Thursday, October 29, 2015

Overnight Accommodations

The Hotel Plakaford, in Victoria Harbor

As you travel around New Island, you'll find a variety of comfortable lodgings, but they are quite different than, say, the Hyatt or Marriott. 

In Putney, Victoria Harbor and a few other large towns, you can find hotels that appear out of the 1930s or '40s - up to four stories tall, with thirty to forty rooms, a small restaurant and bar, a check-in desk with pigeonholes for the keys, and sometimes a swimming pool. More common here and in the smaller towns are the many rooming houses, usually in the older neighborhoods near downtown. These have two to six rooms to let, and usually include supper and breakfast. They are run by the families that live in the houses, most likely.

For example, on Victoria Harbor's Garden Island, the Lee Villa on Coldwater Lane seems most promising. The six-stool bar adjoines a cozy dining room, and a tiny elevator carries you to your room as high as the fourth, and top, floor. The Plakaford Hotel, around the corner, has a lovely outdoor dining area. At both places the fish-and-chips with a bottle of Runcorn white wine are a good combination. (Runcorn has the memorable dancing maiden on the label.)

In the back-country, accommodations vary greatly. The tribe settlements almost always have a room or two to let, and include breakfast in the common dining room. Rates are negotiable, and often include work-trade arrangements. Along the Path System, settlements and tribes provide indoor lodgings or outdoor campsites, all with kitchens available and some with meals included. These travelers' inns almost always have a common room for walkers and wanderers to meet and visit one another. Along the northeastern coast, the Japanese villages accommodate travelers in traditional inns, unchanged from 18th Century Japan. The elegant wood-and-tatami rooms have no furniture except a small table placed beside the futon on the floor. Meals are served in the room, and guests are welcome to use the communal furo bath.  

If you are walking, you will find some kind of lodging every 8 to 15 miles along the paths and back roads, except in the Sheffield Desert - so you don't have to pack a lot of gear. Being adaptable is the key here.

Happy travels!

Friday, October 23, 2015

New Island News - The Old People

It is time to take a break from Alan Faramond's travels and catch up with a few happenings around the island...  

The Old People left ruins all over New Island, such as these structures at Beatty Point.
So far, we haven't found any written records!
The Old People are mentioned in passing on page 29 in the New Island Guidebook

There is more to their story! Apparently this was a long-lasting culture that began 40,000 years ago, and mysteriously ended about 800 years ago, or around 1200 AD. 

So far, the Antiquities Department at Putney University has not been able to determine what happened to them, or, for that  matter, where they came from. Archaeologist Sheila Rankin stated in a recent interview, "We know they must have developed writing and art, given the sophistication of all the ruins on this island. They built ports, towns, roads and ceremonial sites, so there was commerce, government and religion. They had to have a written language!" 

We do know that, beginning about 5,000 years ago, they learned how to build in stone, using lintels and multi-floor construction. They developed a singular style of stone-fitting that rivals that of the Inca culture in South America. The stone platform at Wave Point, now used for the Wave Festivals, was likely built around 1000 AD and is in good shape today, despite centuries of occasional hammering by ocean surf at high tides. 

We think these people may have left some of the earlier sites due to climate and sea-level changes. The harbor at the Old Port ruins just west of Twentymile Beach (northern coast) tells us that the shore has risen above the waves about fifteen feet. Either the land rose or the sea level dropped enough to dry up the port!  Also, this area is all desert now, and could have once been much wetter, and more productive agriculturally.

"What we hope to find in the near future," Sheila went on, "are the writing, the art and other secrets of these Old People. We will keep looking and digging!"

Saturday, October 17, 2015

54. Hike to the ferry, a hot breakfast, then a bus to the train station

At the Stonebill station, Alan got on the train (instead of walking to Pendleton).
Chloe decided to followed a back-country path further south.

The rain had stopped by first light, but the tents were wet!

Since they didn't know the ferry schedule, Chloe had to tell Alan several times, "Just relax - it'll all work out!" They made some coffee and a couple of packets of hot oatmeal for breakfast. Alan said, "I hope we have time to get a proper breakfast in town - I'd looove some eggs and bacon right now."

