Day 32. Swells and Rapids

11:35pm.

Today is for Diane Olwin. She was the CFO for Saint Anne Home in Fort Wayne, Indiana for many years. Her main priority was caring for and having relationships with the elderly. Just listening to my mom talk about things at work for so many years I could tell that Diane was a very sweet person. All the residents were very well cared for and I think its because Diane used her power at the top to essentially care for everyone beneath her.. like a clean waterfall at the peak of the mountain. As it comes down, people drink of it, and because of its purity are happy and healthy. What kind of waterfall at the top, determines the healthy the people will be below. My Mom and Diane respected each other very much and since Diane leaving, have become good friends. Thank you Diane for taking care of the residents and especially keeping my mom happy for so many years. 🙂

Blog:

I had been woken up several times by Christoph below me. He rolled into the bedroom about midnight or 1am. Team said he usually snored and she said about 5-5:30am she would always wake up because of it. I guess he had lived in that room longer than she had! So I got dropped into these two persons bedroom. It was interesting asking her if she and him would say…’well…whose gonna stay in the extra bed tonight…?’ Being a hostel one would think that the bed would filled with random strangers each night and it would be kind of unique to see and hear stories from each person. It’s not like many people are actually from here anyway. People are always ‘on holiday.’ (Vacation) Or coming from some other country. She had taken most of the room with her stuff. The desk had 4 drawers and there was a cabinet where I found a coat hanger that she didnt know was available for me. Lol. Quite an interesting situation.

I had a shower and packed up my stuff again. I put my backpack and everything else outside of the room so I could return my key and linens to be washed. Found Matt in the dining room talking with a woman and after i dropped off my stuff I waited for a break in the conversation to ask him if there was enough room for team to come with us for the day. “No, I barely have enough room for you and your backpack”. Sigh. Ah well I guess. Came back to the room. I got good news and bad news! Good news…the sun is shining!! Bad news…he doesn’t have enough room to take you with us. We both were a little disappointed, as she put on her shoes. She figured she would just head some place on her scooter and explore. I said my farewell to both of them and grabbed my backpack. I met up with Matt in the dining room and we headed to the van. He opened the side door. Oh yea…he was definitely right. There was barely any room at all! Even though it was a van, and was supposed to carry 4 people and their stuff..there was no way. He had the back seats down to put his mattress on. I put my backpack on to of that but out of the way so he could still see out the back window. Unless she could have turned into a small suitcase, there wasn’t any room in the back. Moving the passenger seat back a bit it was a decent fit for just me to get in up there.

We needed to get gas, so I went inside to get a drink. Ive always wanted to try these..meat pies..? So I got a steak and cheese one and an egg and ham one. They weren’t to bad really. I never liked pot pies and these kind of looked like them. I probably didn’t like pot pies because they tend to come with a lot of peas. I’m not a fan. Anyway..besides being super flaky, they were pretty good.

Matt made sure to ask me if I was in any hurry or not because he had just been stopping wherever he wanted to, to hope out and take pictures or check out beaches. Nope, I’m totally game for that. I had wanted to see and do as much as possible on the way to Auckland anyway.

So as we are driving.. (its about an hour and a half – two hour drive) we see the tops of some huge waves as they spray off into the sky. We pull over to check it out..

Amazing beach…not the type you want to sit or lay on..but a very cool one.

We stop at 1 or 2 more places, not picture worthy.

I say, photo!:

I am under the impression that I can do everything I want from this next town. Go kayaking, see Hobbiton, sit in hot natural springs, get to Auckland in a couple hours. Ill figure out later..that’s not exactly the case. He wants to know where to drop me off in Taupo so he can continue up to Rotorua. He mentioned renting a mountain bike and cruising around. Sounded fun to me, but I had in my head I would hang in this town till I had to head to Auckland. I was looking up campsites while looking up the distances of each site to some hot thermal springs. Found this place that only cost $10 more than a normal campground but they had a huge outdoors heated pool, swim up service, they even played movies on a big screen in this pool. All outdoors. Ok so this place was $35 / night. Actually for everything they offered in the states it would be at least $150 a night. Illll take it. He dropped me off there and we said our goodbyes and he headed off and I headed inside to get a tent site. There were a lot open so I had my option of one. I picked my lucky number…camp site 13. She had said that at 2pm there was going to be some kind of fire drill that they would have to evacuate everyone for a bit outside of the camps ground. It was 12:30pm. I had enough time to setup my tent and go find something to do for a while.

My new home:

I went back to the office to ask some touristy questions..

1st of all.. No shuttles run from here to hobbiton. Instead they run from Rotorua.

2nd. I was told kayaking here wasn’t that great. You would just paddle along flat water and stare at stone carvings in a rock wall. (They had pamphlets of everything to do on the wall)

3rd. The larger and better hot springs is on the way to Rotorua as well. There was one here that she said I could go check out, and I had been told there was some cool waterfall a little bit of a hike away. I located both on the map and decided I would check out this thermal stream and that waterfall.

4th. Besides being the hub for buses..this town doesn’t have a ton to do that’s on my to do list. Soooo I figured I would stay the night instead of the rest of my time here and hitch to Rotorua and stop a few places on the way. The new plan.

It’s like 10 minutes before the fire evac..so I take off with my smaller backpack. I have snacks and a liter of water. Looking at my map I walk about 20 minutes past two streets and turn into a park where they have walking / hiking paths to get to this stream and the Huka Falls.

It’s about a 2 hour hike from the campground to the falls.

I missed these kinds of views and the hike through the woods was a really nice one. Rolling hills that I would have struggled with before..but I could feel my leg muscles tell me…ehh this isn’t a problem now. Lol

That last picture had an Indiana Jones feel to it. Lol

I come to what I guess is the thermal spring:

It was like a busy beach, but only right in that area! People with swim suits and bikinis on, in the creek and laying out on the ground sunbathing.

I didnt want to seem like a creeper, so as I got closer I didnt take anymore photos. But under the bridge there was like 20 people sitting in this hot spring. I took more pictures on the way back. There wasn’t exactly a good place to reach down and put my hand in either. Eh. Ill do it when I come back this way.

First of all..look how clear that putty water isss. Second..you can see sunbathers in the top left of the pic.

I keep hiking..up and down..around..up and down.

Isn’t it a gorgeous day!?

Finally I can hear the roar of the waterfall..

One way…and the other way.

It’s crazy how fast and how powerful, that water looks. I had imagined someone trying to get through their on a kayak, and one wrong move could mean disaster.. TONS of weight smashing into the walls and into itself.

Like an idiot..I kept trying to take selfies with the waterfall rather than asking someone. A girl asked if she could take my picture…uhh yeaaaaa lol

Contemplated going another 2 hours to see this dam that opens every few hours to flood a small canyon..but it was already 4pm. It would have taken me till 6pm to get there then a 4 hour hike back. Nah. I sat down to have some snacks n H20 before heading back to the campground. I bought some interesting beef jerky when I couldn’t find any, I wanted to try New Zealand brand:

I didn’t expect it to be in a plastic bag with liquid inside…It honestly was better than most beef jerky because usually the jerky is dry and stiff and this was moist. This little package satisfied my hunger for quite a while!

Heading back..this was the bridge I was standing on. To get the pictures over top the water.. you ca see how many people there were battling for photo opportunities:

On my way back I took a few more pics..Also..I cant get over how big some of these plants are..

If you look at the tree picture…look at the water. It’s so clear! There was no muddy / swampiness about anything there. I felt like I could just drink out of the water. In the picture, you cant even really tell that the rocks are under water. Lol

You can see in this zoomed up photo that they have long white poles to grab onto in case you get swept away. It wouldn’t be good if you headed towards those falls for sure..

More clear water!

Aaaaand I just liked this picture..

So I come back to the hot spring..I put my hand in the water just past where the people are crowded around. It’s like hot tub water! This really baffles my brain. Never have I ever felt water coming from the ground be this warm…like..in nature!

I took a few videos but here’s a picture of the hot spring:

It just looks normal doesn’t it? In my video you can see it steaming.

It’s just crazy.. There were tons of people still in and around it, even if I did have my bathing suit I wouldn’t want to squeeze in. Ill see if i can do that tomorrow at the ‘better one’. The people at the desk said this one wasn’t that great but I should go take a look at it.

I made the hour and a half trek back to the campground. I was kind of excited that the outdoor hot tub movie theater thing was still open. I saw a sign that said it stayed open till 10pm but the pool closed at 8. Impressive that it stays open so long! I think I had in my head that I wanted to sit in a hot water spring, but this would be just as good if I couldn’t have that.

There are 3 spots where its like hot tub water..you go away from those and its still pretty warm! Neat-o. The cave in the back there is also a hot cave. It deep so only adults and supervised kids could go in.

There is a bar and bar stools in the water. I asked for a menu but sitting up on a bar stool was so cold! It was semi windy. Inside the cave, it had wanna be glow worms hanging from the ceiling.

I have a waterproof phone case…buuut I don’t really want to test it by dunking it..so I just swim with one arm out of the water. I’m sure family has seen me do the one arm swim before…

Lol I liked how my body was green while my face stayed the same color..

They were playing kids movies, but it was ok. Something to watch. I got in half way through some nanny movie..she has powers and one large tooth. You would know if you saw it. The second movie was Alvin and the Chipmunks. I got out at 8 but it was going to play till 10. I think I waited so long because I REALLY didnt want to get out and get cold! I would have to go all the way back to my tent to get dry clothes.

Finally got out and froze for 15 minutes. Doesn’t help that my towel is one of those super absorbent ones that dry quick but aren’t the warmest..

I like the shape on the water in the last photo.

I knew I had a bit of blogging so I didnt want to sit there till the end of the movie even though it was verrry relaxing. The hot water wasn’t too hot either..it was the prefect temp to sit for hours.

Anyway, here I am in the kitchen blogging.

I figure tomorrow Ill get up and out of here..hitch and go. To the ‘real’ hot springs and see how much time I have to get there or go kayaking or…who knows!

Thoughts:

It’s pretty interesting when you realize that everyone is broken. We are all going through our own issues and we all need help. Whether we want to admit it or not. Having a person who will sit and listen and actually care about your problems is tough to come by. When we are feeling down..We can be that person to someone else and in turn, the healing helps both people. It’s like when you teach something to someone, you engrain that knowledge even more into yourself and you learn so much faster. It’s kind of like helping people. If you want to feel better about yourself, help someone else feel better about their self.

I like this quote:

1:25am

Day 31 Back to the…black sand beach

9:06pm. Two days to catch up on. Let’s do dis.

Little did I know but there was another cyclone headed just North of where we were but were expecting to get a ton of rain and wind. Decided a hostel was in my best interest as being blow around in a tent is no fun.

Hop out of the bus… yeaaaa I could get used to this:

It’s about a 15 minute walk to where the hostel is. Yep. Ocean front. Pretty cool! As the sun starts to go down. I head to the beach to get a little photo sunset action, which is is where these 2 came from:

I do love my beaches..

I head to the hostel and its a relatively old place. The doors to the rooms use old metal keys, and I am assigned to room 19. Alright. I make my way through this windy hallway huge extended house building. I’m upstairs tickets about in the far back. Open the door. Greeted by a mid forties tattooed guy, (Matt) and a 19 year old German girl (She says all the English speaking people butcher her name. It’s Laura. Except she says there is in ‘ha’ or a tongue roll in the middle. Ok Luarraraaaarara) There are two beds left. There is the bunk bed under Matt or another bed on the side of the room. Laura is on another bed on a different wall. I chose the far bed till I realized that was the only wall without power.. Laura, “That’s why I switched beds!” …and I will be switching as well!

They kept talking about colleges vs universities, but I is hungary. I go..in search of. I take my key with the front door code and walk out the front. Walk down some deserted streets with lots of stores that are closed for the day.

I finally find a Thai food place that closes in half an hour. It’s 9pm. I wanted to get it to eat there but she already confirmed I was getting ‘take away’. It’s never ‘to go’ in NZ. There’s your NZ tip for the day.

I got a super cheap chicken and vegetables with rice and took it back to the hostel to eat in their dining room.

All these hostels are pretty well organized. They had cubby holes for each room so you could put non refrigerated food in your cubby. For the refrigerated food, they had a roll of green stickers and a pen that dangled in front so no one could steal it. You had to put the date you were leaving and your name and your room number. They would go through and throw anything away that was out of date. They also usually have kitchens with pots and pans and dishes and silverware handy in case you don’t have any. You would of course have to wash them after you used them and put them back. Also had a few small vending machines with chocolate bars, chips, and pop. (Soda) I only eat half and figure ill eat it for breakfast. Head back up to my room, and the lights were out but they were both on their iPads / phones. Being quiet unfolded the provided sheet, pillow case for my pillow, and comforter. Plugged all my devices in and went to sleep. It’s so amazing sleeping in a real bed. A warm. Soft. Bed. Matt told us both that he was a big snorer so hope we didnt mind. He had breathe right strips and everything he could do, to not snore. I crammed my ear plugs deep into my brain and barely heard he relatively soft snoring. Those strips helped quite a bit actually.

I didnt really have a plan for the following day..I was told this storm was going to be pretty bad. Matt had also said that his wife wanted him to stay in a hostel that night. He had his own tatoo shop and had ran it for 25 years. Very intelligent guy and knows a lot more than just how to tatoo someone. He had a ton of projects to do and between his wife and him, he needed to get away / check out some of the tatoo places in NZ. I told him my plan was to get west and head towards Auckland as soon as the weather cleared up. He said he could take me to Taupo because he was heading back that way anyway. Lol…exactly where I wanted to go. Anywho, I figured I would stay an extra night so I didnt have to hitch in this horrible storm, plusss he said he could take me in his rented van if I did stay another night. Sounds like a no brainer to me.

The next morning I was expecting huge tornado wind and rain..but it was actually pretty calm and sunny. Eh it will hit later I was told. I head down to the main desk and ask for another night. Welll I cant stay in 19 because 3 other people were booked there for the next night but I could move to 25. He gave me another key and said I could move there now if I wanted to. Booo. I had just gotten attached to that room. Also what would that mean for Matt taking me? I had told him about my plans for the day… that same couple that told me about the bus also said if I stay in Napier (where I was) that there was a place called, ‘Mr D’s’. He said they gave you a normal doughnut but you could order various syringes to fill your doughnut with. Lol. Sounded like a cool idea! I had said I would do that, and he said he wanted to check out the NZ Aquarium. That sounded like fun too. So we just hung out for the day. Went check out Mr D’s first. I had seen it the night prior when roaming around to find food. Ten min walk. The aquarium was a ten minute walk the opposite direction of the hostel.

Menu of Mr D’s:

I decide to get an adult syringe. I added Honey Vodka Jelly, because…why not. Normal jelly’s were boring.

Coffee:

Matt taking his own coffee pic:

The next photos… are the injection process…

We were told to inject in multiple places to fill the doughnut a bit more.

