The Begun Again Has Began

It has been two months since the end of my “Way Over There Tour” through New Zealand. I am proud to announce the upcoming “Staying Put Tour” through Manhattan and Brooklyn coming this fall! I will be playing about 40 shows in folks homes and traveling show to show by Roller Blades whilst pushing a modified shopping cart with all my kit. It’s going to be a sweaty endeavor, but I’m looking forward to it. Planning on doing a small kickstarter for the cart in the coming weeks and yes there will be opportunities for backers to name both the cart and each roller blade!

The show has gone through several changes since its kiwi experience and I’m excited to share it with people of my homeland. Currently in the booking process right now. Planning on playing some 15 shows in homes before the tour starts on September 21st. If any of you out there would be interested in hosting the My Name Is Gideon project for an evening or might know of someone who’d be interested please get in touch at (interested in potential hosts anywhere…. anywhere).

In New Zealand, a country of 4 million, folks in my audiences where able to consistently connect me to more hosts down the road. The hope is this will work just as well if not better in a city as large and densely populated as NYC. Don’t really know, but I’m about to find out.

I have been doing my best to wade through all the footage from the trip. It’s a slow going process. I have learned many good lessons about the necessity of editing while on the road. Picking through 3,000 GB’s is a hurtsomely boring endeavor, but one day it shall yield rewards mighty and streamable. The radio bit is in process. Some day soon…ish it shall be so.

More on the NYC journey soon. It’s good to be back.

You can lead a horse to water, but ya can’t teach him to drink. I am not a horse nor am I thirsty.

Kia ora!

A few nights ago I played my 80th and last show in New Zealand. I felt shockingly unemotional about it. While I do irrational things from time to time, like go on tour across NZ on a bicycle, I think I’m a remarkably rational person. I wanted to be weepy and nostalgic and celebratory and overwhelmed. I found myself packing up like I’ve done 79 times before, rather matter of factly. Maybe it will hit me on the plane, or on the subway and I’ll weep like a teething baby, like a painting elephant, like John Boehner. I hope so. I could use a good cry, I’ve been smiling too god damn much!

This has been a powerfully informative experience for me in regards to performing, pushing through limits, and thinking about what kind of work I want to create in the future. It has also been a wonderful way to meet an incredibly diverse group of people. I am supersizedly grateful to every individual who has been a part of this tour. I could not have asked for more from my hosts Ash and Josh, Sophia, Brad, Matt, Mark, Sylvia, Peter, Jill, Chris, Henry, Julie, PJ, Steve, Eileen, Sass, Emily, Juan, Bear, Moodie, Jess, Kat, Dick, Brad Chrissy, Alton, Katherine, Alice, Gavin, Angela, Kirsten, Jimmy, Rosie, Alistair, Leslie, Pryce, Bunny, Joe, Zed, Irene, Ray, Anna, Lox, Mo, Jamie, Michelle, Nick, Jeremy, Jen, Oscar, Mel, Mike, Dan, Kath, Sally, Paddy, Tom, Gillie, Marina, Richard, Roger, Jeanette, Graeme, Stephen, Linda, Lian, Dave, Aaryn, Brooke, John, Sally, Zander, Fiona, Alistair, Simon, Eric, Esther, Sarah, Murray, Daniel, Jenny, Harry, Harriet, Lachy, Sam, Ben, Jack, Annabelle, Midge, Jen, Kalem, Donna, Puds, Paul, Celia, John, Michelle, Anna, Rick, Amelia, Roslyn, Shirley, Vicki, Cree, Phil, Michael, Sue, Prue, Steve, Jenny, Laurie, Rob, Heidi, Felix, Luca, Annete, Mark, Dave, Scott, Rachel, James, Jen, Ray, Graeme, Wayne, Paula, Charlie, Jill, Chloe, Tanya, George, Alex, Maddy, Warwick, Muna, Monica, Pania, Vinnie, Abi, Michael, Akushla, Ryan, Renee, Logan, Shieva, Becs, Lynda, Dylan, Andrea, Vic, Lee, Nigel, Andrew, Angus, Sam and Carmelle.

I can’t quite remember what brought me into this tour, but I know what compels me to start working on the next one. It’s the look on someones face when they are surprised. When, if only for a moment, they are lifted into someone else’s secret, joke, perversion, wound or dream. I make that look when someone shares their vulnerability with me, their invention, raw unparalleled failure, insight, or performed incoherence. It’s a thousand words I wear on my face that all mean the same thing – Thank You! I got that look a handful of times on this trip and it meant a lot to me. It made me feel larger then my narrow self. I want to see that face more. I’d gladly write another 619 emails just to see that face one more time. I’d write another 619 emails to be welcomed into one more beautiful home. It’s a sacred thing to me this welcoming and I thank everyone who was brave and curious and open to take part in such a project.

