Week Thirty One - Touch Down! 03/01/2011
“The Eagle has landed.”
Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969 from Apollo 11 on the moon.
Day Two Hundred and Eleven January 15th
Vince: “Yes, but not as…”
This is his new response to just about everything. He just leaves it hanging out there: but not as what? It doesn’t matter. Is it raining? Yes, but not as.
Sunny? Yes, but not as. What to go to the park? Yes, but not as. The beach? Yes, but not as. Can you put your Legos away? Yes, but not as….
How much fun it is to watch the mind stretch and expand.
We are off to a surf beach today. It is about an hour or so but well worth the drive. We are the only ones there when we arrive and one of maybe ten families when we leave in early afternoon. No one is here, in NZ, I mean. The country feels really empty.
The beach is tucked away past a set of sand dunes and opens on to a big harbor anchored on either side by rocks jetting out into the sea. The waves spill up the beach on a gentle slope perfect for body surfing. The Surf Guard corps is training and doing lifesaving exercises. We swim, build a few castles, Teri and Adele take a long hike, we all get freaked out by the jellies, lounge around for a few hours and eventually had back to the house on the hill. It feels very much like we are just passing time until we get to Nelson. Everyone is tired and a bit weary.
Day Two Hundred and Twelve January 16th
Finally. When we booked this day back in April it felt so far away. We had so many miles to cross, things to see and do, places to go. Everything was wide open with this single day as our only real anchor. Today is that day. The day we move to our new home (though temporary) in Nelson.
The morning is a blur. We pack one last time. Our rule has always been that our stroller, the Maclaren, the one that has seen us through thick and thin, over hill and dale, cobblestones and down the roads and pathways of history, the one worn thin, covered in dirt, sweat and tears, Dad’s third arm for luggage, Vince’s chariot and Adele’s rest spot, that one, would stay behind and not make the finally trip into Nelson. That upon arrival we are all going to be big people: ones that walk everywhere and carry all of own bags.
However, now that the time is upon us, we can’t let it go. It feels wrong to leave the stroller behind here on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere. It needs completion as much as we do and we need to find a way to give it a proper send off. We do try. We gather around and pose for one last set of pictures and say our goodbyes. But it feels wrong. So in the end we decide to break the rule and take it with us: one for all, all for one.
Flying domestic here is a pleasure. Since we are way out of the way from pretty much everything and no one really cares what happens down here as it relates to the global economy and the rest of the world, the airline security is almost nil. You pretty much show up and get on the plane. No need for screeners and scanners.
Our flight is about an hour and we follow a route down the coast of the north island visible off the right hand side of the plane. There are few roads, no people for the most part, an occasional boat here and there, a lot of sunshine, beaches and mountains. It looks untouched from up here, accessible only by boat.
By 2p we have landed in Nelson. It feels like flying into Mammoth Lakes with one runway, a warehouse for the terminal, baggage claim around front, parking curbside. Our plane is the only one on the ground and it feels like everyone, including those that work here, have shown up just to meet our plane before going back to business somewhere else.
Mason, our rental car connection is waiting for us with a sign and our car for the next week or two. Mason is a connection via the folks who own the house we are renting. It turns out he is a skier and that he has spent five or six winters in Mammoth. He met his wife there and moved back home a few years back. It is such a small world.
I read somewhere that 35% of the cars on the road in NZ are from 1996-1999. We have a 1999, four door brown car with manual locks and windows. It has spider webs on the side mirrors and plenty of bumps and bruises. It takes some getting used to as this is considered a newer car. It doesn’t really matter to us after all we have been through, as long as it runs and has enough room for the bags we are set to go. Renting the car is the same as getting on a plane. They need it back at some point and I should call when I figure out how long we want it to let them know when we are going to return it. Paperwork is vague at best and with the Visa card on file and our address two doors down from Mason’s parents we are good to go. He knows where to find us if need be.
22 Richardson Street, Britannia Heights, Nelson. It is as great as the pictures online and more. We are up a driveway carved into the side of a hill and shared by three homes. Our house sits at the end of a private drive just off the first turn. We are all alone with no houses on three sides, a B&B below us and our neighbor, Lee, an elderly lady living alone, just off to the right.
The views are amazing: full on ocean from every room. Plus, we overlook an island and the main shipping channel leading into Nelson port. A lighthouse sits on a spit of sand that runs the entire length of the bay. Boats are everywhere.
We wander around trying to get our bearings. The downstairs has a large guest room/office a bath with shower and a garage/storage area. Upstairs is the main living room that is connected to a kitchen. The kid’s room is off to the side in the back and our room is on the other side at the front of the house. It is perfect for the four of us. Everyone is very excited.
We spend the rest of the day unpacking, shuffling furniture a bit, setting up the bedrooms and relaxing. At one point we drive into town to get food and do a drive by Adele’s school. This is a small town by our standards: a grid of four or five main streets each a block or two long, two big shopping stores and a few other necessities. Again it feels like a really good fit. After a long day and a roller coaster of emotion we finally trail off to sleep in our own beds for the first time in seven months.
Days 213-217, January 17-21
Welcome. We have a format for the blog going forward. I am switching to a weekly entry now that we have arrived in Nelson. I knew going into the tip the daily experiences of constant travel would be very much worthy of recording as they unfolded. I also knew that once we hit our destination, or our mid-point in this case, that the experiences would pace differently and they would need to be addressed in a slightly different format. I am not sure if weekly is the answer and may move on to event based notations but in any event the notes and observations will be clustered more around the experience verse the timeline.
The first few days in Nelson have been very exciting on all fronts. We have settled into the house, adjusted things to our liking. We have figured out schooling for both Adele and Vince. Adele has been by her Nelson Central School, the main public school in town built back in the 1870s, and we have her signed up for a summer program that will get her on campus and with other kids the week before the official start. Vince is in a Montessori program at Founders Park set in a 1880s historic village in the original schoolhouse at the base of a huge white windmill.
I found the Nelson Striders, a running club that welcomes all with open arms every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sundays for group trail runs around town. There are a core group of ten people of so that walk or run together.
Teri and Adele went off to Auckland to pick up her mom and her mom’s friend for a ten-day stay. Vince and I had a boy’s weekend to our selves. Went to the beach, ran errands, eat mac and cheese, played Legos and occasionally worked the word “poo” into the conversation (and not in the bathroom much to the delight and hysterics of Vince:)
We actually got mail! Nothing makes you feel more at home than finding letters in the mailbox. One of the packages contained a Knight Suit for Vince that he has not taken off since it arrived. Vincent the Brave and I have great fun fight dragons in the isles of the local market.
The Kiwis seem serious at first and then very warm and friendly once you get to know them a bit. The town feels very safe. I get the feeling it is like a small town in the States twenty or thirty years ago.
We seem to be way off the grid down here. New Zealand is out of the way. The south island only has 1M people total and that is spread out over a fairly large space. Things that happen out side of the country don’t seem to impact the day to day.
It is going to take some getting used to.