Zen On Dirt


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Screw Serious

I had a bit of an epiphany last night. That may not be the right word, a realization. One of those things that you know all along, at least on some level, but it takes actually saying it out loud, or at least in complete sentences in my head.

I need to stop taking this little space on the Internet so seriously. Sort of in the same way that sometimes I start to take my life too seriously, and then I have to laugh, because we are just farts in geologic time and the petty shit that we deal with on a day-to-day basis matters exactly zero.

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Billion year old rock in Aravaipa Canyon

Here’s the thing. After the writing binge called Let’s Spend Nine Amazing Weeks in New Zealand where I wrote nearly every day, I came back and make the proclamation of: I’m going to write something worth reading!

And thus, I wrote a couple of blog posts that I felt pretty good about. Post-trip depression is near and dear to my heart. We’d pulled off a year of living in a Scamp, that was rad. And again, the tried and true, I’m thinking about racing again discussion.

Last night I opened up the computer to see that I had three different starts to blog posts going, all of which made it about 300 words before I said, Meh. Not worthwhile.

I apparently was vewwy vewwy serious about trying to produce something…ummm…deep? The whole, I’m going to do something meaningful with my life! I’m going to change the world.

Instead of just writing for fun. Instead of just living and enjoying this vacation on earth that we get to take as humans.

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Horsecamp Canyon in Aravaipa. The ranger thought we were crazy for going in for a 24-hour overnighter after getting permits two days before. Most people plan better than we do.

And I thought of all the things in my life that I just did for fun, instead of because I was seeking deep fulfillment, enlightenment, and growth, like: (Insert list of every cool thing I’ve ever done.

I didn’t race Tour Divide because I wanted to inspire people, I did it because I wanted to see the country and ride my bike a long ways.

I didn’t slog out my first Colorado Trail Race over the course of six days of rain because I wanted to know my inner self better, I just didn’t want to go back to work.

I didn’t move into the Scamp because I wanted to preach about simple living or because I wanted to be part of #vanlife but couldn’t actually afford a van, I did it because I can’t seem to make up my mind of where I want to live.

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Nothing worthwhile that I’ve ever done has been approached with an excessive level of seriousness. (Back when I was trying to be a “serious” athlete, I asked Lynda, coach extraordinaire, how I could go fast at 24-Hour World Championships. “Decide you’re going to do it a week out and just show up” was her answer. There was a large amount of truth to that observation) In fact, the things that I’m most proud of were approached with zero illusion of being anything worthwhile in the traditional sense of the word, I just wanted to do something that I thought was interesting.

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Life should be filled with bikes, friends, and puppies.

So with regards to writing here: Screw serious, life-changing, and deep. Or at least screw worrying about it. Because in the end, if I write nothing, then I’m definitely never going to write anything worthwhile. And if I reach my death bed and can’t say that I’ve written much worth reading, at least I’ll have had a good time writing it.

And the same goes for living.


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Fits of Athletic Motivation

After running the Oracle 50k about a month ago and finishing in what I considered a fairly respectable time, I had a fit of what can only be described as Athletic Motivation. I was going to be a ultra runner! I’d learn how to actually descend efficiently and quickly, I’d run hills, I’d figure out how to run a mile faster than eight minutes. I started researching races in the area.

Let’s be a racer again!

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Picking our way down Picketpost Mountain. My yearly scramble to see how my membership to Team Vertigo is going.

I have these fits of Motivation occasionally. I find myself wondering if it’s worth focusing on one thing and trying to do it really well and sacrificing in other areas of my life. Or if I’m better off bumbling along as I am now, taking up opportunities as they arise and being fairly to semi-competent at a bunch of things.

At least twice a year, I tell Scott, ‘I’m thinking about doing Tour Divide again,’ and he responds, ‘You just go ahead and keep thinking about it’ knowing full-on well that given 20 minutes, I’ll talk myself out of it.

I’m still in love with the romantic idea of Tour Divide. Less so with the actual nuts and bolts of making a fast ride across the country happen. I think of the prep time that goes into it. I think of the 2-3 weeks out on the route. I think of the recovery afterwards. Plus, those cold mornings. I hate cold mornings. I just hate cold, now that I think of it.

