1/22 Back On Track

Nelson to Pelorus and Tinline Confluence

Nelson to Pelorus Bridge, hitching

8 k, hiking

Prana’s alarm goes off at 7:00, and I sit straight up. This bed is in the running for the most comfortable bed ever, but it never cooled off last night. I’ve got calls to make this morning!

I go to the communal area and retrieve our laundry from the lines; it’s not as crisply dry as I prefer it, but it at least doesn’t seem to have rained overnight. The breakfast isn’t out yet, by which I mean the coffee, so I bring the laundry back to the room and call my aunt Virginia. There’s no good place to stand in internet signal and away from open windows, so I embrace the fact that I am one of Those People this morning as considerately as I can. She shares news from home and I fill her in on a few anecdotes from here. I wish we could talk longer! I wish there were 104 weeks in every year, and we would still get to spend 3 or 4 of them at her house this winter. I make 2 cups of coffee and bring some breakfast rolls back to the room.

I call my friend Mark and get the skinny on the baby happenings, then my dad for awhile, then my mom for awhile. I miss my family. I want to call Rachelle and Annie and Kim but it’s checkout time and we have to get out of this town and out of cell phone service.

It’s lightly raining when we return the keys and step out onto the street back to downtown. Umbrellas deployed, we pass the grocery store, where brunch is good bread and hummus and bubbly water. We dig a piece of cardboard out of the trash for our hitch sign.

Antihistamine is outrageously expensive here, so we walk to the pharmacy for that. And then we are almost back to The I-site, so we walk there too.

The I-site has great postcards and great Internet, and as it turns out great stamps, so we write a big round of mail to send to people and create our Pelorus Bridge hitch sign. Now to hitch out of town.

‘Fun,’ I think to myself, ‘this is fun. You’re having fun.’ If I can’t Jedi-mind trick the drivers, then I will Jedi-mind trick myself. Prana and I are thumbs out, standing in front of a car park for a bike path, and playing rejection roulette again. I was hoping the fact it is raining would work in our favor, but not yet. I know people that truly love hitching. I know people that wander that way, tour the whole country that way! What is their secret? What do they do if they don’t get a ride? Do they always get rides? If so, how? Just because they believe they will? Is my fear of stranding causing these long waits to manifest? When I almost have myself mentally lathered into a panic, a little old station wagon pulls over. A kiwi woman and a French guy are on their way to a town past the bridge, and offer to drop us off. Yes!

They are an enthusiastic and eclectic pair, and the animated talk ranges from politics to religions to energy frequencies to grounding to food. He is a chef and particularly passionate about the last subject, and able to articulate well what it is he loves about cooking and how he believes the energy of the preparer affects the final dish. They drop us at the bridge and we all wish each other happy travels.

The Te Araroa! Only a week, and an enjoyable week, but if feels like ages since we’ve been here. We walk over the bridge, check out the river- it’s still the same as last time- and enter the campground. “We could go on, if you’re interested,” suggests Prana. I am interested, and we only collect our box instead of booking a tent site. The man running the operation seems nice, and when he brings our package I am grateful that all of the decision-making for the resupply is already done. Boxes! The way to go. As we decant the contents onto a picnic table, we make the acquaintance of a couple from Italy, Claus and Giovanna. They are friendly and ardent, and are pleasant to chat with while we repack.

We set out on the 8 kilometers of flat road to our goal camp for the night. Oh god our packs are heavy. 9 days of food plus a few thises and thats. I listen to an album that features Amanda Palmer performing live and Neil Gaiman reading some of his short stories and poems. I love The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury, and In Religion Odhrain, and listen to both several times. Someone once suggested that if Neil Gaiman came out with an app that read anything in his voice, he would be a billionaire. I agree.

When we reach the Tinline River, we follow a gap in the fence down to the Pelorus River, and there is a fantastic campsite. It is flat, screened from the road, and next to a couple of great swimming holes. It’s still early, but we call it home for tonight. We pitch the tent and the realize the sandflies are actually quite hellacious here. Ah well. Gnocchi for dinner, and then we can be in the tent for the night. Once we are zipped in we take several minutes to smoosh any unfortunate sandflies that are zipped in with us, and then there is sanity again. We read and write and sink into the existential relief of being back on our course of purpose.

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