Tag Archives: adventure

Blog-a-week

So I thought it might be an interesting challenge to try to publish at least one blog post a week. I got the idea when I received an email from WordPress inviting bloggers to take up a ‘new year’ challenge of blogging every day. Me, I know my limits. Once a week is good.

I was thinking, for me, 2009 was a bit like a river, which emptied into the sea of 2010. I’m pretty sure I know what I mean by that, but I’m not sure what that makes 2011. Doesn’t matter.

What I want from 2011 is adventure, confidence and connection. Again, I think I know what I mean by that. While I ponder the year ahead, have a look at some pretty pictures from a hike I did today with my sister. We hiked the Bear Canyon trail in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We were in t-shirts, soaking up the desert sunshine. Really, really lovely to find myself exactly where I was (am!).

Next I’m off on a mini tour of the Midwest, where I will reacquaint myself with the concept of cold. Especially on the Chicago leg of my tour.  Gives me something to blog about, no? (Later in the month I may well blog about Unemployment Strikes Again, Top Ideas for Getting Out of the House, and 101 Ways to Doctor your CV. But for now, adventure, where I find it.)

If anyone’s reading, what are you hoping for in the year ahead? Please comment if the whim strikes…

Getting on with it

I don’t like being unemployed anymore. As in unemployed and not travelling. Being unemployed because you’re travelling, now that’s great. There’s a purpose to that. Right? It’s fun anyway: life’s an adventure and anything is possible.

I’d like to say I’m treating every day, right here in Bristol, with the adventurous attitude of the traveller. I do sometimes, and that’s great. I do my best the rest of the time, and that’s ok too. But…well…it can be hard.

Nonetheless, alongside trying to sort out my work life and whatever else, I’ve been working on achieving another goal. Something that’s really quite important to me. Something I’ve faffed about with pretty much since I came to Bristol. Or longer really. I am going to become the cyclist I have for years envisioned myself to be!

Oooh, wow. Don’t laugh. You see, I can ride a bike fine. I’ve even quite recently thrown myself around a New Zealand forest on a mountain bike. But: I’m scared of traffic, not all that hot on the correct use of gears and get stopped at times by an annoying mix of gravity and the mildest of hills. And then just the other day I investigated and realised that my bike, which had suffered, al fresco, through the British winter in my absence, was in need of mechanical help. The brake pads were rubbing on the wheels, creating a horrible squeaking. But I arranged for a knight in shining armour (or a fetching fleece anyway) to be sent, free of charge, courtesy of the Cycling City project. All fixed now. Fantastic!

Next stop: my first cycle training session on Wednesday. Watch out, world!

This could be me!

Love letter

Dear NZ,

What can I say, you were fantastic. You provided the perfect setting for me to explore my own sense of adventure. Life will never be the same again after this trip, so thank you for being a part of it. I am more centred than ever before. And my world feels better.

Mt Maunganui was very pretty. I enjoyed that more than central Tauranga. I thought it was hilarious when you sent a horde of insects that looked like sandflies to afflict me as I climbed the mount in the blazing sun, but maybe they weren’t actually sandflies. At any rate, I don’t see any new bites so possibly it was a practical joke?

It amused me to see a local brochure bragging that a ‘leading guidebook’ says that Tauranga is about as Riviera as New Zealand gets. I know for a fact this was Lonely Planet because of course that is the guidebook I am using. What I want to know is: were the LP authors being catty? I initially thought so but Mt M is pretty good, I have to say, and it was nice to see the sea, as always. You know I’m a fan.

Crashing waves
The view from the Mount
Another view from the top
A beautiful tui who was singing as I neared the top!

So onwards to Auckland this afternoon. On the express 4-hour bus with no toilet breaks. (Contrary to popular rumours, I am not obsessed with toilets. I’m just saying.)

Before I go, I just want to say how I adore your public toilets with the flashing lights, and the ones with sliding doors (not obsessed), your roadside signs bearing public service messages such as DRINK DrIvE (it’s a visual thing, that one), the funny vowels and expressions of your people (‘sweet as’), your amazing wildlife of the sea and land, including the sometimes suprisingly loud birds and insects (but not the sandflies, even when they get into my ear so I can hear them buzz)…oh, and so much more.

You’re great.

