

This is a journal about a bicycle trip around New Zealand. I copied Leo Geary's hand-written journal. Any typos are mine. Asterisks (*) are for vowels in profane words. If you are offended by street talk, proceed at your own risk. There are direct links to photos of known places. Other photos are included in sequence with general labels. Some entries in the journal continue into 1989. If you like, see a separate list of photos taken on this trip (and a few later).

Leo was my son. Here we are before the trip at Ano Nuevo in California. He started this trip with his college friend John Jolly (who had made the US cross-country bike trip from Santa Barbara, CA to NYC in 1985 after they graduated from UCSB) and John's girl friend, Leska. I saw them off in SF, as they flew to Tahiti. It was Thanksgiving eve, 1987. (Update, September 26, 1999, John Jolly has a wife named Nina and a new son, named Leo Jolly!) --Carol

11/26/87

Day 1 Thurs

Months of planning, dreaming, and earning seem to be part of another world, as I take a ferry from Papeete to Moorea for 4 days. UTA flight 501 wasn't too bad: fine dry white wine with broiled fish and steamed veggies. Gran Marnier in my coffee pre-departure. How sweet the feeling to see our bikes come off the plane unscathed, find a safe place to stash our boxes and ride free from the air port. Despite fearsome tales of demon drivers, all seemed muy tranquillo as we wheeled the few clicks into town.

A charming dirty town, Papeete abounds with conflicts: beautiful flowering shrubs and trees concealing gaily painted deteriorating buildings. The prices for food were not of this world. At an exchange rate of around 100 Francs/dollar a head of lettuce cost 1.00. Small tomatoes were available for about 33 cents each, and we saw two slices of swiss-looking cheese fetching an impressive 640 Francs. We brought bread & veggies & some unappetizing fried breaded fish patties, and headed to the harbor to plan & eat.

While chewing down our gourmet-priced pauper's meal, a friendly man named Mike approached, asked where we were from and shared a delicious elaborate lunch with us, consisting of two species of mango, breadfruit, cerviche (marinated in coconut juice). And for spice along with his warmth and good humor, we inquired about the trip. Armed with his info, we opted for this beautiful isle voyage. We were able to ride right off the boat and onto a road for bike touring. Mountain scenery, beauty rose behind cabins inhabited by friendly, warm, healthy people who would always respond to a wave or a smile. Mango trees seemed to press in on the road, and their fallen fruit green or worm riddled, was one of the most delicious things. First stop was a beach a 1/2 mile from the ferry with white sand and coral. I didn't hesitate to strip off clothes, don mask fins & snorkel and hit those reefs! Thousands of beautiful fish were to be seen, including 1 shy, foot-long barracuda. After about two hours, we continued riding, passing more idyllic bungalows, and stopping briefly at a campground where we met some Americans. For $5 each per night, we decided to keep going. We bought some wonderful fish at a market and scored us a spot to camp on uninhabited property. Shortly before dark John & I took a dirt road heading steeply up into the interior. He headed back & I continued on until light began losing it. Still I did get a good view.

Friday

Day 2

11/27/87

You get up early around here, that is if you get tired of roosters crowing, traffic roaring, and don't want to miss out on that wonderful time of day when the temp is cool and all stores are closed. I went down the road to a patisserie for a good cup of coffee, a croissant and a delicious sweet raisin swirl.

Back at the campsite, where I'd spent one of the most uncomfortable nights of my life (what with ghost crabs scrabbling in a nearby heap of dry palm fronds, the encroaching tide, thirsty mosquitoes looking for a good time, or the incessant, howling of the wind. I also regretted not bringing my thermarest.) Leska & John were washing clothes. We'd found this desperately tiny beach with a water faucet to camp at, with my choice for a sleeping spot being a narrow patch of white sand at an angle. I kept leaping up all night, expecting the tide to be lapping at my feet. The beach was used as the dinghy mooring site for ocean cruising yachts, and a French woman named Lilly was painting her dinghy. She talked with us for quite awhile, telling us about life in Tahiti (her and her husband were itinerant workers, she as a school teacher, he as a hotel maintenance worker).

Cycling that morning was so sweet, quiet, no traffic, peaceful & easy feelin'.

Within a half hour we reached the baie de Cook, whose beauty was only marred by a significantly higher density of curio shops and tourist hotels. The baie de Cook cuts in, partially embracing the east shoulder of a spectacular peak, Mt. Rotui. Another bay, baie d'opunohu, cuts in on the other side, almost making Rotui an island. We took an inland excursion, climbing up to a spot high up on Mt. Belvedere facing Mt. Rotui, and speculated on the island's formation. Leska thought that Mt. Rotui was the central cone of an ancient volcano, which had collapsed, with the two bays eventually invading each side of the caldera. Belvedere and the rest of the mountains were the walls of the dead volcano. With drug inducement, we could of perhaps achieved more colorful explanations. We rode down the many twists and turns of the road we'd just sweated up, passing an experimental tropical agriculture laboratory along the baie d'opunohu, where we found wild papayas growing by the side of the road. Most of the fruit was hard and green, but I knocked the ripest one down with a well-placed toss of a H2O bottle, and Leska stashed it in her pack for later, when its prime will be reached. Not half a kilometer down the road we went through a Mango grove where we, like children, squealed as we rooted for the little sweet treasures. Then a gust blew up, showering lethal green missiles down upon us as we dove for our bikes. After that, our eyes were peeled for fruiting opportunities.

Arriving at an opulent looking resort, we decided to see if Leska & John could rent snorkeling gear there. We failed at that, but they said we could come back and hang out there as long as we liked. Just down the road from the resort was sort of a touristy town where we found out that the closest place for them to rent gear was around on the windward side of the island at a place called Linareva. We took off to check it out and saw a completely new angle of the island: different vegetation, virtually no tourism, less people--quite nice. The resort that we were told about indeed had gear a louer, so the three of us took off down the reef for an hour of snorkeling. The visibility was really sh*tty, but we still saw some pretty cool fish, including a tiny pipefish, related to seahorses, about 8 cm long.

There being no stores for some distance, we just headed back the way we'd come to camp, and snorkeled at that nice resort: "Climat de France". We found a wonderful campsite behind some tennis courts and had a fine meal: fresh bread with cheese, "la Vache qui rit", and pate de fois.

Saturday

Day 3

11/28

Up early once more, we spent most of the morning snorkeling at Climat de France. Visibility was wonderful, we saw many beautiful and interesting fish, including a lion fish, certainly one of the most toxic creatures you'll run into. We ate lunch and drank beers there on the beach laughing at and making fun of the French on a pretty much non-stop basis. Getting motivated to move was difficult. John said it well: "Another sh*tty day in Paradise". Eventually we got moving but only a click or so to the ice cream store which was air-conditioned and therefore warranted an extra long layover. We took off south down the west coast, with a brief stop so that John & Leska drop off their snorkeling stuff. Also I stole a nearly ripe papaya from a tree nearby.

Maybe 10 klicks down the road I took an irresistible side road up this valley for photos promising to catch up with these guys in a while.

This road went up and up, becoming dirt after the last large concentration of homes. I wanted to reach the top but the fading light dictated otherwise. So I set up my camera to get a great photo of myself bicycling towards this outrageously beautiful mountain top. It took about 5 aborted tries but finally I got off a decent shot.

Catching up with John & Leska, I was too paranoid about the sun going down to get too into the sights I was seeing, but I can certainly say that it was sincerely beautiful, like every other damn thing.

Well, J&L had found a perfect spot behind a Church of Jerusalem. There were even showers there, which I used after climbing through a window and unlocking the door. We had a fright when some guy showed up and asked us what we were doing, but we handled it like pros, and soon we were warm friends, having his blessings to spend the night. We had a pretty good conversation before bed, telling outrageous tales of prodigious mirth.

Day 4

11/29/87

Sunday

Up bright and early, I rode ahead of the others to the ferry port at Vaiare, where I met an interesting Spaniard, Antonio Castillo, a cartographer who had been all over: New Caledonia, Morocco, France, and now Moorea. It was strange talking with him using my rusty Spanish. At first I was flailing badly, especially with numbers. But when I heard him use the words, of course I remembered their usage. So the more we talked, the better the communication got. Soon, John & Leska arrived, we hopped the ferry, and au revoir Moorea.

Arriving in Papeete was a drag. I had started getting as seasick as I've ever been, facing the stern during an hour of rough water while writing in my journal, and Papeete was unforgivingly hot. I suffered from a splitting headache all afternoon, even after taking an hour-long nap at 12. I came up with the idea of trying to sell my mask, fins & snorkel around town, but Papeete shuts down on Sunday, and I couldn't find anyone who looked like they might be interested. So I pedaled to the West, with the half-hearted notion of joining John & Leska at the lagoonarium. Not two clicks past the airport I lost all interest in that notion and veered right for a dip in the sea at a posh resort swarming with Americans, the least unobtrusive of which were the American women, intoxicated with the risque freedom of being able to go topless. Very fine breasts they had, too. I drifted down to the airport, spent $3.20 on a Heinekin, and wrote in my journal.

J&L showed up, we stashed our bikes away, and mostly hung out in the airport 'til about 9.00, when John & I hiked down the road a bit to a truck which had been converted to a diner, which you see everywhere in Tahiti. We had fried chicken, french fries & watermelon. We finally had the bikes packed and locked together, so we walked down to the grassy area I'd seen before to sleep, and settled down for the most misery-filled hot, sticky sweaty night I can remember. 'Nuff said.

Day 5

11/30-12/1/87

Monday

We headed down to the airport as soon as possible, drooling over thoughts of breakfast on the plane, after 4 days of eating only bread & fruit. The breakfast was indeed good--so good, we begged food off other peoples' plates. Auckland airport was relatively benign compared to a madhouse like SF. We walked out and assembled bikes right out on the lawn-- Recovering our stuff from the shipping office that we'd sent ahead was easy, too.

The manager just gave us our stuff rather than charge us the $11.00 tax, because he though it was a bullsh*t policy.

The only bummer of the day was riding through rush hour traffic to Catherine's house, where we spent the night after a fish & chips dinner. (Katharine Nemec's parents' house)

Day 6 & 7 & 8

12/2-4/4

Tues, Weds, & Thurs

Spent the time running around Auckland acquiring a front rack, cycling shorts, maps, and becoming increasingly skeptical of Leska & I ever getting along. I decided to head north for about a week while Leska & John hung out with their friends for a week in Auckland. Street pic.

Fri

12/4/87

Day 9

On the road, finally! And in the rain, on top of it. I was up by 6, on out of the hour before the others awoke at 1/4 to 7. In the drizzle, I made my way to the ferry, where the overwhelmingly friendly crew of a 100-yr.-old former whaling vessel treated me to a cup of coffee. I rode on in the rain for another hour before leaving the city completely behind. The traffic evaporated when I got on to seldom-travelled hwy 16 north to Wellsford. The road was up & down, and being unused to touring with massive gear for so long, I was extremely frustrated with my progress & riding in so low a gear. Still the scenery made up for a lot. I made it to beyond Wellsford, where I found a run-down, deserted old farmhouse to camp.