Chloe smiled at him, "Me too!"

They managed to get their gear in order (the tents can dry out later) and then marched directly through the ruins and down a gentle slope toward two small settlements, part of the co-operative tribal group called the Beastey Bay Tribes. These were compact villages surrounded by white stone walls (to keep out the sheep), with about 150 souls residing in each one. The houses were mostly white also, quite small, and many were built against those outside walls. Since many walkers came through here every day, no one paid much attention to Chloe or Alan as they walked through the first village, called Sturgis.

As they approached the next village, called Bayview, they could see the ferry dock in the distance, and the ferry was on the bay approaching it! They walked quickly through Bayview, again without much notice. Once at the ferry landing, which was quite crowded with horsecarts, handcarts, and quite a few walking passengers, Chloe bought tickets.

"They told me where to catch the bus to the train station," she said. Once on the ferry, Alan was finally able to relax. They had only walked for about an hour, but for some reason it seemed like a much longer distance on the map.

The ride across the bay took about fifteen minutes, and then they were walking into Beastey, a sizable market town. This area began to look familiar, as Alan had seen it once before from the train, which seemed like ages ago!  By the time they reached Beastey's town center and the bus terminal, it was only about 9:30. The posted schedule told them a city bus would take them up to the railway station at 10 and 11 am, plenty of time to meet the train.

Time for second breakfast!

On Castle Road, the main thoroughfare, they found a cafe that specialized in English and Scottish breakfasts, so Chloe led Alan inside by the arm and said, "You'll love this!"

After a fabulous hot breakfast of eggs, bangers and mash, with fresh orange juice and coffee, they caught the bus to the Stonebill station. They sat on a bench out on the platform, in the late-morning sun. 

Behind them through the station windows, one could see Beastey Bay and the ocean, and from across the platform, where they were sitting, they could look upon massive hills, green and empty, beyond the low buildings of Stonebill. The broad slopes led the eye up to Spy Hill, about ten miles distant. White dots of sheep were scattered here and there, and the smaller scurrying dots must be spring lambs, Alan thought. 

Then he said, "This is a lovely day to walk, Chloe." 

"Yes, it is."

A few minutes passed. Birds chirped, and a breeze ruffled the hanging geraniums.

Then he asked, "Uh, when do you think we'll meet up again?"

"I dunno," Chloe said. "That's the thing with this Long Walk, there's no plan - but I'll call you. Or I'll call that gallery."

"Yes, call the gallery and Adrian will get me or leave me a note. Or, you can write me a letter!" 

"Okay. How about in a couple of weeks?" 

Just then, an Irian-Southwestern Railway two-car train glided silently to a stop in front of them. They stood up and Alan smiled at Chloe,


And Chloe grinned back, "Hey - see you again soon." And she gave him a smooch to remember.

He boarded the train, found a seat and saw Chloe already walking into Stoneville.  

Saturday, October 10, 2015

53. Tower Head

Alan got this one done pretty quickly.

Later that morning they arrived at Tower head, and found a spot on the beach with a good view of the old tower. Alan got curious...

"Say Chloe, what is this tower all about?"

"Well, it was built by the Old People about 1500 years ago, I think. The stone work is incredibly tight, so it's held up against the weather and all. It's one of many stone ruins left by these people."

"Oh, like Hazelhurst? That was my first assignment, and it's only a mile or so from where I'm staying."

"Yep. They left ruins all over the island." 

Alan set up his watercolor set once again, and proceeded to sketch the bluffs and the tower.

Their food supplies were low, and Chloe thought she might try casting a line in the surf to see what might bite. She rigged a sinker with a lure on a long line that she laid loosely on the sand, its other end tied to a stake. She could then literally throw the leader out into the surf, and then pull it in again hand over hand. The waves threatened to tangle it but she managed to hurl a few casts. She was lucky - a pilch (an Australian yellow eye mullet) bit on it and she was able to pull him in after a spell. Her hands were red in places where the line had bit in, but it was worth it! She cooked it over a fire on the beach and they had a nice main course. (Alan was once again amazed at Chloe's resourcefulness.)