Lots of love,

tk

And now, uh, I’d like to thank the South Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, Wanaka for being being there for me, the whole South Island for being magical and the North Island for being pretty damn cool (and hot!) too. And thanks to friends new and old, and anyone reading. I know I’m strange but you chose to read this. By the way, this blog doesn’t end here. ‘You’ll never see the end of the road while you’re travelling with me.’ (That’s from a song by Crowded House – I was quoting this at some point in my trip, and then this morning they played it in the cafe where I was sheltering from raindrops…)

Sentimental oddball, pictured in Wellington, NZ

‘One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.’ (Henry Miller)

Tracy in the sky

The time in Franz Josef was good – a bit of a chill-out time, hanging out with the ‘gang’. That horse trek never happened, though, a casualty of the difficulties in trying to coordinate a number of people’s schedules. J and I explored the local area and attempted to swim in the sea, which was hit us with stones, and in Okarito lagoon, which was surprisingly chilly. Found other forms of outdoor recreation, then returned to the village to arrange an overnight stay outside the accommodation where our friends were staying. The woman in the public bar said they were happy for us to park up and pay a fiver for a couple showers. That was until the next morning when, having just thrown open the camper van doors to get some life affirming cool air, we heard the crunching of gravel and were accosted by a man claiming that the owner didn’t want us there and it was lucky he was away or he’d be towing us away. Seems you just can’t win sometimes. But we were able to depart unscathed.

We decided to go have a look at Fox glacier. So here it is.

Carried on, following another of those lovely twisting roads, stopping off at a salmon farm/cafe for lunch and coffee. They did some tasty smoked salmon there. Through Mt Aspiring National Park, past beautiful waterfalls,

and Lakes Hawea and Wanaka, finally arriving at Lake Hawea village to stay for the night. Was hot, hot, hot well into the evening. Did some laundry (ooh) and cooked some dinner (aah), and later on went for a walk. It was very, very quiet where we were (gosh, it was quiet) and there were many, many stars to be seen. I can now find the Southern Cross very easily – those pointer stars do what they’re meant to. Go stargazer Trace.

Next morning it was a short drive into Wanaka, a chilled out lakeside town. We did the fuel, groceries, ice for the cooler routine, then paid a visit to Puzzling World. Very good fun those illusion rooms. You can create your own illusions too, if you are as clever as I am (ha ha) and also get totally caught up in the devilish puzzles they leave out in the cafe area (and not get at all frustrated when you can’t solve them, if you are as clever as I am, uh ha ha).

Next we came across some tennis courts and as for some reason we’d challenged each other to a game of tennis we needed to finally stop and do it, before time was up. My injuries and the amazing heat kept me from being the amazing player I normally am (ahem) though someone else claimed that it was also down to the superior upper body strength of one of the contenders. Well, I took on a trucker at sport and lost, but it is time I shared with my readers one of my great sources of pride on this trip. Kramer has muscles! Sorry I have no posing picture to share, but trust me, a combo of lugging things around and doing things like kayaking have given me muscles that even the sarcastic trucker admires.

Another highlight of my travels has been good fresh fruit, often procured from side of the road stalls (e.g. big fat cherries in Wanaka, yum).

But what you really want to hear about is how I came to be in the sky. Well of course I did that tandem paraglide mentioned before, flying from Coronet Peak near Queenstown. Here I am getting ready to go…

Here’s a shot from the flight with my lovely pilot from Brighton…

and here we are coming in for our landing (which followed some wonderously fun spins in the air, but unfortunately those bits didn’t get captured on the video):

I have some other videos (filmed by the trucker) that I will try to add at another time. For now, all I can say is when can I do it again?!! Ace.

I Love NZ

Since my last post, I have made it from Kaikoura on the east coast, around to Abel Tasman National Park in the northwest. I guess I keep saying things like this, but I’ve really enjoyed the changes in the scenery, and just how very laidback it is here on the South Island.

After heading out of Kaikoura we stopped off at viewpoint overlooking a seal colony and watched lazy seals, playful young seals (in a pool we called the Kindergarten) and this fellow, gazing out to sea:

We stayed around the back of a somewhat grotty hostel that night, in Blenheim. We were in wine country now and felt it would be nice to do a wine tasting. But first! The exciting opportunity to try out the healthcare (for foreigners) when my strange ankle (if you know of that saga) acted up, swelling and turning red. We visited the hospital and I was told by the triage nurse there (a friendly Canadian) that it would be best to go to a doctor and be seen for $60 rather than $300. I agreed. At the GP, I was treated very nicely as well, and then at the chemist as well. Everyone was so… nice!  So even though I spent money on rather boring stuff it was less painful than it might have been. I’ll stop now, as it is boring.

