The Waiting – Strenuous Activity – Days 3-5

Sometimes there are voices in the night. They sound like human voices sometimes. But they are not. They are forest voices. The murmurs are rocks shifting in the creek. The groans are distant trees rubbing branches. Or sometimes the click and squeak is an echo-locating bat flying nearby. Sometimes the sound plays out as the gentle clack of a twig submitting to gravity as it falls to earth on top of another stick that fell some time before.

You can lie in your tent and listen to the conversation. Nocturnal dialogue is often quieter but carries further. Diurnal dither is more constant and punctuated by bird call and the buzz of flies, bees and other insects.

One of the things that convinced me to stay here is that there are no cicadas – none of that decibel-busting scream that is commonplace this time of year. No, this site is silent. The obnoxious parrots just make their way through once per day in the evening but do not stay.

Days 3-5 fly by doing nothing. I don’t know how busy work days drag on forever, but sitting in the forest doing absolutely nothing at all speeds up time in some sort of fast-forward. One minute it is 11 am, the next it is 4 pm.

And so goes Wed, Thurs and Friday.

The last six months have given me one great gift – and that’s the gift of being able to do nothing. Like… absolutely nothing. I can lay on my groundsheet and watch the trees sway in the wind. My thoughts may waft about, or pass by in disconnected chains. But 20 minutes later, I’ll have no idea what I was thinking about. There’s no boredom, no need to do something, just a huge well of stillness within me now.

Maybe, for the first time in my life, I’ve been able to slow down and actually stop. What a precious thing.

In the past, I’d have rest days on tour or weekends at home where I did nothing. But there was always something – I’d read or look at maps or write a letter or watch TV. Even if it was nothing, it was something.

But now I can lie in the shade and truly do nothing. It is such a gift, and I’m sad I did not find it until I was 45. To be able to lie there, do absolutely no thinking at all, and just stare at the trees…. Bliss. What an enveloping sense of peace I’ve found I can cultivate. How wonderful it is to be able to just be.

Interspecies embrace. That’s some sort of box tree on the left hugging some sort of stringybark on the right.

Of course there are other times in Days 3-5 that I direct my thinking, solve the world’s problems (if only they would listen to ME!) and ponder the future.

I’m going back to work on 18 January, three days a week. I thought the test of my energy was going to be a long, gentle bike tour, but I still need to work on my digestion. Removing the diseased gallbladder has helped a lot, but there is still more work to do. Living somewhere stationary means it will be easier to access the foods and supplements I need and to eat and drink on a specific protocol. That would be difficult on the road. But if I’m going to continue a lease, then I’d like some income. I don’t want to spend all the money put away over the last six years for the next bike tour to go on rent!

So the job will be a good test of my energy, allow me to sort out my digestion and top up my savings. It’s just a six-month contract, so I’ll go visit my parents for a couple months afterward. And then I’ll launch off on the bike in Sept or October for as long as the road may lead. No timeframes or destinations specified.

To prepare for the tour of unspecified length to come, I brought along the stove to play with. I want to learn more of its secrets while out in the field.

I built a nice little windbreak and seat out of logs left behind by a previous camper. The flat rock table came from the river. I’m having lots of fun learning all the ins and outs of the stove. I’m really loving the trangia burner with firebox frame set-up.
A friend bought a few dehydrated meals for me when she saw them on sale at the camping store. But at $11 on sale ($15 normally) for a meal of 356 calories and your entire day’s sodium allowance, the value for calories is poor. Plus the ingredient list is pretty full of stuff I don’t think is good for my guts. They tasted okay, but I will stick to making my own things. If I weren’t planning on giving up my lease and being homeless on the bike for awhile later next year and into 2023, I would buy a food dehydrator and do meals that way for 3-4 day weekend rides. The concoction on the left that I made at home has about 300 calories, weighs less and has no nasties in it whatsoever.
Here is the above ziploc baggie meal cooked. I shall call it Em’s Mexican Red Lentil Dahl. It’s red lentils, poha rice flakes, smoked paprika, ground coriander and cumin, a tiny bit of cinnamon, pepper, red chili and a little bit of massell veg stock powder. This was fabulous. I’d eat this at home! All you need are some pappadums or corn chips for dipping. I’ll definitely keep doing this one. Tasty and filling! Add some fresh garlic, onion and maybe carrot, corn, red capsicum, potato or zucchini and it would be even more amazing.

