Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Day: 127
Lorne to Torquay
Time: 3:17
Distance: 49.95 km
Avg Speed: 15.10 kph
Terrain: rolling
Location: 38˚ 20’ 25.2” S, 144˚ 19’ 14.2” E

We officially ended our tour of the Great Ocean Road today. We crossed under the memorial arch this morning and stopped for a picture opportunity. We ended up waiting our turn since we timed our stop with three tour buses.
We picked up a third in our party last night. We ran into an Austrian fellow who is doing a trip along the same lines as ours. He is from the town that Governor Arnold is from. In fact he wowed us with a spot on impersonation of the man. It was too funny. He started his trip with a trek in Nepal, followed by diving lessons on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, a 4x4 journey across the center of Australia to Adelaide and when we met him, he was cycle touring. He had bought his bike in Adelaide and was working his way east in our direction. He was actually going to New Zealand in a couple of weeks so we ran out for beers and Leslie and I gave him the low down. He was quite appreciative of the info and we made plans to meet for breakfast. We finally met someone who is in love with food as much as we are. We finally got on the road around 10:30 or so and the three of us headed on down the road. He had to get to Geelong today so he could make train into Melbourne tonight. He had to get his bike packed for New Zealand and then he was heading to Tasmania to trek a bit. We stopped along the way for an ice cream break. He ended up with iced coffee and Leslie and I ended up with Slush Puppies. I had to tell the other two how my sister and I would get Slush Puppies from the market where we grew up in Reno. Grape is still the flavor to have. We rolled into Torquay and stopped at an info center to find a place to camp. I asked our Austrian friend if he wanted to buy Leslie’s front pannier rack for his tour. He had been talking about getting a front rack and since Leslie wasn’t using hers it seemed like a good idea. We ended up switching it out in the alley between a bike shop and surf board shaper. The wind was just right and the alley was filled with epoxy fumes the whole time. A few zip ties and a couple feet of duct tape later we were in business and having ice cream again before he got on the road. We are now back to a twosome and camping like we have been for the past 4 months. We have now graduated to campgrounds full of surfers rather than families on holiday. I prefer the surfer.
Hasta la vista…baby.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Surprise around Every Corner

Day 125
Apollo Bay to Lorne
Time: 2:47:26
Distance: 43.44 k
Avg Speed: 15.5 kph
Terrain: Beautiful Coastal Road
Location: 38 32 14.8 S, 143 58 39 E

Today was one of those days. It was the kind of day that just felt right. It didn’t ever get too hard to pedal, the temperature was perfect and every view was unbelievable. It was day four on the Great Ocean Rd.

The guidebook claimed that the route from Apollo Bay to Lorne would be the most scenic. I had my doubts since we had seen some fantastic landscapes in the previous three days. However, I have to agree that the 44 kilometers we pedaled today were pretty darn incredible.
We started early this morning after a really good rest. The road was flat and the traffic was light. About the only sounds we heard were the birds singing and the waves crashing. After the first few kilometers we found ourselves riding above the water with grand views of the Southern Ocean. The highway is definitely carved into the hillsides along this section of coast. We got into a rhythm as we ducked and rolled in and out of each cove. Each corner held a new view for us and each one was a nice surprise. We didn’t know what stretched out before us; we only knew that there would be more surprises if we kept pedaling.
Being the philosophical person that I am, I analyzed this during the ride. I realized that this kind of uncertainty is fun. So many of the uncertainties that we encounter each day are not exciting; finding a place to sleep, buying food, etc. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve enjoyed all aspects of our life on the road, but a day like today has a powerful affect. It definitely recharged our souls and gave confirmation to the reasons why we went on this trip.
Looking forward to more surprises,

Day 124: Lavers Hill to Apollo Bay

Time: 3:00
Distance: 48 km
Avg Speed: 16 kph
Terrain: Up and Down
Location: 38 44 28.4 S, 143 40 31.6 E

We left Lavers Hill early this morning. We camped at the local ground behind the local pub/gas station/take away/bistro. We ate dinner at the bistro and it was really quite good. I had my first taste of kangaroo and it wasn’t bad at all. It was a fillet so it was pretty tender, and hardly gamey at all. I am not sure if it was farm raised or wild. Our neighbors in the campground spent their long dinner hour (actually hours) in the pub. They showed back up at their tents at 11:30 last night and played music and partied until our alarm went off at 5:30 this morning. Earplugs work wonders. We tried to be noisy, but how noisy can you be taking down a tent and riding your bikes?
To add insult to injury my cycle computer wasn’t working this morning. I am amazed at how hooked I am to that thing. I just love watching the numbers go by. We arrived in Apollo Bay early this afternoon and took the opportunity to do some laundry and take some much needed showers. We also shared the biggest, sweetest and juiciest mango either of us had ever seen. I know it is kind of a side note, but it was good. Apollo Bay is a little seaside village along the Great Ocean Road. It was hopping with tourists today since it is a holiday weekend. They had cleared town by late afternoon and we had the beach and town to ourselves. The ocean is beautiful here with waves crashing on fine sand beaches stretching into the distance either way. We are off tomorrow; hopefully after a good nights sleep.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lord of the Flies

Day 123
Port Campbell to Lavers Hill
Time: 3:37:58
Distance: 49.54 k
Avg Speed: 13.6 kph
Terrain: Rolling with one big 19k climb
Location: 38˚ 41’ 4.9” S, 143˚ 23’ 3.9” E

