Escape • Explore • Enjoy

While the bodies still can and we still have our marbles!

Tag: #conversations (page 1 of 9)

Mueller Hut, Aoraki/Mt Cook: Ko Aoraki te Māunga

Enrichment is to experience fellow beings do something they signed up for without researching first, what they signed up for.

And so was the case with our mates, Tin and Lisa and, Andy and Mandy.

“Would you guys be interested in walking into a hut?”

“Yep, sure”.

And so I booked Mueller Hut.  Not so much in as it was up.

Then the abuse started. Or more the research conducted and the many questions with self doubt asked once they ascertained that Mueller Hut was a steep climb up – 1,800 metres or so.  Being a funeral celebrant had nothing to do with it.  Not at all.

But they accepted.  And made time to train, whether up Rapaki Track or the pipeline of The Bridle Path.  And persevered.

Then the day arrived and unfortunately, due to predicted 150km winds expected the day we were to descend, DOC advised not to stay overnight but to still hump it up to the Sealy Tarn and if you can get up to the Ridge, bonus.

And so they did. Up steep zig zagging steps that had a number of others traversing the altitude, voice about the challenge.

Reaching the Sealy Tarn to peer out and up the Hooker Valley, Aoraki/Mount Cook graced the horizon with share mana, it was priceless.  Ko Aoraki te Māunga.  Translated, it means Aoraki/Mt Cook is my mountain.  An important part of my mihi,

It was gut busting and crunched bone on gristle or strained muscle off tendons.  But they did it – Tin and Lisa and, Mandy and Andy.

1,797 man-made steps they ascended.  How can one not be proud of ya mates.  How can one not be enriched, by them.

Then onward and more so upward we trekked.  Mandy’s dodgy knee won out on the next part and had M & A make the call to decide to re-trace the steps back down.  The rest of us continued on.

Orange markers and tussock abated to become rock and scree, sometimes we had to lean into the mountainside to keep the balance.

And when we reached the ridge line, the force of the wind in it’s infancy gave hair a buff up as if one had stuck a finger straight into an electrical socket.  Fellow trekkers were descending and their advice was to push on for a further 20 minutes.  The Mueller Hut was that close.

As we sat looking out the windows of the Mueller Hut to Mount Ollivier, there was a sense of achievement at taking on the elements and pushing the body boundaries to view the peak Sir Edmund Hillary first climbed to begin his life’s passion for summiting peaks of the globe.  His legacy was now our reality.  The 360 degree view was absolutely stunning.  Avalanche’s across the valley were regular, as snow cascaded down cliff faces.  The wind whistled between the hut piles cemented strongly into the rock foundations below.  It reminded us to get out and down before mother nature would allow otherwise.

And so we did, meeting up the Mandy and Andy at the Hermitage Mount Cook for a celebratory ale.  Before returning back to Twizel to our hosts the night before, Mike and Anne.  The meal prepared and dished up was amazing.  Only after retiring to the mattress did the body remind us that we had pushed the thing to the limits.

It was worth it.

Enrichment is to experience fellow beings do something they signed up for without researching first, what they signed up for.

Just waiting for the team to come back to me on the next adventure proposed.  They are currently doing their research … hahahahaha, ahem!

Never Before Have We Experienced Such: Lake Daniells Tramp

As soon as we opened the car door at Marble Hill, the bastards started nipping to suck blood! Sandflies. The race to smoother 80% deet insect repellent over exposed skin was on. Mandy lost in receiving the greater number of welts amongst the four of us. Swore the most too, ahem!

We were 5kms east of Springs Junction toward the Lewis Pass, at the start of an 8.4 km tramp into Lake Daniell for the night.

For BClaire & I, it is one of our favourites to take novice trampers on so they can be introduced to the world of getting lost on the landscape by foot. Carrying your life. We laugh with the newbies, not at them. We do that when they are out of sight and the beauty about this track is that it it nigh impossible to get lost on.

Except for the young fella who did back in 2002 and they found his body near the Alfred River. He was 14.

This was a practice tramp as well because in a couple of weeks, Mandy and Andy with Tin and Lisa are off on another little ‘Ruru’ adventure together. Tin and Lisa weren’t able to participate in this one as they are on a beach somewhere in the Pacific!