From the day I created my gmail for this tour till now I’ve written 619 tour related emails, received 1,883 (not including facebook) and made approximately 200 phone calls. I ended up biking 4,300 kilometers, accepting car lifts for 320 kilometers and taking the train from Auckland to Wellington (678k) to be able to get southerly for my outgoing flight. I spent about 415 hours on the bike, 150 hours packing and unpacking the bike and 90 hours performing. By my return I will have taken 7 flights to get to New Zealand and back. I have eaten 165 kiwi home cooked meals, spent $720 on white flour based food snacks and sampled 37 different meat pies across the country (Jacksons inland of Greymouth is by far the best). I have changed 3 flat tires (one in a thunderstorm), purchased 3 sets of new tires, employed 25 zip ties and two sticks to hold my trailer Wiglaf together. I have listened to 146 podcasts and 12 albums while riding. I have lost my mind 3 times. I have stolen 0 items. I have stayed in hotels or motels or backpackers for a total of 8 nights. I have slept in 4 caravans, 2 house buses, 2 house trucks, 2 horse drawn cabins, 2 yurts, 1 bar floor, 1 jungle hut, 6 sleep outs, 4 couches and many many guest bedrooms. I have bathed in 2 fire baths. When I played shows folks gave me some money as koha or for cd’s or tea towels. I made between $6 and $550 per show while the average was about $125. I spent $300 for internet connections along the way, $400 for cell phone calls (most expensive rates in the world I hear). I flooded 1 hosts kitchen and spent the next 5 hours furiously cleaning it up. I got drunk 3 times. Stoned 2 times. Waltzed once. Sexy slow danced once. I wanted to kidnap 3 special children, but did not. I was given 11 thoughtful gifts. I wore through 2 pairs of $15 socks. I got one bloody nose. Lost 2 hats, one plastic camera attachment, 1 pair of possum merino socks intended as a gift for my brother, 2 water bottles, 1 quick drying towel, 1 reflective vest and 1 passport. I went on 3 dates. I got in 1 fight (i used my words). I left 1 water bottle with pee inside in a hosts truck house (sorry). I used 12 composting toilets. I swam in the sea 2 times, 1 time in a wetsuit with a knife strapped to my ankle. I bought 3 external hard drives to hold 3,000 gigabytes of video footage. I rode in 1 horse drawn carriage, lost 1 go cart race and drank 1 beer (gross). I was in 12 papers, 3 radio shows and 3 TV programs. I rode during the night 9 times and was only hit by 1 double milk truck.

Just amongst my hosts I met a builder, equestrian, resort manager, sky diver, journeyman, jack of all trades, fixer upper, barman, DOC worker (department of conservation), banker, beer promoter, car mechanic, coffee professor, movie artist, linguist, possum skinner, kayak instructor, horseman-renegade-plumber, woofer, green partyest, mom, houseman, primary school teacher, bush guide, weaver, diplomat, B&Best, hot springs maven, community leader, surveyor, special ed teacher, accountant overlord, yachtist-ship-chef-gardener-painter-builder-guy, viticulturist, muso, DJ, CPA, OMG, drainage specialist, environmental activist, thespian-director, guitarist-caterer, architect, psychologist, dolly-wiggler (I didn’t make that one up), jeweler, top-secret policy writer, chemist, belly dancer, counselor, animator, gardener, gift shop owner, massage therapist, potter, painter, biker-accupunturist, kiwi grower, avocado farmer, chef-sculpture-host, filmmaker, lodge runner, satirist-ukulelist-dramatist-fopolitico, community leader, pro story teller, graphic designer, photographer, classified parliament translator, paua diver, future restauranteur, exhibition writer, civic entrepreneur, earthquake retreat host, school bus driver, small business consultant, custom-stereo-custom-tire-cover-locksmith, nurse, principle, celebrant, engineer, barista, gold miner, philosopher, demo derby referee, fertilizer salesman, derby girl, hunter, saleswoman, pianist, mental health counselor and an avalanche specialist.

If you have an idea. If you have an inclination towards some venture large or small I suggest you employ Nike’s advice and “just do it”. I say this from a perspective and experience of privilege and support which I am daily grateful for. I do believe so many of us have an idea that seems too god damn unreasonable. I think that can be a sign it’s a good idea. I’m so happy to have pushed the idea into a happening and so very eyelids to the ceiling – jaw to the floor grateful for everyone  who was an essential part from kickstarter backers to hosts to audiences. Thank you!


The Muffin Man

QUICK ANNOUNCEMENT – My tour tea towels (dish towels for the yanks) are now available for those who have dishes and would like to remember this tour when they dry their dishes. Here are two pictures, one to show you what the towel looks like, and the other to prove it works. The towels have the names of all my show hosts on the trip (with the exception of a few set up recently) If you would like one, or more then one, please click this linkto learn how to order one.

Recently I was biking in the dark trying to make it to Taihape on the north island. It had been a mighty long day. I had 4 days to bike 420 km from Raumati South to Rotorua, a fair portion across a desert, and my poor Beowulf was falling apart  making the riding very difficult and frustrating. It was kinda like trying to go for a swim in ski clothes. If I had read anything about cycling before leaving I would have learned that you wear out your chain and disks, especially if you’re carrying a big fat load, but I kinda figured “it’s a bike. it’s got wheels and a seat. Ya sit, pedal, dismount and repeat.”

