6,437 KM From Home

There’s a spider living in Momo’s mirror.

I’ve never actually seen it, though I know it’s true; because every time that I get in my car I wipe the silky web away, only to find that after I’ve been away the web has sure enough appeared again.

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Me n’ spidey cruising around Lake Wanaka while Jack plays the ukulele in the passenger seat and I take photos out the window when I should use my hands for driving. (Lake Wanaka, New Zealand)

At first I found this to be annoying and slightly unnerving. What kind of critter has the audacity to invade my space like so? Then, I realized this spider was a traveling man, a best mate, not the constant companion I deserve, but the one that I need. Who am I to complain? This arachnid has been with me all the way, has illustrated to me that faith is indeed believing without seeing. I’m afraid this spider may have become my best friend in New Zealand. I think that makes me Hagrid.

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Well anyways, I am overdue on this blog by three weeks – me oh my. I hope you haven’t been hanging on the edge of your seat, because if you had been surely you’d have fallen off by now. Truthfully, life has been too lively and the days too full to sit around staring at a screen. So if my absence has offended you, I’m deeply sorry!

To begin to convey everything that has happened since April 9th (the last blog I posted), would take me flying from New Zealand to a town near you so we could have a good yarn for a couple of hours; and though I would love that, I just don’t think it’s in my budget. So, let’s settle on a cyber yarn.

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You know what’s one of my favorite things in life? A serendipitous moment. And when you live on an island in the Pacific with the same population of just the Puget Sound metropolis, flightless birds, and epic mountain loos, you have a lot of them. Favorites:

  1. Seeing a penguin wandering in the middle of a forest in the pitch black. It was only my headlight that revealed its clumsy wander down the Abel Tasman track. When we came upon the little guy, it ceased tripping over tree roots and crashing through the leaves to make a brief moment of terrified eye contact with us before it disappeared into the night. Did I know this part of New Zealand was inhabited by penguins? I absolutely did not. Pleasant surprise? Indeed.
  2. Hearing my Kiwi friend Andrew pronounce chorizo as “srit-zo”. Sometimes they don’t get all the memos out here.
  3. Watching this same friend boulder (climb) on a rock on the beach in the pitch black of the night, being a total badass, only to have the rock crumble within his hands, sending him back to Earth, and in doing so teaching him a lesson about gravity. Thud, “Oof!”, *Catch my breath from laughter*, “Are you okay Andrew?”, “Ow.”

Those type of moments, you know? The ones you can’t plan and can’t stop smiling about once they’ve passed.

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Moments before impact. (Abel Tasman NP, New Zealand)

The more time I spend writing this blog the more things I think of to share… “eddy in, eddy out” songs, flipping one million times white water kayaking, getting stuck in a cyclone on a mountain ridge, riding a mechanical bull in a bar called “Cowboy” in Queenstown, bringing the American expression “sooee” to New Zealand, hiking the entire Routeburn great walk in a day, jumping in the clearest water I’ve seen in my life, tramping in the dark to meet my friend on the top of a mountain across from a glacier with the hopes of seeing the Southern Lights…just to scrape the surface.

But, this blog is running long and I’ve already inserted a list, so congratulations – consider yourself spared from my usual recitation of cheesy thoughts. Instead I’ll just share one more serendipitous moment, this one involving an Israeli named “Roi.”

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Roi is a traveler. He had been in New Zealand for over four months (correct me if I’m wrong Roi) when we met at the Brewster Hut back in April. Remember the Brewster Hut?

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Well, Roi is taking this world in his calloused climber hands and exploring as many corners of it as he possibly can. A group of us did a sunrise ascent of Mt. Armstrong from Brewster Hut and at the top became slightly trapped in clouds. As the rising sun battled for control of the sky, my group got extremely cold and headed down. Roi, on the other hand, got in his sleeping bag and retreated into a giant hole in the rocks, fell asleep, and ended up waiting for 5 HOURS on the peak to see the view if the clouds cleared. They never did. But, he’s just that type of guy.

In New Zealand, he has completed nearly every track worth completing, and strangely enough he has had perfect weather on almost every single trip. When he confessed this I responded to him, “You lucky son of a weatherman, it seems that things just go your way.”