Sat 12/5/87

Day 10

Just after getting on the road, (after Wellsford) I rode through a wicked little squall, but it didn't last long. Sitting at a road-side coffee house, I met Don Wardell, a hanglider pilot going to his brother's in Dargaville for a weekend of hangliding. He invited me over, so tonite will be one night less I'll need to camp. Made a left hand turn off of Hwy 1, (on Hwy 12) which was a blessing because of the heavy traffic, on to mellow, rolling hills. Apparently there's more rainfall up here, or the drainage is poorer, because the landscape is a hell of a lot greener than the country I'd seen.

Coming across a newly-opened Bakery by the roadside, the temptation to go inside and stuff my face with sweet, high-calorie mouth-watering delights was, predictably, far too strong to be ignored. The establishment was owned and operated by a young couple beaming with friendliness and bubbling with conversation, so although I tried to write the past day's events down in my journal, I was good-naturedly buttonholed on a wide range of issues. The fellow who baked the stuff just happened to be the younger brother of some guy who was a past grand champ of Kiwi hangliding.

There was a New Zealand AAA office contiguous with the back of the bakery, and the baker dragged me back there and said I could take all the maps I wanted. Since I'd grabbed nearly all the maps I could need (or carry) back in Auckland, I could only find a few that were useful. Thanking them warmly, I headed off.

Soon, encountering the type of headwinds for which cyclists reserve only their choicest invective vocabulary for. The hills gave way to absolutely flat country that offered zero protection from the offshore winds kicked up by the high pressure centered over the Tasman Sea to the Northwest of KiwiLand. Not only were the headwinds miserable, but there were other indignities heaped on me: the roads were straight for miles, allowing me a half hour view of each temporary objective (very boring: a horse, a tree, a cow). Then, also, incredibly stupid-looking, sheep & cattle would be standing there, just looking, monitoring my pathetic passage. You'd have to be there to appreciate the feeling of their collective curious look of sympathy.( Bend in road photo. )

Eventually arriving at the home of Don's Bro, Murray Wardell, I was whisked away in a car, of all things, along with a friend of their's, Peter, to the bluffs of nearby Bayly's Bluffs, to check out the hangliding conditions. (Preparing hang-glider. ) The wind was coming from the SW at a 30 degree angle, which was unacceptable to the pilots (the optimum angle being 90 degree (straight on). (Dargaville area)

We then went to check out another beach bluff put-off point to the North, but that wasn't very acceptable either. So we took off to check out these interesting freshwater lakes not 5 miles from the coast, which had no other input save runoff, nor output but for evaporation. According to these guys, the water's good to drink. We hung out for a bit but I was cold, so I offered the best incentive I could think of to the Kiwis to leave: to buy the first round at the nearest pub.

Soon we were seated at the famous Kaihu Pub, when we began stuffing down these small pitchers of DB brown, a tasty brew indeed. A large Maori woman w/guitar sat down next to me, asked me where I was from and asked what request I had for a song. I couldn't think of anything, but my new buddies said I wanted to hear "ten guitars". So that's what we heard. It was actually a pretty cool tune. We started getting a bit "p*ssed" as they'd say in Oz, and dirty jokes became the thing to speak of. I even heard two new versions of the one about the French Legionnaire stationed way the f**k out in the desert.

Sun 12/6/87

Day 11

I woke up deciding to stick around to check out the hangliding scene deviating from my earlier plan of going up to the Waipoua Forest. But the wind Gods just weren't cooperating with the hanglider pilots that day being too strong and still not in the right direction. So after mucking about for a long time, we headed back to the house, where everybody seemed to be taking care of sewing problems. I also used the time to seam seal my bivy.

The wind did improve very late in the afternoon, so we headed out to these 250-ft. bluffs overlooking the sea and Murray took off in high winds. It was amazing to see him just rise off the lip of the cliff without running, and also fascinating to participate in assembling the glider. After we watched him soar around a bit, we took off down to the beach where he would land. The Kiwis laughingly made me drive, "breaking in" the American to the correct method of driving. Actually, it was remarkably no big deal, albeit in lieu of Auckland's rush hour traffic: The "Bros" invited me to check out the NZ Master' Championships in Napier at the end of Dec. Don also said I could stay as long as I like at his home in Auckland. (People and hang-glider. | Over sea 1. | Over sea 2.)

Mon. 12/7

Off to the Waipoua!

Day 12

Saying by to the bros, I left town under threatening skies, but only got a little rain on roads winding through country increasingly more scenic than what I'd seen before. (Flat scene.) Stopping for cookies at a dairy near Kaihu, I spoke with a lumberman for a bit about many issues. What's becoming increasingly apparent to me is the fact that New Zealanders are far more race-conscious than I'd imagined, for reasons that aren't quite clear to me. Certain aspects of this consciousness do seem clear, however: White Kiwis seem to have the same sort of fearful apprehension that US whites do about how to react to my brand of energetic, complex and worldly extroversion, and they seem to relax and enjoy my company after the first nervous encounter the same way. It seems obvious to me that Kiwi suffer from the same vicious circle that everyone else does (that of misunderstanding leading to fear, leading to hatred), and this becomes plain to see when their speech switches to those Polynesians & what not & ne'er do wells hanging about in Auckland, the source of crime, pornography & degradation of good old Kiwi values of yesteryear. The main psychological refuge from the ever more complex life appears to be a corralling of the wagons to form a racial and cultural circle to defend against the forces without. With all this, it is beautiful to note that Kiwis, like most people, express their beauty & warmth to you when you express an interest in their lifestyle and appeal to their curiosities about how you appreciate their country.

Coming from the south, the Waipoua takes you by surprise. You crest a rise, drop 'round a bluff and there you are, surrounded by a vegetation hard to describe: sort of like the cloud forest of Costa Rica. Dense growth, multi-staged canopy, lots of low-lying herbacious growth. The dominants of the ecosystem, and the main tourist attraction, are the kauris, truly marvelous trees, magnificent plants indeed. Majestic is a good qualifier.

Grinning like a fool by now from a mouthful of shrooms, I rode up a nasty metal track to a fine fire lookout that was open to the public. From there, I took a small, winding track down to the Forest HQ & information center to check out their plant & bird exhibits. (Waipoua River. | Kauri. )

The road out of the park and on to Opononi involved an unrelenting, yet reasonable ride up & up to a nice view of the Waimamaku River Valley. Met two bikers from Fairbanks, AK.

Climbing to the crest of the South Head of the Hokianga Harbour, I was treated to a lovely view of Opononi & the Harbour. The North Head was a built up mass of extensive sand dunes. All the stores in town were closed, so I caved in and splurged on a steak & shroom dinner at the only restaurant in town. I also had a pitcher of Lion Red at the Pub next door, a brew a trifle sharp for my tastes. I certainly preferred the DB Brown I enjoyed with the Bros at the Kaihu Pub. Spent my second night camping in a field overlooking the harbour. No rain! Hokianga Harbor

Tues 12/8/87

Day 13

Was out of camp early, and back into Opononi for food. Asked the guy at the gas pump concerning the significance of all the bumperstickers, including one on the schoolbus in front of us, that said "No Amalgamation!" His reply was that, in order to cut administrative costs, the government was proposing to consolidate various, far-flung branches into more central locations. The locals were in opposition, due to the perceived threat to their local identity-with good cause, it seems to me. In retrospect, I wish I could have brought up an idea I thought of later: Sure, go ahead and consolidate the Feds in order to constrain out-of-control gov't spending, but get local volunteers to take over the superceded regional outposts. That way, local concerns would be dealt with by locals, and the Feds could be presented with a more cohesive local response. Seems to me that this is the way to reassume control over day-to-day business from an insensitive gov't in Wellington.

Today was ice cream day. Had two splits and a double Hokey Pokey, plus a Rum Raisin. The economic deficit due to ice cream purchasing has got to be controlled -- an unpopular platform in an election year, I'm sure.

The road from about Omanaia to Taheke offered nice views of native bush, I guess the backside of the Waipoua Kauri Forest. I enjoyed some tail winds today, and some nice sun.

Picked up some groceries in Kaikohe (You can buy Gouda & Edam cheese for less than Sharp Cheddar!!) then took the side road to check out the famous Ngawha hot springs. (Pronounced "Narpha.") Pausing at an intersection to check out the map, I spied an old feller tending some flowers in front of the town hall. The archetypal Kiwi, he helped out all his friends & neighbors, took care of an invalid old man, and informed me of the miraculous forces at work in those hot springs: when he moved here, 8 years ago, he was stooped over and couldn't work. After a month of pool therapy, he claims, he could stand upright once again and resume normal activities. A few years after that, he suffered some nerve problems & couldn't lift an arm. Pools helped, but didn't cure him entirely, so he incorporated acupuncture treatments into the pool sessions to effect a complete cure. F*cking amazing! He also showed me his collection of polished & varnished Kauri roots that he'd been working on for years. He'd done a nice job on them & has a collection on exhibit down in Hamilton. Nice guy. We shook hands warmly & I took off to the Springs.

You've got two choices: spend big bucks at the white-run commercial place with fine billboards, strong fences, information displays & ostentatious pamphlets, or, you can go next door to the Maori-owned pools which were closed for refurbishing. Each pool had a different character, with a range of temperatures, colors, smells and bubbling effect. The pools had been boxed in with attractive rough-hewn wood, with slotted walk-ways between, I guess to prevent the foot traffic around & about from creating a vast quagmire. The Maoris had apparently been using these pools for hundreds of years before the Europeans had taken over. No charge for the use, just a donation slot to help defray costs of maintenance. After all, the pools are a gift to humans from the Island of the Long White Cloud. Who could conceive of profiting from its occurrence?

I turned North at Ohaeawai to angle over to Kerikeri and solicited some info from a farmer who was painting a newly purchased 2nd hand farm trailer. We discussed the merits of different roads, and he invited me in to have a look at a plot of his 8 acres, planted in kiwi fruit. Growing kiwi fruit: truly a remarkable enterprise.

planting diagramMale and female kiwi planting drawing.

Male & female plants are grown in alternate rows, their vines growing out across wires strung under high tension between them. The fruit don't produce nectar, which attract bees, only pollen. Bees only use nectar for food, pollen being utilized for constructing the structure of the hive. So the conniving Kiwi constantly destroy a part of their bee hives, which keep the bees returning to the plants for pollen. Thereby cross-pollinating the flowers. The flowers are delicate, and need wind-breakers, which are grown out of rows of fast-growing eucalyptus and bamboo. It takes only 3 years to grow an adequate wind brake!

Rains during the flowering season are anathema to the Kiwi fruit farmer: the water soaks into the budding fruit, causing it to rot & become useless. Because of all the recent rain, the farmers were having a hard time of it. The fruit becomes mature in May, and that's when it's picked. Liz will be bummed that I won't be able to send her that Kiwi fruit for Xmas!

