Thursday, March 27, 2008

Able Tasman National Park


After the Sailboat trip, I found myself in Nelson with no real plans. Funds are pretty low, so its time to find work. But it was such nice, warm weather so late in the season, I thought it'd be worth checking out the nearby Able Tasman National Park, famed for it's beautiful white sand beaches and lush vegetation. It's idyllic waters are very popular with kayakers as there are heaps of tour operators in the area. However, it's forgiving and well maintained hiking trails has the park ranked as one of the nations "Great Walks". There are 9 in the country. So with no solid plans, beautiful weather, why not go spend a few days hiking on the beach?
When I registered for my pass, I learned that the down side of being considered a "Great Walk" is if you want to stay in one of the huts, it'll cost you $40 night. Unless of course you have a tent. Which I did. The downside of the tent, is that the bugs and rain will get you...which they did.

But in all it was an awesome couple days hiking 30 kilometers along side some of the most beaches that New Zealand has to offer. When the sun went down that evening, it really made the whole hike complete as the night sky put on an incredible show. The miklyway was so vibrant and there were shooting stars everywhere. I just sat there for hours watching it and listening to the ocean. Later in the night, the moon rose from the sea and lit up the whole beach just as the sun did only hours before. I spent 3 hours trying to get a good shot of it. None of my pictures even came close though to capturing the magic of it all. But maybe you'll enjoy them.


http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/AbleTasmanNationalPark

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A 5 day Tour


Getting to Nelson was a very exciting moment. For the past month I have been anticipating this sailing trip with Hamish and Grant on their boat. It had been exactly one month since I’d left Wellington and since I’ve been on the South Island. It’s been an incredible month and one I’ll never forget, but in the back of my mind, there was always an air of anticipation for this trip. It’s been a while since I’ve been sailing, or on a boat for that matter. The smell of the sea, the feel the of the wind and the sound of water rushing past the hull of a boat with no engine is something that I often dream about. Plus it had been a month since I’d hung out with the McLaren gentlemen, an exciting event in itself.

Meeting up with them at the marina in Nelson was just like meet up with family again after not seeing them for a while. Totally exciting. Two of their good family friends, Gareth and Michael (father and son) were joining us for the epic voyage too. With the company of 4 great dudes; 2 awesome families, there was no way the next 5 days was going to be anything but incredible. After some quick catching up, we went shopping for food, had a nice BBQ dinner and prepared for an early morning start. Getting up before dark wasn’t as hard as I’d expected, but it probably helped to have a diesel engine running beneath you. If only getting up every morning could be that exciting. Once out of the marina and into open water, it didn’t take long to get a line in the water and start fishing. Our first bite came very quick too. I don’t remember what kind of fish it was, but we kept it not for food, but to catch more fish later on. In fact, I’ve never seen or heard of any of the fish we saw or caught all week, with the exception of the two Barracuda we caught the second day. More on that in a bit. That day we sat offshore a rocky island and did some bottom fishing. I think we caught just about everything that the sea produced, except fish. We caught everything from octopus, to starfish and even a bird. The bird was called a Shag, and it went for one of our lures after it was cast. The bird dove for it an got all entangled up in the hook and line. It was a pretty sad site. We decided to reel it in and try to untangle it. After 5 frustrating minutes and two vicious, bloody bites on Grant’s and Hamish’s hands, the bird got away before we could get it all out. It should be ok though. Our first night was spent on in a beautiful harbor protected with beautiful rocky islands at its entrance, anchored just off the shore of a nice little beach. Hamish and I had been itching to do some snorkeling, so once we got on anchor, it didn’t take long to get in the water. I was stoked to have got my underwater camera working again. It had broke on my trip to the Coromandel and I thought it was a gonner. But I bought a new battery and fixed the seals with some silicon and it works again. We were hoping to see lots of Paua and Crayfish, but we saw neither. It was beautiful though and a really fun dive.

