Day 2: Miranda Hot Springs to Okauia Hot Springs

distance today: 105 km (65 miles) total distance: 201 km

Today started out flat across the Hauraki Plains.  Central Valley flat.  I had a minimal but real push from the modest tailwind as well, so I made pretty good time.  The plains are all dissected with canals and rivers so I was riding immediately next to canals for much of the day.  The weather was absolutely perfect!  The slight breeze kept me from sweating too much, the sun was shining, and the mountains that started to appear were beautiful.
I stopped for lunch in Te Aroha outside the museum and got chatted up by an older guy who was interested in my route to Okauia.  So interested, in fact, that he drew me a map to show me how to get there (a photo is below).  But, unsatisfied with the quality of the map, he went inside to look for a better one (“Just sit and have your lunch, I’ll be right back,” he said as he walked inside).  He came out with three pages of google maps perfectly showing every road (“That girl in there is so clever!”).  So nice.
So I followed his advise for a flat route along the river until crossing to see a big waterfall.  The waterfall was cool, although I didn’t hike up to it.  The rolling green hills and little cutbanks of creeks were pleasant to ride through and it is not surprising that the shire from the movies was set right around here.
I met a guy named Douglas at the campground tonight (check out RompingGround.com for his blog). We had a nice conversation for a while and, since we both have American accents, we asked about where we are from and whatnot with interest.  It went a little like this:
“where you from?”
“Hawaii”
“Really?  Where in Hawaii?”
“Maui” (note MauiBuilt shorts!)
“REALLY?  I’m going there after my trip here for a friends’ wedding.”
“Where is she from?”
“Kula I think”
“No way—I’m from Kula too.”
From this, while Douglas is younger than Wisa (friend who is getting married) or me, he’s pretty sure he knows her (Wis.  Did you play oboe in the band?).  Anyway, what a crazy smallworld moment!  It was a good connection.  Now it’s off to sleep though so I can get an early start for the climb to Rotorua.
Cultural discovery of the day:  “Tomato Sauce” doesn’t just taste like catsup, it is catsup!  No wonder…I had a much better dinner with proper pasta sauce tonight!

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