Hi. I’m Jen. I’m an everyday person who loves adventure. Check out how you can become adventurous too. It’s not as hard as you think!

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Adventure can be anything you like. It doesn’t have to be a massive feat of physical strength and death defying endurance where you freeze your butt off on mountainsides or get chased down by a gang of rabid koalas looking to make even all the wrongs of their past. I mean, if that’s what floats your boat then by all means go for it, but I’m guessing that for most people (me included) the koalas are out and so is the mountain…for the time being that is. Once I build my skills and my self belief and maybe even my own crew I’ll be able to get Zen with that mountain and perhaps convince the koalas that revenge isn’t the best tactic for a peaceful revolution nor for their image. I used to think they were so damn cute before I wrote this. Now I’m not so sure.

Adventure is for all of us. It’s inclusive and is something you can pursue in your everyday life. All it takes is the first tiny step outside of your comfort zone.

Step onto the path and courage will find you.

 

 

Stories

Thought I might change it up for a bit and post some stories for a while.See, this will stop me from whinging about stuff that’s been going on: some stupid stuff perpetrated by some pretty darn stupid (and downright horrible) people. There’s no point whinging about this kind of crap because I’ve got no control over how stupid other people are. There’s a quote the cool guy I’m married to told me. I’m not sure who said it originally, but this is how it goes:

“Don’t argue with stupid people. They’ll bring you down to their level and beat you everytime with experience”

I posted my first story under the story tab, but will post most of them here, on the main part of the site. They’ll be of different genres and themes. Some will have pictures, some won’t. I do like drawing the stupid pictures that I put with my posts, although now that Picasa has mysteriously vanished from my computer (probably gobbled up in the final update for my antiquated version of Windows), it’s not quite as fun (or easy).

I’ve written a few books. None of which are published. Hopefully this year I can get some interest in a hiking memoir I wrote about a long hike I did in 2016. This will be challenging because as a rule, non-fiction in Australia is only accepted for publication if you are or have been a journalist, are famous, connected in someway to a famous person or have attained extensive sponsorship for your endeavours. I’ve read most of the hiking memoirs out there: Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel, Tracks by Robin Davidson, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, Wild by Nature by Sarah Marquis to name a few and also a buttload of other books about being adventurous. I’m really hoping that after I read From Snow to Ash by Anthony Sharwood that I will have covered enough ground to make my case for the publication of my own memoir. Plus, I’m really hoping I can enlist the help of Anthony Sharwood to maybe make a brief recommendation to a publisher on my behalf. I don’t know, it can’t hurt to ask! If he says no, I’m in the exact same position I’m in now.

If all else fails I can self-publish of course, but this isn’t easy. It would be good to get someone to give me a hand, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll just have to bumble my way through as I do with pretty much everything else. An online dictionary defines “bumble” as “to move or act in an awkward or confused manner.” This is exactly what I mean when I say I will have to bumble my way through. I can see myself tripping over details, turning back to fix something only to find that it can’t be fixed, getting pissed off, crying, not knowing how to upload a document, asking endless questions to an empty room about the imprint page (“Help me! Where does the ISBN go?”), and finally laying down on the floor, kicking and screaming commanded by a tantrum (specifically the dude who tried to photocopy the monitor in the link – that would be me after fighting with Amazon!) the likes of which should have been left behind in the childhood years of 2 – 5.

Anyway, my book is called:

One Foot After the Other

Me on one of the Great Walks on the Sunshine Coast

The Hiking Crew and Muddy Shoes

The other day I took some people hiking. I’d never done anything like this before and I was surprised that 1. People came, 2. They all liked it, and 3. They didn’t seem to think that I was a dickhead! In fact, they all said super-nice things about the experience on our local community Facebook page, which made me feel really good. Yay!

This is what they looked like when we got back. Four of these people I already knew and four of them I’d never met before:

What I bang on about throughout this website comes down to this: Don’t let fear hold you back. It wasn’t easy to put an invitational post on a Facebook group with over 600 members, especially when some of the people who use the group are vitriolic haters, but I did it and look what happened: I met four new people and the people who came on the hike all got to meet new people too, all while having a new experience. Not only that, since I put the invitation on the group’s page there has been lots of interest from the community about future hikes, which isn’t something I thought would happen when I decided to do this.

