Deep cleansing breath.

I. Am. In. New. Zealand.

For. My. Ironman.

I am so excited I am trembling while I type this.  It has been such an adventure getting here (on the 10-year scale) and getting here (on the 4-day scale).  I don’t know if I’ll remember everything that has happened since I touched down in Wellington, but I’ll try to use the pictures as a guide.

The Tim Tam Slam

Sam and Laura picked me up late at the Wellington airport and we made the 2 hour drive to their host’s home in Palmerston North.  We had a Christmas in February gift exchange, called it a night, and spent the next day assembling the bike, going to the grocery and finding an adaptor for all my necessary electronics:  Laptop, Kindle, iPhone, iPod, and camera.  That evening Sam was kind enough to introduce me to a New Zealand delicacy:  the Tim Tam Slam.  Tim Tams are little chocolate covered graham cracker and chocolate filling cookies.  Sam explained to me that you bite off a corner, bite off the opposing corner, plunge one end of said Tam into milk or hot chocolate, suck liquid up through cookie, and end up with a mushy, melting mass of Kiwi goodness.  I could not believe it myself when I actually ate one of these carbohydrate yummies.

no caption necessary

Laura ate one too:

Cutest girl ever

The next day was a busy one.  We took the bikes out for a spin around campus and Palmerston North.  We visited the town’s botanical gardens and aviary, and I got to see a lot of Massey University.  We brought home dinner from the grocery store and spent the evening watching the Kiwis report on the Olympics.  (Hint:  New Zealand doesn’t give a crap about the Winter Olympics)

Next day we packed up the bikes, all my gear, their gear and headed north to the little town of Mangaweka, where the kids have just finished their summer jobs as raft guides on the Rangitikei River.

the darling caravan (Kiwi for "camper") where Sam and Laura lived this summer

We got into town early enough to hop on the river for a couple of hours paddling.

(At this point I’ve temporarily suspended downloading any more pics – internet is working at a snail’s pace, so I’ll just write now and add pics later).

Anyway, we had a delightful time on the river, with their friend Sarah, who has also competed in the race Sam did in February across the south island, the Coast to Coast.  The banks of the river rose into high, grey sandy cliffs on both sides and we saw sheep alongside as we paddled.  The river was beautiful and clear and cool and very different than our rivers in the east.

I’ll publish up to here, then add another entry for the next adventure:  Getting to Lake Taupo…stay tuned for Lord Of The Rings connection…