On the night road I found myself chewing large mouthfuls of a blueberry muffin in time with my pedaling as I climbed a hill, a hill which I was sure was going to be my last of the day, but as I’ve learned it’s never your last. “Thou shalt always be surprised by arriving at your destination.” That was my rule. I have not followed it. I found myself sometimes chewing in between the pedals stroked, while other times it would fall right on the beat. I sloshed and tumbled the floury amalgam around in my mouth trying to take comfort in the sweetness. I was trying to understand why the muffin was in my mouth. I was not hungry. After the eggs on toast with bacon and grilled tomato, 2 scones, 3 sandwiches, 2 muffins (not including the muffin at present), a chicken burger (no mayo), a Popsicle, 2 oranges, 2 apples, a pear, a tamarillo, 3 fejoia’s, 2 plums, a cup of soup, a personal yogurt, a venison pie and a small bag of nuts I was not hungry (I wrote it down that day), but I chewed on. I chewed on.

I have found myself eating for all sorts of reasons on this trip other then hunger. I eat because it’s an excuse to stop biking for a moment, because I think I deserve a reward for having biked a certain distance or just working hard, because I don’t know how far the next town will be. I eat something because it reminds of home. I eat because my mind rests on the flavor, the acid, the crunch, the challenge of dislodging the piece of potato chip from my molar and those are simpler thoughts then the rest. I take refuge in the simpler moments on this journey.

I crave fat and sugar and then I satisfy these cravings. My friend Rob told me about some expedition where a few dudes were crossing the arctic or some barren frozen moonscape and they couldn’t carry food with them on the journey. The most weight efficient and nutrient efficient substance was fat. They just had a big bucket of fat and they would eat portions of fat for their meals. I do not crave this. I do crave danishes, croissants, cookies, scones, muffins, bacon, chocolate, honey and the like. In fact, I reckon if I had the chance I would happily put those all through a blender with a good whole cream base and take it through a straw! Sometimes I look at a sweet and I think “I don’t need that nor do I want it”, but the spirit moves me and I reach and I spend and I chew. My legs want it I suppose. I can’t imagine it helps me get to the next town, but in that moment, that next scone, that 6th muffin seems a complete necessity. It’s beyond hunger. It’s a strange place where emotional, physical and psychological exhaustion confront the prospect of butter.

I understand people eating outside of hunger on a whole new level. I understand food as comfort on a new level and while I don’t feel I’m in danger of any lifestyle diseases around eating, I have a new appreciation and understanding for those who struggle in this regard. Food is mommy, a blanket, nana singing you to sleep in a cabin by the fireplace, golden hour in the meadow, your favorite television show, hand soap.

Don’t So Sad Because Haven’t Oddeciate As High Office, But Think Of Fit Jester With Your Personally

Before I blah blah blah about my this and thats I have a question. I am making custom commemorative Way Over There Tour (thats the name of this tour) Tea Towels (dish towels). They are going to be somewhere between astounding and incredible. Very simple design. They will have outlines of the south and north islands with all my hosts first names jutting out from all the towns I’ve played in. It’s quite a site all put together. Don’t be alarmed hosts it’s just your first names. I’m saving your sir names, phone, email addresses, blood types, and bank account numbers for the commemorative netty pots. Trying to get a feel for how many I should make. I think I’ll offer em up for about 15 bucks a pop which would include shipping! They will be high quality and should last a long time. Just to get a temperature check can everyone who would be interested in getting a tea towel click the little bubble next to the title of this blog post and leave “I’VE GOT DISHES” as a comment? Or send an email to with “I’VE GOT DISHES” in the subject heading. Also if your interested in a copy of my sliding scale pricing chart drawn by visionary van driver Raf Kelman make the note say “I’VE GOT DISHES AND EYES”. Thanks so much. I’m excited to share some towels with you! On to the blog!

The other night, at the home of Wayne, Paula and Charlie I played my 60th show of the Way Over There Tour. The evening began with a dozen ukelelists playing me a welcome song that stuck a big fat smile on my face. It was a great crowd of 50+, 48 of whom seemed to be ukulelists, in a beautiful home including 10 or so of the most attentive children I’ve ever encountered. Every one of them sat and politely and listened through the whole evening. I kept thinking “what is wrong with these kids?”. From what I could gather kids from Te Pahu go to concerts all the time. The show was set up by a most enterprising journeyman troubadour named Graeme who founded the Mcgillicuddy Serious Puddy party. From what I could gather many folks voted for this spoof party. People would ask about my upcoming stops and when Te Pahu came up they’d say “where’s that?” I’d say “Mcgillicuddy Serious Puddy set it up?” They’d say “oh sure Mcgillicuddy Serious Puddy!”. It’s a house hold name.

