Day 94: Temuka, NZ to Geraldine, NZ - Four Legs on the Slow Road - CycleBlaze

November 28, 2014

Day 94: Temuka, NZ to Geraldine, NZ

The line of shit we've been dealing with for the last few days continues. Kristen's still trying to fight off her infection with limited success, to the point that if she doesn't feel better tomorrow we're going to have to find a doctor who can prescribe her antibiotics. The morning welcomes me with another headache, eyes that remain itchy and sticky and gross-looking, and allergies bad enough that I sneeze every two minutes and it's hard to see the road in front of me because my eyes never stop watering. Medication that takes care of the problem in America has no effect today against the mixture of New Zealand pollen that my body has never before experienced. As much as I try to stay positive, day after day of frustration that doesn't seem to have an end in sight is wearing me down. Riding bikes today seems like a fucking terrible idea.

At least we don't have far to go. To celebrate American Thanksgiving, which is happening back home today, we booked a room in a backpackers thirteen miles away. It will give us a chance to rest up, make something more elaborate than rice and beans for dinner, and call friends and family back home.

But even on flat ground and with no headwind bearing down on us it takes two and a half hours to make those thirteen miles. There are homes and farms and cattle along the way, but I don't see any detail in them because my attention is focused only on the ground in front of me. I have to stop at least ten times along the way as water fills my eyes over and over again, to the point that the only thing I can do is pull off to the side of the road and wait for the streams to let up. These breaks give me a chance to sneeze and sputter and cough, wipe my nose on my sleeve so often that the fabric starts to change color, and feel the migraine-type pain in my head build in strength as it pulses in time with a heart that pounds far faster than it should. I never could have imagined that a reaction to something as simple as pollen could be so debilitating and unfailingly miserable.

I'm a complete wreck by the time we reach the backpackers in Geraldine. I unload the bike, carry all of the bags into the room, fall into bed, and don't get up for the next three hours.

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After I open my eyes, but before I have the chance to blow out the contents of my head into a paper towel, I'm met with a French baguette and a plate of brie cheese. It's followed in short order by a salad of baby lettuce mixed with blueberries, sultanas, pecans, and apples. When Kristen returns she brings with her the main course, where roasted kumara, pumpkin, onion, garlic, and parsnip come together in the perfect mix of sweet and salty, and are then joined by stewed lentils with onions and a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, and crushed garlic. Pear cider and the tiniest bottle of chardonnay the world has ever known put a bow on the most delicious meal created by Team Hawthorne since we first wobbled away from Kristen's old home in Portland, Oregon.

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But a wonderful meal isn't enough to sweep away all that's running through my head. I think about calling my dad, calling my friends, and calling my family at a time when I know they're sitting together in the living room of my aunt and uncle's house after Thanksgiving dinner. And then I decide not to do anything. Because when those people ask how I'm doing, what would I say? I feel terrible, we're both sick, the wind and rain and cold are breaking us down, we're tired of staying indoors so much, and I miss my dog but we've seen some stunning scenery? That isn't what people want to hear when you're halfway around the world, living the sort of adventurous experience that so many others only wish they could. It seems selfish and entitled to complain about anything short of being hit by a car or attacked by a rogue herd of sheep or robbed in the middle of the night while sleeping in our tent in some isolated small-town campground.

And so I don't call. I lay in bed, tired and fevered and worn out, staring up at the light fixture on the ceiling and the dark gray shadow it casts.

If a fire breaks out we're screwed.
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It's strange; almost every other day on this trip I've embraced the idea of appreciating what I have, of being content with what's in front of me rather than thinking about what's missing or what could be better. But today, on Thanksgiving, where as Americans that's what we're told we should do, it's the opposite. I want better weather, better health for the both of us, and a better frame of mind so that we can appreciate the country we're traveling through and the people who give it its unique character. I hope that we find those things soon.

Today's ride: 13 miles (21 km)
Total: 3,156 miles (5,079 km)

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