On to Kerikeri: reminds me a lot of Yuppie wine country in No Cal. Lots of money, quiche-y, type shops, very beautiful landscaping around attractive homes. I thought maybe I'd stay at the Youth Hostel, splurge, meet fellow travellers & trade info. But here in NZ, only members are allowed to stay, unless you pay $6.00 extra, for a total of $17/night. Too much. I spent the night in a field down by Kerikeri Inlet. I filled up my water bottle at a nearby preschool, where I spoke with some pleasant folk who offered me pizza and cake. The center was staffed and funded by volunteer efforts and from what I could see, seemed like a wholesome environment.

Man, did I get wet that night! It rained and rained, and when the bivy bag is sealed, the head flap gets big time condensation. Thoroughly unpleasant evening. Will always find shelter from now on.

Weds 12/9

Day 14

Two weeks into the trip, I've spent way too much money. I spent $60 in Tahiti, & cashed $200 of checks here. I now have $43 NZ left. So I started looking for work in Kerikeri, after hanging all my wet sh*t out to dry. No jobs at the growers, though it looks like I've a job at a mussel aqua farm if I want it, but it wouldn't start til next Tues, & I don't want to hang around that long. Spent the rest of the day reading & scoping out a place to sleep, finding one on the porch of the rarely frequented Tennis Club bldg. Sat on the lawn checking out a series of cricket games, but failed to make any sense out of them.

Met two Americans, one from Boseman, one from Denver, who I didn't really like. But they did show me where the Pub was, so I at least got some use out of them. The Montana guy just happened to work at the same mussel place, and said I was pretty much in there. The boss was a born-again though.

Thurs 12/10

Day 15

Up & out early. Dammit, left my riding gloves in KeriKeri. F*ck!! Oh, well, that'll be one less thing to worry about. I did find my visor, which I thought I'd lost.

Enjoying tail winds to Paihia, I ate lunch while awaiting for the ferry to Russell. Met & talked to two German girls, very pretty. I've got to find some women to travel with! At Russell, I burned an hour in a whaling memorabilia museum, which featured a 1/5 model of Cook's ship, the Endeavor. They took a piece of the Endeavor's bow on one of the Apollo trips to the moon.

After Russell, it was hardcore but beautiful gravel roads again. Almost ran over a baby hedgehog. Freaky creatures, they curl up into balls when threatened, exposing porcupine-like quills to the hostile world. Rode on, right into a herd of sheep being driven down the road by a cowboy and his two excellent dogs for a warm drink at the local wet. The shepherd was a really friendly talkative guy. He stopped and talked with me for a good 15 minutes, long after his flock had disappeared down the road. Shortly thereafter, the road took a long climb thru the spectacular Ngaiotonga Scenic Preserve, and once again, I was treated to the sight of the mighty Kauri. The mammoth climb to the ridge gave me good views of the Waikare Inlet to the Northwest, as well as the Whangaruru Harbour to the SE. Very few people live out here, and I only saw one car in two hours. Enjoying a long descent back down into farmland, I passed some Maoris dressing a slaughtered bull, and finally reached Oakura Bay, a picture book pretty resort escape. I chatted briefly with a retired serviceman from Rochester, NY, then made my way back out of town to an old garage I'd thought would do for that night's camp. On the way I ran into two French-Canadians from Quebec who had put in a grueling day from Tutukaka. The guy spoke English well but his poor exhausted girlfriend didn't say anything and looked like she needed a cold beer & a warm bed. They had seen the two cute Vancouver girls I'd met in Tahiti, Rachel & Kate. Back up the road, I found a much better camp beneath the porch of the Whangaruru's Lions clubhouse at the beginning of the Back Track, with spectacular views all around, no less.

Friday 12/11

Day 16.

Lazy morning. Went for pleasant walk and beach run down in Oakura Bay. A leisurely cruise followed by a hardcore climb through a tasty native bush canyon took me to the dreaded traffic of hwy 1 to Whangarei. I looked up a friend of Murray Wardell's named Bernie Massey, a fellow hanglider pilot and Triathlete who worked at DTR TV in Whangarei. Bernie was headed for Auckland that very evening before going to Hamilton for a hangliding meet. When he got off work, we went for some beers with a few friends of his, had a quick dinner at his home, then cruised down to his friend's house in Auckland. Steve Anderson and his cute daughters, Olivia & Karen lived in Mt. Albert. Steve was a long distance runner, and gave me his mom's address in Blenheim where I could stay in Jan. He showed us this cool video of the Alpine Ironman race: ski-mountain run-kayak-bicycle. A truly bitchin' race!

Sat 12/12

Day 17

After directions and breakfast with Steve & Bernie, I headed out of town towards the Coromandel Peninsula. Most of the day was pretty frustrating dealing with traffic, headwinds, and p*ss-poor route-finding. I took about 2 hours longer than I should have taken to reach Clevedon, but by then I had tailwinds, beautiful skies, and excellent temperatures. I finally decided to camp out at a really nice schoolhouse bathed in late afternoon sunshine. (Orere)

While reading "coyotes" the paperback given me by the two Oregonians I met in the airport, two American guys rode up, the fine end to their first day on the road in NZ. We ended up spending the evening together, having a great time. Turns out, Rich used to work at Pacific Travellor's Supply and knew Bill & Laura really well. We laughed hard at this cosmic coincidence, and also at the fact that Caedmon shared the same birth date.

((Carol's note, Pacific Travellor's supply is a map store near Santa Barbara. Leo got maps for them when he went to South America. Rich is Richard Dunlap. Richard told me there was a trampoline behind the schoolhouse where Rich took the leaping Leo photo for his memorial art, Flying Home. In 1992 Richard digitally cut Leo and pasted him over Leo's photo of Owen's Valley. Leo and Richard remained very close friends.))

Sun 12/13

Day 18

We rode out to the shores of the Firth of Thames, down around to Thames for the night. We three discovered a very close affinity for one another, and it looks like we'll be travelling together for a while. We found a fine high school to camp at, and during dinner preparations, we were confronted by the groundskeeper, Bert Taylor, who eventually offered us hot showers, cookies & coffee, and fine conversation in his nearby home. I called John as per our plan, and was amazed that he and Leska were in nearby Whangamata. We were cut off virtually in mid-sentence, with nothing resolved except to do another phone rendezvous on Thursday. Somehow I just don't think it will work.

Being treated like sh*t in such a fashion is and always has been a wholly foreign experience. Contemplating this situation virtually hourly during the past two weeks has cast a pall of depression over me that seems to me can only be remedied by surrounding myself with warm, responsive people with a more optimistic world view. Phew! I can't remember anything that has caused me such anguish in years. 'Nuff said.

Mon. 12/14

Day 19

Beautiful morning! What a start: big, grinning 50-yr. old Rugby & assistant groundskeeper Wayne standing over my sleeping bag, thrusting out his hand to be shaken and offering us bathrooms and coffee. I sent a load of extra, unnecessary stuff back to Auckland, which will give me some extra room & a bit less of a load.

We rode north from Thames, along a wonderfully scenic, twisting road abutting the Bay, lined with elegant trees with beautiful red flowers. At lunch time, we found a really nice cove to kick back in, and as it got hotter in that intense sun, I finally couldn't resist diving in that choice blue water. Soon the three of us were splashing about like playful dolphins in the water. The sun we had been enjoying gradually lost out to overcast skies and rain. The last big downhill took into the small town of Coromandel took us in to the pub with not a moment to spare before major league rains moved into stay for the next couple of days. Rich & I started to get a nice buzz and we hammed it up a lot while playing pool while listening to the best juke box I've ever heard: Ry Cooder, Grace Jones, Dire Straits, etc. We found an awesome spot at the local school and called it a night.

Tues 12/15

Day 20

Rain. Rain. Rain. Went and talked with a staffperson at Watchdog!, the local umbrella Environmental Organization about mining controversies in the Coromandel. Her name was Tahi (#1 in Maori). Just sort of hung around all day, not doing much of anything. Tonite the local basketball club plays in the gym next to where we'd been sleeping. So we three played B-ball, had a blast.

Weds 12/16

Day 21

Last nite was a wet one. I can't recall seeing rain come down so hard, so consistently, for so long. Rich had started to get a hardcore cold, and the day looked just as rainy as the previous one. We were going stir crazy. I read & wrote all day in the cafe. While we were holding contingency discussions, we were approached by Bev & Don Campbell, wonderful, beautiful people who took us home, fed us, & talked to us endlessly. True golden folk.

Thurs 12/17

Day 22

Waving goodby to Don & Bev, we left town down to Hwy 309, which would take us out to Whitianga, and Hot Water Beach. Rich by now felt like sh*t, and we weren't sure if camping out at Hot Water Beach would be such a hot idea. The dirt road climbed pretty steeply, but in good condition, past some nice waterfalls (where I took a cold plunge), through some attractive 2nd growth native bush, to a pass with some good views. Rich was getting slower & slower, and when we all donned rain gear for couple of sets of squalls, he became silent from misery. Later he said he nearly had passed out. Finally arriving in Whitianga, it seemed only an hour or two before a new couple took us under their wing. Ken & Dorothy Collier, casually self-employed in a lucrative fishing lure manufacturing business. They fed us, took us for a tour of the town, then we talked late into the night. Fri 12/18

Day 23

Late start after breakfast, lunch and innumerable, distracting, informative conversations with Ken & Dorothy. We took the ferry across the Whitianga estuary & rode thru some fine country, stopping at the Coromandel Winery to taste Kiwi fruit wines & Passion Fruit & Tamayrillo Liqueurs. Fascinating. Cruising out to Hot Water Beach was truly fine scenery. We found a spot near the beach to camp. Rich, borrowing a surfboard, managed to catch one pretty measly wave. We goofed around for awhile, then around 10, cruised down to the good place for the sand thermal seeps. God! In some places, the sand was too hot to walk on. We spent a couple of hours digging, gasping and moaning in shallow, burning pools, interspersed with rejuvenating dives into the ocean. Yeah!

Sat 12/19

Day 24

Today dawned beautiful. We hung out, waiting for Rich, relaxing. I noticed a regular clicking sound from my bottom bracket and cussed it. We passed through extremely arid terrain, cruising up some large mountain canyons, across (near the Pinnacles, south of Tairua) some large-scale artificial Forests (the Tairua Forest), and into surf-resort Whangamata. The sun was extremely hot, especially when we rode up a viciously steep, windless hill to a crest more or less looking down onto Waihi. Bert (from the Thames HS) had told us he might be at his summer cottage in Waihi Beach, so we figured we'd at least say hi. We were totally beat, sunburned & sticky with sweat & sunscreen and couldn't decide whether we needed a beer or a shower more. Arriving in Waihi Beach, we were dismayed that it was so big: we'd expected something smaller where it would be easy to find Bert's Place. But we managed, and there he was, with his wife Betty. They plied us with beer, then Rich & I went for a quick body-surfing interlude. Didn't catch any good waves, but had a good swim. We slept out under the stars. What I clear sky! Wish I knew S. Hemisphere constellations.

