New Zealand post 25: HOPING FOR HOTEL CALIFORNIA …
There’s no sleeping in after our restless night, as the cars are streaming back out by 07h00 am. We peer out at the lake and there’s a strange smokey haze in the air. Seems like a fire close by, but we can’t smell anything. Certainly the weather has turned and there’s no blue sky to be seen. Looks like sleeveless was short-lived.
We need caffeine before we can find the motivation to pack up camp, but it’s cold and mizzy out, so we bring the jetboil inside and perform our usual acrobatics. Man, it’s good. Whoever invented coffee should be knighted! We can’t be bothered to cook up oats. We actually just want to get the hell out of here, so we resolve to find a spot on the road and have bread & honey and more coffee out there. We are not sorry to say goodbye to this campsite!
We decide to take a chance on finding running water elsewhere, which we can treat with drops, as we have no intention of boiling the lake water now.
The first 25km are on dirt and we have hoards of cars throwing up dust as they pass. This, coupled with the very murky atmosphere, makes for an eerie ride. We are actually relieved when it starts to drizzle, as it reduces the dust considerably. Breakfast is beckoning and we are ever on the lookout for one of the many shelters that we saw yesterday. There is no water anywhere in sight. Should’ve taken lake water after all. At least we could have boiled it for coffee.
We are grateful for the sour worms and cereal bars that Kati passed on to us, as we are losing hope of finding a breakfast spot any time soon. The drizzle intensifies as we reach a turning, which takes us off the main drag and back onto a dedicated bike route. In the distance we spy what could possibly be a shelter. We fly down the hill, powered by Hope and yes, indeed, Hotel California awaits, complete with water tank and loo, Yahoooo! We pull the bikes inside just as the rain comes down in earnest -Wow, what timing!
Never has a cup of coffee tasted so great nor bread and honey so sweet! We savour the moment, revel in the synchronicity and bless the beings that erected this shelter.
Then we suit up fully and head back out into the elements. We’re not getting stuck in the HC trap again…Now that we’re fed and watered and suitably attired, the rain doesn’t bother us and we are loving the hazard-free bike path.
We pull into Mossburn at 14h30 and by now we are soaked through. When it shows no sign of letup after lunch, we elect to call it a day and head to The Railway Hotel, the only option in town, apart from camping. They are full! The next town is 25km down the road and now we are cold and not in the mood. Besides, they are most likely also full…I warm myself by the fire and feel sure that some solution will present itself.
Steve is chatting away with the owner,Tom and miraculously, after ascertaining that they went to the same school in SA ( Pinelands High) and have a mutual friend, who lives down the road from us in Hout Bay ( Alan Thomas), he makes a call and conjures up a room for us!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned on all our travels, it’s that things have a way of working out. You just have to KNOW that it’ll be OK, no matter what…
While Steve is sorting the formalities, I chat to a local in the pub. He is not at all surprised to hear of our Lake Mavora experience. “Yes, that would definitely have been hunters. After deer or pigs. Most likely pigs, hunted with spotlights. Any other time of the year, the lakes would be deserted, but now you’ve got no chance- tourists and hunters everywhere!” As for the weird smokey haze in the air this morning, he reckons it’s the fires in Australia. ” when the wind blows in a certain direction, it becomes all hazy over here…”
We have dinner in the hotel restaurant. I would never normally go for it, but it’s so cold, I feel like some comfort food, so I choose good ol’ bangers and mash. Who knows what I am thinking, must be the eternal optimist in me, but for some reason I am imagining dainty, good quality, free range porkies ( like the one’s at the lovely farms we cycled past), browned to perfection, crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, with just the right amount of chewy bite, tasty gravy made from the pan juices, home style mash and bright green peas. The reality is quite different. What I get is 2 huge, obscene-looking sausages with the texture of polony, slapped on a mound of instant smash, with dull, overcooked peas, all topped with thick bistro gravy! It is a testament to how hungry I am, that I eat at least half of the plate!! Steve packs up the 2nd sausage to take for lunch.
I have to remind myself it’s just a country hotel and Tom and his wife Vicky, are running around like blue arsed flies multi-tasking like mad. They have minimal help and this is high season. No wonder they close the restaurant at 20h30!
I admonish myself for being a snob. In reality, I am so grateful for the hot shower, the clean, warm bed and the full tummy. Life is truly GOOD on this 1st day of 2020!