I have been biking now for about seven weeks or so. As I have mentioned earlier in this blog, I really don’t think about the end of the trip. I have been able to totally get into the simple rhythm of this life. It seems like it will just last forever – I guess that’s not really the best description. I know that it will end but it just doesn’t enter my mind. I’m really living as close to being just in the moment as i can. Greg remarked earlier in the trip that I was the most relaxed unstressed person here. I will say this; I don’t watch television, read the news (except some sports which is a whole other topic) , look at anything related to my business, or enter the days rides with anything expectations. Being out of my daily home routine also seems to make the days seem longer and more full. Adventure does that for you. I know that I am very lucky to be able to do this now.
One of my fellow cyclists, Horst from Germany, does not have an end date. He quit his job as a manager in a German company which makes components for automobiles because he has decided that he wants more from his life than he was finding. Though well-paid and financially secure, he finds that not enough. The material things were not making him happy. This cycling trip is the start of a new life for him and so has no end. He has left his home, emptied his closets and given those things away thus paring his clothing down to his cycling and traveling needs that fit into his two bags. When we get back to Queenstown and get ready to fly back to our respective homes, Horst will be taking only those items that fit into two panniers on his bike and working his way up the East coast of this beautiful country. All that doesn’t fit will be given away. He has plans to go to Bali and other locations in Malaysia than maybe up to Thailand but these are vague and flexible thoughts. He is 54 – in thirteen more years he would qualify for a nice life pension in Germany. His only concern now is to find more fulfillment in his life.
I have never been on a trip without and end date and travel plans for home. I really don’t know how that would feel. But it does sound like a great adventure.
Our day off in Queenstown was a busy one. This little city sits on Lake Wakatipu, the third largest lake in New Zealand and is surrounded by mountains. It is simply gorgeous. After I finished my breakfast I heard that Vince was driving back up to Arrowtown for a coffee and breakfast in that cute little town that had been so welcome the day before when we were so wet and cold. Well, I’m cycling daily, I can eat another breakfast, so I jumped aboard with the other six bikers for the 20 K trip up there. French toast and good conversation, then Vince and Kay went shopping for an hour and the rest of us dispersed with the idea of meeting back at the car. Q, Bridget and i found a nice path along the river which took us to a little historic site where the Chinese had made their homes while working in the gold mines in the 1800’s. A few of the simple huts still remained. Some of the orchards that they had planted were also still there in new generations and it made for a lovely walk. Vince, Kay and John had reservations for a jet boat ride along the Shotover River in Glenorchy on the other side of Lake Wakatipu for 130 pm so we decided to ride along, then borrow the car to find a good hiking path while they were on their three hour adventure. So, ten minutes after getting back to Queenstown we piled back into the car for the wonderful ride along the 50K winding coastline to Glenorchy. The scenery was stunning. Michael, Horst, Bridget and I then took off in the car for the hour long ride up the Rees Valley road to a steep hiking trail leading to the site of the Invincible Mine – an old gold mine site dating back to 1862. On this end of the lake, two large mountain ranges emerged with Mount Earnslaw being the dominate snow capped peak, The view just kept improving as we worked our way up to the mine site. There were a number of artifacts remaining, including parts of the ore crusher and the water wheel which powered that unit. As usual when viewing such remote difficult sites, we tried to imagine just how difficult this life must have been. We met the others at the car and enjoyed the great ride taking us back to Queenstown.
The area around Glenorchy and Lake Wakatipu were the sites for the Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings movies. That may help you imagine just what a beautiful outdoor area we have been spending our time in.
Today we had a great ride from Queenstown down to Clyde along a gravel bike path which took us beside the Gibbston River gorge. It may be the most enjoyable bike path I have followed. We moved along numerous vineyards and up and down the sides of the gorge. A really nice suspension bridge over the gorge was a highlight as was a bungy jumping site on a bridge over the gorge. I was traveling with Q and Bridget – we stopped to watch a couple of jumpers. While not for me, I can imagine the rush of flying down towards the rushing swirling waters below with just a rope device between you and death. I took a couple of photos of jumpers with my phone and later wished I had used my camera as I caught one of them just leaping off the platform but the shutter speed didn’t allow for a clean clear image. Q left us after lunch to ride a rough track over the top of the mountain ridge into Clyde. Since it required wider tires than I had and suspension to be enjoyable, Bridget and I followed the main road down to the small historic mining village of Clyde.