The 4 Mule-Wills of the Apocalypse

We are an opinionated group of humans, this family of mine. I had the chance to go to New Zealand to help plan the 2020 NonfictioNOW conference. I invited my family to go along. Since two of the invitees are minors, they were somewhat forced to go along once the other major in the family accepted the idea.

Zoe really wasn’t into going. She is taking physics, engineering, geometry, Spanish 2, Honors English, and health. She doesn’t want to get a B in any class, even in health. She’s a freshman. It was a hard transition from middle school to high. Most of her friends went to Flag High instead of Coconino but Z wanted to enroll in the CIT (Coconino Institute of Technology). She wanted to go to the school with the most diversity. But she started the year with only one friend coming from MEMS. The first week, she ate lunch alone. All of this made her much more committed to the friends she made after that week. She didn’t want to leave these new friends. She didn’t want to miss school. She didn’t want to fall behind. And, she felt torn. She knew it was a great privilege to be able to go. Not wanting to go to New Zealand sounds even more privileged. So she was all tied up in knots about going and I don’t blame her. 14 is the hardest year, next to 13, 23, 33 and all the other hard years.

Max was OK to go because he’s in 4th grade. Still, he was nervous about the 17 hour traveling time. He wanted to know what we were going to do. When we told him we were renting a CampervanIMG_1882, he almost cried. Which was a pleasant reaction next to Zoe’s.

The only good thing about renting a Jucy CamperVan is that when other people with Jucy’s pass by, they wave at you. With much excitement! And, the Jucy is pretty cheap. In fact, we did a very good job going to the other side of the planet spending not-too-much money. We got airplane tickets for $900 each. The comps my department presented? $3200. We truly lucked out on the plane tickets. Then, once we arrived in New Zealand, the dollar was strong. A $12 sandwich in NZ is $8 in US dollars. In Flagstaff, a $12 sandwich is $16.

For the NonfictioNOW conference, I’m hoping the dollar stays strong for US travelers and that we can find those reasonably priced flights again. I love really long flights because it gives you enough time to sleep the whole 8 hours, plus have dinner and breakfast. When you fly to Europe, by the time they feed you and put you to sleep, they wake you up again to feed you. It’s like being in the hospital. But to NZ and Australia? Plenty of time for everything. I took my TRTL and a foot sling that you hang from the tray table for sleeping. Max and Zoe looked longingly at the first class luxury beds but who needs that when you have a TRTL and a foot sling? I also have 2 glasses of wine and a benadryl. The kids didn’t have that but they had their own TRTLs and their own foot slings and they slept for 8 hours too. The other great thing about flying that way is that you lose a day but gain a couple of hours. The time difference is about the same as east coast to west. Your circadian rhythms stay pretty close to the same. By the time we got to our hotel in Wellington (CamperVan adventures saved for the latter half of the trip), we were tired but not zombie-tired. Plus, the hotel let us check in at 11:00 a.m. We took showers and then headed for lunch.

The kids loved Wellington. I loved Wellington. Are we city people?

Not necessarily but we might not be campervan people.

Still without the campervan, we would not have gotten to see the Weka which kind of looks like a Kiwi, but isn’t and doesn’t. We wouldn’t have got to see the Golden Sands Beach or kayak or meet this cormorant bird called a shag. I really love New Zealand. And I love my family even if no one want to eat the same thing for lunch. I also see that my finger is in this top picture–in keeping with the typo theme of my Christmas card, my Christmas post, and my regular life.



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