Watching your ten year-old bungy off a bridge in the rain is a little like watching your heart run out of your throat and do a swan dive off a cliff before you had a chance to decide to commit suicide. He, of course, was fine.
We’ve been we’ve been in New Zealand for a few days, and I haven’t had much time to write. We landed in Christ Church on the anniversary of the huge earthquake there. We didn’t intend to do so (or not to do so, it just happened) and there was a somber, reflective feeling in the city which we tried to respect by just being kind of quiet. Signs of the damage are still everywhere and the overcast skies added to the mood.
We rented a car there (a Nissan Blue Bird, 4-cylinder -- hot) and then drove to a little town called Lake Tekapo. Beautiful place and I have attached a couple of photos of the lake and a sister lake to show you the extraordinary color.
We also picked up a couple of hitchhikers: 2 of the many stuffed animals we would begin collecting, “Pilot” and “Captain Shearling,” which you can see on my head. The boys loved Lake Tekapo as it as it is pronounced “Take a Poo.” Maybe that’s why it’s Tidy Bowl blue?
A healthy drive the next day got us through a salmon farm where Cole fed the fish one tid bit at a time, and James hurled the entire cup of feed into the area at once in order to start a frenzy. James asked if we could we put one in the back yard. Sure, if we had a back yard. And if you are willing to walk the salmon and clean up after the salmon.
New Zealand roads are literally filled with camper vans, a term I had not heard before. While some are just like our Winnebagos or other motor home things, these camper vans are more like souped-up Scooby Doo vehicles with a bed in the "penthouse" and some kind of kitchen/sink set up in the back.
Retirees and young hipsters make up most of the campers and we found both lots to be really nice and share advice and photo taking. It looks fun, especially with the “Wicked Brand” whose vans are all retro with hippie messaging, but I am definitely either too old or not old enough at this point. My kids are out of diapers and I spend enough time in public restrooms without having to shower in one. Maybe when I am 70.
Finally, Queenstown. Pouring rain, sheep after sheep after puddle after cow and then a cute ski/sports town filled with hipster Kiwis, Aussies and a handful of attractive Europeans and Americans. Kill me now. The last time I looked good with braids, a Norwegian ski hat and a denim skirt with Uggs was never.
Accommodations were nice though -- a modern lodge-y thing with two bedrooms, a great view and an easy walk to the town of all things adventure, fitness and old folks’ bucket lists. Queenstown, NZ: where the young and beautiful go to stretch, teach and hook up.
And the rest of us go for edgy but safe dares. Bungee, sky diving, sledging, class 4 rapids, heli-biking, heli-hiking, heli-boating and my favorite: heli-blowdrying. The only blow dryer I have touched in 3 weeks is the now ubiquitous Dyson hand dryer in all slick foreign airports bathrooms.
Day one: After a typically painful homework effort, we trekked to the AJ Hackett Bungy Bridge where (supposedly) bungy was invented. James couldn’t jump as it requires the height and weight of at least a 10 year-old American kid. I had zero interest in jumping and used James as an excuse.
He was upset he wasn’t allowed so he and I hung out on the sidelines taking some useless photos of ropes and air -- you go ahead and try to get a good shot of an idiot, or a family member, as they leap off a bridge toward a moving river at alarming speeds. So we bought all the "well-priced" pro photos of Jim and Cole, some of which I have included. No kidding, I am really proud of them.
It was one of those mother+father/father+son/mother watching father/mother watching/crying over son/mother +other son/father pride/mother momentary anger +fear/other son crying + left out/mother looking up to mother in sky??/mother pride/mother seeing $$ cost of moment/mother letting go of cost when son is safe again moments.
Bungy is some crazy shit in my book and Cole didn’t even hesitate. He looked so big and little to me at the exact same time and I realized I was watching bravery meet wonder. I got choked up with pride and a little envy of his effortless reconciliation of rational and emotional. Kids, I thought, are so lucky because they haven’t had time to build up all the fear from experience. And then I watched Jim jump with the same huge smile. And I was even more proud.
By the way, my Xanax bottle is more than half full. Maybe the cure for anxiety is anxiety of a different kind?