In our first Travel Tale, we take a peek into our friend Dirk Frey’s stories on the road around New Zealand. Listen in as he shares some of the highlights from his stint exploring and living in New Zealand, a country with many interesting characters, endless Lord of the Rings references, and even a special folk music festival.
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Guest: Dirk Frey – Thanks Dirk for sharing your stories!
Hosted & Narrated by:
Editing: Laura Samulionyte
Caroline Lloyd: We’re just going to be chatting over a beer
Dirk Frey: Well if it’s going to be over a beer then… let me get a beer.
Ian Hoyt: Hey there fellow nomads. This is Ian and Caroline and this is the Life Nomading podcast.
Ian Hoyt: Welcome back, fellow nomads. It’s Ian and Caroline and welcome to the first episode where we take a listen to some of your stories, stories about what makes traveling so special.
Caroline Lloyd: This week on the Life Nomading podcast. We sat down with an old friend, Dirk Frey.
Dirk Frey: I am currently a programmer for a CNC machine at a cabinetry company and I do woodwork there too.
Ian Hoyt: Now Dirk has an interesting connection with Life Nomading. That is Dirk and I grew up on the same block.
Dirk Frey: Ian and I we go way back then. We were in the same neighborhood. We were the neighborhood kids growing up. I Dunno, we are the same bicycle crew, I was thinking that I was hanging out with Dan and the culdesac and Ian was uh, playing with I think more like Halley and chase and Ricky and there was big gap and then I saw him again in Cincinnati and we reconnected.
Caroline Lloyd: But when Ian and Dirk reconnected years after their col-de-sac had days, they realized that they had grown to love a common interest, travel.
Ian Hoyt: And that’s not an uncommon shared passion in the normal world. But coming from a small town in the Midwest, it’s a bit rare to venture that far from home.
Dirk Frey: I thought it was impossible. I guess. I don’t know why people in like Findlay, Ohio were just raised like, I guess it was so expensive for our parents growing up and throughout the 80s and stuff to fly to like Europe. You had to like set aside like maybe 10 grand to do like a proper, Europe trip back then or something. And that’s in like 80s dollars and stuff. Think about flights for two grand each way, you know, France and, and stuff like that. So it was a lot more expensive. And prohibitive talking to people from Findlay. Sometimes it’s just like, so wait, so what is it like there? They don’t like Americans do they, or they’re like, or they might say something like, I don’t know if I could handle French language all around me or, or just people speaking Spanish.
Caroline Lloyd: So how did Dirk become this adventure seeker that he is today?
Dirk Frey: So I would, I wasn’t into travel or even I would say the outdoors and particular until into college, a couple of years basically I met some guys, I would say, uh, some rock climbers who I befriended and ended up becoming some of my best friends in college. And I joined the mountaineering club at UC. And so I got really into the outdoors and rock climbing and I go out in the nature with them. And then they were, one was the son of a air force pilot and so he was kind of an air force Brat and traveled around with his family from like state to state and out of the country a lot. And so he’s always talked about his grand travels and stuff and always wowed me. I was like, wow, you can get out of Ohio on. I was also amazed that you know like 19 years old or 20.
Ian Hoyt: One of the most dramatic changes in mindsets for Dirk was actually a road trip from coast to coast, casually seeing pretty much all of the US on just a couple of hundred dollars. Was it luxury? No, but the memories seem to be worth it.
Dirk Frey: It just showed me like, oh, on a shoe string budget and just like as long as you have good friends, even if you hate each other halfway through the trip because you know Joe is six foot eight, he’s taken up all the room to sleep. Having the friend and having that connection and by someone to share the glory and the misery altogether from the highs and the lows of the trip. And then also like it’s something when you’re a young person and like I think that’s one of the best things you can do in America is road trip because you get to go from like temperate forests to plains to a mountain desert to like the ocean, the other side of the ocean. So it was just like seeing all the sides of America stopping in, making goofy jokes with your friends and listening to music. Yeah.
Caroline Lloyd: And it’s all about those little moments. So we decided to ask Dirk about some of his favorite travel moments, things that stuck out in his mind, poignant memories, things that made the journey worth it.
Dirk Frey: There are times that I can think of a travel idea or a story in my brain and like my heart’s still kind of swells with, you know, the pride, a camaraderie that like I, I’m glad I was here in this time and space at this juncture with these people.
Ian Hoyt: And before we jump too far into Dirks incredible stories, we need to set the stage a little. He was on an extended excursion inspired by his childhood dream that started in the backyard of Findlay, Ohio. A little adventure movie called Lord of the Rings.
Dirk Frey: I quit my job for a bit and I traveled around the world for six months and four of those months were just on the island of New Zealand, South island in particular. And I decided I wanted to do a big bike trip and I was going to ride a bike and just bike around all of the South Island. And I went from Christ’s church and I went up into like near the mountain ranges. And that’s why I was saying that Lord of the rings would come in later because I specifically stopped at every location. That was super important to me. Having watched the extended cuts of the DVD releases, I was on a working holiday visa. So in New Zealand, Americans are allowed to work for one year you get a tax number. And so after the bike trip I uh, lived and worked in Christchurch doing various jobs. Like I worked in a kitchen, I was the stop go guy at the traffic.
