Jan 8, Wellington, New Zealand

Hello everyone! It has been a while since I posted. I decided to spend a couple of days in the town of Featherston working and getting over this cold. Also, when I went to post a blog update, I ran into a problem–someone had been trying to hack my website and the security protocols detected it and locked everyone out. It has taken a while to get it reset.

Andrew and Pamela–two wonderful warm showers hosts.

I left the home of Andrew and Pamela Ninness on the morning of Jan 5th, and rode from Palmerston North to the town of Masterton. There was a campground in the Masterton, and I decided to stay there rather than continuing on to Featherston, because I was still feeling pretty bad from this creeping crud that I have had invading my respiratory system.
Now–I really like to have electricity in my tent when I stay at a campground. This enables me to, yes, watch videos and Netflix as I fall asleep, but also means that I can hit the ground running the next morning without having to charge my electronics. Most campgrounds have a place in the kitchen or the washroom where you can charge things. But–what–am I supposed to sit there and wait 3 hours for my devices to charge? You can leave them, but then you risk getting something stolen while you wait. Much, much better if you can have electricity in your tent!
So, I asked the manager of the campground if he could lend me an official “caravan extension cord,” to which he said, “no. They do not have any extras to lend.” You see, New Zealand is an especially regulated place, particularly when it comes to electricity. This is not a criticism–every place, even the USA, has its peculiarities. Well, New Zealand is very worried about electricity in campers and tents. Every power cord used in these circumstances must have a testable “Ground Fault Indicator” built into it, so, in the unlikely event that the campground has a problem with the ground of its power outlets, you won’t electrocute yourself in the equally unlikely event that the internal ground of one of your appliances fails. Three cheers for safety!
Well, I was stuck without power in my tent, so I had an idea. Do you suppose that there might be a local hardware store that could sell me the correct power cable? Yes! The manager of the campground even provided me with address of such a place, and I rode on over there. When I got to the electrical store, I was shown the “official” caravan extension cable. It weighed about 10 pounds. And cost right at $100. Rats. I have to confess, I would have paid the $100. But carry an extra 10 pounds up all of those New Zealand hills? No way! So, the worker in the electrical store had an idea. He said, you know, if you don’t tell anyone where you got this from–why don’t we just take this little $3 extension cord and whack off the end, then connect it to one of these little caravan adaptor plugs? I said, “Wow. That sounds hard.” To which he replied, “No–it’s trivial. Let me show you…” Three minutes later, I had my cheap, light-weight caravan cable to use in New Zealand campgrounds. Can you say, “Netflix?”
I got up early on Jan 6 to continue on the route. I had a choice–take it easy, or push really hard and continue past the town of Featherston and up over the Rimutaka trail–a mountain bike route through the hills on the way to Wellington. After about 25 miles, I was absolutely bushed. This bug had really taken a toll on me, so I stopped in the town of Featherston and got a hotel room. I knew that I would have to spend some time before the 8th working–so why not now? That would give me a chance to heal a bit more, and then prepare for the final push over the Rimutaka.

Crossing a river on the way to Featherston

The morning of Jan 7th, I realized that I could stand to spend an entire extra day recuperating and doing a little work, so I decided to spend a second night. Shortly after making that call, I met two mountain biker tourists that I had ridden with several days earlier! This is a couple from Tucson, AZ (Kory and Maren) that I met on the aborted attempt to ride over the Whakahoro trail. This was great! As they joined me on the hotel grounds (camping in a tent) I handed over a beer to say welcome.
The first night in the hotel was uneventful, and I spent the next day (1/7) working. The evening of 1/7 was strange to say the least. It began around 10 PM with what sounded like shots being fired. I put it out of my mind. I woke up at 3:00 AM to really loud Creedence, and a group of people singing religiously along, from the home next to the motel/campground. Creedence? Folks, I’m 55. I get it. Even in New Zealand. But at 3:00 AM? No way. I called the cops, who said that under no uncertain terms should I go over there and see what’s going on. In the end, the cops took my information, but did nothing that evening. Not a person in the hotel/campground slept that night, except for me, because I reverted to my ear buds and a white noise generator. I thought about heading over there at 7:00 AM just to make sure that “everything was OK.” Really loudly. But, I figured that between the police report that I filed, and the hotel staff who was furious, they would soon have enough grief. So, I got on the road a little after 7, heading 5 miles south to start the infamous Rimutaka Trail, through the mountains.

Single track, with steep dropoff to the right.

The trail proved to be quite challenging at first–a couple of miles of single track, with fatal drop-offs on the right side. Eventually, I went through a long tunnel and arrived at the summit of the ride. There was a couple sitting down near their tent, enjoying a late breakfast. I noticed that they were riding bikes similar to mine–32 mm tires! This was encouraging, and I proceeded to tell them so, as I approached the pair.

One of several LONG tunnels on today’s ride. My light was almost dead, so I walked most of these.

Now, I need to quote the late Douglas Adams to make my next point–here is what he said, to the best of my memory: “When you are cruising along the highway, in the fast-lane feeling pretty pleased with yourself, as you lazily sail past the other motorists, and you accidentally downshift from 4th to 1st instead of 3rd, causing your engine to leap out of its trunk in a rather ugly mess, it tends to throw you off your stride…” Now keep in mind that I was in the most remote part of the country I had experienced since coming to New Zealand. I had been climbing for hours and had not seen a single other person until now. So, imagine my reaction, when I approached this couple and the young lady said, “You must be Dr. Acton.” See what I mean?

A family I met near the end of the ride through the mountains

It turns out that they had been in contact with Mike Nyland, a man who heard my interview on Radio New Zealand and offered his house as a place to stay while in Wellington. But what are the odds???!!! And another weird thing–my friend, Marcos van Dam emailed me saying that he is going to be taking the Ferry to the South Island Tuesday morning. That’s the ferry that I’m taking!
Tomorrow I will spend getting some tires for my bike, and possibly putting together an ad hoc seminar on JWST. Until next time,

3 Responses to “Jan 8, Wellington, New Zealand

  • You are living proof that where there is a will there is a way. Love the electric cord story. Cheers!

  • Only thing they could have said better: “Dr. Acton, I presume? 🙂

  • What are the odds? God’s odds, I’d say. It sure sounds like He is providing the encouragement to keep you going, Scott. 🕊 Love you, big brother!

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