Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Once in Tazzie, beyond the cute beagles, the drug-and-contraband-fruit sniffer dogs at the airport, I got into a dinky rental car, and whizzed off to Richmond, to the pure luxury of a B&B called Cornwall Cottages. I'm used to driving on the left by now. It's a lovely place, set between a raspberry orchard and a vineyard, with a gorgeous view of a lake, rolling tree-covered hills and an interesting looking radio telescope. The air is clear down here, so star gazing must be exceptional at times.
Today I'm hanging out on Hobart's wharf-front, at the Taste of Tasmania weeklong food and wine-fueled blowout. Everyone is there, including the local bike advocacy group, which has a booth where you can sign a petition to get a bike lane installed on a major Hobart road, and pick up a "Leave 1.5 metres" bumper sticker. Back home in Washington State, we still don't have a 3-foot rule, and these folks are asking for 5. Hope they get it. Tasmania looks like a great place to ride, but the roads are rolling, narrow and seem to have no shoulders at all. Outside the Tourism information center in Hobart I chatted with a long distance touring cyclist I'd seen riding into town over the Tasman bridge. He's come from 6 weeks in New Zealand, and he told me the drivers over there are a bit of a challenge. Yikes. Can't worry about that today.
The Taste is really something: booths selling everything from oysters on the half shell to panna cotta, in vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, passionfruit and leatherwood honey flavors. Strangely, the most popular booth appears to be one selling deep-fried Huon Valley mushrooms. These "treats" are dipped in tempura batter, and served in various quantities. There are many lines of customers at least 6 people deep at the counter. Why the locals are going crazy for the most basic type of supermarket mushroom, is utterly beyond me. I've heard that Tasmania is the only place in the world able to domesticate the truffle. No signs of those here, though. I'm not sure I want to try them. I've already had enough grease for a lifetime, as I ate crumbed trevella, a fish with large white flakes, and a mountain of french fries last night for dinner.
The Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race ended yesterday, but there are two other races in progress: Melbourne to Hobart and Launceston to Hobart as well. I watched a bunch of lobster-red-faced guys wearing red coveralls pour off one of the boats as it docked. I presume they were headed to the nearest pub. As always, the Tasman Sea and/or Bass Strait, have been one big vomit-fest, with several boats pulling out after some sailors got washed overboard. The things people do for fun...
Tomorrow, I'm going to hit the wine trail and sample some of Tasmania's pinots. Life is so tough.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
bit bashed up in transit, but as far as I can tell everything that
belongs to the bike is still inside. Today is my final day in
Queensland, where I spent time with family on what should have been the bright, sunny and hot Gold Coast. Unfortunately, it's been a downpour every day
since I got here. Torrential rain, all the rivers and streams are
flooding, and lots of birds and animals that normally live in the
rainforest seem to be heading, two by two, down to the coast.
The only good thing about the rain is that it's warm. Very warm. It's
so humid here, so it's not so bad walking around in the rain. I've
seen a few of the green tree frogs that are the State's national
Riding a bike here is impossible. Still, the surfers are out, as
always, riding the small waves at the beach. Lots of sodden families
trying gamely to picnic at the beach and make the best of it.
Tomorrow I fly to Hobart, for what I hope is warmer and drier
Tasmanian weather. Looks like El Nino in this part of the world is as
weather crazy as back in Seattle.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
I just finished a 2010 book about 3,600 mile cross country ride from Oregon to Maine by two retirees. The authors Alice Honeywell and Bobbi Montgomery did not mention the year of their trip anywhere in the narrative, but I finally figured out it was 2003. The book's tone gave it away: old fashioned with a lot of comments about safety on the road. They followed an Adventure Cycling route, which even back in 2003 was hardly unknown. Still, they carried bear spray and seriously considered taking a firearm along. Apparently one woman talked the other out of the gun idea. Good for her.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I recently finished a great book by David Byrne, who I’d only known as the distinctive lead singer in the group Talking Heads. The 2009 book, Bicycle Diaries, is an intelligent chronicle of David’s observations on history, art, music, the urban landscape, fashion, globalization, with a good dose of thoughts of how cycling enriches one’s life in interesting cities. He pedals in some major cities of the world: Berlin, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Manila, Sydney, London, San Francisco and New York.
David uses a folding bike, which is why I first picked up this book. Lots of food for thought as I plan my coming two month bike trip to New Zealand early in 2011. Here’s the folding bike, William the Conqueror, that I will use for my next tour. I am planning a variant of a fully loaded bike tour. Wm is designed for large city urban commuting in a place without a lot of hills. I'm going to New Zealand, which is rural open road riding with plenty of hills. It will be a "trip" for sure.
David’s website is www.davidbyrne.com