It was easier to stop at the park than to prepare any kind of breakfast at Hotel Waiotapu, since every item in their self-service area was broken and smelled faintly of fried electronics - including the kettle, the microwave, and the fridge. Clearly that place makes its money by being very conveniently located, not by offering anything close to decent amenities or service.
(As we checked out, Kerry and I noticed that even though our room was tiny, someone had found enough room in it to place a bible. Somebody - neither of us is willing to admit who it was - wrote inside it, "ALL THE PILLS MEANS ALL THE JESUS!" and put it back in the drawer.)
Anyway our task for today was to go 30 miles south from Waiotapu to Taupo, on the shores of Lake Taupo. Highway 5 is the main route between these two places, but the heavy traffic is not ideal for cycling. Fortunately Broadlands Road covers most of the same distance and is much quieter. (Nevertheless we still encountered plenty of big trucks, and had to pull entirely off the road for some of them.)
Along the way we found even more snacks, on a handy apple tree leaning over a farmer's fence:
I gathered five apples but I only ended up eating one, for reasons that will become clear later!
Check out this aged sign in front of a country residence. Can you decipher it?
The weather was glorious, yet again. We pedaled through gently rolling hills and flatlands radiant with a hundred shades of green and yellow, chatting on our intercoms and stopping wherever we wanted to take photographs or mess with our gear or pee behind a bush - or simply hang out. We had the entire day to go 30 miles, most of which was easy riding.
We saw lots of animals on the farmlands surrounding the road (and a few more animals squished onto the surface and baking in the sun) but the two that eventually tempted us enough to stop were these fine horses:
They loved the fresh grass we gave them from the other side of the fence, and definitely loved the apples that we tossed over for them to sniff out and pick up later.
(It takes a little bit of practice to feed a strange horse without being bitten.) (The image below is actually a movie! Please do poke it.)
We named these horses "Bully" and "Bieber". Bully is the domineering one on the right, of course.
The road rolled by, along with the sunny afternoon. Sometimes it felt like I was back in California, cycling around Moss Landing or Hollister. But then I'd see a logging truck, or something like the Ohaaki Power Station and remember where I was.
The flat eventually changed to a mild uphill with a slight headwind, which combined to make our progress extremely slow. We spent hours covering what seemed like only a few miles leading in to Taupo, and finally arrived at the top of a hill, where we paused for a break and saw a gigantic logging truck - the largest one either of us had ever seen in New Zealand - push out into the intersection and go chugging away. It was so epic we had to film it. (Yep, another video you'll have to click to see. Sorry...)
It has 42 wheels. Go ahead and count 'em! It took 1/3 of a minute just to roll across the intersection.
I don't think it's any coincidence that the opposite corner of the intersection is residence for a grave marker, identifying some sad highway accident from the recent past:
And not too far away: The gravesite of Optimus Prime?
After that it was almost all downhill into Taupo. The motel was easy to find and only a block away from the kayak place we needed to show up at the next day. We walked down to a thai take-out place and grabbed food, chomping it right there on the sidewalk on a tiny table, then walked back to the motel and crashed. Ka-bam!!
It was another great day, even though it was just a little too long in the saddle.