The next day our luck changed. The winds were in our favor and we sailed all the way to D’Urville Island. Along the way we managed to catch 2 Barracuda. I’d never seen this fish before and have heard lots of stories. But its an impressive fish and worthy of the reputation it’s earned. Its long, sharp teeth make it a little difficult to get the hook out though. Once on D’Urville, we found a beautiful little picturesque cove to anchor in. As soon as we put a line out, we had fish on the line. It was non-stop fish. Every cast seemed to produce something. That evening we feasted with a meal of fresh caught Blue Cod. Hamish and I once again went in search of Paua and Crayfish with our mask and fins. We found a few Paua, but came across a giant patch of Green Muscles which we ate with dinner as well.

It’s really quite astonishing how warm it was for being so late in the summer. I really thought that summer was way over. Especially since it was snowing in Kaikoura. But to my surprise, I found myself laying in the sun and running around the boat in my shorts looking for sunscreen the whole week. Our evenings seemed to consist of the ritual of making dinner, drinking wine and beers and retelling stories of the days adventure. I loved every second of it. It was so nice to be in the company of good people, eating amazing food and enjoying classy beverages. A big change from the food I’d been living off the past month or so while camping. We played the guitar a bunch too. Hamish, basically a professional guitar player who doesn’t know it, would just bust out songs randomly, only adding the incredibleness of the atmosphere.

We woke the next morning in the beautiful cove to find out that Gareth’s brand new rod which he bought for the trip, had fallen overboard. We were in 12 meters or about 35-40 feet of water by the time I got my suit on. For a while I had been wondering how deep I could dive on a single breath. Combining the fact that a brand new $200 rod was sitting on the bottom, this provided a good challenge to find out. There was a giant lead weight on the boat they used to anchor the dinghy. They tied a long rope to the end and I used this as my way down. With a buoyant wetsuit and lots of water to swim through, it would be really hard to get down to the bottom without any weight and actually have air left in my lungs. On the count of three they let the weight go and I held on as it pulled me to the unseen bottom below. The first try I panicked at the thought of being pulled down and let go and came up. The second try, I panicked at the pressure being built up in my mask. Ready to give up, I gave one more try. Half way down I equalized the air in my mask and pressure in my ears, and waited for the bottom to arrive. It felt like it took forever, but I made it and once I hit the bottom, instantly I saw the rod. I grabbed it and made my way back to the surface to a very happy fishing rod owner. It’s a bit hard to explain, but the feeling you get when you challenge yourself outside your comfort zone is incredible. For me it was a mental challenge. I knew it was possible and needed to overcome a fear. It’s easy let opportunities to challenge yourself pass you by. But you will never regret it, even if you fail. Much in the same way traveling is.
After a nice big Kiwi breakfast, we pulled anchor and returned to the harbor we spent our first night as sea. We changed the name of the cove we spent the night in from Copper Cove, to Blue Cod Cove. Though it probably won’t be a widely used name, it is the only name it rightfully deserves. The winds weren’t in our favor that evening as it was a bit challenging to find a really good spot to spend the night. The winds persisted most all night, but the fine red wine and amazing steak dinner compensated.
The next we as I woke, the sun was rising over the mountains and the sky was blue. I realized it was Sunday. It was Easter. Thoughts of my mothers.. errr… I mean Easter Bunny’s baskets came to my head and I begin asking, jokingly, if the Easter Bunny forgot us this year. To my complete shock, Grant pulled out a bag of chocolate bunnies, each with a name on it and a nice note written that said “Happy Easter”. It was perfect. The Easter Bunny found me despite being halfway around the world on a sailboat in some uninhabited cove in the middle of nowhere. I don’t think we give this rabbit enough credit.

The last day we sailed from out harbor back to Nelson. We had incredible wind the whole was back. We were on a strait shot, broad reach all the way back to Nelson. Their boat, a Townsend 36, is a fast sailboat. Even full of gear and towing a dinghy, we were doing about 7 knots over the water. It was incredible. The sun was out, the boat slightly keeled over and the breath taking scenery of Tasman Bay sweeping by us. We decided to pull into Peppin Island, just outside Nelson, for lunch. As it turned out the island had a few incredible looking beaches and the water looked very inviting. So Hamish, Michael and I set out on the Dinghy for shore and had the best dive session of the whole trip. The visibility was incredible. The rock formations were impressive, the fish were bright and in huge schools. We even saw a few stingrays. An incredible creature that looks out-of-this-world. We spent about an hour in the water exploring this island from the sea. It was an awesome way to end the epic voyage.