Since my last post, almost a month ago, I free dove for paua (abalone) and as I struggled to return to the surface I peed in my wet suit, well… it was my friends wet suit. Sorry friend. First time in a wet suit. Last time I pee in one. I played a show at Phil and Cree’s house. Cree’s garden is like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory if all the candy was veggies and all the chocolate was flowers. Phil is a brilliant animator who made this  (watch the whole thing. True story!)  I biked 450 kilometers in 4 days across a desert with an ailing Beowulf (my bike). At times Beowulf seemed to be arthritic while at other times, in particular ascending hills, he seemed epileptic. I had worn out my discs and chain, parts were special and couldn’t get em so had to keep riding with gears snapping and skipping and popping. Not fun! Very stressful and difficult. I ate fish and chips, got my pulses re-situated by a healer friend, met a man who actually built a town and flooded a hosts kitchen by accident (5 hour furious clean-up before they got home. Then I told them and cooked them dinner and pudding to win them back).

For the most part I have been talking about the wonderful moments of this tour. I have been sharing the brighter gum drops of the sunnier days. This is in part because I’m having an incredible time, traversing a stunning landscape, being welcomed into interesting peoples homes and worlds, learning how to be a better performer, learning what kind of show I want to build and pushing my body and mind to my outer limits. This is all true, but there are those other pieces. It’s hard to talk about the more challenging elements of a trip like this for fear of it sounding like a complaint. I have nothing to complain about. On the spectrum of life experience mine has been dandy charmed and continues to be so on this journey. I feel compelled to share some of the harder moments, feelings and realities of this tour, because they are as much a part of the experience as are the shimmering rainbows. I would say recognizing the difficulties in this process, understanding them and moving through them has maybe been one of the most rewarding parts.

Here are some challenges: I am always tired. I am never in my own space. Constantly moving and in any break between riding and playing and socializing I’m furiously working on organizing, updating website/blog/facebook, trying to improve show, contacting press, contacting hosts, travel planning for the next day, fueling the body, washing the body, laundry, fixing broken items, charging the video camera, the audio recorder, transferring data from equipment to hard drives etc. I did not come out here for a vacation. I came out here to push myself and learn a great deal. The balance between planning many shows and having space between is a tricky one. I often feel I am leaving places and people too soon. Trick is I couldn’t have known where to spend more time and with whom until I had a first experience there. I hope to come back to tour another project and make use of this incredible network I’ve built. Next time the planning will be infinitely easier and I will make more time in between to know better these most remarkable places and people.

I’m working through a deep frustration in having the space and time on the bike to have my most creative thoughts, but then no time off the bike to develop them. I’m doing my best to hold on to those ideas (an electric car literally powered by song. A musical onion tour on horseback.) Everyone has great ideas only some of us write them down and then even fewer go back and grow that seed into a big biggy, a good goody, a yum yum. Knowamsayn? This difficulty is reminiscent of a great challenge in NYC. I have often found there is so much going on, so much inspiration to be found it’s easy to get lost taking it all in and never giving yourself time to process, time to react to that experience and create something of your own.

I never have time to play music. I end up only playing music an hour a night or every other night. While I feel I’m growing my understanding of showmanship my musicianship has regressed. I only have time to develop brief relationships, however powerful the connection might be. I connect and say goodbye. Connect and say goodbye. This is emotionally and psychologically taxing. I want to go further but time is up. Packing all the time and unpacking. Trying to keep track of a billion items, feeling tied to stuff, to objects, carrying the weight of all my baggage not just on my trailer but in my body. These items that I daily interact with become an extension of my body and I feel clunky and heavy and jagged. I day dream of nakedness in an emptiness carrying nothingness.

Those are just a few off the top of my head. Not so bad I know, but I wanted to make some attempt to illustrate that it’s not all jolly pedals and mountain candy. Sometimes it’s frowny pants and crazy brains. I do believe that I have learned much more from the challenges then the triumphs and I’m continually taking stock of that.

Beowulf and Wiglaf send their regards. During a show in Tawa a beautiful 90 year old woman named June thought it unjust that my pushbike and trailer should have names, but not my banjo considering I’ve had my banjo for a much longer period of time. I told her she could name my banjo. She gave it considerable thought over the next few hours and finally said that she thought it really seemed like a Rosana. I looked at my banjo and realized she is indeed Rosana and always has been. Thank you June!

Note to all motorists! Honking is lovely encouragement both to cyclists and guys who have just bought bikes. Being a guy who just bought a bike, I love when people honk. It makes me feel like I have a friend on the road. I like the different kind of honks: the long and extended, the double tap, the honk with outwindow vocal woop accompaniment. They make me pedal a bit harder. They make my elbows less achy. But pleassssseeeeeee!!!!!! Honk well before or after passing me, us, them, the we on wheels un-motored. I have been startled by many a honk that was too close to me. Please honk, but honk from a distance. My great cousin Marvin sponsored a honker for Beowulf so I could honk reciprocally, but it sadly fell off one rainy Invercargill day without me noticing. I lost my Marvin, but left the rusty metal attachment on the bike as a momento. On the longer days when the brain is turning to lint and the legs are turning to apple sauce I talk to my Marvin, this little bit of rusted rattling metal on the handle bars. He rattles back and I’m grateful for his companionship.