I’m always going, blah, blah, blah, people should be more active, blah, blah, blah, but I never actually DID anything about it. This shows what can happen when you take physical action and offer an opportunity for others to step outside their comfort zones or to try something new. It kinda blew my mind that it was little ol’ me that made this happen! It might not seem like a great big deal to some people, but it’s a big deal to me and who knows what kind of big deal could flow on from it.

The next day, with an inflated sense of my own greatness I took off on a 30km ride on Fatty to check out one of the new hikes I’ve mapped in the national park. I rode 7km to get to the trail head, and this is what it looked like:

At the end of the formed track my stupid little hand drawn map didn’t tell me if I was meant to go left or right, so I went right. It was the wrong way (of course). It appeared that I wasn’t as great as I initially thought! No big deal though because I know the tracks, so I could just find my way back to where I was meant to be, which was here:

That’s fine for me, but not so great for anyone else who might try to ride off into the wilderness. Obviously I need to do a lot more work for my maps to actually be usable.

About an hour away from home I’d gone back to the inflated sense of greatness I’d started out with, but that didn’t last long. At a muddy track I decided that it would be no problem to stay on the narrow dry strip between two deep wheel ruts. My mind said, nah, it’s easy, you can stay on that no worries, stop being a pussy, and then in one revolution of the pedals I was in the mud:

I was not pleased and I said some nice words beginning with the letters f and c. At least I didn’t get hurt, even though I got covered in mud and so did Fatty. I had to go to the beach when I got home to get all the mud out of my shoes before putting them in the washing machine. I felt sorry for the pelicans when they all flew over to eat the fish scraps they thought I had. “Sorry guys, it’s just muddy shoes!” I yelled at them and disgusted, they promptly flew off.

The bottom line is this: You don’t have to know what you’re doing before you decide to do it. Ducks have a habit of not lining up and if you don’t act now, you may never get to, and even if you fail (you fall off in the mud or get hated on by moronic idiots), it doesn’t matter because:

From boldness courage flows

 

 

 

 

Hikes of Fire

Last year we had some really bad bushfires in this area. The national park was closed and there was no access to the two walking trails (The Melaleuca Circuit and the Banksia Track) until QPWS cleaned them up and deemed them safe. The fire fighting effort meant that the firebreaks in the park and on council bushland were widened and upgraded. Once everything was burnt to a total crisp, it was easy to see through what had once been inpenetrable, dense wallum scrub and Melaleuca swamp, and I took the opportunity to explore areas that I didn’t realise were accessible. I got a bit excited about this and thought it might be possible to work with QPWS to develop a hiking network in the Woodgate and Kinkuna sections of the national park to begin with. Delusions of grandeur have led me to believe that the entire park (taking in the Buxton, Burrum River sections and Bingera NP) can eventually be networked with hiking trails and walkers camps similar to those found on any of the awesome hiking trails we already have in Qld. Click here for a description of what I’m talking about.

After much frustration due to the images being updated on Google Earth last month, I was able to come up with three new loops and an overnight hike. The loops all utilise the caravan park at Woodgate as a campsite. The overnight hike utilises Burrum Point campsite. Speaking as a hiker, this kind of thing is more likely to attract hiking visitors to the area because hikers like hiking and presently there are only the two short walks in the park, which wouldn’t really attract visitors who are keen on covering long distances. Basically what I’m saying here is that people aren’t going to come here for hiking because there’s nowhere to hike. In fact, this whole region doesn’t have many opportunities for long distance hiking, which is kinda silly considering the Burrum Coast National Park covers 26 000 ha, which is quite a chunk of land and is considered an ‘outstanding example of Queensland’s natural environment and cultural heritage’ according to the Department of Environment and Resource Management.