We made it back to the marina in Nelson in time to take a shower, BBQ the rest of the food and have a fine last dinner. We celebrated Easter and being back on land with deserts and drinks at the restaurant on the marina. We crashed pretty hard that night, as we did the rest of the week. The salt, the wind, the water, the sun, the food, the company, it was all combined to give some of the best nights sleeps I’ve ever had. For the past 5 days I’ve found a home on a boat. To describe this trip as incredible or awesome or amaazing wouldn’t really give it justification. With the simplicity of the trip and the all the
memories made, if I needed to describe it with one word, that word would be: Perfect.


http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/SailingTrip

Lost in the woods

When was the last time you were on a long hike in the mountains and came across a babbling brook so clean and refreshing that it made your mouth water just looking at it? The sounds it makes creates a flavor on your tongue that rivals anything else you could possibly desire at that moment. Now imagine that you could actually kneel down and take a drink from this stream. Now imagine that you can do this at any stream you come across. Welcome to New Zealand. Having lived in a place where you never, ever, under no circumstances drink stream water and you carry a filter anywhere you go in the mountains. This came at a bit of a shock. I’ve encountered this a couple of times now. First on the farm, after forgetting my water bottle at the house and after a long day hiking in the hills, Tim and Cam kept drinking from the streams. Convinced that they had some kind of super power stomachs, I refused all dry mouthed day until Tim informed me that the house gets water from the same streams I was refusing to drink from. My next encounter with this was on a 4 day hike I went on in Nelson Lakes National Park. Everyone I met was drinking from the streams. Totally awestruck and a bit jealous after a few days of refusing, I finally gave in and was rewarded with the purest most refreshing water I’ve ever had the chance to gulp.

Once I left Tim’s farm, I took off super early on Saturday and headed for Nelson Lakes National Park. I stopped in Kaikoura to check the surf and ran into these Israeli brothers I’d met the week prior when living on the beach. There was no surf and after telling them about my plans for a few days of hiking in the mountains, one of them, Dave, was into it and asked if he could bum a ride with me. I had planned on doing some fly fishing in these famous lakes, however once I arrived, I soon learned that it was $20 a day for a license. Maybe another time. So Dave and I proceeded to plan a 4 day trek that would take us over a massive ridge up a mountain, down valleys and rivers and following a lake back to my poor little car 40 kilometers later. While planning this trek with help of the Department of Conservation office, I learned of a massive hut system built all over New Zealand by the government in every possible tramp (hike as we call them) over the entire country. I was totally amazed by this. From an environmental standpoint, this completely contained people in the backcountry and made less of an impact on the environment. From a hiker standpoint, this eliminated the need to carry tents and mats, making your packs less heavy. Best of both worlds. I thought this was the greatest idea ever…. Until my first night in one.

After our first day of hiking, Dave and I made it to this little hut, that was full of people, by around dinner time. After making some food, everyone went to bed on these massive benches called “bunks”. 8 people across on bottom and 8 people across on top. Through out the night, I learned that someone has hiked a baby up to this hut, I’m not sure how I didn’t see it when I first arrived, but it was there. All night long this baby cried. I’m pretty sure it didn’t bother anyone else, because the rest of the evening was a symphony of bodily functions that included but not limited to: snoring, farting with every possible pitch and decibel, scratching, tossing and the occasional sleep talk. Didn’t help that there were sand flies in the hut and I was convinced they were all on me for the whole night.

The next day was a tough one. We hiked up this ridge to the top of Mt. Robert. Spectacular views. Halfway through the hike my books started to fall apart. The soles on my boots came off and forced me to make every step with care as I had about 30 kilometers left to go over the next 3 days. Duct Tape would have fixed all my problems and I will never leave home without it again. The hike ended that day at an amazing place called the Angelus Hut. The most picturesque setting possible to build a hut. It was truly breathtaking. The Hut held 30 people or so and it was full. However, it was a peaceful night. Everyone was passed out before 9pm, I think due to the tough hike from the day. Dave and I stayed up that night chatting with Thomas, a traveler from Germany. We had some incredible conversation and I have learned to appreciate the different views of history, politics and travels that people from all over the world have. That night in the hut, as far in the wilderness as I could possibly get, I found myself sitting at a table drinking tea and gaining insight from the awesome company of an Israeli and a German. Both from very different worlds both with incredible histories. I was fascinated.