It was a ton of sugar!! But tasted pretty good! Very hot inside, but my jelly didn’t taste much like vodka. Probably a good thing. There was a small hint of heat that I figured was from the tiny amount of vodka they included. Cool experience, weird I have never heard of that being done before.

We left and headed towards the aquarium. We stopped like 2 blocks away when we saw a museum that was freeee. Why not? We walked in and grabbed 2 clipboards that you could check off if you have seen any of the art pieces.

We found them all but the bottom right one. Those punks, removed that art piece so we never would have found it. Ugh!

I was also told by that couple that this was the only museum that they had heard of that celebrated / actually had a museum for an earthquake. Yep..they were right.

They also had a cool room upstairs that had projectors and they were projecting 2D 3D ish stuff. Like those pictures that you could walk by and the picture would shift and slightly move as you went by. Hard to explain. Neat tho.

We checked everything off our list and left. We both made the decision to walk close / on the beach. It was a really cool small black stone beach..

Every time the waves would come in…a they would go back out you could hear all the small pebbles hitting each other. Thousands of small rocks rolling around, it almost sounds like the waves. All the rocks, big and small were so smooth! Many perfect skipping stones.

I took this picture in a small pond. I flipped it upside down to trick yer brain. 🙂

You can see all the rocks..

They also had cool…what’s the word…structures..? Along the boardwalk. I assume this was supposed to resemble whale bones?

We finally make it to the aquarium. Lady says we are just in time for the penguins to bed fed, then at 2pm the sharks are gonna get fed. Kewlllll.

Ill blob a few chunks of pictures..

Saw some big turtle turtles tooo. Actually I saw a lot of aminals.

A friendly reminder!

Lol. A US ad…

Time….for….da…..sharksss..

Just kidding..

Alligator. Piranha. Gold fish. That was an action shot of the gator gettin his grub.

So there is also this huge half circle tunnel that people could walk through under the aquarium. One side had a continue moving walkway so people didnt just hard up and sit there. I was impressed with the thickness of the acrylic that was needed to create this tunnel.

We were supposed to sit in a viewing area while the sharks were fed, but it seemed like a scuba diver went down and only fed the fish and sharks above the ‘travelator’. Blah. So as 100 people had there phones on one side recording the scuba guy feeding the fish / sharks on the other..I would just take a knee on the moving sidewalk and record as I went by. I did two loops. It lost its excitement after that.

We had spent like 2 hours in the aquarium and wanted to use our 10% off coffee coupons which were on our provided maps. There was a nice little cafe in the aquarium with a shop to buy the usual random aquarium stuffs.

We both had coffee and I had a sandwich and a yogurt parfait type thing. You should know by now I’m a sucker for fruit.

We didnt really want to head back, so we meandered along the beach again..looking for seashell / sea glass / driftwood. Just scavenging for random artifacts.

You can see the storm clouds rolling in..it was about 3:41pm and still no wind or rain..hm.

I took this picture..then thought I wanted to be on top of the cement thing…coffee in hand.

Thanks to Matt for being my tripod.

We head to towards a small artsy shop when Matt wants to stop in and get something. He said he always hated it when a person would come in his store and say “Man this is a cool place!” Then walk out without buying anything. He said the day before he did the exact same thing he hated when he went to that store, so he felt like he had to redeem himself today. Lol. He just got a small card. He explained he needed more small things to sell instead of several hundred dollar pictures and tats. More knick nacs!

We just decided to keep wondering. Fifteen minutes later we decided to get a beer, just sit and relax. We talked about a lot of stuff. Like I said earlier, he knows about much more than just tattooing. He understands technology like I do, and always wants to come up with better and faster ways to do things. Except his motivation is along the lines of…how can this make me money. I just have a bunch of ideas right now but not much traction. Ill have to change that soon. We ended up sitting there and slowly drinking 3 beers a piece. We kept eyeballing the Mexican place across the street whose name was “Mexican with a Mission”. We really wanted to know what the mission was lol. We ended up eating there. And I guess for every order they give food to …people that need it in another country I think?

It was kind of a not as good chipotle..

I have also never had black rice?

It just tasted more authentic and had more Spanish flavor to it. It was pretty good after a few beers anyway.

We headed back t the hostel and said we would just meet in the dining room in the morning to head out.

I forgot to mention I moved my stuff into the new room and got hit with a blast of B.O. Three beds. Two of those beds are bunk beds and one is against the front window wall of the hostel. Christoph was his name. Guess he didn’t like to shower much? Said hello to him and left with Matt that morning.

Anyway I come back and he isn’t there but another girl is on her phone in the front bed. I chose the top bunk since there were clothes and such on that bed. I brush my teeth and hop up to lay in my bed and figure ill blog a bit. Or not. She gets off the phone and we start talking. If you ever find that I’m late on post the blog or a day late, its because I prioritize talking with new people and making new friends over typing about the things that have already passed. I know many of you read before bed or on a regular basis, so I apologize! But I’m living life at the same time! Lol Needless to say I didn’t have time to blog last night. Anywho..she is 25 from Slovakia. Never would have guessed. Her namer is very hard to pronounce so I have been approved to call her…Team. Maybe that’s not even right. I dunno. So I guess she had been woofing for a while (working on farm stuff for money) and needed to work for 3 months before she could go anywhere else. Sooo she had been in that town for 2.5 months in that same room. Lol. She was bored to tears. She works like 7-7 then has enough time to. Come home and eat and shower then back to her room. Miserable! So she on her bed and me speaking from the top bunk with only the light coming in the front window we just talk about stuff. She is the first person who I have asked what her favorite movie was and it was the same as mine! Lol. Into the Wild. Pretty crazy. She really would like to be a snowboard instructor and teach snowboarding on different continents. Not a bad goal! I do love a good snowboarding session. She’s a pretty adventurous laid back girl. I had asked her if she wanted to come with us to. Lake Taupo for the day if Matt had enough room in his van. It was her day off, so she approved of the idea and said she would just hitchhike back if she came. Coooool.

Thoughts:

It’s kind of sad, that there isn’t a ton of hiking to do before my time runs out. I feel like i had a solid 2 weeks of hard hikes.

…if it weren’t for his Matts wife and himself not wanting him to sleep in his car (because that’s what he always did) he wouldn’t have been at the hostel. If it weren’t for me choosing to stay another day because of that same storm, I wouldn’t have gotten a ride from him.

Oh yea….that storm… After we got Mexican food..it rained. Not that bad. Not that windy. A lady at the aquarium said it looked like the storm had broken up around us… hmm.

I feel like in my case…God can see what’s ahead of me and I cant. He will provide the path and the way…but he says..hold on..stay there…oook..Go! Stop here.

So many people will never get that experience. Totally letting go of control is extremely challenging especially for those that really want to control everything themselves. You feel better about planning and making your paths and appointments yourself. Me saying…It’s going to work out.. This trip has concreted that for me. Everything has just fallen into place.. When you look back, you will see the same thing. Chance and coincidence get thrown out the window with how many ‘random’ things happen for my best interest.

Everyone likes to feel comfortable. Heck..I’m looking forward to sleeping in a bed every night and have running hot water at my fingertips and be able to go to the fridge and eat anything I want and…. I don’t have to carry it on my back…??

But so many dont have these opportunity’s…to go back to a better life. This is their life. I hope I have blessed many people along my path..I know for a fact many people have blessed me with or without knowing it.

11:20pm

Day 30. Which way which way which way

12:02pm Sunday blogging about yesterday. (While doing laundry) (and eating)

I woke up yesterday of course to rain. It seems to happen 90% of mornings. I lay there for a bit thinking about my game plan for the day. I guess I didnt realize it was almost 9am and I need to be out by 10am. They don’t usually strictly enforce it, but its kind of a nice motivation also to get out of there asap. The longer I sit there, the less travel time I have. I eat some quick snacks in my tent and hop out to brush my teeth. Hmmm

A handful of chickens are just hanging out.. alright. I just put that in the category of when I arrived and there was a goat and a pony tied up. I pack up my pretty wet tent. There is no wind, not just where I am, but anywhere and its cloudy. No sun. I try and put the tent cover and tent on some bushes but after 15 minutes, they are barely any more dry than before. I shake them really good and pack them up still wet. Blah! No time to blog, its 9:44am. Next to me are two empty campers. Reminds me of into the wild type campers. Lol. Or maybe it’s because its my favorite movie..?

Or any scary movie set based in a motel:

And the goat and pony again.

I see a horse in the distance that looks like he could be ridden by a knight with his head covering. Lol

On my way! I locate the nearest bus stop as it would take me an hour to walk back into town. I hangout with a young German fellow named Robin. We just talk about how long we are in NZ for and the best places we have seen. He is staying with a family that has put him up here. I think he had 2 months here and had one month left. Probably wrong. He was headed into town to meet some friends to eat. I figure ill head to the train station to see where its going and if I have time the town is basically right next to the station. He hops off at a McDonalds stop (of course there’s a donalds) and I hop off at the train station. I got to open the front door and its locked. I try the other door. Locked. ? I see a notice on the door “open mon-fri, CLOSED Sat and Sunday” Noooooooooahhh. They have all the train pamphlets inside. I make quick work and find the route on my phone. People are still coming and going on the trains and busses, just the office isn’t open. What’s crazy is that yesterday I didnt realize this town was the second to last stop the train made! Ohhh greeeeat. I had in my mind I would take this train further north. Guess snot… Welp…. I’m hungry. Ill figure this out while I eat.

I walk around the close town and my brain is spinning… I find a place that serves breakfast at 11am and its ran by Chinese people. Interesting, they have a bakery, and kind of a kfc inside where you can grab your own chicken in Chinese buffet kind of environment setting.

I get some eggs and bacon and toast and grab a power aid. I need to figure this out…

Blue is highway one..which goes right up where I wanted to go and was the biggest highway. I ended up taking the train on my red line and that stopped at the Upper Hut. I either had to take highway 2 out of here (where obviously i did because of the blue dot) or I backtrack to Wellington.. I was looking at roads that cut up Tararua Forest park which I would have to hitchhike and I assumed barely any cars would be going through there. Highway 2 looked like it was going kind of far out of the way though….

Which way…which way…which way….

This restaurant place only accepted cash, it was a good job that I had a little bit left. I needed to find another Westpac ATM to get a little more. I located the nearest ATM and decided I would hitch up highway 2 and hit the east coast then double back.

The new game plan..which I was pretty anxious and a bit worried about this morning. I prayed a bit about and felt at peace with the new direction. Now… I needed to hike to highway 2 and get a lift. ‘As far up 2 as you can take me’ is what I would tell the drivers. Hit the ATM and started to hike. It would be about a 30-45 min hike to just get to the highway.

I finally make it to highway 2 and of course the cars are going by really fast…there’s no chance I could be picked up here. I would have to go down the road further to a smaller town or gas station or something where the cars were going slower. I crossed the road and went down onto a biking / walking path to stay off the highway.

It was noon and I hadn’t really gotten anywhere.. It was party cloudy but warm. I was only sweating a little bit, but just hiking along side a road on not up a mountain seemed so slow. I had thought about my Hope Ride where at least I could be riding a bike…BUT in this case I could hitch hike..

I probably walked for a solid hour after hitting the highway initially. It was kind of a nice walk alongside a river though..

I cross the bridge and spot a gas station ahead. Cool, and a nice area behind a tree where the people would be going slow enough to think about it, and pull over. I dropped my backpack and leaned it against the tree. I had my thumb out for about 5 minutes and figured I should make a sign. I get out my cardboard and am digging for the marker when I hear a voice, “Where ya headed?”. I look up to see a young girl in a car at the gas station behind me. I jog over.. “as far up 2 as you can take me!” She said she isn’t going too far but I could hop in. I mean any further at all, is progress! Nice! I put my pack in the back of her car. I told her I was about to get out my sign but she had seen my thumb in the first 5 minutes I had it out. Her name was Max. She was born in NZ but had spent most of her life in the US studying Computer Science in Seattle, Washington. Niceee, I told her how easy it was for programmers to get jobs. She is back in NZ for a while now…several months she has lived with family, but today is her first day going out on her own in NZ. She said “you can only stay with family for so long before you need out!” So she had planned to head to Rivendell to camp for a night or two (LOTR Reference) and was going tot take the ferry to the South Island and find work for a place and take time off to travel more. ‘Woofing’ they call it. Working on a farm in exchange for a place to stay and food. It’s pretty well known out here. It’s almost 20 minutes up the road, and I say I woooould like to checkout one of the filming locations for LOTR. It depended how far out of my way it was I guess..? She sees the sign for Rivendell and pulls in. We go through a campground and check out an information booth. It was a few minutes drive to get there and downhill…so if I hiked out I would have to walk back up and out of there. She said she could drop me off if I wanted to.

Cooooool! There are a few short hikes to checkout these filming locations. Yea, I’ll join you for a bit! It was 1pm. Meh. I said I wanted to check out some things on the way to Auckland. We see a hike that says LOTR filming location and its only a 10 minute loop.

Yasssssss! The little nerd in me is jumping around again. She is a big LOTRs fan also. Which is why she wanted to come to this location. I had told her that I had got 2 of the actual rings from the movie in my backpack. One for me and one for a friend. We found our common interest.

We walked a little further..and saw a group of people gathered around someone talking. It looked to be a guided tour?

She was holding up pictures from the movie and standing in the same spots as the film was located. “So this tree here is famous!” Lol

We kind of awkward stood close to the group and listened. It was nice gettin ya little more info about where we were. We slowly followed them to the next spot they were talking about ands he held up a picture and said that she figured most of us had seen it.

She wanted to know if anyone wanted to put on this claim and take this bow and arrow and pose like the picture.. oooo boyyy… There was about 8 people in the group and one girl said she wanted to pretty quickly and while her family took photos is scooted close to the person giving the tour and asked if it was a paid tour? She said was. Ummmmmm yea…. sooooo would you mind if we used those props REALLY quickly to take photos too? “Sure!” I looked at max before I asked…I said i reallyyyy wanted to do it. She was like ehhhhhh. After I asked…she thought it was an amazing idea since she told us we could. Epic idea! ….plus we didnt have to pay for the tour! Heh….As we were handed the cloak and bow..one of the fathers said “Oooo we got some party crashers!” Lol uhhhh Yeaa..just for this photo. Max didnt even hear him.

WOOOOO! Which one is me??? Lol niceeeeee

I took Max’s picture and we kind of got out of there fast because they were onto us! Lol. The next stop was a replica of the cement arches in the movie.

Noiceeeeee!

And that was the entire ‘Rivendell’ LOTR track. Ten minutes walk but it brought in a ton of tourists. Like us. The rest of the campground was hikes through he woods, suspension bridges, and lush forest. I said we could go on some more walks it would be ok. There was a 30 minute track and an hour track and a 3 hour track. We did the 30 min and the hour one.