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Desert rats in the Superstitions

But back to running…

I found a whole bunch of events that looked fun to do, mostly in the Phoenix area, which is fairly accessible for us. I wrote them down in my Google Calendar, checked registration pages to see how many spots were still available, pondered elevation profiles.

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Off the beaten path in the Superstitions. Our “run” was maybe 13% running , 20% scrambling, 15% photos, and the rest hiking. 

And then I turned around to talk to Scott.

‘Hey, when are we going to go down to Patagonia to look at birds?’

‘Can we go to the Chiracahaus to go see those really cool rock formations?’

‘I’d really like to get up to Sedona soon to ride some red rocks and see friends.’

‘Alexis is coming to town in two weeks, we need to be in Tucson then.’

‘I need to set a date to do my Trans-Catalina Running Traverse.’

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Route finding on slickrock, high in the Superstitions

And then I turned back around to look at my Google calendar. As of this writing, we have five or so more weeks left in Southern Arizona. I looked at the list of races I had written down, factored in the several days of rest needed before them and the several days of recovery needed after them, and then I look back at my bucket list of adventures I wanted to have with friends and realized that for all practical purposes, there was no having my cake and eating it too.

In the same way that I look at Tour Divide and instead of seeing an opportunity to race my bike down the spine of the continent, I see a summer of missed adventure opportunities, I looked at my calendar of running races in Arizona and saw only missed chances to do fun things with friends during the best months of the year in Tucson.

My Athletic Motivation balloon immediately deflated. I closed the windows with the race registrations.

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The Flatiron overlooking Lost Dutchman State Park. Setting up a car shuttle for Scott leads to running from some neat trailheads

And I felt a little bad. Maybe I lack the commitment to focus on anything worthwhile anymore, you know, the whole, ‘If it’s easy, it’s not worth doing’ thing.

But I don’t think so. The whole ‘Be the best you can be’ approach to life just doesn’t work for me any more. I’ll take the ‘be 75% of the best you can be and keep the fun meter pegged at high.’

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And if signing up for a race factors into the plan at some point in time, that could be fun too. And I’ll probably finish the race and say, ‘Now if I trained, I could get faster from here.’

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I hadn’t seen Danielle since living in Boulder. Such fun to get to reunite in the Arizona desert.

And 20 minutes later, I’ll lose motivation and call a friend up to go adventure running with me.


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A Year of Scamplife

It’s been a year since we moved into the Scamp for our long-term road trip. Ok, that’s not fair, it’ll be a year next weekend, but right now I have a rainy morning in Tucson at a coffee shop with good internet, so a bit of reflection is in order.

Working on the road and traveling had been a dream of mind since my good friends Bama and Tanesha bought a 32-foot Airstream to live in. I was smitten with the giant tube of aluminum and spent the next several years in a combination of ogling various trailers, living out of cars, minivans, temporary rentals before the circumstances finally lined up to buy the Scamp.

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Learning Scamplife at Gilbert Ray campground outside of Tucson a year ago. Still a favorite spot.

Scott and I both work by looking into a computer screen and could do so anywhere where we were connected to the internet. Phone tethering technology had finally gotten to the point where relying on cellular data was feasible. And probably most importantly, we’d lost the house that we’d been renting out in the winters in Tucson because the landlord decided that she wanted full-year renters.

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We were in the Moab area for six weeks. We camped alone only a handful of nights. We’ll be back this spring.

So we bought the Scamp and got rid of as much of our stuff as we could. For full disclosure – we both have some boxes of stuff at our parents’ house. We have a few bikes hanging out in Winter Park. I still have my backcountry ski gear should the urge ever hit again. 

But we got rid of pretty much everything. The 13-foot Scamp has inside dimensions of 10x6x6 ft, a two-burner stove, a propane-powered mini-fridge, a propane powered heater, lights, a set of bunk beds that can be converted into a couch that we use as shelving, and a bed that turns into a table.

We have one bike each. A bin of cooking stuff. My favorite cast iron pan. Two bins of bikepacking/camping stuff. A bin of clothing each. And a Soda Stream for fizzy water. Yes. We have a Soda Stream and use it nearly every day.

Sparse. But perfect. We love it.

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Mighty Scamp!