So far this is what I’ve come up with. I’m not a cartographer and I don’t expect anyone else to understand these stupid maps, but I had to start somewhere, which is what you’ve got to do if you want to make change. I do not recommend that anyone attempt to follow these ridiculous maps! Don’t do it, just don’t! I’ve emailed QPWS and hopefully they’ll come through with the goods to improve on what I’ve got and we can eventually have lots of awesome trails in this area:

This is the map I started with. You can see why I wouldn’t recommend anyone attempt to follow this!

 

First loop: 17.73km

Second loop: 23.68km

Third loop 21.62km

Overnight hike: 34km

These pictures are crappy, I know that, but that’s OK because there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself out there if you want to make change happen. If I waited until everything was perfect before I did anything, I’d never get to bloody well do a single thing!

So, it was shitty that we had the fires and some of our houses nearly burned down (mine included), but if that never happened I would never have come to find these new hikes that will not just benefit me, but others who are interested in living a life made of adventure.

Appreciating nature is what humans are made for and the more we can get out in it, the healthier we’ll be, the happier we’ll be and the more likely we’ll be to be able to overcome the crappy things that seek to tear us down, like fires, viruses and mean-spirited arseholes. 

Flame a new path and fire up your mind

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brain Injury Hike Last Lap

Fundraising and Awareness Hike: 450km total

22nd of October to 25th of October 2019

The cool guy I’m married to dropped me off in Dayboro, which meant I skipped the long walk from D’Aguilar to Dayboro. That suited me because I was a bit worried about the road into Dayboro. I had decided to get there by a back road and I wasn’t one hundred percent certain that the map I had would be accurate when I actually got out in the middle of nowhere. I had to make up the lost kilometres and I did this by going on a walk when I got home that afternoon and by walking around in Brisbane when I came back for a function after the walk had ended.

As I was about to start walking in Dayboro, a nice lady came up and wanted to give me a donation, but had to go to the IGA to get cash out. As we waited for her I spotted a group of people on the footpath with a little stand. “I think it’s Jehovah’s Witnesses,” I said to the cool guy. After the nice lady had given me the donation I said goodbye to the cool guy and started walking. I wanted to see what the JWs would say to me when I walked past. They said nothing! They just stared at me. I was disappointed. I wanted to have a lovely chat with them about my existential beliefs. Oh well, too bad for them.

I only got about 100 metres down the road before I stopped chatting to three guys having a coffee: Rick, Gavin and Farmer Jim. I ended up sitting down with them and getting a coffee myself. The cool guy drove past and beeped. I waved at him and Rick said, “Do you know that fella?” “Yeah, he’s my husband,” I said. The cool guy told me later that he’d already driven past the cafe once and Rick had waved at him, so it probably looked a bit weird that he was driving past AGAIN and beeping this time. I sat with them for ages and had a really good chat about lots of stuff. I really wish I could just wander up to random people in non-hiking life and start talking to them as though we’d always been friends just like I did with the three dudes in Dayboro.

At the top of the hill I couldn’t remember if I was meant to turn left or right, so I called into the cop shop to ask which way to go. The copper was an older guy, but man-oh-man did he look good in that uniform! [It’s a pity about this. If I saw this guy again now, I’d not think the same thing. I had some very negative experiences with the Qld Police Force in the recent State of Emergency in my town and it has changed the way I see them].

The road to Mount Samford was really good. A beautiful lady stopped in a ute and I talked to her for ages. Her name was Sonya and she was the CMC for Pine Rivers. She gave me a huge pile of coins from her car ashtray, which I tried to deposit later at Samford, only to be told that the post office isn’t allowed to accept coins. Funny, I’d deposited about $100 more coins in Glasshouse without a problem. I wonder what she would have done if I wanted to pay for something with coins.

It didn’t take that long to get to the campsite. I set everything up and went and had a look in the bush. I thought that this might be the spot that I find a dead body. It wasn’t. I’ve been looking for one since I was a kid. I don’t want to find a gross, rotten, maggoty thing, but probably a skeleton or one that’s almost a skeleton. I was going on and on about his one day on a field trip bus at uni and the dude in front of me said that he’d actually found a dead body in a cave once. It wasn’t fair, why is he so lucky, I thought. Sounds twisted, right? That’s because it is and I’m OK with that.

