Friday, October 30, 2009

The Odd Nut (NZ part 6)

(NZ part 1 here)

Having worked out a few of the kinks in our touring set-up, I am now feeling a bit better on the bike. Most noticeable is the weight I have managed to cut from the trailer - I had a collection of far too many books that I was planning on reading along the way, so I sent a handful of them home. Together Dan and I decided on which books to keep, so we would each have to carry fewer books, but would have access to others that we might want to read along the way. We also figured we would be able to pick up books at Backpackers or book shops along the way when we hit decent sized towns. I kept the Lonely Planet guide with me, along with a small collection of pleasure reading.

(As a side note, the books Dan and I had read and shared by the end of the trip included:
Blue Highways - William Least Heat-Moon
The Practice of the Wild - Gary Snyder
Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems - GS
The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are - Alan Watts
Endurance - Alfred Lansing
Touching the Void - Joe Simpson (way before the movie)
The Return of the King (while they were filming the movie in NZ by chance)
Angle of Repose - Wallace Stegner
Lonely Planet Guide to New Zealand

The new food bins on the trailers are working beautifully at this point to. We've been able to stock up on decent groceries in Blenhiem and pedal without worry much about where we will stop to camp for the night. We take a somewhat inland route toward Nelson, and get to relax a bit with lush scenery and only moderate traffic. As we approach Nelson, the road begins to drop back down to the water, and we revel in the views of Tazman Bay and the twisty asphalt. Just outside of Nelson, we find a campground, and decide all the amenities sound alright. We pedal around the loop, checking out sites and the various rigs people have set up. It seems Kiwis take there camping quite seriously.

We find a site and start to unpack, the tents go up, and we have a meal in the works quickly. As we are finishing our meal, we are greeted by a friendly, although a little scruffy looking chap who rides up on a bike. He sits with us for a while, chatting about all sorts of things, asking all about our bike setups, admiring the disk brakes on Dan's Cannondale and the fairly new tents we have. It sounds as if he has been essentially squatting at this campground for quite some time, and has been asked to pay up or hit the road by the management on a number of occasions, but it's not bothering him much. We share some chocolate with him, and he quickly rushes off, then returns with a large box of chocolates that he offers us samples from. He really is quite nice, but he is seeming to be a bit off. Once again he rushes off, this time to return with a large joint that he believes we have requested somehow. He is a bit put off when we politely decline his offering, and wanders off back toward his campsite grumbling a bit. We decide that we have indeed encountered the Odd Nut the travelers had referred to back in Molesworth.

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