Dusty Boots and Worn Tires, An Adventure Yet to Come
It seems somewhat pointless to write about something yet to happen when even the yet to happen has little in the way of substance with which to make my usual expletive soaked written diarrhea. But fuck it. So ladies and germs, boys and girls, fellow asshole and twats from around the world, hold onto your dicks (and lady dicks) for fear they will become so engorged with jealousy that they split themselves off of your body…surprise…I’m doing something stupid.
Two years ago I had a dream. It was an ambitious dream, it was a dangerous dream, it was a dream unlike most dreams because most dreams involve the sudden appearance of Olivia Wilde and though the only thing that could have made this dream all the more perfect would be said appearance by said perfectly sculpted human female, this dream was still in every way perfect and perfectly stupid. That dream was to fly to the northern most point of New Zealand and cycle to the southern most point in three weeks on only the change in my back pocket. The only problem being that, as all things, it would cost some money to actually do and only a month and a half ago I was horribly, horribly, broke and seconds away from homelessness.
In the month since, life has taken an outstanding turn for the less shit and after years of avoiding it I found myself with a more regular job at a production studio as an editor working three days a week at full rate (if you don’t know, that’s very rare, even rarer to just stumble into. Impossible when only the day before you’d have sucked dick just for ten bucks to keep the lights on). In that time I discovered some friends I thought were friends that have since turned a cold shoulder on me, while bridges I thought were burned have since sprung up again, people I’ve shared intensely vitriolic words with have come to my side, and the financial security has after five years of nose to the grind hustling, no weekends off, no holidays in sight and working 365 days a year, after that it’s given me a chance to step back and breath. In breathing I got a second to go “that thing I want to do, I can do it now”.
With every last ominous bill paid off and a bank account stuffed enough that I’m starting to look at it suspiciously — I’m the most uncomfortable with money when I have enough that I shouldn’t be uncomfortable (it’s a poor people thing) — I got a call last week from someone looking for a swiss army knife to shoot, direct and edit a commercial for a couple of grand. Since the great poorering of March I’ve taken to not turning down a single job offer and besides it’s a job offer you don’t turn down anyway, I took it, and on Friday last week I directed for the first time in six years. A pretty solid gig as well, commercials pay well y’know.
So this weekend, while cat sitting for my best friend (appropriately her name is Kat…it’s an endless source of amusement) I took the time to crunch numbers and realised that what I was being paid for directing the commercial was exactly what I’d need to make the long planned, often ‘never gonna happen’d trip to New Zealand. Like, the exact amount. Like, I may now start believing in god level of ‘something’s up with this shit right here’ shit.
Funnily enough, the exact thing happened to a friend of mine on a side documentary project I’m editing. He went to Peru to go soul searching in the Amazonian jungle and experience Iowaska ceremonies to confront some long repressed demons. Only prior to going he got a gig acting in a commercial that paid the exact figure the trip would cost, it paid for the journey and it changed his life (amongst many, many other confronting and intense things that you’ll have to wait until the documentary comes out to find out about…it’s worth the wait).
So, given I only just got this regular gig and I’m starting to shine to not having to stress about how I’m going to pay for breakfast (let alone dinner), I’ve decided to do a thing with the thing. Instead of going on a whim for the shits and giggles. Instead the trip (or project as it were) is locked in for the 1st of December when production work usually dies down for the Annual New Year Creative Drought. Last weekend I booked my tickets for the end of the year to properly tattoo it in. Ain’t no going back.
The plan is to fly to Auckland with my bike (packed up with provisions, a tent, one change of clothes, and my camera gear), jump on a greyhound bus to Cape Reinga. Camp the night, and at the break of dawn; the journey starts. A 3000km journey up, down, across, in and out of the Northern island of New Zealand down to the isle split where I’ll take my trusty metal steed and board a ferry to the Southern island and continue on until I reach the Southern point within the four week time limit where on the 30th of December Kat will fly in and meet me at the Milford Airport and we’ll travel to the southern Glacier of New Zealand which will make the end of my journey. Along the way I’ve set a hard and fast ‘no ‘no’ rule’. At no point can I say no to anything (within reason, if someone offers you crack you say no…it’s not a debate, drugs are bad kids). Go swimming with sharks? Yes. Get a bamboo tattoo from a traditional tattooist? Sure. Eat this strange shit? Why not. Climb that incredibly dangerous but breathtakingly beautiful snowy mountain? Absolutely. Sleep in a cave behind a waterfall? Fucking aye! Go there, see that, do this. Ain’t no time for no.