It was about 2ish now and I should be moving on. She dropped me off at the entrance and we said our goodbyes. She said she felt bad that this location for hitching was not as good as the one I had before. It’s ok, I said. It always works out. Grabbed my bye pack and started assessing the hitch spot. Ehh It was on a curve and the speed limit seas too high. I had a do a a little more hiking to get to more of a straight road portion. I get to a T in the road and once again I put my backpack down. Something very odd….I be had at least 5 drivers go by me and point to the other side of the rode as they drove past. NO IDEA what that means. Were they trying to say I would pick you up but I’m turning ahead? Or you shouldn’t be there? Or you should be on the other side of the road? Lol i know which way I’m going, the other side would make no sense. I was googling it with no help. I did pick up some more tips on hitchhiking though. If you wore bright colors instead of dark colors you seem nicer? No blacks or browns or grays. I look down at my shirt….black…It was pretty warm out but I put on my blue jacket anyway. “Always face the direction of traffic so the person picking you up has time to assess your personality and decide”. “Never sit down and try to hitch, no one likes to pick up a lazy hitchhiker”. “Try and lay your backpack down as to disguise its bulk”. Lol I slide my backpack behind me up against a white small pole.. “Be interesting, but not too interesting.” Uhhh ok. And other tips that were mainly common sense. So where I was at was a poor place to hitchhike. People could see me coming across a bridge but they were going pretty fast. I had a turn in front of me Incase someone really wanted to grab me. I think I waited for 45 minutes with my thumb out..I had looked at my gps and the corner past me I saw no better place to be. A couple that was turning right there said they weren’t going too far and I agreed amy place was better than here. They said they were just heading to a coffee shop. I handed them a card and told them a brief explanation of why I’m hiking. They drove almost 3 minutes around the bend ahead and said “oooo nooo we are sorry we didnt realize the coffee shop was soo close!” Meh its fine, a better place that before. But after hearing my story…They decided that they could take me to the next town where it would be easier to hitch out of. Very nice of them! They were both from Ireland but their names escape me. They had been traveling and working in NZ for while and were in the process of looking for jobs. I told them my plan to try to head up 2 to get to Napier on the east coast then head to Lake Taupo (where there was hot springs) then to Hobbiton in Rotorua (to see the actual set of where the hobbits lived in their hobbit homes) then to head to Auckland. They reassured me as soon as I got to Lake Taupo, there were tons of people and busses heading to Auckland so I didnt have to hurry once I got into Taupo. She also said as they were stopping in the next town to drop me off that there was a bus leaving on Sunday at 3:55pm from Masterton (a city about 30 minutes away driving) headed to Napier. It was only like 5pm..I had first said I think I could get a little further than that in the day of hitchhiking but thought this would be a nice chance to catch up on blogging and laundry and to take another shower. Yea ok! I like the sound of that. They headed into a coffee shop and asked if they could buy me an cup of coffee. Sure why not. He ordered a cappuccino and his girlfriend ordered kind of the same thing but not? He asked me and I said my go to is a cappuccino. Very nice of them.

We sat outside and talked as his girlfriend looked over bus schedules for me. We sat for about 30 minutes then we headed our separate ways. The next town was a 30 minute drive, but an 8 hour walk…?? Didn’t make sense. Meh, This was a slow paced town and I didnt think it would be any problem getting to the next town. I waited for about 30 minutes when a middle aged woman picked me up. She said she was only going to Masterton, the next town over. Perfect! That’s where I’m headed.

She was just getting off work. She was some kind of consultant. She dreaded the commute back and forth from Masterton to ..whatever name of the town we were in when she picked me up. She drove me all the way to this camp ground and I told her my plan to get to Napier. She said she didnt think any busses ran on Sunday’s? Hmmmm Ill have to look into that. She said that it shouldn’t be too hard to get from here to Napier because many people go down to Wellington for the weekend and head back on Sundays. She said she would ask any of her friends and let me know if they were headed to Napier tomorrow. Awesome Sauce! She dropped me off at the main office to the campground and got my number. Thank youuuuu!

I head into the office and ask about a tent spot..”Yup plenty!” Nice nice. I asked if he knew anything about busses running tomorrow. He said busses dont run on Sundays. Ugh… Ill have to do some more research.

(*SPOILER*)

(2:16pm..I need to get going to catch my bus at 3:55. Ill finish the blog on the bus)

5:28pm. (First bus was an hour, this bus is two.)

I went to setup my tent and kind of unpacked it and put it on a fence to dry.

A lady I recognized from the previous campground pulled up on her bicycle. She had all 4 saddlebags filled like I did for my Hope Ride. She recognized me too. The difference, I hitched here and she peddled there lol. She was drying her tent out too and we were talking. I gave her a card and she was saying that’s the same reason she is biking around New Zealand. A family member closer to her passed away and she just wanted to live out her dream and cycle New Zealand. She said seeing the person go through that make you realize how fragile life is, and you just have to take advantage of it. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

It was only about 6pm so I decided to explore the small town and find food. Also while I was waiting for my tent to dry, I did a bit of research on the bus situation. I was trying to figure out where that woman found the date and time of the bus that she found leaving. Found it! It was in fact running on Sunday’s. It was a between cities bus.. maybe they thought I wanted to ride on the inner city buses? Niceee

I purchased a ticket to get to Napier via two busses. A 3 hours ride. So. I had from 6pm till the best left at 3:55pm the following day. Like i said I went to explore the town.

It still confuses me how small towns close down before 6pm on a Saturday..

Cars but not many places open.

I took a few lovely photos on the way to find food. I also saw that the bus stop would be a 30 min walk so I wanted to check that out too.

I found a few places that were open so I stopped into one called ‘The 10 o’clock cookie bakery cafe. There was a girl singing songs with her own speakers setup. A nice vibe to the place. I ordered a mango smoothie and fettuccini with bacon. One of the relatively cheaper things on the menu. So good. I went to pay my bill and my server asked where I was from. I said Toronto thinking she meant where did I come from before this trip. She got a little excited and said she was born into Toronto too! Umm no I was born in New Brunswick, but spent the last two years in Toronto. Ah ok. She had lived in NZ forrrr a year and a half or two? Just worked and explored. Gave her a card. She added me on Instagram. Kewl

I left and walked another 5 minutes and found where to meet the bus.

It was getting chilly so I made my way back to the campground.

There was a gate to the the campground that was closer to the city instead of walking around the block and back to the corner to my tent. It took like a 12 digit combination which the office guy had given me. Whyyy?

Anyway I grabbed snacks out of my tent and got the necessary Materials for blogging. I think I sat there in the kitchen area with 2 on their phones and one watching curling on the tv for almost 4 hours. I had planned to knock both days out but it was like 1:30am or something just blogging for one day. Plenty of time tm! So I put on much warmer clothes because it was plenty cold outside. Zip locked myself into my sleeping bag, put on my eye mask and ear plugs and passed out. There was a road close and I had picked a spot where the sun would come up and dry it off.

I woke up at like 10:15am like I was being cooked in a frying pan! I was baking in my cocoon! I had to find where the sliding thing was that pulled the sleeping bag closed. Then I had to struggle to unzip the sleeping bag. Then take off my gloves. Unzip my jacket pull my hood off. Take it my ear plugs and take off my eye mask (very slowly because it was so bright!) unzip my thermal layer shirt and get out of my sleeping bag and pull off my wool socks and take off my jacket. Whew! I busted out of that thing so fast I felt like a new baby deer all squinty eyed and sweaty and didn’t feel like I would be able to stand. Lol

The first thing I did was grab stuff to head to the shower. Most campgrounds have a checkout time of ten.. I looked on my app..nothing. He only gave me a paper with the gate code and pointed where to setup my tent. No checkout time. Ah well, hope they don’t mind me staying a little longer..

I took a nice long freee shower and went to grab some breakfast and head to the kitchen to do a bit more bloggin. I went to checkout how much it was to wash and dry my clothes. Found the laundry room.. found the dryer cost but couldn’t find where to put the coins or the price for the washer. I asked two ladies outside drying their clothes. They said it’s free! …free? Lol nothing is ever free. They said yup! Free washing and free drying as they clipped their clothes on the laundry line. The sun was incredibly bright and hot. Not the air but to the skin. Wow nice! In my effort earlier to find the checkout time I saw that this campground had a perfect rating on trip advisor. Not just for the laundry, but everything was immaculate. Had free tea and tubs of silverware sitting out for people to use. In each bathroom it had its own shower. They had 8. Thy also had two little baskets on the clothing line that had plastic clips for clothes. They had dryer baskets to take or your clothes to put on the lines. Impressive!

I went back into the kitchen to eat, have some tea, blog, all while doing my laundry. Which you read earlier.

I thought I would have enough Time to finish. Lol. I ran out! For some reason I thought if I had an hour that would be enough time. Ha. Ha. Wrong.

I cut the blogging short, grabbed the clothes off the line and took everything back to the tent.

I had now decided that hour was NOT enough time and had to pack everything super quickly. I had also remembered that the walk to the bus stop would take 30 minutes.. eesh! Gogogo!

Throw my pack on and head towards the gate… where the code… ooo noo I had swapped my shorts for my pants so I could wash my pants. I changed back when they were dry. I reached into my pocket to a small ball of paper. I tried to gently open it… nope it was just shredding. Gah. I had to go out the main entrance probably wasting another 15 minutes! I’m not sure how often you put on a 45lb backpack and try moving fast with it. It’s not easy. Trying to speed walk like in the olympics with a small elephant on your back. Let’s just say I sweat a lot and my shins got a good workout. I saw on the ticket I was supposed to get there 15 minutes before hand too. 😅

I got there in record time! Asked the driver if this was the correct bus and he confirmed it was. Put my backpack under the bus and grabbed my power bank, water, cords, and beef jerky. Whewww!

On. The. Way. Thank you random people who picked me up for telling me about this bus. No one else knew about it obviously.

How to dress business casual but remain cool..(the bus driver)

I relaxed for the first bus ride. (One hour) Then hopped off to wait for the next bus. It would arrive at Napier at 7:20 pm. Not enough time to wonder about. I searched for campground… barely any.. most are self contained vehicles only.. ok. Hostel search. Found a cheap one close to where I’ll be dropped off at. Two bunk beds in the same room.

Should be a pretty nice view since it’s close to the ocean though.. 20 minutes till we arrive.

Boom caught up.

Thoughts:

We can make all the plans we want. If you depend on your own planning you will often times be disappointed. You have to roll with the waves of life. The more you embrace change, the happier you will be. This direction wasn’t my plan, but I’ve met some cool people along the way had I not come this way!

7:12pm

Day 29. Nerding out. WETA Studio! Lord of the Rings!

8:37 Saturday. (Here. A day behind)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!

A decent about of things have happened, so I’m going to do the same thing I did before and blog for 2 days! Hopefully I can leave this kitchen by midnight. 😉

It’s really ok though. I got in early tonight and already walked around this tiny town and ate.

2 days ago in the am…

So as I was still finishing up the previous blog the two girls came back, Jess and Fiona and told me about this AMAZING breakfast burrito they just had. Sigh, I love me a good breakfast burrito. They flopped back down on their beds and told me as I packed the rest of my stuff that David was still down there writing poetry and having coffee. Kewl. Got the rest of my stuff packed and said my farewell. Down the elevator and out the front entrance. I saw the restaurant they talked about and looked around outside and he wasn’t there, walked in and he was sitting by himself in a booth. I saw a sign that said ‘come to the bar to order’, so I said hello and went to the bar. They were going to seat me at the bar, but I told them that I wanted to sit with the chap in the corner. They said, “well its almost lunch time, sooo we are going to have to move him. He doesn’t know that yet. But if you sit at the bar, you wont have to move.” Mkay. I went to tell him so he didnt think I was just blowing him off. He chose to come sit beside me at the bar. I talked to him about the burrito and he agreed that it was the best thing everrrrr. I looked at the time. Noon. I saw the when they stopped serving breakfast. 11 or 11:30am. SIGHHHH. No burrito. He was reading some interesting books on poetry and was writing some of his own. I got a chicken burrito with sour cream and a cappuccino. We talked a lot about poetry and life n such. He is a pretty interesting fellow. He has a lot of random facts and seems very extroverted as he just strikes up a conversation with anyone. He started talking to the girl beside me about how the seals with the tusks (walruses) could dive deeper than any whale! He also had a small whale necklace on made from some kind of bone? When i got my food, he told me we were not allowed to talk until I finished my food. Hahaha. Never had that happen before. He said he understood that while eating he didnt like to talk to people so he was giving me the same privilege. While I ate he read poems to me. Lol.

I recorded a few of his Stewy impressions since he is a Brit he does them quite well! Ill post one of them soon. He started talking to the barista about the decorations around the room and some of the fake arms coming through a few of the ceiling tiles. (This place was very interestingly decorated). We were saying bye and he put 3 wishes on me. That I have 3 kids, one would be rich, and that I name one Christopher. (I think…he changed the name a few times..or it could have been a new name for me..). He almost wrote a poem about me, but I forgot to ask what it said. Ah well. If he is reading this, send me the poem! I headed out.

I planned to head to WETA and quickly pulled up maps and saw it was an hour and a half walk. I can do that. I walked a ways and following my phones walking directions made a few turns and half an hour later stopped. There was almost a cartoonish tunnel in front of me that said only cars could go through? There was no way around…? Ook. Well there was a bus stop there. I took a few steps back to see when the next bus was coming.

I didnt even have time to check when I saw a bus coming around the corner. Umm ok. I talked to the bus driver and said where I was going. $2. Cool! It was already 1:30pm in the afternoon. I wanted to get there and get out of Wellington after. Hop in and sit my big bag up on a small shelf and I stood there because most of the seats were taken and the rest weren’t worth it knocking people with my wide load walking past people.

Pretty cool but tiny tunnel. After we exited the tunnel…guess what? Yea. It started raining! Lol. Again..I guess I was supposed to get there quicker and not have to walk in the rain. :-B (You can tell when I’m using my keyboard because I don’t use emojis)

This was where I was heading:

So I had planned to walk all this way.. in the rain. But instead Im on a bus and the bus driver had me pay to a closer location but asked again where I was going and she understood now and told me to stay on till the end of the route. Ooook.

The over all route:

And how close she dropped me to my destination:

Thank you Lorrd!

I see some large creatures from LOTR (Lord of the rings) and I start geeking out….heh…wooo

This. Will be excellent.

The first thing I see to my left inside..

Gollum aka Smeagol! He can be yours for a mere $4100!

I learned later that they had worked on 150 films so far. Ghost in the Shell was one of them:

Aaand how they created / made all the prosthetics.

More LOTR stuffs:

Also, how they came up with the name ‘WETA’:

Sooooo a pretty gross massive mutant grasshopper type bug. I mean..I would name my company after it too.

A lovely fella standing beside the exit…a worker was telling a kid that he just woke up and hadn’t has his coffee yet. Lol

I had to..

I booked the workshop tour and the miniatures stage tour. Sad to see that no photography was allowed..

While I waited for the workshop tour, I went into another room full of figurines:

Finally a woman called into the ‘Cave’, “alllll 2:30pm cave workshop tours come with me!”