It was growing cooler today, with clouds gathering, so after lunch Alan quickly finished up his sketch. Luckily the sun was still out when he started it. After he finished, they decided they would keep walking for a few miles before setting up camp. 

The path followed the bluff-tops over well-cropped grazing land, with some sheep visible in the distance. There were no fences, and Alan noticed nothing man-made except a shepherd's wagon. At Cape Fury, they passed another of New Island's few lighthouses, a squat metal structure accompanied by a low stone keeper's house. They were both built by the Soviet Navy in the 1930s, and maintained by New Island's own Coast Guard, says Chloe. Soon they were crossing a broad grassy slope overlooking Beastey Bay.

As the daylight began to fade, they arrived at the Bailey Ruins, another Old People site that looked quite like a ruined castle. "Indeed," said Chloe, "the place looks a bit like London's Old Bailey, hence the name..." 

Once they had set up their camp, Alan studied the map that Adrian had marked up for him, and then got out his train schedule. "I think I'm through walking for a while, so I'll catch the train in Stonebill, here, just across the bay. I see there is a ferry at this place called Bayview, so we'll have to get up early to catch it!"

Chloe looked over his shoulder. "Yeah, I think you're right. And maybe we can catch a bus from Beastey to the Stonebill station. I'll come with you!"

"On the train?" 

"No, silly. I'll come with you to the train, and then I think I'll take this path out of Stonebill to the south. I want to see Roaring Cape!"

They had pitched both tents, and after a dinner of packaged dried soup and hard crackers, they stored their packs into one of them. They then huddled into the other one, just as a wind-whipped drizzle began. They both fell asleep almost instantly, to the intermittent splattering of light rain and mist.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

52. Afterward

The clouds can get pretty wild sometimes on moonlit nights around here.
Could the fiery stars have been a trick of nature? Who knows?

Bathing in that nebulaeic light last night may have had some effect on the girl by his side, and let's just say it had quite an effect on Alan! 

He woke up in a tent not the familiar color of his own. The sun had been up for a while now and it was hot in there! He also realized that he was not only naked (and he wasn't dreaming it this time) but Chloe was sleeping right next to him and his arm was draped over her midsection.  Oh, my... 

But before he could start obsessing about it, she slowly rolled over and said, "Hi."

", I guess we...had a good time..."

Chloe reminded him what had been good about it, and then she finally said, "I think I like you."

He grinned at her as he remembered that fiery sky, and how it began to swirl and undulate up there, and then he felt that everything was swirling, and how Chloe must have felt it too and then they seemed to be moving in some kind of very slow dance that was all part of the magical energy of all those stars. After that it was all a blur.

The heat in that hyper-stuffy tent was finally too much so they both climbed out sweating profusely. Chloe bolted toward the surf, yelling, "Beat ya!"  and Alan took up the challenge (he lost). The bracing seawater was the perfect cool-down.  

They noticed they were not alone when they came out of the ocean, and this time neither Alan nor Chloe bothered to fetch any clothes, and simply started fixing their breakfast. (Chloe took the lead here, saying that this is The Way of the Beach here among the locals.) The two other walkers waved as they passed by; Alan nodded to them, and they maintained their pace on their way south.

Only after eating and having the last of the coffee did these two decide to get some clothes on and begin packing up. They then worked methodically and in silence. Alan could feel the end of their time together coming up soon, probably tomorrow. According to his list and Adrian's notes, he is to make a sketch of Tower Head, about five miles south, and then get to the train station at Beastey to go on to his next "scenic viewpoint". 

Just before hoisting their backpacks, they paused to drink some water, and Alan was about to say something before Chloe broke in, "I know what's coming...we'll be taking different routes pretty soon. And you know I have a long spell of walking in front of me if I carry it all the way...and I fully intend to do that."

"Yeah, and I have quite a long assignment myself - almost 100 more pictures to paint of this island. But, Hey! If we keep up with each other, maybe we can hook up again for another spell. I'd sure like that!" 

'Yup, me too," she said with a smooch on his cheek.

So they finally left Hoodoo Beach for Tower Head.