I’ve always tried to live simply and the Scamp embodies the simplicity while still maintaining a level of comfort that I enjoy. Every item we have underwent a rigorous assessment: Is it worth the weight and space?

But we have everything we need, and in a world that is being destroyed by over consumption, it feels good to enjoy having little. Every time we ponder buying something new, we think about what we’d get rid of in order to make room, so we tend to buy very little. We notice much more of what we consume since our electricity/internet/water are limited. We have to find places to get rid of our rubbish, so we try to produce as little of it as possible. There’s a level of awareness in this existence that I don’t get when living in a house.

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I do apparently have a shoe problem.

This small and simple living has endless advantages in my mind. For one, it doesn’t cost a lot. Sure, before we got our second solar panel, we ran our battery down in the forests of the North Kaibab Plateau and had to pay $36 for a night at an RV park because Tour Divide was starting and Scott needed his computer, and sometimes we pay for camping in order to be in a National Park, and we’ll pay for Forest Service camping as needed (but hey, I’d rather support the National Parks and Forest Service than a bank giving me a loan). And of course, there’s our propane bill which amounts to about $12 a month. But we have no mortgage payment or rent. We’re not paying interest in car loans. We have no debt and a healthy savings. We are also very lucky to both be healthy. I never take that one for granted.

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Kaibab Plateau. Not so great for solar power.

We’ve spent the past year traveling to all of our favorite places in the southwest. From Tucson to the Grand Canyon to Moab to Bryce Canyons to Winter Park to Salida to Moab to the Grand Canyon and back to Tucson.

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Transfer days are always exciting. The Sportsvan does good.

We’ve seen and adventured and made memories with far more people that we would have if we’d stayed in one spot. Since the loss of the existence of a stable social circle was one of my big fears when starting this experiment, I can’t believe how much I feel like my social experience has been enhanced. We place ourselves into areas of annual pilgrimage, Moab in the Spring, Salida in the summer, Tucson in the winter, and we make it a priority to see the people who are there right then. Instead of having regular relationships with people who we see often, we have much more intense encounters with people because we known that we’re just souls passing through, and we’ve got to make the most of the time we have together. I think I prefer it that way. At least for now.

I’m sure we’ll settle down someday.

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Kait puts her feet up after a full moon-lit overnight Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim crossing of the Grand Canyon with me. We were on our way to Tucson. Kait on her way to Australia. Flexibility was key in making this one happen.

But when it comes down to it, what have I missed about “regular” living? Sometimes it would be really nice to lay down on a bed while Scott needs the table to work. If the weather is dismal, it sure would be nice to have more space to move around inside. I would love to be more involved in community activities that require a longer term commitment than I can offer. I’d love to have a garden and a dog (or two) and a cat and chickens. I’d love to have a property on a long trail and act as a trail angel. An oven to bake bread would be amazing.

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Back in Southern AZ for the winter, where sunsets are platinum and the coyotes sing us to sleep.

But here’s my thought: Someday I’ll have all of those things (or at least some of them), and when that time comes, I’ll appreciate them all the more. A house and property ownership won’t be something that we fall into, it’ll be something that we choose.

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Every sunset it a cause for a pause in life and a moment of celebration and appreciation. 

But for now, as plans for spring season in Moab are starting to take shape, I’m pretty excited to have the set up we have right now. It’s not a life for everyone, but it’s the life we’ve chosen and made work with some level of grace. And I love that.


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Reintegration after a month back

The full moon came and went a few nights ago. We watched it from our Scamp site near Picket Post Mountain just east of Superior on the Arizona Trail. I’m not particularly good at knowing the date, or often what day it actually is, so I measure the passage of time by the size of the moon in the sky. And the passage of the full moon means we’ve been back from New Zealand for just about a month.

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Wow.

I’ve always struggled with reintegration after a big trip or big event. The whole ‘the higher you fly, the farther you fall’ idea. And trust me, I was flying high throughout most of New Zealand. I freakin’ loved New Zealand. I loved our trip. I loved the food. I loved the people we met.

But as it turns out, I’m polyamorous.  I really love the desert and Tucson too. And the food here – how I missed bottomless diner coffee and tortillas made with lard.

