Friday, November 20, 2009

Southland (NZ part 19)

(NZ part 1 here)

I've started noticing signs of fall coming on. Nights are getting quite cold, and we are near our southern-most point in our adventure. The water in my camelbak is warmed by my body heat, but the bit that is in the drink tube is cooled by the passing air. I wore my wool hat for the first time in quite a few weeks the other evening. Sometimes it's too cold to ride in the morning or evening with just my normal short sleeved shirt and bike shorts, even when the sun is out. My thoughts are starting to wander toward home and my family more as well. I think about my parents, and their experiences growing up, and time spent seeing the places they once called home.

And I think about going home and trying to live as simply as I can, as we have been here, on our bikes. Simple living, but engaged. As I ride across an historic suspension bridge I look down and realize my feet, my body, my whole physical being, its activity has been paralleled by my attentiveness. My thoughts have become as active and energetic as my feet, and have also settled into the rhythm of riding.

We camp south of Te Anau, near Manapouri. It is rural, yet more human scaled here. The Fiordlands to our west seem much less inhospitable than they did on our ride to Milford Sound. Small towns and farm country surrounds us as we head further south towards the coast. The riding is much flatter here as well, although we do climb onto plateaus and look out over gentle slopes. Clifden, the Waiau River, Tuatapere - the towns feel more and more like those connected to the sea. There are shipyards, and merchant streets we ride along, and the smell of the ocean. And then we see it, crest a bluff and look down on the long arch of Te Waewae Bay. The waves roll in, small, but Dan says this would be a place to surf.

The coastal riding is relatively easy, and we roll on. And the wind kicks up at our backs. We race through the growing human landscape, sailing on the gusts and our desire to be back in the places where we know we can pull over and camp without hassle. We make it a long distance day, stopping to resupply in Invercargil. We continue on and camp in a farmers field outside of town, on the boundary of an area we've looked forward to with anticipation, the Catlins.

No comments:

Post a Comment