It was a repeat ride from Diamond Harbour to Lyttelton and return … this time on solo bikes.
Ya just gotta love our country …
BClaire and Lisa lined up amongst the punters to step out another 10km run to add to their lengthy list of kilometre-age trodden resume.
Mark (Lisa’s hubby) and I are always there in support to watch. Cheer then on. Clap them in. To capture that moment of crossing the finish line. It’s an important role we are tasked with and take it very seriously. Sure, we have missed them come in a couple of times. They’re quick in their old age. Besides, our sport at each event is to sample ‘eggs benedict’ through frequenting different location eateries. All sports magazines promote eating and hydration during events, ahem!
The event this time, the Kaikoura Whale run held by a little Kaikoura School just north of the township, a two-hour drive north of Christchurch. It’s a fun event fund raiser designed to encourage folk to have a ‘get fit’ project over winter to feel great for the summer. For BClaire and Lisa, it breaks the monotony of getting up under the cover of darkness weekdays to puff it out around Hagley every other morning.
Mark and I don’t attend those!
It was a spectacular view with the nose pointed north towards the steep rise of the Kaikoura Ranges. Furthermore, it was a landscape that was forever changed back on the 14th November 2016 when at two minutes after midnight, Kaikoura was rocked by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
The sea bed rose over two metres exposing wildlife that lived just below the tide line. Mountain sides are scared from earth slips. We had to take an inland route because the old coastal route in parts has only recently become passable.
For BClaire and I personally, Kaikoura holds dear to our hearts. We got engaged and then returned to place rings on fingers and tie the knot, getting married at the Winery overlooking the South Bay. Our stage included the mighty Kaikoura Ranges. Fifteen years ago. Strewth time flies when you are having fun.
A whale fun run at that, where there were no whales running! I did snap the girls though. And the eggs bene was okay ya’know!
BClaire and Lisa befriended another runner (similar age) who with her husband, downsized their life to be nomads travelling around our country in a caravan, parking up whenever they feel enough tarseal has been driven, so as to explore. Another bonus meeting like-minded minimalists.
It’s a small world. Perhaps a signal that it’s time to renew our vows. Know any good celebrants?
All un-sung heroes.
There is something to be cherished when one soaks in a hot tub of mineral water, sharing the warmth with mates. Bubble farts rippling the surface top from the crack below don’t stink as the odd whiff of sulphur reminds you that you are in a geothermal longitude and latitude – Hanmer Springs.
The water tide mark was up with all the hordes of other patrons. Tall people, short people, thin people, fat. Kids and olds and different nationalities at that. Bathing costumes to perv at, some not so good, faces with make-up and some that should wear a hood. Tattoos were many and piercings through bits, whether male or female from ears to one’s nipples.
It had been a while since we were last there. New shops have been erected and you couldn’t help wondering if the community were trying too hard to be a micro-tourist mecca the likes of Queenstown or Wanaka.
Beyond the commercial and residential suburbia, the adventure playground traditions still wait patiently for those whom put on either lycra, sweat pants or boots to mountain bike, walk or run or hike.
It was a two-hour round hump up Jacks Pass around then blat of the back country to then free wheel down Jollies Pass and back. The old Connical Hill ascent favourite was not to be missed. It gives one a brilliant 360° panoramic view of valley, mountain range and Waiau River. The white of snow breaks the mountain brown from the sky blue.
It’s worth the 90-minute drive north of Christchurch if traveling to our neck of the woods. So too the hot pools.
Only because there were kids around!
The buckets from above subsided … the grey matter broke open to reveal blue … it was an opportunity to head to some higher ground.
Calmbering over a slip on the pathway quite entertaining as fellow trailers negotiated the solid bits to be tricked and sink knee high in the sludgey mud.
We smiled at a number of people leaving their indent. Everyone else was too!
Full credit to the little Japanese girl who stood for ages pondering whether to go for it on the slip. It was halarious when I counted 3-2-1 and shouted ‘go’ to have her step off and go both knees deep. We turned around and quickly sped down the hillside not looking back.
