I’m sitting in a TV/reading room at a campground in Methvan, New Zealand. On the wall to my left is a large wood-burning stove and the door to a kitchen. On the opposite wall is a large, old plasma television with DVD player and X-box. To the left of the TV are several large book cases with rows of well-read books and stacks magazines with torn and ragged spines. Worn recliners and sofas form a U shape in front of the television. Near the back of the room where I’m typing are several large tables and long benches. I could be at any of a large number of ski lodges where we’ve passed great evenings after a fun day on the slopes. In other words, I’m content and comfortable.
The only other person in the room is a 19 year old backpacker from Germany. He recently graduated from high school and set off to hike from the most northern to the most souther tip of New Zealand. He’s a wonderful conversationalists and, I suspect, craving conversation as much as me.
Eric, after giving up on stupid television shows, just headed out to our tent to read and sleep.
I, on the other hand, am energized from the excitement of being in NZ. I’m also a bit nostalgic for home. From the wide-open spaces, the pine scented forests, the just-sheered sheep, the grazing beef cattle, the piles of hay stacked and ready for winter, the cool weather crops of lettuce and cabbage filling squares of farmland like patches of a quilt, and the mountain tops dotted with pines and rock remind me of Western Colorado, Eastern Washington, and parts of California without the thousands of miles of distance in between.
Both Eric and I have commented that going from the heat, noise, stress of navigating SE Asia to the cold, quiet, and solitude of long stretches of highway in New Zealand is taking some getting used to. The first day, after I got over the beauty of the first couple of farms, I felt a little bored. The long straight roads seemed harder mentally than physically. Not having to be so focused on the road and traffic as we were 100% of the time in SE Asia allowed my brain drift to autopilot on one hand and then antsy to get to our destination on the other.
One thing that is really surprising me is how much we’re enjoying camping. Eric has always liked to camp but I’d really just gone along because the kids were content and occupied at campgrounds giving me precious time to read when they were younger.
But, twenty years later, I, too, am happy with this camping set up. The equipment seems more comfortable and warmer than I remember 20 years ago. And, having a kitchen and lounge area, like many of the New Zealand campgrounds do, makes camping almost a better option than a hotel for me because there is space to move around, people to chat with, and the option to make food that we like.
Of course, all this happiness may be influenced by the fall nice weather, flat campsite, and easy access to a local pub for beer and dinner. We’ll see how I feel if we have prolonged rain, wind, and/or snow.