We walked outside and down the side of the building where we went into a connecting building. We were told we could set our stuff down in that room because it is where we would be exiting from. Good! As I was walking through the shop, I had to continually watch my wide load as I turned. Lol. Plopped the pack down in a large cubby hole and we watched a video on what we were about to see and the overall process of WETA:

We went through about 5 rooms in about an hour and were only allowed to take pictures in the last room. She surprisingly asked in the beginning, who wanted to carry a sword, she had 4 of them. Ummm Yeaa! So I got a lovely sword to carry around through the tour. You’ll see it in the next picture. It looked relatively real but was super light and not sharp at all. The first room she talked about all the movies they had worked on and there were plaster faces along the wall of various characters from their movies. I guess they did not own the props.. so if any pictures got out they could be sued? Eh I dunno about that. It’s probably so people continue to pay for the tour. It was pretty sweet though. I guess I don’t get that if they created the props how they ‘weren’t theirs?’. Ah well, I did as I was told and as badly as I wanted pictures..kept my phone holstered.

The next room was how they created the huge armor for the dwarfs in the movie. She showed us the process from creating the original ideas through sketches and illustrations to 3D modeling them to making a prototype out of heavy duty foam, to using a mold to create the final helmet out of a lighter harder substance calllllled.. Yep. Can’t remember. It’s fine. I’m sure the other materials I listed were wrong too. They had a real life size version of 3 dwarfs riding into battle on their …pigs..? She said the way they filmed the scene where tons of the dwarfs were coming into attack was they took shots of 3 dwarfs on treadmills and just kept take shots of different runs and moves to put them into the movie. The next room was pretty sweet! The first thing I see is from an xbox game called “Halo”. It was a life size working version of the vehicle called, the Warthog:

For many of you that don’t know. She said they were asked by Microsoft to make a real one for a Halo movie they were going to be working on and they had 7 weeks to make it. (She mentioned earlier that the Studio was so successful because of their technology and how close the buildings were. You could make an entire feature film in about a 4 block radius. They had EVERYTHING you needed in those buildings. Also its too expensive to fly actors out to NZ so they would have the actors get a 3D body scan and have it sent to their facility where they could create several…’Matt Damons’ was the example she used. They worked on District 9 as well.). They successfully made every part of it except for a few parts on the engine and the tires. She said it could drive at 100km/hour (60mph) but it was illegal to drive because..”I guess you cant drive a vehicle around that has a fake minigun mounted on the roof”. 🙂 She mentioned that the movie got cancelled so they got to keep the vehicle. She did say one of their employees used it as his wedding vehicle for when he got married and he pulled up in that and surprised his wife. Lol

That room had many huge guns from movies and a miniature of the castles in LOTR. She said they called them ‘biggatures’ because they weren’t mini at all! There was also a 3D printer and a window showing a massive ‘printer’ that unlike 3D printers, which make objects by added, these huge..saws? Shaved away foam to create large light objects. She saw someone taking pictures and ran over to the French couple and had to go their their camera and actually delete the photos. Sheesh..I felt embarrassed for them as the woman had to go through her pictures and delete any she found.. Serious stuff!

The next room we were allowed to touch anything we wanted except a prosthetic booth. She said that the material that was used not only in Ghost in the Shell that Scarlett Johansson had to wear but also Frodo Baggins feet and the dwarfs noses didn’t allow any ventilation at all. So people would be sweating underneath and after it was worn, could never be worn again. If a dwarf needed a nose and had to film for 365 days, he needed. 365 noses. Crazy! There was also some cool robotics in that room. I pressed a button and a large ape with half his skin peeled off, to show the robotics underneath, moved his eyes and eyebrows and lips.

Finally the last room, where we can take pictures..

We finished up the tour and headed back around to the front of the building where I got a few closer pictures of the beast out front. (I should know their names..sadly I do not)

The booo-gairsssss!

The next tour was in a few minutes and a small bus pulled up. Matt was our tour guide.

This tour was about an old tv show called, ‘Thunderbirds Are Go”. They used all miniatures and hand crafted sets and puppets for the characters. He went over each of the characters, the history of them, the designs of each and their vehicle. They also made the movie, “Team America”. The only way I knew of the company. A pretty crazy movie with puppets. Maybe some of the older people reading might remember this show? We were also told not to take pictures in the beginning of the tour till he told us we could. Oh yea, he drove us about 2 blocks away where it started raining pretty hard and in the middle of the tour you could hear the wind and rain outside. This place was in a huge warehouse. We were only allowed to take pictures of the sets. My hand for scale..

They also had a camera setup to show on a tv how it would look coming through the camera lens.

My attempt lol:

Pretty huge sets!

I talked to Matt for a while during and after the tour. He was saying what a big Star Wars fan he was and I mentioned i worked on the newest one. I said that i had done work on the 3D and post production of a lot of movies but was looking into VR now. He was like, man you really should apply. They were starting to do work with a company called ‘Magic Leap’ in Florida and explained about VR (Virtual Reality) + AR (Augmented Reality)= MR (Mixed Reality). 99% of you wont know what it means, but its my dream job. Lol. Cutting edge tech! He seemed a little more impressed with my Hope Hike and that I was a survivor. Woot woot.

I have a friend named Kayla and we had been messaging back and forth lately. She LOVES LOTR SO MUCH that she named her cat Frodo. (A guys name in the movie). She was dying for me to get her something. I one I would either have to mail it to her or carry it around till the end of my hike. She understood and wanted one of the actual LOTR, ring. (The whole trilogy of these movies is based around this ring and the movie was filmed here in NZ.). Sooo I got her one and a necklace to wear around her neck as she asked (she paid me via paypal almost instantly). For my first and probably only NZ souvenir, I got one for myself also. 🙂 Not too expensive.

While I made sure they bubble wrapped and made sure it was backpack safe, I looked up:

lol. Funny guy.

Oh yea..so as the bus was driving back from the last tour, we passed a building that didnt look like the rest. It was really nice! He said that building was created ONLY for post production of the NZ movies. *drool*. Peter Jackson (who kind of brought the LOTR characters to life and directed the movies was there. He pointed to a lovely reddish Tesla sitting out front.. Of course he drives one.. No i didnt get a picture sadly.

Anyway, I put the nice wrapped package of rings in my backpack and asked about the post-prod building. I was told by a few people I should just swing down there and stop in. Soooo I did. It was only a 5 minute walk. There’s me..in my semi dirty hiking stuff with my 45 pound back on my back with things all attached and flopping around on it to the back…walking into a REALLY nice building, you know…with a Tesla parked out front. It was about 5pm as I saw some people heading to their cars. Kinda hoped to see Peter but it was only a day dream. I walk up to the receptionist and pull my Canadian card…I start talking by apologizing for my attire. Well… I did what I do best.. stutter, stammer, cant think of what I was there to talk about. It basically goes like this.. “I apologize for my attire, my name is Kevin Sanders and I’ve done a lot of post production work in Toronto, Canada… I just wanted to stop in and..um see this place ” Derp. D…dumb der dee derp. I don’t care to share the rest because its only embarrassing. She kind of treats me how I feel…underdressed andI cant get my point across. She conveyed compassion as i mentioned I was hiking for Cancer patients, but mainly said I should just apply online and she could forward my card to HR. Cooool. I didnt even think that the card doesn’t have my email address on it and it wouldn’t be super easy to find me. In the .00000000001% chance someone from WETA is reading this..Email me! I would LOVE to work for you! :-D. (Sandersjkevin@gmail.com). And I awkwardly leave the nice building wanting to slap my self over and over… I head down the street. It’s almost 6pm and I have no idea how to get out of this city the fastest.

I just walk…still stuck on how stupid I felt. Then doubts. How will I ever get a ‘good’ job with how I am. I have so many REALLY good ideas about future tech but don’t know who or where or when I would be able to talk to the right person about them. Then a soft voice reassures me that if its meant to work out…it will. The Lord can open any door that no man can shut. At least I went in there and gave her the card. Though I figure she threw it in the trash as soon as I left. Leh sigh.

I eventually stopped at a bus stop..When the bus pulled up I just asked him to take me to the bus station. I dunno i guess I could figure out where to go from there. About 30 minutes later he drops us all off at the bus station, the same station that I was taken to after the shuttle brought us to. It was also the train station. No idea where to go I go in search of a train /bus map.

It seems the train runs north. I look at my campground app. I figure I should get off the train in an hour to camp. I choose a stop about an hour away. Upper Hut. I look up and see ‘long distance’ above a teller window. She would be a good person to ask. So I walk over and confirm with her my plan and the correct stop. I buy the ticket and head towards the correct gate.

The train is leaving in 4 minutes. Right on time I thought. Most of the seats are taken. I set my bag down in the section between cars and stand there, assuming Ill have to stand for the next hour.

A nice young woman named Isabelle (i think) moves her bag off the seat and offered it to me. I appreciate it ask her her name and just casually chit chat. She was on her way back from Wellington to one of the few stops in the Upper Hut. She lives there but just got a job with her degree teaching preschool? Or kindergarten? It’s only her first week but the commute back and forth sucks so she is looking for a place to live in Wellington. We talk till her stop. I handed her a card earlier. Nice girl. It’s good that she’s using her degree, because I know many people who have jobs not using theirs.

Anywho, I stop is here and I hop off. I look at my gps..an hour to walk to the campground? It’s 7pm…I know most campgrounds offices close at 8. Gulp. I need to get there faster. There are a bunch of buses around. I try to use maps to get directions by transit. Nope. Maps hasn’t downloaded transit directions for here. So I open the app ‘moveit’ that I got in Toronto. It understands where I’m at and tells me to walk down to Stop C and get on bus 101. Ok well I see bus 101 pull up so I hop on ask for change to pay “where you goin?” Show him on my gps. “Nope that’s another bus, try the stop ahead”. Confused I hop off. There are people waiting for a bus up there…my app told me to get on that one. That was stop B though.. I look at my phone I guess I need to walk a little further. I see a sign down the street a little bit. It says something like “This used to be stop C but has changed due to lose demand”. Welllll I guess this app isn’t correct..

The other bus pulls up..I hop in and ask if he goes to this road..He’s an older guy trying to look at my phone. He says no he doesn’t. A guy on the bus asked “are you tryin got get to that Holiday Campground?” Yea! I guess the driver recognized the name of the campground. “Ohh I know what you’re talking about now” Guy: “You’re on the right bus”. If it werent for that guy I don’t know what I would have done.

A couple dollars and 20 minutes later I get ready to hop off at a stop and tell the bus driver thanks as I’m looking at my iPhone I should be there.. He stops me “You want off at the next stop. That’s where the campground is”. Alright, sounds good! Just as he as he says, there is a sign around a corner that says the name of the campground. Thank you thank you.

I walk down a windy road and see some farm animals?

A goat and a pony.. mkay…

I check in to the office and ask about tent spots. The lady says “Yup! That’s all we got left!” Well alright! I pay a small amount and she gives me a map of the grounds and says where the kitchen and bathrooms and showers are. I look around the tent area and there are a few tents setup but its a pretty large area. One big tent has a baby crying very loudly so I try to go as far away from that tent as I can. It’s funny how I have gotten more picky about where to setup my tent. High land..no rocks or signs that my pegs will drive into the ground instead of hit rocks, grass instead of dirt. Sheltered from the wind. Also determining where’s the sun comes up as to dry off my tent hopefully before I pack it up. Also do i want my tent long ways or the other way..which way is the wind coming from? Also when I set my boots out under the rain-fly cover thing, is there a nice spot for them. Is there a place in the morning to stretch my wet tent out to dry and not be on the ground or a place to sit to tie up my boots… Etc etc. I take about 10 minutes to pick a spot.

I unpack and setup my tent. I now have certain places I put things inside my tent. All the bags and packages from unpacking all go in a corner. My backpack in the other corner same side. Straps up and connected so I don’t roll on them..Trekking poles against the far side. There are two pockets at either end. I put my headlamp, my face mask, my wallet, and my earplugs in one pocket and any maps or papers in the far pocket. My sleeping bag, mattress and pillow are closest to the door so I don’t have to crawl over anything to exit. As I take out my power banks I put them beside me so when I wake up and want to grab my phone, I know where it is. It’s obviously not my first rodeo..

I go to the kitchen to cook dinner. Some noodles and muffins and bread with a half melted Kit Kat for desert. Time for bed. Can barely keep my eyes open. I think about the checkout time at 10am…Maybe I’ll wake up early enough….nah, I had too much to say about nerding out that I knew I wouldn’t finish. I would just have to write a 2 dayer again..

Funny male tidbit about NZ..the bathroom urinals are like pig troughs..

I figure Ill head back to the train station tm and see how far I can get on it..sounds like a good idea.

Thoughts:

What’s really interesting…. the people that have appeared in my life to direct me where to go and the next steps I should take.

…I have never come to a dead end..or a wrong turn.. or bad advice or even out of my 10000 steps on rocky slippery surfaces.. 1 slipped step that ‘could have been bad’. (Maybe tm could be considered one of those? I don’t think so)

“Not all who wander are lost”

12:24am

Day 28. From wheels to water to wheels

11:19pm

Today’s donation comes from Déborah Marques! She wanted me to dedicate today to International Women’s Day. For women who are going though Cancer themselves or supporting family going through it.

When I first got to Canada and went church shopping, I ended up at C3 Church. It felt like home, so I signed up for the sound team that very day. A little later I signed up for a beach volleyball connect group. Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE beaches. So this was for me. I lived about an hour commute from the beach but every other Saturday I woke up 7am to go play. Déborah was a leader of the group and welcomed everyone who came with open arms. She started picking me up in her car on the way. She is a married Brazilian woman, and it turns out most of the team was Brazilian! Lol. Some times we would have a car full of Brazilians all speaking Portuguese and she would say, “Englaisss! Kevin. ” A super considerate and lovely all around person. Thank you Deb!!

Blog:

So I set my alarm for 6:30am thinking I could eat breakfast right in my tent and get everything packed up in an hour to hour and a half. I should be where Darren told me to be by 7:30-8am at the edge of town. I did wake up and eat breakfast in my tent. I read my devotional and flipped through my various social media’s and I guess I used a bit more time than I wanted to. I brushed my teeth, filled up my water bottles, and put my wet tent into its bag. I had packed everything away and was ready to put my backpack on. Craaap I needed to refill my wallet with business cards. It’s what I bring up first as kind of an ice breaker..? Then we have something to talk about. Welll it was in the middle of my pack, so I had to undo everything and take it all out again. I finally found them though!

I had left at a decent time but I didn’t realize it would take 20-25 min to walk to the edge of town. So I got to where I was told by 8:30am. As I walked towards the edge of town I held my sign out at my side hoping that I could catch a person just a I was walking.

Not so much.

I arrive at the edge of town before the speed limit raises and it seems everyone has already left down. In my mind I saw 100 people lined up waiting to leave town as soon as the road opened and like a dam exploding they all rushed out before I got there.