It certainly wasn’t English swear words we know!
Disaster when your gumboots only came up your lower leg half way meaning the white powdery stuff broke off like an Antartic ice berg to drop into your galoshes. It didn’t take much longer for it to become liquified. Even the thickest of socks weren’t enough to protect the cold moisture nipping at your toes and the soles of your feet.
Laughter was frequent for the short arse in the party. Alannah’s step had the snow just about touch her butt cheeks. We took shorter steps to help. Every now and then, the undulation beneath meant a face plant. Laughter was then shared.From a distance, the slope to be conquered looked shallow. At the bottom, the paradigm as was sharper with steepness. However, this didn’t deter. Up we stepped using the footprints left behind by other adventurers seeking the same adrenalin of sliding back down.
As altitude was reached, a cool wind whipped from left to right. The sun beaming down in the cloudless sky did nothing to warm. It did however, make the landscape crisp as far as the eye could see. It was absolutely stunning to see the back bone of the South Island carpeted with snow.
Hordes of like-minded beings had made the most of what mother nature had dumped to create a play-ground so natural and free – there were little specs of bodies in all directions. It was fun to watch from above the number of people who ventured out onto the frozen ice of the lake below. As confidence grew, further out toward the middle they wearily trod. No one plunged through during our observation.There was no paper, scissors nor rock as to who would go first. Pick on the big guy!
As one looked down sitting on their toboggan moments before the grasp of the handle tightened and the feet lifted so gravity did its thing (nothing to do with a share slope at all, yeah right), you were zoned into the reality of what was.
This could either go tits up or plain sliding to the bottom.
A deep breath, a pause, and then feet lifted.
There was no yodelling ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music’, that’s for certain.
Some might describe it as a scream. Whatever it was. It just was.
We had seen the giants before in British Columbia, Canada. The goliath Douglas Fir tree. They were competing for supremacy over the Radiata Pine tree and, the Southern Rata tree which is one of New Zealand’s showiest and most beautiful of native plants when in blossom.
Even the largest lily in the world contested the landscape, the Tikouka. Commonly known as the Cabbage Tree, early European settlers used the hollowed-out trunks for chimneys for their huts. On the other hand, the dead leaves of cabbage trees burn readily, giving off intense heat. People either hate them or they love them. There is no in-between.
In the thick of either forest as the trail meandered from sea level elevation and back, one expected a bear to appear. But this wasn’t Canada. This was the headwaters of the Washpen Creek which is the longest tributary of the Hororata River.
The canopy was alive in song from the Bellbird. Their notes echoed throughout the gorge which reminded us of a call to prayer in surround sound. Fantails and sometimes the infrequent flit of a Tomtit guided us on the path trodden. The same earth once used by Maori to trap and kill the giant flightless New Zealand bird, the Moa. Some species grew to three metres and once an important source of food, they were all eaten as they have been extinct for three or four hundred years.
Erosion too carved out the rock into wave breaking shape formations. Tree seeds can prosper in the slightest of soil. This was evident with shades of green disrupting brown rock cliff faces.
The Bluff lookout allows for one to view the Canterbury Plains, 250 kms in length and an average of 60 kms in width. The Rakaia River streaks across the flatlands. The Washpen Falls would contribute to the water level somehow.
That past time has long gone as well. Go see for yourself. The breath of fresh air above the giants is exhilarating.
Training has started with a blat on the Fatty 29 tandem last Saturday and a blat on the mountain bikes on the Sunday.
It’s been a while since butts rode in tandem … all the technique was still there, yay!
And what better way to be inspired when we stopped for a rest, to be reminded of why we do the adventuring before dementia!
Sunday, minus 2 degrees celcius … the smiles say it all.
Find your purpose, your ‘why’ … and magnetise towards that. Plus 4 degrees in the sun was enough to magnetise toward, ahem!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Damn those tears of happiness. Now we had impaired vision!
Well done Chris and Nicola. The New Zealand mountain bike trails beckon.