February 13, 2015
At a hostel in Invercargill, the southernmost city of New Zealand, the city Mick Jagger called “the asshole of the world;” I watch buses puke bored twenty-somethings onto the sidewalk.
When I was your age…I would have dragged one of them to the karaoke bar. He would hold a glass of whiskey and butcher some song by Huey Lewis and the News. No that’s what I would do. That’s what I did. I genuinely loved karaoke bars. I loved the guy who sat alone waiting his turn in a dark corner of the bar, sing Space Oddity in a monotone, and then just leave the bar. Or the guy who dressed like Meatloaf and performed Bat out of Hell multiple times a week in honor of his deceased wife.
I’m flipping through my phone when I hear someone sit down across from me. It’s Bert! Bert from Belgium. “Running Bird.” The last time I saw Bert was on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2009 at Georgie Heitman’s place in Old Station, California. That year he started at the southern terminus of the PCT in June. So, I was sitting across from a nut job.
Not like a nut job you find in a prison cell, but an endurance nut job. This guy has hiked all over the world and no one knows about him! But how could you? He doesn’t have a blog, Instagram, or Twitter, and his facebook profile is way too modest..his profile picture is an image of John Muir!
We talk about hiker trashy things like the state of the Pacific Crest Trail and other trampers we’ve met along the Te Araroa and other good hikes in New Zealand, because Bert has hiked here a lot.
It feels good to be around someone who understands…finally…a day before the end.
The guy at the front desk says he put me in a room with three Green Peace guys. Oh good, maybe I’ll get some sleep.