People are always asking me “What’s the craziest show? What’s the craziest show?”. Truth remains they haven’t been so crazy, just good people in good places. Recently a brilliant muso friend was saying “holy shit man! I bet you could write a book with all the crazy shit you’ve seen. I bet you’ve had some crazy shows!”. Later I heard a story about how he had a few drinks one evening before a show and the night ended with him swinging a baby around the room in a car seat cause he thought it was a doll and that the rest of the group was playing a trick on him. The group was horrified cause it was a real baby! Maybe I haven’t had the crazy crazy times cause I’m a fairly sober party man.

I have decided to be monkey nuts drunk for the last month of the tour and see if I can’t find me some babies to swing. Wish me luck.

ps. anyone who would like to get very occasional updates on My Name Is Gideon please go to my website and sign up for my mailing list via the contact link.

pps. some video coming soon. Have over 3 terabytes of footage. Looking for time to edit.

Playing in the Story Center, the imaginarium of visionary storyest Tanya Batt.

Horsies, Angels, Puppies and Baskets

After 45 shows and 2,200 kilometers I have left the mighty south island and journeyed north. I have been tirelessly trying to find the time to write this post and that time has consistently evaded me. I pack, unpack, meet, greet, play, re-pack, email papers, radio, potential hosts, past hosts, transfer data from one various electronic device to another, charge video camera, charge audio recorder, headlamp, computer, wash clothes, hang clothes to dry, cleaning of the body, stretching of the body and filling of the body with food. Lots of food! There was, I believe, a day where I consumed 6 scones and 3 muffins. Not something I’m proud of but it feels good to admit it. Between the biking and the aforementioned this and thats there is seldom time to share my experiences with the rest of the world by way of these intergalactic info rockets. Oh well. Doing my best.

Just been on the north island for three days now in the major bustling metropolis of Wellington. Feels like San Francisco only very far from San Francisco. There are hip young people everywhere walking up and down hills. I think I have met as many people in their 20’s in the last three days as I have in the entire journey through the south island. Apparently young kiwi’s don’t much stick around in the small towns, until they come back to take over the farm or the family business. Seems the yoot tend to congregate in the big big with the other yoot.

When being interviewed for papers I am consistently asked ” so what’s the weirdest craziest experience you’ve had?”. Other then the entirety of getting on a bike and pedaling around a foreign country playing shows in peoples houses, nothing much comes to mind on the crazy, awkward or uncomfortable front. I have not been drugged, misled, bamboozled, teased, poisoned or even chased. The biggest surprise continues to be the top-notch, blue-chip, first-rate goodness I encounter from each host and audience. However in the last few weeks there have been some particularly resplendent moments and encounters. These are in no particular order.

1. 4 year old Taroa (albatross in Maori) sat at the base of my feet for a whole show completely engaged and present. 4 years old! The next day she returned to my hosts house to show me her toy unicorn. When she approached the door to leave she turned to me and pensively took a moment. She then smiled and said “Gideon I love you”. I am breathless and wobbly legged. I tell her I love her too. She and her unicorn walked out the door. Little angel left my face swollen with a smile. A few days later she asked her mom “is Gideon family?”. A woman from the local Westport paper was at the show the night Taroa was there. She printed an article the next day with a picture of me singing with Taroa at my feet looking up. It looked like it was just me and her. Completely captured a moment and her undeniable sweetness and curiosity. That paper clipping is a genuine treasure.

2. I arrived at the Newton Livery owned by Stephen McGrath. Stephen looks like a cross between Santa Clause and Buckskin Bill, the Idaho solitary who built a kingdom by his lonesome on the middle fork of the salmon river in Idaho and invented several rifle boring apparatus. Buckskin Bill was once asked how he knew how to do so many things? He built everything……..EVERYTHING! Buckskin responded “well… when you spend enough time alone, thinking about anything, you can figure it out.” I love that. Stephen lives off the grid, generates his own power, raises and breeds Clydesdale horses and built his own horse drawn wagon. Wooden wagon! That’s a wagon made out of wood to be pulled by horses! Just want to make sure I’m understood here. He takes trips with it into the hills sometimes for months at a time. After I played a show for him and his friends and his lovely woofer Linda, he took me for a ride on the wagon. It was a big honor and quite a to do getting the gigantihorses all saddled up. Next thing I know we are galloping through the country side. In truth a horse person would not call it a full gallop, but when you’re from New York City and you’re cruisin on a wooden wagon behind beasts of inconceivable mass you feel like your galloping. I was just too happy that day. Too god damn happy! I am now convinced cycling is a rather lame way to tour an album. Horseback or horse wagon is the way to go. Why ride a bike and get there in a week when you can ride a horse and get there in a month? I hope to someday do a story/music/magic//scultpure tour with Stephen and his wagon through this beautiful country. I would also like to tour Norway by Hang Glider, Germany by pogo stick and Indonesia by row boat.