When you travel for long amounts of time, you get to know yourself pretty well. Chris has learned that he’s not a big fan of bugs. His insect stories began during a late night meeting in Fiji with a cockroach and continued in Costa Rica with giant caterpillars. More recently he’s been in near nervous breakdown mode with the flies in Australia. Today he packed his bug head net toward the top of a pannier just in case. It didn’t take but fifteen minutes of riding and he was sporting a whole new look. Function trumped fashion in my case and I donned mine as well. We both looked like a cross between bee keepers and aliens. The nets we actually ok to ride with. The hoop keeps the netting out of your face and it’s possible to drink water without too much trouble. The only problem I found was a little wind drag while descending hills.
Let’s get to the important stuff…
We started out a little earlier today to stop at a few viewpoints along the Great Ocean Rd. The first stop was Loch Ard Gorge which was the site of an 1878 shipwreck in which only two people survived. We had a chance to hike down to the beach where the two survivors washed ashore. It was breathtaking to witness the energy of the ocean driving through the narrow opening of the sheer limestone cliffs.
The next stop was the infamous Twelve Apostles. A century ago they had been named the Sow and Piglets but someone decided that a name like that wasn’t appropriate. I guess they needed to dress it up a bit. Anyway, the Apostles are limestone sea stacks that have been weathered over time by wind and water. The unique geologic formations stood like sentinels just off the coast and demanded our attention. It would have been easy to waste several hours just gazing down the shoreline.
Unfortunately, we had to move on because a large climb loomed in the distance. We said farewell to the dry plateau and limestone cliffs and starting climbing through the dense eucalyptus forests of the Otway Range. We were thankful for a cooler cloudy day since it was granny gear for most of the ascent. We reached Lavers Hill by mid afternoon and will be looking forward to a nice pub meal this evening.
Here’s to keeping the flies at bay,

Day 122: Warrnambool to Port Campbell

Time: 4:08
Distance: 68.32 km
Avg Speed: 16.4 kph
Terrain: Rolling
Location: 38 37 10.5 S, 142 59 48.2 E

We had an odd morning this morning since I forgot to run to the grocery store last night for some breakfast this morning. We had coffee and split a cup of muesli before we left for some more food for the road. It is Australian Day here today. It is the equivalent of the 4th of July in the states without the fireworks. We considered ourselves lucky at the time to find a grocer open and then a café as well. We rolled out of town by 9:00 and began our journey east. We took back roads for the first hour of the day through some pretty farm land and into a small town for a bathroom break. From there we jumped on the Great Ocean Road and promptly met up with an Australian cycle tourist from Adelaide. He is taking a year off as well, but will be working his way around Victoria and New South Wales as a volunteer. He is working with a group called WWOOF, which is Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms. They put him up with room and board and he provides 5 hours or so of labor per day in exchange. We have seen a lot of this group on our travels. It is kind of a neat way to see the countryside and make a positive impact as well. We left our new Aussie friend and took some back roads towards Childers Cove. About 20 minutes down the road we saw our first live snake. We had read about tiger snakes in the Grampians Visitor Center and were warned that they were poisonous. I saw it first and swerved and Leslie gave it a wide berth after me. It was about a meter long and by the time we had grabbed our camera to take a picture it was upon us! The snake had made a b-line towards Leslie’s back tire and began striking it. I thought for sure we were done for but right at that point…GOTCHA! It actually slithered off before we could even snap a photo. We did ride the rest of the back roads right down the middle though. By the time we made it to the beach we were in full force Aussie saluting. An Aussie salute is a wave that you make to get the flies out of your face. Everyone does it, all the way from the news reporters in the field to the tennis players at the open. The fact that there is a name for it means that it is commonplace. The beach scenery was spectacular today and the riding went by quick. We are hoping for some better light tomorrow as we head off to some famous landmarks along our route.
Happy Australia Day!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Shipwreck Coast

Day: 121
Portland to Warrnambool
Time: 6:14:00
Distance: 99.11 k
Avg Speed: 15.8 kph
Terrain: Flat
Location: 38˚ 23’ 40.3” S, 142˚ 29’ 18.2” E

It’s too bad we had to get up early today – we really liked our sweet pad in Portland. The road was calling and we needed to pound out 100 k to Warrnambool. We are on a bit more of a schedule than New Zealand and wanted to set ourselves up to be riding the Great Ocean Rd starting tomorrow. The weather report called for more winds from the east and south and we were prepared for a long day. Fortunately, the wind was more like a breeze until we got just outside our destination.
The Great Ocean Rd has been a goal for us since we decided to include Australia in our travels. It’s touted as one of the prettiest coastlines in the world and is on every suggested itinerary in our Cycling Australia book. For just about 300 kilometers we should be treated to some awesome scenery. Beginning as a track when the telegraph line between Victoria and Tasmania was built in 1859, the road itself was constructed between 1918 and 1932. Without much funding, the project succeeded with returning WWI servicemen and Depression era workers.
The coastline is also known for many shipwrecks during the 1800s. Over 160 ships have wrecked in the area from Port Fairy to Apollo Bay (west to east). Ships traveling to or from the east coast of Australia had to navigate Bass Straight and the going was treacherous to say the least. Today there are a few automated lighthouses and some very large wind machines to guide the way.
Tonight we’re back in the tent. We miss our friends in Portland, but are grateful for the time they shared with us.
See you,

Tour de Portland

Day 120
Portland rest day 2

Our gracious hosts took us out to show us the sights today. We started the day with a little hike to a local gannet colony, followed by a trip out to see a lighthouse and ending with a look at some blow holes on an old volcanic flow.
The hike to the gannet colony was through the greenery and native scrub next to the giant aluminum smelter on the outskirts of town. There is a natural buffer between the plant and the ocean which contains a nice path leading to a gannet colony. In years past the colony resided on a small outcropping of rocks off of shore. Being the prolific breeders they are, they bumped some unlucky ones to the mainland where they are more exposed to predatory dangers. The park service has the point fenced off to offer a little protection.
We then went on over to the Cape Nelson Lighthouse. Since Leslie and I are land lovers we rarely get to see old lighthouses. This one was a beautifully maintained white and red number perched on the limestone cliffs. All in all pretty cool.
Our tour then took us over to Cape Bridgewater where we looked at some blowholes where an old lava flow had met the sea. The sea wasn’t quite rough enough to get them really going, but it provided a great soundtrack. We then grabbed some coffees at the local café and shot on back to Portland.
We ended the evening with a great, meat-a-rific Aussie barbeque. The green salad and potato salad were nice compliments to the pile of chicken and beef. We ended the meal with some left over pavlova from the our first night in town. I was jazzed because our hostess entrusted me with her recipe. It is a baked meringue base with whipped cream and fruit on top. My description doesn’t do it justice. You will have to take my word on it. YUMMY!!