Sun 12/2o

Day 25

Slow day. Betty fixed us a nice breakfast, we washed our clothes, then all 5 of us went for a walk over the headlands to a beautiful unoccupied beach. Back at Bert's I worked on the bike but couldn't do much, since I stupidly sent the BB tools back to Auckland.

We (Caedmon & I) didn't pull out of town 'til nearly 3. Riding to Tauranga was relatively uneventful.

Mon 12/21

Day 26

Camping at a school we met the goundskeeper--another Murray!! Of course, he unlocked the bathrooms & offered us a cup of coffee. Very friendly guy. We went to all the best bike shops in town looking for tools to fix our bottom brackets. Spent 1/2 a day taking care of that order of business. I decided that my problems had to do with my crank arm being loose, so there is nothing that I can do about it. We finally took off, heading off the PyesPa road, which was closed to motor traffic due to repairs. It was great: no other cars. We passed many orchards before getting to the Mangorewa River scenic reserve, which included a very spectacular gorge where the river had carved through the surrounding rock. I really resented the fact that we didn't have time to hang out and really check out the area.

We eventually made it to Lake Rotorua and stopped at the local school in the town of Ngongotaha. We all agreed that the local scene wasn't very friendly so rather than go to the local pub for a beer, we bought a 6 pak at the bottle shop. Rich left his gloves outside, and someone had ripped them off!

The local school was cool, but people kept cruising in. A whole group entered a building next to ours. Rich speculated that they were the local Alcoholic Anonymous. Incredibly enough, one of them came over to where our stuff was all sprawled out, and told us that in fact, it really was an AA meeting.

Tues 12/22

Day 27

To Rotorua. Overcast skies. We didn't feel much motivation, & just hung out in a coffee shop, eating...writing. I took a stroll to the Library & read some interesting books on the Mountains of the South Island. I scammed a sauna, hot tub, shower, sh*t & shave in the health club of the poshest hotel in town, the Hyatt. Certainly the high point of my visit to Rotorua. Went to the Maori Art & Crafts Institute, where I met Bobby & Kate (Oregonians I initially met at the airport), who were good to talk to. The institute had many wonderful exhibits of amazingly intricate, rich wooden carvings.

The three of us headed out of town, stopping briefly for a body work session with Rich beside a pretty lake before moving on to the Waiotapu Pub. We pulled up to see heaps of drunks staggering out. We bushwhacked down to the Hot Springs Murray had told me about. Up a side road about 3K we found a pretty lake to camp beside. A rainy night.

Weds 12/23

Day 28

An overcast day, broken by occasional showers. Stayed in the tent nearly all day, reading. Went down to play pool & scarf down chips with Richard and Caedmon at the Pub. Another rainy night.

Thurs 12/24

Day 29

No matter what, we had to leave. Sick & tired of living in a tent, we were ready for some sort of xmas eve socializing.

We cruised under increasingly fine skies to Taupo, where we decided to splurge & stay in a cabin for $ NZ 11.00 a night. Saw Bobby & Kate, enjoyed a fine dinner with them. Drunken partying with Kiwis, Ozzies, and Oregonians. Wild Crazy Kiwi cowboy (Monty) from Wellington, becoming increasingly rowdy, drank a mixture of wine, gin & beer from his Wyoming cowboy boot. Later he cut his finger & needed to be driven to the hospital. Quite the party night.

12/25 XMAS DAY

Day 30

Recuperation. Fruit salad breakfast. Took long run. Read.

12/26 Sat

Day 31

Microtome filling up fast. We decided to stay one more night. Talked to young Christian group.

12/27 Sun

Day 32

Up and out of Taupo

Killer tailwinds to Tarawera. Outrageous hot hotsprings there the other guys weren't into checking out. The sun came out. Climbed long hill to summit kiosk. Met cool shop owner, Paul, who let us camp in the yard there. We were hanging out, when who should drive up but John, Leska & Catherine. Rapped with them while, about nothing personal. It was but-cold.

12/28

Day 33 Mon.

Woke up, joked around with the others, decided to hook up for dinner, then took off under beautiful skies to being climbing a killer hill. A litter further, within sight of the sea, Rich's loose spoke slipped, ripping out all the spokes on the freewheel side of his rear wheel. He hitchhiked into Napier, promising to meet us at the info kiosk. Hateful headwinds and intense bonk made it hard to finish these last klicks into town, but we made it. Rich had scored Rhonda, the woman who had picked him up, invited us to stay until Thursday since her folks were out of town. Called Adrian's parents, also the Wardell Bros at their motor camp. Both looked forward to seeing us. We watched "The Eagle has landed," then crashed.

12/29

Day 34 Tues.

Don Wardell came to pick me up. The boys had other plans. We drove to the site of the NZ National Hangliding Championships, where we ran into Murray, Jenny & some other folks. We rode with the tractor & gliders to the top of the mountain then hung out all day in gruelling brutal sun & heat waiting for good thermals to develop. Murray bombed out twice and called it quits.

So we went to a pub went swimming ran out of gas, then got sh*t faced back at Don's Motorcamp.

12/30

Day 35 Weds.

Woke up, fixed breakfast with the bros, then Don & I spent the day shopping and just hanging out in Napier. We radioed Murray at the end of the day to discover that Murray was now in 2nd place!

Went out for a BBQ with Rhonda and her Young Agro Christian friends, had a wild time before seeing "the Man who knew too much."

12/31

Day 36 Thurs.

up late. Packed up sh*t. Said goodby & thanks to Rhonda. Rode to Adrian's folks house. Adrian called from Auckland and we had a good chat. The folks were strange, and although friendly, the vibes were weird. They showed Adrian's slides from Peru, which I narrated (fun!!). Then we turned in, despite loud noise from nearby New Year's Eve party.

12/1 (1/1) New Year's day Day 37 Friday

Took a hike out to Black Reef to check out the famous Gannet nesting site. Beautiful birds. Took off to town of Waipawa to camp at school.

12/2 (1/2)SAT.

Day 38

Called Mom. Tent won't arrive til Mar!! Crushed. Beautiful morning, then cloud cover blew in. But with tail winds, we cruised all of 105 km. to Pahiatua. At the school there, I took swim in a pool. Nearly roached on buzz when a cop car pulled right up to us, busted, but the cop was cool, and let us stay. Soon after falling asleep, however, a security dude woke us up, flashlight in hand, but we talked him out of kicking us out.

12/3 (1/3)sun

Day 39

Hung out in a cafe drinking free coffee & rapping with the couple who owned it about my concept of a coffeehouse & how I'd get it started. Met two cyclists headed the other way, Brian & Steve from Timaru. They said we could stay with them if we showed up. Stopped at the National Wild Life Center, where there were historical exhibits, a land management slide show, and a bushwalk with labelled trees & outdoor aviaries. Saw two Kiwis for the first time. It takes over 50 Ha (~100 acres) of native bush to support one nesting pair, so they say that many existing preserves simply aren't large enough to preserve the species. A pleasant ride through the country side brought us to Masterton & the school

12/4 (1/4)Mon

Day 40

Masterton to Lower Hutt. A major hill between Featherston and Upper Hutt brought us out from under overcast skies and an outrageous downhill. Stole showers at the Hutt Valley Holiday Park. Then bought a 12 pak of DB Draft to consume at the local school. We ran into a bunch of "counter-culture" kids who were into confrontation with police, smoking pot & drinking beer.

12/5 (1/5) Tues

Day 41

Up & out of industrial smega & into the city. Wellington reminds me a lot of San Francisco. Met a guy in a bank who seemed to think the same thing. We talked for awhile about how he thinks that the NZ gov't is totally insensitive to the concerns of the constituents. Rode up to the Ivanhoe Inn 52 Ellice St., thought it was a decent deal at $13 / nite. ((Carol: I could only find a Maple Inn at 52 Ellice.)) Had an interesting conversation with a woman from Tasmania, Penny Russell, who taught Social Psychology to junior & Senior HS students. In search of that perfect cup of coffee, I eventually found a coffee shop in Willis Village, a small mall. Excellent fresh ground & brewed coffee. Walked around a lot, checking out different city stuff. Would like to see Midnight Oil in concert. Tried to find a place to get my hair cut, but I'm not into paying someone $16 to learn how to cut afro hair.

We all contributed to an outrageous supper: Rich & I scored beer, Rich steamed Kumara, Caedmon baked some cod & I made the killer spinach salad. Hung out rapping with an American-born English woman who's been tramping around the North Island & is now headed down south like us! Good, wholesome, attractive, curious woman: God how beautiful! Going to bed, I lay there most of the rest of the night thinking of the women I care about in my life, and how alone I felt right then.

( Guy on beach. | Beach. | Richard, Caedmon, and guys. | Hills. (See also, a QuickTime panorama.) | Richard on bike. | Bush. | Lake. | Leo joking with beers.)

12/6 (1/6) Weds

Day 42

Got up at 7:15 and went for a great run up over the hill behind the Ivanhoe through this wonderful grove of bush growing on top of the hill, down past a velodrome to a marina which seemed deserted. I ran out on a jetty and took a dive and short swim. Felt good in the sun. Hadn't run since Lake Taupo, but the body felt like it would be in fine form after a good month of some consistent workouts. Had Tofu sandwiches in "Biogrown" wholemeal bread from the Wellington Organic food co-op I checked out yesterday. Good stuff. Walked down to the National Art Museum with Helen to take a look at the Edvard Munch collection on tour from the Munch Museum in Oslo. Some pretty amazing imagery there. I was impressed with the technique he had developed with the woodcuts. Cutting up the work block into two or more jigsaw-like pieces, using a different color with each. He also used multicolored and -layered lithograph prints.

Left to buy groceries, and rapidly running out of time to get to the ferry, I experimented with the Wellington public transportation system, successfully! Richard had been unable to deal with his bike problems, so was staying another night in Wellington. Caedmon & I barely made it to the Ferry on time. He dropped a sandal and had to retrieve it, and during that short interval, I scammed a spot on a truck for my bike without paying. On board I hung out with Felipe from Chile, also talked to Helen. She ended up camping with us for the night in Picton, of course at the local school.

12/7 (1/7) Thurs.

Day 43

Hot morning! The sand flies were soon active, so therefore, we were too. Had coffee with Helen & a great conversation. We arranged to meet again in Nelson, then took off into the headwinds towards Blenheim. Got a glimpse of 2886 m Mt. Tapuaenuku in the distance, covered with snow. Arriving at Steve Anderson's sister's house, we learned that he had left for Auckland early. However, his sister Keri, her husband Allen, and their kids Lisa & Glen, took good care of us. We watch the one day cricket match, NZ vs. Aust, and learned more about that game. Rich arrived much later, having failed to get the right bottom bracket for his bike. He will deal with it, he says.