I said a prayer something like, “Lord it’s early. I’m not in a hurry if I hope this doesn’t take all day” I was still standing there an hour later. Lol. I don’t know if you can picture holding a sign up hoping that the next person who read it would pull over and offer you a ride. I guess it didn’t help that I had propped my backpack up against a mailbox, so I had a few that pulled over just to mail some things. One lady even apologized “sorry I’m just dropping off some mail!” It’s oook

I saw this sign on a building across the street. Lol

Yup. I was.

I kept whistling… thought maybe it would make me look happier. Not that I was upset. It was weird I kept whistling the Super Mario brothers 2 theme song.. 😅 no idea why.

(Ughhhh I keep drifting off. Why can’t I stay awake for 2 hours?! I don’t know if I’ll have time in the morning. Need to be out of this hostel by 10am)

7:32am

Finally after an hour a gentlemen from Switzerland picked me up. He pulled over and his accent was SO thick that I asked if he spoke English. Lol. He repeated himself and I realized he was saying he wasn’t going all the way to Picton but about 30 minutes away from there. Toss my stuff in the back of his rented van and we takeoff.

He took me another 2ish hours north. I have to be honest, almost half of what he said was almosttt in a different language. I would pick up words like “ten years” and he would laugh. I grasped the general ideas.

Ninja photo.

We drove and drove down a windy coastal route where there were so many road workers and stops because the road work only allowed one lane of traffic to go through at a time. So we had guys holding up stop and go signs for people driving through.

He has the heater on in his car so I’m pretty warm.. and getting only a few hours of sleep, I’m pretty tired. I keep nodding off. Sometimes while he is talking. Have to stay awake.

A very nice retired guy who has spent the last 4 months in Australia and is spending…one month in NZ..? He is just traveling alone appreciates having no plan. He said he only had 3 set dates. His flight in, his ferry ticket between the two islands and his flight out. I like that. He has lived a lot of different countries and done a lot of various jobs. It seems everyone I meet doesn’t just stay at one job all their life but learns many skills. (No offense mom! As she is going on 30..? Years at her job)

So he lets me out at the towns information center which is about 30 minutes from the ferry. He isn’t going to the ferry for another 10 days but already has his ticket. I had looked into tickets the night before but they were scheduled for certain times and I had no idea how long it would take me to get there. Sooo I would just wing it. I stopped into the information center and asked about the ferry, times, prices. The girl said the next one is at 2:30pm then at 6:45pm. Welllll I would like to get there at 2:30. It was about noon. I was hungry. She said I would need to be there 45 minutes before it left. Ooook so not much time. So I had an hour and 45 minutes to find food and get a hitch there and it was 30 minutes away… ook. Googled restaurants in the area and walked about 6 minutes through town to get to it. Turns out they weren’t selling food for a while, at least for lunch. Sigh. I asked where I could get a decent meal. “If you go down the road you will did a few cafes!” Right. Back the way I came. I saw coffee shops. I could use something more substantial than croissants and coffee. Now I’m just wasting time. Can’t be picky. Walked past where I came from and saw a coffee shop with some small food they were selling. Deal. I order some 2 ‘breakfast squares’ and a cappuccino. It was like breakfast on a pizza slice? It’s fine. It’ll do.

I eat fast and rush out. I have my sign in hand and go past the round-about to where there is one way and it’s going to Picton (where the ferry departs) I have about an hour to get there. This will be interesting. I take my coffee with me and drink it quickly while holding my sign out. Ten minutes go by with many cars, fifteen, twenty…I had thrown my cup away at a gas station nearby. I have almosst started thinking.. well I guess hanging out at the ferry terminal for almost 5 hours won’t be thaaat bad.. when a guy in a flat bed box truck pulls up and tells me to hop in. He is headed to Picton and what do you know, he had hitch hiked years ago. I have 45 minutes to get there to check in.

Nice guy and I hand him a card and he said he’s happy he picked me up! He was saying what a great town Picton is and it sucks that I need to cross to the north island so soon. I agree. I thought 40 days was plenty of time, guess not! Richard is his name.

Ninja photo 2.

… you know… I just realized. These last two guys from totally different places almost have the same shirt on. Lol

Funny. Anyway Richard I think said he was born in NZ and had lived a bunch of other countries and knew a lot about the culture here. He said it was too bad that hitch hiking is frowned upon other places because it’s a great way to meet people! I totally agree. He told me about his various jobs and his current one, making bolts for clam farms. It’s not a clam though.. mollusk or yea can’t remember. I could understand him much better at least. 😅

He said he would take me all the way to the ferry door. He pointed at a bunch of backpackers waiting and said, ” Hey look it’s your family!” Lol yea yea.

He dropped me off and grabbed my stuff.

15 minutes to spare!

I quickly walk up and get a ticket. Whew. Made it. They want it take my backpack and stow it with the luggage. I take out things I think I’ll need. His is about a 4 hour ferry crossing. Take out some beef jerky and a power bank. I hand my pack over to the guy and he weighs it. Puts a ‘heavy’ tag around the handle. 😅 No extra fee though so that’s ok. I walk upstairs when we will get on the ferry and grab a few more snacks.

I didn’t even have time to open my chips when they called everyone to board. Thought I would have a little more time. Nope! Gogogogo

I’m gonna drop some photos..

This ferry was HUGE! Walking around the decks felt like I was back on my Semester at Sea 😄

I love me some fruit. With a mango banana smoothie.

(I need to shower and get packed. I’ll finish this blog in the main room downstairs. It’s 8:50am)

(Scratch that. I had a shower and my fellow hostel buddies said I could prop the door and come back up)

I walked around on the ferry. They had just about everything a person needs and more. They even had movies playing on the bottom level with a popcorn and snack bar.

I might have looked into it if I had realized an hour earlier that it was an option. I spent some time on the top deck outside but it got REALLY windy once when we were between islands. Also the free WiFi was allowing texts to go through but nothing else. Ugh.

After quite a long ride, we pull up to the shore. With signal back im looking up campgrounds. Nothing in the area. It’s about 6:15pm. I need a place to stay tonight. Like at most airports there is a carousel of baggage to pick up. I was quickly scanning my phone for places to stay and I didn’t even notice my bag go by. Lol. I was looking at hostels now.. there was only one place that was cheap. $35 for a bed. There was a shuttle that people were getting on.. I asked someone where it was going “into town”. I guess most the hostels were on one street? He said hop on. Ook. He drove about 10 minutes and everyone got out at a train station. I asked him if he’s still going into town. He said I needed to catch a bus to get there and gave me a map.

He said bus 1,2,3,14,23,44 all head pretty much to the same place. So I followed his instructions to get to the busses. Through the train station and around a few corners and I had to guess which way to go… umm right! I walked up some steps where I see a bunch of busses and the number 2 bus pulling up. Nice! I don’t have a ticket or card or anything to pay. So I ask the driver if I need a ticket.. he said “yes, but you can pay with cash or coin” asks where I’m headed and I point at the map. “$2”. Done!

As I’m watching outside I see that this is a hustling and bustling town. It’s like.. a lesser version of Toronto..but very different. I can’t exactly figure out why though. It’s just. Different. Different country and different culture I spose?

He calls out the street to me to let me know and I hop off.

I just have to walk around the corner to the hostel. I guess I got an option for a higher floor or lower. Higher duh! It’s a Backpackers Hostel. Why is there 30 people in line??

I talk to a girl named Chan and a guy behind me, Brin. This place was surprisingly big. I guess they have a dj later in the basement and I’m on the 6th floor. I walk in and 2 girls and 4 guys are staring at me. Uhhh hey! They said there want a bed that it was full. Lol I had my paper that said I was in this room. One of the girls who worked at another backpackers came down with me to figure out who the ‘imposter’ was in our room. Come to find out it’s a guy with a broken leg named Luke that belonged in 306 now. Soo they kicked him out and welcomed me. 😅😁

They were all getting ready to head down to the basement for karaoke.

My view:

Jess. Fiona. David. Todd. Tom.

Jess and Fiona and David all knew each other and Tod and Tom just met them earlier. 4 our of 5 were Brits and one is from Ireland. Such a funny group of people. They left shortly after to head downstairs and asked if I wanted to come. I would eventually but I needed food first. I put my boots back on and left where I walked down the street and finding food would be super easy. Every place I walked by had some kind of indian/thai/greek/American food.

I went to a very tiny place to get a burrito. There was only 2 chairs outside and they were occupied, so I took it back to the hostel main area.

It felt very weird to be back in a ‘normal’ situation rather than camping.

I came back upstairs and brushed my teeth and swapped my beanie to my ball cap. I figured I would look pretty out of place with hiking clothes and boots on. Meh. I take the elevator down. I’m really impressed for how much I paid how nice this place is.

They also have music playing on every floor. I know many people who would hate the idea of staying with strangers but I like the fact that you’re almost forced to make friends. So I wouldn’t even call the room situation a downside. I walk down and immodestly see the group of people from my room. I say hello and ask about the drink specials and they cheer that I’m there. So they are all down there to support Jess. I guess she is a good singer? This whole atmosphere feels like I’m back in college or in a dorm room, which I never had the chance to have but I visited many dorms in my life. I get a cheap drink and they tell me I’m just in time for karaoke to start. Really? Its been over and hour and I guess I’m right on time. That seems to be a thing lately. One guy starts singing.. he isn’t great. I don’t know when I’ve been to a karaoke bar where the singers have been good. Jess’s time. Wow! She’s actually quite good! She reminds me a bit of Lady Gaga in her tones and pitches. David sings a song in Stewies voice from Family Guy. 😂

Hey all have British accents and it’s hilarious listening to them.

Come to find out Todd was trying to raise money for Cancer by going skydiving. A nice thing to do. I also see Brin down there. Ran into Chan on the way down, she had a book in her hand and felt more comfortable reading then being a part of something more crazy.

They all went out after karaoke and Tom and I went back to the room. Tom was quiet and has only met them today. I needed to blog. Sadly it didn’t work out as planned. Tom left early in the morning without saying much to anyone as he left. The group got back pretty late. No idea what time it was.

The next morning various peoples alarm clocks were going off. I started to blog. Ran out of time.

Checked out and came back. Everyone was awake now and chatting about being hungry but no one wanted to leave to get food. Can’t say I’ve had the opportunity to listen to British / Irish people have a conversation before. Such good people, they just want to have fun and enjoy life.

They all left to get food while I sit here and finish up blogging.

My plan for the day is to get to WETA and check out their studio and I guess they have a WETA Cave? Where all their people and figures are. They made Lord of the Rings and created many movies I’ve worked on.

Thoughts:

Meeting new people as an introvert is equally scary as is a little exciting. I have learned that meeting new people has a ton of benefits so I try to think about those to outweigh being afraid. If I didn’t learn that meeting new people opened up new life avenues I think I might just crawl into a cave being too afraid to talk to anyone. I have also learned that the real fear is you always wondering what they think of me. So it’s ACTUALLY being selfish. I should be more concerned with them than myself. Knowing that.. changes a lot of ideas and how I present myself to people.

Word of the day:

“Remember, you have two lives. You get your second life when you realize you have only one.”

FRANK LIDDY

(Sigh. No idea why when I pasted that all the front changed to light gray) ah well.

Need to run! Hungry.

11:41am

Day 27. From Car to Car to Car

9:46pm

Woke up at 8am due to some fellas cookin their breakfast in the kitchen. That’s when I realized an ear plug fell out. Lol

It was so nice not to wake up in a tent. In the old. In the damp. With a sleeping bag over my head. I was actually in a house. With a roof. And carpet.

After I blogged I knew I had to hurry because I had a lot of stuff I had to get done. After Christian handed me coffee while finishing up my blog, thank you, I quickly went outside to take down my tent.

I laid out the wet parts of the tent and I went inside to shower. I kept rounding things up and taking them outside to put in a pile to pack. I came back inside to stuff my face with food and Christian helped me make my sign.

They had cool wall of skateboards. Like each guy had one and you could tell when someone wasn’t home. Lol

I finallly got all my stuff packed and ready to go.

In the mean time Christian was helping one of the guys with his car. The battery in his remote control to his car died. It died somehow and the alarm triggered and wouldn’t stop. They popped the hood and tried disconnecting the alarm. Christian even took apart the remote to move the battery around to hopefully get it to work again? I was curious if the grocery store had the battery. So I walked over there and found one. Popped it in and everything seemed to work. Then he needed some tie straps to mount the head of the alarm, I had some of those in my ‘Fix’ bag. I said a final goodbye and grabbed a pic with Lierd.

Said a final goodbye to everyone and Christian took me to the outskirts of the city to get a hitch.

(I really DO look like I’m half the size I used to be 😳)

He dropped me off at a gas station and we said our final goodbyes.

(He’s proud of his sign) I like the added smiley touch.

He left in his friends car and I stood there for about 10 minutes with my sign as people left the gas station. I decided it was better across the street where there was more cars going by. I waited for about 20 minutes and a guy from behind me pulling out of a restraint area asked where I was heading. (He couldn’t see my sign since I figured the most people on the street would be able to but it was highly unlikely that I would get a ride from that way) I told him Picton or as far north as he can go. He said he could drive me a little north but that was the end of his line. I quickly hopped in as cars were stacking up behind us. He was a worker that just finished up a shift. He said he did the roundabouts and other street stuff. Pretty cool stuff. He drove me 20 minutes and dropped me off in a better spot to get lifts from right on the way to where I was headed.

I probably stood at the next spot with my sign for 30-40 min. It’s when I posted a pic on Instagram / Facebook.

A guy drove past and pulled over. It looked like he wasn’t stopping for me but started backing up. He moved some stuff so I could hop in. He usually would have his kids in the back but because he didn’t, I could hop in. He drove me 40 minutes further. He had run a sports building that had soccer and hockey and basketball.. kind of like a rec room. He did that for a long time then moved into his degree. He had an engineering degree. He was now working as an advisor to a cultural place? Basically he made plans to make the lakefront area nicer and he had to pitch the idea and get people to go along with it. My memory sucks. We had also talked about faith and he said he had had more faith before then there was a drastic change in his faith and he had lost it. Verryyy sadly..his wife was pregnant with their first child and lost it like a day before it was due. Then the second time she got pregnant her water broke a few weeks before it was due and they many Christians praying for them and they really relied on faith and God to save their child. ..they ended up losing it. 😔

I didn’t.. and don’t know what to say in those situations. I don’t have the answers. He said he didn’t know if he believed anymore. I had told him I did.. and I don’t know why those thugs happen.. I told him to be on the lookout though because I would pray that he would see signs that the Lord is still with him. He said he hopes that one day he will be able to see them again I heaven. Nice man.

He dropped me off kind of in the middle of a highway / main rd that not many people were coming down. He headed towards his hike and I walked a little bit to where a nice pull off would be if anyone needed to pick me up.

