May 29th: Spectacular Views

What a day, whoa. It's now 4 pm and I'm drafting this from the beach before I check into my hostel about 1 km away. Today I spun my way through forests and coastlines while on hills and mountains nonetheless.

I woke up at 4:45 to a rainstorm - it had been raining all night. It was a great test of my tent, which I'll give a B. I brought two of my panniers inside and left the other two outside the main tent body but still under the rain fly. The tent wasn't perfectly waterproof and I was a little crammed on space, but it set up quickly (even in the dark) and did the job.

With most of my packs, tent, some clothes, and sleeping bag being a little damp, the added weight was probably around 10 lbs (science fact: a wet 2 lb, 12 oz tent probably actually weighs around 6 lbs). I took off at sunrise and started my venture by walking my bike up a steep slope with no shoulder for a mile and a half. I then rode the rest of the way through Royal National Park, which I found out is the second oldest national park in the world! Didn't expect that at all. It was all forested so not a lot of sunlight to dry my stuff. I rode with a 50s-ish couple for a few miles; the human interaction was nice and they were really kind. I was in the park for about 25 miles and was starting to feel a little dreary when everything suddenly opened up and I was at the top of a huge cliff overlooking the shore! It was easily the most uplifting and emotional event so far. I paused a bit at the overlook, ate a celebratory half avocado, and took photos. An old Asian woman with a tour group took a bunch of pictures of me, hah.

Next, I headed down the coast (really, hardly ever losing sight of it) through a bunch of little surf towns. I stopped in one and took a nap in a park, stopped in another and had what was perhaps the most delicious and rewarding hamburger of my entire LIFE. It was at a little diner across from the beach. The burger had, if I recall correctly: patty, bbq sauce, Australian bacon (basically ham), pineapple, beets, and lettuce. There might've even been more ingredients - I didn't find the pineapple til halfway through - but I was pretty focused on destroying it quickly for the calories. The staff was super nice - they even let me fill my water bottles and charge my phone.

I kept going with the destination of wollongong or a little further in mind. I felt a shower would be fantastic so I found a youth hostel in wollongong. I came to a dilemma when I began to really get in the groove around 3:30, pushing 15 mph up and downhill (I think the burger had hit my system). I could've either made the short trek and found my hostel early or kept pressing on and hope there would be a place to stay within the next couple of towns. My knee was acting up a little so I decided to go for wollongong but took the extra time to sit by a beach. I spotted a lighthouse across the bay and couldn't pass it up. I sat out there for about an hour taking pictures and trying to comprehend the divine beauty of the site - out on a little peninsula, beach on both sides, harbor in the middle, and mountain range with sunset in the background.

Everything today was very picturesque, very surreal, and I couldn't have taken enough pictures. Very little traffic, too - the most i saw was either around 7 am through the park or 4 pm coming into wollongong.

I'm in my hostel now, going to find some groceries and make dinner. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings... Hopefully as smooth and rewarding a ride as today's! Legs are sore but spirits are high, sights are set on Melbourne asap!


PS phone service is awful and internet costs... What is this, 2003? Dunno whether to blame it on Australia's show tech environment or hostels finding ways to monetize everything. Hence, I'll post more pictures later.

PPS I meant to post this last night from my bed but I think I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. It's 6 am now, I'm up, and the rest of the hostel (including my three roommates) is still sleeping. I'll try to pack up without waking everyone else and get outta here by 8.

Today's stats:
Total distance: 40.39 mi
Time: 3 hours 55 mins
Avg speed: 10.31 mph
Max speed: 38.49 mph

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