12/8 (1/8) Fri.

Day 44

Bidding adieu to these fine folk and a kiss from cute Lisa, we were off to the Pelorus Bridge scenic Preserve. Along the way, Caedmon developed a blip in his rear baldy, so changed it. Through increasingly beautiful scenery, we finally arrived at the Bridge, a beautiful area of lush native bush and a spectacular rocky Gorge with a deep, clear, pleasant water. Did a few high dives, swam about a bit, then went for a long mtn run around the Trig K loop, about an hour. The sand flies here are worse by far than anything I could imagine. When I got back the boys were ensconced in their insect-proof tents, and not for the first nor the last time I cursed myself for not bringing my tent.

12/9 (1/9) Sat.

Day 45

Woke up to the sand flies; they're bad enough to inspire poetry and other expressions of horror. Resolved to head out very early, though the other boys want to stay, hike & swim some. After eating breakfast, I took off towards Rai Valley in the overcast conditions which had established a humid chill nice for biking in. After Rai Valley, a hill that we'd been warned about hove into view. Cresting it, I stopped to help out a group of maybe 10 schoolgirls, one of whom said she'd had problems shifting. The downhill from the crest was OK, but then came the much bigger hill right before Hira. This road climbed up thru the clouds, driving exquisitely amongst native bush. The downhill from here was truly outrageous. Stopped at a teahouse in Hira where I got the worst service I'd ever had in NZ so far. Nelson is a very beautiful city. I guess the closest comparison would be Santa Barbara. Everyone seems so relaxed and casual.

We sort of dithered around for awhile, then I thought we should check out the concert hall where the Maori band "Herbs" was to perform tonight. We walked in when they were conducting a sound check. Walked right up to the Stage Manager & I asked if we could get in free if we helped out load or something. His name was "Foot." He said he didn't think it would be a problem or anything. He certainly was the most kickback head roady I've ever talked to.

We hung out in town, futilely and humorously attempting to get invited into someone's home.

Checked out a night club where beers went for a buck, "Maxines". I had talked to the head priest dude at the local Catholic Church and had scammed as a spot for the night in the Catholic School grounds. Uptight old fart.

Walking into the Herbs concert was sin problemas. They played a mostly fantastic mixture of reggae, soul, R&B, Maori & Rock. I was really into dancing, but the energy level dropped, and I sort of just kicked back & enjoyed the rest of the show.

Sun 12/10 (1/10) -1/28 (he realized that he'd been writing 12 instead of 1 all month!)

Day 46-64

Living in Nelson with Ben, Miranda & Chloe Van Dyke, babysitting Chloe 3 nights/week in exchange for a room. Working a couple nights a week at their restaurant, City Lights. So far, I've saved about $100, but I've got to find some other work. I've tried to line up a construction job with Tasman Bay Builders, but the job's been held up; if I do get the job, I foresee potential problems with Kiwis disgruntled about unemployment, while some dumb yank who doesn't even know the metric building code moves in. I decided I'd head out to check out Able Tasman National Park for an overnight trip; Ben & Miranda are part owners of a ferry which operates between Nelson & the Park, so I get the round trip free. I've been sort of worrying about what I should do with myself in the event the carpentry job falls through; the restaurant work is impossible to deal with due to Miranda's behavior, and she's no fun at the house either. I'm considering moving out and finding some roommates who have a more compatible lifestyle and world view.

The best thing about Nelson for me thus far has been the amount of inter mtn running & biking I've done. From my home, I can be on nice running trails within a minute. The whole area has billions of interconnected, criss-crossing trails. So you've always got an infinite set of options. On a few runs I experienced several nasty pains in a couple joints & tendons, but so far, no one pain has been repeated. I'm trying to be sensitive & aware of what's going on in my body, but the changes I'm going through what with running on top of the cycle touring is a new thing.

Tramping around the A.T. Park was a welcome relief from the city & house. Good to get some space apart on my own. The beautiful blue hue of the sea, the music of the many dancing streams...the golden or white sands of sand fly Bay, Frenchman's Cove. (Falls River bridge). Anchorage.

Back in town, I found that I'd been jacked around by the construction guy, while the restaurant scene wasn't happening at all. For awhile, I just took care of Chloe, ran, and read a sh*tload: The First Circle, by Solzenhitzen, Seize the Time by Bobbie Seal, It by Steven King, The Shining Mountain, by Peter Boardman, I also half read Biko by Donald Woods, The Singlehandeders (unknown) and a number of other books. Next up: The bone People, Exodus Indochina, and Cujo. I got my final job in Nelson as the deckhand on the African Queen. (Sold in '89) Did it for maybe 6 days, then Keith decided to bow out of the partnership before he lost his pants. That was a great job: paid $50/day; met wonderful people from a range of countries who'd been doing heaps of travel; the work was easy: a few minutes of panic launching & tying up boats, sunning myself extensively when not shooting the bull with a bunch of travelors; then running around Bark Bay trying to rustle up new passengers. No bad. Too bad it didn't last longer.

The day after the job finished, I took off on the road again, this time off to the Motueka area to try and land an apple picking job.

1/28-2/15 Monday

Day 64-82

Rode out of Nelson under stormy skies. Left on kind of a sticky note with Ben & Miranda. Ben sort of wormed out of a direct answer to if he wanted to buy my bike. Miranda felt helpless because I was being pretty successful at resisting her attempts at manipulation. 'Nuff said. Got pretty hammered by the rain on my way out to Helen's house, where we had a good lunch & talk.

Stopped at two or three orchards then, was at one where I learned some bad news. The orchard foreman told me about the fruit growing unions big push to end foreigners employment in the orchards. He said it was really tough to find work at a high-profile grower because they were under intense scrutiny for illegal activity. I heard this same story at quite a few places. As I was mounting the bike to leave, a picker called to me from the open door of his cabin. Soon I was inside, sucking down Steinlagers, and fresh ground roast coffee. Andreas (from Austria), his wife Sue, her brother Richard, and cousin, Tanya, were good company. We talked and watched Romancing the Stone 'til 12, while outside the wind and rain howled. I had planned to sleep at the Tasman school, but Andreas was sincere in his offer to let me have the kitchen floor.

2/16 Tuesday

Day 83

Woke up to a beautiful, cool, fresh & wet world: broken sky partially promised good weather later in the day, but the verdict was still out. My new friends were anxious to pick, since the previous day's rain had been preventing them from earning a living. So I took off, only stopping at 1 or 2 orchards before arriving at the Motueka YMCA Hostel, which I decided to use as a base of operations. Met a friendly, simple surfer, Peter, then two other Californians, Nicholas & Jenny, who went to UCSB and who knew heaps of my old friends. They actually have much the same itinerary as I, and we, hopefully, will meet again in Australia, where they're hoping to buy a car for travel in that vast place.

On the road again, I ran into Kate & Rachel, the two small, adorable Canadian women who I'd met in Tahiti. Wondered if I'd ever see them again. We planned to meet later at the hostel.

The first part of the day was a hell of a lot better than what followed: rejection after rejection after rejection at every orchard. The only encouraging thing seems to be that because it's basically the very first day of picking, everyone has their full complement of picking staff. Unanimously, people say that things open up quite a bit when poor pickers get fired and others get sick of the work. Still, my cashless situation allows very short periods of unemployment at this point.

Finished the evening watching men's downhill at the '88 Winter Olympics in Calgary, having dinner with the eminently desirable Kate & Rachel, and shooting the bull with the crew at the Hostel

2/17 Wednesday

Day 84

More rain, goddammit!! God, I need a job. Got the employment blues got nothin' to lose...holes in my shoes. Mushrooms growin' between m'toes. Hung out most of the day, sewing, talking. Went to town & drank three pitchers of beer with R&K while playing a game of darts. Kate is good at competitive, eye-hand coordination sports. She beat me in pingpong, then at darts. We had a great stir fry dinner.

2/18 Thursday

Day 85

Nice day. I've got to get a job. Had coffee, said goodby to R&K, rode up to Motueka & got a job picking hops for $6.56/hr which wouldn't start 'til Mar 6. Nice idea, but definitely not what I had in mind. Keep on cruising, getting used to the feeling of rejection. Got ~ 20 reject, then scored on a place on Dominion Rd. Cruised over to Bob & Kate's for dinner, got high with them and we had a huge laugh about how hard the work was. They worked their asses off all day and made $30. Bobby was going on about apple picking ever since I met them in Auckland. Now he was wondering why he was there. Met these slightly psycho super-pickers who also lived there. One was short, stocky, and extremely laconic. The other was tall, skinny, and was ultra-animated. The contrast between them and the kinds of things they were talking about were totally hilarious. Back at the YMCA Hostel, I hung out with the apple pickers living there.

2/19

Got a job!! Rode my ass off. Talked to at least 20 growers, left name & #, when finally down on Dominion Rd. in Mapua, I scored with a pretty cool guy, Malcolm Salmond. I have my own room off the communal kitchen of a batch. Two adjacent rooms hold Mary & Glen, two fine young Kiwis from totally different backgrounds.

((Note from Carol: Here follow lists of bins picked, some days 3 usually, then 4, then 5 per day, working every day.))

3/15

nearly a month here, it seems. Things done: gotten seriously into baking; been to two parties with Richard; Had birthday night Blues dancing boogie at Riwaka Motel with the Ebeling Bros band from Lawrence, Kansas; Had big dinner party with orchard staff; opened bank account. Rode from Mapua to Mt. Arthur trailhead (Flora Car Park) & back ~100km, up to 934 m. Ran from there to nearby Mt. Arthur Hut; Tasted a bit of Amanitas mushroom I found growing in pine forest -- no ill effects, but was initially told they were magic!! Typical of Dion's misinformation!.

4/1

Friday

(Good) On the road again!! Actually, it's now the end of my second day back on the road. I grossed +2100 dollars working at Salmond Orchard, and of that I saved $1450, enuf to keep me going for awhile. I called Pat & Elizabeth yesterday, to say hi! and to have them ship ski stuff. Good to hear their voices again. So I've decided to stay thru the winter here maybe thru next summer too.
(Forest. | Leo and mountain. | View. | Group, marker. | House. )

Riding from Mapua, I rode out Neirdorp road to Woodstock, then south to Tapawera, where I met an interesting Briton on a sorry-looking jury-rigged touring bike with an airline handbag arbitrarily strapped under the front handlebars and his ruck sack strapped on the rear. We camped together that evening and he told me about Thatcher and his trips to Israel & South Africa. Using my tent this evening for the first time in NZ. The short pole was missing!! I swore and stomped about a bit before remembering that I left it at Katheryn Nemec's parents' home in Auckland, due to the short-lived plan to incorporate it into my bivy sac. After all the hassle to get my tent--how ironic! Yet it (the tent) still works reasonably well. I think a piece of short, flexible fishing pole would do me until they can send the proper pole to reach me.