3. After a night in a house bus in the Tadmor valley I made my way to John and Sally’s in Ngotimoti. I was introduced to them by Vicki whom I met at Anna’s place in Hawea Flatt. I was pointed in Anna’s Direction by Paul who was at Brads house in Invercargill. Brad gave me a call cause his friend heard me on the radio and thought Brad would like to host a show. I got on the radio by emailing Kirsten after Sylvia of Ashburton recommended her radio program. Last night I finally met Kirsten at Paul’s house. I was introduced to Paul by way of Moodie who was room mates with Juan in Dunedin. Got connected to them through Bear who was buddies with my brother Isaac back in Nome Alaska.

So, I arrived to John and Sally’s home through their garden. Imagine the shire, but with stone sculptures, vegetables and fruit trees everywhere. I made it up a wee hill to the house. John was the first to see me. Big beautiful smile. He came to me, shook my hand and drew me in. Some of you may know I have a poor track record in judging whether to shake someones hand or hug their body. It was a mute point with John. Next thing I know his nose is against my nose. His hand in mine. Nose to nose is a Maori greeting, the origins and meaning of which I know not, but it’s always struck me as a lovely way to say hello…. Actually google just told me it’s called the Hongi and the breath of life is exchanged and intermingled during the greeting. Our noses and foreheads touched then separated then touched for a longer time. It ended with a big welcome kiss from john which landed on my sweaty bike neck. He didn’t seem to mind or notice, he was all smiles, molten spirit flowers ebulliently rushing from every feature on his face. A face that undoubtedly carries a story for every stunning and perfect wrinkle on it. John is not Maori but possessed an impressive knowledge of Maori culture and customs. He has also learned the language to an impressive degree. I had so many questions for him. Wanted to hear about his studies and experiences. Five minutes with him you could tell he knows his country dirt to sky and beast to man.  We had an all too short amount of time together. He was off in the morning to guide a walk through the Tasman. His partner Sally was every bit as warm and intriguing and I was blessed to spend some time with her and their son Zander. Sally is a masterful weaver of Harekeke (flax) baskets. She weaves them together in traditional Maori style. She explained to me that she weaves a story into each basket, something in her life or someone else’s that she’s been thinking about or working with. I watched her make a beautiful basket from scratch all day long. It was very special to witness someones craft take shape like that. Straight from the bush in the garden to this stunning practical piece of art. I asked her if that basket was for sale towards the end of the day. I really wanted that basket. Wanted it like no one has ever wanted a basket before. A tiskit a tasket I like and love this basket! I wanted it to have the object, but also as a way to tell Sally how wonderful I thought it was and how much I enjoyed watching her process. It’s always a gift watching someone who has real mastery over their craft. I remember Amaorie’s parents making blood sausage from live pig to the dinner table in Cuba, Sally with her Basket, Akira with his pots, Dad singing “Being Alive”, watching Raf illustrate an idea, Nate playing the piano, Dave moving through his pedals, Raky deep in the bang bangs. These are gifts to me, witnessing them at work, great unlikely charms of experience that I carry with me. Sally told me the basket was for me! She was making it for me! She weaved in the story of the mountains I climbed, diamonds from a tale I told in my show. It was a very special gift as was the opportunity to sit and talk to her. The pace of this tour seldom allows time to languidly have a yarn. Sometimes I feel I don’t have the time or the energy to make friends, other times it happens within the space of a single breath. You see who the other person is, they see you and you don’t need time. You just needed a moment of contact. This has happened many times on this journey. It makes up for all the connections I feel I’m missing when I’m too spent or emailing or biking or hiding.

4. Fiona and Alistair in Upper Moutere picked up two puppies the day I arrived! I held them in my arms and let them lick my face and my mouth even though they had just been wholeheartedly licking their own assholes. If I was president of the Galaxy I would give every human being two forever puppies (puppies that never grow up). There is no joy on earth greater then that which comes from true puppy love.

5. Played a show outside Picton on the Marloborough Sounds. The house overlooked the water and the islands. Where I come from only millionaires live in locations like this, but my hosts Annabelle and Midge were a school teacher and a working musician. Such is the quality of life in New Zealand. In the background splashing dolphins were illuminated by a soft pastel sunset as I shared my sing songs. A most sincere woman, whose name I cannot remember, but whose face is crystal clear, approached me afterwards holding a twenty dollar bill with both hands like it was a canister of weapons grade uranium or a premature newborn. She seemed very serious. She looked at me and said “I want you to know I worked my fingers to the bone for this…….. TO THE BONE. And I’m giving it to you…. Thank you.” Wow! Don’t get much better then that.

Cow rescue. Jungle Jog.

Good lord it feels like a thousand millions since I posted the luggage list. I am writing from Paroa a small in-between settlement just before the city of Greymouth on the west coast.

