Monday, February 22, 2010

The Crown Saddle in NZ. Good for cyclists, bad for bunnies

I have never in my life seen so many bunnies in various states of splat in my life. It was a bad day for Flopsy in the Crown Range. Bad news for bunnies, but a beautiful ride for cyclists, and a healing gouge wound on my calf where the chainring and I had a fight on the Haast Pass. Now, with no infection!

The Crown Saddle is what they call the long windy uphill that takes you from the shores of the lake in Wanaka past the old goldmining town of Cardrona, where I stopped for a flat white (a latte, or so I hear) and some very melted timtams I'd been gifted the day before. The hill snakes up from a flat valley past some ski resorts into a tussock grass-lined roadway with the aforementioned bunnies and purple lupins and statice (that papery violet flower that's called siempre vivo in Spanish and grows at the beach near Quintay in Chile) and a cornflower blue sky. It summits at a pass that's clearly marked with a stone marker and a gnarled tree, and this is where I caught up with the family with six children that's been pedalling the south island, who I'd been hearing about since Ross, or thereabouts. I was very impressed with the family, and also happy to see the marker, because this hill, unlike many others I have met on this trip, is solitary, and has no false peak (I am looking at you, spires of doom and of Hades, and also the aforementioned Haast pass).

The hilltop with the stone marker gives a view of a dark turquoise lake around which Queenstown spreads. After the rock it was a hand-cramping high-speed zigzag down to the bone dry valley where I may have filled a water bottle with purloined plums from a tree I found at the roadside. Still working on them. Tasty!

It is touristy here. But where there are tourists there is easier Internet, and about this I am thankful, so I will forgive (but not patronize) the McDonalds and all the rest. I am taking a rest day from my dogged pursuit of the strangest tan line I've ever had, a big V marking the top where my capri-length tights have a little notch cut in them, and a fine line at the top of my ankle where my beautiful flowered cycling socks stop.

I have been whiting-pizza free since the great event, which I know was very upsetting to all of you, for which I apologize. Though my free muffin on the tourist-package Milford Soundvaganza was gummy enough that I almost wished for the pizza at that point.

Tomorrow is more pedaling, hoping to rendezvous with a rail trail which will grrrr and crunch under my wheels, what with the gravel and all. I believe the worst of the hills are behind me, though I kind of feel like I will feel that I'm just getting started when this whole thing will be over.

Hope you are all well, and I wish you a night of sleep like the ones I get after a good day of riding. Profound, unmoving sleep, so deep and dreamless you're surprised to find you're still you when you wake up. But without the pins and needles in your hands.


shantiwallah said...

You are covering some serious Ks! I'm getting a bit worried that you will forever be known as "the girl who had the fish pizza". Eg. "Nice to meet you. Aren't you the girl who had the fish pizza?"

lydia said...

neat- i think i've been in that very mcdonalds! (which i found much classier than the mcdonalds back home)

curious though, and perhaps i read then forgot, do you camp, couchsurf, treat yourself to the occasional 5 star hotel?

also curious, how much, if any, sightseeing have you been doing or plan on doing without the bike? do your plans include any other adventure sports? glad its going well (for you, not the bunnies, i guess)

Eileen said...

Double internet day! grand celebration! Shantiwallah, not that much k-age, there are many who would have put me to shame by now, but I'm having a great time, regardless.

Lydia, it's been all backpackers' and "motels," little standalone places with kitchens. I need more solitude and flexibility than couchsurfing would probably allow, though if there are any kiwis reading this who want to put me up, I'd consider it! And yes, some sightseeing, shorter walks, etc. Today was a rest day, so I walked up and down where the skyline gondola goes, and yesterday took one of those mass-market trips to the Milford Sound, which I kind of regret, too rushed, though we did see dolphins, which was pretty great.

Still Life in Southeast Asia said...

Yay for Timtams. Hikers' and bicyclists' best friends.

Fly Girl said...

It sounds like a great journey, except for the bunny. I don't think I'll ever get over the image of them splattered everywhere...