Day 20. Halfway + The Art of Hitchhiking

11:26am

First of all, I’m not sure if you people out there realize how lucky you are when you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night that you don’t have to finagle with your sleeping bag zipper to open, find the draw string to open the top, put on your headlamp, open one zipper of the tent and groggily put on your boots, then take a deep breath and open the outside zipper of your tent to feel the cold rush of air. Try and stand up from a squatting position, turn around and zip one of the zippers closed to keep the bugs out and try and remember where exactly you are and where the toilet is today. Freeze your booty getting and when you’re done, do the same process again…but backward. It’s quite a feat really, then you need to get warmer again. There ya go! Think of that the next time you wake up in the night and go to the bathroom. šŸ™‚

I was awestruck as soon as I got out of my tent as the stars were SO bright! It reminded me of the song by Incubus, Wish you were here.

“I lay my head onto the sand, the sky resembles a back-lit canopy with holes punched in it”. šŸ™‚

It was nice that is wasn’t incredibly windy today. Thought there was no chance of the sun peaking through.

I packed my things from inside the tent, then got my backpack and all things out and took each part of my tent and hung them on the fence to air dry. (Footprint underneath, actual tent, and rain fly). I ate my leftover pasta and chicken standing up and people watching. Ive noticed something. When you get dirty..al the time..you tend to care less about germs / dirt / pickiness / even things you might have been allergic to, it seems your body really doesn’t care at that point. Maybe most of that in your mind anyway? If you were starving I don’t think you would care if the only food available had gluten in it. Also I don’t think your body would care either. Your body is an incredible thing and always seems adapt to the lifestyle you choose. If you live in a germaphobe environment, your mind tells your body to get sick if you don’t sanitize everything. If you live in the woods, your mind really could care less, so I don’t think you would get sick as often..? My opinion of course of things I have noticed camping every day.

Also I guess this is called ‘Glamping’?

There are usually mansion like tents setup in campgrounds, basically if you just put your warm bedroom outside. I would assume it stands for ‘glamorous camping’? I guess if you want a pinch of the wild without actually being in it? I had figured camper vans would be considered glamping. Adam told me otherwise.

I had asked Fiona if there was a post office in town and I guess she had said it was inside the petrol station that I had passed a few times. So I took my bunji jump photos and T-shirt there to mail home. (Heads up mom!) The brown bag they were in was kind of soggy. It was flat in my backpack but the bottom of the bag had a few friction holes worn through. At least the photos were behind plastic.

Head back to the campground and continue to load everything into my backpack. I do the ‘dumby check’ (looking around for a last time to make sure I have everything). UGH. I had packed everything away and somehow forgot the rainfly to my tent on the fence! Sigh. Grabbed it and folded it to put in the top of my pack. Not going to take the core of my backpack out to put it where it belongs with the rest of the tent.

I lobbed my pack on my back, take a deep breath and a short prayer. I will need to do some hitchhiking today. I’m going to take the last 2 peoples advice and just use my thumb and see how that works. I start walking and using my thumb and I start counting the cars thinking it wont be that many. Welll I probably walked 1.5 miles as people drove by every so often. Everyone almost has to go through Queenstown as it’s between me and Wanaka. As I walk.. I start to think…do I face the cars and slowly walk backwards…? Do I smile? I’m thinking that maybe I should get out my cardboard because people have no idea where I’m going. Drop my pack in a driveway on a straightaway from the road so if they wanted to they could see my sign and pull over in plenty of time right in this driveway. Maybe I should have just stayed in Glenorchy and waited for a ride rather than walk out where the speed limit was now raised to 100km (60mph). So I write Queenstown on my piece of cardboard even though I want to head to Wanaka. Sever people had told me that I should go to a ‘Pack-n-Save’ as I guess it is supposedly bigger and better than ‘4-Square’ which had been the main place in Queenstown that Igor and I had gotten groceries. Though thee only. PnS was just past Q-town on the way to Wanaka but I didnt care where it was if I could just get to the much more busy Q-town. Sometimes I walking backwards I made eye contact with the drivers maybe to put more pressure on them..? I have no idea. Lol. For the most part I could hear someone coming and would turn around, but my thumb out and look past the car. Too intimidating me eyeballing the car? Ah well. I now held my sign out and started walking. This was much easier as I didnt have to feel like confronting the drivers or facing them. Odds are if someone was going to Queenstown and perhaps had ever been in my position, would understand and grab me. About 10 minutes later a small car pulled in front of me and a fellow a little younger than me got out and opened the back door of his car. Sebastian was his name. The first time I hitched, I don’t think I really had a chance to understand it. This time I was pretty relieved and kind of jogged to his car a bit ahead. It’s hard to move with any kind of speed with that backpack on. Lay my pack down in the back seat and hop up front.