Anyway, off we stepped and the Sluice Box where you cross a cravass looked invitingly stunning. It was only five minutes into the walk and too early to get naked. The lake at the end is okay to skinny dip in after dropping the packs so onward the team progressed.

The 50 shades of green beech forest was alive with bird song – whether the Fantail, the Robin, the Bell bird and the like. So too was there the hum of wasps. We tend to respect each others personal space so as not to encounter confrontation.

The fauna was just beautiful as sunlight beamed down through the canopy. Old man’s beard translucent and the ground covered moss spongy like the softest mattress you could imagine. Stop starting is common to new comers to rest body parts newly discovered or rusty from lack of use. Whatever the reason, it’s about taking the time to take in the surrounds.

We arrived at the Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut to day walkers eating lunch or drying off from a swim. Once they departed, apparel was shed and into the lake we plunged to cool off and wash the sweat grime off. Heads kept above water as the lake sadly was slimey underfoot. It didn’t deter us from immersing the rest of the body.

No other trampers arrived, never before have we experienced such ever, to have a hut (sleeps 24) to ourselves. Andy lit the fire (even though it is was still hot and humid outside) … it was like a kid having a new toy for the very first time. As the light faded over a game of cards, the discussion turned to spooky stories cunjuring up Jason from Friday the 13th type fears that had us huddle. The snap of the branch and a gun shot echo didn’t help neither. Those of us who were awake most of the night – Mandy, BClaire and me had Andy’s snoring to contend with. It would’ve scared any monster who lurked beyond the hut walls away!

Rain arrived during the night and it was a lazy start tracing our footsteps from the day before. Poncho’s snailed in unison; the Alfred River and Sluice Box also up above the day before’s water mark. A stop in at Hanmer to soak the bones at the hot pools, well deserved.

There is no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this and, to experience it with a couple of novices made the adventure magical.

And the next ‘Ruru’ adventure before dementia with Mandy, Andy, Tin and Lisa … google Mueller Hut!

A mare 2,200 steps give or take a couple. Up.

17/11/17 West Coast Wilderness Trail – Impromptu Encounters … Priceless

To Greymouth we drove to participate in the West Coast Wilderness Trail mountain biking event.

Whether in a one day or over three or four days … take the journey.

You will be not be disatisfied with the road ridden … Ross to Hokitika to Cowboy Paradise to Kumara to Greymouth.

Or just the bits in-between.

The impromptu encounters – priceless.

And, certainly memorable …

 

… “Are you there?” was the question asked as we sat in the room of our B&B.

“Yes, come in”

It was the B&B operator’s daughter.

“Just wanted to know if you are any relation of a Sonny Ruru?”

“He was my Dad” the reply given.

“What a small world.  My Mum went out with him when Sonny used to live in Reefton.  Her name is Gladys and she would love to meet you”

And so we did.

Meet and greet and then had the most awesome conversation about my Dad when he lived in Reefton.  He worked in the mines and both him and Gladys were an item for the time he lived there.  The year, 1948 or there abouts.  Gladys was a Nurse Aid and she confirmed Dad’s story about the mining accident where Dad and one other made it out alive – Morris Skilton.  Another was unfortunate and was killed. Dad lived with a family by the name of the Lawrences during his time there; and when Dad returned to Christchurch, their relationship ended.

Shortly after our face to face, Gladys had found a black and white photo of her and Dad.

This was an impromptu encounter of the most amazing type. And ironically, it happened on the 17/11/17 (Friday) … which was Sonny’s birthday.

Leaving Greymouth, we back tracked to Ross (the start of my ride) to do touristy thing as the township had pioneer history worthy of a re-visit.  Calling into friends Tane, Rachel, Ruby, Ava and Tilly in-between for a nose rub and bounce on the tramp was fun.

Just as priceless as the impromptu encounter.

‘It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you’ – Rumi

30/4/17 Becoming an Orphan

On the 31st March 2017, my father passed.

I became an ‘orphan’.

It’s been a long tough year and a bit.

