Two-thirds of the way through her sustainable musical
road-trip across Canada and the United States, Lake Hawea
singer-songwriter Anna van Riel says the 15 months spent
planning and fundraising for the experience has all been
''I'm still pinching myself,'' Ms van Riel told the Otago
Daily Times in an email from Colorado.
''I can't believe we did it. That we're here. It's been so
much cooler than I anticipated.''
Accompanied by husband Locky Urquhart and their daughter
Matilda (2), Ms van Riel has spent the past two months
travelling from British Columbia, through Washington State,
Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado, performing
quirky concerts in private homes, farmers markets, trailer
parks and other venues.
This week, the trio have been camping at Yellowstone National
Park, in Wyoming, then on to Montana, before heading back to
Canada this weekend for a string of shows around lower
British Columbia over the next few weeks, including one in a
sustainable housing community on Vancouver Island.
Continuing the contra-trading theme which enabled them to
raise around $40,000 needed for the trip, the couple have
paid for their room and board across North America by helping
out around their hosts' homes - for example, Mr Urquhart, a
builder, recently made an extension to a potting shed in
Colorado, while Ms van Riel helped in the garden.
Matilda, meanwhile, had developed a mid-concert habit of
''stripping off, doing a kazoo solo and then mooning my
audience, obviously stealing the show'', her amused mother
High points of the tour so far included being given a van in
Vancouver, camping in the Redwood forests in California,
op-shopping in San Francisco, ''dodging deer'' in Yosemite
National Park, night driving through Nevada and sharing and
learning sustainable practices and ideas.
The hospitality shown by hosts and audiences and the
connections made had been the highlight.
''People have given up their rooms for us, adopted our child,
made us part of their family and taken time out. That's been
''It's made me realise how time is the most precious gift you
can give to someone. We're all so plugged in and in a rush
these days. I can't wait to get home and put my hands in the
The couple have been filming the tour so they can make a mini
documentary when they return to Lake Hawea at the end of this
month. And Ms van Riel is planning a house concert tour of
New Zealand this summer, with the first gig already booked at
the Mussel Inn in Golden Bay.