Leaving camp during a clearing storm, I climbed to the top of Hope Saddle, where I became witness to an amazing event. The fog completely socked in the top of the hill, but as I watched, it lifted, the sun came out, and I was treated to excellent views of the Hope Range & Hope River Valley to the west. Stripping off my rain gear. I rode in sunshine and chilly headwinds to Murchison, where I ran into John the Pom & the Quebequois. After making a right turn at the junction of Hwys 65 & 6, I put in a couple of klicks before spotting a haybarn where I decided to spend the night. The barn was quite near the Buller river, and there was a cable pulley bridge car. I took the plunge and went for it, shoving off in the flimsy aluminum & wood car 150 ft above the roaring, rain-swollen Buller. Presumably the bridge was intended for power line maintenance crews.

4/2

Sat. Got an early start, didn't see much traffic at all until much later in the morning. The Buller Gorge became more scenic, even tho' fog socked everything. Right before Inangahua junction, I heard a beep from a car crowding my ass. I turned, only to find it was Richard, from the orchard. He had beer, pot, food and his usual penchant for stimulation. So we had a good lunch, traded addresses, and bid each other adieu after a fine hour together. In the small town of Inangahua Jct. I ran into an Aussie biker who had biked around from Christchurch and up the Coast. It was her first tour.

Enjoying the rest of the Buller, I really like the coast when finally I got a glimpse of it. Arriving at Charleston, I headed down a small dirt road that said "Cemetery". The road branched, and I took the leg that ended at a batch on a cliff with a beautiful view of the rocky coast. Knocking on the door & looking around, I got the idea that the folks were out for the weekend (Easter). So I went ahead and pitched my tent there.

Took a walk down to the beach, and up to some cliffs where some men & a woman were climbing. They were headed to Alaska in May to attempt Mt. McKinley. Then I stole a sh*t & a shower at the local motor camp. A mob of people who I'd seen down at the beach had now taken over the town hall. Turns out it was a family reunion of folks from the area. Charleston used to be one of New Zealand's biggest towns during the Gold rush days. This guy told me that the then Post Master in Wellington came to Charleston for a promotion. Went to the pub for a few brews. Packed with vacationers. Back at the batch, my heart sank a little as I saw a light on inside during my approach. Knocking at the door brought no response, so I assumed that the resident maybe had a timer or something. Loud music from the batch at around 11:30 informed me of his or her arrival. Since my tent couldn't be seen from any windows, no one ever saw me!

(West coast photos. Perpendicular Point lookout. | Porarari River. | Far peaks. | Steaming pool. | Peaky ridges. | Leo. | Crags. | Ridges. | Close peak. | Rainbow waterfall. | Past peak. | Self-portrait with peaks. | Leo in pool.)

4/3

Sun. Left just after 7. No one would ever know I'd just spent the night in their yard. Had a little rain very early in the morning, but by the time I woke, mists were rising, the sun speared down through thick fog banks, and I got the impression that I'd have good weather later. Riding off, I encountered a misty drizzle which lasted no more than 1/2 an hour. Saw a mere handful of vehicles before 9 am, when I stopped for breakfast at the Inland Pack Trail head at the mouth of the Bullock Creek. The coast within the boundaries of the Paparoa National Park was very spectacular, I thought on a par with the South Coast of Oregon. Stayed a while at the Punakaiki Visitors Center where I tried to descend a cool cave (my headlight batteries died before I'd satisfied my curiosity), but got disgusted by the tourist scene at the famous Pancake rocks' blowholes on Dolomite Pt.

Heading south in fine weather and better spirits, I really pushed hard, overtaking two Swiss guys riding unlikely-looking Australian mountain bikes with rear panniers and front baskets like little old ladies have on their shopping bikes. At Runanga, there was a big rugby match on, and I hung out, watching the game and the people watching the game. Jesus, rugby looks like a tough sport. I mean, a guy could get hurt of something!! On to Greymouth for groceries & and ice cream cone. I felt pretty good & had plenty of time, so decided to push on for Hokitika. Got there feeling really beat: 115 km. After running around for longer than seemed necessary, I settled in at a school near a motorcamp (read: showers). Got discovered while eating dinner by a group of typical friendly, pesky kids.

4/4

Mon. Up to hot coffee w/milk & honey in my sleeping bag. Yum! Just yet another beautiful rain-free morning in Westland. Was treated to some beautiful views of the S. Alps, including the halcyon summits of Mts Cook (Aorangi) & Tasman, far in the distance. Getting out of Hokitika was another chilly ride, quickly warming with a set of easy hills in the clear sunshine. Stopped briefly for a chat with two Quebecquois whom I'd met in Murchison. Turns out they'd gotten a ride with Richard! Indeed: the West Coast good vibes connection. Stopped near Ross for a second breakfast, then was treated to the first of many scenic reserves, mainly rynu-dominant bush, with colorful red ratao interspersed. I wonder, though, if these "scenic reserves" are equivalent to the so-called "redwood forests" along N. Cal. highways which are in fact thin veneers concealing clear-cut logging scars.

After a long stop in HariHari, I continued on despite the late hour. Rounding a bend, I was confronted with an incredibly breath-taking views of mists sweeping the face of Mt. Adams. I took a picture, but I know that the slide will never, ever capture the texture of the setting sun on the forested slopes, the amazing feel of the air, nor the very poetry of the moment. It began to get pretty dark, I still had no idea where the hell I'd spend the night, when a perfect spot right on the side of the Little Man River (or Dry Creek) suddenly appeared. There was even a fire ring well-stocked with wood. I made myself a fire for the first time since I camped in Idaho's sawtooth Mtns. During a walk along the moonlit river, I heard possums at work destroying the forest.

4/5 Tues. Not much sun today. Got to Whataroa and posted off a beautiful bone necklace I bought for Mom in Greymouth. Had some food on the shore of Lake Mapourika. Met a Japanese guy pedaling north. He was from a small village near Sappro. Nice guy, struggling bravely with a difficult language. Also met two Canucks from Calgary, right before getting to Franz Joseph Glacier. Very pretty girl. I decided not to hang out at the Glacier like I'd previously thought. I plan instead on hiking up the Copland Valley.

So after a rum raisin ice cream cone & a look around the Visitor's Center, I took off to Fox Glacier. Rode up two bitchingly tough passes, the Omocroa and the Cook. But the down hills on both were intensely fun. Felt something go in my right knee on the Cook. Or thought I did. Fox Glacier is a proper community, unlike Franz Joseph. Pitched my tent behind a home closed for renovation. Checked out Westland Alpine Guides; the owner, Mike had received the letter I'd sent requesting work, but said he was set for the season. He seemed rather an aloof sort. He suggested Alpine Recreation Canterbury as the outfit that more appealed to my vision of backcountry ski guided trips. Maybe he's got something there. Stole a shower at the motor camp. Splurged on a couple of quarts at the pub. In my cups, I got on a roll talking politics with a couple of British guys.

(Note, crossed out writing) I pitched my tent in a field

4/6 Weds. RAIN. Still, I decided to get out & accomplish something, so I bought food, organized my pack, stashed my bike & panniers at Westland Alpine Guides, and hitchhiked off to hike up the Copland Valley, in intense rain I got dropped off at the trailhead by a guy who worked for the Park on Rubbish duty, and had started walking by 1:00 I was-->

--- RAIN --
--- NIAR --

It rained and rained and rained

The average fall was well maintained

And when the tracks were simple bogs,

it started raining cats & dogs

After a drought of half an hour

We had a most refreshing shower,

And then most curious thing of all,

A gently rain began to fall!

Next day but one was fairly dry

Save for one deluge from the sky

Which wetted the party to the skin

And then, at last, the rain set in

--found in Architect's Crk Hut,

Westland Nat'l Park

--> Pretty beat by the time I arrived at the Welcome Flat hut 4 1/2 hrs. later. That was making good time, too. What a hut! More like a Chalet. The famous hot springs there were certainly some of the best I've ever experienced. Met some interesting folk & had good discussions.

4/7 Thurs. Hooray!! Bright sunny skies for the most part today; hiked up past Douglas Rocks Hut to a huge moraine cutting across the head of the Copland Valley and did some climbing on a spur that cut deep into Fiddian's Glacier, off of Codagan's Peak, I think. Mists moved in, visibility down, time running out: I reluctantly headed back, absolutely exhausted by the time I returned to the hut, food, sinsemilla that Dave had given me in Nelson, and intoxicating conversation & sexual innuendo with a Kiwi girl of scant inhibitions in the hot pools. Also met an American Peter Engel, whose brother Bob (whom I've heard of) works ski Patrol at Solitude. Had a lot on my mind that night, as I tried to sleep. Predominant were thoughts of what this winter will bring.

4/8 Fri. Up early & off back to Fox after a morning soak in the pools, the snow-covered peaks glowing above my wet head in the morning sun. Got back to trailhead in ~ 4 hours., 1/2 hr. faster than I went in. I thought I'd have to hang out for a good bit, waiting for a ride, but before I could down a gulp of gorp, a truck stopped for me. I can't say I've ever got a ride from a more taciturn driver in my life. Surely he didn't have more than about 5 or 6 monosyllabic bits of info to share. Back in Fox, and established behind the fire station, I headed off to the Pub for a few hard-earned Monteiths' and even a shot of Jack Daniel's to warm me bleedin' bones.

That night I got wet. Trapped btw the pernicious isobars, I experienced a taste of what a real honest-to-goodness Nor'wester must be like. The worst part was that my fanny pack fell over in to a puddle in the tent, and the ziplock bag my camera was in got 1/2-full of water. I haven't been so bummed out in a long while. I spent a good part of the next day taking the camera apart, sticking parts of it in the oven, until I thought it just might function properly again, if it doesn't jam up with mist in the next few days. Thinking I deserved a bit of luxury after my just efforts, I bought myself a night at the Fox Hostel for $11. A good place. I shared facilities with a Kiwi, a Swede, a Brit, & a Scot. All were characters of a sort. The Brit went on & on & on, in that fashion unique to upper caste Poms. He was beautifully interrupted by the entrance of 2 women (German & Swiss) who boldly walked in to strike up conversation. (4/9-Sat)

4/10 Sun

Outta that place. A beautiful day, cold wind out of the South. F*ckin' freezin' at times. Not a cloud in the sky. Had fine views of Mt Cook from the West & South. Spent the night at Lake Moeraki, having Lentils in Maggi soup for a fine meal. Got snubbed by the manager at Lake Moeraki Motor Lodge. Silly me: even after passing signs at the entrance saying "Private Property, Houseguests only" and "Restaurant for House guests only", I still had the audacity to ask if I could buy a cuppa. The manager kindly repeated to me the verbatim signs, shaking his hands in the air helplessly. Poor guy.