The Old Bond Store

Day 119
Portland Rest Day 1

We’ve done the usual tasks today while catching up from the last week of riding. Lucky for us we have a very comfortable place to stay while we rest. Somehow, we keep finding our way to interesting and historic buildings on this trip. Our current accommodation is no different and we are at home in our apartment of classic bluestone architecture and stylish contemporary design. Sit back, relax, and let me describe the fascinating history of this structure.
The entire building was originally the “Bond Store” where tobacco, flour and other supplies were stored in the mid 1800s. Back in the day, supplies were delivered by ship to the Portland Bay settlement and transferred to the store. Citizens were then required to pay taxes on their goods before they could receive them. Essentially, the bond store was the middle man.
In 1908 the store was sold and became the home of the Portland Observer. Our host’s great-grandfather was the first editor of the newspaper and the business, which also added commercial printing and stationery, was handed down through several generations. In 1980 the printing operation moved a few blocks down the street and the building transformed again, this time into a restaurant.
In 2006 the most recent incarnation came about – holiday apartments. The design mixes old and new in seamless fashion. The bluestone walls and wooden beams are the historic foundation of the living space. The modern additions have the bedroom sitting above the kitchen in a loft and the rest of the living space open to the ceiling. Custom ironwork in the staircase and loft railings ties everything together. It’s been such a pleasure to be some of the first guests to enjoy the finished product of beautiful and handcrafted workmanship. We’re looking forward to more adventures in unique accommodation.
Take ‘er easy,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Day 118: Lower Glenelg National Park to Portland

Time: 4:03
Distance: 60.5 km
Avg Speed: 14.6 kph
Terrain: Rolling
Location: 38˚ 21’ S, 141˚ 36’ E

Life is a beautiful thing. We woke this morning to the call (more like a cackle) of the kookaburra and ate breakfast watching a kangaroo and her joey. On our way down to the main highway we caught glimpses of emu and an echidna (a sort of large hedgehog/porcupine). The ride itself was into a head wind (naturally blowing opposite of the usual trade wind) and along it we encountered several hills and big rigs full of sheep and wood chips. Evidently the Japanese have quite the wood chip and paper pulp trade here. The dock in Portland has a couple of giant piles of wood chips that get loaded onto a barge and taken to a plant in Japan. There the wood chips are pulped and made into paper before it is exported around the world. Quite the little cycle.
One of the main reasons we came to Portland was to visit the couple we met in New Zealand. When we met them earlier in the trip Leslie and I both thought that we had met a really special and unique couple. I am reading a book right now called Timequake, by Kurt Vonnegut. It is essentially a bizarre memoir about his life and people that have helped him along the way. He calls them saints. After our reunion over dinner and the generosity they have shown, I can think of no better description. They put us up, fed us and helped us feel welcome and at home. My vocabulary can’t do justice to feelings we have bouncing around right now. I won’t even attempt it.
I think that we are both feeling travel weariness right now. This little respite and visit has already done wonders for our psyches and our legs.
Until later.

From One Extreme to Another

Day 117
Dartmoor to Lower Glenelg NP
Time: 1:54:00
Distance: 27.41 k
Avg Speed: 14.2 kph
Terrain: Rolling
Location: 38˚ 03’ 29.7” S, 141˚ 13’ 5.1” E

In just ten days we’ve gone from one extreme to the other. Tonight we’re in the lush, green setting of Lower Glenelg National Park in the far west of Victoria. It’s a totally different landscape than the city streets of Melbourne where we started our Australian journey. The temperature has also changed quite a bit as well. We arrived to find scorching 100+ degree temperatures ten days ago. Tonight we’ve crawled in our sleeping bags early because the mercury has dropped into the low 60s. Go figure.
Our ride today we pretty mellow again. We rolled through more blocks of trees and endless pastureland. A stone church caught my eye along the way – it had a pink door and I thought it might make a nice picture. As we walked around, we found the war memorial for the area. Using natural features, the tribute to fallen heroes was done with rows of trees rather than with stone monuments. Regardless of the style, I’ve been really impressed with the acknowledgment of veterans in almost every town we’ve passed through.
We arrived at camp just in time for a bite to eat. It was hot lunch today as we pulled out instant noodles from Chris’ front pannier. It’s amazing how good a cup-a-soup can taste when it’s the only choice on the menu. We’re looking forward to getting to the next big town to add a little variety to our meals again.
Tomorrow we head to the coast and the town of Portland. We’ll be visiting a very nice couple that we met early in our trip to New Zealand (see post – “And the Horse Won by Three Lengths”). We’re looking forward to catching up on the last three months and to see Australia from a local’s point of view.
Sweet dreams,

Meatloaf Sandwich and a Two Car Garage

Day: 116
Hamilton to Dartmoor
Time: 5:08
Distance: 80.57 km
Avg Speed: 15.6 kph
Terrain: rolling
Location: 37 55' 39.7" S, 141 17' 01.5" E

I am making up for no blog yesterday. It was a rainy rest day which entailed haircuts, gelato, and lots of tennis on the TV. We opted for a little R and R while the rains fell.
We took off this morning for Dartmoor. We got a reasonable early start and headed out of Hamilton under a fine mist and clouds. The weather stayed with us the whole way today, but it was still better than riding in hot, hot temps.
I saw my first kangaroo from the bike today. It just kind of lollygagged across the road, fed a little, saw me and then lollygagged into the bush. The novelty still hasn’t worn off.
The area we rode through was one eucalyptus plantation after another. Each big field had a sign saying how many hectares it was and what year it was planted. It was cool to see these 200-300 hectare plantations with trees planted like rows of corn.
We decided to grab a bite to eat at the Lazy Bones Café in Dartmoor when we rolled into town. Dartmoor is a really small town so it wasn’t surprising that the café was in our hostess’ front rooms. We got a couple of Cokes to drink and ordered up a meatloaf slab sandwich. It was awesome. It was gut bomb as well, but it was awesome. Nothing like a hunk of meatloaf on a toasted focacia with fries and a salad. Our hostess/cook/proprietor also gave the low down on the camping in town. She pointed us down the road to the Dartmoor Tourist Camping Domain. It is a spacious grass field with eucalyptus trees just out side of town. It is also free. I almost ordered a chocolate shake when she told us that, but decided against it. We got cookies instead.
We got to our little campsite and got the tent set up before it started to mist and rain again. We didn’t have a covered area for our bikes so we decided to wedge them under the vestibule of our tent. It is great to have a tent big enough to sleep, eat, cook, hang out and store bikes in.
Hope all is well in your neck of the woods

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Australia and Geography

Day 114
Dunkeld to Hamilton
Time: 2:19:33
Distance: 37.8
Avg Speed: 16.2
Terrain: Flat
Location: 37 44' 43.3" S, 142 02' 00.3" E

We had a short uneventful day to Hamilton. We were pretty tired after yesterday and needed an afternoon to catch up on a few things. Instead of boring you with the details of our day, I thought I’d share some geography about Australia. And no, that’s not just as boring.