And after a full month here, and most people in this Great US of A would agree, a trying month on many levels, I haven’t fallen. I’ve spent some time thinking about why this is because I’d like to integrate these lessons into my life as I move forward on this path of being human.

I, historically, am prone to depression in the winter months when I have no big plans on the horizon and have just come back from something big, exhausting, and semi-epic. Scott and I actually made a half-assed bet, sometime riding through NZ, that when we returned home, I’d struggle.

But it hasn’t happened.

So here are some of my theories on my newfound enjoyment of days when traditionally I’ve wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear.

1)We live in a Scamp and have minimal stuff.

After 28 hours of travel, Lee picked us up at the Tucson airport and brought us back to the Scamp that he’d brought back from its storage spot in Tubac. Everything was exactly where we’d left it (not that we could remember where everything was, but we found stuff eventually), and we hooked it up to the van and towed it out to Gilbert Ray campground, one of our favorite spots.

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The past several years, when we’ve come back from summer adventures, we’ve moved into a house and had to deal with a shed full of stuff that somehow we believed we needed. There was the unpacking, the dusting off of crap, the wondering of why we needed so much stuff if we’d just spent the summer not missing any of it.

Stuff is stupid. Stuff weighs me down. I love our 360 cubic feet of Scamp and every useful item in it.

We spent almost a week at Gilbert Ray, charging our dead battery and playing on the nearby trails.

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2)The weather went to shit, which was really funny.

Every time it was cold in NZ, which was often, we joked about changing our tickets to go back to Tucson. So the joke really was on us when after three days of good weather, it started to rain.

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The crummy weather, to me, was actually funny. And it made me feel like I wasn’t really missing out of much while we recovered from travel and a big final two weeks in NZ. One of the big triggers of my sadness is if I don’t feel like I’m making the most of the days and opportunities I’ve been given.

When the weather is shit and work is plentiful, I can putter along quite happily making money and not going out to do big things. I knew I needed to recover, the weather facilitated the process.

3) I have awesome friends in Tucson, and there was all sorts of stuff going on all of the time.

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Wendi had a birthday, so we celebrated with whiskey and bikes. Starr Pass is chock full of new trails, and they got rid of the three horrid dips that I dreaded having to ride every time I went out there.

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Heather and Jeff from Fairbanks came down for their week in the desert. Alexis was in town for 9+ days. We all went on a massive group ride that actually kept moving fairly well for being nine people strong.

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Tuesday night girls’ rides were resurrected. Though they seem to have devolved into ‘Let’s ride bikes for a little bit, go get burritos, and then soak in the hot tub for longer that we rode bikes for.’ And I’m totally stoked on the new development.

4) We’ve stayed on the move without really leaving Tucson.

I’m not good at being in one spot. But I also know that I need time during the year to recenter and recharge. We’ve developed a routine of spending a week camped on the outskirts of Tucson in our various favorite spots, and then returning to our in-town campsite (which comes fully equipped with four dogs and a new kitty to love on) in order to run town errands, eat Seis burritos, and hang out with friends. After a few nights in town, we’re ready to head out to someplace new.

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We headed out to Willow Springs for some cold weather camping (the Scamp was 32 degrees one morning, it took 15 minutes of heater time to get it up to 50) and for me to race the Oracle Rumble 50k. I’d signed up for the running race a week prior because it was on one of my favorite sections of the Arizona Trail from the Freeman water cache to Oracle State Park. And really, I could totes pull a 50k out of my ass after nearly three months of minimal running.

And I did. The first 20 miles were great. The last 12…well, let’s just say there was some struggling and bargains of ‘If you run to the next course marker, then you can walk until the following one.’ Still, I finished in six hours and change and was pretty happy with the effort.

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There was an Antelope Peak make-up ride the next day, so a bunch of PHX folks came down to say Hi. Shannon and Sam also came up and conned me into riding a lap of the 24-Hour course. Good idea? Probably not, but it was nice to get out and spin the legs after my night of moaning and groaning from soreness.

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Kurt came up for a couple of nights of camping, and we got in a final ride with Alexis before she had to point back north to snowy Utah. This ride hurt. That 50k apparently caused some damage to the energy levels. Totes worth it.

We headed back to Tucson for our weekly recharge.

5) I’m learning to appreciate each situation for what it is.

