While I’ve been travelling, people are amazed that I’m travelling on my own. Here’s why I do it and you should do it at least once.
Have you ever been so scared you didn’t do something? and then not feeling any satisfaction afterwards. How about doing something even when you it scares the sh#t out of you, and then feeling unstoppable once you have done it. I want the feeling of invincibility.
As long as I remember ive been doing things that have scared me, Not just a little bit. pushing up in front of the class to introduce myself in the 13 or 15 different schools I went to growing up, going out in public, hitting the dance floor at a nightclub, going swimming and everyone seeing my chicken legs haha, travelling with no one to help.As like any one of you I’m always scared. The difference is that the feeling that comes after conquering something that scares you has replaced the fear. fear is associated with confidence and succeeding now.
Being in my present moment, and just being a yesman is how my fear is is transformed into mental invincibility. Lessons are learned from experience, experience comes from putting yourself in experiences way, comfortability and a path that leads to experience don’t generally go hand in hand. If comfort is presented in front of me, it is hard not to take that option. I could travel with my best friend, and not speak to the person next to me on the plane. I could stay in hotels and not speak to the person sleeping above me. I could drive myself and not be picked up by stranger with an amazing story..But wheres the fun in that.
Now next time something comes up that scares you..dancing when people can see you, showing someone a talent for the first time, sharing how you actually feel, connecting with a stranger…Bring yourself in the moment and do it.
Let me know how you get on and whether you died or felt like you just lived.
“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it”
Next week I’m heading down the east coast from snowy Pennsylvania to sunny Florida. My goal is to get lost in the wilderness, So I’m making my way either to Arizona to get lost in the desert or Colorado to get lost in the mountains. I have a Tent, sleeping bag and everything I should need packed away in the backpack.
28 last month, and I feel that the less I search..the happier I am. 22 was around when I decided that I was going to work towards less. That instead of making life more complicated I was going to work towards making it simpler, which meant working backwards. To get a area of freedom, I would need land. To buy land, I would need money and to get money I needed a way to make it, so it seemed anyway. So in my early to mid twenties I busted my arse, I finished my apprecnticeship in engineering after a few years and worked with the same company for a total 6 years. I trained ALOT, travelling and playing tennis and basketball at a international level.
The challenge was to not get caught up in it all, to remember that it was simplicity I was working towards. To remember that I didn’t need a mansion or fast cars. To remind myself, I would go lay on the grass and watch the sky or the trees..Existing in the moment, forgetting about what we are all working so hard to get. Looking at the sky would always dwarf me too and put me back into place, and keep me wondering what was really important…What is really important? I’d love to hear some ideas, seriously.
So wilderness here I come, be ready.
“The tolerance for uncertainty is the prerequisite to succeeding”
At Gatwick airport, Off to America today..This should be nice, on my own in a new enviroment. Carrying everything wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be, I use my basketball wheelchair as a trolley for my backpack and throw my guitar on my back.
I’m always early to the airport, I hate rushing..I have a bladder that opposite of a camel, so I have to go to the toilet just before I get on the plane and my worst fear is being late and then having to go to the toilet and hearing ” could a MR Eamon Wood make his way to the gate please”. That means I have to get on the plane and to my seat while everyone watches from their seat…Nightmare-ish stuff.
Well I avoided all that and on the plane, America here I come.
My Heart broke today, I live in a fantasy land where everyone treats everyone how they would like to be treated…that a Human is a Human, and that when we look at each other we see other Humans..not races, social statuses. So far I want to cry about how people were treating each other, people pushing in front of people, no-one helping one another and where I stayed in New Jersey, I was the only white person….There are still places segregated? I couldn’t believe it and even worse I could feel people felt they were hard done by, that whatever past there was, that people still lingered on it.
It feels poisonous, and I need to leave now.I feel like a innocent child having their innocence blanket ripped from their eyes. I Definetly need to find some positivity …ASAP
I cant leave that last paragraph in as the end to this post, The vibe got better as I left Newark,NJ. Philadelphia , the city of brotherly love, was the perfect place to go.
I couldnt buy a van like I had wanted so that threw my whole plan out for the trip, My plan to buy a van and vagabond around with my guitar and basketball chair, playing guitar and playing basketball all over the USA and sleeping in the van was out the window…I’m definetly having to be cautious of money now, I cant even afford to stay in hostels now if I want to last the 3 months I’m here.
But we humans are master adapters, and i’ve had alot of practice in my life. So after a few days of being flustered and trying to make it work…I adapt and spend a week in a hostel in Philadelphia away from Newark to figure it out. I was also flustered on how to travel with my basketball chair now too, I have nowhere to leave it so I caught an Uber, which was expensive and in retrospect after having had used the trains now I should have caught a train.
I spend a week socializing, and trying to figure it out…I want to travel this way, the way of freedom so I have to accept things not being organized and having to adapt. It makes for good stories too haha. I had my first workaway reply! saying yes that they have me for a couple weeks and that I would be painting radiators…at this stage I will do anything to not pay for accomadation. I had emailed so many places in the UK and being in a chair and without any references, I dont think people know whether they would have to help me with everything…I just needed one person to say yes, and now I have it!.
I had to adapt from my van and becoming a professional basketball player in the states idea, into a workawayer …travelling around the US this way.
All experince has its worth, even if its not the kind you intended to have.
Looking at my cake, 10 candles on it. This is when I remember the first wish I ever made…totally innocent to the world. Looking over the beautiful native bush of the west coast of the south island, I can see the other side of the valley and the river between this housebus and itself. I wished/prayed..spoke to the universe from my head, and the whole of belief of my heart to whatever was listening. pressing my eyelids together, took a breath and made my wish… I was happy but was in search for more.
This isnt about sadness, or me being in a chair… its about having a chance to view the world from a different perspective. So this blog is to follow me while im travelling, to laugh and love with me as I figure it all out.
I had a car accident when i was 4 and a half, mum fell asleep at the wheel and the car drove off a bank in between nelson and motueka in New Zealand. Im in a wheelchair and have been since, as a quick run down as to how my body functions..it was my lower part of my spinal cord that was damaged. I can move my legs a little bit. i can only engage a couple of muscles in them faintly, but as someone in a chair who meets other people in chairs and all ranges of disabilities, the smallest of functions help with everyday life e.g. transfering, balance etc, we can all be thankful for something that someone else may not have.
