A Holiday – Hike, Cook, Eat, Sleep. Repeat

We just had a 2 week vacation in Western Australia. We found a house in the woods and went glamping by the lake. We hiked most days, tried mountain biking, visited a farm and hung out at our rental homes.

Our first stop was Denmark, a coastal town near Albany. We found a 3 storey house in the woods. It was an old house that was very well kept and comfortable. The furnishing wasn’t fanciful. They were basic yet functional. It was not too long ago that I had begun to appreciate the charm of a comfortable old home and the effort required to upkeep it. It’s a bit like being married for 50 years.

The Australian cockatoos were regular visitors to the house and one of the highlights of our stay there was the daily bird feeds. There were the pink and the green ones. They were so pretty and friendly! We could actually feed them directly from our hands.

The fireplace was another attraction where the boys spent many hours figuring out how to set up a good fire. From collecting twigs, leaves, branches to setting up a tinder nest and carefully kindling the fire.

Our second stop was at Cowaramup, a quaint little town 12 km north of Margaret River. We rented a good looking tent next to the lake. No, we didn’t set up the tent. It was all set up when we arrived and we had all the comfort of a home! It had a bathroom, 2 beds, 2 sofa chairs, coffee table, dining table and a small kitchenette. I felt so pampered and was embarrassed to call ourselves campers.

My elder son enjoyed hanging out by the the lake with a book while my younger boy spent most of his time playing with his new friends (a pair of siblings). They were into butterfly hunting and told him that they could catch 2 butterflies a day.

So while my boy introduced them to ‘spearfishing’, they taught him how to hunt for butterflies. He came back with a glass jar lined with sand, rocks and bits of grass, a home ready for the butterflies.

Then they got together to build a ‘house’. They were probably planning to build one big enough for themselves but realised it was too difficult to find branches and twigs as tall as them. They made a mini one instead.

Shortly after we became parents, we discovered that the best kind of family vacation would be to park ourselves somewhere surrounded by hiking trails (if it’s summer) or ski slopes (if it’s winter). It’s a little embarrassing to share our travel itineraries which usually revolves around hikes, skis and supermarkets!

We hardly eat out and we cook our meals most of the time.

During this trip, the boys learned to cook rice and steam vegetables using a microwave because that was all we had in our tent. We don’t have a microwave at home so they were quite impressed that they could cook a proper meal using the microwave.

With a communal BBQ hot plate, we cooked fried rice, stir fried spinach, chicken, and grilled steaks, pork chops and sausages. We had quite a spread.

While I find it stressful to cook in an unfamiliar kitchen, my husband relishes the challenge of it. He is the ‘adventurous closet cook’. I guess being outdoors and being surrounded by trees made it even more fun!

While I complained about not being able to take a break from cooking even when we were on holiday, I realised that such moments were part of our holiday experience.

I like the warm and fuzzy feeling of being together in a foreign land. Experiences that brought us closer and filled up our memory jars.

For good or bad, these are the experiences that we have gone through together and the boys would probably grow up remembering that holidays are supposed to be like that – camp out, hike/ski and cook improvised meals. 

 

24

Lost In The Pine Forest

We hiked up a beautiful pine forest in Queenstown. It was one of the easier hike we did in New Zealand and would have taken us around 3 hours to do a round trip. But we got lost while coming down and ended up at the bike trail. All 4 of us had no idea how we wandered off from the hiking trail.

The mountain bikers were fast and furious and were insanely dangerous! They were fully geared and were all wearing what looked like motorbike helmets. They had to be going down at insane speed to require that kind of helmets!

We thought we could avoid them by taking the more rocky paths but hell no, they could be found at the most unlikely location, a treacherous and rocky cliff.

We back tracked the trail hoping to get back to the hiking trail but it was just too dangerous as it was a steep climb, we had to get on all fours at some areas and bikers would suddenly appear charging down the hill. A couple of them shouted at us warning us that we could get killed!

We tried bashing through the forest to stay away from the bike trail but it was too dense and we realized there was no way we could walk through it.

It was an irony how not too long ago I was admiring her beauty and now, I was silently pleading for her mercy. I was beginning to get worried and the little one started sobbing.

So going uphill to get back to the hiking trail wasn’t going to work and going downhill seemed like the best bet. We were actually not far away, we could see the lake and the car park, we just needed a safer way to get down and avoid the bikers!

We remembered an unmarked trail that linked up with the bike trail earlier on while we were back tracking and that could be our only chance.

The Dad recced the route down and we helped to keep a lookout for on coming bikes. Once a spot was identified as safe, we would move downhill one at a time. At any one time, there was someone who stayed behind to look out for bikes and get ready to shout to warn both the bikers and the person who was making his way down the trail. It was an intense moment.

We finally made it to the unmarked trail and judging from the mark on the trail, we suspected it was a track for 4 wheel drive vehicles. Now the chance of being knocked down by a 4 wheel drive seem lower than by thrill seeking bikers! We hurried down that path, still looking out for bikes, just in case.

Before long, we caught a glimpse of the road! A ROAD! We were thrilled. The joy, the relief to see the end to this maze. A maze in the wilderness, in a sea of pine trees of centuries old. A silent beauty which can be mysterious, awe inspiring and dangerous all in one.

 

2

Some Kind Of Love

My 8 year old, a somewhat avid hiker

Somewhere between his first hike when he was 4 years old and now

A love blossomed

A love for the nature, for the mountains, or for walking miles

I can’t be sure and neither can he

Perhaps it is the weather high up that makes all things pleasant

Or perhaps it’s the fruit of perseverance that got him hooked

An affinity so real

unveiled in the stories he wrote

Stories of his many hikes

Details that had left us

but had became part of him

He was thrilled by this last minute trip

An enthusiasm so contagious

which gotten me lasted longer than I could

He hiked every single day

There was no time for jet lag

nor time to nurse his sunburnt lip

or his badly swollen blood shot eyes from an unknown allergy

Nothing seems to stop him

Not the pain nor the treacherous terrain

Perhaps too juvenile to comprehend the danger that lurks

But not too long ago

he was this little baby who needed help to go over the smallest hurdle

and a hand to cross the littlest stream

now he checks on Mum just to make sure all is well


[Photo taken during one of our hikes when he was 4 years old]

I am awed, happy and greatly humbled

by this passion he has found at this tender age

The kind of passion that still eludes me

 

 

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This entry was posted in Hiking.