At the end of November last year I took a break from drinking — I’ve never been much of a drinker anyway, but decided there was enough going on that I didn’t need a loose tongue or any other way of getting into trouble (I’m already a master of that). Plus, drinking in Sydney costs a lot, so fuck that noise. I spent two years at uni completely sober after I realised I wasn’t having fun drinking anymore, and I fucking love to drink with friends so finding the fun in being shit faced was a necessary thing to get back.
What the fuck does this have to do with New Zealand? Well, it just so happens that December will be around the one year mark and so what better way to toast the end of the journey than with a drink? So to mark the end of the oddessy, sat upon the glacier in New Zealand with my best friend, we’re going to mark the occasion and the new year by chipping off a chunk of glacier ice, dropping it into glasses of whiskey and toasting the end of the journey and the beginning of the new year. Rad, right?
One more thing. I’m calling the journey “The New Zealand Suicide Ride”, in part for the incredibly torturous amount of exhaustive riding involved (seriously, if I don’t come back tan as fuck and buff as hell, I’mma be super fucking pissed off), but also in part because over the next few months leading up to it I want to somehow use it to raise awareness or inspire those, who like me, know what the deep dark pit of the blues feel like. Only the other day I was chatting with a friend from uni, I don’t know her that well, we were friends of friends but have just kind of kept constantly and occasionally in touch since. She was extraordinarily complimentary, about my photography and artwork etc, she told me how jealous she was of my drive and that she felt like she was failing herself. She didn’t seem to realise how fucking amazing her own artwork was, how much of the world she had seen, how little she actually had to be jealous of.
I was told a few months back by a particularly lovely lass (who had absolutely no reason to feel this way) that “you’d get bored of me”, because of how weird and eclectic people see my life as or hear of my stories.
Now I’m not oblivious to it. I have ADD and I constantly look for new things to see and do and I take pride in that some people have told me they love following my life and reading what I have to say or stories to tell through social media. A lot of people like my art and work. So how can I use that to entertain, or even kick a little fuel into someones otherwise lifely empty gas tank?
As much as the trip is for the shits and giggle, it also a very personal venture for myself, and it’s also something I want to document. I know in the next few months I want to reach out to the mental health communities and groups like Beyond Blue and Black Dog and see if I can’t find a way to involve their cause in a way that helps. Along the month long stretch I’ll be photographing and filming every step of the way and when I return to Sydney using that to release a photobook full of photos and stories I gather of my own and those I meet along the way, and with the footage using it to cobble together an episodic travel web-series. Both of which will be released for free online, hopefully I’ll be able to find a way to involve a cause in it to help others and inspire others to go on their own journeys — you don’t have to be an athlete (I’m sure not), you don’t have to be rich (that ain’t me), you don’t have to have an extraordinary life to do extraordinary things, and nobody ever said that a prerequisite for being an interesting person is to already be an interesting person. Nobody came out of the womb with a plethora of stories to tell. Or, if like so many other times, even one person finds joy living vicariously through the stupid shit I do. That’s okay too.
On the surface level interest side of things; at the insistence of Kat and her boyfriend out of worry that little ol me might get myself in trouble along the way (what ever gave them that idea?) I’ll be strapped with a GPS device that can be viewed on a web embedded app — so before I go I’ll set up a website dedicated to the journey where a constant GPS map will be live streamed so anyone keen to stalk my arse can follow along and see where I am on the journey, there’ll be a instagram embedded photostream I’ll post photos to as I go and when I have reception, and every time I pass through a town I’ll try to keep a online journal as I go that’ll go straight to the site, which will also be where the webseries and photobook will eventually be made available.
For now, that’s pretty much it. I guess putting it out there publicly makes this the first step of the journey. Come New Years I’ll be sitting on a chunk of ice in another country after a month of physical torture and life affirming adventures, celebrating and ushering in the new year with one of my favourite people in the whole wide world.
Assuming I don’t die along the way and leave her stranded at the airport…
Oh New Zealand, I can’t wait for you to meet my camera. 200 days to go.