The thing I like about holidays is the before and after. Of course ‘the during’ can be nice as well, but I get a great deal of pleasure from anticipation, and afterwards reflecting on the people I met.
This year I’m holidaying solo. Annette has taken multiple trips to Auckland see her new granddaughter, while I fed the chickens, ducks and dogs. Now it’s my turn, and Annette will keep the home fires burning.
I used to enjoy flying, but not anymore. When I was young, aircraft were often semi-full. I remember the flight when I returned to New Zealand for good; (gosh! That was thirty-eight years ago). I flew from Seattle to Honolulu, following the sun from east to west, arriving in Hawaii with a whole day to enjoy. I hitchhiked to a beach where I hired a mask and snorkel, and swam with tropical fish. Then I hitchhiked back Honolulu, bought some great running shoes, strolled down to Waikiki, watched the sun go down, and then bussed to the airport, boarded my airplane, got served a great meal, stretched out over three seats (the plane was less than half full), and had a great sleep. When I woke, I looked out the window and saw Great Barrier Island.
That was twenty-four years before 9/11 and also long before airlines woke up to making more money by filling every seat even if that meant astonishing discounts. Flying is cheaper now, but I find it an ordeal.
Nope, this year I won’t need to go through a security check, I won’t have to arrange an airport shuttle at some ungodly hour, I won’t need to worry about getting deep vein thrombosis. My transport is waiting in the garage, and my only time pressure will be arriving at my daily destination before it gets dark. Riding the Heaphy and Old Ghost Trail will be challenging enough in daylight. It’s much nicer to arrive at a hut before the sun goes down.
The first day I will ride over the Takaka Hill to Collingwood, then onto the Heaphy Track, down the West Coast to Seddonville, just north of Westport, into the hills again on the recently opened Old Ghost Trail. That will take me almost to Murchison. Shying away from the main road, I will ride via Lake Rotoroa to Glen Hope and on the final day make my way home via Tapawera and Wakefield. That’s nine days in total.
Annette says why don’t I just go for a seven or eight-hour ride each day and sleep at home. The answer is: I need an adventure. I expect to have memorable encounters. I hope to not have any mishaps. I look forward to coming home strong, healthy, clear-headed, and eager to throw myself into another great year at Eyebright.
MAY 26, 2017 • PETER OWEN