My whole life since my first wish Ive been searching, For happiness, fulfillment …something that made it all worth it. I’ve found it in sports, love, friends, career, learning, music, beauty, simplicity, challenge, fear. Now im searching through the experience of travel, the chance to put myself out to the world and see how it replies to the questions im asking.
Midway through my second month in the UK, I found out that rental cars have the option to have handcontrols put in them. That to me was GOLD, not only could I travel with ease …it also meant that for the time that I had the car rented I would have accomadation sorted aswell, sleeping somewhere at a whim without any organizing was my kind of travel….and I was just going to get in it and drive, see where I end up. So I’ll book a rental for a week and see where I end up.
I booked the rental, they required I let them know 48 hours before so that they could install the handcontrols. First stop I thought I would backtrack down to Sandwidch which was where I stayed with Ries and his mum for the 5 weeks..and I had left my walking calipers down there because they were a pain and I didnt plan on using them after the flight.I got to the company and filled all the paperwork out and went to do the check around it …And i realised there were no handcontrols, mabe they thought I didnt need them. At any rate they were super apologetic and for the wait I ended up gettting a free days rental. I rang sally and asked if I could stay the night as I was still going to come down and get the calipers but didnt end up leaving later that day.
I had spoken to one of my Ex girlfriends and I wanted to meet her dad because while we were going out, and i knew he was English and living in England. He seemed like someone I would love to meet. So Emma gave me her dads (Nick) number and we chatted and he offered offered for me to stay the night which was awesome because it’s not like I had a plan…I thought I might head up to Scotland but I knew it would take me awhile because it was a long way from Sanwidch.
Up early and on the road, trying to figure what the speed limit was on the motorway…so google it was. I loved the motorway and the system of fast, medium and slow lanes, there was no stopping for hours and hours. ALSO thank goodness for cruize control because the handcontrols were literally just a couple of poles connected to the accelerator and brake, which sounds dodgy but they were safe-ish haha but holding down the accelerator with your thumb for 5 hours straight is not terribly comfortable.
Nick and Wendy were amazing, they were so accomadating. We had some wine, whiskey, talked philosophies , chatted away and they were telling me places of interest in the north of the UK. Iona being one of them, a very spiritual place was what Nick told me…somewhere people go for peace. Now that sounds exactly like something I’m after.So theres a destination for me to head to tommorrow or at least try, it was a long drive from eaton to Oban. I dont exactly have an endless amount of money, infact the opposite so I was very aware that I couldn’t spend money on this long trip, and ferry rides, however at least it sounded too nice to not go there. So at the very least I’m going to drive up and check out Scotland and if the ferry tickets are too expensive…they are too expensive.
Up early, was feeling good even after a few wines and whiskeys last night. Nick and Wendy sent me off with a full stomach of an english breakfast which was amazing, and Nick and I exchanged details so I could let him know how the trip was going. On the road….the very long road up to Oban. I drove from 8am til 6pm to make it up to beautiful Scotland where I parked up in a foresty rest area and slept in the back of the car with the sound of the rain on the roof…this is exactly what I had wanted. I did wake up paranoid in the night though because I parked near a bank in the rest area and for some crazy reason I thought the rain was making me slip closer to the edge or the bank might give way or something, I checked…so far away from the bank, literally not even close haha.
Went to Oban, I expected a small fishing town or something. However it was buzzing..well compared to what I had pictured anyway. I did my daily routine of finding a coffee shop, charging my phone, reading and figuring out how to do whatever it was I was going to do. The coffee shop opened at 9 and the information centre at 10..Perfect, enough time for a quick charge and a coffee.The tickets for the ferries were not very expensive and I could even take the car across to the Isle of Mull so thats accomadation sorted. The Isle of Mull was not as small as I thought…it took me an hour and a bit to drive from where the ferry dropped me through they amazing and beautiful land that hand nothing but volcanic rocks in it to the where the Iona ferry would take me across.
I could see the small Iona from when I got on the ferry for 3 pounds or something ridiculous.There only seemed to be 2 roads…so I wheeled down the one that seemed to be to me more promising, It felt like this Isle was as far as I could possibly go on earth. The lack of noise and the constant sound of the ocean breeze filled up my senses. The end of the road there was a sign it said “hostel – Scotlands most eco friendly hostel”, Well firstly I was suprised that there was a hostel at the end of what seemed the earth and also I couldnt see it…it was hidden behind and down a grassy hill. I went down and waved to a woman who was at the door, she volunteered here and showed me around. I said thanks and asked the price, and being concious of money I thought I would just catch the ferry back to Mull and sleep in the car there instead because Mull was nice too. Making my out of the entrance to the hostel there was a gate to a grassy field, I’ll go check that out.
The ground was soft like a cushion, the track is a mountainous field of what feels like total freedom. The sound of the ocean and the soft breeze looking out from this island feeling like im have it all to myself at the end of the earth. This is what I invision my dream of peace would look like. I just lay there, looking up and out. It is so peaceful….this is why im travelling.
How could I not stay after that peaceful moment, I wheeled back down to the hostel and checked in. I wheeled down to the beach..parked up, jumped down on to the grass and spent the next hour or so watching the sunset. listening to the ocean and just looking, and everything was worth this moment.
That night, there were more people staying at the hostel than I thought there would be..and again it was magical. These people all after the same thing. A young girl there Iona ( I know crazy right) got out the fiddle and there was a guitar sitting in the corner so we had a jam and provided some music for the people in the hostel, dancing and a glass of whiskey provided by a Scottish man and his partner. At the end of the night we all went up to the top of the grassy hill layed down under the clearest blanket of stars and Iona played the fiddle softly while we watched the night…..Iona, the Isle that is the reason for memory.
London, You gave me no direction..wonderfully lost, in awe of your rush. I could have spent years there and not seen everything. Time was gone before I even started counting. Millions of people, and everyone on their own daily mission.