We had been at peace with him closing his eyes for a wee while as the quality of his life had degenerated to being bed ridden most days or on a good day, propped up-right in a lounger with head hung down toward his chest, asleep.  Sadly, dementia is a terrible existence to have to bare witness to.

The heartfelt gratefulness toward the nurses, doctors and more so my Step-Mum Margaret whom provided for my Dad in the most exemplary manner right up till the shut eye is solace to know that they would have helped with his happily ever after, where ever that may be.

Actually, I do know.  It’s on a hillside overlooking the Koukourarata (Port Levy) harbour on Banks Peninsula.  I helped dig the grave.  I also helped my older brother David with getting out when he couldn’t from the depths after his turn at digging!  Hah, I had his back.  Or more like a foot hold!

The spot is tranquil, serene and my Dad’s Tūrangawaewae – his place to stand.  Or now, his place to rest.

The beauty of such an event was the coming together of family to celebrate his life.  Especially those young nephew and niece family members that were just face book relationships and whom I never knew personally.  A dysfunctional family does that.  So too a sibling with issues who carries a pet rock, unfortunately.

Nonetheless, stories of yesteryear flowed.  Bad and good.  Whether a tear of sadness or a tear of laughter.  Reflective and re-framing.  Noses rubbed.  Some rubbed off!  Certainly, a transitional experience.

My extraordinary memory will forever be the fortunate experience of sharing a tandem with my Dad.  Watching him hobble (he had had five hip replacements so was lop-sided) down to the ebbing waves on the shores of Sumner Beach on the east coast of the South Island; to then rotate the pedals across the flatlands of the Canterbury Plains; to free wheel the down-hill sections of the South Island Alps backbone to the shores of Greymouth with the might of the Tasman Sea on the West Coast.

Made priceless with him telling one and all that he had cycled the ‘Coast to Coast’ when in fact, he rode what he pushed himself to do and then we threw the bike on the back of the van to drive some way’s up the road to then have another session of staying upright.  Probably only 30 kms all up!

My Dad once gave me a ‘pounamu’ pennant that had an imprint of an Owl inscribed into the greenstone.  In Maori our name ‘Ruru’ means Morepork which is a native New Zealand Owl.  Before I gave the same pennant to my daughter Claire on her 21st birthday, I had the exact imprint tattooed on my right arm.

Being a minimalist, the tattoo has more personal depth to remember him by as our adventures to explore the planet will continue, eventually.  Better than anything materialistic such as a medal or a wooden stick.

And, made extra significant when my son Cameron, daughter Claire, older brother David and his wife Janice, nephew Morgan Moa and niece Rebecca Moa too followed suit and had a similar tattoo inked on their person.  Dad was so proud of them.

My half-brother John once gave me a piece of wisdom that become a mantra I’ve carried with me and lived by since all those summers ago.  “Once your Dad is gone, it doesn’t matter what you want to say or what you don’t say, it’s too late.”  Sure, I banged heads with me ole man, who doesn’t?  But at the end of his days, we had a close relationship as any true son would have with his Dad.  I just didn’t need to keep feathering an ego every day with face book postings that was more about ‘look at me with Dad, I’m the favourite’ to solicit ‘likes’ or smiley face images.

Everything that needed to be said to him, was said.  Everything that was said by him to me, was said.

That’s the lesson I want to share with you.  Own what you want to say; own what you don’t want to say.  Do both before you become an orphan.  And when you do become an orphan, let go and move on to leave the departed at peace versus continuing to use their name for further vanity purposes.

Except for when brother David returns to New Zealand of course and we play our golf game like we used to do as father and sons.  Dad will no doubt be listening for the bullshit banter and get mentioned in there amongst it!

I’ll miss my Dad but don’t stress.  The step-side of the family have adopted me.  Yay!  Something lost was something gained.

Let the arguments begin as to who the favourite step-sister is.  Will come down to the best present on Christmas Day.  As family.

Cheers Dad, you tough old bugger.  Now may you R.I.P.

29/3/17 I Love Chocolate

Who doesn’t love chocolate?

An early morning drop off to the airport for another Te Araroa Trail walker Rob, who completed the whole distance by foot.

