12/28 The Layover

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We woke up this morning fully intending to leave. Honest.

I get up early enough to take a shower before anyone else is awake. It’s not really an effort- even with the comfortable bed, I’m still woken by the light of the sunrise. I think it’s kind of neat to be on such a natural cycle- except the days I want to sleep in.

I tiptoe into the kitchen and make a cup of shower coffee. Clean and slightly better smelling, I type a little bit until I hear the house moving around for the morning. The kitchen table is set with muesli, yogurt, fruit, toast, peanut butter, lime marmalade, and some more of that unbelievably delicious coffee. I really don’t think the freeze dried stuff we use is bad; but then, I’ve forgotten how full flavored the brewed stuff is. Lee offers to make eggs on toast, which I feel guilty accepting, considering the spread that is already out on the table, but not guilty enough to say no. She asks how I would like them: my favorite is poached, but that has the stigma in my mind of being the most effort-intensive. Anything with a runny yolk makes me delirious with joy. “Fried soft?” I ask. “Poached?” counters Lee.

Bigfoot Mouse is due to leave on the 10:00 bus. It is really going to leave a hole when she goes! Prana and I join her in the car, since the post office is right next to the bus stop. We give long hugs goodbye with promises to meet up again.

The post office has our small bounce box, and Prana pulls out a new pair of shoes. Unsettlingly, the fleece tights and sleeping bag liner that I thought were in this box are not. They must be in the big box, which is the one delayed in Wanganui. Luckily, I am indeed able to forward that box from Wanganui to Wellington from this post office, but it doesn’t help me out with the warm layers I wish to have for the next mountain range. Well. So it is.

Back at the house, we all gather our gumption for the resupply. It’s going to be six days of walking, but we need to carry at least eight days of food. The next section is notorious for its changeable weather and we could need to wait out bad conditions in a hut for a day or more. We ask ZigZag and Lee if we can bring our resupply back to their house and repack it here. “You can stay the day. You can stay another night. You can stay a week,” is their reply. That is tempting! We thank them and tell them we’ll think about it. We walk to the Countdown, but Prana and I don’t find a few of our staples, so we let the others know we are heading to Pak n Save! They all decide they are coming with us. Which is perfectly reasonable. But for whatever reason, the amoeba approach in town drives me insane. Actually, I know the reason: there are so many things I want to try and unrealistically cram into town time, that watching the precious minutes leak away with each compounding transition causes me to anxiously despair. Some days I prefer my decisions only affect and be affected by only me. I’m not proud that I’m not a patient person, but there it is. I am not.

We stop at an outdoor store and browse, and a few necessary items are found. We pass an Asian market and find a bunch of dried vegetables. At one point Bro, Prana, and I are all automatically waiting for Mouse before we realize our mistake. Bro and Prana both look so sad as the truth dawns, although they just look smirky when I coerce them into reenacting the moment for a picture.

Pak n Save is farther than the map initially said, so when we finally arrive, the mathematical game of finding the Venn balance point between cost, weight, and nutrition begins, bonus level being that I always feel the need to search for our next favorite meal that we just haven’t discovered yet. We finish all the decisions, assess the cart one last time, and commit.

All this food shopping has burned a lot of brain sugar, and it’s way past lunch time. We pick up the last ingredients from the second grocery store, then descend upon a cafe. I message ZigZag that please, yes, we all desperately want to stay a second night. His reply sounds genuinely pleased.

When we arrive back at the house, we all scatter to see if our food will fit into our backpacks. Prana does the whole resupply repackaging so I can check some of the other things off my list. Lee and ZigZag return from being out, and Lee magically produces snacks and coffee. We also get to meet their daughter, Ana, a predictably lovely person. A few hours to myself restores my rationality, and when I emerge from my bubble of restorative solitude, it’s almost dinner time. Lee has patched the hole in Bro’s shorts and found a few warm items to make sure he’s fully outfitted. The hikers have decided to throw a pizza party for everyone, and Princess Peach finds a place called Hell Pizza with a hilarious menu and faux meat options. We order elaborate specialty pizzas with names like Brimstone and Gluttony and Purgatory, and have a wonderful dinner with ZigZag’s family. Lee makes a salad again and Ana’s friend Duncan, a quirky and comedic character, joins as well.

One of the subjects that is mentioned is my keeping of this blog. “What do you type it on?” Duncan asks. “My phone.” “Aw, hell. Wow, you must have the patience of a saint!” he exclaims. I almost choke on my food in mirth- I’m accused of being patient about as often as I’m mistaken for being tall. I think of all the times I’ve wished my phone was large enough to break over my knee. But I do keep on keepin on. Is that patience? I’m pretty sure not. It’s just plain bull headedness, which I suppose is on the same spectrum. It’s just at the end that lacks graciousness.

Another tray of fresh fruit and a second cake appear for dessert, this one chocolate and topped with passion fruit ice cream. The night runs late again, and the nagging knowledge that tomorrow will be a long day with heavy packs finally overtakes the conversation, and we all drift to bed. As I nod off, tucked in, I indulge the daydream of taking ZigZag’s offer to stay a week. It’s nice to feel this at home somewhere outside of our tent.

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