One Beer to End the Adventure - (Birds Eye View of New Zealand - Part 3)

The company arranged a bus for me to get back to Queenstown from Christchurch after the adventure tour they sent me on. Once off the bus I walked up to the office where Adam was just about to get off work, he's the CEO who'd picked me up hitchhiking and how this whole adventure began: me helping with the website in return for an adventure tour, personal flights in a helicopter and performance plane, countless meals and general good times.

He asked me to clamp his bike on the back of the car and we'd get going. In the process I scraped the back of his Mercedes pretty good with the brake handle, he didn't care, it was his parts car, and the only one working at the moment. While I'd been away his Porsche had broken down and his other Mercedes was up in Wellington. Besides that he had a big old 4 wheeler, but he didn't like driving it. It was pretty noisy and full of jugs of avgas for his plane.

We drove back to his place and he made the great big messy burgers he'd perfected over the years and we caught up on how things had gone the past couple weeks. That night I got back to pecking away at the keyboard, eager to finish up the trail map project I was doing for him so I could get back on the road for one last New Zealand exploration before flying away.

A couple days later I got back into the office so we could have a meeting as to the details of finishing to project and how it would fit into their site. Things were more or less determined with just a few vagaries to keep me going longer. I caught Craig up on all the code, their main programmer there, a young guy with blonde dreads eager for the snow to start coming down. We got along really well, talking tech and the like, it was easy catching him up on everything.

Adam came in at one point with a box, "it's arrived". I knew exactly what it was, he threw dropped it in front of me, "Kenny's going to start controlling things with his mind", he told the others, I laughed, the others looked confused and intrigued. "Oh no", he added, "I should have waited, no you'll never get any work done!", he laughed and went back to his office, I got to opening the package.

One night a few weeks back we'd been eating dinner and talking about technology evolving and so on. I mentioned a video I'd seen showing off a headset that could be worn to read one's brainwaves and control a computer. We watched it and were both skeptical, so looked into it a bit more and found the company selling it. "Send an email to my assistant, tell her to order one, let's see if it works", now it was here.

I opened it there, but didn't try it out until I got back to Adam's that night. It was a bit cumbersome, about sixteen different sensors with felt tips that needed to be wetted with a sort of contact solution and seemed to easily fall out. I got it working all the same and installed the software, before long I was able to move the mouse around the screen by moving my head and click just by thinking "push". I showed it off in the office the next day in true geek fashion, it was a pretty fun toy. Adam said I could keep it, as he wasn't going to use it, he just wanted to see if it worked or not.

Over the next few days I got to finishing up the map and incorporating the never ending requests from other staff for new features and tweaks, it was looking pretty good now. Along the way Adam got me in the helicopter again to fly around, but this time he handed over the controls to me. It was pretty fun and took some concentration to keep the bird balanced in the sky. He had me try to hover just above the ground staying perfectly still, more difficult than it sounded, but I was getting the hang of it.

Finally my last day came, or what I thought would be. I finished things up in the office and Craig said we should grab a beer to celebrate, afterwards he would have to go back to the office to finish updating Adam's new laptop and I'd be hitching back to Adam's for the night. As it went, Adam offered me up his old Macbook Pro saying I could take it once the new one was setup.

Anyway, off Craig and I went into town. We stopped by a hostel to see the Great Scot, a big friendly guy I'd met at Kiwi Burn who happened to be in town. He'd just woken up and looked beat, I took it he'd had been a long night/morning/afternoon and said something about having barely a dollar to his name, he said maybe the next night. Craig and I carried on without him to a bar for "one beer"...

I was happy to find a tasty stout and we talked a while about all sorts. We decided to grab another beer before heading back. Halfway through that beer a voice came on the sound system "Quiz night starts in 30 minutes, first place is a hundred dollar bar tab", seems we'd be staying a bit longer.

A couple more beers and we posted up at the bar, enduring the long quiz with another round and handily coming in last place, by the end getting heckled by the people putting on the quiz and laughing at ourselves alike. With questions like "Who was the rugby coach of the most winning 1973 team", we were hopeless.

It was good times all together though, but by the end I'd run out of cash in my pockets. I'd been buying the drinks with the idea Craig could get me back the next day before leaving town, he'd forgotten his wallet. As these things go, heaps of beer and laughs leads to the need for more beer and laughs. The night was now young instead of the short night it had started as, so we started thinking up a solution.

Turns out that Craig knew a bartender at another bar and was sure he could get us going on credit. We went there and it worked, switching to whiskey, which goes down powerful quick after several beers. It was a pretty jumping place, live music on the first floor and pool tables up top. I ran and bounced around, happy to talk to some traveling girls and dance around, pouring out and taking in energy I hadn't gotten my fix of in the past month with all the computer screening and structured adventure tripping.

Eventually people started filtering out as the bar was coming to a close. I saw Craig hop into a back room upstairs and followed him, stashing a beer from the bar fridge in my bag, then I couldn't find him and headed back downstairs where he was sitting. He told me he wasn't sure if we'd be able to stay and catch another drink or not, but it seemed we might.

I took a run back upstairs thinking I'd sneak another beer from the fridge in case we couldn't stay. I hopped over the bar and grabbed a bottle of Yager and a couple beers just as I heard someone coming up the steps. I hopped back over as soon as I could, they were shouting at me from behind a corner still as my feet landed and my hands reached under the pool table to stash the big bottle, I bee lined it for the bathroom where I started taking a leak in the urinal, and stashing the other beers up on a high ledge, I was followed in by the shouting guy, a bartender.