Of course, amongst all those hours of zen and food prep, the guys’ needs must also be met. They float the days away, alternating runs through the rapids with time tied off to a blackberry cane in deeper, calmer water. I sit with them for awhile, then wet my shirt and go sit up in the shade where it is quieter than right within the white noise of the creek.

And so go the days.

One morning we take off up the track, hoping to see the volcanic rocks. It’s 3 km up to the turn-off to Mt Benambra. Alas, I think we need to climb the road up the ridge to see the rocks in the road cuts. And that is not on the cards today. It’s already hot and I don’t want to leave the campsite unattended too long.

So we just get a nice ride up the creek along a pleasant bush track for our morning exercise instead. Maybe it will be “third times a charm” to see those rocks!

You really could not have asked for a more pleasant, peaceful week. Okay, 5 degrees cooler each day would have been ideal, but it was certainly not a deal-breaker since we could hang in the shade by and in the creek. My body was not ready for pushing up to ridge tops or doing all that much this trip, so this campsite where I did not see or hear any humans for 4 days was just perfect. Chopper in a food drop and I could stay all summer or until the creek runs dry. Or until I have to return to work, sigh….

8 thoughts on “The Waiting – Strenuous Activity – Days 3-5

  • Wow, when you need to relax, you sure know how to do it! Reading about you sitting in a cool creek on a hot day makes me feel jealous. I’m also jealous of your floating friends. I’m also jealous of your culinary creativity. Em’s Mexican Red Lentil Dahl looks fantastic.

    • Thanks, Greg – don’t be jealous… I didn’t tell you about all the bug bites, the hard ground, etc. I know you will have some great adventures this coming summer… and, knowing you (sort of, in an internet kind of way), you’ll have plenty of good winter adventures, too. I am not jealous of you riding in slush or in temps below 25F, however!

  • What heaven, Em. All those days just doing nothing. I think most of us wouldn’t be appreciative of that stillness until we hit 45.

    I’m glad to hear of your recovery despite all the crap that the microbes and mRNA and gallbladder have been throwing your way the last months (and years). Onward!

    • Thanks, Kathleen. Onward for sure! Hope you have a fantastic 2022 with lots of good riding, good health and good weather (whether you need rain or sun!).

  • What bliss. Not many can be in the NOW for so long enjoying it’s healing.

    I am pleased that the Trangia plus the support/windshield is working well. Em’s Dahl looks like good stuff so, by the time you are ready to go touring, the next 6 months will probably add quite a few dishes to the menu.

    The guys are getting quite a bit of rafting in – going through the pipes on day 2 looked like good fun.

    Although the first 6 months of 2022 means 3 days a week at work, fixing that gall bladder means a much healthier 6 months – time for recovery and boosting the monetary coffers. We wish you a great 2022, very much improved health and a job that stays 3 days a week.

    • Yep, loving the trangia. Any tips or discoveries, please let me know! The job is going to suck – I’m going to have to pick up the pieces of a project I left in a really good place that did not get the attention it needed while I was away. Plus more procurement and contract mgmt which I hate. BUT, it pays well, so I can put up with it for that short time. It will be a good test of the energy though, and if it looks like it’s causing me to relapse, I can always walk away with two weeks’ notice. I hope you and Sue have an excellent 2022 and are able to get out and about for some fun adventures but also dodge covid, too!

      • Hi Terry, Thanks for all of the nice comments. I hope you and your family are well and you are going well with all of your various goals this year. Yes, I really like that Trangia stove and will try to keep figuring out all of its secrets before I go do the long-term tour later this year. Tomorrow is back to work….ugh. It will be a good test of my energy though. I wouldn’t mind some numb fingers now – it’s quite hot and steamy here right now. Jan is probably the most frustrating month for you – I hope there are a few breaks in the weather suitable for a ride. Take good care, great to hear from you. Emily

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