A few months before my trip to Tasmania, I discovered a blog called Walking the Derwent. I read the posts with interest, recognizing familiar scenes in the photographs. The blogger, Helen, chronicled her adventures walking the shores of the Derwent River in Tasmania. I started making comments on posts. It didn’t take many weeks before Helen and I were corresponding directly by email.
I told Helen of my trip, asking if she would be interested in doing a “walk” along the river while I was visiting. Thankfully, Helen responded enthusiastically and suggested we travel on an accessible boardwalk from the Glenorchy Art and Sculpture Park (GASP) to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).
You can read about our lovely day together in this post from March. It was a beautiful day, and I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to meet Helen and spend time with her in person after exchanging emails for a few months. One of my favorite memories from our day together occurred as we were walking along the boardwalk by the river.
I saw a sailboat in the cove, with what looked like a small rowboat or dingy tied behind it. As we continued along the boardwalk, I saw a scooter parked on the river’s edge with a tow hitch behind it. It didn’t take us long to realize the owner of the dingy had towed his craft to the water using his mobility device. I laughed, snapping photo after photo. Helen and my cousin Kelly walked on without me as I continued to express glee over the scene.
Helen remembers a different moment from our walk. At the end of the boardwalk, we continued along a sidewalk which took us out by the road towards MONA. Helen knew the route would lead to the museum, but did not know if it was wheelchair accessible or if there were curbs. Not wanting Helen and Kelly to need to retrace their steps, I sped past them yelling, “I’ll go check it out!” I flew down the path, not realizing how far I had gone until I saw the museum entrance up ahead. Realizing I was on my own, I thought about going back but figured they would just keep walking if I didn’t show up. Sure enough, fifteen minutes later Helen and Kelly came around the curve and met me where I was sitting on the corner.
We had a marvellous day when we walked along the GASP walkway and then you sped away and left us way back – of course you waited patiently at the gates to MONA. Very funny.
Now, whenever I read Helen’s blog posts, I hear her voice in my head. I laugh when I picture her reactions to discoveries and when she describes her encounters with the locals on her journey.
Helen is walking the river in stages. I am most impressed with Helen’s determination and dedication to documenting her progress towards her goal. She does not drive and uses public transportation to get to and from most of her walks. She offers practical tips on her blog for others who might be interested in walking in Tasmania or wherever they are located.
Along the way, Helen has encountered some obstacles and set-backs. She shares these difficulties as well as her successes. Her honesty and perseverance are inspiring. As I mentioned in a recent comment on her blog, we never know how far we can go when we just concentrate on the next step. Sometimes when we look up, we surprise ourselves by realizing just how much ground we have covered.
Helen – thank you for agreeing to meet and for serving as a fantastic tour guide to a stranger. Your hospitality made for one of the most marvelous days of my trip to Tasmania. I appreciate you repeating a walk with me so I could play a small part in your journey. I am honored to have been included. I am grateful for the gift of your friendship. I learn so much from your stories and I look forward to reading more!