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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

My Book Cover

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 27 March 2014 | Views [752]

As I slathered a glob of freshly-made pesto onto sourdough bread with my morning cuppa, I had thoughts on my plan for today: return to the Mt. Arthur Lookout. Years ago I went with an Israeli girl and I fell in love with the view (though not as much so with her). I loved the view enough that I chose that photo as my book cover. After breakfast I was all set to go but my camera battery was completely dead. The weather was brilliant but I had to wait around for nearly an hour. Lani and Aarla went into town rather early and I could have received a lift with them but the bridge leading to Kahurangi National Park is only a 10-minute walk away.

As I walked toward the road Shiloh was surprised I was still here. Taking a deep breath, soaking up the sun I was ready to revisit my book cover. A couple of motorcyclists turned onto the bridge but they’re unable to pick me up since (usually) they don’t carry a spare helmet. 500 metres up the road a lady named Joanne picked me up. With her dog licking me all over (which I don’t like) she could only give me a lift about 5 km. Thinking the carpark was only a short distance up the road I took off my shirt and walked with all my might, though a cyclist told me it was about 7 or 8 km ahead! I sat for awhile waiting for a lift but it was after 1:00 PM. A couple of guys stopped, and sort of insulted me with a comment of “if you recently published a book, you should have a set of wheels.” Bloody hell, it annoys the hell out of me when people unconditionally make such rude comments. That’s especially because they don’t know me and my life. Crossing a gate I entered a “kiwi zone” with a sign stating “No dogs” and “Flora Carpark – 7 km.” That meant either a long walk or a long wait. Most people would just turn around and attempt the journey another day but I came all this way! Why should I turn around? Some stretches of the road are very steep and I had to stop for a breather a few times. Finally at around 3:30 PM a couple named Ruth and Ian from Te Puke picked me up. With a bag of pears on the back seat my mouth watered and I just had to ask for one. That pear tasted so good! Ruth and Ian were immediately curious about my book and noted it’s pretty heavy for lugging up the hill. When we got to the carpark I was going to wait whilst they unpacked, and walk with them but I felt like I had to be quick. It was after 4 PM and the walk to the lookout takes about an hour. Foolishly I had no jacket and no food; only a water bottle and tea thermal. I walked relentlessly, reaching the hut in slightly less than an hour. If I had my sleeping gear and a bit of food I would have spent the night up here. Just two minutes from the hut is the site of my book cover! This is one of the best panoramas I’ve ever seen! For more than a half hour I shot photos and admired the view; in doing so I got that iconic photo with my book.

The only other person at the hut was a French Canadian girl but she was preparing dinner. Since there was nobody to take my photo, all of them are selfies. When I came here the first time it was busy with nearly a dozen other people; I fondly remember an 80-year old man’s words “you can either wear out or rust out” when I remarked he made it all the way up here. It was after 5 PM and I felt like if I got down there quickly there’d be a lift waiting for me. I heard something poking around in the bush, thinking it was a kiwi but it turned out to be a weka. Walking to the carpark took less than an hour but the only two vehicles were presumably from the Kiwi couple and the French Canadian girl. Clouds started to form as the sky slowly darkened; I had no time to waste. With no jacket, no food, no sleeping gear, and no traffic, this was not a road I wanted to get stranded on. Mightily, I power-walked down the hill until my knees and feet were sore; the sky only darkened. Slightly more than an hour after I began I was at the “kiwi zone” gate. I didn’t realize I’d walked 7 km already! It was still another 9 km to the main road so I marched on relentlessly. I could hear a vehicle approaching yet incredibly the driver chose not to stop for me! Another 4 km on it was well after 7 PM, with the sky on its way to complete darkness. I walked 15 km in just over two hours! Then through the unforgiving darkness, a light emerged. Sore feet and all I put out my thumb in desperation and an old bearded man named Harmony picked me up. I’m not sure if that’s his real name but he’s from Ohio and has lived in NZ for 26 years. He immediately knew Shiloh and Lani when I described them and mentioned how Sylas is always a “smiling source of energy.” Harmony wasn’t even driving in the direction of the main road but he saw how tired I was and was even nice enough to drive me all the way to the front gate. Usually I’d have no qualms about being dropped at the turnoff in front of the school but my feet were sore. Upon entering the front room I nearly kissed the ground; I was so happy to be home to rest my aching feet and weary self. Water for tea was already on the stove and a tasty vegetable stew with pesto-topped rice was ready for me. Wow, I can’t remember the last time a meal and a cuppa tasted this good! After filling myself up, Shiloh, Lani, Sylas, and Aarla sat down as I acted as the narrator for some of my journeys. Vicariously I took then through Istanbul, and after Shiloh expressed curiosity I shared photos from Iceland. Aarla pointed out that it was probably on a weekend when I went toward Mt. Arthur last time. If I had left before 10 AM and received some good lifts I would have walked all the way to Mt. Arthur. Sylas said the view from atop is even more dramatic. One day I’ll be back up there, though it felt great to be back at the lookout today!

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