We met Rob half way down the North Island and then played ‘cat and mouse’ on route till Wellington.

If you want to be fascinated by his keenness to capture life at it’s most starriest … check out some of his night shots of the solar system over New Zealand on his fb page photos.

‘I have chocolate’ was his signage used to hitch a ride from the deep south to Christchurch. We ate what was left over so as to make room for the three books we donated to him so as to de-clutter some more!

Keeping us in focus to work smarter, not harder was welcomed. Adventure before dementia … eating heaps of Caremello naturally!

Cheers Rob, loved the visit.

25/3/17 The Blind Leading the Sighted

A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to speak at a Mentee/Mentors evening for The Blind Foundation.

The contact there had heard us speak a month earlier whereby we shared some tools around goal setting and how that contributed to our adventure before dementia travel lifestyle – especially the tandem ride across Canada.  She wanted us to share our dream it, design it and do it 3-3-5-3 Best Year Ever tool to help participants focus on their dreams they want to realize.  Excuse the pun but they have an amazing sense of humour when able sighted folk mistakenly refer to anything to do with the ability to see things and they can’t!

There was no point in showing our power point image presentation.   Instead, we adjusted our narrative to use more descriptive words and worked hard to describe the illustrations we wanted them to picture in their minds.  It went well.

Whilst mingling with them and their guide dogs afterwards, we learnt volunteers take some of the group for cycle rides on the back of tandems.  This resonated with us somewhat and how easy was it for us to sign up to be a volunteer a couple of mornings a month.

One couple present had a tandem.  With Chris (fully sighted) on the front and Nicola (visually impaired) the stoker on the back, Chris was not confident on sharing the tar seal with other traffic.  With a goal to travel around New Zealand to ride as many of the off-road mountain tracks as possible, they hadn’t yet taken to some of the mountain bike tracks in our own back yard, Christchurch.

We arranged that we would chaperone them around McLean’s Island mountain bike track and give them some coaching on manoeuvring a tandem with all the bells and whistles of staying up right; negotiating an incline and/or decline; navigate sharp bends; and slalom the natural obstacles of a protruding rock or tree root or stump.  Nicola warned that coarse language is sometimes necessary to remind the fella on the front of the pillion passenger on the back.

The experience was one of the blind leading the sighted.

Their tenacity to get out and blat the ten kilometres was beautiful.  And with only one swear word moment!

They have a re-kindled enthusiasm to get on with their training because they took the leap of faith.  In us.  But more so in themselves.

Our reward, to watch Chris and Nicola achieve something they have procrastinated in doing for however long.  We couldn’t but help rouse the ducts to well up and weep a smidgeon.

Damn those tears of happiness.  Now we had impaired vision!

Well done Chris and Nicola.  The New Zealand mountain bike trails beckon.

20/3/17 A Leaf from the Maple Visit – Two of Them

From the blog post 1/7/16 Licking Limes, Vermilion Bay to Wabiggon – 68.1. kms

“It’s Canada Day here in the land of the Maple Leaf today.

After yesterday’s acclimatisation to the inclines and declines, we encountered a number of folk who made the day seem to go so much faster yet taking longer.  But it wasn’t over yet.

As we came out of the local store, up rode another cyclist.  Her name was Sheri and she too was going in the opposite direction.  Marcus (out other biker mate up ahead of us) had told Sheri about the Kiwi’s on a tandem so it was like we just picked up a conversation like long lost friends versus being total strangers.  So much so that we all purchased a beer (or Claire a Licking Lime) and microwave dinner each, went back to the hotel (Sheri booked in also) and spent the remainder of the sunshine rays conversing about life, blended families, dreams and sore arses.

What a fantastic way to celebrate Canada’s birthday with special people met.

Must have been a little de-hydrated somewhat as we didn’t see the fireworks go off as part of the festivities.

Just the bottom of the eyelids.”

Who would have ever imagined that this one encounter with a total stranger would have the same person whom we now call a friend, sitting in our lounge down under in the land of the long white cloud?

Sheri is visiting New Zealand and has been cycling the landscape of the South Island.

And to think that Marcus from the same blog post had laid his head down on our lounge floor only last Thursday, just four days before!  He too has been cycling the landscape of the North Island.

