Dec. 18 Saturday, Rotorua, NZ –
Flying from Rotorua to the South Island and Queenstown; however, fog has “socked us in.”
With the delay, the airline opts to put passengers on a bus to the Auckland airport. “It’s only a two-and-a-half hour ride and you’ll have heaps of time to make your flight,” said the agent at the counter.
The bus ride lets me catch up on the newspaper; nice representation from the States as a Wisconsin postman has made the news in New Zealand with his wacky naked delivery.
A bus ride later, as I’m flying over the South Island, I can see why everybody says the visit will be worth it.
Mountains and hills of green; picture Julie Andrews and the Sound of Music. The small airport in Queenstown is on the edge of a very rural community. Crystal blue lakes surrounded by green hills and mountains, their peaks trimmed with white clouds.
Queenstown is a tourist hotspot; think the Streets of San Francisco swallowing the Wisconsin Dells. It’s touted as the Adventure Capital of New Zealand. Everything has an edge and Queenstown is looking to push you over it; skydiving, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting and zip line cables that clip along the treetops.
I got a bit of a feel for the area from Dwayne. The 20-something attendant at the local backpacker’s hostel looked like he could be on the cover of a Harlequin romance; short, curly hair, a Disney-prince jaw line and a cleft in his chin that resembled a baby’s butt. Our conversation ran the gamut from biking and travel, to the States. On a scale of one to Justin Bieber, Dwayne put the Bieber to shame.
I asked about neighboring Arrowtown. Dwayne said it was about 30 minutes north by bus. A quiet town of 5,000 with a historical society, shops and carriage rides. I thought it sounded great.”Yeah, it’s where my parents like to go,” said Dwayne. I thought I’d forgive him that one. Then Dwayne referred me to another youth hostel. “This one gets kind of loud; I think you would be more comfortable on the other end of town.” I felt like he was sending me and my bike to the old spokes home.
At that point I was done with Dwayne – he was losing his muchness.
KEITH & MARGARET…
Retired minister Keith Robertson and his wife, Margaret, took me in for the night. The pair were in their 80s; retired teachers, married 55 years. When life became boring, Keith would opt to get another college degree. He had four; his tendency was history. Margaret was hard of hearing, and that’s being nice.
The two had chairs set in the living room; think Archie and Edith Bunker. His was oversized compared to the rest of the furniture – plush. A briefcase and Atlas were within reach.
Margaret’s chair matched the rest of the furniture. She had a cushioned backrest and a colorful, striped afghan thrown over the top of the chair. A cardboard box filled with magazines and Sudoku puzzles leaned against the side, an easy grab.
It was like staying with your grandparents; five bookshelves, rabbit ears on the television, and lots of short, barking conversation. “Keith William,” yelled Margaret. “I have to call him Keith William to get his attention…” And within that brief moment, Margaret lost her train of thought. “Crumbs…. it must not have been important.” With that, she doppled off to muss about the kitchen, her slippered feet shuffling along the linoleum floor.
The pair had longevity and an evident rhythm of relationship. Keith spoke knowledgeably about every topic, like a university professor. Margaret often and conveniently, took out her hearing aids.