Friday, February 1, 2008

Gray Again. Lots of Onions. Old Campers.

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Today's journey was a relatively short one, 39.96 km, from the Te Aroha Holiday park to the Opal Hot Springs Holiday Park, outside Matamata.

It sprinkled a little overnight and was just cloudy (and a little bit cooler in the morning). Aside from the free Internet access, the Te Aroha holiday park was definitely an amenity-free zone. The kitchen was bare, not even a bench rag to clean up the counters. I had to sacrifice one of my few cotton bicycle rags (still clean) to clean up after dinner. Even the men's loo had only a single role of toilet paper. It was one of those struggling campgrounds without a holiday theme and, although it had nice new cottages, seemed to have a significant number of "long term campers".

As I was making breakfast when this really worn looking person comes in (I couldn't fathom the gender, but I think it was a rather butch female). She puts down her coffee cup, fills the electric jug and leaves. About five minutes later comes back and realizes that she hadn't turned it on (I hadn't really noticed), grumbles about it all being too hard, walks over to the sink, turns on the hot water and makes her cup of instant. It was that kind of campground.

I had an earlier start than yesterday, but not by much. It was a fairly good ride, although my legs are still quite tired. The countryside I pedaled through was nicely mixed farmland, lots of dairy, some beef and a fair number of horses, but there were also a lot of vegetables, huge fields of potatoes and onions (which were being harvested) as well as corn (looking near ready for picking) and some root vegetable that had foliage like carrots only much longer (it might have been carrots). It seemed to be mostly onions, though.

From TeArohaToMata...

I made a stop at the new Kaimai Cheese Company (est.2005) factory and cafe. I had a cafe latte and the only small cheesy item from their menu, a piece of delicious cheesecake (and before lunch--life on the road is tough!).

I also stopped to admire some painted ponies. Well, two were painted and the other a canvas awaiting application.

From TeArohaToMata...

After I got to the Opal Hot Springs park, I set up my tent, had lunch and then went to the hot pools. I don't have a bathing suit, but my black lycra cycling shorts have that wetsuit look. It felt good. The cooler water to cool off in the heat and humidity and the hot pools to ease the aches.

The campground is nicer than Te Aroha, but not as nice as Miranda. It also has an amenity-free kitchen, but there are real campers here. And it does have hot pools and a cooler large swimming pool. They also have the same pre-paid Wireless Internet provider as was at Miranda. I still have minutes, so I should be able to post the first draft of this (sans pictures and map as the connection seems quite slow and I don't have that many minutes). Look for a new draft in a couple of days or so.

As I was preparing my dinner, I was talking with and older woman, about 80. She was camping by herself in a tent smaller than mine and she is spending three months here, camping out since before the holidays.

From TeArohaToMata...

She lives in Queensland, but is originally from New Zealand. She went over there to be near her daughters, who all moved across. She prefers the summer here. One of her daughters has moved back to NZ, so she thinks she will come back as well.
I think she has been here at this campground the whole time. She doesn't seem to have a car and walks slowly with a limp, but seems to be a happy camper, living in her little tent.

Even stranger, as I was talking with in comes another camper who is also staying here for the summer. He is from Indiana and is over 80. Judging from the way he walks and talks, he is recovering from a stroke as well. he lives in a cabin, but upon meeting the woman camper, decided to try camping in a tent, it was a bit too hard, so he's back to a cabin. It seems like he comes here every year. I'd leave Indiana in the winter,too (actually, I'd leave Indiana any time).

Dinner, by the way, was a melange of tomatoes, onion, yellow pepper, courgette and shredded roast beef in a balsamic sauce served over rice (yeah right -- cooked with balsamic dressing as I had no other spices).

Making dinners are a challenge at these no-amenity kitchens. All I have is my cook kit, which has two pans, a plastic bowl and a cup. I also have knife, fork and spoon. To make tonights dinner, I cooked the rice in the deeper pan and while doing so, started the onions in the other one and added most of the other ingredients as the rice cooked. When the rice was done, I transferred the rice to the bowl and the rest to the rice pan since it was deeper. I finished adding the other ingredients, cooked it until the zucchini was slightly soft and then used the shallow pan as a dish to eat from.

In addition, there are no cutting boards here so I had to cut the vegetables from my hand directly into the pan. The ripe tomatoes were particularly tricky. I may look for one, only one, flexible board to tuck in my stuff (more stuff-eck!)

Today's pics:

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