I think I waited there an hour?? There were lots of people turning in and out of that rd but not many going past in my direction.. I was kind of puzzled. I had heard a rd closed like a week ago from someone so I checked the local road closings on my phone and it seemed like everything was ok? I started to look at nearby campgrounds.. there was one a 40 min walk back the direction I came. I started talking to God. Alright.. where do you want me to go?? It’s like 45 seconds between groups of 4 cars going my way. Everyone read my sign and just drove past. I was getting cold so I put my jacket and gloves on. Lord!! What do you want me to do?? A guy drove past in his SUV and pulled over to the side of the road in front of me. 😅😂

I dropped my stuff in his backseat and hopped in. He drove me for 2 hours. His name was Derrin. He was dressed up like a business guy and his job was to overlook archeology digs and make sure the indigenous artifacts and bones were properly taken care of. He was a vey smart man and quite intellectual. He said after I got in the car “i need to hurry, this road closes at 7:30pm up ahead.”

?? This road closes?? He said, ” you didn’t see the flashing sign right before the road you were standing at?” No? “Yea it was flashing that the road was closing ahead at 7:30” (I just zoomed into that picture.. I can see the back of the orange sign he was referring to. I guess I was caught up in conversation with the previous guy)

(It was like 6pm) So that’s why no one was coming that way because the road was going to close soooooon. That makes a lot more sense. I would have never gotten a ride if he hadn’t picked me up..and I wouldn’t have known why. He was bookin it for an hour and a half and was talking about a gate that they will close at 7:30. So I guess a year and a half ago, there was an earthquake and it messed up the roads pretty bad. At night it’s too dangerous to drive on those roads plus the construction crews fixed the roads at night. He’s an interesting guy and was born in NZ. It seems most Kiwis have traveled and lived many parts of the world and aren’t afraid to quit and job and travel. He said the US is opposite. He tracked through the US for 4 months and consistently was asked about what job and he or planned to have when he got back and how everyone thought he was crazy for not having a job lined up. We agreed on a lot of things like that. He always picked up hitchhikers as he was a proud kiwi. Anyone that has ever picked me up has hitch hiked themselves, so they all understood what it was like in my shoes. I’ll be picking up hikers from now on as should you. You never know who it could be. I had prayed whoever pick me up that I could help them in some way.

He was on his way home from a meeting. He said there was no way I was getting to Picton tonight because the 2nd gate, past where he was going would already be closed. We barelyyyy made it through the gate. Guys were getting ready to head home me for the day. It was about 7:10 and the gates closed at 7:30. He said most people wouldn’t go that way because they understood that the gates would be closing and wouldn’t be able to make it all the way through. He dropped me off at a campground in his home town. It was 7:30pm.. the campground office closed at 8pm. Lol. He didn’t believe in coincidences and neither do I. He said if I got up and walked a bit north to where I felt like I was a little outside of town.. the next main gate opens at 7:30am and there would be a bunch of people heading my direction. It opens at 7:30am and closes at 7:30pm. There are no more gates after that one.

Let me recap. He might have been the final person to head that way.. we barely made it though a gate that closed an hour and half from where I was. There was nothing between those two points. We just got to the campground in time for me to get a tent spot. He then proceeded to tell me the time and place to be for my next ride. You REALLY think these are all coincidences?? Like right after I’m praying. Really? Yea maybe once a month something like this might happen to you.. but as I have placed my faith fully in the Lord on this trip, these things happen DAILY.

Moving on.

Anyway. I made it another 3 hours north today and he told me a few places I should visit as I’m passing through the north island. He also said it was cheaper to get my ferry ticket online. That’s what’s at Picton, the ferry from the South Island to the north island.

I setup my tent and pulled out some food to cook in the kitchen area. After some unknowingly spicy noodles, a blueberry muffin, two slices of raisin bread and a beef jerky stick I head back to my tent.

Sooo I need to get up about 6 to catch the line of cars waiting to get out of here. Now I need to get out of my warm sleeping bag and go brush my teeth. Blah!

Thoughts:

I read something recently..

“When life puts you in tough situations, Don’t say, ‘Why me’ just say ‘Try me’ ”

I can’t explain why good things happen to bad people or why 1000 people pray to save a baby’s life and it still dies. I can’t explain why it seems life hears my plea and helps me. I can’t make you believe anything I pray means anything anyway. All I can do is plant seeds of hope and faith and pray one rainy day those seeds will grow.

“Don’t lose Hope. When the sun goes down, the stars come out. ” -unknown

11:47pm

Day 26. A taste of Civilization

9:28am

I came indoors yesterday to use the potty and have some food. I might have mentioned that I grabbed a fruit loaf (raisin bread) at the store. Had a banana and some chips and sat down on the friends couch. One of the fellows, Lierd (pronounced like weird but with an L) was walking around and I offered him one of my many extremely large bananas. We got to talking and I think we talked all afternoon as I waited for Christian to come back.

All of the guys in this house are going to ‘Uni’ (university..aka college) and I guess he had already missed his first two lectures and it was pouring out, so he was just taking the day off. He is studying Computer Science and I told him about my first two associates degrees in computers and how Cancer changed my mind to head into movie stuffs. Lol he said he spends most lecture days 3D modeling in Blender (its a free modeling program) so we connected on our common interests and he said he had always wanted to work on movies and I kind of felt like I was advising a younger me on what to do, and where to go. We talked about the future of AI and how all the smartest people out there are trying to stay away from it. We both agreed that when it happens it will be great!… then very bad. It will realize we are the virus on this earth. Your imagination can go from there.

He was very interested in my DAVE school work and the hard models we had to create. Then the reference videos I made of myself and animating a character to do the same. We talked about video games and the first game he ever played on the PlayStation was Last of Us. 🤤🤤🤤

I we talked about how AMAZING that game was and how it made you really care about the characters. He thought all video games were like that.. nooo. It spoiled him. Then we talked about how the score (music) always makes the game THAT much better. Then we listened to a bunch of video game soundtracks. Lol. A real 🤓 afternoon.

In the mean time I think I ate half of loaf of raisin bread right out of the bag. 😅 Hey. It’s good!

Christian and Lewis came back drenched. I thought they took the car but I guess Lewis was on a bicycle and Christian was running. It was raining pretty hard. It actually rained the rest of the night. So there are 6 guys that live here and they have a system where each guy cooks for the rest and cleans up at the end. While we talked and eventually started playing a skateboarding game a guy in the kitchen started cutting up chicken breasts. (I wish I remembered all their names) He was cooking for like 2 hours! He made a lot of food and I didn’t want to feel like they needed to feed me as well. So I just went by the door and hovered around there for a bit. I wasn’t hungry anyway. Lol. I guess I was kind of quiet because I heard Leird start talking about me. “Man he has done everything’s in life that I have wanted to do”. And the guys were asking him, like what? What an awkward position. Do I sneak outside or say something. Lol. I quickly poked my head around the corner and said “Everything. ” 😅😅

I walked around them and back into the living room to rejoin Christian.

We played that game for an hour or two. I guess I caught on kind of quick. I felt like gaming was my home. My lovely escape from this world.

Christian snapped this shot of me. Baseball bat for intruders or it’s just someone’s bat..?

Christian loves beer. We of course needed to go to the grocery right across the road and I needed to get more groceries since I plan on leaving tomorrow. I had to make sure I didn’t get a ton. I will be taking this all on my back instead of the last few days of letting the car carry my food.

Christian ended up getting an extra case of beer for his friends as a thank you, and I got a bunch of doughnuts for them and some misc other food. He got Becks beer. “Now that’s a real German beer”

A few of the guys asked if I wanted to sleep on the couch since it was still raining outside. I thought about it, then accepted. I went out to my tent and grabbed my sleeping bag and pillow. Everything was damp. I was happy that I would be actually inside for once in a long time. I wouldn’t even have to wake up freezing! 😄

Brushed my teeth and turned the lights out. Him on his huge inflatable mattress out of his car and me on my small couch. We talked to Christian for a bit about life / women / dating. Sadly he doesn’t have Facebook or Instagram. No real social media. Only email. He said he would invite me to his wedding when he got married, and I said the same. Lol. Who knows if I’ll see him again after tomorrow or not.

I told him that he has been a highlight of this trip. I know he will be reading this, but I wanted to say in our short time together he has been like a brother to me. We had a lot of laughs and good times. We shared many beautiful views together. I’ll get a good picture of him before I leave. He was reading my blog yesterday as I was playing games laughing at my comments about him being like smeagle. I thought the only way we could communicate was email but he reminded me that we have the app ‘whatsapp’. A free program that you can text any one anywhere in the world for free. Except. It’s linked to my Canadian number. After I move back to the US I don’t think I’ll have it anymore. Gonna miss you man! He flies up to Auckland in 2 days where he will be around there for a couple days visiting another friend. I could just go to the airport and fly there as well. Buuuuut I think that would be cheating. Lol

I have 10 days to get there and see as many places along the way. It’s on the North island so I’ll have to hitch about 630 miles (1018 km) There’s a ferry that goes between the islands I’ll have to take. I’ll see about stopping at Method studios and checking it the Lord of the Rings stuff on the way. I also wanted to kayak perhaps at some point?

It hit me yesterday how this trip is rapidly coming to a close. Almost in a hurry I need to head north.

Thoughts:

(I’m letting Christian do this part today)

“You know how it rained all day long yesterday.. Bob Marley has this saying that, ‘some people feel the rain and others just get wet’ It’s all in your perspective.”

That’s good! I’m being greedy and asking for another. 😄

Matthew 12:50

50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

(Lolllll I just recorded him talking for 6 minutes, he didn’t know) I’ll edit and post it sometime.

I figure most of you have heard a lot about him but know nothing about how he looks and speaks. Basically that the Lords family covers the entire world and when you travel you always have a family and people will go out of heir way to help.

My thoughts for the day:

If you have been following along.. I have planned NOTHING. Life plans for you. ‘Some how’..I have ended up in a good place every night. Looking ahead there are worrying thoughts about me covering a large amount of miles and stepping out of my comfort zone again.

You fear what you don’t know or don’t understand. BUT, if you have that undercurrent of peace in your life… you KNOW everything will work out. When you plan things, there are so many chances for you to get let down when your plans don’t work out. So why plan things? Unmet expectations = disappointment and frustration.

I saved these two images from a few days ago:

11:12am.

Day 25. Freezing water caving

9:48am Tuesday blogging about yesterday.

Today’s rock bounding and spelunking is for my good friend Margo Kelly. She wanted today to be dedicated to her grandpa Frank. I met Margo years ago.. I’m honestly not even sure how many years or where but I’m sure she knows. We had gone to many of the same events and groups together so seeing a person pretty much learning everything you are and at each place you are is pretty cool. Let me see… Church, College, InterVarsity, Small Group, and all the friends we made all knew both of us well. My friends were her friends and vice vs. She has a huge passion for helping people, many times so much that she puts herself into predicaments. Lol. Margo moments. 😁 She works very hard and has a pure soul. She has a thirst for God and I often bounce ideas off her for her input and thoughts. She’s been a good friend even though we have had life’s ups and downs, she remains a solid caring person. Her Grandpa Frank, though not passing from Cancer, went though chemotherapy for Lymphoma Cancer. Today, March 5th is the one year anniversary of the day he passed away right before turning 91. Five years ago he followed my Hope Ride so close I think he was my biggest supporter. My Hope Ride was a light to his life and it helped keep him positive. We had to get a picture together after my bicycle trip because he thought the world of me and what I was doing to help others.

I wish you could be around to follow my NZ trip Frank! Here’s to you.

Blogging:

Well. I heard it start raining in the middle of the night and into the morning. I would have gone out and grabbed my clothes off the clothes line to keep them dry, but there was no dry place to keep them! I had told Christian I wouldn’t blog in the morning so we could pack up quick and head to pickup Andrè. Got up and about about 9am and somehow managed to waste a lot of time. I really wanted a home cooked meal so I asked him if he wanted to drive into town real quick to checkout this place that was on my map that said it was the only restaurant in town. Told him I would pay for the food. (Oh yea, the campground owner came around the night before and collected the money for the night and we asked what was fun to do around the area. He said there wasn’t much but there were some caves around the castle hill area.) We drive into town and park and walk to where this ‘restaurant’ should be. Lol. It’s closed and empty. There is a for sale sign up by the road. Feeling like a complete idiot I have asked Christian to come out twice now and failed both times. Ughhh so we head to a small cafe that I know IS open. They don’t have any decent food to be made just able to get any kind of coffee and pointing at a breaded sandwich that had bacon and eggs on it we both got that. I got a cappuccino and he asked for a regular coffee. The lady working came back with 30 questions for what type of coffee. Milk fat, skim, sugar? What do you want in it, there’s no such thing as regular coffee here. I just tell her black coffee! I guess in Germany they only have 3 types of coffee. Too many options is never a good thing. I feel like a hobo because I now have damp socks on and my boots still not laced up. Wet socks are gross. We sit down while they make our food. I keep watch in the time. We have like 30 minutes till we have to pick this guy up! I haven’t had time to even pack anything up at the campground. We finish our food quickly and take a few shots of Springfield on the way back to the car.

The doughnut from the Simpson’s. Lol.

We get back to camp and without only taking one hot sip of my coffee race to pack everything up. We had 10 minutes. I’m not a person that likes to be late. Especially when someone else is depending on you. I’m not folding anything, and I shove all my wet clothes in a bag and the dripping wet tent in its bag. Cram the sleeping bag in its own bag and try to get the air out of my mattress. Not fast enough. I just start putting everting in the side car door so at least it’s in the car and in one place. We are 20 minutes late to go get the guy. (30 minutes is a record for me moving all my camping place from one place to another.) he said the day before that he didn’t know where he was going to stay or he might hitch a ride out or who knows. There wasn’t a way to get a hold of him. We arrived where we said we would be. I called him. Straight to voicemail. Well yea, there’s no WiFi out here so I didn’t expect him to pick up. We look around the area. No sign of him. Either he kept going last night because this was very flat ground and on farmers land so you could see everywhere or he already got picked up in the 20 min we were late, or he had slept in and wasn’t here on time. Well. We waited for a few minutes. Nothin. Guess we can move on now and assume the best for him.

It’s been spitting rain all morning.. we drive out of it about an hour later to bright sunshine! We pull off the road where a lot of tourists are. We are at Castle Hill.

We decide to dry all of our stuff on his car and my tent on the bushes. Lol. His other pair of boxers weren’t really drying so he put them on his head. LOL. He was also complaining about the top of his head getting burned. This photo is hilarious!

You can imagine the looks we are getting. He is barefoot, with his boxers on his head, drinking a beer while all of our clothes on drying on his car. 😂😂

There are many times in life where you really shouldn’t care how many people think you’re ridiculous. This was one of them. After an hour, everything was dry!

To this day.. when we want to do something.. the rain stops. When we don’t need to go anywhere, it starts.

This is what all the tourists have come to see. A TON of huge rounded rocks. It almost reminds me of…. yup. Just lost it… Stonehenge! Yea that.