A couple of maple leaf visitors of special people met where encounters began on the other side of the planet to now be rubbing noses in our part of the world.

Cheers Sheri and Marcus for visiting – it was just magic to see you both again.

Keep coming people!

5/3/17 The Christmas Tree Is Up, Ho Ho Ho

Our days of living out of a back pack or suitcase have come to an end!

For the time being anyway.

During the week, we relocated back into our 80m2 abode after a month of putting the heads down at various locations.  There is something to be said about finding the contours of your own mattress or the smells of your pillow comfort.  The ability to walk naked when one wanders to the bathroom or to make a cup of tea under the cover of night is just a relaxed feeling.

Remembering to shut the curtains before turning the lights on is a habit to be re-mastered.  We will get there, ahem!

It too has been a month of backyard pace doing activity conducive to working our plan be get back to again adventuring this beautiful landscape we have.  And to eventually get lost in another’s.

Attending a travel expo does that to you.  Collecting magazines with images of hinterland and adventure does that to you.  You only need to affix one image of a destination you want to explore to your external fridge door to remind you to take daily action toward realizing it.  It does that to you.

But alas, there is a heap of work still to be done first.  In the now.

I have picked up where I left off with my previous employer doing family dispute resolution mediation co-ordination and Claire has picked up a role sorting freight for CourierPost in the evenings.

Claire has launched her Bookkeeping services to small to medium businesses.  I have launched my availability to be your Celebrant whether for matching people (marriages) or dispatching people (funerals).

Our mentor Jim Rohn says it well, “wages will make you a living, profits will make you fortune.”  We don’t need much fortune to travel how we do.  And our little piece of residence contributes to that, 80m2 of space means less dusting and minimal gardening.

Getting our belongings out of storage and unwrapping our possessions has been like Christmas.  Putting up our Christmas Tree (although artificial and who made up the rules to say you can only do it at the merry time of the year?) has been fun.  Placing the decorations reflective – the sandals from Vietnam; the figurines from East Africa; the turtle from Sri Lanka; the calendar from Egypt; the piece of rock from Mt Everest Base Camp.  Nothing artificial about these.  Just heartfelt reminders for us to stay focused on what has mattered most, collecting experiences.

An impromptu message via Linkedin yesterday from a couple visiting Christchurch whom Claire worked with in Dubai all those years ago, and becoming friends, was the best house warming surprise we could have ever imagined.  Having them over for a meal and converse about life that was, life that is and life that is to be, priceless.

These are the type of experiences we refer too.

And timely to communicate that we are back on deck and now settled.  Ready for those wanderers looking for a place to rest THEIR heads.  It may be tiny however, it will be homely.

Naturally, family and friends too!

Ho, ho, ho.

24/1/17 Wellington Botanical Gardens to Island Bay – 17 kms: Not All Who Wander Are Lost

We retraced our route by bus back to where we ended yesterday’s walking and bumped into Ben from the Yukon whom we met at hut two up in the Tararua Ranges.  He too was doing what we were at finishing the North Island part today and joined us.  The more the merrier!

Nick and I had this crazy idea of doing a pie-athon across the city.  This is where you eat as many pies along the way and so started with one before we trudged out the last of the steps.  It was the staple diet we missed when chomping continuous tuna and two-minute noodles and so downed a mince and cheese Irvines pie without hesitation.  It was delicious!  Claire and Ben were non-participative.

We entered into the Botanical Gardens themselves, only to get lost.  Yep, we had followed a route map all the way down the island without issue and now struggled to getting the path right to exit the thing.  It was not only ridiculous but embarrassing!  We had to back track and criss-cross and sometimes ask for directions.  Setting off the Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) did become a topic of conversation at one point.  When we eventually did exit, it was a little longer than anticipated.  If you were to ask what we saw in foliage and fauna – have no idea.  The focus was on getting out of the damn thing!  A consolation was that the view from the top of the cable car was nice, white caps on the harbour water indicating it being a little blustery.  It’s not called Windy Wellington because of farting!

