Day Fifty Nine (22 February)

Day 59 saw me within striking distance of the Victorian border. If I had one of my ‘knuckle down old man’ crazy moments I could have gone for it, walking dawn until well after dusk (it was 70km away) but thankfully I was learning from my mistakes and now understood the walk was about the people and places, not the toil.

I didn’t have to prove anything, I just had to share in the hope, healing and inspiration of it all.

So I woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and looked at the map, deciding that Eden (about 26km or so) was my next major stop. Some people had written in weeks ago asking me to visit there, so I knew it was a significant place (but I wound up completely stuffing it up, more on that later).

My problem was, with no help or support, I could only really concentrate on the day in front of me – when people wrote to me days or even weeks in advance, I’d lose track, not remember names, fail to find the details in the constant flood of messages .. if fate smiles on me and I get to take my BIG LAP, I’m going to lean on the kind offers of help from supporters, to help maintain a bit of a calendar.

So that’s me outside the lovely Lakeview Hotel, where I enjoyed a restful sleep in complete comfort.

See the belly ?

Yep, thanks to people always pulling up in their cars with “Here, Captain Australia, I gotcha a meat pie!” or “here Captain Australia, you must be famished, have this bag of lollies” … haha thanks to all that kindness, and despite walking pretty much dawn until dusk – I was gaining weight !

Worse, I was starting to sometimes feel giddy and headachey – my thyroid (which regulates your metabolism) was wrecked by the chemoradiation, which can cause heaps of problems including dramatic weight gain.

I’d had a call from the road yesterday and gotten an eScript for some medicine, and thanks to the kindness of Nigel & the owner of the local Amcal Pharmacy, I was able to get some new meds (and also sturdy insoles for the boots)

Nigel also took me to visit Sapphire Life Opportunities, a wonderful charity set up in Merimbula to help people in need. Operating as a kind of a food bank, with a take what you need, give what you can approach, it’s a completely gorgeous, open & kind charity run by gorgeous, open & kind people. It was a privilege to visit.

Although I should have stayed at least a half day in Merimbula, maybe done a little fishing or something, the old fella needed to Rock & Roll, I could almost smell the Victorian Border.

But always got time for a selfie or two 🙂

I was starting to get pains in my feet, but the insoles seemed to be helping (I think I had collapsed arches – although self diagnosis is a fool’s game).

The walk out of Merimbula was winding and pleasant – it was another overcast (but not rainy) day, the ocean breeze had a bite to it but it was more bracing that cold.

It was lovely.

I kept having to pinch myself. I was alive. Viable again. Getting stronger. My Mad Quest was actually working. I was going to succeed.

I got a message from Einstein, he was lurking around in the area, had been having an ocean swim – I agreed to meet him in the next town for lunch.

So a pleasant morning walk to Pambula.

It was only or 8 km, and I was able to follow some very pleasant bike tracks for most of the way.

Now, don’t ask me what is going on in the photo to the left.

I really have no idea.

It looks like someone has rushed up, chest bumped me and yelled out “ROCK AND ROLL!!!”

And there I am screaming back “ROCK AND ROLL MOTHERFUCKER !!”

(Sorry for swearing) (but yeah I really have no idea?!)

Pambula was a pleasant stop, and I got to have a long and often hilarious chat to Einstein.

(Side note: he’s in hospital today, apparently had a minor heart attack – he should be okay, but I quite love him and am a bit worried. I like to think that all the healthy activity since we met fortified him, and turned what could have been a major event into a minor survivable incident)

Anyway, he’s a lovely bloke, and I was keen to get him talk on camera about what he was doing – getting out there every day, swimming, bushwalking, breathing, reflecting – getting past his own suffering and sorrow.

I love the way that I inspired Einstein, but he inspires me right back, and possibly we get the chance to inspire you.

Hate, fear, isolation – those things may spread and grow, but I think that kind of inspiration is the opposite to that dark stuff, and our best (and maybe only) way to counter-act the darkness.

It’s like the old saying goes – the only way to fight darkness … is to light a candle.

I still had about 20km to Eden, and it was along some pretty sketchy and hilly stretches of road.

Oh. Now THIS weird photo I can explain.

See that bus going past behind me ?

That was the third such bus – with exactly the same advertisements on the side, driving that that same nonchalant speed.

I think I mentioned it in the stream, but I had a theory – it was like the black cat in THE MATRIX, it was actually the same bus, and signified some kind of glitch.

(Don’t worry, I know that’s not true. I’m not mental.)

(Well, not COMPLETELY mental)

As I rocked into EDEN, I met this lovely bloke Shaun McDonald (and a mate of his whose name I cant remember!), they’d driven all this way – well over a hundred kilometres – to meet up with me again.

I promised to meet up for a beer once I was settled.

This lovely family who owns and operates “the Coachman’s Inn” had written to me offering hospitality, so I had ANOTHER safe and comfortable bed to sleep in.

I was certainly getting spoiled.

It was raining a little as I made my way into Eden, but for the most part the weather had been really kind to me.

Stopping for a few hellos (including another hug with a horse), I found the Coachman’s Inn and went inside for a G’day.

The family were wonderful and hugely welcoming and supportive.

Plus ! Young kids !

It no longer hurt me to hang out with young kids (that sting of missing my own), I just plain adored it. Getting down on one knee, answering their questions. The idea of injecting a little bit of wonderment into their young lives.

I know if, when I was little, I’d met Captain Australia on the road, I’d have been amazed, and would thought about it for years to follow.

While I was relaxing in the luxury of the beautiful room, I got a message from Einstein “my pussy is hurt, I have to go home”

(Yes, he always referred to his cat like that)

His cat back home had been in a scuffle with a possum, it was ultimately OK, but needed antibiotics and some loving care.

After a delicious meal (which tasted like kindness), I went outside to meet up with Einstein and say Goodbye. Met a couple of young kids outside (and autographed their hats & shirt!)

While I was waiting for Einstein, I hear these yells from the distance, and this gaggle of kids, about 10 of them, came tearing down a hill and rushed toward me.

Haha, what followed was a joy.

The dad jokes, the laughter, the chasing them around as they took turns trying on the Captain Australia mask.

(I think the dude in the blue shirt wore it best, but the little kids are a hoot)

Great fun, a real joy.

After Einstein came along, and we said our farewells, I met up with Shaun and his mate (now my mate, regardless whether I actually know his name!) and we spent a couple of hours chatting over beers. (And then cans of rum & coke which they’d brought with them)

It was a full-throttle bogan evening, but lovely bogan, you know ? Raw, earnest, a lot of swearing, a lot of joking around.

Wistful memories of “Man Land” back in Bodalla would occasionally cross my mind.

At about 11pm, I needed to beg off. Pretty much from around 9pm I’d start having these jaw-cracking yawns.

Stumbling a little, I made my way back to the Inn, and fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

I mentioned before some things I ‘stuffed up’ at Eden – that happens the following day – there were some people eager to meet me, and I took a wrong turn and ended up disappointing them (something I truly regret). But more on that next time.