From the Angelus Hut, we took a trail called the Cascade track down the valley to one the massive lakes this park is named for. The track was rightfully named as it went straight down the mountain. At one point I really thought my knees were going to come out of their sockets. But they didn’t. My boots were only getting worse though. We ended up at this hut on the lake with a beautiful little dock surrounded by mountains. It was amazing to look back up at the peaks and think that I spent the past 3 days up there on top of those mountains. The hut sat at the mouth of a creek and it was full of big trout. I’m glad I didn’t carry it up the mountain, but I really wish I’d had my fly rod. The sunrise brought a layer of fog down from the mountains through the valley and onto the lake. Made for a very mystical, but spectacular morning.

The last day of the hike was hot, very hot. We walked along the lake for about 4 hours and finally made it to my car. I’m not sure my feet could have made it any further. I know my boots couldn’t have. After fixing a tube on my radiator that burst right before we left the car, we were on our way back down to the lake and into town. Our first stop was the beach. There was a dock and as soon as we stopped the car both of us made a mad sprint for the water. It was cold. But so refreshing. Having not showered in about a week, I ran back to my car, scrubbed myself with some soap and shampoo and ran off the dock once more. I jumped off the dock a few more times until the “Do fish for eels” sign caught my attention and creeped me out a bit. The rest of the day was spent drinking coffee at a shop and driving to Nelson where I was to meet Hamish and Grant for a sailboat adventure. Dave made the journey to Nelson with me but ended up hitchhiking back to Kaikoura the next day to meet back up with his brother. For dinner that night we ended up chilling on the beach with some cold beers and a hot pizza. It was super fun traveling with Dave for those 5 days or so and his company was greatly appreciated. Traveling does have a bitter sweet feeling to it at times though because I’m not sure if we ever will meet up again. My journey to the Nelson Lakes was beyond memorial on so many levels. I found it quite ironic that in Kaikoura where there was always people around, I felt totally alone, and then in Nelson Lakes, in the middle of nowhere, many days into the back country, I find myself surrounded by good people and friends having awesome conversations.
Here is the link to my Nelson Lakes Photos:
http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/NelsonLakesNationalPark

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sheep Mustering

Ok Now that I got your attention with the title.....
Written March 14th, 2007
Growing up in an old horse town, I always dreamed of working on a farm and making a life out of working with animals. With the exception of a few cats, we never had any livestock when I was young. This was probably for the best, but it didn’t stop me from dreaming that one day I may own a large piece of land and could make my living from working it.

I just spent the past week working on a farm in New Zealand. I have to say it was probably the most incredible experience I’ve had since my trip has begun.
Hamish gave me the number to his cousin, Tim, on the South Island that owns a farm. He said I should stop by and check out what NZ farming is all about. Sounded like a great idea. So on Sunday I left Kaikoura and took off for the Cloudy Range farm to meet Tim. I show up and instantly he welcomes me to his home and giant property. When I say giant, I’m saying bigger than I could have ever imagined. 22,000 acres to be exact. Big enough to own numerous mountains on the Southern Alps range, multiple streams and one of the South Islands largest rivers that holds trout and Salmon. The property has miles and miles of track. One track extends over 25 miles ending at a hut built to sleep in over night when they go to retrieve sheep at the “other end” of the property. This farm is called home by over 1000 cattle and 7000 sheep. This property is big. Sunday evening Tim offered me a few days of work. I was excited to see what this was all about so I told him I’d stay a few days and move on. I ended up being so fascinated with the experience, I agreed to stay the whole week.
It didn’t take long for me to realized that to run such a large property take a lot of work. Hard, dirty, stinky, muscle aching work. Waking up before the sun, my first task consisted of shoveling sheep shiz for a few hours. I watched, totally memorized as the sun rose from the surrounding mountains as Tim and his farm hand, Cam, Mustered Sheep in from the field. They carried a large mustering stick made of Manuka Tree, a small, native tree favored my musterer’s (sheep herders) for being straight and strong. They used Dogs, commanded with whistles and shouts, to herd the sheep and direct them where they needed to go. This week Tim needed to sell about a 1000 lambs. We needed to go find them, clean them up and get them ready for the market. On top of that, this week, Tim needed to retrieve around a 2,500 sheep to be shorn for the weekend. The week consisted of a large range of tasks. We spent countless hours scurrying about the mountains on the property mustering the sheep back to the “shed”. One day I counted a half dozen mountains that I went up and down on foot. We also blazed up the hills in ATV’s and a super impressive off-road farm truck made by Nissan called the “Ranger”. This thing went anywhere. We went up hills I was almost positive we’d roll back down sideways on. We mowed through bush so thick and tall that it made giant cracks and thumps when the truck went over them. I saw some of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