After Brighton it was off to london, I had a room I could stay in at sile and alex’s house. As much as I’m someone that is drawn more to wilderness, London left its mark too. The transport mainly, Probably because when I went out it was over half the time on transport…Buses, Trains, undergrounds, ferries, pushing.
Two weeks in total and I felt that I hadn’t even touched the surface of what London had to offer. Lively busking, everything moving and people everywhere from all over the world. I spent my 28th birthday in London and how wonderful it felt to be spending it in a new enviroment, wheeling around the streets, through the tubes and trains. Not everything was pictursque as like any major city but there was beauty all over, hidden away sometimes.
My favourite experiences came from catching the tubes and trains, being enclosed with so many diversities, being able to watch people and interact with the busy people of London. I had been getting wonderfully lost on numerous occasions as some of the stops are wheelchair accessible to the street level, some only in between different undergrounds, and it took me awhile to figure out where and when to get off…some days I spent 3 or so hours getting somewhere being stuck going the wrong direction or going in a loop to catch a train that went somewhere I could get off…such an adventure. It was also partly because I just wanted to get on and just wing it to my destination which wasn’t the fastest way to get there but it was the most fun.
Time does not go slowly in London as you are pushed up to the pace it runs at, and I could feel if I stayed months and years could’ve passed in an instant. London you amaze me but I cannot stay.
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives,other souls.”
Why I loved you brighton, people were holding hands and loving each other. People were embracing their individualism. I wander down your beach late at night, watching the stars as I listen to your waves. The beach is endless and your alleys bustling with footsteps.You’re beautiful sunsets were a perfect start to a beginning.
You can do this, Time to problem solve and enjoy doing it. This is the time to show myself, no matter how much it all seems like an obstacle that I can think my way through it. That I can adapt and be ok anywhere…and still appreciate everything while I’m doing it.Telling myself this as I spend my first night in a motel, with absolutely no plan and now completely on my own with this giant backpack in Brighton in the south of england.
I had just spend 5 weeks in Sanwidch up in Kent, and had caught a ride with Dave a guy in a chair I know from the tennis circuit when I was playing. I knew I was flying out of gatwick 28th of feb so another month and a bit before heading off to the states…What was I going to do?…I’ll go for a push, thats what I’ll do.Music in. I’d spend most of my time in Brighton Pushing up and down and through the town with my little daypack to put a book, my sweater and my charger so I could go to a coffee place at some stage and charge my phone and read. Just in general the day pack was good because anytime I carry something on my lap it always is falling off.
Next obstabcle was how was I going to survive?. I knew I didn’t come away with enough money, I had to go..I set this date when I was 22 that I had to leave before my 28th birthday. Enough time to have finished my apprenticeship and work a year..6 years to make sure I was ready, I was going ready or not.
Well I play guitar, and busking is on my bucketlist. I couldn’t put myself out there much more than that. So off down to a music store to buy a guitar..I figure, this a cost but I have the money now to buy this but wont soon. At least this way if I end up with nothing, I have something to make money. I had bought my songbook with my originals too, so I came up with a setlist and practiced it with a few covers but I enjoyed playing original stuff more. The guitar had a bag with straps so I could wheel around with it on my back, and I figured a way to attach it to my already big backpack…so now it only weighed a trillion Kilograms and took me a couple of practices to figure out how to get them both on and off my back..
I booked a week in a hostel, the YHA which was orginally a hotel that was bought by the YHA. It was such a cool hostel, with a wicked vibe. I tried to make life easier on myself by booking places that didnt have steps and I knew I could stay on the bottom floor or they had a lift.The UK was not a terribly accessible place, with all the building historic.So I spent most of time staying in places that had stairs, which I’m totally cool with..I’ve always tried to adpat to the world around me instead of it having to adapt to me.That way I could be more independant.
Had a day off mooching, thats what they call wandering around.
Do people like my shoes or do I have funny feet? I found myself wondering as I wheeled around Brighton, I did stick out a bit because I didn’t see many people in chairs around..probably because on the accessibility and hills, but I had a chick say “nice kicks” (shoes apparently haha) and my shoes were expensive, So I went with the shoes theory.
I spent the day going into places to see if they needed volunteers, It would give me something to do and also I was hoping I would end up with an offer for somewhere to crash so I wasn’t spending all my money on Accommadation and I hadn’t had any replies from the workaway site yet. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.
I met up with an austrilian girl I had met, Mary, and she was travelling on her own too. So we became brighton friends and hungout when we got bored at our respective hostels..so I ended up having a buddy for a week or so which was cool, because after the first week mooching around the city had lost its appeal and I had literally wheeled all over brighton.
Also I had met up with a couple of basketball teams, And had trainings with them. I had my basketball wheelchair with me so I could travel and people helped me get to and from training or I caught Ubers. I trained every night with a different team that week and it so felt good to be training…Not that the pushing around the city wasn’t good training.
So close to busking, I’m so scared. I did a wee sign and took the guitar out for a walking finding the places that would work well acoustically and with the crowds of people. At least I got that far but if I got that far why not go that tiny bit more and play?. I dont think the playing bothers me, it was being in peoples faces…Tomorrow I’ll do it.
I didn’t end up finding anywhere to crash, so I had to decide whether to stay another week. I had found somewhere in london with some friends, Sile and Alex. they werent ready for me until next weekend. I knew I had done everything in brighton now, well as a traveller anyway. Although a well travelled man through sport, I have no idea where to start or what to do. I’d love to be in the country somewhere…but I’ll book another week at the hostel. Still no replies from workaway…darn it.
Today I did it, I can tick busking off my bucketlist.As soon as I woke up this morning, I got straight out of bed and grabbed the guitar and got a coffee.I was hoping the dazey mind from just waking up would stop me from talking myself out of it. Although I made 70 cents haha so I’m not sure it counts. I had amazingly picked today, the coldest day on record for brighton someone had told me…so I really didn’t stay out long. The hardest thing was just pulling the guitar out of the bag, playing wasn’t hard. I orginally went up to a shopping centre but was told that I would get told to move, so that scared me a little bit but I still went to another spot and started playing. I just need to beat 70 cents now…I’m sure I can do that.
