Their game must have been inspired by the
bungy jumping. After a day of repeated exposure to Queenstown
adventure junkies throwing themselves off a platform at
the side of the Gondola Station, the kids were recreating
the experience. But this was thrill seeking toddler style.
With two cycle bungy cords, Matthew and Cameron had each
fastened themselves to a pole outside the campsite kitchen
and were hurling themselves around it, held tight by their
restraint, collapsing in a heap with giddy excitement, then
getting up and spinning again. Well after all, Bungy was
born in Queenstown .
The bungy boys get up
...and fall down again
"Aaah" said one of the campervan crowd in
the kitchen, "what a shame they won't remember any of this."
Many people have said something similar to us over the last
month, perhaps in an attempt to ruin our enjoyment. But
our main concern is to enjoy the moment, although as parents
we are obviously interested in the long term impact, if
any, that journeying has on the children.
In Tuatapere, a businessman stopped us to
recall his own adventures with his young family, touring
Europe and the communist states way back in the 1970's;
family adventure is nothing new. He urged us to embrace
the experience, assured us we would never forget it but
figured our kids might. He said his kids remember little
of their grand tour but still remain intrigued by stories
of their childhood adventures and regularly hassle him to
recount great family stories from that time to keep that
part of their family history alive.
As for our family history, at four years old, Matthew might
retain some vague memories of his family gap year; at two,
Cameron is much less likely to remember anything at all.
It's interesting to see what does make an impact, what seems
to figure large in their experience and what they remember
even a few days or weeks later. From time to time we chat
to the boys about how "the big trip" is going and these
little talks give us some insight into their experience.
While Matthew remembers many things, like the names of birds,
plants, places and people we have come across, Cameron's
memories seem a little more random, but are just as keenly
described. "We couldn't get to Monkey Island, the sea was
too fast," he often sobs, referring to an impromptu wild
camp at some sand dunes in a sheltered Southland bay. Monkey
Island was the tiny piece of land we could see from our
tent, only accessible at low tide. Cheated from playtime
with an imaginary monkey friend, Cameron still bears a grudge
that he was deprived of a visit by a mixture of uncaring
parents and tides.
Monkey Island near Orepuki: "We
can't reach it can we mum"
Perhaps as a measure of how quickly he has settled into
the travelling life, Cameron is particularly impressed by
anyone who lives in a house. Donna and Ruth, Marion and
Russell, all are remembered in terms of whether or not they
had a kitchen, or even more impressive, a toilet (not that
he would use it). He forgets about his own house, until
he is reminded by Matthew that the Wickes' family have two
homes, "one is in Eastside The Square Burton in Kendal,
and the other is a tent." Other memory triggers for Cameron
are anything that appealed to his Lamby along the way, especially
anything involving other sheep, in the land in which sheep
vastly outnumber people.
Whether Cameron will take any of these memories beyond
South Island remains to be seen. Perhaps the best we can
hope for is to be able to share our own memories of this
trip with the children in future years, with the aid of
our photographs and tales of adventure. And if they take
away from it a sense of there being a wider world beyond
their own rural experience, a sense of possibility and adventure,
a willingness to journey beyond their own horizons, to meet
and be open to others, and give anything a go, then that's
all just a bonus. And what will our memories be of them?
Too many to count, but usually involving bare feet, runny
noses, big smiles and the ever present Puppy The Wuppy,
who we can be absolutely sure won't remember anything at
all of his adventures as part of a Family on a Bike.
" Look Lamby, your friends have priority here"
Puppy The Wuppy at the
top of Willmot Pass overlooking Doubtful Sound