The Rurus - Adventure Before Dementia

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Month: January 2016

Buy the Ticket – Take the Trip : Stewart Island & The Catlins, New Zealand

SI9 Welcome to Stewart IslandOur time over this recent Christmas season had our noses pointing south to visit Stewart Island and The Catlins at the bottom of New Zealand, to have some time off the grid.

Having conversations with people the old fashioned way was enlightening.

We met two Americans individually who have both separately trekked the Appalachian Trail in the US.  Our plans for 2016 were to head there and step it out ourselves.  One American had just finished the Te Araroa Trail – a walking trail the length of New Zealand; the other was half way up the South Island doing it in reverse and taking some time out to show a fellow US mate Stewart Island.

Both fellas were walking ‘Lonely Planets’ on both the US and NZ trails; the conversations were motivating and exciting, it’s the raw emotional aspect that you don’t get from anything digital.   How to store food so you don’t get eaten by Bears, what to do during wild lightening storms so you don’t get a bolt up your arse, that Rattle Snakes are more scared of you than you should be of them if you don’t hear the rattle, and that getting medical attention for Tick bites so as not to contract Lymes Disease certainly had emotional grimaces we remember!

SI13Some of our best conversations have been when we have travelled and meeting like minded people in the flesh; this was just one of a number of them.

However, when they both asked, “Why aren’t you walking your own back yard first?”, we were speechless.  They had applied our very own reverse psychology questioning technique on us that we use on keeping others accountable for their own goals!  And they were right, why weren’t we?

We also met some trampers from Wellington at the first hut on the Rakiura Track.  With the weather tropical rain, we wanted to upgrade from the tent and thought we had secured a bed in the bunk room because of trekker no shows.  At 9.30pm after closing our eyes to dream, the renters of the spaces turned up and we had to relocate to sleeping on benches in the actual hut!  All was pleasant under the influence of head torches and warmth of the coal range fire flame.

It was over the boiling of the morning billy that we learnt that the late arrivals had three of them complete the Camino de Santiago walk in Spain during the year (we completed it in 2011).  The stained glass in the Cathedral in Leōn, the hundreds of flying swallows in Burgos, the river reflection in Molinaseca and the prairie of the Misetta made the mouth water for wanting to get back on it.  The fourth person of their party had trekked the Inca trail, another experience on our life list.

But the trekker among them whom through the kindness of his heart, donated one of his kidney’s to a total stranger on a hospital waiting list within the last couple of years, that was significantly sincere beyond anyone we have ever met before.  Such an ‘act of kindness’ for a fellow human to do boiled up an ‘eeeek’ grimace in-between looks of disbelief when we were trying to steal his bunk bed the evening before.

SI89Arriving back into Oban township and re-connecting again with our new found friends in the flesh, we celebrated the changing of the year watching the sparks from a beach bon fire drift up into the night sky.  We were grateful that we believed that we were at the right place at the right time.

Departing the island by air had us feeling energized.

Stewart Island was as much about seeing giant century old Rimu trees, rusting logging machine relics at rest amongst the regenerated fauna, whistling Tui’s and eating fresh blue cod fish n chips as it was as much about meeting new people.  The two Dept of Conservation volunteers in their 60’s from Dunedin at Port William Hut were as equally delightful to laugh with as they shared camp fire stories about the comings and goings of fellow trampers.  We could picture ourselves doing the same type of volunteer thing as our bodies become more weary!

SI21 Bridge crossingSI30SI52SI58SI60 The LoraxSI61 Everyone getting along

Buy the ticket – take the trip.

In the back of our minds still rang the question, “Why aren’t we walking our own back yard first?”

C14We toyed with this during our tiki tour of The Catlins where whispering beaches allowed us to swim with Hector Dolphins in the surf; or sit and observe Yellow Eyed Penguins prune and preen feathers on a petrified forest coast; or wander more native forest to waterfall spray, or hear seals bellow out squeals of chatter from a light house cliff top.  More campsite interactions with other people were had with those who also escaped the rat race to get on the conveyor belt and experience god’s own.  It cemented a change in our direction for 2016.

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Taking time off the grid to associate with life’s mentor’s who are out there doing it like we enjoy, was priceless.  From time to time, we too need these folk to keep us accountable to be doing what matters most.  And although we are talking about a big goal for us, for you it can be as big or small as you want it to be.   In upcoming blogs, we will give some tips on de-cluttering small talk so as to become a better conversationalist.

You don’t have to travel far for that.

Or perhaps come and join us later in 2016 as we step out the 3000 odd kms of our own country – the Te Araroa Trail, to experience it first-hand.