I went do to littlehampton for a training today, which was about an hour out of brighton. It was a port town, so I wheeled around the seafront. I had a few hours to kill before training, I found a botique looking bookstore and had a look around and picked up a couple of books and put them in the daypack.
A sentence in a book or a phrase from a stranger can make me happier than a year of working or all the money in the world can, and thats what I got from this philosophy book I picked up at this store.
I met up with mary and a guy from her hostel, and we went out for drink. Then we went out to a nightclub…I love music and dancing, and people too. If I thought people hadn’t seen someone in chair before while I was out mooching, They definetly hadn’t seen someone out clubbing… not here anyway. It was a positive vibe though, got treated a bit like a celebrity.
My last week in brighton before I head off to london.I don’t spend much time in the hostel, I’ll go out and get a coffee, listen to a band, go for a push and listen to music and people watch and people talk haha. I went to the cinema and the guy there was super friendly and had told me he had handed in his notice and only had 3 days of work left so he gave me a free ticket..people are awesome. The weather had turned from cold and sunny to rainy, and I spent sometime pushing in the rain. There is something about sitting in the rain which is nice, if you let go of the fact you are going to be soaking wet.
Also I went and played a poker tournament, which was totally random but fun. It was intimadating because I had only played online poker before but I gave it a shot. Would be nice if I could just win it haha but playing online poker and real life poker was a bit different.
Went out for a goodbye drink with some people I had met, Hilde and co. they were very welcoming for a stranger pretty much. Also met Kate and Jenny who were hardcase chicks and hungout with them for a while in a local before I made a solo trip back to the hostel listening to music and watching the rowdy people enjyoing their friday night.
Off to the bustle of london tomorrow for the big city experience..Wish me luck .
All finshed up at work, how weird to not have anything to work towards. About to start out on that journey I first wrote about in a journal of mine years ago. Trying to find out whats important in life to me without the distraction of routine.
Finishing up a couple of weeks early to organize things was a great idea, like the hitchhiking I didnt organize much and seeing as I wasnt going to be in the rules of my own country anymore..I almost needed more time i found out. Also I had a coldplay concert to go to and that was a going to be a perfect send off.
On the plane now, on my way to heathrow airport and the first hour of the journey. I havent been scared or excited…being a very in the moment type of person, and now having the freedom to not have any routine, plans or direction meant that up until now it felt like I was working towards this freedom . Looking out the window is amazing, I feel relaxed..ive said goodbye to everyone, more in depth with some than others, Telling them that I had no idea how long I was gone and where I would be. Saying goodbye to Julie at the airport wasnt easy and Ries who I was going to be spending the first 5 weeks with in england was struggling with the goodbye to his partner.
These calipers are a pain already, not comfortable at all. Having an operation and spending 3 months in hospital to help me wander around a bit like Forrest Gump but a much much much slower version and with crutches turns out to be mabe more of an around the house idea…not a two 12 hour flight idea. Although I must admit even though super awkward to manouvre down the isle with them to the toilet, it was so much less emabarrasing than crawling down the isle for the inevitable toilet stop I would need to make.
Ive decided to have practice run at hitchhiking at the end of the year before I hit the world stage.Ive done travelling but only ever for sport where im in resorts and have everything pretty much handed to me. Time to go out on my own and get a taste for freedom….freedom of direction and choice, even if it is only for the couple of weeks that the workshop closes over the christmas holidays.
I had got a loan to get the things i thought i would need, I could have saved up for about the $2000 worth of stuff i ended up buying but once an idea is in my head, its stuck on repeat until I either act or write it down.a big 45 litre bag, tent, sleeping bag, jackets and warm clothes along with other small bits and pieces that i thought necessary. For example some bluetooth wireless headphones….because looking at something beautiful and listening to music or for long pushes I love music. Also having wires of normal headphones can be a pain is ass while transferring and trying to control the rest of your body in the chair.
My plan was to have no plan, so i had a rough idea of where the two weeks would get me but it was a rough idea.
Finished up at work, half day which was perfect. I drove home, checked my bags and taxied to where the road starts at the edge of Christchurch. I had no idea, planning to have no plan…great idea. I had thrown on the bag and it felt comfortable for the size but because of the weight i had to lean forward otherwise tipping over backwards was inevitable, which its hard to fall over backwards and look elegant doing it, specially in a wheelchair. I had however not pushed or anything with the bag on, done nothing apart from buy the stuff..pack it ..and jump in the taxi. nervousness/excitement was what was running through my body now.
Pushing from the taxi a little bit up the road had me adjusting and figuring out how i was going to balance, then out went the thumb, yup its happening…sun was shining, shades on and for once I had no idea what was going to happen.
First ride showed up within 10 minutes, was a station wagon with 3 foreign students. Slovakian,columbian and Indian. The pack was heavier than I thought and the Slovakian guy gave me a hand to take it off because embarrasingly I was struggling and almost flipping over backwards…I’ll get it sussed.They were off tramping in Fox Glacier. They dropped me off at kumara junction and i left my name and number incase they ever needed someone local to help them.
The second ride was from a young guy from greymouth, he was chatty and easy to get along with and he dropped me at the train station in greymouth. My brother, Malachy, picked me up after I called and told him I was in greymouth. Now off to dads for a couple of nights for christmas, I’m so looking foward to getting back out on the road and camping up for the night somewhere nice.
The first real part of the journey, left Hokitika after visiting my younger sisters there. Crossing the bridge ran into a guy on a bike, graham, he was a pretty cool dude. He talked to me about how he made jade stone jewellery from home. Then pushed the rest of the bridge, such a beautiful day on the coast…i can see the ocean and looking down a road with no idea where I’m going.
with the thumb out and waiting, a guy I knew from christchurch stopped in his van and had a yarn. also in a chair himself….what are the chances. they were heading up the road not far and I wanted to make it to a lake or something to put the tent up, so I passed on the ride and waited.
Ten minutes with my headphones in, a man from uruagy picks me up. He didnt speak awesome english but it was alot better than the 10 or so words that I knew in spanish.