I’m no scholar of enlightenment or the search for happiness, but I’m a firm believer in working really hard to appreciate the good in each situation. Sure, Tucson is a big city by my standards, the traffic can be trying when attempting to get anywhere, and the Ghetto Bird police helicopter seems to fly every night, but the people are fantastic, it’s amazingly diverse, and there’s no shortage of good food to taste.

And 10 minutes of human-powered effort from the Genser Trailhead puts you deep into Tucson Mountain Park and you can forget there’s a big city just over the horizon.

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No place is ideal. The Scamp has let me embrace the fact that I don’t have to call any one place home, I can appreciate each place for what it has and forgive it for what it doesn’t.

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Tucson has Cat Mountain, a beautifully rubbly scramble that lets you survey everything that is around.

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It also has Agua Caliente Hill, which provides as good of a kick in the ass as any big mountain in Colorado. Think you’re fit? Think again.

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And then there’s that whole sunset thing…New Zealand didn’t have sunsets like these.

I can’t say that it’s been all rainbows and unicorns since we’ve been back. I’ve had my fits of grumpies, but all in all, the days are getting longer, the temperatures are getting warmer, and things are looking up.

And while a part of me is surprised at this smooth reintegration, there’s a part of me that isn’t. #Scamplife has allowed me to exist in a manner that feeds my soul, keeps me engaged, and surrounds me with beauty. The temporary nature of our time in Tucson makes me appreciate it for all of it’s amazingness and put a high priority on spending time with the people who are important to me.

Some combination of all that, makes me happy. I love the desert. (And I love New Zealand, too.)

 

 


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Christchurch, wonderful hosts, Indie the dog, and leaving NZ

I would love to write some deep and insightful post about our time in NZ, now that we’re officially out of NZ and in Australia, en route to home in Tucson, but the 3:15 wakeup call to nearly miss our plane compounded by some quality beers last night isn’t really encouraging, ummm, deep emotional insight. Pretty much my brain can process: Where’s the next coffee, and when we can get on the next plane to sleep, but not much past that.

But, a final entry about our last two days in Christchurch, which were amazing.

When Scott and I first flew into ChCh, we were so overwhelmed and jetlagged that instead of staying and exploring the city, we did what we know how to do best, we pedaled. We were excited to come back and see the place, even if only for a few days.

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We had an immensely generous offer from Scott Emmons, to be referred to here as MultisportScott, and his wife Jo to stay with them in ChCh. They were the ones who’d chased us down on our way to Omarama. They organize the Kiwi Brevet and both he and Jo are members of the rad community of bikepackers.

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Our plan was to eat our way through ChCh on the way to their house on the other end of the city. Our first stop was frenchfries and a flat white at the gorgeous botanical gardens in the city.

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I particularly loved the center rose garden. Reminded me of my grandparents’ houses in Budapest.

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The whole garden was filled with color and people wandering around enjoying the day.

From there, we went to the Lucky Ninja food cart in front of the cathedral in the center of town. The sheer destruction from the earthquake in 2011 was still apparent. Empty lots, condemned buildings covered in graffiti, the cathedral half collapsed. The grayness of the day led to a very glum atmosphere, somber. Sad.

The population of ChCh dropped from 500,000 to 300,000 after the quakes, and it sounds like building has been slow but steady, and at least Jo and MSScott seemed to think that the city would be amazing after the rebuilt.

Our next stop was the Re:Start Mall, which is an outdoor space where all the shops are made out of shipping containers. I think it was a big part of getting downtown ChCh back into business. Lots of neat little shops, a coffee shop for another flat white, buskers, lots of people. It was definitely a happy place.

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We ended up running into Jo on our way to their house, so we got a guided tour in, which was awesome. We rode by a giant concrete stadium, unsafe to use, that sat lonely and sad. Step by step, I guess. Earthquakes are scary.

We all took Indie the Heeler on a walk on the trails in their neighborhood. Their house is backed up against the Banks Peninsula, and there are both walking and mountain bike trails nearby.

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After a night spent in a bed, the first since Athol two+ weeks ago, we faced our last full day in NZ. We delayed the cleaning and packing of bikes by visiting MSScott at his place of employment, where they all take a 10:30 tea break together. Lunch is on your own there, but work stops during morning tea. I dig it.