Unfortunately, most of the time I didn’t have my camera. Expect for one day, which was cloudy, but made for some pretty cool picts. Back at the “shed” tasks ranged from drafting sheep, which is separating them by size and age, crutching sheep, which is shaving the wool off their butts that gets all nasty from their dung collecting on it and drying out into little jingly poop bells. We “drenched” sheep, which consisted of grabbing the sheep by the mouth and giving it a dose of anti-worm medicine. And one of the more excited tasks was to spot the sheep with “foot rot” and put them into different pen than the others. This sounds easy, and Tim and Cam made it look super easy, in fact they made everything we did look super easy, but to grab a sheep and put it into another pen is a bigger challenge than you might think. There is actually skill and technique to this. Let me paint you a picture. All the sheep are being held in a large pen, maybe the size of an average front yard. There are a few hundred sheep in there, so they are nicely packed on the other side from where you are standing. They don’t care for us humans much as they have spent most of their lives in the mountains. You walk the parameter of the pen, making all the sheep move and you are looking for the ones that are limping or have really long toenails. These are signs of foot rot. You slowly start walking to the middle of the pen and pick out the sheep you want. Wait until the sheep pile up a bit and then make a full-on mad sprint into the pack and grab your sheep. Simple enough? Right. Once you have your sheep, you need to hold on to it. They weigh about 60-80 pounds and with 4 legs, they want to run. If you don’t have a good hold, you will loose it and have to start over. After you grab it, you lift it up and walk to the fence and throw it to the other side where the rest of the sheep you’re trying to separate are. After making mad sprints in rubber boots and throwing livestock over a fence a few times, you soon gain a lot of respect for the people that work on a farm. Tim and Cam found more entertainment in my efforts to catch sheep than I care to share.
In all is was some of the most difficult work I have done. It was however, and incredible experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. I am very grateful for the work that Tim has given me. It is a farm I would happily go back to. But the difficulty is that Tim has decided to sell the farm and begin a whole new life journey as well. At the end of the month the farm will be sold. Tim says that he will miss this land that he has been so deeply connected to for multiple decades now but is excited for what’s next. He does hope to get himself another plot of land that he can work, just not as big.

I dove away from the farm Saturday morning and stopped to take pictures of the beautiful sunrise and say goodbye to the amazing piece of New Zealand that I was so fortunate to live on for a week.
Here are the pictures:
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/ryan.mceliece/SheepFarming
My post farm adventures continued with a 4 day trek into the Nelson Lakes National Park. However, due to lack of internet time and slow picture loading, I will have to post them another time. I have to say I’m pretty stoked on them. Today I am off on a sailboat adventure to the Cook Strait with Hamish and Grant for the next 5 days or so. I will make sure to update as soon as possible. Cheers!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Kaikoura the land of Epic

Today is my final day in Kaikoura. After living on the beach for nearly 2 straight weeks in my car, I've decided to move on. The surf is flat too, so that's some incentive as well. The McLaren Family has a relative that owns a farm about 50 kilometers from here, so I'm going to go say hi and probably stay there a few days and see what a New Zealand farm is all about.
I've grown to love Kaikoura. It represented an interesting time that was full of realizations and learning experiences. I've spent more time to myself here than I have the entire 3 months I've been in New Zealand...and probably the most time I've spent alone in my whole life. Travelers came and and went. Most only staying a night or two. But I had the opportunity to stay here in Kaikoura for more time than most people even spend in all of New Zealand. I'm very thankful. I got waves everyday. Of course only of few were truly epic. But I feel so good and am very thankful with what I got. The scenery is more than I can handle sometimes. Dramatic is an understatement. The mountains seriously rise right out of the sea and prick the sky with its towering peaks. Snow covered tops, lush greenery covering the undeveloped landscape. Rugged rocky beaches with waves that make the boulders moved on the bottom creating a new sound of the pacific that I've never heard. The ocean had more life than anywhere I'd seen. I was constantly sharing the waves with many different kinds of dolphins, giant snarly fur seals and massive fish I've never seen before. There were even a few days the water was full of clear strains of some type of egg about the size of marbles. It was surreal.

