Saturday, April 26, 2014

Day 49: Dunback, back to Dunback, Dunedin

I awoke from a night of fitful sleep after dreaming about working at the grocery store again and seeing old Seattle friends. My back ached; I hasn't been able to find a comfortable position all night. I made oatmeal and coffee with the last of my water.

My improvised campsite was just slightly south of Dunback, probably 1 or 2 kilometers. It only took me 12 minutes to get there so it can't have been very far. The highway was quiet and the weather calm and chilly but sunny. 

The first thing you see as you arrive in Dunback is a historic hotel and pub. I needed to use the toilet, fill up my water bottles and (ideally) drink a coffee as well. The hotel wasn't open though, and there was no sign of life as I peered in the windows. So the best I could do was get the water bottles filled from the garden hose. I was just about to leave again when a man came out and asked if I needed help.

"I was just looking for coffee," came the sad reply.

"Let me get my wife," he said. 

Despite my protestations, he went and got his wife, who promptly invited me in for a cup of instant coffee. She treated me to a rundown of the history of the area, complete with photos she had on her smartphone. So in the end I got what I came for and a history lesson to boot. It was clear why Rob had fetched his wife - she was the talkative one and clearly enjoyed having someone listen to her. It had been the same with Kay and Doug, except he was the talkative one in that couple. Nearly an hour later, I thanked Liz and Rob and set on my way.

Liz had told me to cycle to Hyde via Macraes Flat, which had been my plan. There was a historic mine there and the scenery was meant to be fantastic. Yet when I got to the turnoff, I was faced with an impossibly steep, long hill. I started in on it but realized I would not be able to do it. So I turned back, took a few photos of the surrounding hills, and bombed back down the hill to the highway, which I planned to take around to Ranfurly and join the rail trail from there. 

Another few kilometers down the highway, my back tire went flat. I stopped to fix it and realized that the tire itself had a gaping hole. I could fix the tube but it wouldn't hold. I needed a new tire and I was in the middle of nowhere, with no idea where the nearest bike shop was.

I fixed the flat in hopes of riding back to Liz and Rob in Dunback. The tire blew again just a little ways out of town, so I walked the last kilometer. There was no sign of life at the hotel (maybe they saw me coming and hid?) so I positioned myself outside and stuck out my thumb. 

It was my first time hitchhiking. The tide of passing traffic was quite low and those vehicles that did pass would not have had capacity for my bike as well as myself. After 20 unsuccessful minutes I was considering alternative options. Right then a red pickup pulled over. The solo lady driver offered to take me to Palmerston, although she told me there was no bike shop there. Happy with that, I loaded my bike into the bed and climbed into the cab. 

We drove to her mother and father-in-laws' house in town, since they were also avid cyclists. But alas, they had no spare tires that would fit my bike. Everyone came up with several options - friends who worked in towns with bike shops, or who were in Dunedin for the day and could pick up a tire on the way home. The mother-in-law even offered to have me stay the night. But in the end, I opted to go to the petrol station on the highway to see if I could hitch a ride into Dunedin. 

At the petrol station, another man who worked for an engineering firm said his coworker was into cycling and might be able to help me. We threw the bike in his company pickup and went to the shop. The guy, Colin, took a look and couldn't offer any help, but they said I could ride into Dunedin with their other coworkers at the end of the work day. I accepted this offer. It was 2pm, so I walked back to the town center to find lunch and kill a few hours until departure time. I also contacted a Warm Showers host in Dunedin who said he could have me over in May, and asked if he could host me tonight instead. He said yes and that I should have my neon clothing ready because we would be attending a bike rave tonight. I wasn't sure what that meant but I was willing to find out.

After a wander about Palmerston and some time using the wifi at the library, I walked back to the engineering building. Peter was the driver and the two passengers insisted I take the front seat. Peter was very amicable and nice to talk to. He is a keen motorcyclist, is from Dunedin and has a wife and two grown boys. He dropped me off right at my host's front door.

Tod, my WS host, was a super-rad dude. He grew up in Dunedin and is now a student there. He was hosting another cyclist named Kyla, who I had been in contact with ever since I contacted yet another WS host in Balclutha and he wrote back to tell me there was another girl with my name staying with him. I had messaged her when I got to Palmerston and she said it would be totally cool for me to come over because Tod was a laid-back guy. Turns out she was right! 


At 09:58, Blogger Jamie Linnenkohl said...

was a super-rad...?!!


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