My first stop was lake Ianthe, beautiful lake. I had one practice at putting the tent up in the back yard so i didnt look to silly struggling like a city man putting it up in front of people. Ive set my tent up but still would have been nice to have been away from people.
Dad had given me a old analogue camera, which I’m not sure I know how to use it yet but im looking forward to how terrible the photos come out after developing them. Tomorrow I think I will make more of an effort to find somewhere beautiful and where I’ll be on my own. Getting away earlier than i thought means that I have a few extra days to travel. Also tomorrow will be the first full day. I plan to get up early, watch the sunrise and then pack up.
Was planning to get up 5.50am to watch the sunrise, Ive seen alot of sunsets but not many rises. I slept in to 8.30 so I well and truly missed it…must have still been a little hungover from the excess alcohol on christmas haha.
The sleep was a little bit harder than expected, woke up with plenty of dead arms. I even picked the softest grass to sleep on. Had my first coffee, Tent style…boiled it up in the pot and cooker I had.
It was quite scary trying to not look too disabled carring my pack in front of people that were also staying at lake Ianthe. Although I think I pulled it off and even pushed up a gravel road with the pack on.With noone around these things are easy because it takes as long as it takes but I know I can figure out a way to do it.
Another stunning day, Murray from geraldine picked me up and took me to where his bach was in Okarito Bay, a beautiful beach village just past Hari Hari on the West coast.Got there about 11 in the morning and Murray had given me til 2pm to have a look around, which was plenty of time as Okarito is tiny. Whipped the shirt off and started up Okarito wetland walk, pushing up this steep gravel track…thank god i didnt have the pack.
The coolest thing was, running into Deb and Ian.After I had finished the track.Deb came up to me and invited me in for some chicken soup, which of course I’m not going to turn down seeing as I only have rolled oats and baked beans..May do a better stop next time I’m at the supermarket.Deb was lovely and so was Ian, they were the type of people willing to let strangers in their house and look after them. Also Deb had taken in a girl the same age as me who had recently had an accident, she seemed sweet too.
Jumped back in with Murrray around 2 and headed down to Fox Glacier hoping to see womewhere on the side of the road to camp the night, but no such luck.pulled into a cafe, got a coffee and then rang a caravan park and they had one spot left so sucked up the 20 bucks.
Myself and another lady, Sarah, were the only other ones tenting so said gidday and she took me up to Lake Matheson and we walked around that and chatted away. 51, couldnt believe it, Sarah had a surfer type look and personality.We got half away around the Lake and got blocked by some stairs, and I didnt feel the need to climb up these ones.I think people are stunned at firstly, for a person in a chair to be hitchhiking, and secondly, to pushing these tracks…it’s a nice test.
Talking to Sarah was nice. Nice to have some who has a deep view and opinion past work and paying rent, always appreciate another view.
I have to leave the wheelchair outside the tent, so it gets a bit wet over night and the first night I tied one of the guide rope tie downs to it just incase someone who had had a few too many beers decided to take it for a joyride.
Tomorrow I aim to head down to Haast and find somewhere nice to stay although I could probably stay another night here because they have showers and it’s easy.
7.30 rise and shine today, no sign of Sarah..I heard her rustling around this morning so I assume she has gone on the walk she wanted to. I’ll leave her a note before I go.
Bloody tent condensation dripping on the sleeping bag and I’m no expert by any means but I’m sure they say don’t get down wet so I think there must be a strategy for stopping that happening. Also have to pick where to set up the tent better in the morning because both mornings I have had to wait till the sun gets to the tent to dry it out and trying to fumble the tent and push the chair across camp grounds may end disasterous.
Second day of beans and I’m already keen for something different, Not that im complaining because im happy to have food.
I have a sore on my ass, which is a pain if your sitting in the chair all the time. I think its from alot of basketball and handcycling that I was doing before this. doesn’t help when you dont have much of an ass to start with. So it’s a mission trying to manage that, because alot of the time I’m sitting my legs are going into spasm because of it and the legs are hard to control at the best of times..But I have plasters so it’s not all bad.
Right let’s sort this tent out.
Got the Tent dry and left Sarah a note, then got out on the road about 10.30. A young guy, Dylan picked me up from Fox Glacier. 23 year old mechanic from Queenstown who was up in Hoki ( Hokitika) visiting family. We stopped in Haast which was where I was orginally going.There was an I-site, I checked out to see if there were any campsites on the way to Wanaka and also to get coffee and some lunch in Haast. Dylan has it was more together than I did when I was 23 and I’m always proud of young people when they figure it out and have the drive for life.
Listened to some cool music on the way and was a relaxed drive down to the next stop, Boundry creek was the stop of choosing. Quite windy here but so beautiful, should be a good test of the tent..half wished I took the extra pegs I had given to Sarah, to help keep the tent to the ground…darn.
Tent is up, another scorcher of a day..have to semi stay hydrated and the water here is a bit dodgy so the says. So I get to try out my lifestraw which filters it clean. May try and go for a swim later.
It’s so lovely being in an area where my phone is useless, being on my own and having this beautiful view of a lake and mountains.
It’s exciting to know that tomorrow I’m meeting up with Josh and Ayla and the only way I’m going to know if we are still meeting in Queenstown is when I can text when I come into a area where there is phone signal. I’m definetly enjoying all this nature and beauty and most of all meeting all these people, they are restoring my faith in people.
So far this has been a tester for the big journey. I still feel like there is a time limit on it, I wonder how it will feel when I can spend as much time as I want at a place?, when there may not be anyone at these places.In terms of my gear, it all seems to be sweet and I havn’t had that thought like ‘shit’ I need that. These last 2 days have been beautiful but I’m still on a time schedule and i don’t like that.
Woke up and was being wasted by sandflys so packed up my tent and got on my was as quick as possible. Pushed up the hill out of boundry creek…that was a MISSION. I think I had the pack straps adjusted wrong because I was struggling.
I thought coming out of the spot and hitching a ride was going to be a difficult today as it was a winding road area so the drivers didnt’t have much time to see me and adjust. I made a sign saying ‘Queenstown’, not sure why because there is only one road there.
While waiting an older fellow on a bike stopped and I had a quick yarn to him, missed a few ride opportunities but a yarn is worth it.
