This short and slightly low-key adventure stems off of my hike of the Abel Tasman Great Walk – See the entry about Walking the Abel Tasman to see the backstory
07 Feb 2012 through 08 Feb 2012
I had arrived at the Hangdog earlier in the day, thanks to the help of a very friendly German couple giving me a lift into town, and had quickly gotten bored of just sitting around the campground reading and writing up stories on my barely-charged laptop. And so, thanks to the very generous nature of the Hangdog staff, I borrowed one of the lender-bikes and headed into town to find myself some food, and possibly a bit of distraction.
The first order of business was the food, and so when I got into town I started wandering around looking for somewhere that could serve me up a good hamburger. I wasn’t able to find a particularly good hamburger unfortunately, but I was able to find a cheap hamburger… yet another one of the wonders of New Zealand Fish and Chip shops is that they serve a whole variety of horribly cheap and greasy foods, one of which was a nice plate of chips (french fries), a hamburger, and a nice big soda. Horribly bad for me I know, but after a whole week of actual good food I think its an acceptable lapse.
After quickly chowing down on my delicious grease-fest of a late lunch, I started wandering around the town looking for something to catch my eye. What I found was a whole series of really neat paintings done on the sides of buildings and used as street signs; for example, instead of having “slow down” traffic signs, they had a full painting of The Flash yelling “You’re going too damn fast!”. I loved it, and spent a good bit of time wandering around and taking pictures of pretty much anything that happened to catch my eye.
After a bit more wandering, and a quick visit to an internet cafe to catch up on email, I headed back into camp for a quick bite to eat before what I planned to be a quite strenuous evening of reading and chilling with some most excellent climbers. Unfortunately for me, the last part of that plan did not happen to be in the cards – instead of the campground being populated by awesome climbers like it had been on previous trips, it was instead populated almost entirely by a group of rather insular Germans who had no interest in talking to other people… or at least people who didn’t speak German.
Thankfully I had picked myself up a rather substantial dinner while I was in town earlier in the day, to supplement what I had remaining from the trail, and so I was feeling fairly full and sleepy quite soon after the sun went down that night. I found myself nodding off in my tent before 10:00 even hit, though I had quite the time actually falling asleep, thanks to the volume of the campfire songs being sung around the camp. Some were horrible country songs from the States (sung by the few Americans who knew enough German to join the group), but most were old-school-style German songs; the negligable amount of German that I know allowed me to understand just enough words to know that yes, in fact, they were singing in German, no matter how off-key it was.
The next morning dawned bright and early, though the amount of dew on my tent made it clear that it had rained during the night. Thanks to my early evening I was awake extremely early, even for my new sleep schedule, but I found myself falling back to sleep repeatedly. I think it was a combination of the most-excellent dreams I was having about flying a spaceship through an alien star-system and the fact that the horrid songs the night before had kept me up longer than they should have.
Either way, once I did finally get myself mobile I started into my chores for the day with a passion. I braved the bug-storm that erupted between the rain-fly of my tent an the inside (a downside of having a dry spot during a rainstorm, I guess) and cooked up some breakfast, took a shower, and even did my laundry. One of the things that I had made sure to pack with me when I left the States was a length of accessory cord which I turned into, this time, a clothes line outside of my tent. Hey, the New Zealand sun is quite intense, I may as well make use of it, right? Once everything was set up I headed out again, this time to the crag where I sat and edited pictures and wrote up stories for nearly four hours, eating bites of snack as I worked.
The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, since nothing particularly interesting happened. I chatted with a few new faces around the campsite, but everyone who was interested in talking seemed to be keeping a low profile. It’s a danger of campgrounds like that – if you get a good group, it can really end up overshadowing everyone else in the campground. And in this case, the “good group” was not accepting new membership. And so I relaxed and kept to myself, a good continuation from my solitude of the trail. I enjoyed it, and the day faded quickly into evening as I read about the adventures of a group of brave little Hobbits.
The third day at Hangdog started out early and with a lot of work, as it found me packing up all of my gear and setting out on the trail yet again. I got delayed for a bit chatting with one of the old-timer climbers, a guy named Jay who talked for ages about the advantaged of a raw vegan diet and how communes make the world a better place.
As strange as it is to say, I found the conversation interesting, since Jay actually had a strong background and knowledge-base that he was speaking from, instead of the usual dirty-hippy-blather that’s spouted around a campfire. I learned that Jay is a programmer who works on video games for children, and that he’s been working his way around New Zealand for months now; doing a bit of coding here and there and sending it back to the main office when he finishes a game. Interesting, and definitely a neat way to travel, since it lets you take advantage of good days, and get some work done when the weather turns against you.
I have to admit that I left fairly quickly once the topic turned to communes, and more people started joining into the conversation, turning it from a dialogue into a sounding booth for hippie ideals. As strange as it is, I cannot stand hippies who think that everyone should be organic and live life in a commune full of raw vegans. It’s not that I don’t like the ideas in small doses, but the self-righteousness grates on me. And so, with that fairwell, I headed back into Takaka to catch a bus back to Nelson.