Sebastian is a fit guy and had just come from Q-town to go to Glenorchy to do a hike and was on his way back. It was like 11am. Really surprised that he came out there (a 40 min drive) and did a hike already and was heading back. He’s German and is known as the world traveler in his family. Sound familiar. He is spending a year in Australia and has traveled for 4 months and is taking a 10 day vacation in NZ. His first time also. He is heading back to Q-town to go skydiving. Sweet! He said the price went up from about $200 at 9,000ft to $300 at 12,000ft to $400 at 15,000ft. Kind of crazy how they gauge people there. The 4 times I have gone it was always at 15,000 ft and around $160 US. Didn’t surprise me they figured a way to make more money on about a second or two of free fall. He had done various jobs in Australia as he is content with learning everything he can. He was a brick layer back in Germany and said that he had always wanted to run his own business flipping houses. He had been staying at the same campground that Igor and I stayed at just below the Gondola. He said he would take me to the shopping center just past Q-town where there was a shopping center and Pack-n-Save. Cool! So he actually passed where he was staying to take me a bit further out of town. He had mentioned that he picked up two other hitchhikers the day before and dropped them off in the exact same place. He said this place should be paying him! Lol It was cloudy, and he said that usually they don’t skydive when it is. I agreed, skydivers don’t like to go through clouds. I think I was told because they cant see through them and there could be anything in them. I hope he got to go! Really cool guy.

People are right, this place is huge. I’m thinking as I walk up to this place…what am I going to do with my backpack..? Wellllll I guess Ill just put it in my cart and wheel it around. Lol. It’s hard to be a person that fits in as you’re pushing around a giant backpack.

This is a new experience.. I now have to think, everything I get I have to carry around. Obviously I need food that I can make stuff with. Everything. Looks good. Guess I’m hungry and most people know that being hungry and going grocery shopping is a bad idea. Soo I get sliced turkey, sliced ham, sliced cheese, and bread that seems to have grains and oats and all sorts of stuff on the outside of it. (Might give me more of a boost?) I get two different kinds of granola bars and fill up a big of scroggin from the do it yourself plastic bins that candy usually comes in. They have a huge variety, and I’m just looking for what has the most energy / protein in it. Ehhhh might as well stick with the original. I get some very small packets of ketchup and look at the mustard. The small bottle is too big, ill never use that much. Only ketchup it is. I try to find a small amount of sand which bags but it seems 30 is the smallest amount I can get. I also want to get some fruit, so I got 4 plums and a pack of those really small bananas. Like a quarter of the size of normal ones. I need to find something I can eat…like now. Instead of a bunch of stuff to make sandwiches. I go to the sliced meat counter and see that they have chicken tenders and chips. (Fat fries) to put in a box. Sure why not. I also got a Twix and a snickers for moral boosters at the end of long hikes. Strange that such small things, like chocolate can lift up your spirits after a long day. I kind of hope that they have tables or something inside so I can discretely make my sandwiches and ditch the bulky boxes. Ummm nope.. The only place I find is a bench outside with a fellow on it. I push my cart up next to him and ask if he minds if I have a seat? He stares at me acting like he doesn’t understand. I just sit down. He says “Sorry man I don’t speak English”. ??? I just say “It’s ok” as I’m sitting down. Didn’t he just…. eh whatever.

This next 20 minutes is the most homeless I have felt in a long time. LOL.

Eating my chicken tenders and fries, a bus pulls up just to my right and lets out a bus load of young people who all kind of stare at me as they walk by. Hahaha

Quite a unique experience. I finish half of the food and open the ziplock bags and put the rest in one. When I originally good food in Toronto, it was all very compact dry meals. I now had fruit and bread and various sliced meats. Sooo I cram as much as I can in the outside zipper pouch and the rest in the top trying now to squish the bread, but know its bound to happen anyway.

I push the cart to the car corral and hoist my backpack out of it. WHOLLY MOLEY this is SO heavy! I can barely lift it with both arms! Is this how heavy it was when I first started?? I get it up onto one of the bars of the coral and quickly turn around to put my arms in the strap holes. UGH.. let us slowly drop onto my back. It’s never as heavy as I think it will be. The backpack helps spread the weight evenly across my back and it definitely helps when I buckle the main strap around my waist to let half of the weight sit on my hips.