Let's start with a map:

Here are a few quick highlights about Australia:
-Located between latitudes 10˚ 41’ S (Cape York, Queensland) and 43˚ 38’ S (Southeast Cape, Tasmania) and between longitudes 113˚ 09’ E (Steep Point, Western Australia) and 153˚ 38’ E (Cape Byron, New South Wales)
-sixth largest country in the world (about the size of the United States)
-the only country to occupy an entire continent
-flattest and 2nd driest of the continents (Antarctica is the driest)
-the highest peak is Mt Kosciuszko at 2228 m
-the population (20+ million) lives mostly along the southeastern corner and eastern coast of the country
-Aboriginal people have lived on the continent for probably over 50,000 years
-700 bird species are native to Australia
-claimed by the British Crown in the late 1700s by (none other than) Captain James Cook

For heaps more information about Australia, see,,

Have Fun,

Day 113: Halls Gap to Dunkheld

Time: 5:20
Distance: 75.5 km
Avg Speed: 14.1 kph
Terrain: Rolling
Location: 37˚ 39’ 3.3” S, 142˚ 20’ 46.1” E

We started out of Halls Gap early this morning. Early being 9:00, but you should expect that by now. We were awoken by kookaburras in the trees and kangaroos running (or hopping) outside the tent. Last night we ran into town for some ice cream and that is when I saw what I thought was a giant rabbit. It took for Leslie to say something like ‘whoa’, before I realized that they weren’t rabbits at all but kangaroos. It was pretty cool to see them. We saw a lot more as the evening wore on.
The riding through Grampians National Park was pretty nice today. There was cool breeze in our faces that kept us from overheating and more importantly kept the flies at bay. The flies don’t bite (yet) but are really annoying. They like to flit around your face and crawl on your sunglass lenses. We had a longer climb today that took us on the leeward side of a hill where the wind was calm. The flies took the chance to introduce themselves to me. I like to give them voices so I can have a conversation with them. It makes the time go by faster. I made a deal with them that I wouldn’t shoo them if they stayed out of my eyes. We made it to the top with out incident and then the deal was off so I shooed them away, and away, and away. It took a ride downhill to escape them.
We got into Dunkeld without incident and decided to grab a bite to eat at the little take-away/pizzeria in town. We had inspected the general store and thought that we could eat better and cheaper on a pizza. I nominate pizza and Coke as the recovery food of choice from here forward. Our campsite is in the town domain and is run by the town. We are camped next to the ultimate outback rig. A Ford F-250 with a snorkel and custom tool topper pulling a 25’ trailer with a lift and diamond plate fenders. They do take their outback seriously here.
All for now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bird Bonanza

Day 112
Melbourne to Ararat by train; Ararat to Halls Gap by bicycle
Time: 3:31:00
Distance: 55 km
Avg Speed: 15.6 kph
Terrain: Flat
Location: 37˚ 7’ 48.4” S, 142˚ 31’ 26.9” E

We took part in the morning commute as we rode across Melbourne to catch a train out of the city. We’ve come to know our way around in the few days that we have stayed in the city. No one paid any particular attention to us – it was great.
Our tickets were booked to Ballarat but we found out that the train went all the way to Ararat from Melbourne. We did an add-on to our ticket and relaxed for another hour. Our goal is to spend some time around Grampians National Park so we don’t mind skipping a few kilometers on the busy highways. Upon arrival at our destination, we hit the information center and a nice lady gave us the lowdown on cycling through the Grampians. A cyclist herself, she was very helpful and kind enough to share her favorite routes around the area.
Soon after we rolled out of Ararat Chris declared “we are officially in Australia”. Apparently, the last six days didn’t count. I think he was referring to our first day touring in Oz. It was a really nice feeling to be on the bikes again. The landscape is totally different than New Zealand and I rode in awe most of the afternoon.
In addition to new scenery, there are new birds to look at. Giant white ones, medium sized pink ones and small green ones. The big white birds are some sort of parrot and like to hang out in the trees along the road. Several times during our ride, large groups of the birds would suddenly take flight in front of us, squawking loudly. It was quite exciting and you can bet we will be on the lookout for some info about the birdlife here.
We’re back in the tent tonight. It’s been about two weeks and I can’t say that we were really excited to get back to it. However, we won’t have that much longer to camp and we joked that we’ll be wishing for the tent after months of guesthouses in SE Asia. Only time will tell.
See ya,

Monday, January 14, 2008

Day 110 Melbourne

Time: All Day
Distance: Down the Street
Terrain: Hard Court
Location: Vodafone Arena

Today was our big day. We went to our first major tennis tournament. I learned a lot today. I learned that I enjoy watching the show during the match, just as much as I enjoy watching the match.
Our first match was a Russian Glamazon facing off against a little unseeded gal who didn’t stand a chance. 3 hours and ten minutes later the match ended 2-6, 6-2, 12-10. It was the second longest women’s match in Australian Open history. At times it was like watching a drama queen ice dancer do an interpretive dance of a tennis match. I am not being mean when I say that either; there was flopping, flaunting and fashion. It was interesting and cool to see but towards the end we were just hoping for a victor. The following match was American Andy Roddick against a poor Czech guy. 3 sets later it was over. I also discovered that men’s tennis is more blunt force trauma whereas women’s is more finesse.
I think both of our highlight was watching Lindsey Davenport play her first major since giving birth to her little boy. She went three sets in her match, but walked away the victor. It was a really cool day and surprisingly tiring.
Before the tennis today we stopped by ‘The G’ to catch an hour of cricket. The juniors were playing today so it was free to get in. We killed two birds with one stone; we didn’t have to pay to take a tour of the grounds and we were able to watch a little cricket. The sport is pretty fun to watch since there is quite a bit of action, but the games are sooooo long (measured in days…not hours).
Leslie also got her bike serviced and back from a bike shop near where we are staying. It was really set up to service bike commuters with a solid stock of panniers, racks, locks and trailers. They fixed Leslie’s bike and since it was a loose cable (shame on me for not checking the previous mechanic’s work) they didn’t charge a thing. If you are ever in Melbourne and need some work done at very cool bike shop check out Abbotsford Cycles and Bicycle Repair. It was really a cool old school bike shop.
We couldn’t get enough of the tennis action today so we are watching night matches on the television.
The last thing I learned today was; if you are going to be a ball boy, wear sensible underwear. No one wants to see you doing some recovery work during a match.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Queen Victoria Market