The bush around the campsite was pretty cool. I found a washout with steps cut into the side of it, so I climbed up and followed a winding track. At the top of a hill there was an old blue tarp tepee. Further along there was another structure that had fallen down. It was probably a tepe once too.

I was so hungry that I ended up eating my dinner at 4.30pm. I packed everything up, so the only thing visible at the campsite was my tent. I was secure in the idea that no one would come along, but I was wrong. I was so glad I’d packed all my crap up because a lady came running down the hill with her staffy. I quickly darted behind the tent because all of a sudden it seemed really important that nobody see me. I thought that would be it; she’d turn around an just run away, but no; she kept running down, turning around and doing the same thing over and over again. I was pretty sure she hadn’t seen me, but then for her last lap she got another dog from somewhere and it tried to run over to where I was, so she then saw my camp. I was really annoyed! I hate the idea that people know where I’m camping, especially when it’s in the middle of nowhere like this was. At least she didn’t see me, so she had no way to know that I was a lone female and I know from experience that she would have assumed I was a man. Not that she would be a threat to me necessarily, but if she had a big mouth and went telling people that she’d seen me down there, then that could be a problem. Everything was fine though.

Campsite at Mount Samson

The next day I walked to Samford. The road had a lot of treasures on it. There were lots of number plates, but most of them were twisted and broken, so I didn’t pick them up. I also found half a cloven hoof, a colourful fingernail, a five cent piece, then a tent cent piece and a parcel that must have fallen off a delivery truck. I was hopeful I could deliver it, but the numbers were going the wrong way, so I rang the phone number on the delivery docket and told the guy that I’d leave it under the Welcome to Samford sign. He came along a bit later and said thankyou. He talked a lot about the building that the thing I found was for and how it was a drama to build it because of the huge roof angle.

I got quite a few donations off the road on my way to Samford, actually it was probably the most generous road that I walked along on the entire hike.

Myles from Mt Mee stopped and said hi. It felt really good to see him again for some reason, like he was an old friend or something. Another man stopped to ask what I was doing. He was interested because he and his husband were carers for disabled people and they were on the way to a picnic they’d organised for some of the people they cared for. He later gave me a donation via the PA fundraising platform. A bit further along a man pulled up in a ute ahead of me. He got out and started walking in my direction saying, “I’ve got a donation: $100.” He looked so much like Samuel Johnson (who I’ve always really liked) that I thought it was actually him – it wasn’t – but he was still a nice guy. His name was Aaron and he told me that he had a brain injury from an aneurysm. He said he was just sitting on the couch watching TV and all of a sudden it felt like someone hit him over the head with a baseball bat.

I really wanted to get a sars when I arrived in Samford, but I couldn’t find any. I walked past some people having lunch at a cafe and asked them about sars and if they knew where I might find some. They couldn’t help me, but I ended up sitting down and talking to them for a while. They were on holidays from America and Canada. Once again, it would be great if I could push forward with the idea that I can just wander up to random people and start chatting to them while they’re having a meal or a coffee in non-hiking life. After I left them I went over to the Injinji shop to see what their stuff was like. I really should have come back to Samford and bought my trailrunning shoes here, rather than Athletes Foot. The Saucony shoes I bought cost me $220 and a big hole ripped in the upper in the first twenty minutes of my using them. I’ve had to sew them up myself because the store and Saucony said I misused them. Aaaaaaarrrrrrghhhhhh. OK, whatever…now moving on (hopefully).

I went to meet the lady I had arranged to stay with; my friend Tiiu. I’d met Tiiu previously when I’d come through Samford asking about places to camp. She was volunteering at the tourist information centre that day, so it was great that our paths crossed. She had a brain injury too and I felt very strongly that we had forged a meaningful connection when we first met.