4/11-Monday. Pedal to the metal, not to the pavement, onward to the Haast. Only had one conversation all day, with a Ministry of Transportation road mover. His great-grandmother was a Sioux Indian who married a Pom from Leeds, they emigrated to NZ, where the family intermarried with Maori. We had a talk about his travels to the US, and racism there and in NZ. Nice guy. Then up, through the Gates of Haast, after nice views up the Landsborough River to Mt. Ward. Got hellishly cold headwinds up the Haast Pass, where my cold weather gear earned its weight (value?) in gold. Pushed on over the Pass despite the late hour to find a nice camp spot at Boiler Flat

4/12--Tuesday. Should be an easy cruise in to Wanaka today. F*ckin- A!! It's cold as Hell!! Woke up to iced-over fields & tent. Breakfast in bed this morning, fer sure! Had to melt my honey in the tea water it was so hard.

At Makarora ranger station, got excellent info on some burning questions I had about land use policies. At the tea room, I gratefully sucked down the most revolting instant coffee (lukewarm) that I've ever had, for the opportunity to sit in the warm sun, catching up in my journal. Things warmed up quickly as I rode out of town, to see inspiring views of Lake Wanaka. The structure & composition of vegetation changed radically within just 10 km of the Haast Pass, becoming one of dry, low lying tussocky country dotted with patches of poplar trees in spectacular autumn colors. Crossing over a low pass to Lake Hawea, I was treated to even more impressive views of the mts. on the far side. These two parallel lakes were gouged out by consecutive glacial attacks, which eventually carved out their bottoms to below sea level, over 1000 m deep! For the most part, the road along both lake sides was gravel, until Hawea township.

In good spirits, I made good time, catching up with two Reagan-Republican, SDI engineers who worked for Martin Marietta in Orlando, Fla. First time I've encountered such Americans touring on bikes before. Hard to resist snide comments, so I just put on a little extra speed, disguised only partly as exuberance, and pulled ahead, out of sight. Got into Wanaka, which was such a different style of town than any I'd seen in a long time. Scored a newspaper, fish & chips & a jug of beer at the local pub & hung out in the sun for a coupla hours. Later on, I stole a shower & use of the kitchen facilities at the local Motorcamp, sharing dinner with the two Republicans, Joann & Jeffry. Another bitter cold night. Stumbled off to do some reading at the pub again. The bartender who was a pretty interesting woman: worked part time here in Wanaka, then spends part of the year up at Ruapehu working with DOC (Dept. of Conservation). She'd just bought a Rock-Hopper off some American cyclist.

4/13 Wednesday

Beautiful, butt-cold morning. Huddled with newspapers & coffee' til quite late, set up an "interview", to be conducted with John Lee (Director-owner of Cardrona Ski Area) somewhere on the Hwy 89, as he would be driving along it as I made my way towards Q'town. Hwy 89 was gravel nearly the whole way, pretty hard going in some places, but because of this I kept pretty warm enuf to ride without a shirt in the bright sun. Near the end, the road headed up steeply, which afforded an excellent view of the North end of the Remarkables and a glimpse of Lake Wakatipu, shimmering in the waning sun light. From this pass, a series of awesome switchbacks was visible, snaking down toward the Kawarau River and Arrowtown.

From the bottom of the serpentine downhill tuck minutes later, I looked back up to see a bunch of fun-lovin' yahoos leaping off an exposed promontory in contraptions that I later found out to be parapents (a sort of automatically inflatable, steerable parachute). From there it was a sort of slog into headwinds and increasing cold to Q'town, where fish n'chips and beers awaited. I ended up meeting the famous American hit and run victim from Nelson, Sean Basr, "en caste", and we drank in the company of bunch of Canadians, two sorority-type girls from Santa Barbara, and a Kiwi character who futilely but persistently attempted to seduce one of the Canadian women. Staggering off rather drunkenly to the Pinewood Motel, I stole a night of accommodation.

4/14 Thursday--Hung out investigating work possibilities (Alp Sports, Remarkables, Coronet Peak: top choice options) Will talk to Edi Yound, an Aussie who runs the Remarkables telemark instruction program, on Mon.

4/15 Friday -- Started planning a long trip, out along the Routeburn track, then up into the Darrans for some rock climbing n' Ridge-traversin'

4/16 Saturday- got in contact with Ian Parks, the Southland Times Journalist I'd met in the Abel Tasman Nat'l Park. Looks like I've got accommodation for awhile with the bloke on a temporary basis.

5/1 surprise surprise surprise! Back in the saddle again!! Got totally frustrated with trying to hitchhike up to Mt. Cook, so I loaded up my sh*t on bike and took off into penetrating cold, up through Cromwell, Tans, to a bitingly freezing campspot on a ridge south of Lindis Pass. ( Mist spirit.)

5/2 Mon. Through very lonely, barren sheep country over the Lindis Pass in clear sunshine to Omarama, then on to Twizel. Spent the night in the warm laundry room of a ritzy hotel. I was busted by the night porter at 11:30 p.m., but he let me stay until 7:00 a.m. (Peaks at sunset. | Leo on post | Distant range.)

5/3 Tues

Pushed off despite frozen digits up the road to the Hermitage. (The road.) Superlative views . Did the 65 km. in good time, found the free shelter the Israeli guy told me about, then ran into Dennis (Ireland), Ted (U.K.), Simon (Germ) & Sike (Germ) from the Routbuin.

5/4 Weds

Rain. Rain. Rain. Read NZ Alpine Journal & Mt. Cook climbing info. Extended pub session ending in Hot Tub soak (ummmn!) at the Hermitage.

5/5 Thurs.

Vegetable day. Paperback mindwaste. Did go for a moonlit hike up to Kea point. Then the TUB.

5/6 Fri Jammed up the ridge to nearby Mt. Wakefield. (Slide is next in sequence. Not labeled.) Then destroyed my biking shoes glissading down a huge scree slope. Drank with Britons and an Irish girl, argued with an obnoxious, ignorant Kiwi Christian Farm Boy. (Mt. Cook. | Vista. | Leo and Aorangi.)

5/7 Sat

Beautiful warm weather 106 km ride (with f**ked headwinds near end) to Lake Tekapo. Stole shower at Motor camp. Chatted with Britton I'd met in Q'town at Pub.

5/8 Sun

More warm weather. Although chilly, it wasn't too bad. Still, I hung out at a cafe reading, writing an inadequate Happy Mother's Day letter to Ma, and basically procrastinating until 11; then took off.

((note: I think that he meant 5-8 on the date--Carol))

Letter: 4-8-88 Dear Mom:

Hmmm, I'm confused. In New Zealand, today is Mother's day, but I thought back home it was May 17th. So just to be safe, I wish you a happy day, mother!

Here's a map I found of New Zealand. It's probably a lot better than the one you have. I've written in (red arrows) where I've been and where I plan to go (I'm sitting in Lake Tekapo right now--to the north of Mt. Cook--and I'll spend the night in Timaru), which is south through Dunedin to Invercargill & back up to Queenstown.

Mt. Cook was great. Spectacular cascading glaciers everywhere; roars of distant avalanches. Did an ambitious scramble/climb the day before yesterday up the ridge that culminates in Mt. Cook. Mt. Cook is very impressive: standing in the Hooker Valley at 700 m, you're looking up at the peak over 3000 m above your head. So the face is more monstrous than most you'll find in s america or the himalaya. Climbing here next summer, if that is to be, will be intoxicating. I had a long talk with the ranger about skiing here this winter. Sounds good: ski in two days to a hut that's equipped with stove, fuel & cooking gear, ski off the porch onto virgin powder... yeah!!

I'm so glad you like the necklace; I thought you would.

Hope all is well with you, ma!

Love, Leo

Good attitude, and intermittent tailwinds meant it was a pretty cruisy ride to Pleasant Point, where I phoned the Kiwis I'd met touring on the North Island, near Eketahuna. Steve & Brian weren't in, but their flatmate Annette invited me over. Had a good time & meal there with good company.

5/9 Mon

Bidding adieu to these fine folk, I headed off towards Oamaru, a supposedly easy ride of some 8 km- Instead, I holed up 20 km down the road at a fine tearoom in St. Andrews, reading a gripping paperback thriller, "Jian" (mindless pap). Carried on, in a fashion, to Glenavy, where I rented a cabin for $7.70 in a motor camp of appalling poor condition. Just as well: it poured hard for most of the night.

5/10 Tues

Beautiful morning & afternoon. I rode hard & long, making up for yesterday's slack. It was warm & sunny, so I made good time. Except for two monster hills right at the end of the day into Dunedin. The first, Killmob Hill, offered me the fastest downhill ride I think I've ever had. Upon arrival I found Richard Meddlicott due in tomorrow, so I got a room at the YMCA hostel, $12. Walking around town was great. Another good kiwi city. Trying to find something to do, I read a poster touting a lecture by Green peace activist Cornelius Van Dorf on Antarctica. Went there and met Martina, the Irish woman I'd met up at Mt. Cook. Had a good time.

5/11 Weds-5/15 Sat

In Dunedin with Richard. Met many of his friends, drank beer, played rock music, saw some bands, went on a futile mushroom pickin! expedition (found many of the wrong kinds of shrooms) & got kicked out of Richard's house. Fair enough-Rich's mom was in great haste post-European vacation prep.

5/16 Mon-Tues. Stayed at the Elm Lodge, hosted by Shirley, a wonderful lady, mid-50's who was one of what I call the "classic" Kiwis: high moral integrity & impeccable levels of unshakable social concern.

5/17 Weds Headed off into sun, south from Dunedin, but I lost it as I rode into Milton. I could see a wall of storm building and rushing at me from the south. Before long, I felt intense headwinds developing. After a long time of deliberation, I made an about-face and headed west towards Alexandra on s.h.8: I'd been intending to go south to Gore, north thru Lumsden to Q'town. Little did I know how wise my decision would be. Still, I didn't miss the storm. It started drizzling hard, so I turned into a farmhouse driveway to solicit shelter. The sheep farmer & his wife, a nurse, shared great conversation on many themes until I thought I should go. By now it was 4:30 & getting dark already. I had that feeling I get sometimes when I know something has just got to happen, but have no idea what. Things were getting desperate, cars were honking in sympathy, when I spotted a deserted barn with a bulldozer blocking off the entrance. The perfect place: soft hay floor, good shelter from the rain that fell much of the night.

5/18 Thurs.

Off & running, good sunshine, low energy. A headwind slowly built until I was hating life. Looking down, I saw I'd developed a slow leak in my rear tire. True depression set in. Limping into Roxburgh, I decided in my mind to finish my trip & take the bus. By the way things sometimes work, I met a guy who was involved with the boy scouts, just outside their clubhouse (next to the motorcamp where I 1/2 heartedly considered getting a cabin for the night), I asked if I could pitch my tent there for the night, but soon was asking if I could stay in the clubhouse. Of course! It had a kitchen stove, pots & pans. Heaven.