There we were, TA walkers in grungy apparel walking up a main street of downtown toward finely dressed pedestrians.  Being polite later that evening, my cousin mentioned that we were kind of smelly before we left this morning.   That would have explained some pedestrians over taking us walking in the same direction quite rapidly.  Jeez, I wondered if the old work colleague we bumped into felt the same.  I think it was a smile to see me versus a grimace from the hug I gave him, and being stinky!

The buzz of city busyness with folk going about their life was just manic.  Somewhere along the way here, we lost Ben.  So too did the pie-athon evaporate!  We reached the waterfront and it too was active with people jogging the bay.  Already thoughts of keeping the fitness level sustained beyond the trail are on the radar so as to keep the tube around the belly from expanding.  The mountain bike seat is beckoning …

But there was plenty of fitness incorporated in the last 10 kms.  We peeled off the bay and climbed up on to the slopes of Mt Victoria following Wellington’s ‘Southern Walkway’.  We crested the ridgeline to view Wellington City from yesterday’s opposite bearing; thunder from the airport to the left where planes were coming and going; and to the front, the open blue sea got closer.  Mt Albert was ascended for a last altitude photo from the trig before the descend down to the coastline for the last time.

It was timely to read some graffiti on a public toilet block, ‘Not all who wander are lost.’

There is a ship’s propeller positioned as a monument to a naval ship that was scuttled off the coast after it was de-commissioned.  Nick had served on the thing when it was in active service up in the Gulf and as he stood there, he was in deep thought of reflection.  Pollen in the eyes he said before we continued.

We reached Shortland Park and our last steps magnitised to the sea boundary fence.   We found what we set out to do at the start of today.  Huh, we weren’t lost afterall.

A stone cairn memorial marking the end (or beginning) of Te Araroa in the North Island.

23/1/17 Porirua to Wellington Botanical Gardens – 31 kms: The Best of the Worst

The weather bombs over the past ten days have been unbelievable.  It’s supposed to be our summer and it would be fair to script that this has been the best of the worst summer one can remember.  The amount of rain has been phenomenal and has caused havoc up and down the country.

There was a forecasted break today although at 8am this morning, you would think we were in for another layover.  At 9am, we decided to take the risk and with all our wet weather apparel on, we stepped out into the puddles to be rained on.

The track up to Colonial Knob was under cover from ferns and Nikau palms and there were a number of steps to ascend.  It wasn’t long before the sweat beads rolled down the forehead so stopping to disrobe apparel made it more comfortable.  To our astonishment, the rain had certainly abated and when we broke undergrowth cover, the clouds had dispersed somewhat providing us with spectacular views of Porirua City proper.

The 14 kms walked to Mt Kaukau was just a smorgasbord of 360° views.  Bumps from the Tararua Ranges on the northern horizon; the Rimutaka Ranges more prominent being closer; Wellington City a haze of houses and skyscrapers; giant wind propellers adorned the southern horizon.  Out to the west, the mighty landscape of the top of the South Island.  We were below it now latitude wise; and finishing the directional clock, Kapiti Island stood motionless in a distance form of blue.

Sheep and cattle grazed the pastures; the man-made pine forest was aged as the trunks of the trees rose high into the sky.  Ohariu Valley introduced more habitat with a huge equestrian community tending to the care and maintenance of the horse’s present.  Every now and again we gave way to woman and beast sharing the tar seal being walked.  They never get told off for fouling the roads!  Mind you, the fresh stuff was probably a sweet smell better than our body odour after the haul trodden so far.

The ascent up to Mt Kaukau itself was gradual encountering day walkers.  The telecommunications tower a beacon from all angles and it was out last altitude to be summited in the North Island.  We could make out more distinctive features of the Capital City itself and although the legs were feeling the distance, the adrenalin of the end being in sight carried us some more.

Close to the Botanical Gardens, a call was made to a cousin seeking a resting place for the night.  Our attempt to reach Te Papa Museum fell short by approx. 4kms; the bodies were ready to lay down in protest.  Another 31 kms today.  Tomorrow, we will finish for sure and bring home the closing of the North Island leg.

We sat eating our evening meal with family to experience the sun slide down behind the silhouette of the South Island.  You felt like you could reach out and just touch it.

It won’t be long before we do.

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