In Search of Families In Search of Adventure
A Family on a Bike Tour: New Zealand, Samoa, USA and Canada 2004/2005

Are memories made of this?

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From:       Kirstie and Stuart
Subject:   Are memories made of this?
  Date:         9th December 2004
     Queenstown, Otago, New Zealand


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




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