in the Southern Hemisphere
-- Story by Chris --
Tuesday, May 8th: Tom and Kirstin put us up again
for the week in Christchurch. It was time to start making plans for the winter,
including finding better winter clothing, ski supplies, a vehicle to get
up the slopes, and various other tidbits for a
"normal" winter. After 2 years, 35 countries, 55,000miles/90,000kms, and
countless different beds, it's a good time to hang out a bit and fix
what needs fix'in.
winter here and in the southern parts of South America, our next
destination, so we opt to spend the next few months here where we can
get things done more easily. Since the exchange rate is so
favorable, traveling here is relatively cheap, and with Season Ski passes being only
NZ$299/pp (US$130/person), we decided to spend the Southern Hemisphere winter in the
famous Southern Alps of Queenstown -- the Adventure Capital of the world!
It was also time to face another reality: My R100GS/PD
has been causing too many problems for us, while Erin's F650 has been far more reliable on
this trip. Its time to consider changing bikes. The single biggest mistake we've made to date (that we're aware of), is
not taking identical motorcycles. When you consider that what we purchased our 2
current bikes for what was originally planned to be a 15 month RTW trip, and we still have
about a year and a half to go, there is some "sense" to it.
That said, I am looking to purchase a 1994-99 F650 Funduro.
Motorcycle prices here are much cheaper than in the states,
and with some time before we leave for South America, I will hopefully have time to purchase and set up the bike.
I already have most of the modifications arranged, including another set of Al Jesse Panniers -- Custom shaped
panniers from my PD can't be mounted on an F650. We are extremely happy with Al's
panniers, and didn't hesitate with this choice.
Prices being much cheaper here in NZ, I can't sell my bike
for more than US$2,500 in it's current state. Instead, I will have some repairs made
to it here, and ship it home as a keeper. Yes it's had more than its share of
problems, but it still provided some fantastic memories and experiences. It's
virtually priceless to me now. This means we will have to sell our beloved K100LT
(which we left at home) to
pay for another F650.
We're also looking for a new tent. Last month we
camped out at the base of Mt Cook, which was absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately,
strong winds blew in around sunrise, and while we were packing up to leave, the tent came
free of the pegs, bent several poles, and tore in various places.
we can repair it.....
So as you can see, our planned lay-over in Queenstown seems
Tuesday night, May 8th: We arrived at Turner's Auto
Auction in Christchurch an hour before the 7pm start to inspect the goods. We made a
bid on a car, which was below the reserve (minimum bid), and after another careful look
with Nigel, the 3 of us went out for a nice Cambodian dinner.
Wednesday morning, the phone rang. It was one of the
guys from the auction -- the owners had accepted our bid of NZ$650. Another NZ$100
to Turners, and 6 month registration fee of $107 brought the grand total to NZ$857 =
US$380. Introducing the Jolly Green Giant, our 1979 Holden Commodore Wagon with 3.3
ltr engine. We'll continue to ride the bikes on good days and to a
few winter rallies, and use
the JGG with snow chains to get us up to the slopes 8-)
The Jolly Green Giant waits for the snow
Wednesday we woke early, and went to
"The Warehouse, The Warehouse, where everyone gets a bargain" -- A NZ store
similar to Kmart, with a very catchy theme song. Our housemate told us we would have
a King Size bed, so we went shopping for flannel sheets, duvet, cover, pillows, and other
personal household products. That
night, we went "hooning" in the Commodore down Colombo Street in downtown
Christchurch. Hooning is where you take your supped-up, loud exhaust, flash car
cruising up and down the main drag. In ChCh, that's Colombo St. Tom and I had
the front seats tilted way back, the music cranked up, and the girls couldn't stop
laughing in the back. Tom was upset we didn't have baseball caps we could wear
backwards to complete the image.
While in ChCh we also took the opportunity to buy some parts and do
some work on Erin's bike: Changing the fork seals and the clutch plates. With
more than 62,000miles / 100,000kms, we certainly had no complaints. John
Glasswell from BMW NZ had a set of slightly used clutch plates that he sent us -- thanks
John. Everyone told us how easy it was to change the clutch plates ourselves. I was
game, but Erin was a little reluctant to have me messing around inside her bike.