A young Swiss couple picked me up, they were staying at boundry creek that night too and to be honest if someone leaving the campsite didn’t pick me up, I may have been waiting awhile. The Swiss couple looked like they were in love at the campsite which was cute to see.
They took me to Wanaka and on the way I rand Josh to see if they were in Queenstown. They told me to meet in Arrowtown so I started wheeling towards the entrance to Wanaka to which I thought was the right direction to start hiking. At that end of Wanaka its uphill to where I needed to be to stick the thumb out. This was the first time I had to ask for help with the pack, I think i asked because Wanaka was packed and all the endless flow of cars I knew could see me. I couldv’e done it but it would have been painful to watch, It’s not painful to do or bother me if noone was watching but I knew someone would offer to help if I didnt ask and that would have been embarrasing if a car pulled over to ask, super nice of them but embarrasing. So I asked a couple to carry my bag to the top of the hill for me. I then stuck my sign out and waited, someone pulled over and told me they were going to christchurch and I asked if they could drop me off at Arrowtown on the way…turns out I was at the wrong end of Wanaka after him showing me on Google maps. I thanked him for stopping and telling me, The sign didnt help me get a ride but it helped me not go in the wrong direction, and I told Josh i was leaving Wanaka before the hill so I felt like I was running a bit late..so I boosted through town and luckily I asked a passer by if I was heading in the right direction, didnt want to make the same mistake twice. I had literally just wheeled past the road that lead to Arrowtown..lucky.
Chatted to a lady for a little while who had a cousin in the States so a bit of a yarn there. Told her I should be on my way as I might miss Josh and ayla ( which I didn’t like doing, because as long as someone is willing to talk to me..I’m willing to talk to them.). Stuck my thumb out in the RIGHT direction this time, A couple of 17 year olds picked me up. They were cool, they offered me a beer so I couldnt decline that and plus it was so hot…I was Brown after a few days hitching and was putting sunscreen on 3-4 times a day. Having a beer with them reminded me of when i was 17, Knew it all but actually nothing..knew how to have fun thats for sure. I gave one of them my number so that if I went to Queenstown I could try and get one of them in the pub with me, nothing wrong with having a little fun by bending the rules I feel, specially when you’re young. They dropped me off at the turn off to Arrowtown, supplied me with a beer for the road and left me on my merry way after stressing I had lost my sunglasses but they were in the truck..not cheap. Whipped the shirt off and embraced the sun and waited for Josh to come get me.
Went had lunch and chilled in Arrowtown for awhile with Josh and Ayla whilst trying to adjust to being around someone I knew again, to the fact of not putting myself out there and having it pretty comfortable..was a weird feeling. They were having the same issue after being on their own for a week. It’s only been 3 days for me! But wow has it been cool/exciting/ having to put yourself outside you comfort zone.
We left and tried to find somewhere to stay, after driving a while around Lake Wakatipu.We found a hidden paradise, Kilnoch, a beautiful DOC (department of conservation) campground in the middle of nowhere and right on the lake with the cutest cafe which seemed so odd to be in the nowhere place. Jumped in the lake of a wharf, half to clean my clothes, half to cool down.
Had dinner with Josh and Ayla, had a sing song with the guitars we had.Now on the beach, wind in my face looking over the lake after the sun just settle, writing in my journal…Beautiful
Ive been pushing myself alot this trip with what I do with the wheelchair and especially who sees it.
I’ll never get tired of listening to the waves….
Day 2 not being on my own, and its more effort than being a solo traveller, think that goes without saying though. Packed up and headed into Wanaka to meet up with another couple of friends to set up our tents..Ash and Sam.
So busy here..It’s draining trying to fit into this tourist town. I’m very much looking foward to being back out on my own in the uncertainity again.
Today I’m so hunger from last night, had a few too manys drinks in a celebration of New Years.Last couple of days have been staying at Wanaka top 10 holiday park, we all have been cruising around checking out the touristyness of it all…also I went to a barber and shaved my beard off, back to no chin again haha.
Last night we had BBQ, few drinks and headed down to the waterfront to see the band and watch the fireworks. I carried on my own and went into one of the local bars to meet people and dance. New Years is a good chance to hug everybody and celebrate.
I packed up the tent in the scorching heat, everyone else had left but I had to do a load of washing and sort my life out haha I thought I was dying, to make it harder I mustve came home last night at whatever time it was and broke a tent pole so spent awhile trying to dis-assemble that. Met a cool chick while waiting for the washing who was from switzerland travelling around…Also had a yarn with the longer term stayers of the campground and they were talking about the young people and the stories they had from the interactions with them.
Once i was all packed, wheeled on down through Wanaka to the spot I was the other day, but this time I was in the right place. Had a splitting headache and the body wasn’t feeling quite up to pushing with the pack up the Wanaka hills but good to sweat it out..punishment.
Got to a spot and had a couple offers to drop me further up but I had a tree with shade which seemed perfect so I stayed and was hoping to catch a ride straight to christchurch because the thought of a bed and a shower that was easy to use wounded very appealing to me at that time. A guy pulled over in a 4wd and told me it’l be easier to hitch from the corner further up, jumped inand abandoned the tree shade.
No shade on this corner, took the pack off and the shirt and tried to relax in the heat, sun was beaming down on me. After 15 minutes or so of waiting a older couple from NSW australia picked me up. They were going to Alexandra which wasn’t really where I wanted to go I found out while looking a my map on a DOC campsite brochure I had. But I was thankful to be in the air conditioned car in the state I was in.
I accepted the fact I’ll either have to pay for somewhere to stay in Alexandra or put the tent up…which wasn’t what I quite felt like doing today. It was getting late and I knew it might be harder to sort everything out, it was 5pm thanks to me getting up late and taking most of the day to organise myself. We
We got to cromwell and I made a quick decision to get dropped here after looking at the map. I would either try get back to christchurch from here or set up for the night. Cromwell being the last turn of to go back up to christchurch and then make my way to Malborough Sounds.
