Day Forty Four (7 February)

All-in-all, Day 44 was a great day, and I made some wonderful new friends.

But on waking, I had a major problem – while enjoying my safe and comfortable sleep (thanks to Cath and the staff at Werri Werri Beach Holiday Park), a tick had burrowed itself into my throat.

(At least it was easily detectible and not somewhere hard to get at).

It was still raining quite intensely in the morning, but I headed over to the showers, got cleaned up, and assessed my injury. There really wasn’t much I could do about either the tick, or the weather, so I resolved to pack my gear and get started.

The rain died off and I was able to meet the staff for a quick (and cheeky – the girls didn’t want to be on-screen) thank you video.

What absolutely lovely kindness they showed me, what a great team. Thank you very much for your hospitality.

(Actually Gerringong as a town was just lovely, next time through I’d like to spend a little longer there, drink the town in a bit more)

Sadly, the tick wasn’t the only creepie crawly in the caravan – it was funny to me that after weeks of sleeping rough, it was in comfort that I got my first tick.

Nothing to be done, a mission to complete, get moving old fella !

I found a pharmacy in town and was able to replace my lost glasses, and almost walked right past this lovely cafe (the Deli Cafe) who had written in overnight, inviting me over for breakfast.

And what a breakfast !

The pictures tell the story, but it was great.

Chemotherapy took away my sense of taste completely, and it only partially came back – many foods are distorted now, and some are hard to eat/chew/swallow.

But poached eggs and avocado .. that’s two foods that are as delicious and easy to eat now as they ever were (maybe more so, in contrast to how other foods lost their taste).

So Captain Australia enjoyed himself a large, delicious breakfast and some lovely chats as people would come over and say G’day (I think the TV and all the radio interviews had really helped the cause, people generally where quite interested and supportive).

Once I was done, I legged it out of town, as I’d learned of hospitality in Nowra and needed to get moving !

Exiting town, stopped for a lovely chat at the laundromat when these ladies came barrelling out to say G’day, and also found the Post Office and was able to get another postcard for my mate Archer, still in serious condition at Westmead Hospital, I think his bone marrow transplant was done, but he was confined to paediatric ICU for weeks and weeks, dealing with complications and challenges.

They say ‘fight fire with fire’ but it sucks how most of the cancer treatments are as toxic and damaging as the disease itself. My own chemo wrecked my hearing and vision, and I still get daily neck cramps.

Gerringong soon gave way to some gorgeous rolling farmland, long gently sloping hills overlooking that wild and murderous ocean.

Loved it.

It was either farm or forest for the entire day of walking, pretty much, and I was still getting so much just from being out there amid all that green.

My feet were really starting to hurt though, the boots were on their last legs, and I think that was slowing me down.

This was one of those days where I had music relentlessly going over and over through my head.

Sometimes to keep myself amused, I might have a song like “Flame Trees” in my head but I’d improvise rap lyrics instead of the normal stuff as I walked.

But much of the time it was Motown or Disco, repetitive snippets like “Aint no Mountain High Enough, Aint No Valley Low Enough” on a loop

Today though, it was Black Sabbath’s “Changes” but sung like this soul-singer Charles Bradley’s cover (it’s really great, here’s a link)

I guess it resonated because I was going through some pretty major changes myself, even though the song is about the loss of somebody you love, the underlying emotional turmoil of facing up to major change fits a lot of situations. And boy, can Charles Bradley belt it out (RIP)

I think I had been (quite loudly) singing to myself when this couple pulled over. I’d thought I was all alone and they kinda snuck up on me 🙂

Nathan and Jade, a truly lovely couple – I met them again (and their adorable kids) in coming days.

Today, they had brought me a bit of a care package – some sandwiches and fruit. What wonderful thoughtfulness and kindness.

I was actually pretty well stocked up, but rather than carry it I took a break and sat down and gobbled it all in one sitting, except for the bananas, which I stuck into my utility belt pouches like some kind of weird gunslinger, and snacked on throughout the afternoon.

It’s strange, you know – because the walk lasted so long, a lot of the re-telling is “more of the same”, long stretches of time and distance walking through beautiful country.

On the one hand, I regret that I didn’t do a better job of engaging and sharing the people that I met, they were a massive part of the experience.

And yet on the other hand, that’s exactly what the walk WAS. Repetitive toil, fresh air, nature, immersed in the work of it, surrounded by this beautiful country.

And within that – healing. A slow, gradual blossoming (of my spirit, I mean)

But yeah, that afternoon was “more of the same”

I had some lovely encounters, including a couple of cyclists who rode past and then swung back to come and ask me a bunch of questions.

The tick was a nagging presence in the skin around my throat.

I saw a few strange things, like a burnt out car wreck with police tape all over it, and this majestic bird (I think it was a sea eagle) pecking at a snake on the side of the road directly in my path.

(And I kid you not – it must have known I meant no harm, because I walked right past it and it just scuttled about there, pecking at the snake meat – this glorious bird pretty much just ignored me)

Eventually, forest gave way to river, and then .. factories. I’d made it to Nowra.

Sun set as I plodded through the industrial area.

You’d think in contrast to the natural beauty of the bush, you’d look at the big buildings, the trucks and machinery with disgust – “look at human industry” “look at what we do to our planet” – but I found these massive buildings beautiful, even almost a little bit hypnotic.

Thing is, even though I’d made it to Nowra …

.. I still had hours until my rest.

So frustrating, especially when predicting times of arrival. A place is a dot on the map, but on foot, once you get there there’s all this extra ‘ambient’ walking to get from place to place within that map-dot.

(remembering that a short hop in a car, like 5km will turn out to be an hour on foot .. it can gang up on you after a long and tiring day)

Haha, stop whinging old fella !

As I was walking through the dark suburbs of Nowra, I learned that my hosts (Chris & Kelly of Avaleen Lodge Motor Inn) had come out looking for me.

These lovely people came and got my big pack and took it ahead of me, lightening both my physical and spiritual load.

This allowed me to stop in at Woolies and pick up some (highly recommended) tea tree oil to try and get rid of the tick (it didnt work and stung like the blazes).

As you can see from the video, this wonderful couple had provided me with a safe, warm, dry place to sleep – but it also had it’s own washing machine and dryer – it was wonderful.

And not only that, they had (so very thoughtfully) picked up a small pizza and some lasagne.

After a long days’ toil, it was great.

And I think that was another ethic I learned during the walk .. that suffering can be a gift, if it’s toil for a purpose.

It can illuminate and heighten the joy that follows.

(Oh and the pic here is me trying a technique to make my beard look less scruffy (by shoving the long scraggly bits in your mouth)

clicking on this picture will go to Day 45