We met Scott’s “adventure ride” doppelgänger, Dave Mitchell, who told us that NZ has the best adventure riding in the world. He also had Scott’s selective memory about hike-a-bike levels. This scares me, but we promised to be in touch when we came back. Sounds like he knew of lots of neat connections between places….if you were okay with the occasional bike carry.

And then on to packing.

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Indie helped. She also stole our tape several times to aid in the process.

MSScott and Jo went far above the call of being amazing hosts by offering to drive us to the airport in the morning for our 6:15 flight. Having a quiet place to pack bikes and to not have to worry about getting a shuttle made the entire process of getting ready to leave so much more bearable. Hopefully we can return the favor someday.

The line for check-in was already heinously long when we got there two hours early, and then we had to repack the bikes because they were both a kilo too heavy, which left us sprinting for our plane, which actually didn’t board on time. We did get to watch the bikes get loaded, so we know that they at least made it to Melbourne, where we are now waiting for our connection.

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Soon, home. I’m trying to convince Scott that we should just escape the airport in LA and ride down to the Baja Divide, but I think rest will be good and Tucson is awesome. It’s a big world to explore…and I need some sleep.

I’m sure more will come from this trip once we’re back in the States. NZ is a special place filled with amazing people. I can’t wait to go back.


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Back to Christchurch to see kiwi birds…and to begin preparations for leaving

We’re back at the same holiday park in Christchurch where we spent our first night in the country. It feels a little bit like coming home, full circle, end of trip. It feels familiar after two months of unfamiliarity. We chose this park two months ago because it was 3km from the airport. This time around, we chose it because it was 5km from a wildlife sanctuary that had kiwi birds.

It feels good to be back here, a fitting end to the trip, even though we still have two days to explore Christchurch. It feels like we accomplished what we set out to do, which was to ride bikes, go hiking, eat good food, and meet neat people, and see a kiwi bird, which we got to do today. Anything extra that we see or do in Christchurch is just frosting on what was a delicious cake of two months in NZ.

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Yesterday morning started as I described in the previous blog post – with the realization that we’d gotten off by a day and now had two and a half days in Lake Tekapo, which would have been great if it was sunny and beach weather, but it wasn’t. It was also at 2,000 feet, which meant that nights were cold.

So we altered our Master Plan by altering our bus ticket by 24 hours. Let’s spend a day in Christchurch and go see the botanical gardens, and kiwi birds, and the big cathedral. Let’s do something completely out of the norm for us, let’s be city people for a day!

Lucky for us, they’d only had the more expensive ‘flex fares’ left when we’d bought our bus tickets, so we could change them for free. Yay for paying an idiot tax? I guess?

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We pulled the classic dirtbag move in bad weather of hanging out in a coffee shop/restaurant and continually ordering more small things to keep our presence acceptable. As late as 7:30, we went all in and bought a full-on dinner to buy us another of hour next to the fire. It was worth every penny.

It was a 10 minute ride to free camping, and we found ourselves a secluded spot in the pines. It felt just like Colorado camping.

We returned to the same coffee shop in the morning to wait for our bus. Like I said, free and unlimited internet, you have our business.

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As we waited to board the bus, bikes in pieces and tied up nice and small, we ended up talking to a Danish couple who’d just arrived. We gave them a bunch of places to see, places to eat, and I gave them my Good-Bye Sandfly bug repellant. Yes, we told them, they are as bad as they’re made out to be.

It felt good to be able to pass on advice on camping, the cycle trails, and different roads and places to avoid.

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Airforce mascot is the flightless kiwi. Yeees.

The bus ride was painless. The driver was funny. I’m going to miss Kiwi humor. He didn’t charge us extra for the bikes, which means four more flat whites in our budget. Or two more flat whites with scones. I’m going to miss flat whites and cheese scones.

We got off the bus at the airport, not because we’re flying out now, but because it was the nearest stop to the wildlife sanctuary that had Kiwi birds. While we’ve heard them in the wild, seeing one in the wild is amazingly hard to do…and we really wanted to see a Kiwi.

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The sanctuary was awesome! They had all sorts of birds, wallabies, rare pig and chicken breeds, donkeys, keas, and of course, kiwis.