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Ki”WE” Conversations – Dwayne & Kirsten Tebbutt

Our FB friends – Dwayne & Kirsten Tebbutt

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Our last FB visit for 2015 had us park up on the front door step of Dwayne and Kirsten who reside in Mosgiel, an outer suburb of Dunedin.  We were unable to attend their wedding and when we ascertained how long it had been since they said those magical words “I do”, it was well over six years ago since.  They looked happy and there was certainly no indication of any seven year itching on the horizon.

The only scratching of any type was saved for their moggy ‘George’ who is a British Blue Garfield breed of feline.  One wrong stroke however, meant a swipe of a paw to in-bed a claw in the raw of one’s hand.  Any wonder it has a squashed up face with being punched back in the mush often!  Must struggle a bit when he licks his bottom too, not like other full faced cats!

Dwayne is a relic from the dragon boat days where he held his place in the power house section of the boat.  And as we shared our current life exploits – Kirsten had worked with my now company CEO in a previous employment role.  It’s a small world even between timely catch ups.

Dwayne is also the “King” of ‘Ripple Dipple’ or in real terms, the biggest loser of a game once played by fellow dragon boaters.  Each round loss meant the lighting of a flame to singe the end of a wine cork and then whilst still warm, brand one’s face with the charred end of the cork leaving a dot in the shape of a circle.  Where the term ‘ripple dipple’ originated from, who knows, but if you can imagine his face covered in twenty charred circles, he was king!

Reflective stories like this gets one laughing where it hurts the gut.  They are moments from the past that re-kindle timely friendships.  It was a lovely way to end the face book visits ticked off during 2015 as we headed to some off the grid time from the tread mill.

Most bottles of wine now have twist tops.  It is a rarity to find one with a cork  in it nowadays, a sign of the times.  But we love the content of any bottle of vino, and as long as we ripple the pouring of a nice Sav Blanc or Merlot; we will continue to grin with Kirsten at her dipple, Dwayne.

Another rarity should you ever meet him!

Ki”WE” Conversations – The Chattertons – Brent, Claire, Phoebe, Finn & Lucas

Our FB friends – The Chattertons – Brent, Claire, Phoebe, Finn, Lucas

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What would be the odds that there are another Brent and Claire couple with the same first names living in Christchurch, New Zealand?  And if there were, would the two odd Brent’s make up an even?!!

Brent was a visitor to our Toastmasters Club, that’s how we first met.  Making any new visitor welcome is best conducted by asking questions. Everyone who walks through the door to improve their public speaking ability is always nervous as heck, get them talking about themselves their bridges confidence.  It’s also a fantastic way to get into rapport and make any new potential member welcome.

It didn’t take long to get the conversation going a hundred miles an hour.  When Brent disclosed his wife was Claire – it was bugger anything about him and further inquisitive questions about each of our wives.  We took turns to best describe each other’s Claire to compare personalities, looks, characteristics and habits; each trying to imagine what the other Claire looked like to determine if we Brent’s had similar tastes.  Oddly enough, we each believed we did!

Brent got to meet BClaire first because she also attends the same Toastmasters Club … anything I had shared was naturally evidenced in the flesh.  Phew, nothing I had said was used against me – the ‘Brent’ kindred spirit thingy.  It was only a matter of time before a Face Book visit was arranged to meet Brent’s Claire and even up the situation and round out the oddity of another couple with the same relationship first names.

The confused looks on their kid’s faces when introducing ourselves was brilliant.  They had been told that Brent and Claire were coming for dinner and they innocently shrugged it off as always having dinner with their Mum and Dad.  Me telling them that they could just call us ‘Dad and Mum’ had them without a doubt looking at us oddly!  But it wasn’t long before a ball was being tossed down a cricket pitch or a bounce on the trampoline with Phoebe to see whose bottom could hit the ground or a paper and pencil to draw illustrations in-between adult chat was sewn into the visit.

This reminded us of our time spent with our own kids when they were growing up at similar ages.  Those moments have long gone so melting them with Brent and Claire’s was special.  We were able to watch a sunset on their deck to the twins Finn and Lucas sharing their passion for dancing.  They gave it all like no one was watching – who they took after with their style and poise had each parent pointing the finger at the other.  Huh, just like we do!

The Chatterton’s have travelled to far off destinations; they own and operate their own business; they are involved with community activities; they have participated at events like the Coast to Coast; Brent attends Toastmasters to improve speaking in-front of an audience; Claire has painted her family, her art hangs on a hallway hall; they have their photo experiences hanging on the wall opposite; and Claire was always pulling Brent up for his nonsensical humour – especially when he fired up a ‘chuffer’ that helps with keeping frost off the vines during winter as we sat in 20 degrees at dusk and it nearly blowing him up!

Yep, be warned people … there are another Brent and Claire out there, just like us!

What are the odds?