It's our last night before I start the trail again tomorrow. I'm lying in bed with Rosa and we're staring at the ceiling. It's painted with moons and stars that glow in the dark. We know the plaster walls are painted in psychedelic swirls of blue and yellow, A frieze of painted wave forms girdles the room just below the ceiling. We're in Crazy-land.
At the end of your life, you don't get any medals, you only get a stupid badge for not being happy. - Ben Rowlands, father-in-law
It's a dangerous idea.
Since time immemorial, men have left their caves, igloos, grass huts or whatever with their women's parting counsel ringing in their ears. "Make sure you keep your feet dry, dear!", "Don't come home until you've found me a nice big fat woolly mammoth!" or, "There, that buckskin pouch I made looks just lovely against your bark loincloth!"
Today (Sunday, 8 December), I opted out of visiting "Crazy Land" where Rosa's family lives. I had the perfect excuse, which was to finish my food shopping and pack for my departure tomorrow.
People have been asking, "When are you off, Richard?" "When I'm ready," I reply.
Now I'm ready. It's a new moon, New Zealand's unpredictable weather has settled down (for the moment) and there's a 'Village Gathering' party tonight in Grey Lynn when I can say, "See you on the trail, mon brave" to those I want to.
When I started walking and camping as a boy, the first men had just landed on the Moon.
Now, I'll be carrying a phone with more computing power than those astronauts could have barely dreamed of.
Earlier this year, after completing a 450 kilometre trek over 30 days with my stepson Valentino, I (and especially Rosa) had been disappointed by the performance of our $200 trekking shoes, which had begun to fall apart within three weeks.
Rosa and I drove into Devonport yesterday to meet Michael, owner of Hammock World. A year ago, Michael sold me my trusty Hennessy Hammock, which has become an indispensable part of my tramping gear.
Where would we be without our mums? I don't know about yours but mine is a down-to-earth woman of Finnish descent.
Running along the beach at Milford on Auckland's North Shore every morning, I see a few older men walking very small dogs. Some of those pooches sport pink collars and some of those collars are studded with diamantine beads.