Just in case, I made arrangements to bring the bike into European Motorcycle (local BMW
dealer) if we had trouble. Upon completion, Erin took the bike for a ride and was
thrilled and impressed with the better performance --- Who da man?!?!
On Saturday night, May 13th, we drove the JGG up to
Rangiora, picked up Garry and Jo, and went down the road to dinner in Amberly at Nigel and
Kitty's place. Garry and Nigel both ride F650s, prefer off-road riding, live
relatively close to each other, and had never met. The 4 of them are also interested
in Olive plantations and other local farming opportunities, so we decided to all get
together. Nigel also collects various forms of 2 wheeled vehicles, which we all
tried out before Kitty's wonderful dinner.
Nigel's favorite -- The Mini: GSXR50. He has put 600kms on this bike since he
Sunday morning, we woke early and
went to the annual ski sale at the local arena. This is one of those sales where
folks drop off their used equipment for sale. A fee is paid at the door, which goes
to charity. The event was billed as an all-day event, with doors opening at 9am.
We got there by 9:10am, and finally through the cue (line) 10 minutes later.
Most of the snowboards were gone, as were the parabolic (shaped) skis. There was
only one board left in my size, and it happened to come with boots in my size.
Must've been fate, so I grabbed it. The setup was "as-new" condition,
complete with boots and "klicker" bindings. It was more than I wanted to
pay (NZ$600 = US$255), but it's exactly what I would have bought if we were still
home. I will probably send it home rather than sell it. Erin found a really
nice pair of skis/bindings, and more important, a pair of comfortable boots (NZ$250 =
US$110). We'll probably sell it all at the end of the season for the same price, as
Erin has better equipment back home.
Tuesday, May 15th, the car was packed and we left Tom and
Kristin's (again). Tom agreed to watch after my PD, as we could only park one bike
in the garage in Queenstown. It was the first day of a wicked cold front, and Erin
toughed it out on her bike for the 520km ride down. At least the rain/sleet didn't stay with us
the whole ride. Halfway down, the heater started blowing cold air, and I couldn't
shut it off. Erin didn't have much sympathy for me, as she was frozen solid. I
would have traded with her, but she was already in full riding gear, and it was HER bike, and
the night before was angry that woman in the NZ military aren't treated as
equals...... yes, I'm a dog.
And so, Sharlene's ghost flatmates finally arrived in town!
Her friends didn't believe we existed, because we didn't move in right away.
We've since settled in well, bought ourselves cozy new fleece bathrobes and wool-lined
slippers for lounging around the house. It's fun to go out grocery shopping, and buy
more than the next day's supplies. Queenstown is a resort town, very similar (we
think) to Breckenridge, Colorado. From inside the house, we have fantastic views of
the beautiful snow-capped mountain range, the Remarkables.
Sharlene is a great gal, and we should have a
lot of fun being flatmates. She has introduced us to her friends and the local's
pub, Kelly's. I've also started refereeing again, which is great fun. The
rugby union has supplied me with a really nice new uniform, and the locals seem somewhat
impressed that as an American, I know a thing or two about rugby, and
that I show up on a motorcycle! The season ends in
mid-July, so I have quite a few more games coming up :-)
Over the following weekend we went to the annual Queenstown
sale (similar to ChCh, but smaller), and purchased some used ski suits -- if nothing else,
we'll look quite flash this winter! We can also use the snow-suits
for keeping warm on the bikes. It's
been unusually cold this past week, but fortunately snowed several days -- the mountains
have a spectacular white blanket. The ski resorts should start to open the first
weekend in June, and boy are we ready!
Sunday, May 20th: Day 731, and exactly 2 years since
we departed from New York to Morocco. So much has happened -- and once again we must
reflect how fortunate we are. Truthfully, we've lost touch (a bit) with what the
future holds for us. If all goes well, we will probably get back to New York late in
2002. The "end" seems too far away to even think about today, and that's
OK. I feel very similar to Linda Hamilton at the end of Terminator 2 -- No longer
able to predict the future, the road ahead is unknown, and leads to all kinds of new