So then we visited sustainable Grove Mill, where we tasted and learned. Bought a ‘late harvest 2006 Gewurztraminer’ (which I guess is posh, it certainly tasted delicious – we drank it a couple days later sitting in camp chairs and nibbling on crackers with brie and blue cheese, mmm). The woman at the winery told us about the Irish bar in Picton (where we were headed) that has live music on a Monday night. It was Monday afternoon. An evening plan was forming.

Picton is a lovely place. Small but with a bit of bustle at this time of year, as it is is the ferry port that connects with Wellington on the North Island. After some dinner in our campsite we walked into town, I took a few minutes to play on the local playground equipment (I can recommend the slide), then we found the Irish bar, where I can report they do a good pint of Guinness, even if it is a bit pricey. And Monday night music as promised.

Next day we did part of the Snout Walkway, our uphill climb in the rapidly increasing heat earning us a great view of Queen Charlotte Sound. We met a French guy, and he and J talked football as guys always seem to do when I go walking with them. Age old ritual or something. After lunch we bought petrol and groceries and then got on the road toward Nelson. It was a beautiful route (aren’t they always) and with Eric Clapton playing (via speakers, not live) we wound our way along, stopping to make dinner alongside a river and then later stopping at a layby next to a beach, initally for the view but then decided to stay there the night as there was a portaloo and standpipe. The beach for some reason had not only the usual things like shells but also jawbones. J and I each found one, while walking separate stretches of beach. The next morning while we munched muesli and seagull had a go on one of the jaws.

We couldn’t swim at this beach, too stoney, so the next morning we found a sandier one and had a bath. Here I am admiring the view:

Our destination for the day was Abel Tasman National Park – where we have now spent the past couple days, staying at a campsite called Old MacDonald’s Farm. It was very noisy here with that roar (is that the word) of the insects or whatever it is. I can’t explain the sound – it doens’t disturb sleep or anything but it does make you sometimes need to speak up rather A LOT to be heard.

We hired mountain bikes for the afternoon and explored with them for awhile. Visited a sculpture garden run by a local artists collective, such a creative and peaceful place.

The next day we were up early for our sea kayaking trip. We had freedom rentals but still needed to be briefed on equipment, safety and so forth but were on the water by 10ish. What can I say: it was a gorgeous day in a beautiful place.

 

Will add more photos when I can.

In the meantime, have I mentioned sandflies? Bastards.

New year, new stuff

So here we are in 2010. On New Year’s Eve Mom and I ventured downtown to ‘First Night Tucson’, taking in music performances at various venues, some improv comedy, even an Ansel Adams exhibition at the museum of art. (Very cultured of us!) That New Year’s blue moon was beautiful. Here it is as it hung over downtown Tucson that night.

One of my early achievements of the year is this genuine crocheted ipod cover, which I fashioned with my very own clumsy hands. The photo makes it look like a giant (it’s not, I didn’t go that wrong.). It’s based on the one here, but with a big old button instead of a bow. Quirky, no?

I am both excited and jittery about my upcoming travels. I have fears, but they are just fears and, really, what a nice alternative to work and winter I face. Besides, I have done far scarier things. Four springs ago I moved to a city where I knew no one. My first days in Bristol were probably some of the hardest of my life. I have nothing to fear from travelling solo. Not jet lag, not loneliness, not the things that will go ‘wrong’. It isn’t that those things won’t be part of my experience – they will. It’s just that it’s worth it for all the other things I’ll experience.

I’ve been reading Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach. She writes about the time she took a year off from her job in America and headed to Europe. She includes the ups and downs of her travels and speaks of the adventure inherent in taking off for parts unknown. I like this quote from the introduction: ‘you are a woman in search of an adventure, said the voice inside. Take the risk. Say “Yes” to life instead of “No.”

So, tomorrow: I fly to southern California, where I will stay with my dad and stepmom. The following evening they will deliver me to LAX where I will board that 14 and a half hour flight to Sydney. Me, a backpack (which I carry with authority, I tell you, you should have seen me parading around the back garden the other day…), and a daypack stuffed with novels, food, a passport and other essentials.

I’ll take my trepidation with me too. But hopefully, like Alice Steinbach, I’ll be ‘guided less by expectations than by curiosity’.