Again pushing out in the heat, stopped alot to drink water which was my best friend today. Pushing a couple of kilometers on the side of the road and over the Cromwell bridge to the turn off. Stuck the thumb out and waited with the music on. This spot was the hottest spot with no shade so I had to keep putting the jacket to half protect me from the sun. Had a chat to a lady who was watching her husband and son down at the lake while I was waiting.
An hour passed and I was starting to think I might be having to wait in the dark because I was determined not to set the tent up tonight. I think most people were in convoys heading home so they were on a mission and didn’t want to pick up a hitchhiker. Then 2 cars stopped at teh same time but I could only see one so when a younger chick boosted off I thought ” bugger” back to waiting…But once she pulled away I saw another car there. What are the chances of having 2 cars at the same time. I forgot her name, my brain wasn’t functioning as it should have been but she was 28 from the czech republic and spent New years down at a lake by Wanaka for the last 5 days and was heading back up to Christchurch…Hallelujah!! I can relax and make it home to bed for the night…got back to christchurch about 11 pm and crashed out instantly zzzzzzzzz.
Woke up at 9, was pretty bloody nice to wake up at home. Went and got some groceries and bought a charger cord, seeing as somehow I had lost mine on the way somewhere. I rang Stephen and Josh to see if they wanted to get a coffee before I headed back out on the road. Stephen was on my side of town which was perfect, so just waited around home til 12 until I could catch a ride because I planned on hitching to Blenhiem and the motorway to Blenhiem is on the other side of Christchurch…worked out perfect.
Rang my Aunty in Blenhiem to see if I could stay the night if I made it up there in time, otherwise I had a DOC campsite in mind.Also I rang Tim who was up in Malborough sounds and said I would be there within a couple of days.
After coffee I got dropped off, had to put a jacket on and pull the rain hood over the bag as it was drizzling a little bit…enough to get everything wet if i was waiting awhile. First sign of rain this whole trip which was a nice change from the sun which the body had seen alot of recently. Even made a sign saying ‘Blenhiem’ in hopes of a getting a ride straight there and I was in luck, 20 minutes of waiting Robin pulled over and he parked a wee way up the road so I didnt see him and I thought he was just a person going for a run in the rain who wanted to chat haha until he asked where I was going. He was going to Blenhiem so that was a bonus.
Robin was an interesting guy, docotor from britain who had just come from mount cook after doing some mountaineering. Robin made for some interesting conversation on the way up although I think my brain was still a bit foggy from New years. Covered alot of topics, life ,his travels when he was younger (actually gave me some pointers for my next overseas trip), psycology and everything really.
Robin dropped me off at the I-site in Blenhiem after what seemed like a short trip and Aunty hillary’s partner ,Ken, came and picked me up. Caught up for a bit ands met the kitten they had rescued and then went for a wine at the pub and Thai restaurant for dinner. Thought about heading over to the pub and sipping away at some water, listening to some music and meeting some more people but thought it may be a bit rude and plus I wouldn’t mind getting up early to spend some time with them before I make way to Malborough sounds tomorrow…In bed at 10.41 pm so pretty early night.
Another pretty cruisy day, woke up in the luxury of a house in a bed and had a shower. Had breakfast and had a few games with aunty Hillary and Evin.Went out for a push with Hillary,Ken and Walter up a short walking track in the rain…quite nice wheeling in the rain.
Hillary dropped me off in Rai valley, where I had rang Tim and whey were in Nelson so it worked out perfectly that I could get dropped there and then Tim could pick me up and take me to the bach. Seemed like the day was a little too easy actually haha. We got to the beautiful part of Tennesse Inlet where the Back is…sorrounded by bushy mountains and this beautiful water. Went for a wee push and tried to take another selfie with the camera which should be amusing as to how it turns out…selfies oldschool are not easy!.
Haha check out that quality!
Dinner and DVDs, The weather is terrible outside.Hopefully we can get out on the kayaks tomorrow and do some fishing.
Too rough out in the bay for the kayaks, so Tim,Amy, Cristine and I went for a walk with the dogs instead. Decided I was going to see if Tim could drop me in Rai Valley so that could go to a place with cellphone reception and sort out going to nanas which meant ringing her and getting the mailmans number, who I was told I could catch a ride with to Raetahi Bay in Kenepuru sounds.
I forgot til we were almost in Rai Valley that there wasn’t cellphone reception there either so would have to either hitch to Havelock and sort it and then stay at a DOC campsite or go back through to Blenhiem to stay with my Aunty. I decided to go to Havelock, It was 4pm by this stage.
Got a Mocha and was waiting when another hitchhiker walked up to me and we started chatting away. He was a very relaxed guy, reminded me of me in a way of how he wasn’t too stressed at how things were going to go…just to go with the flow.Ash and I caught a ride together with a fella named Peter who had just come home from britain.Ash turned out to be an instructor at outward bound which is an outdoor/adventure school of sorts. Ash just seemed so cruisy that when he said I could come stay at his place up in Anakiwa I thought it would just be a cool little shack or something.
Ash and I got to havelock, cruised up the hill and we had a race, he was running backwards off course, keeping it fair. We went down the road that went to Linkwater which was the intersection for Kenepuru and Anakiwa. Waiting for a while, he showed me how to sharpen a knife, He lighted a fire which we both thought someone would drive past and lose their shit at us because of where we were..Heated up some water and had some Miso soup that he had. We waited a bit longer and one of the other instructors, Tui, picked us up who was obviously heading to the same place. Ash gave me a home brew beer, made me dinner and I played him a couple of original songs I wrote on the guitar. He gave me a tour of the outward bound campus which was awesome and all the instructors along way we had chats with. These were my kind of people, all wicked souls with cool living life stories..and relaxed. So hard to find relaxed people these days..properly relaxed, not stressing over money..says yes lets do it instead of putting up barriers. Come back from the look around and met Christie and her friend Jen, so cool. Christie and I had a jam and everyone was interested in my electric travel guitar I bought with me..Thank god it didn’t just end up being a dead weight.
Now I’m on their couch, in the outward bound school, in this wonderful community with a wonderful energy. Its amazing what happens when you relax and go with the flow.
Slept over at Ash’s and Christie’s last night, such cool people. Even though I said I wasn’t going to have a shower, I did. Got up and had breakfast with Jen, had all bran which I hadn’t had since I was last training.