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Since they are nocturnal birds, they had them in a dark enclosure lit by red lights. We watched two of them foraging and being territorial for a while. What a goofy, goofy bird.

I’m super glad we got to see them.

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Kea!

And then, back to the holiday park that we knew. The kitchens been remodeled, but otherwise, it’s the same music playing, same airplanes flying overhead, same random mishmash of people, but this time including other cyclotourists. It’s good to be back.


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Master Plans, Alps 2 Ocean greatness, day confusualment, and Lake Tekapo

I find it funny that last night, when I was catching up on writing blog posts (a combination of a freezing night and a late night had me skipping writing two nights in a row…which means catch-up when I do finally get a warm and extended space to write), I wrote something about always having a Master Plan, just not always, or ever, following it to a T.

Our plan was to ride to Lake Tekapo yesterday, spend today lounging on the beach and letting Scott work (tracking season is gearing up…so home we must go because Internet here doesn’t quite cut it), and then hop on a bus to Christchurch tomorrow for final prep to getting on a plane.

When we got to Lake Tekapo yesterday, we pondered changing our bus ticket to a day earlier…there’s not much to this place besides a bunch of people stopping for lunch on their way to Mt Cook or other places down south. But whatever, a day hanging out here wouldn’t be too bad, there is a pretty lake, after all.

And then we woke up this morning and realized that we’re a day off. We have two and a half days here before our bus picks us up.

I guess at least we weren’t off in the other direction. It’s hard to complain about having an extra day, but we’ve definitely sort of run the energy rope out this past 10 days and now sort of feel like we should do something else with our newfound 24 hours. But the only way out of here is on a main highway, or back the way we came…so we’re definitely feeling a little bit of stuckness. And…tired. We are tired.

Something will happen, it always does. Even if it’s two days worth of drinking coffee and lounging by the lake.

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We had a fairly straightforward day of pedaling yesterday, except for the wind.

Our campsite in daylight was even better than in evening twilight. We definitely dawdled away the morning, knowing that the cafe down the road didn’t open until 9am.

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Motivation

Cups of coffee one and two were had on a big boulder.

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Coffee #3 was from the cafe on the shore of Lake Pukaki.

Then it was on to more Alps to Ocean. We ran into a family touring with four kids who were packing up camp. They had two more kids who were older, but they’d toured with all eight family members before. They hauled trailers, and the kids seemed to be pretty stoked. Lots of people out on these cycle trails, which is awesome.

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The full force of the wind didn’t hit until we climbed to the top of Lake Tekapo Power Station 2. A bunch of lakes here are connected by a giant hydro power “scheme” and we got to follow the canal all the way up to Lake Tekapo Power Station 1. There was also a salmon farm in the the middle of the canal where the flowing water provided the fish with fresh water at all times and kept them swimming. The marketing material said this was good for the salmon meat.

We had some at Lake Ohau earlier, it was delicious.

Anyhow, the crosswind was, intense.

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At the sole highway crossing, we saw a van with four loaded bikes gathered around it. We stopped to talk, slowly working out that there were a couple from Holland touring, and then a couple from Pagosa Springs, CO, touring on Salsa Fargos there, and they’d randomly started to talk to a Kiwi couple who were touring around in their van.

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We were immediately offered coffee (#4) and yummies and spent some lovely time talking to everyone.

From there, it was a fairly short pedal into Lake Tekapo. I would love to find a way to make entrances into town more graceful, but somehow they always end up stressful. With no public showers or laundry, and the prospect of a bus ride soon, we eventually gave up on other options and paid for a night at the local Holiday Park in order to have access to their facilities.

It was an expensive shower and laundry…but beggars, especially stinky beggars who haven’t showered or done laundry in over a week, can’t be choosers.

I always have this dream of ending a trip on a big magnificent high note with celebration…this wasn’t quite it. The reality of it is, end of trips are usually accompanied by complete exhaustion…so maybe I should embrace the fact that I can barely keep my eyes open today and say ‘Job well done.’

But I guess we have an extra 24 hours and a second chance to do it better should we decide to go further. And they’re forecasting rain this afternoon, so maybe it’s better that we get to hang out in a town, even if it is a silly one.