The amount of tourists in country is astounding. Most cars I see on the road are not local. Endless camper vans, rolling houses, wheeled cabin type home rollers. I have a joke to myself that unless the vehicle has a rustic home made trailer on the back for hauling equipment or a boat trailing behind, there’s a ferner in the there. So many folks travel in this country and seldom meet Kiwi’s. They get on the track to see the sites and thusly the people they meet are the other site seers from the elsewhere. Lots of Germans. I am very grateful to be meeting kiwis. Gold miners to hunters to nurses to school teachers to social workers to farmers to bankers to butlers to burglars to barons to barristers to baristas and beyond. They have been consistently and astoundingly generous and hospitable. Often, before having met a host, they will email me where to find my room in their house and how to make myself at home. They invite me to arrive sometimes days before they will be back home! Nobody locks anything. I leave my stuff, my bike, my life lying around and don’t worry about it. It’s refreshing to remove all those fears from the equation.

Before getting to the west coast south islanders kept warning me of the sand flies. The sand fly warning was so ominous I was prepared to get to the coast and take one deep breath at the Tasman Sea before being completely enveloped in a  black death cloud of flesh eating bug beasts. Turns out they do like to nip and occasionally have a decent meal at the expense of your ankles, but for the most part they are not bad at all. I think it’s a myth west coasters spread so as to keep people at bay. The beauty is so stupid here. Ya know how you might loose some brain cells watching The Real Housewives Of Cleveland or a Republican debate? Well I think this kind of beauty might have a similar effect. It’s just too much. It smacks you in the face and picks your pockets and trims your toe nails! It’s a beauty capable of impossible magic and intimidating mamothness. I think the locals who live here tell others that the sand flies are unbearable to keep the tourist population down to eighty thousand instead of ten million. Only forty thousand people actually live on the west coast. A majority of the folks I’ve met work in one way or another in the tourist industry. Not all but a majority. 53%.

I had my most trying day so far riding from Haast to Fox Glacier. 120 kilometers over 12 hours, 7 in the rain, 3 over a mountain, 2 in the dark. It was a long day and 40 more kilometers then my biggest day yet. One of the differences between a Cyclist and a guy who buys a bike is a cyclist knows where he is going and what the terrain will be like on the way. I am always surprised. This has its yays and nays. One excellent thing is I’m not looking at maps and folding them and unfolding them and experiencing the landscape in 2 dimensions and watching a GPS thing telling me how fast I am and what the wind pressure to moisture index is in relation to my body mass divided by my muscle elasticity. If I want to know how fast I’m going I look at the tree I’m about to pass and I notice the amount of time between the tree being in front of me and me being in front of the tree. If I want to know the terrain I ask a local “hey mate whats the road like up ahead?” If they say “oh no worries. Totally flat, good as gold mate, bob’s your uncle!” Then I know to expect lots of hills. If they sort of giggle and say “oh yip there’s gonna be a few hills up that way” then I know to expect at least one mountain if not a range. Before that big ride on that big day I really thought 90k was my limit. I’m starting to see that my real limit is always just 20 more k. You get to the point and realize well …. I can go a little further ….. just to that post ….. ok that tree …….. ok might as well get to that town. It has been very liberating to realize how malleable my limit is. I haven’t found it yet, but I’d like to. Just to see. I’ll let you know when I get there.

I passed a cow in a field. It was bloated and on its side. She could not get up. I’d seen this happen once before in Vermont and the cow didn’t make it. If they can’t stand up the gas can bloat them to death. I biked till I found some locals. They called the farmer with that paddock and they saved the cow. Got her up on her feet and she farted her way to freedom …. well at least until they decide to kill her, but I’m sure she is living longer then she would have had Hero Gid (that’s what they call me now), the great saver of cows, not pedaled along.

Had two days without shows when I was by Fox and Franz Glacier. A new friend “Sally from the Valley – the hot pools Queen” pointed me towards Welcome Flat Hut, a small cabin 8 hours into the bush of the rainforest. I walked in on barrowed sneakers full of wholes and a size too small. My cargo situation has only allowed for me to bring Biking shoes and sandals. I was grateful for the borrowed shoes as crappy as they were. Spent 2 days soaking in the green mud natural hot pools below cliffs and mountains and waterfalls. It was a very healing two days. Befriended the lovely caretaker of the hut Selda and in the evening we ate and sat by the fireplace talking about this and thats and the what-nots. When walking out I decided to see how fast I could get back to the road so I jogged out and it took me just under four hours. Eight hours in and four hours out. That made me feel like a man, but the next day I could barely walk and that made me feel like an idiot.

Signing off from the land of the long white cloud with goodness and excitement for the next show, next ride, next host, next vista, next challenge, next lunch …. here’s to nextness!