5/19 Thurs. Rain in the morn. Snuggled up in my sleeping bag, with a hot cup of coffee in my hand & the heater on, I lazed in 'til 9. The patter of rain stopped...because it had started to snow!! Great big wet flakes falling heavily soon had covered the streets and the surrounding hills. Getting a flat & stopping in Roxburgh had turned out to be a serendipitous decision. At first, it was questionable whether to bus would ever make it through to Q'town, but it did. The '88 New Zealand bike tour was at an end; this time, for good!!

IIIWAI

Ree's Valley((Carol's Note: Three wavy lines follow the cryptic letters above. Pages of todo lists having to do with work, skis, publicity, and such follow, omitted.))

...Incidently, Mars is still the closest place to earth that still has a mountain higher than Everest...

((Carol's Note: mention of Tim Wethy Nordic News, before 31 June '88. The picture to the right is from Ree's Valley, October, 1988. The journal starts up again on Dec 22, '88 for the Mt. Cook Diary. He's logging his 87th parapente flight. That means he's flown 86 times already! ))

Thurs 22-12-88 got ride w/Katie Deans to Mt. Cook from Q'town. Had Flt#87 of Mt. Wakefield ridge ( ~ 5 min).

Friday 23-12-88

Flt#88 from Mt. Sebastopol. (This might be Flt#93 of 3-1-89. Other Sebastopol slides.) Cool flight. Christine and I talked to Alpine Guides about route. Looks like the Linda Glacier is pretty unskiable at the moment. Too little snow cover. Flt#89 from Wakefield ridge. Some lift directly up the ridge, but since the airflow was nearly horizontal, I couldn't penetrate. Good flight though. Marc Arrived. I spent the night at the pub. Ran into two Americans, William & Holly, who knew Dave Turner, (whom I met in S. America in '85) from Prescott College, in Ariz.

Sat 24-12-88

Good sleepin, then nice flight from the ridge below Mueller hut. #90. While having a couple o' pints in the Pub around 3:30, Christine came in to say we were headed up by plane to Plateau Hut!! Surprise, surprise. The plane trip ($96, ouch!) was pretty spectacular, the group at the hut pleasant. Chris & Marc were keen on the Linda, but I think I'm for Zurbriggen's.

Sun 25-12-88

Up at 12 a.m. Couldn't get a wink of sleep. Off at 12:45 for Zurbriggen's. Excellent conditions: hard snow, steep route, bright moonlight (only needed headlamp 10 min), warm temp. Made it to Bonne Ridge at dawn (a beaut), Then got to col joining the Linda at about the same time as Marc & Christine were coming up. The summit rocks weren't too bad, but by the time I got to the summit snowslopes, I was buggered. Took a 1/2 hr. breather, then reached the top of Cook at 7:30 (6 1/2 hrs). Windless conditions. Slight wind from North would have made excellent takeoff conditions with my parapente, but c'est La Vie. I couldn't carry my skis with me too. I decided to leave the climbing boots at Plateau for another attempt with the parapente. Long slow slog back to hut on the Linda (Wheew! Xmas on Mt. Cook!)

((Note from Carol: Here's a fill-in from a postcard Leo sent 12-29-88))

Greetings from Mt. Cook. I solo climbed Mt. Cook on Xmas day--the best present I've had. It was beautiful. Next week, I'll climb it again & try to be the 3rd person to parapente from the summit. We also get in a bit of skiing. Right now, we wait for good weather. ((Note from Carol: he was the second, after Rob Hall.))

Back to journal:

Monday 26-12/88. Slept in, then dawn climbed/skied down Freshfield Glacier to the Tasman. Up the White ice and moraine to De La Beche, where Ozzies Ben, Greg & English Andy were. Good blokes.

Tuesday 27-12-88. Hut day--bad weather.

Wednesday 28-12-88. Climbed up to nearly Mt. de la Beche. Then skied back to hut. Beautiful corn snow. Camera fell out of pack, but I saw where it fell.

Thursday 29-12-88: Rained all day. We slogged from de la Beche out to the Village (8 1/2 hrs) It was a number, let me tell you! But the beers tasted good at the pub.

Friday 30-12-88: Rest day in the Village more bad weather

Sat 31-12/88: Flt #90: From Mt. Annette. Beautiful 9 min. flight: buffety winds over Village. Strong E. Wind prevented me (by 30 m) from reaching Alpine Guides Car Park. Good landing on dirt road, though.

Sun 1-1-89: Happy New Year! Evil, toxically ill post-alcoholic blues. Spent all day in bed, reading or sleeping, Shit weather fortunately. Mark & Christine returned from 2 days on the Annette Plateau. Christine fell while skiing the last snow field, crashing into rocks, sustaining a deep cut on her upper lip (one ski delaminated also). What a sh*tty way to end a great trip. They got a lift with a doctor to Twizel for stitches. Will see them in a month or two. Good people.

2-1-89 Mon. Back in one piece. Practiced on the climbing wall with the Aussies (Ben, Grey, & Andy the Pom), then had lunch before taking them up to Mt. Sebastopol to watch Flt#92. Perfect T0 (take-off) in light westerlies (too light, really: in-controlled TO), then a straight flight to a textbook landing by the Alpine Guides Car Park. Excellent flight.

3-1-89 Tuesday. Mt. Sebastopol ridge by Red Tarn Flt #93. (See picture from Flt #88.) Strong wind, so I thought that I could get lift to soar, but had to land by 1st tarn. Flt #94: went from Sebastopol summit. Good flight. Hook turns to land right next to Dave Ray's house. Great guy, had a long talk with the man.

4-1-89 Wed. Good weather. Climbed Haast ridge to Plateau Hut. Met Bill Atkinson & Gary Ball

5-1-89 Thurs.

Got up early to try E. Ridge but snow was very wet. Hut day

6-1-89 Fri. Up early. Clipped in with Justin & Brett. {Larger photo.} Up the Linda Glacier to Bergshrund below Summit rocks. From there, soloed up couloir, then rocks, then to summit. Wind from East, so couldn't go off summit. 30 m. below summit, took windless near-perfect TO from behind huge iced cornice. Peeled off into lift Flt #95 up E. face of Cook. Perfect flight over E. Ridge, past Anzac Peaks, over Caroline Glacier, then over the Ball Ridge, Hook turns down to Car Park. 19 min flight. 2nd known parapente descent of Cook. What a feeling. Flew off at about 10:15-10-30 a.m. Back at Mt. Cook Village ~ 12 Noon. Bryan Carter of Alpine Guides believes that's the fastest return ever. What a day.

8-1-89 Flt #96: Copland Pass to top of zig-zags. Had two false TOs waiting for wind to come right. Lines kept catching on rocks. Had some help from Mark Gillespie and Gerry Phillips, who walked up to watch. Loaded down with climbing and bivy gear, my glide ratio was severely affected. Traversed to left across tussock slopes to get in flt #97: top of zig-zags to Fiddian Glacier stream. Walked down to Welcome Flat for hot pool hedonism.

9-1-88: Back up to Douglas Rock hut to await good weather (radio report at 3:00) LATER: looks good (SE winds developing Tues.) so I went for it. Good rock climbing up the N. Ridge. {Larger photo.} I stopped at 9:45 p.m. after a particularly desperate move on sh*tty rock left me wondering (like always in this situation) if I'll make it home alive. Light fading fast, I found a pretty good spot to bivy, almost like someone had improved it before. Right next to it is a sheltered nook in case a savage NWer moves in. Mist surrounds me. I'm right on the ridge--no idea how far up I am; can't see the Copland either. My compass tells me that the morning sun will shine in my eyes. Nice!

10-1-88 Tues--that last entry was a bit of a dream, unfortunately. Started rain/misting at about 11:30 last night and it didn't clear up 'til 12:00 tonight.

11-1-89 Weds. beautiful morning-cold off to the summit. It looks bad for flying, though: strong SW flow almost knocks me over right below the summit. Retreated to check out weather from the protection of a cornice at top of SW ridge. At 11:36 AM, things are looking gentler. I'm going back to the summit to check it out. If the winds lose some strength, I may be tempted to fly to the Muellar. The other alternative is to retreat to Welcome Flat->Fox Glacier for more food.

Later: I opted to head out; risking rotas on the Main Divide Is OUT. Slogged thru dangerous glacial terrain packed with crevasses to Welcome Pass {larger photo}, then over safer terrain to the ridge separating Tekano & Scott Glaciers. Here I thought I could fly down to the Copland. I waited for mists to clear somewhat, then flew. Flt# 98. Nice flight! But breaking Rule II of Parapenting lore, I found the inevitable results: I came down pretty hard on rough ground; broke or sprained my left ankle. {Larger photo.} Oh God, it hurts. Thank God I landed 6 m from the track, I've no further injuries, and the weather is good. I'm so fortunate; Also, I pulled a stupid stunt and now have paid for it.

The ultimate in irony: The first person to pass on the track (within 15 min. of accident) was an American woman; so sick to her stomach she could hardly walk. I wrote her instructions for radioing help. Even tho we're about 45 min from Welcome Flat hut, she'll probably take hours. She left me at 3:30 p.m. Her Boyfriend Craig showed up and chatted a bit. Odd fellow. Then Brett & Justin (the guys I'd roped up with on Mt Cook #2) & Francy showed up. {Larger photo. Largest photo.} Heaps of good cheer there, from muesli bars to pain killers to constant dousing of by now grossly swollen ankle.

Finally, the chopper, at 6:30. They got the radio call at 5:10 (it took Jan 1:40 min to get to the bloody hut!), so they got to me in an hour and 20 min. Handled me with professional dispatch (Steve & Chris, from Doe at Fox). Beautiful chopper flight out to Fox, then by cop car to Hospital at Whataroa. Looks like Mt. Cook is finished for me this summer.

-cop (Colin) took me to Whataroa hospital (Nurse: Lorna, doctor, Barney Mowat). Spent night

12-1-89 Thurs: ambulance to Greymouth Hospital for X-rays & cast for leg. Night at Youth Hostel.

13-1-89: Fri: bus to Whataroa. Collect gear.

14-1-89: Sat: bus to Queenstown. Convalescence begins.

5-3-89 SAT FLT#99: Taylor's mistake.

Boring 2 min flight

18-3-89: Mt. Cassidy at Arthur's Pass w/Simon Lullen, Roddy Woodicoit

24 through 27-3-89: Arthur's Pass Nat Park solo-:Charington hut->Harmon Pass->Borigerhut

Note upside-down at end of the book: From Edward Behr's "Anyone here been raped who speaks English?": "It seemed futile, from the outset, to attempt to fight injustice through political parties or ideologies, for since folly, greed, and hypocrisy were everywhere, they were nowhere more at home than inside institutions, parties, and ideologies."

Amid myriad addresses, phone numbers, and to do lists are these quotes:

From Solzhenitsyn's "The First Circle": "What is the most precious thing in the world? It seems to be the consciousness of not participating in injustice. Injustice is stronger than you are, it was and it always will be, but let it not be committed through you -- a crippled conscience is as irretrievable as a lost life."

Degas: "Art is a lie to which one gives the accent of truth."

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