Day 109
Richmond to the City and Back
Time: Most of the morning
Avg Speed: Stopping and Looking
Terrain: Meats and Veggies

“Oh look, they have homemade ravioli…” Just then, Chris almost took me out as he turned quickly to see what I was looking at. Ten minutes later Chris had purchased our Italian dinner: gnocchi and pesto with olives and bacon. For those of you who don’t know us very well, we are obsessed with food…

We spent the morning at another lively place in Melbourne, the Queen Victoria Market. Since 1878 the market has played host to food, goods and entertainment. With a combination of indoor food stalls and open air produce bins, this city institution is frequented by locals and tourists alike. Throw in a food court and a camel ride and you have a heck of a place to amuse yourself for hours. Not surprisingly we spent most of our time at Queen Victoria examining all of the food. We started in the Dairy and Produce building where Chris wasted no time. Once again, we found the prices low and the quality high. Following the fresh meats, we braced ourselves to run the gauntlet of market-goers in the produce section. Housed in a giant shed with a very high ceiling, it was basically a busy farmer’s market with mounds of the brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes, papayas, bok choy, mangoes, squash, chives: you name it, it was there. At first glance, it looked like total madness, but as you worked your way through, you realized it was just organized chaos. Southeast Asia will be full of markets and I’m sure this one is tame in comparison. I guess this is just practice for the big time.
Bon appetite,

Day 109 Melbourne (Little Vietnam)

Time: A Couple of Hours
Distance: Several Blocks
Avg Speed: Strolling
Terrain: City

We headed out and stayed near home today. One of our hosts, Christine, had told us that there was a little Asian area near here. We decided to grab lunch over there and see what it was all about. It was the real deal. The Chinatown district that we visited yesterday was pretty neat, but typical downtown type of stuff. The Vietnam area that we visited today had its share of restaurants that served traditional dishes. The real cool part was that different shops and markets that lined that streets. There were the fishmongers, the butchers, the bakers (yummy), and the grocers. We picked up a few veggies and some bread on our tour and just marveled at all the different fruits and veggies. They even had duck and quail eggs for sale by the dozen. We joked that we were going to be all noodled out before we even got to Asia if we kept this up. We shall see.
We headed back to the abode where Leslie grabbed a cat nap and I decided to work on the bikes. My cycle computer wasn’t working and I couldn’t figure it out. It turned out I need a new battery. Easy enough. Leslie, on the other hand, was and is still having trouble with her front derailleur. We had thought we had gotten it fixed in Blenheim in NZ, but evidently not. It is now worse that ever. I think we got over charged and had the old 30/30 guarantee as we walked out the door (30 feet or 30 seconds, which ever comes first). We were a little peeved about the shop when we were in Blenheim due to the horrid customer service and suspect work. Now we are really peeved. The only recourse we have is this…THE SPOKESMAN BICYCLE SHOP IN BLENHEIM, NEW ZEALAND IS CRAP!! There I feel much better. It is interesting to note that every bike shop we went into in New Zealand gave us the run around about parts or schedules. I am not sure if they were really that busy, or really that rude. I find it interesting that in a country where tourism is your #1 bread and butter they make it difficult for you to spend your money. On a positive note, I was able to call a couple of bike shops around here who were more than happy to get us in first thing on Monday (they were closed over the weekend) and get us taken care of right there. Another notch for the Aussies.

Friday, January 11, 2008

On Foot in the City

Day 108
Melbourne City
Time: Hours
Avg Speed: Walking
Terrain: Urban Jungle
Location: 37.8° S, 145.0° E

Today we explored the heart of Melbourne. Our backpacker lodge is well situated to access all of the sporting grounds and the central business district. After deciding to leave the bikes behind, we set out on foot to see what we could find.
Our first stop was the Melbourne Cricket Ground. “The G” as it is affectionately known, is a major attraction. In fact, the guide book we borrowed describes the building in this way: “the landmark is to Melbourne what the Opera House is to Sydney, the Eiffel Tower is to Paris and the Statue of Liberty is to New York.” Cool. The MCG was originally built in 1838 and refurbished in 1956 for the Olympic Games. We walked the entire perimeter to take in the bronze statues that commemorate some of Victoria’s best athletes.
From “The G” was crossed over the rail lines to the tennis center. There was definitely a lot of activity going on in preparation for the Australian Open. We’re pretty psyched to take in a few matches on Monday. One of our dreams (yes, there will be more big fat hairy goals after this trip) is to see as many major sporting events around the world as we can. Ironically, the goal came about from a discussion regarding how cool it would be to see all of the tennis majors. It snowballed from there…
By lunchtime we had found Chinatown and sought out some cheap eats. We found a great hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant and ventured in for a couple of lunch specials. After dinner last night and lunch today, I’m hoping that we can continue eating out a bit more than usual. We have many more choices here than in rural New Zealand.
The after lunch activity was one of Chris’ favorites; finding the map store. He’s begun to develop his own counter-strategy to this and found some outdoor stores to peruse while I happily (and tediously) examined maps and guidebooks. Once a map geek, always a map geek.
We ended our tour with a ride on the City Centre cable car. We got on the car going in the wrong direction. Lucky for us it went in a loop and had a pre-recorded dissertation of the city’s sights and landmarks.
We can see why Melbourne has often topped the list of the world’s most liveable cities. We’re looking forward to spending a few more days here.