I left my pack with Tiiu, and armed with directions for the supermarket, headed off in search of sars. When I got there I got into a good discussion with a lady in her seventies who had been protesting against the Adani mine. She was wearing a Stop Adani t-shirt. Peter Garrett wore one of these (amongst others) when I saw Midnight Oil in concert a while back. The Stop Adani lady and I talked about activism and I told her how I’ve never really been a frontline activist for the environment, even though I’ve always cared very much about environmental issues (afterall, I have an environmental science degree). I see my role in activism as providing a lived example of how to become liberated from fear and apathy, which I believe hold us back from living meaningful lives and also hold us back as a society from achieving both the small and large goals that will allow us to overcome the big problems that we are now facing and will continue to face into the future.

After the D&M I got the sars: YAY!! and headed back to Tiiu at the tourist information centre, so we could go to her house in a neighbouring suburb. I had no idea where I was in terms of geography, so it was good to have her driving me around.

I had a great time at Tiiu’s place. Her two kids, Toby and Ava were really cool. Ava gave up her bed for me and Toby kept me on my toes with hilarious puns all night. He came in from the bus, walked straight to the fridge, got an egg out, and holding it aloft, said, “I hope its going to be “eggseptional evening.” It was total crack up. (get it).

The next day Tiiu decided to walk with me. We had to head back into Samford to start from there again:

Me organising my crap and looking at the map in Samford. Photo: Tiiu

Tiiu and I ready to go in front of the tourist information centre. Photo: some random person.

I had a great time walking with Tiiu. I felt like I’d been best friends with her my whole life. At one point we even said the same thing at exactly the same time. We “got” each other in a way that only comes from shared adversity. Tiiu stopped walking at a shopping centre to catch a bus back to Samford and I continued on to The Gap.

I’d originally planned to catch a bus some of the way into The Gap because I wasn’t happy about the narrow shoulder on the big hill. After walking up Mt Mee I felt like I should just do it because I knew that nothing could beat the Mt Mee road for harem-scarem.

At The Gap I walked past a group of school children being led along by their teachers. I smiled at the teachers and did small waves to the children. The teachers looked at and looked away again as quickly as they could. The kids did the same, but I could tell it was hard for them not stare at me. At the end of the long line of kids I said hello and smiled to the person I thought was probably a teacher’s aide, but she totally ignored me and looked straight ahead as though she had no idea I even existed. Nice.

I’d arranged to stay with a lady (Deanne) I’d never met through one of my neighbours. She’d told me to meet her at Coles, but I had no idea where it was, so at the servo I asked a lady fueling up if she knew. She said she’d just take me straight to Deanne’s house, which was really nice of her.

That night we all went out for dinner because I’d arranged another Facebook event at The Gap Tavern, which no one came to aside from a lady whom my friend Shanny sent along. Still, it was a good night and I ate lots of food, which was very kindly bought for me by Deanne and her husband, Simon. As I was leaving the table to go to the bathroom, I heard someone say, “I couldn’t even eat that much!” I was so totally sick of damn muesli bars by this stage. It was good to eat real food again and I felt it necessary to eat as much as physically possible while it was available!

The next day as I was walking, I felt like the biggest weirdo of all time because everyone kept looking at me like I was a freak. Some young women, all of whom we wearing too much makeup laughed at me as I passed by and said hello.

I got a good laugh at one point though. I’m still getting mileage out of it. I walked past a school and the bell hadn’t gone yet, so all the kids were playing on the oval. One little boy (about seven or eight) was running along the fence with his friends and his hat had his name on it: Cooper Jones. He ran right up to the fence where I was walking and I said, “hello, Cooper,” and just kept walking. It freaked him right out! It was awesome!

Down the road a bit, a nice man stopped mid-jog and gave me a donation and even further down the road a lovely elderly man gave me a rather large donation because he was utterly gobsmacked by what I was doing. He kept patting me on the shoulder and telling me that he just couldn’t believe it. It kind of felt like he was patting me that way because he was testing to see if I was actually real and not just an apparition.

Next, a nice lady called Felicity stopped her car to come and talk to me about her son, Hayden, who’d been brain injured and how hard things had gotten for them since. She’d actually done several u-turns to get to where I was. I gave her a card so she could donate online later.