"You thief!", he shouted, "I saw you hop the bar, we're gonna get the cops in here! There's cameras in there too", he all but got in my face, I was pissing at the moment and he kept his distance and the minimal amount of privacy. I finished and looked back at him with blank confusion, I don't recall saying anything. I remember being unimpressed and bland, in disbelief of his hefty reaction and at put no weight on his threats.

All the same I started walking out of the bathroom with my thoughts on the stairs and the door to the outside, he was already shouting downstairs and everyone was on their way up, Craig included. "This guy's stealing, I saw him hopping over the bar", I was surrounded, but somehow calm, as if I wasn't there at all and just watching it happen with half interest.

Craig chimed in quickly, "I know Kenny, he wouldn't steal", at that moment I came back into my body for a moment realizing I did steal just then, all under the haze of drunken entitlement having been knocking back free whiskeys and buzzing about everything else going on. More than that, my new friend was backing me up something solid and I couldn't back that up.

"Well he's not getting out of here without checking his bag, that's for sure", someone blurted out.

"I'll check it", said Craig, I handed him my bag and he plopped it on the pool table to start unzipping it. I'd forgotten about the first beer, it was buried under a sweatshirt, this I remember as the zipper finished and his hand started fishing around. For a moment I thought maybe he'd feel it and fish past it announcing nothing had been found, he soon pulled it out though. I'd slipped back out of my body, but then had to answer for it.

"That's from earlier", I got out, a true statement as good as a lie and worthless regardless. No one else seemed to give much more thought than they already had, anger. Craig and I made our way down the stairs under a slew of comments, "Get your friend out of here", they told him. The guy who chased me into the bathroom shouted at me on the way out, "You can never show your face in here again", I was glad to be out the door on walking away. It was a big scene for some swiped beers, all the same I felt a fool.

"I don't care if you took the beers or not", Craig told me, and I didn't come out and admit to him, I was still in denial mode from the confrontation. He knew another spot he could get drinks on credit, a bar behind the alley a little ways. A couple more drinks in hand and we fell into a table with a couple of his friends we bumped into. Some more laughs and drinks and time had slipped far into the night and nearing morning.

Eventually I was wandering off towards the road to hitch out to Adam's place for a sleep. Somehow a car actually stopped, "I'm heading towards Arrowtown", I told him.

"This isn't the way to Arrowtown", he told me, I realized I was somewhere I'd never been aiming an odd direction wondering how I got there and why I thought it was where I was going. He pointed me back in a different direction. At last I got to the piece of road that was unmistakable, but coming on 5am I figured there wasn't a great chance of scoring a ride or even much of a reason to. The staff flat was nearby, the one I'd stayed in on the two day break in the adventure trip, I knew I'd be able to get in, so I headed just down the block to where it was.

I peeked in the rooms, each had a sleeping body in it, so I stumbled over to the couch and fell over.

The next afternoon I woke up with a vague memory of a familiar face laughing at me, one of the guides hours earlier that I'd met at some point. I got myself together and headed up to the office hoping no one would have bothered to wonder about my whereabouts.

Craig was there with a hungover smile, he'd apparently just stumbled in as well. His night had carried on, running into some traveler who claimed to be "Oprah rich". They'd tried to buy beers but the store couldn't sell at that hour, so carried out a package of beer undetected and drank them down. His phone was found on a beach by a lady walking her dog who'd managed to get it back to the office, but it was the absence of this phone which caused him not to wake up on time for work, it was his alarm as well. That bit was no worry though, the only person allowed to care about his promptness would be Adam, he came walking in with a knowing smile, "It smells like a brewery in here!", laughing, "Where did you end up last night, back at the house?", he asked me.

"Staff flat", I told him, he shook his head smiling.

"So I guess you're leaving tomorrow then?", he asked, I nodded. "OK, there's I have another house guest tonight, we'll sort it out", he then got back to his busy day. I lazily stared at the computer screen doing much of nothing, eventually remembering that water was a good idea and taking down glasses of it. Craig stared at the new Macbook with an equal glaze. I'd hoped he'd finish setting it up before I left so I could get away with the old one, but it didn't seem like it would happen.

Adam's house guest was an old friend named Mary who was potentially going to do some work for the company as well, she'd just flown in from San Francisco. The three of us checked out the new property the company had just bought where the office would soon be moved to, an old school house with all sorts of little buildings and a small auditorium. We poked around a little talking with a guy about the potential and how quickly they could get it ready to move into and that sort.

Back at home Adam was quickly back out the door for one reason or another, I stayed and cooked up some pasta with Mary and chatted over a bottle of wine, then got all my laundry and things sorted as the idea of getting back on the free and open road began to really sink in. It had been over a month since I'd been openly cruising, despite all the adventure in between.

The next morning we were out the door early. We drove the big 4 wheeler beast to the bottom of the driveway where the Mercedes was parked, Adam proffered to drive that in for a quieter warmer ride. We transferred bags and it needed a jump start, an expected problem. The unexpected problem was that someone had siphoned the gas out. We checked our stuff back in the beast and took that to the office.

Craig was staring at the macbook still. I said I could stick around a couple hours or so and he said it may be finished by then. In the meantime I fielded some more tweaks and last minute features to the map. After a couple hours it was clear it wouldn't be finished for a while. I wasn't worried about it and Adam said he could just mail to wherever when it was all sorted.

I said my goodbyes and Adam offered to give me a lift to a hitchhiking spot. It had been an unexpected twist in my New Zealand adventure, meeting him and getting wrapped up in the project, flying around, touring the south island like a wealthy tourist, but now it was on to the road again, one last stretch of it in the country I was coming to love.

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