I check the GPS and see which direction Wanaka is, cardboard sign in hand (folded inside out and Spelled Wanaka as best as I could) and I head towards the only road out of town heading towards Wanaka. It’s about an hour away and there is another highway about halfway there that goes a different direction. I can safely assume at least a quarter of the people that pass are going to Wanaka or through it. Where I’m dropped off is only 10 minutes away from the airport also. Needless to say this road was pretty busy. I shouldn’t have trouble at all getting a ride. I just kept my backpack on thinking it would be any second now.

Five minutes go by. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty minutes. Thirty five. At this point I have checked the make sure I have spelled the city correctly on my sign 3x and have gone through a new range of emotions. Should I look happy? Sad. Tired. Exhausted. Maybe holding the sign in front of me and smiling a bit. Maybe looking away. Pacing pack and forth? Slightly leaning from one leg to the other. Whistling. I took my back pack off after 40 minutes of not gettin a ride. Alright Lord, I know you have someone in mind, maybe they just left from Glenorchy 5 minutes ago. I’m just waiting for that person. Maybe I had gotten too confident in thinking this would be easy.? One percent of me just wants to order a shuttle or cab and pay the price. That would be the easy way out. It gets to an hour of people driving by and reading my sign with no one stopping. At least I don’t have any plans for the rest of my day. I started standing here at 2:50pm (when the picture was taken). It’s now almost 3:50pm. I’m not really feeling anything really, just neutral and gazing off into space kind of day dreaming. I hadn’t even really noticed that someone pulled up in front of me. YESSSSSSS! It was a younger kiwi and her name was Penny. Hoisted my backpack up and laid it in her backseat and got in the front. So relieved! Thank you thank you thank you! She said she was on her way back to Wanaka where she lived after dropping off two friends in Queenstown I believe..? She has driving the windy mountain pass from there to Wanaka so many times. We got to talking and it seemed she was kind of an adrenaline junky but didnt know it. Haha. She told me stories about her and her friends driving these very tiny, 2 person powerful boats. Her first time she just floored it the entire time and made quite the impression on the boys. She asked me if it scared me the way she was driving around these turns and how she hated the tourists that went so slow as she floored it around each car with a quick flick of her blinker. Nope! It kind of impressed me really. Lol. I could tell she was confident in her driving and wasn’t making stupid decisions. I almost felt like we were in a rally car and I was her navigator! I told that to her and she said she would love to drive a rally car. Yep, same! She mentioned that she wanted to get out of her marketing job and just sell honey from bees. Quite the change though she had only read a book on it, she wanted to give it a go. She had just bought a ‘flat’ a ways away and planned to move soon. (A flat is a house of some sort I believe?) I asked her about recommendations of hikes to do in Wanaka and places to go. I also asked about Pavlova (spelling?), she got excited and said it was amazing but had no idea where they sold it in Wanaka. She said its more of a Christmas / Holiday desert. Mmmkay. I always take note of where I should go from the locals.

I had told her I had no place to stay tonight and asked about campgrounds. She said she would drop me off at one right beside Wanaka where I can literally see the town. We had some good talks and she dropped me off at that campground. Walked inside and said they had plenty of room so I asked for 2 days.

I have been watching the weather since Glenorchy..It doesn’t look good this week… šŸ™

Rain rain rain. I guess Ill have to do a hike or two in the rain… I am told about several good hikes.


Of course the most ones mentioned have been Roy’s Peak and last night Isthmus Peak I was told would be less touristy / popular. Hmm. Also, they are marked as HARD. Sigh. Igor and I know what medium difficulty means…Even thought it says only a 5-6 hour return, I understand that it will take a full day. I was told the last two hours are just a straight stair climber for 2 hours. Am I really ready for that? My thighs could be ready tomorrow. Ill let them know.

I checkout spots where tents are able to setup and try to pick the highest ground assuming rain is coming.

14 minutes later.

I would like to think I’m getting quicker?

I get everything inside my tent and just lay down for a bit. Expending lots of energy hitchhiking I need a boost. I don’t even know what to call it when you need to recharge your introvert batteries.