On a sad note, we read that Sir Edmund Hillary died this morning in New Zealand. Here is a good article that outlines a great life lived. He was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things. You can bet we’ll be raising a glass in his honor tonight.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day 107: Christchurch NZ to Melbourne AU

Time: Going on 38 hours
Distance: Across the Ditch
Avg Speed: Plane: Unknown, Bike: 15 kph
Terrain: All over

We flew from NZ to Australia today. Our trip actually started yesterday around noon. We opted to not pay for another night at the backpacker in Christchurch and spent the night in the airport. There wasn’t much sleep to be achieved on the carpeted concrete slab they call the ‘Arrival Terminal’. I think I was a little on edge since I only got 2 hours of sleep before we had to roll out of our little beds and get ready to fly.
The flight went smoothly as well as the customs on the Australia side.
When we got out of customs in Melbourne, Leslie tracked down some maps of the city while I got the bikes put back together for our venture across town. We were a little worried about the heat when we started but just put our heads down and rode. I couldn’t quite get my computer working right on my bike, but I think we rode around 35 k across town. The great thing was most of it was on bike paths through green space. We finally made it to our backpacker lodging in a couple of hours. They were certainly surprised to find out that we had ridden our bikes in from the airport. I think they were surprised about the distance we rode, I think we were surprised when we found out that we had ridden across town in 41˚C (100˚+F). We were glad to find out that these aren’t typical temperatures and in fact it is cooling tomorrow evening.
We did stop at the Rod Laver Tennis Center to buy some tickets for the Australian Open Tennis Tournament for Monday. We will let you know how that goes. Evidently they have had problems with unruly fans at the Open in the past. I can’t believe that any nation under The Crown would be unruly at a sporting event.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


In the beginning we had hoped to have podcasts available on our blog site. We finally have some to share. Every month Chris and I have been taking turns interviewing each other. It’s been great entertainment and we’d like to share a few snippets from the past three months. Have fun!

Go to our website to listen: You can click the link and it should play automatically or you can right-click and save the file to your computer.

Day 30 – Chris describes his impressions of New Zealand

Day 60 – Leslie talks about what she thought would be difficult (before starting the trip) and what really is tricky on the road

Day 90 – Chris explores his thoughts about bicycle travel

Let us know what you think or if you can even download and listen to these files. Maybe we’ll do some more…

Also, we've made some other updates to the website. Take a tour if you haven't looked at it in awhile.


Hula-Hoops and Bicycle Touring Families

Day 106
The Jailhouse to Christchurch Airport

We’re in the middle of the airport marathon. Our flight leaves early in the morning and we didn’t want to do the “shuttle to the airport in the middle of the night” thing. So, we overstayed our welcome at the backpackers this morning and then came to the airport. We found “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports” online and learned that Christchurch has a very comfortable airport. Amazing what you can discover if you scratch beneath the surface.
Quiet when we arrived, the airport came to life a short time later. A round of international flights landed and we watched the steady stream pour out through the sliding doors. Travelers, returning families, airline employees and hippies with hula-hoops; I sat and wondered about the stories behind the faces.
We knew we’d see some other bicycle tourists at some point. It wasn’t long before we recognized the boxes. Chris gave the commentary as we watched from afar while the first two guys put together their bikes. Then we spotted the next group. First it was just the boxes that caught our eyes and then we saw the people. Mom, dad, four year old and baby, we’re guessing about 5-6 months old. Awesome – we were totally jazzed! This required an immediate change in location so that we could witness the assembly of their bikes and trailer. As the hours rolled on, Chris and I were amazed at their patience and thoroughness. Talk about commitment – I don’t even know what to say. Bicycle touring is far and away the best way to travel, but it is hard work. These people were adding a level of complexity that takes touring to a whole new level.
We finally got the nerve to ask for a picture. Chris found out that they traveled from Germany and planned to tour for three months. I’m not sure if the kids will remember the details but they are certainly working on their spirit of adventure at an early age.
Soon we’ll roll out our sleeping bags and pads with the rest of the long haul travelers. I’m sure I’ll still being trying to figure out if hula-hoops are checked luggage or carry-on baggage as the next wave of flights will roll through…
Bon voyage

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Day 105 Christchurch

Time: All Day
Distance: All Over
Avg Speed: Fast and Furious
Terrain: Urban all the way
Location: 43˚ 29’ 34.1” S, 172˚ 37’ 6.3” E

We were at it early this morning with our errands to get ready for leaving on Thursday. The first order of business was getting some lighter weight sleeping bags for Australia and Asia. The local merchants must get this a lot since we had five shops to get sleeping bags from in a one block area. We looked around and found one we liked at a shop called Snowgum. This itself really isn’t interesting, but what was interesting is the fact that our salesman was a man we call Mr. Tomato. We ran into Mr. Tomato while hiking the Greenstone and Caples track last month. We spent two evening with him at the McKellar Hut and the Caples Hut. We were kind enough to let him use our stove (his was broken) and one of our sporks (he forgot his eating utensils). He was kind enough to make fun of Americans and correct us on our pronunciation of the word Tomato (long vowels, with a nice nasally British drone). Besides our sorted history he is a nice enough guy and quite interesting in the is he on crack sense. His store was the second one we went into so we decided to keep shopping and told him we may be back. As luck would have it we found a great bag on sale at another store. The bummer was there was only one of them. Back to Mr. Tomato for the other bag. We are now a whole lot lighter in the sleeping bag department.
The rest of the day was spent procuring bike boxes ($5 each for a used box…ouch), sending home warm clothes that are hopefully not needed ($100…double ouch) and getting all of our things packaged and prepared for our flight (free…just headaches).
We also ran into a cycle tourist from Malaysia. He was touring the same route we started the south island on. Leslie and I let him in on a couple little things and he let us onto a whole lot of things in Southeast Asia. We had dinner with him tonight and enjoyed talking about cycling, bad roads, bad drivers and big Chinese hills. I guess the world isn’t really flat.
We are off to live in the airport for a day tomorrow. We will let you know how that one goes.

