The weather was great for biking. It was slightly overcast but not cold as we climbed slowly out of the Maniototo and towards Hyde. There was a tunnel and a couple of semi adventurous bridges. There was the usual passing parade of jaw dropping scenery. We wheeled into Hyde around 1:15 pm, having covered about 50 km before lunch. This was a pretty impressive feat for two newcomers to the team, Amelia and Megan, who were fairly new to this sort of cycling. We had lunch at Hyde before being picked up by our hosts and taken to Tussock Lodge. We got to this very pleasant country sleepery to find all the luggage piled up and waiting for us except Te Harinui.
I phoned Trail Journeys who were the luggage carriers. They asked the driver and he remembered seeing it but hadn't picked it up. Perhaps the proprietor of the Wedderburn Cottages would know more. They'd phone her and get back to me. Well actually, they didn't. I began to get a bit worried and after an hour or so of calling back with no reply, walking 50-100 metres down the drive every time to get coverage, I thought I'd call Wedderburn myself and looked up their website to get the number.
The webpage was pretty good. It had webcams! With shots updated every half hour. And in one of the shots there was our luggage, with Te Harinui leaning on the top. And in the latest shot, taken only 5 minutes ago in the same spot, our luggage was gone (naturally) but Te Harinui was still leaning against the wall. At least I knew where it was. Nicki, our amazing proprietor at Tussock Lodge gave me her car to go and collect it but only after enjoining me not to go putting any petrol into it. So a 50 km roundtrip later it was safe and sound back where it belonged. I can't quite remember, but I may not have quite acquiesced to all of Nicki's injunctions. I could relax and enjoy the great barbecue the lodge had prepared for us.
The next day, today, I devised a way of fixing the stick to my pack. It was actually no bother, and downhill all the way and with a bit of a tailwind I made it to Middlemarch a few minutes ahead of everyone else.
People keep asking me, "what's the highlight of the trip so far?" and I can't answer because every day there is a highlight. There was another one today. The Taieri Gorge Railway locomotive arrived in Middlemarch right on time at 12:00 noon and to my astonishment there were over 180 of our people on board. A sizable bunch had travelled up from Southland and there were people from all over the diocese. At 1:00 we pulled out and headed for Dunedin and I preached four times. We celebrated Eucharist in 4 carriages, with the services staggered 15 minutes apart. I arrived, spoke, (interrupted at some interesting moments by the commentary on the train's PA system) and moved on to the next carriage. At the last one I was the celebrant. I moved among the people delivering the body and blood of Our Lord as the train swayed and lurched and some of the most spectacular scenery that Otago has to offer rolled past the windows. It was moving in every conceivable way.
We arrived in Dunedin at 3:40 pm. We took a group photo which included most but not all of us rail pilgrims. Clemency drove me home and suddenly I felt tired. Very tired indeed.