I have a little bit of food and I grab a water bottle to take. We spend FOUR hours climbing rocks and being kids again. I think we took 100 pictures. Lol

Another perfect weather day.

Sometimes being high up was a little daunting, but at least getting there was relatively easy. Just gradual slopes and potholed rocks which helped my boots not slip. Christian, of course, barefoot. We tried to take a variety of photos, like for one where you flipped the picture side ways and it looked like you were falling down even though you were standing there.

My photo was executed poorly. His was a little better. Not quite the idea I had in my mind.

Then there’s tiny me.

And contemplating Christian.

We just really had a lot of fun bouncing around on big smooth rocks.

silhouette-ish

We started to walk back to the car to eat and it started sprinkling! We ran back to the rest of the way and get into the car. It starts pouring minutes later. LOL. We both agree that it needed to rain, but God holds it off till we are done.

We have some food in the car, pizza buns and fruit and figure we will head to the caves. Earlier he asked a group of people if they knew where the caves were and they said right down the road. I had seen him just break into the German language with several people now. I asked him how he knew that they were German?? He said it’s how they act, and of course if he hears them. He said most Germans don’t like to stand out so if you go near them, they will start talking English, or he can tell by the brands of clothes they were. That’s pretty cool!

So we don’t really have any idea what these caves consist of. We pull into a parking lot that seems to have a bunch of tour guides groups or just people in their vans. As I put on my newly dried shoes and socks I’m feeling pretty good. He goes to talk to some other German people as I’m looking up what thee caves are. He comes back and was told that it takes about 45 minutes to get through the caves and sometimes the water gets up to waist deep. Hmmm cool and crazy. I love to have a variety of things to do, and I didn’t imagine wading through water waist deep in a cave in New Zealand would be one of them. Why not? I have the first opportunity to put in my swimsuit and my second time being thankful that I have water shoes instead of flip flops. All the three times I had wanted flip flops. The water shoes have really good grip, but it holds all the water in the shoes. Lol. So each time I get out of the shower I have two small tubs of water I carry around on my feet till I take them off and empty them.

I put on my wrist strapped waterproof go pro and put my phone (which the case is supposed to be waterproof) in a plastic bag with some extra batteries for my headlamp. I also have a small backpack on that has a few granola bars in it. Christian.. has his swim suit and my small flashlight going in.

From my last caving experience, I assume the water shouldn’t be that cold and the air in the cave should remain a decent temp since it’s underground. He laughs at a few of the signs warnings as he doesn’t have warm clothing or good footwear on. We head down to the cave mouth.

The water.. is FREEZING! It’s like glacier waters, I can only hope in the cave the water gets warmer..?

The first thing that happens.. we hop down off a ledge into knee high water. The rocky floor just keeps going downhill. It’s so cold that I feel my breathe being sucked out of me! It’s only waist high but still! We get in a little ways and get past some of the deeper water and I attempt to take a picture of him.

😂😂😂 He looks like something that has lived in the cave for many years and is seeing my light for the first time. Some creature used to the dark caves.

Smeeee. As you can see my red light of my go pro. I recorded quite a bit in the cave. Hopefully there was enough light to get some decent footage.

Even though he is barefoot he is making progress much quicker than I am! I seem to double tap each rock. Once to make sure it’s steady then another time to plant and put weight on that foot. Unless I can see the ground underneath my feet. The water is actually super clear. There are several very strong currents that we have to get up. He doesn’t seem to care that it’s SO cold. I mean he did used to shower in the rivers and lakes around and he said it was about the same temp. Surprisingly as we went on the water became warmer. Or my legs became more numb? Not a lot of clear photos but a few times I asked if he would sit in a waterfall or he acted like he would shower in 30 seconds under a fountain that came from the high up ceiling.

This is me, TRYING to sit down in this waterfall because it was so cold my face gives it away.

Close to the end there was kind of a pool area that went to chest deep that he went into.

Finally there were metal handles to help you get out of the cave and we had to crawl on our knees a little bit

You can see the metal rungs on the far left of the picture.

LOL he looks like Smiegal from Lord of the Rings😂😂

Finally we made it out! That was a ton of fun!

We head up to a deck area to dry out.

Can’t have fun without some blood. I guess that list bit crawling on my knees wasn’t good?

I held it in the cold water for a bit to get the blood to stop coming out.

Admiring the beauty as we head beck to his car.

He talks about his next plans of going to Christchurch and staying there with some of his flat mates (roommates) I guess the friend that let him borrow the car lives in this house with 5 other guys. He said he would ask if I could camp out on their front lawn. Sounds good to me! We drive another 2 hours or less and arrive at his friends place. He just walks in and they are out back eating on a table for 6. “Ayyyyy Christian!!” I head out there with him and say hello to them all as I shake each guys hand and get his name and say, “I won’t remember any of your names” 😅

They chat a while as I give my story and card to one fella. I realize I only have 11 days left before my flight out of Auckland on the north island! I’ll have to hitch my way up there while making the best of things along the way. I plan on hopefully staying on their lawn another night to gather everything I had in his car and organizing it all and repacking it better.

While I’m setting up my tent Christian goes across the street to the grocery store. Christchurch is a pretty big town. I almost feel like I’m back in civilization again. I can’t stay long because of how far I need to travel left. I’ll hang with him today then have a bitter sweet good bye Tm. All his friends seem really cool, and one or two are German as well? At least one he was speaking German with.

I slept pretty well considering all the cars going by. There’s a row of shrubs in front of their house so the cars can’t see my tent. Incase you thought I was camping on the side walk. Still need to get pics. Who knows what I’ll do today, Christian says he wanted to head into town. I have barricaded myself into my tent and told myself I wasn’t leaving till I posted these last two days.

Sooo I have to pee and I’m hungry!

It’s 12:15pm

Thoughts:

Sometimes the best things that happen are the things you never expect. You won’t have too many adventures in your home, not meeting new people or playing video games all day. (Though for the last couple months I have had a craving for gaming for several days in a row.)

(😅😅 Christian just came to my tent and said, “Good morning! Or afternoon? It’s like noon what are your plans today?”) Is going to check out the colleges here in NZ and will be back in 2 hours and will grab me to head downtown.

Christian was playing music in the car and was telling me about a Dj who made the decision to join a cult and worship the devil. He said the dj then had voices in his head, tell him to kill himself and how much of a failure he was. He had serious head headaches, visions of demons, and horrible nightmares. The guy ended up going to an insane asylum and found a Christian man. He realized that God was more powerful and had better gifts than the devil. He gave his life to the lord and almost instantaneously all the migraines, voices, and nightmares left him. He plays house music now and some of the words are Christian lyrics. I truly believe that if you REALLY dig into one side of the other, Good Vs Evil, you WILL find the spirit side of this world. I believe everyday our minds are a battleground and every thought is either a step toward good or a step toward evil.

If you don’t believe it. Do your own research.

A few questions.

If atheists really are against or don’t believe in God, why do they get so angry when others do? It’s like me being angry at a person who believes in Santa clause. Why go out of your way to show you’re against something you don’t believe in? It’s like watching a person setting up mouse traps in a house if you don’t believe there’s a mouse. We could just be crazy. 🤪

Why are there millions of people that believe there is a higher power? (Maybe more than millions?) A non believer would basically have to say that the core thing all those people believe in is a lie?

As a non believer.. isn’t there something inside of you that you feel like you’re missing? You keep looking to find what you’re missing but everything doesn’t fill the void. Maybe all the things around you aren’t meant to fill that hole. At some point in your life you’ll do some thinking of your own. Your plans will never workout like you want them to. So many think more money or becoming a celebrity or finding a wife or girlfriend will complete them. It never will. You should trying looking up instead of around.. or down if you want to, but I don’t think you’ll like what you find.

Word of the day:

“We are not alone. There is always an unseen power working for righteousness.”

OLYMPIA BROWN

12:48pm

Day 24. A Traveling Day

7:55am Tuesday.

Ahhhhh I’m a day behind! I almost had no time yesterday to blog. I will break this up into two blog posts not only for my donation people, but because the app slows down soooo much.

Today (Sunday) is for Ryan Allen and the passing of his grandmother Ruth Allen. Ryan and I met at Stereo D in Toronto. He seemed very shy and timid but once you got past that he is one of the most lovable guys. He loves to have fun, volunteers more than anyone I know, and has a big heart. He is also very good at his job as a Visual Effects Artist and extremely fast. His grandma was the sweetest woman you would ever meet. She was diagnosed with lung Cancer in 2009 and she passed in 2011. She lived a good life, but at her age she didn’t want to go through treatment. Thank you Ryan for your donation. Your grandmother will be missed dearly.

Blog:

As we headed off into the cool blue sky we weren’t exactly sure where to go or what to do. Christian and I will be parting ways soon, but we knew we wanted to go to Castle Hill and make our way to Christchurch after. I guess Castle Hill is where the Dalai Lama had gone and said he felt so much cosmic energy and peace there. Figure why not.

We didn’t leave till almost 1pm so about 2 hours later we pulled off the side of the road to have our breakfast-lunch.

We were about out of food so we needed to stop to get groceries. About an hour later we stopped in Geraldine at a local grocery story. Saw this just before walking in:

They must have a large scooter problem. 😂

We start grabbing fruit as he gets an 18 pack of New Zealand beer. I have a cart and he is reluctant to put it in the cart because if we checkout one before the next they ask for both our IDs. Why? Like he is buying an underage me beer? You really think I would come into the store and stand behind him? Also they don’t take any kind of ID besides Kiwi. ONLY passports. Kind of crazy if you ask me. I tell him he will just have to take his crap out when we want to pay. Lol

Yessss. I haven’t had toothpaste in daysss! Also I have the regular string floss but it sucks. Takes a while to learn how to navigate the string properly in a mirror. Plus it hurts ma fingers.

So I get a bunch of fruit. Peaches, plums, a mango, bananas, and some pizza bread, chips, ramen noodles, and two cups of soup. Pizza bread is like you’re eating a soft roll but on top of it is like cheese and sauce..? They are good.

I walk around a corner and find Christian talking to a fellow. I guess a few weeks ago when Christian was with other people they picked this guy up. Same guy weeks later in a small grocery store. Lol. I guess he is heading the same direction we are. There isn’t much room left in the car but we will make him fit.

Andrè is his name. You like my classy backpack on the shopping cart don’t ya. He is from France and has a flight out in a few days to head to the Polynesia Islands to stay for who knows how long. He works in each country to get a little extra cash. He is making his way around the world and has only hit a few countries before NZ. Everyone I meet is just wingin it. It’s really impressive. Or I hear “we will just travel till our money runs out” a lot. Even Christian got a job in NZ working for an ice cream delivery job so he didn’t have to tap into any of the money he had saved.

We drive 2 more hours and I’ve been kind of checking the campgrounds along the way to find one that at least had a shower and a washer n dryer. At leasttt. The other fellas would prefer to stay at a free campground and not spend the money. It would be like $10 a person. I finally say, “I will pay for everyoneee to stay at this campground if we can stay there”. Two hours later we arrive in Springfield. (Simpsons anyone?) I convince at least Christian to stay at the campground, Andre doesn’t want to because of how noisy he thinks it will be and decides he wants to freedom camp. Ook then. He drop him off at the outskirts of town. He has a phone br has no data or minutes on it. It only works when in free WiFi. We plan to meet him at the same point at 10:30am the next morning.

The campground is pretty big! Not too many people. I go to find the person to pay as I search through the three buildings that were there. One was a building for cooking things with some couches and tables, the next was the showers, and the last was the bathrooms. I noticed they only had a washer..no dryer..? There was a clothesline by where we stopped with people’s towels and clothes on it. Eh. That should be fine to dry our clothes there. I can’t find anyone to pay. I ask a girl walking by and she says that the guy would be around later to collect the money. Mkay. I won’t worry about that then. I start setting up my tent, eager to shower and wash my clothes. I had spotted a bar / restaurant I wanted to go to in town and was hoping we could get there later to eat.

I had a dilemma.. I need to wash allllll of my clothes.. the washer said 45-50 minutes to wash. I assumed it was because there wasn’t much water so it would take a lot longer to fill the washer..?

I mention it to Christian.. like I’m not just going to sit around naked till my clothes are done.. He takes a shower as I finish setting up my tent, and blowing up my pillow and air mattress. It’s $1 for 4 minutes for hot water. It’s fine! I’ll pay $2!After you haven’t showered in a while you appreciate actually having one. Still contemplating how I’m going to manage washing all my clothes he comes back and says he has a great idea. There is a small table in the small shower room which has two showers and two sinks. There is an power outlet in there. As I just figure I’ll hang out in my towel in the bathroom till my clothes are washed he decided to join me and bring his speaker so we could have something to listen to. What a good friend. I guess I don’t know a lot of people that would go out of their way to make sure you weren’t sitting there alone. There’s plenty of room in the washer so he can wash his stuff too. I take off everything but my boxers, close the door to the shower then chuck them over so he can start the washer. Lollll

The inside of the shower looks kind of destroyed, and there is just a small trough where the water goes into and it leads to the outside of the building. I can see light through the hole. This building isn’t meant to be warm, his kind of thing would only work in warm weather. To my excitement after putting $1 in the machine, the water turns hot instantaneously and the pressure is good. I understand that when the 4 minutes is up, the hot water stops coming and it only sprays cold water so I kind of angle it away from me so I can step out of the spray at any time! I HATE cold showers. I make quick work and feel the water change, step out grab another $1 and put it in. Step back. Hot water. I do everything I need to do in the next 3 minutes (guesstimating) and am too afraid of the cold water hitting me so I just shut it off a little early. 😅

Well.. that was 8 minutes of the 45-50 of the washing machine. I hear one guy ask Christian if it’s he new thing to hang out in the shower room and play music. He just says, “Yea man!” I smile, because he is taking peoples lip to hang out with me while I wait. Such a great guy! He is drinking a beer and eating chips while I thoroughly brushing floss my teeth. He grew up drinking beer and loves the taste. He said that after he drinks coffee he gets headaches but when working in the hot sun, several beers are AMAZING. I don’t exactly agree. I understand they dehydrate you.. which I would assume would give you headaches..? Not him I guess. We are just hanging out in the bathroom like weirdos as people get in the showers. The washer finally finishes and I pull out a damp pair of boxers and damp shorts to put on. Ughhh wet clothes sucks. But I had no other choice. We take the rest of the clothes to put on the clothes line hoping they will dry soon. I put on a damp shirt and see if he wants to head into town to get a good meal. He agrees. I don’t even have a dry pair of socks. I’ll just go sockless in my boots. I feel semi like a new man. Besides being cold in my wet clean clothes. All showered and teeth brushed, flossed, even clipped my fingernails. 😄

We decide the town is close enough to walk to. Its pretty dark at this point.. about 8:30pm. I have my little flashlight that clips to my pocket beside my pocket knife. Sometimes I turn it on as we are walking down a gravel sidewalk. He prefers I keep it off so our eyes can adjust to the night. Eh, I still turn it on every once in a while to make sure nothing is in the path. He mentions before we leave that places might not be open because it’s such a small town. When we drove by earlier there were a bunch of people out drinking on a restaurant deck. They had to still be there, it’s so early! I’m flopping down the sidewalk in my barefoot unlaced boots and sometimes a few rocks get in there and I stop to empty them out. Why don’t I lace them up? I don’t know.. more friction for my damp feet might cause blisters..? My thought.