I've been through sunny days and gorgeous clear nights. I've been though a southerly storm blown in from Antarctica that violently shook my car and dumped massive amounts of rain for 3 sleepless nights. I sat alone numerous nights contemplating all the shortcomings of life and meanings of everything. I played the guitar and sang as loud as I could. I cooked incredible feasts on my camp stove and savored each bite as the highlight for the finale of an epic day. I watched sunsets and attempted to learn the foreign stars. I met travelers and locals all with unique stories and tales of traveling adventures of the past. I had fires on the beach, both alone and shared with people. I spent numerous hours just staring at the waves. Learning the breaks and watching people surf. I learned to surf my right side with a whole new feeling. That, in itself was a revolutionary feeling. I missed, felt alone, was bored, found excitement, found happiness and felt free all at the same time. I learned to appreciate conversations and the daily grind of just being surrounded by good, friendly people, because to my discovery, they're not always there. Kaikoura will always have a place for me and I will always have a place for it. My time spent here was very symbolic of the surrounding land and ocean. Dramatic. I may return again on my journey, but never again will it hold the same sense of discovery and newness that I so badly desired at this point in time.
Here's some shots I took my last few days here in Kaikoura. A few pictures from a hike around the Peninsula and some surf shots I took from a fairly small day at a break called Meatworks.....named for people getting their feet cut up on the big rocks when getting in and out of the water.
http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/Meatworks

As for whats next. Going to spend some time on a farm and see what that's all about, then probably go do some treks in the mountains before winter fully sets in. I was graciously invited on a fishing trip with Hamish and Grant on their sailboat at the end of the month. Not sure when I'll have a lot Internet time again, but I will update the next chance I get. Again, I like comments. Helps me know that people actually read this....So don't be shy!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New From Home!

MY LITTLE SIS IS GETTING MARRIED!!!!!

Just found out a couple days ago. The lucky Mr. Gabe Cappelletti proposed to my little sis Kelsey at Snoqualmie Falls on the 29th of February (leap year). Of course she said yes. So if you'd like to congratulate them send an email to her at:
kelseyjomac@hotmail.com
Here are a few photos she sent me that her friends took as they hid in the rain waiting for the question to get popped.
http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/LilSisEngagement

There is no date set yet, as far as I know, but I know September has always been one of her favorite months...so I'm guessing then.
And yes, I will be at the wedding. I wouldn't miss it for the world. :)

Off the subject, in case anyone is curious to know what she's been up to, or is looking for an incredible professional photographer, check out her website: http://www.kelseymceliece.com/

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fall Really is Here


Fall really is here. Woke up yesterday morning to finally see the mountains again.
It was pretty awesome watching the clouds drift away like wisps of sand on a dune on a windy day. The mountain tops were covered in snow. Camping is getting cold, but the waves are improving. Fall is here. The season is beginning.

I scored the best waves of this journey thus far. Rights peeling perfectly down the line. Surfed for 3 hours in the morning and another 2 in the evening. I feel like I'm finally improving on my rights. My tails is loosening up a bit and it feels pretty good. My shoulders have been on fire from the super long paddle back after each wave. I managed to snap a few photo's in the morning and evening. Later in the evening, a traveling pack of semi-pro Australian surfers came out to rip and dominate with their over inflated egos and little boards with fancy stickers.

http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/MangamaunuPoint
After getting repeatedly dropped in on and tossed up over the rocks I finally started to say something. All I got was looks like "what are you going to do about it? There's lots of us and one of you". I could really use a crew right about now. I finally left the water a little frustrated but super stoked on the 5 hours in the water and tons of amazing waves that day. If there was ever a moment in time that an ice bath might actually be good for you, last night was it. The Auzzies have since moved on and I have the place to myself with a few other super friendly locals and travelers. Here's days worth of shots from super fun Mangamaunu Point.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Small Things

Since my last post I've just been living in the Suby on the beach in Kaikoura. Been surfing tons and spending a lot of time reading and writing. Here's a couple of journal entries for your entertainment.