Back to the Beginning

Day 104
Blenheim to Picton. To Christchurch on the Train

Time: 2:02:00
Distance: 30.30 k
Avg Speed: 15.1 kph
Terrain: Rolling with a headwind
Location: 43˚ 29’ 34.1” S, 172˚ 37’ 6.3” E

Our last day touring was much like the first few days of touring. We had a few hills and a lot of wind. Unlike the first few days, the wind didn’t bother us. We just put our heads down and pedaled our way toward Picton. I guess I’ve come to realize that there is very little to control; in cycling touring and in life. You just accept what you’ve got at the moment, do your best, and “it will all come out in the wash”.
We completed the circle we started about three weeks ago. The tour of the Marlborough and Nelson was beautiful, as much of our time in New Zealand has been. Once again, we saw and did many different things. This is such an amazing place to be outdoors.
From Picton we rode the train back to Christchurch and our home at the Jailhouse (backpackers). We settled right in and even picked out a movie to watch. I popped the movie in the DVD player and suddenly we had a full house in the tv room. Everyone was really psyched to watch the movie, probably any movie for that matter. Unfortunately, we picked the worst movie in the lot. It was called Sleeping Dogs and was a New Zealand made movie starring Sam Neill. It must have been the flick that got him into Hollywood. I’m sure his looks were key in making the transition to the big time because the acting was not award worthy. Actually, it wasn’t worthy of anything. Anyway, we all clapped at the end and everyone decided we weren’t allowed to pick any more movies. Good thing we’ll be too busy tomorrow packing.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Day 103 Blenheim

Time: 1:31
Distance: 21 km
Avg Speed: 13.something
Terrain: Singletrack

We didn’t get enough singletrack yesterday so we went back out for some more this morning. We ended up riding the same loop and ran into the most interesting guy. We never did catch his name, but he pegged us as being from Colorado and added that he loved to visit there. We talked a little more about bike stuff (hey that’s what bike people do!!) and he said that he really liked the natural history museum in Denver. He said it was neat to see something of your father’s all the way over in Denver. He dropped it at that point, but I just had to know what did his dad have over in D-Town? Evidently his father was a specimen collector for museums and had collected some seals, albatross and penguins on Campbell Island near Antarctica. How cool is that?!?!
I was also a little bookworm today (along with Leslie who was attached to the computer). I would love to say that I have read some classics while we have been traveling, but when your library consists of the book trade at the various backpackers and campgrounds you are really limited. Robert Ludlum and Clive Cussler are huge scores for me. Leslie loves to make fun of Dirk Pitt (Clive Cussler’s featured hero) and his various love interests whilst I am reading. The best exchange was when she asked ‘how Dirk and that Muffelata gal are doing?’ I replied that I wasn’t reading about Dirk Pitt in that book (in fact it wasn’t even a Clive Cussler novel) and that her name wasn’t Muffelata. I can’t remember what her name was now but I do remember that she didn’t die in the end. My favorite genre has been action books for guys. Not real mind expanding stuff, but entertaining to say the least. One of these days I will find something thought provoking and insightful, but until then I will keep adding to my repertoire of thoughtless and entertaining books.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Good Rides and Great Rides

Day 102
Wither Hills Mountain Bike Park
Time: 1:33:43
Distance: 21.0 k
Avg Speed: 13.3kph
Terrain: Singletrack

Today we found some rippin’ singletrack and got to go on a “ride”. It was great. Going for a ride is something that I miss more than I thought I would. Now, I know we ride all the time, but it’s not the same.
With a map in hand, we navigated our way across Blenheim this morning and found ourselves in the parking lot of the Wither Hills Mountain Bike Park. We reviewed the trailhead map and decided to start with the junior loop. There was no need to get in over our heads since we haven’t ridden trails in quite awhile. To start, our bikes aren’t the most streamline rigs for cross country trail riding. Furthermore, we’ve been working on our endurance not our aerobic capacity.
Off we went as Chris led the way. It wasn’t long before we left the junior loop behind and pedaled our way up the intermediate loop. The area reminded us a lot of trails in the metro Denver (Green Mountain) and Fort Collins areas. Dry, grassy hills with tight singletrack - sweet! And to make it even better, there were no snakes. Our friend Diane would love this place.
The mountain bike park sits on 40 hectares of dedicated space within a larger 1100 hectare tract. Walkers and runners have to give way to bikers. You don’t see that at home. Originally used for agriculture, the park is still a working farm so you can say it’s definitely multi-use.
About 35 minutes after we started, we were back at the beginning. We looked at each other in amazement and realized that we’re probably in pretty good shape after all.
Ride on,

Friday, January 04, 2008

Day 101 Blenheim

Backpacker to downtown and back
Time: short
Distance: shorter
Avg Speed: urban assault speed
Terrain: full on traffic

We headed into town to run some errands this afternoon. We had them to do in Christchurch when we returned there, but we had time so we set out. We are in the market for lighter sleeping bags for Australia and Southeast Asia. That item on the list was a total bust, but our second item was a score that exceeded our expectations. We had been looking for a guide book for Southeast Asia which included Thailand. The third bookstore we went into had a Lonely Planet for Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Greater Mekong Region. The greater Mekong includes northern Thailand and the Yunnan Province in China. It was quite a score and what excited Leslie even more was the fact it was published in September. Exciting stuff.
We are now in the process of memorizing it.
I also wanted to talk a little bit about things that make you go hmmm. The first was little tidbit on the news about a study that showed that airlines put even more pollution into the air than previously thought. It is a little disheartening to hear the study, but the part that made you go hmmm, was the reaction from the green party here in New Zealand. The green party is a political party in the government here. They would like to see a cap on incoming flights from far away destinations like North America and Europe. I would like to remind the readers out there that one of the top four industries in New Zealand is tourism. This is a little like cutting off your nose to spite your face. A fellow backpacker from Estonia that was watching the news with us just laughed and wondered how they would get by with no German tourists here. Evidently he has ran into quite a few Germans. I might also add that most of our fellow backpackers, who are not kiwis, work locally at the vineyards. Goodbye fruit pickers. The second item that made you go hmmm was a meal of chicken roll wraps with a $30 bottle of sauvignon blanc. The wine was 3 times more than the meal of leftover tortillas, carrot salad and chicken roll (picture a high end chicken spam). I think that meal was more of an excuse to drink a bottle of really good wine and not look like a total lush. We enjoyed the tortillas to the last crumb and the wine to the last drop! If you are looking for a good sauvignon blanc I would suggest Cloudy Bay or Nautilus from the Marlborough region here.