Caroline Lloyd: So this particular tail started on a biking trip with the little sprinkle of local New Zealand serendipity. I should also mention that Kiwis are what New Zealanders are referred to in this story.
Dirk Frey: I was biking and uh, you know, after 60, 70 kilometers on the bike that the heavy gear and it’s like, okay, this is a good stop. And I’m on my way. I had to keep going uphill slightly because I’m going into the mountains to go to this certain mountain called Mount Sunday and I get to a bar and I decided to have like a beer and maybe I’ll get to know the locals a bit and it’s just all crusty old New Zealander Kiwis who are working on the sheep farms and it’s kind of the off season so there they’re drinking more than having to work with these times.
Ian Hoyt: And one of those crusty old Kiwis he starts talking to.
Dirk Frey: He wasn’t from New Zealand. He was from some place between Scotland and England and his accent was just as thick as you could possibly imagine that. But he was like, “Nah, you can’t do that on the bike, man.” I was like, Nah, I was just pedal real slow. I was like, no, no, you can’t do that in the bike.
Ian Hoyt: After finally convincing Dirk that biking up the incline was a terrible idea. They loaded up the bike in the man Subaru.
Dirk Frey: He invited me to his sheep station up in the mountains and we put it in the back end and we’re going over like potholes and shit and it’s dark out. I thought I was going to set up camp, but he’s just like, no, you’re going to come to my house and you’re going to sleep in this bunk bed. I’m like, okay, sure. Okay. And yeah, no. And I just, I went along with it cause I was really tired. I was like, I don’t have the pedal, any extra of this mountain and if I don’t really have to. And he was super nice and we, uh, shared a breakfast and it was really beautiful scenery. And once I, this dawn opened up and it was just mountains on either side and showed me his sheep dogs and stuff. He’s got no classic radio stations up there. So he has these tapes of singers from the 60s and it like use these cassette tapes that he puts into scar to place singers and stuff. And one of them is somebody who had the car before and it was a Maori track. And so they’re not aboriginals, they’re the people before any of the Europeans came over the Maori people. And so like there are traditional chants and the Haka call. So it’s cool. And it puts you in New Zealand when you’re going into everything.
Caroline Lloyd: And this was just one stop on his biking journey. Dirk continued on his trip to his final destination, which was actually determined by a run in earlier in his trip. He had met some people that had invited him to a festival. The Waihi Bush festival to be exact.
Dirk Frey: What I did was I got back onto couch surfing, which I hadn’t done in a while. I found a place to stay that was near the beach and Christ church and these guys were super, super nice and accommodating and they uh, put me up in a bunk bed. I would do my best to like be a good guest and I would even like try to introduce them to some American culture and customs. And so like, the best thing I could do is like, I can make really good Reuben’s but oh, they appreciated it. And like, I mean like I, I went all out to like make them dinner and stuff and like I even bought some things cause I was like staying for free and I wanted to give back to them and they were very gracious and say, well if you, uh, want to do some more volunteering over again, we had this thing called Waihi Bush festival and basically one of their dads owns a farm out in the rural parts of New Zealand and they hold a folk festival every year. And I was just like, Oh yeah sure. I mean like yeah, like it’s in February. I’m like, ah, that’s fine. That’d be a one month after my biking trip. And so like I did the whole biking trip and I could go into that for a lot more things, but I had to like haul ass to get to the festival, the tail end of the trip. But it was so worth it.
Ian Hoyt: Now you can only imagine something exciting would happen at an event called the Waihi bush festival. But trust me, this wasn’t anything you ever could have imagined.
Dirk Frey: There was a, there was a suicide that happened before and I don’t know if this is a British or New Zealand culture, but they made jokes about it to get over it. And it was something that like, you know, you just, just like what you do when you travel, you experience different cultures and way people process things are different. And so instead of letting the suicide, I mean people were down about it, but they didn’t let it hang over the whole festival. So they would make jokes about it and say, sang this song. It’s called when you’re feeling down the best way up, is chocolate. So the song goes, so when you’re feeling down the best way of this chocolate, it’ll help you get you through the day.
Dirk Frey: It felt like a movie almost playing out to me. Cause there’s these characters and there has these highs and lows and it was just like this whole story and dancing.
Caroline Lloyd: But ultimately what Dirk experience came from a collective experience. It’s an ideology that stems from people and how people and moments alter perspective. Oh and don’t forget chocolate.
Dirk Frey: It’s always better to make memories with friends I think. It’s really rewarding. I won’t say I won’t knock my solo trip or the amount of time I got to contemplate and just sit and stare at really beautiful scenery. But yeah, it’s the memories we make with others. It’s pretty great.
Ian Hoyt: So that’s it for this episode of the Life Nomading podcast. I hope you enjoyed the very first Travel Tale?
Caroline Lloyd: It’s that until someone writes in with a better title. So send in your input. And on that note, if you would like to be featured on this podcast, you have a great story to tell. Feel free to send us a message on Instagram @lifenomading.
Ian Hoyt: And if you get a second, we’d love to hear your thoughts about this new format of the Life Nomading podcast. And you can do that by going to iTunes and leaving a review. We would so appreciate it.
Caroline Lloyd: So that’s it for this week. I’m Caroline
Ian Hoyt: and I’m Ian and until next week go explore something. See yah.