We both agree not to get our hopes up. Expectations are never good when unmet. We just agree that it would be a nice walk and my clothes can dry. It’s actually pretty warm out, and is comfortable in my less damp short sleeved shirt and shorts. It takes about 20 minutes to get to town. Well. The town is dead. No cars driving anywhere, no people. No sounds. Sigh…

We wander around a bit. Nothing is opened. There is even a gas station that the inside isn’t open. Just have to pay with a card to get gas it no employees are there? That’s just weird to me. We reluctantly was back but admire the sky and how we can see soooo many stars and talk about constellations. Extremely weird.. there no moon? The night before was the largest full moon I had ever seen.. but nothing tonight. I just said that it exerted all its energy the night before and was too tired today.

We get back to the campground and I head towards the kitchen building to grab my two power banks that I left charging earlier. They have a cool map to place a pin where you were Born.

Looks like a ton of UK, Europeans, and Germans. It gives you a nice idea of how many people come from where to come to NZ.

Christian crawls into the back of his car and we both eat a pizza bun before I retire to my tent. The clothes I’m wearing are dry, but all the rest on the line are not. It’s such a clear sky, we both agree it doesn’t look like rain.

Mistake.

Thoughts:

Good friends are for the most part hard to come by. Especially ones that go out of their way to be with you, or to make you feel better about a situation.

I thanked him for being so kind and he replied, “We are family man. Brothers in Christ”. I wish I could be so humble and have that kind of answer to many situations.

Masculinity bestows masculinity.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

-Albert Schweitzer

9:44am

Day 23. 2200 Steps Up A Mountain. Halfway??

8:42am

Today’s hike is for Anita Woodard! Thank you Anita!! She wanted me to pick a Cancer for this month and wear the color for them. This is for Colon Cancer! I have a lot of blue and that’s the color of March’s Colon Cancer color. 😄

Anita and I met going to IPFW together. (Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne) Its in Indiana. She’s such a sweet girl, and was always really good at graphic design. I. Was not. Lol. She has a great eye for photos and I can see why Chris Woodard (her husband) snatched her up so quick! Thank you thank you Anita!

Bloggin:

I posted my blog and quickly jumped out of my tent. “Ok posted!!” The guys had been talking in German all morning and had to switch to English for me. Lol. Christoph was the other Germans name and he decided he was going to do the Hooker Trail. (🤣) I was told it was SUPER easy. About 2 hour round trip. If not for meeting Christian I probably would have just done the Hooker as well. (What an odd sentence..) I take notes of what the locals say are the best hikes and the best views. Seley Tarns was the 2200 stair climb. It’s one thing actually knowing you’re going to be in pain and picking that route anyway.

I don’t think many people know they choose a route and understand how much pain will come of it. I think if many of us did, we wouldn’t choose those paths in life. BUT the best views and greatest achievements in life are from HARD WORK. Pain and Sweat.

Christian said he wanted to go up to the Müler Hut. So t get to the hut you have to go up Seley Tarns (2200 steps) and that’s the HALFWAY point! Good Lord I’m going to need some motivation and more muscle power. Today was going to be killer…

After I had a chance to scarf down a blueberry muffin, some fruit and some mango juice. I quickly packed stuff for the day hike to the top.

On a piece of paper in the kitchen I read 2200 steps. Not sure who marked this step:

And so it begins.. on that same piece of paper it read that this was considered the stairway to heaven. Lol

Start steppin! I’m doing alright for the first 30-45 minutes. Need to take a quick breath. Christian peels more and more clothing off as he hikes. “I only have 3 pairs of shirts, I don’t want to sweat in one if I don’t have to. Fresh sweat doesn’t smell to bad, 2 day old sweat doesn’t smell good” Good point! I turned my pants into shorts very quickly but whyy did I choose all black shirts?? He told me I should take it off! I once again told him that I would burnnnn so bad. I slathered 60 SPF on before this hike. Once again I had my own waterfalls under my shirt. Lol

I finally see on the forecast for where we are that it will rain in the beginning for the day and at the end. About time it was correct. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Sunny and warm! Though many times I wish the sun would have tucked behind a cloud instead of beating me up.

Steps after steps after steps. I even have my poles to help me up them. Christian I found out is part mountain goat. He has grown up around hills and mountains and hiked quite a bit in his life. Unlike me, living in Indiana there was nothing but flat land. Also the last two years sitting at a computer certainly didn’t help. He said his body goes into survival mode and he doesn’t really need too much water and certainly was not sweating as much as I was. He would say, the more you drink the more you sweat! I get that. Buuuut a few times I would feel the peak of a headache and know I need to stop ASAP for water. First sign of dehydration. I felt bad for him. He looked like he had so much energy but was going pretty slow for me. A few times he said he would run up ahead and wait for me. Totally fine with me! I did tell him that if he went a little bit a head it would give me more motivation to keep up. He also told me a story about people that lived in a huge desert (forgot where) that only drank water at night for the same reason, you drink water during the day and you just sweat it out! I guess your body could eventually adapt to that.

(I keep feeling deja vu like I have said some of the same things before) We both also realized we went to Haiti while I helped build a Church after the earthquake he helped build houses. He is a carpenter after all. Jesus was too.. hm.

Look at that exhausted mug shot. You can see how sweaty my shirt was. Not even halfway up the steps yet! If you can zoom in, just to the left of my shoulder is the campground. I can still see my tent. Lol

When we first arrived I had thought.. there’s no way anyone can hike up any of these mountains. They are SO huge. I guess I underestimated the power of a windy wooden staircase going almost straight up. It sure looks like I’ve gone a long way!

11:15am I took the picture of the start of the steps. That last picture was 11:33am. Sooo tiring.. at least now when I take a break I can feel my legs recover faster than before.

Look at that view! We are barely up the mountain!

We came across this pond and I follow Christian over to it. It’s so cold and refreshing to splash on our faces and heads. I would want to drink it though because it isn’t moving. Just sitting. Water was better than sweat dripping down my face!

We continued to go up. The coolness of the water didn’t last long as the hot sweat came back.

Christian took off his pants and was now skipping up steps in his boxers! Lol he has enough time waiting for me that he was able to take off his shoes to pull off his pants. He said he couldn’t stop for too long because his boxers would get sweaty and stick to him. Lolll. Nope didn’t get a picture.

Sometimes on the way up it would get kind of tricky. Shimmying sling rock ledges like this one:

Oh right.. the same going up the mountain.. I wondered why there were no more steps just rocks now.

I looked back. The trail that leads to the left I that picture was the top of those steps and a mice picnic table to eat on was over there. That steps SUCKED but it wasn’t thhhhaat bad..? I mean I didn’t die is what I’m saying. I could feel the core of my legs not refueling as fast as before. You try doing 2200 steps! Christian was taking them like he was walking from the basement of his house to the first floor. Jealous. I think he barely sweat also. 😑

This was what we had to look forward to..

Finding out that this was just a small hill and once we got to the top there was a lot more to go! I hit the top of that hill and he kept going towards the top. Time to stop for an apple.

What an awesome view..

There was a portion of big rocks to get over (bouldering) and then a steep incline of loose gravel before we reached the top.

My legs about done for. I have to stop a lot more frequently. I continuously push the thought out of my head that I don’t know if I can make this. I made up a song at the Isthmus Peak which I kind of sang on the way up. Iiiii can do it. I I can do it do it. I can can can can do do it it it it. Lol

Your brain tells you to stop WAY before your body gives out. Most people just stop when they get tired or feel a little pain. This is way beyond tired..

Finalllly the summit. There are a handful of people up there. Many exhausted and sitting down. The others eating some food. A few taking a ton of pictures. I mean I am too! I came all this way to see the view!!

Christian had waited at the top for me for in sure 30-45 min. He yelllsss “ayyeee mon!” When he sees me slowly making my way up. Out of breath. I… I. Made… I made it.

After taking a bit to catch my breath we climb a few ore boulders and take a look at the other side.

This picture doesn’t do the enormity of these mountains ANY justice. The night before we kept hearing either lighting or avalanche sounds. Kind of worried me a bit. But now that Jess at the top every so often you would hear the rumbling really loudly and you could see a huge chunk of snow break off and tumble down. What a site to witness.. I recorded a video but the snow falling looks so small! Though I knew it would be enough to bury a small mall.

Had to take lots of pictures!

The Müler Hut thankfully was around a corner and across a ton of huge rocks. We wanted to go up higher to another peak but it had been in the clouds since we got there and so assumed the view would be the same in it. We turned off the beaten path and headed up higher to the top of a large chunk of rocks. The billy goat just jumped from one rock to another enjoying every jump. I had to hold in my urges to blind from one rock to the next because I knew if I got hurt up there it would mean the end of this trip. Any of you that know me, know I don’t do the what-ifs. (What if this happens or what if that goes wrong what if what if) I let a few slip in to keep me a bit safer. So I took these big rocks a bit slower

To get to this big rock there was a 2-3 foot gap and between it dropped down about ten ft. I took this pic of him pointing out the mountains and their names.

I took a min to assess and jumped across. There aren’t many times when I leave all contact points from the ground but this was one of the few. I was used to using trekking poles and having at least 3 things touching the ground.

Selfie!

We decided to head the long way back down. It took 5 hours to get to that point. 99% up very little flat. He joked that there were a few places to rest like where you could take 2 steps before going up again.

He was tightening up his shoes to go back down and broke a shoe lace. “Nooo I was JUST thinking this morning that I’ve had these a while I wonder when they will snap?” He quickly tied the two broken ends together and decided instead of going the way we came to go down a steeper route to get to the main path again ‘since there was no cliff’. Lol. Ummm right. I said I would see him at the bottom because I know how fast he will take the steps down..

I take off my boots to air out my feet. Socks are little damp from sweating. I decide to take the same way back down and I find it quite a bit easier than going up. Going up is all about strength, grit, will power. Going down is about being cautious and trying not to depend on your knees tooooo much.

Some bouldering:

Slowly but surely I make it back down to the top of the 2200 steps and take a break at the picnic table.

Look how juicy that peach is!

At the top of the steps I can see my tent:

One last view from up high…

Sigh.. one day I’ll look back and forget about the pain and how hard it was to get these pictures.

I hit the bottom of the steps and knew I needed to hurry. Not only because Christian was no doubt waiting for at least an hour but because the previous night people came around about 7pm to check and make sure we had the proper tags on the cars and tents to stay the night and I didn’t for the next night.

Of corse as soon as I see him, he has already had dinner and cleaned up everything.

Oh yea I said I took a break at the picnic table and talked to a few people on the way down. This one lovely woman named Jo seemed to be one of the most positive souls and was talking to everyone passing by. She was in her lower 50s and the hut was her destination. I felt bad talking about how hard it was for me going up. Gave her a card and we talked about Cancer and life. I tried to find the quote she gave me but couldn’t. I’m pretty sure she said the Dahli Llama..? Said it. She said that if everyone stopped to just admire the beauty of a flower.. there would be no more wars. I liked that.. she also insisted I love my life and where I was headed. Thanks Jo!

I hurried and packed up my stuff and as soon as I plopped it into Christians trunk, I saw the orange vested people heading to check tents. Whew 😬 just in the nick of time. Filled up my water bottles and as we pulled out of the parking lot it starts raining. No joke. ☝🏻🙏🏼

It’s about 7pm and we are looking for the closest campground to stay at. Most of them are ‘self-contained’ sites. Which just means that your vehicle has a toilet in it. Yet the first place we went where all the people parked were those big camper and, there was still a toilet outside. Ok. How does that make sense. You HAVE to be able to use the bathroom in your vehicle, but Christian couldn’t park and stay there because he didn’t… even though there was a toilet outside. These are free campgrounds so I don’tknow.

I do love to see the rain from a distance:

The second site we go to on our camper ground apps say self-contained vehicles only but when we get there it says tents and vans can park and stay there for up to 4 days. Sweet

It had only been 2 hours, we parked and now I need to unload, unpack, and setup my tent again. Sighhhh

Go go gadget tent!… hm. No? Ok.

It got dark pretty fast. I setup my tent and we made dinner. I had some pasta, chips, a peach and more of my mango juice. He put a little speaker on top of his car and played some reggae Christian music and drank some wine and gave me a German beer to try. Not too bad.

We both stopped talking.. what was that.??

I took this picture the next morning to show you our view:

Through the trees I thought it looked like someone’s done tent with some REALLY bright lights inside.. can’t be. We stared at it for at least 10 minutes before figuring out what it was.. it was the moon!! The brightest moon I have ever seen, and it was a full moon! All of my camera junk couldn’t get a good photo. I even ran out into the fielder to fly my drone to see if it could pick it up. Nope. The perfect circle shimmered on the top of the water. We both agreed watching his was like watching tv.. but much better. Lol. This is the best picture I got:

Blessed!

I finally head to sleep.. too tired to blog. As usual.

TMI: Behind the scenes of the not so glamorous Hope Hike. I haven’t felt this gross in a long time. I haven’t had the opportunity to shower in a few days, I bought a brand new tube of toothpaste lost it, so I have been brushing my teeth without it,and my clothes have not been washed in longer. It was warm last night though. I felt greasy and sticky. My clothes now smelled like a men’s locker room. My hair is clumping and matted to my head. I’ve lost enough weight in my stomach that I have a fold of fat where it hasn’t had time to suck back into my body. Just kind of hangs there now. Facial hair update:

(It was cold this morning I wasn’t trying to hide my greasy hair)

I spent at least 2 hours this morning blogging. I could tell he was getting restless so I posted my donation picture and said I could do the rest on the road. We left the site about 12:45pm. Considering I wokeup at 8am. Had a peach, some of his olive bread he offered, some beef jerky, and finished off my chips. Super healthy eh? I think I can afford it.

We took off heading east. The weather once again is perfect. No idea where we will end up or what to do next. We need to get groceries, and IDEALLY camp at a place where we can shower and do our laundry. We will see.

Thoughts:

I’m not sure why we are here on earth. I DO know that time is short and you shouldn’t be sitting at a job you hate unless it’s to get to someplace you want.

Everyone has different things or ideas or thoughts that can motivate them. If you could just tap into those ideas and filter it into something good for you. Many eat because of stress, or smoke, or drink, just sit and watch tv. What would it be like if we worked out instead or craved fruit? Food for thought. You can alter the way your mind works through practice and repetition. Your thoughts make you who you are and your decisions everyday make you who you will become.

There’s no service to post this blog. Stopped to eat lunch.

2:25pm