I decide I should at least do something with the rest of the evening. I decided ill checkout the campground before heading out to see the town. I had a map that he been highlighted where the kitchen and bathrooms were. I see a building that has a pool table inside and assume that is it. I see a sign on the door “Guests staying in lodges only”. I have seen many of these signs at other campgrounds. Like only guests staying at that campground can use their facilities. I walk in and head to the bathroom to take a wiz and walk out and momentarily poke my head into the room sight he pool table and tv just to take a gander. I encounter my first RUDE person so far in NZ. A larger guy with a beard walks in and asks if I’m staying in the campground and where. Just a spot over there in a tent. “Come here I want to show you something”. Hm ok? He walks outside and points at the sign and says “Read it. Seeeee yaaaaaa” and lets the door slam behind him. At first I know I’ve read this sign before…then I read it 2 more times. Click. The people staying in their own lodges have their OWN building and restrooms. Ooooooooo. RUDE. I guess our less than kitchen and bathrooms are a little further. All of the campgrounds I have been to never had them separated by how much the guest was paying. You get the atta boy of the day Wanaka. Feeling kind of annoyed I brush it off and continue walking to find a larger building where lots of people are cooking and making food. This place had a tv and living room area but no pool table. I think I would rather be here than there anyway. I go in and look around taking note of places to sit and electrical outlets and leave.

I walk out of the campground and can see the lake and head towards it. The same Lake Anne-Marie and I walked around in the rain a while back. Still seem just as overcast but none the less a lovely site to see.

I start walking towards town and as I’m walking I look down and see that there are a very long row of…umm rock plates things. I dunno.

All along the side walk had these hardened clay squares that told the highlights of the last 2000 years. Pretty cool.

I decide I would like some ice cream, not much, just a scoop. Find a shop and taste test the plum and cotten candy. Can’t decide which one is best so Ill take 2 scoops. YOLO (You only live once). I hate that acronym but sometimes it works. I wonder around the streets as most places are closed except for the bars and restaurants. I walk into a bar after finishing my ‘eye crem’ as I know that most bartenders should know more about the town than most and its almost like they are expected to talk to you. Lol well I order a beer and try to have a conversation about the city and what to do…girl says a few things things then goes back to washing her dishes. Click. They don’t need to talk to you because they don’t work for tips here. My bad. Everything I learned about bartenders came from my buddy Brian Kaufman when I worked at Hoosier Communications. He was always a go to guy for knowledge and random trivia that he would learn from people. Anyway another bartender arrived and I got some tips on what to do, how hard theses hikes were and where else to go in NZ. I have a few place of my own, but prefer to hear what the locals say. She arrived me not to do Roys Peak because EVERYONE does it. It’s basically 6 hours up and down, a non changing terrain and in the sun if its sunny. She advised me to do Isthmus peak as at least sometimes it went into woods and had basically the same view from the top but it was less popular because its about 30 minutes outside of town where as Roys Peak is right around the corner. Good to know.

Headed back to the campground and to my tent. Of course I wake up in the middle of the night and have to use the bathroom. I know I know, I shouldn’t have liquid so late at night.

Today! I sleep in till a late time of 8am. It’s actually kind of sunny. I know I need to actually make food and spend a chunk of time blogging. I could use a shower as well. I headed to the kitchen to make sandwiches.

I figured I had enough bread and meat for 6 sandwiches. I spread my stuff out on an empty table.

I made one sandwich and put the ketchup on… creative moment…

I figured I will eat my words of happiness and my Joy needs a little work. lol

I’m also charging my drone batteries and both of my power banks.

I look beside me:

I recognize that photo. Slight long exposure to create the blur, and on a tripod. Boom done. Sometimes I wish I had my DSLR. I could take those pictures of the night sky, the Milky Way, and make really long exposure shots. I just cant afford the weight.

Thoughts:

First off all…this is my friend Cottonsoft. He’s pretty quiet and has a dry sense of humor. He usually hangs out at campgrounds and runs out of things to say after so many people take his advice. He loves to clean up messes, and is usually hanging out by himself. Nice guy!

There’s a poster in the kitchen that says, “It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”

How true is that? This life I’m living right now is like living out of a suitcase but the suitcase is quite heavy and you have to carry it on your back. Lol. If you don’t take many journeys I hope that you won’t regret that later in life.

While being happy to be in the present moment, there are still many things that try to crawl under my skin. It’s almost like I have a list of things to do before I can enjoy myself. I constantly fight that and remind myself that I’m in one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been in. Stop looking at my list and look up. The sad key to making time fly by is being busy. Being productive and working towards a goal is one thing, but don’t get weighed down in the lists you have created for everyday.

“Someone’s the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must but take the step.” -IG MotivationalPage

3:36pm!

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