Jen and I were going to go for a walk around Anakiwa Bay while I waited for a ride. We went and found Ash to say goodbye, one of the instructors showed me how to do a packflip to put the pack on, I think I’ll practice that on my own because I will surely flip backwards haha. I showed them how I get the pack on and offand had a scone with them, Also someone there had been skyping Gemma who was in London, the daughter of a Karen who I used to live with through my teens, My second mum. This was happening while I was there!..so another instance of how small the world can be. Jen and I went for a walk down to the jetty and looked over that then went sat and chatted, Jen had card game similar to ‘snap’ and just as I thought I was mastering it a camper puller over up ahead. Turns out Jen had spent Christmas with them and they gave me a ride to Linkwater where I would try get to Kenepuru to see nana.
Now to wait in the sun.
Waited at the stop for about half and hour, there was a big map sign of the sounds and a few cars pulled over to look at that so I got tricked a couple of times. Then Sandra from Christchurch picked me up with her dog milly. They were going to Portage and seeing as I didn’t have reception to ring nana and ask what the place was I was going to get picked up from was called, I forgot…and halfway I remembered which by that time I had gotten service and rang nana, Apparently I had passed it. So grandad was going to boat across the sound and pick me up from Portage.I think they wre worried because they couldn’t get hold of me and I keep not having service where I think I will. Sandra and her husband were staying in Waiteria bay which was about an hour from Portage and her husband was sailing around Portage to tie the yacht up and I believe what goes around, comes around, so I rang grandad and asked if he knew if there were any moorings closer to Waiteria to tie the yacht up instead of coming to Portage each day to use it. Grandad didn’t didn’t have his hearing aids in so he couldn’t hear me properly on the phone so got a coffee in portage and waited for grandad and jumped on the boat.Just chucked the bag over into the boat and then pulled the chair in. Such a nice day to go in the boat around the sounds..I love the water.
Got back to nanas, after being towed up still sitting in the boat because that was easier than putting the pack on and pushing or transferring everything into the 4WD.Amazing that grandad has still got the fitness to get the boat on and off the trailer and off the 4WD at 80!.
Grandad rang around and got a mooring for Sandra to use, turns out to be the neighbour. I rang Sandra and she seemed pretty stoked.
The rest of the Afternoon cruised around with grandad checking possum traps, and yarning to what seemed like every person that drove past. Then had snapper for dinner…Yum. Watched the Kiwis win the cricket and I gave nana a game of scrabble.
Beautiful Malborough…one day i’ll live somewhere like this, good for the mind.
Thought I was may be awakened early as grandad and I were possibly going to go fishing but slept in til 8.30, which I’m happy about.
Got up and had some breakfast, then grandad and I went and checked the possum traps again whilst being stopped a few times by the locals which of course grandad knew. No possums…so down to the lodge for coffees, then back up for another game of scrabble..while playing I got a text from a guy off the basketball team saying that where was training tomorrow at 5.30. Threw a spanner in the works because I had planned to chill another day then head off with the mail man.This was at 11.30 I got the text and the mail man shows up at nana’s at 12-12.30ish not long to decide whether I would ride in today or tomorrow and Just miss training. Decided to ride with the mailman today and make training tomorrow seeing as we are going to a tournament in Australia in a weeks time. So grandad rang Neil ( mailman) to see if he had room, he did so I quickly packed my bag. Bit gutted I didn’t get another day with them.
It was about an hour and half drive around the sounds with Neil and then another 3/4 hour to Blenheim. Was quite tired so wasn’t very chatty, think I needed food. Got dropped off at the I-site in blenheim, wheeled to a bar on the way out of town and waited 20 minutes for the bar to open at 4pm. I got the best fish dish I’ve had, then wheeled further on to put the thumb out.
Poor body has been hammered by the sun, was out there again. Done up a sign saying ‘christchurch’ and waited. A young fella picked me up in his 4WD and took me to Seddan..offered me a bourbon but think it would’ve put me to sleep. Dropped off in seddon and waited 20 minutes in the sun..Then an older bloke in a station wagon picked me up, he had just bought an oven in Blenheim and was heading to Kaikoura..the halfway mark between Blenheim and christchurch.
He dropped me off at the top of the hill in Kaikoura and I pushed out of town and waited. Theres alot of shrugs, shakka hand signals and waves I’ve noticed as people pass me. This spot was beautiful, and such a nice spot to wait as the sunsetted. Then someone staying in the South bay of Kaikoura came over and said if i didn’t end up getting a ride that he could help me back up the hill into Kaikoura but I assured him I could push with the pack on back up the hill and shook his hand for the offer.
Then marshall picked me up, a very chatty 25 year old from Nelson. My gosh he talked..No silence on the way from Kaikoura to Christchurch. He was getting away from some dramas in his life, and it was cool to see he taken himself away from it and just hit the road.
We got to Christchurch and I offered for him to stay at my house because he had no plan and it was 10pm but I gave him the name of a campsite aswell and also my number if he got stuck. He seemed like he needed a break, he found a campsite and and I didn’t hear from him which was good because it meant he was sorted.
Pushed from there to Josh and Aylas because my phone was dead and my house is on the other side of town, but they must have been out on the road still because they weren’t home, so I wheeled to see if Ries was at his partners house 15 minutes away and I was in luck he was! so charged my phone and rand Malachy and he picked me up and took me home.
Now showered and about to sleep and not get up early and have a nothing day because even though it was an amazing journey and I would do it for years instead of weeks , I am shattered.
Waking up for the first time in a couple weeks without somewhere to be, an odd feeling. All I can think is that I cannot wait to do this on a bigger scale like the world with unlimited time. I couldn’t sit still, went to the mall to get the photos developed, was a 24 shot film and I thought it was 36…whoops, hopefully I didnt Break it. It’s a bummer becasue there will be a couple photos I thought I took when I really didn’t.
Caught up with Stephen and I’m tidying the house…back to reality.
Now to sort 2016 goals so that this end of the year journey happens. I feel a little different but not sure how, mabe ust even more antsy to get out on the worldly road.