March 1st, 2008,
I've never really lived out of a car for this long and been in one place. I think its been about 2 weeks now. Been adjusting to life alone again. After staying with the McLaren's and an awesome adventure with Steph, it's kind of hard getting back into the solo groove. I've been getting up, make some coffee, grab a bite to eat and check the surf. Haven't had a day I haven't surfed yet so that occupies me until the afternoon. Then I grab some lunch, read, stare, write, stare, play the guitar, stare some more and BOOM! Time for an evening surf. I've surfed almost every evening since I've been here, so that occupies me until dinner and then its dark. I'm getting really good at killin days. How did I ever get anything done with a job? Maybe I could get paid to teach people to do nothing and be good at it? Occasionally, the idea of a shower comes into my mind. But I crush it like the little sand flies that attack my ankles every evening on the beach. Because I know that while I'm low on funds and I'm camping for free on the beach, showers are more of a luxury than a necessity. Besides, I'm in the the ocean everyday for 4-5 hours. Isn't that a form of bathing? People pay big money for salt-water soaks right? Anyways, I don't think that I smell that bad, and I remember from my Alaska experiences that the 5th day feeling is one of the best. It's the day you forget when the last time you had a shower and then actually start to feel good about it. It's an amazing feeling that few of us ever get to experience. Try it sometime...really. But I am past the fifth day, and a shower is actually sounding quite nice. My wetsuit and booties, that haven't dried out in a really, really long time, desperately need one as well. I do find it quite amazing how its the little things in life that that will totally grasp you in appreciation when you no longer have them. Its like a simple life pleasure can totally transform your mood. Things we overlook and don't appreciate in a society with so much money that there is no time to enjoy these things. Not only showers, which if you think about it, is an incredible invention in itself. But I'm talking about clean laundry, a toilet, running water to brush your teeth with, fresh fruit, cold beer, a firm mattress, sheets, clean pillows, proper lighting at night, not being cold, eating at a table, hanging out with no bugs around, a proper kitchen, Sharp knifes, stoves with an endless supply of heat or gas. These are the things given to us that we never really think about because they're expected to be there. Anything less would be unacceptable. But what if we didn't have them? Then they become very important and make us appreciate them. For example let me go back to the shower invention. They are amazing if you ever take the time to think about them. I feel like they're one of man-kinds greatest achievements, right up there with modern medicine and space exploration. I mean think about it. Really think about it. They're these clean (for the most part) box-like rooms made of some kind of waterproof material like tile, plastic, glass or fiberglass. With just a flick of the wrist, we turn on the water and out it flows from some kind of custom made shower head. Where does the water really come from? How does it flow that perfectly? Where does the water go? We adjust the water temperature so it is perfect. Stop right there. How good does it feel when you first step in? Really give it some though. It's amazing. Especially if you're cold. Then you soak and rinse and wash yourself with some type of product that most of us don't really know what it is other then it leaves us smelling good and feeling clean. We turn off this modern amazingness, and dry ourselves with some kind of clean, dry, absorbent, usually cotton cloth. Think of that feeling right then. That is the cleanest you will feel until your next rendezvous with the clean water box thingy. Its an incredible feeling and one we need to appreciate for what it is.
http://picasaweb.google.com/ryan.mceliece/MoreKaikoura

I'll stop there to prevent from further boring, nonsense. More later. Today is March 4th. I finally had my first shower in over a week. It wasn't so much as I felt like I needed on as much as my wetsuit did. I couldn't handle the smell as I paddled out anymore. I finally went to a proper campground to use the facilities. All is clean and life is good. The weather changed on me a bit and turned really cold and rainy. Fall is here. I caught a glimpse of the mountains this afternoon during a cloud break and the tops were covered in snow. A lot of snow. It was beautiful.


PS- Keep the comments coming! I love them and its great to hear from people. Comments are awesome!