The Land of Sauvignon Blanc

Day 100
Blenheim to Renwick and Back
Time: 2:25:00
Distance: 31k
Avg Speed: Faster when entering vineyard and slower when leaving
Terrain: Grapes
Location: Marlborough Wine Country

Ah, the wine tour. We tasted our share of sauvignon blancs today. Now we know for sure that we’ve been picking the wrong ones at home. A combination of good draining soils, lots of sun, mild temperatures and rain (in moderation) make wines from this region world renowned. Starting at Cloudy Bay, one of the wine makers in the region, we worked our way in a loop around Marlborough. Nautilus was our favorite for its friendly hosts and because we met a couple from Denver, Colorado. What a small world!
LKPs – Jennie – don’t worry, we’re still not wine snobs!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Potatoes and Eels

Day 99
St. Arnaud to Blenheim
Time: 5:05
Distance: 103 km
Avg Speed: 20.2 kph (that’s right baby!!)
Terrain: trending downhill with a tailwind
Location: 41 30' 06" S, 173 57' 40.3" E

I can now leave NZ complete.
We left Nelson Lakes early this morning. Our goal was to get on the road and get away from the revelers still partying in the campground. I sensed disaster last night as a dozen or so piled into a low-rider pickup to go watch fireworks. A sober mind would have probably decided that it was bad idea, but alas, there wasn’t a sober mind among them. Luckily disaster was avoided due to the battery being dead in the truck. It was at that moment that we had our first vegetable thrown at us. Technically it was a tuber, but I won’t bore you with details. We were in our tent and heard it hit the rain fly. We both jumped out ready to take some names, but the little lushes didn’t want to fess up. I threw the potato away since the longer I held it, the more dastardly things I thought to do with it. We left early before the little arses woke up.
The ride itself was quite quick. We warmed up with a 45 minute climb to the top of the Wairau River Valley. From there we got our tail wind and took off. About an hour and half into it we ran into our first American cycle tourist. He was from Oregon and we all laughed at how if we had ran into each other in Texas we wouldn’t be nearly as infatuated with where we all came from. We all rode together chatting for another hour before Leslie and I needed to take a pit stop for fluids. He was here for a month touring and was heading out tomorrow. It was a nice surprise to talk to someone from home.
We decided that after three nights in an alcohol induced sleeplessness we wanted a backpacker room. We called around and wound up with a ‘small double’ at a nice place on the river. I figured it would be a bed with walls right off the edge of the mattress, but it is a little bigger than that. We ate our dinner overlooking the river and as we were finishing up some other guests walked down there with a chicken carcass on a string. I thought maybe they were baiting a crawfish trap. I headed down to check it out and saw that they were feeding the freshwater eels that are native in NZ. I had been looking for them the whole time we had been here, but I hadn’t seen any yet. These were on the smaller size (ranging from 10” to 24”) and were a little shy. I went and got Leslie and when we went back it was a feeding frenzy with them. It was pretty fun to watch. Voracious little creatures.
I am reading The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux right now. Leslie handed it to me after she finished. In it he points out that he, like us, have “embarked on a fairly aimless enterprise, the lazy indulgence of travel for its own sake.”
I am not sure that ours is “lazy”, but the “aimless” part is pretty spot on. Our aim now is no more vegetables being hurled and getting out of this corner of the earth with our sanity and manners intact.

Happy New Year

Day 98
The Tent to Lakeside Hut and Back
Time: 4:30:00
Distance: 16 k
Avg Speed: Walking
Terrain: Flat

We had a bit of a head start on the New Year. It was a bit anticlimactic since the real partying started yesterday at 4pm. The young group across from us made it but they became more and more disorganized as the night wore on. Chris and I were impressed with their endurance and had a good laugh about our college days. Things change quickly as you get older.
We enjoyed another hike today and followed the east lake to the appropriately named, Lakeside Hut. We covered a lot more ground today walking on flat terrain. The DOC hut was reached at lunchtime and we ducked inside to eat our sandwiches and read the visitor’s book. It’s fun to see where some people come from and laugh at the random comments that other people leave on the pages. While Chris shared the highlights, I found a Christchurch newspaper from the 28th of December. To our delight it had an article about a German woman, Freya Hoffmeister, who has been circumnavigating the South Island of New Zealand in a kayak. If successful, she will be the first woman to do so. We’ve been following this story since we arrived here in October. The journey is 2,500 km and has only been completed three times in the last thirty years. The first successful trip was finished in 1978 by Paul Caffyn.
Just recently we’ve also read about a group of gentlemen who hope to circumnavigate the Canterbury region by paddling, biking and mountaineering. This area is home to the heart of the Southern Alps and Mt Cook. They dreamed up the idea while waiting out a storm on another mountaineering trip. Here is their website:
There is no shortage of adventures and expeditions being undertaken in this country. We’ve actually been following several since we’ve been riding through New Zealand. The national media seems to cover these events quite regularly and it’s refreshing that everything gets a positive spin. In other regions of the world these voyages might be viewed as “extreme”. Unfortunately, it seems that the label “extreme” doesn’t always have a constructive message behind it. Really, I think it’s just human nature to want to explore and it’s a really good way to live a life.

Day 97 Lake Rotoiti to Parachute Rocks (St. Arnaud Range)

Time: 5 hours
Distance: Not Sure, +/- 3000’ gained
Avg Speed: Post 70 km day type of speed
Terrain: Uphill

We decided to hole up for New Years to avoid the roads and make sure we have a place to camp. Kiwis love their New Year’s celebrations. We were able to get a little sleep last night with two earplugs and the neighbors finally passing out. We are in a DOC campsite at Nelson Lake National park on the family side of the campground. The other side of the campground is where the young kids have set up the Tent City of Alcohol.
We got out of dodge this morning for a little hike. Nothing like filling up your water bottles while your fellow campers are already working on a beer while cooking bacon. At least they were eating bacon and eggs with their beer not something nutritious like muesli and yogurt. Leslie and I headed up a nearby track that went up to Parachute Rocks and the St. Arnaud Range. We hiked oh so slowly through red beech, silver beech and mountain beech forests. Our legs felt like they were barely moving, but we needed a little respite from the songs and drinking games. The hike ended for us at Parachute Rocks, which had an awesome view of Lake Rotoiti. The lake is the lowest in a series of lakes that make up the national park. It is also the headwaters to the beautifully braided Buller River. All this water really made me miss fishing. We ate lunch up top and worked our way back down the hill for a little hike along the lake. We got back to camp and decided to go grab an early dinner in town and a little food at the general store. We were able to grab a few rays of sun when we got back before the rain moved in. Leslie and I figured that the rain may quiet the natives a little bit, but it only seemed to make them party harder. I would be surprised if they made it to midnight at the rate they are going, but kiwis are a tough lot. We will be in 2008 tomorrow and hope that our 2008 went as well as our 2007. Happy New Year.