I am sitting in the common lounge of Solscape, an eco camp site. There are train cabooses here that have been remade into dorms and single, standalone rooms. A five minute walk up a dark and muddy path gets you to the fully sustainable campsite, with tipis! That area of Solscape is completely off the grid. Photovoltaic cells supply the dim lights in the cooking and showering areas. There are composting toilets, and the water for showers is heated by the sun. I considered a tipi for about a second, but I have a good tent and its $50 for a tipi versus $15 to pitch a tent. I think I might rent one of the single cabooses for my birthday though. Treat myself.
After checking in at Solscape I went for a walk down on the beach. We are up on a hill with a spectacular view. To get down, there is a little path through the bush, down many steps. Once on the beach, it is wide open flat sands. Just like Karekare, there was almost no one else around. The sun was on its way to setting, with dark storm clouds forming behind me. I saw someone up high, flying on a sort of parachute glider. Spinning and circling and figuring eighting around. I headed in that direction. It’s so hard to judge distance and scale in such a large, open space. I just kept walking and walking, not seeming to get very far. It was getting darker and darker. Not really knowing how long I had been walking already, I was afraid by the time I got back to the path, it would be too dark to actually find it. So I continued on, looking for a place to get up to the road.
When I finally found a path through the dunes, I came to a road that continued on in the direction I was walking. Not the direction I wanted to go. I followed it as it wound around the high cliffs and back in the direction of Solscape. When I finally reached the main road, the first thing I recognized from the drive in earlier sort of shocked me. I knew it was _far_ away from where I needed to go. I was nervous I wouldn’t get back before it was pitch black.
I walked at a fairly quick pace along the road, crossing sides to avoid oncoming cars. I must’ve walked for an hour and still was nowhere near Solscape.
My eyes were straining in the last graying light of the evening. I started to jog a bit, wondering how I could possibly have gotten so far away. Finally, finally, the road started to veer to the right and incline a bit. A good sign. When I finally reached the switchback I knew I was getting close. I stopped at the lookout around the corner from the entrance to Solscape as the last bits of reflected light disappeared on the horizon. Exhuasted and sweaty I gathered my things out of my car for the quarter mile walk up the trail to the campsite.
After setting up my tent with my LED light strapped to my forehead, I showered in the surprisingly warm shower. I walked all the way back out to my car to get soup and other fixings for dinner, and realized I had forgotten my keys. I had to laugh as I had to walk a half-mile to retrieve the keys and return to my car. Perfect.
Pumpkin soup, an apple and some Irish tea. And chatting with a New Zealand couple visiting from New Plymouth. I will sleep well tonight.