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You probably know what I mean – like when that buddy has friends in the right places and gets you the perfect job. Or when you get invited on a trip to do something awesome that you wouldn’t know how to do yourself. Or when you turn up stressed to class only to discover that your teacher extended the due date on that upcoming assignment; which is perfect, because you wanted to go tramping this weekend anyways. Which is perfect, because the weather is showing prime conditions for photos. Which is perfect, because you want to be an outdoor photographer and want those shots so desperately…

Is it luck? Why in the world does this happen? I’m not one to complain, but I wonder why it is that sometimes things just seem to go your way when they have absolutely no reason to.

The most sense I’ve been able to make of it was made for me by Paulo Coehlo when he wrote The Alchemist. He says that, for people pursuing their destinies, like Roi, “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one. When you want something; all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

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There you have it. Perhaps if you find things simply going your or somebody else’s way, maybe it goes beyond a sweet stroke of luck and things are being made to go your way. And what a relief it is if you believe that’s true – we can all rest easy knowing that though we’re not there yet, we’re well on our way to wherever it is that we’re going. We simply have to perform our due diligence to stay the course.

Onwards:

Favorite Thing I Done Seen:

Fiordland National Park is just… indescribable. All five of the following photos are from either the Routeburn track or Milford Sound.

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(Fiordland NP, New Zealand)

Favorite Thing I Done Ate:

After three days on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, The Fat Tui was all it took to bring out the primal killer instinct in Ellorine’s eyes. Fun fact: New Zealand has a characteristic burger that has beets and other vegetables on it. It is incredible.

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(Marahau, New Zealand)

Favorite Adventure I Done Did:

“Kayaking” during White Water Week, if you can call it that. The rivers had high flows from Cyclone Cook, which compounded the fact that I already sucked enough at kayaking. Thrashed.

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(Matakitaki River, New Zealand)

Favorite Theme Song:

On the left, a song that every Kiwi knows. On the right, a song that got my Abel Tasman trio through night hikes when morale was hitting all time lows.

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Favorite Survivor:

The survivor is Momo, whom, if you’re in the know, went through a lot in the last month. I may have had to replace a thermostat and a radiator and lose a couple of years off of my life in worry, but MOMO LIVES. As a matter of fact, I might be selling her tomorrow because it’s time to get ready to leave. Sad.

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(Marahau, New Zealand)

Favorite Slang I Done Incorporated: 

Andrew is getting heaps of love on this blog. He is my insider access to everything Kiwi, including slang. My favorite slang I picked up last month is, “She’ll be right,” which is to provide assurance in an unassured situation. Ex.

Person 1: “Bro, low tide was 3 hours ago, think we’ll still be able to make the low tide crossing?”

Person 2: “Ah bro, she’ll be right.”

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(Murchison, New Zealand)

Favorite Bird I Done Photographed:

The oystercatcher! These birds can live to be over thirty years old.

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(Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand)

And that’s a wrap.

My time in New Zealand is running painfully short. As of the time of writing this I have only a week and a half of solid time in Christchurch before my buddy Austin comes and we embark on a month long escapade around the rest of New Zealand and Australia. Bittersweet. More bitter than sweet.

In any case, for those of you who are reading this from back home: congratulations – I’m a day ahead of you, and so I’m living in your future and I can tell you right now that you made it through tomorrow okay. Rest easy. And if you’re reading this on my side of the world, well, you know yourself that you made it through the day already.

Rest easy.

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One thought on “6,437 KM From Home

  1. Hi Luke,
    That is a terrific blog….and the photos are outstanding (just like Grannie and I knew they would be!) We can tell that you are having a super good time there and we wish we could b there with you and your new buds. New Zealand sounds like a terrific place with lots of friendly Kiwies, good food and outstanding scenery. This a trip of a lifetime for you and we know that you will love Australia too. The photography is terrific and with scenery like that….WOW! But of course you have to have a good eye to make all this happen and you certainly do. It sounds like you’ve found a bunch of good guys to hang with and I’m sure that they are having a great time too. We can’t wait for you to get home so you can tell all about it.
    Bye for now. We love you and miss you. Sorry we won’t get to see Momo.
    Love and hugs
    Grampie and Grannie
    p.s. kiss a koala for us or maybe a two legged blonde Aussie lady.

    Like

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