As I closed in on the city it fell on me that the whole thing was almost over:

At the CBD I wanted to tell everyone how great I was, and even though the city was full of people, I didn’t think I could. I got some tourists to take this photo of me:

I wandered around in the Queen Street Mall for a fair while because I had to meet the STEPS Coordinator, Sue at 1pm so we could go and see the Minister of Health: the Hon. Dr Seven Miles. I had “brunch” at a fancy cafe, which was right next to the Tattersalls Club and talked to a really nice older man there about hiking. He’d never been hiking before and wanted to start. It was nice to have someone so interested in the hiking part of what I was doing. He asked me to demonstrate how to take the pack off and put it back on again. I got him to lift it up and he was a bit scared about how heavy it was. “If you’re hiking with other people, your pack doesn’t need to have absolutley everything in it because you can share the load. Plus, I’ve walked 450km, so I needed a lot of stuff for such a distance,” I said, and he nodded, but I could still see he was a bit worried. “Don’t even worry about it. Once the pack is on your back and you’ve started moving, you really don’t even know it’s there,” I said. It’s hard to believe this, but it’s actually true.

I went back out into the mall and a random person shoved $5 at me and kept walking. I didn’t even get to see their face! It was really funny. At the Pen Shoppe I got talking to the ladies working there and they gave me a donation too. I’ve always loved that shop. I have a bit of a weird obsession with pens (I have a small chest of three drawers that is FULL of pens and it’s so hard to not keep buying more). I have it with paper too, but I’ve had to set that one aside because it’s very hard to find nice writing paper these days.

Finally it was time to meet Sue and we walked over to the Minister’s office to see him. Sue said he wanted to come on a walk with me. We waited for him with his sidekick, Riley, out the front. A fit looking man about my age strode up wearing a Deadly Choices shirt, shorts and a pair of runners. “You’re not what I was expecting,” I said and he laughed. I really thought he’d be a fat old guy in a suit. I really liked him and we talked about heaps of everyday stuff on a fast walk over the bridge. I felt a bit sorry for Sue and Riley as I knew it was probably a bit hard for them to keep up. When we arrived, two people from the PA Research Foundation were waiting to meet us: Damien (CEO) and Meredith (Marketing Coordinator). Everyone from the PA was really happy to have the opportunity to speak to the minister because it’s not something they would normally be able to do.

The Health Minister and me on our walk across the bridge. He ran back to the office after this.

Damien very kindly bought me a thickshake after the minister had left and we sat around a bit until it was time to leave. Sue dropped me back at the Roma Street station with another bag of corn chips. I had to catch the train back to Bundaberg. As I travelled I saw places I’d been on the hike and it made me nostalgic for what had just been.

I wish it could always be like the hike; the feeling that I’m doing something at least a little bit worthwhile. I wonder if the people I saw, smiled at and spoke to will remember me. I wonder what it might be like to have perfect recall and what my brain is like now. Is smarter than it was before part of it was cut out; both less and more at the same time? Less because some of it is missing, more because of the connections that have grown in through all that I’ve done since becoming brain injured. I long to see myself objectively, but I know this is impossible. I want to know how it is that I appear to others; in my actions, my words, my mannerisms and my pursuits. How am I perceived?

As the train pulled in at Bundaberg I thought I caught a glimpse of the person who was picking me up, there he is! I thought and I smiled, but when I got out of the train, it wasn’t him because the platform was empty. He’s forgotten to pick me up, I thought, disappointed, and it felt like someone had pulled the plug out of sink filled with happiness water. All the water drained right out when I saw that he was actually sitting in the car out in the carpark. He didn’t even ask if I wanted help with my stuff. I was never more sad that the cool guy I’m married to wasn’t there to share in what should have been an awesome moment to end a significant achievement. I really wanted the whole thing to end on a good note, but it didn’t and that’s not something I really had any control over, unlike the hiking itself, which I was totally in charge of.

 This song with its simple lyrics has had a big impact on me. It’s about my life (and your life too) and also about the hike:

 

THE END