Friday, December 07, 2007

King Solomon's Mines

Day 72
Alexandra to Ophir
Time: 3:03:00
Distance: 41.53
Avg Speed: 13.5
Terrain: Flat
Location: 45 6’ 38.4” S, 169 36’ 17.7” E

Ophir, a small town in Central Otago, was named for the gold mine cited in the Bible where the Queen of Sheba obtained gold for King Solomon. This town is a world away from that mine (in present day Ethiopia) but it yielded the same precious metals.
We spent our first full day on the rail trail. I can’t tell you how nice it was to be off the road. Chris and I were able to ride side by side and have a normal conversation. Usually one of us is shouting back to the other into the wind and traffic noise. The usual response is “what was that?” The dialogue is most often repeated several times taking multiple kilometers to get the point across.
We are in full-on leisure mode. We don’t have to be in Dunedin until the end of next week and we only have 20-30 kilometers to ride each day. We vowed to soak in the history of this area. Departure time today was a tardy 10am. After stumbling upon a freeride park along the trail we rolled off to the northeast.
The landscape is quite barren – very dry hills with rock outcroppings of dark schist. There were several mountain ranges in the distance with a clear blue sky as a backdrop. It was hard not picture the scene without a train clicking along the tracks that once laid below our tires. Perhaps it was easy to imagine since we do a lot of clicking and clacking ourselves with all of our gear. We crossed a few of the many bridges and rode through several sections of trail that were carved through hillsides.
We wasted enough of the day to arrive in Ophir in mid afternoon. We read about it in the guidebook and decided to give it a look. It’s a very small town with big character. Gold was discovered here in 1863 and the town, then called Blacks, went through the typical boom and bust period that most gold rush towns experienced. Fortunately, many of the buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s have been preserved or restored. This afternoon I had the delight of reading about the town’s history and tomorrow we’ll get out and see it firsthand.
Enjoy this poem that I read on the back of the Historic Ophir booklet:

So laugh with me now or cry with me now
As you tramp those memoried tracks
For they all lead down to Ophir Town
And the old time town of Blacks
(Todd Symonds)


1 comment:

JennSean said...

Hi again, can you tell that I am finally catching up on all your blogs today? Am updating (making it look pretty) annotation on our zoning map...yeah, fun, fun, fun and reading blogs in between the monotony . I wanted to say that I really enjoy the quotes/poems you have put in from the places you are rolling through!
Happy trails - JH