Junk in the caboose

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100 copies of My Brother Is Isaac (album) 1 roll of black electrical tape (for this and thats and sticking up CD pricing chart) 1 Bartreiter open back five string banjo 1 Trinity bouzouki 1 Shruti Box 1 Mbira 1 Hohner trumpet call harmonica in C 1 Hohner special 20 harmonica in G 1 colorful set of ankle bells 1 ZT lunchbox 200 volt mini amp 3 Jews Harps (1 Indian, 2 Austrian) 1 Violin bow (for the banjo) 2 sets of metal finger picks (1 for backup) + orange twist top pill bottle for housing 1 Digitech Jamman looping pedal 4 Abalone shells (2 for backup) 5 1/4 inch cables (3 for back up = too many) 1 DC power source for Jam man + step-down transformer for power conversion 1 back up DC power source. 1 around the neck harmonica holder 1 pouch of Napier rosin 1 pouch of picks (too many) 1 mic stand 2 EV N/D767a vocal microphones 1 nano ipod 1 XLR to mini jack cable 3 US to NZ power coveters 1 Raf Kelman sliding scale pricing chart + protective cardboard tube with 3 back up copies 1 alpine series banjo gig bag 1 road runner guitar gig bag (for bouzouki) 1 hard glasses case for Jews Harps 5 packs of extra strings (3 banjo 2 bouzouki 2 banjo capos and 1 guitar capo 1 electronic tuner 1 Tascam DR-40 field recorder + wind muff 2 Go Pro Hero’s Hi-Def mini video cameras. 2 Go Pro LCD screens 1 head rig for Go Pro + 1 helmet rig (don’t need the head rig) 1 Go pro extra battery pack 1 external Go Pro battery charger 6 interchangeable casings for the Go Pro’s 12 directional attachments for the go pro’s 8 32GB SD cards + SD case 1 Joby gorilla tripod 1 mic + camera arm attachment for tripod 1 Rode microphone 1 mini mic hands free headset mic for recording while riding bike + hard shell case and extra cables 1 AA + AAA batterie charger 8 various USB cables (4 of which I need + 4 of which are back and should be sent home) 1 pair of self sculpting earbuds 1 pair of regular earbuds 1 small plastic bag of extra AA and 9V batteries 2 replacement 3V lithium batteries 1 Polaroid Spectra Onyx camera with 7 packs of Impossible film (4 color 4 black and white) 3 dry age kits for curing the polaroids 1 remote control kit for the Spectra 1 Mennon Speed Stick deodorant 1 mini tube of crest 1 toothbrush for teeth + one travel toothbrush for cleaning the bike when berry juice spills) 30 ft of blue utility chord 15 large black plastic zip ties 1 pair of prescription glasses 1 pair of prescription sunglasses 1 Petzel headlamp 1 stack of cash money 1 pouch of coin money + double copies of newspaper articles about the tour 1 roll of newspaper article about the tour 1 leather bound song journal 1 electric head shaver (luxury item!) 5 DVD-R’s for data transfer 1 map of New Zealand 5 envelopes 1 banjo man stamp + ink case 1 mini can of shaving gel + mach 3 razor with 8 extra blades 1 water resistant and shock absorbent external hard drive with 1 terabyte of space + USB cable 1 250 gram plastic jar of Menuka Honey 1 Grandpa Lester “ultralight/watertight medical kit 2 spare tubes for bike tires 2 spare tubes for trailer tires 1 tire patch kit 1 plastic set of tire changing tools 1 small bottle of teflon bike lube 1 little plastic thing of grease for metal connecting on bike 6 dry sacks ranging from 5 liters to 32 liters. 1 down sleeping bag rated at 32 degrees 6 cases and bags for various items 1 Christchurch made bicycle helmet 3 blinking safety bike lights 2 reflective snap bands 5 pens ranging in colors from blue to black and one black sharpie 1 pair of Rainbow sandals 1 pair of Garneau clip in bike shoes 1 pair of rain pants 1 rain jacket shell 1 pair rain bike shoe covers and rain gloves 3 pairs of smart wool socks 4 pairs of underwear 1 pair of biking shorts with padded seat 1 pair of black slacks 2 tank tops 1 salmon T-shirt 1 long sleeve forest green shirt 1 cashmere blue sweater 1 cashmere black hat 1 Patinkin Red Angus Farms truckers hat 1 adorable miniature basket (serves as nano iPod housing) 1 macbook pro + power chord + soft case 5 manuals for various electronics 1 stack of post its filled with personal information that act as business cards 5 postcards 3 bunjee chords (two green one yellow) 50 captured polaroid images 2 black water proof panniers 1 emergency space blanket 1 Wiglaf (burley flatbed bicycle trailer) 1 Beowolf (Surly long haul trucker cycle cross with 27 gears) 1 Marvin (bicycle horn) 2 water bottles 1 bicycle pump 1 Stubbs Magic Cover (custom water proof trailer cover designed and created by Magician Matt Stubbs of Linwood Christchurch in 40 minutes) 1 orange safety vest 1 tube of 30 SPF sunscreen 1 tin of breath mints 1 cellular phone + power cable 1 blue tarp 1 bigger grey tarp 1 Jew