The axe-murder camp

By the way, while getting on the ferry at PAB I pulled the smoothest move ever. I’d busted out the camera to grab a picture while biking to the ferry, dropped the damn thing and ran it over. Oh yeah. Good test. It’s one off those Olympus waterproof-shockproof one’s and while it survived a war well enough it sure wasn’t allowed to survive me, in intact condition at least, for very long. Very few things do. If you want something broken give me a shout. I’ll come falling down a stairs towards you as soon as I can.

Kudos to Olympus though, their precious camera might be very banged up but it still caps a good shot, which is no credit to me: I just pull it out when I’m biking [hence, I drop it] and snap away, and once in a very small while I get a good pic out of a hundred or so.

Where was I going with this? I don’t know, but it seemed worth a mention. I’ve dropped it a lot since and the poor bugger’s still hanging on. Due to the massive opening in the camera-body I was led to assume its no longer water proof. But later I was photographing a toad in NS [yes!!] and dropped it again in a water-filled ditch. And it came out fine.

It was sunday and everything in North Sydney was closed. I’ve been here before and its not the kind of town I’d want to do a life-sentence in anyway, so I just kept on chugging.

It was bit of ride to English Town where Kevin had recommended I cross to The Cabot Trail. I stopped at a few gas stations and had some words with certain locals who looked at me doubtfully and said, ‘yeah English Town over there alright but you got a bit of a mountain to cross.’

The last guy I talked to, a shining example of stagnated teenage-hood beneath trucker-hat and undershirt and a pathetic attempt at facial hair was particularly adamant about my craziness. ‘Takes on to know one’, I though, looking at him.

He’d been filling someone’s tank at a place overlooking a river valley, and he pointed with a dooms-day look on his face at the other side and announced that I’d be crossing over Kelly’s Mountain.

“What mountain?”

I was just toying with him. This was too much fun.

“Kelly’s mountain,” He said, pointing. I looked.

“Where? I don’t see it.”

“It’s right there.”

“The hill?”

“It’s a mountain.”

The feature in question was a decent knob, I’ll give it that. After crossing a bridge I came to the sign: You are now at the base of Kelly’s mountain. You will climb 240 m in the next 7Km.

Jesus wept.

If only they knew.

The knob vanquished I carried on to the ferry at English Town, which is not a town at all, just a few houses and a post office. A lane off the highway leads to it. Blink and you’d miss it.

The ferry was one of these tiny river-crossing contraptions. The only reason there are any left is probably to provide a job or two in an economy that died with the fishery, and also because, in some parts of the country at least, they are considered a heritage thing.

I hadn’t looked at a map and had imagined more of a crossing but really it was matter of meters. A long pier had been built to meet the ferry on the other side.

Jersey Cove was more houses and a campground with a small store and I biked that night to Indian Brook. There was no sign telling the name, all I knew was what I saw: an old church for sale, a pizza shop [!] and an abandoned campsite by the beach.

I inquired at the pizza shop if this place was good to go, and a lady with wide eyes and middle age dumpinness who was working dough on a short counter told me, yeah, that place is really abandoned, set up where you want. Some ‘foreigners’ had bought the place a year or two ago and last summer the main admin building had mysteriously burnt down. The owners had vanished, perhaps with insurance money, and no great investigation was made.

Now remember I have no tent, so setting up for me meant spreading the sleeping bag and gathering firewood.

I’d picked a spot far in on the old property, right by the pebbly beach. Imagine a big field, wooden posts with deactivated electrical outlets distributed evenly, an empty swimming pool, broken swing-setts, a shower building showers with gaping dark doorways, and foundations of the burnt-down building. Give to this setting a rusty sunset coming through thickening rain clouds and a nice wind off the ocean that ripples leaves in a background of forest. The colours are a predominantly gray-green and orange. If the atmosphere wasn’t so moist the place would feel dusty.

This is that kind of post-apocalyptic site where the tired survivors would come in late at night and be brutally murdered. The spookiness was on the same plane as an abandoned theme park or a boarded up shopping mall.

There was a payphone nearby and for some reason it worked. I called the family and we talked for a bit and when I hung up the rain broke out. Fast rain. It was a hundred meter dash to the place where I’d meant to sleep and the gear was getting perforated by the time I reached it.

Another story short, I returned to the pizza place which was closing in half an hour, ordered a personal size and sat reading until the torrent which had grown to a monsoon size, had slightly subsided.

At the old church with the real estate sign there was an old gazebo and that’s were I ended up sleeping. The bench inside was acutely curved, but the floor was soaked so the options were slim.

At three in the morning I woke up to a wicked lightning storm, like something we’d see on the prairies.

The gods were fighting again. I lay awake for a long time and watched the celestial swords.

In places the roof was leaking, but I was mostly dry. It was one of those nights that both despite of and because of the circumstances was good, and very impressive on the memory.

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