The Lively Little Campers have met several other kindred RV Travelers through this blog and we always love to hear about their adventures on the open road. So when we found out that John and Cathy, two of our long time readers, were heading to New Zealand for an RV trip, we just knew that we had to get in on the action! Since we aren’t able to hop on a plane and join them we decided to invite them to do some guest blogging about their trip preparations and the trip itself. When the boys get old enough for international RV travel I hope to look back at these posts as a guide for our own New Zealand Adventure. So John and Cathy, welcome to our blog! We wish you safety and joy on your epic adventure!
Have you ever tried to find a needle in a haystack? How about finding a person in a country of four million plus? That was the task we faced as we tried to find and contact the exchange student that we took on a cross country trip 12 years ago.
I first met Ria at an organization meeting of the track team that I was coaching at the high school where I was teaching. During the track season she became one of the athletes that I depended on. She was more mature than most of the other students since she had already completed high school in New Zealand. On the day that she informed me that her host was ill and could not travel over the summer, it became obvious to me that she could accompany us on a trip to Berkeley, California to visit my daughter and new grandson. She was an excellent traveler and my wife and I came to appreciate her maturity and her stories of New Zealand.
Many years later, once we decided to visit New Zealand, we knew that seeing Ria and meeting her family would be an important part of the adventure. A letter was soon dispatched to her address, but it was returned. She and her parents had moved. She married, but again that address drew a blank. The email address that we had also elicited no response. We were about to give up trying to reunite with our “travel daughter.” She is here, taking a break from hiking in the Grand Canyon.
However, serendipity came to our rescue. Coming home from work one day we found that the ceiling in our “office” had fallen in. What a mess we faced, plaster and dust everywhere. In cleaning the mess, I found a map of New Zealand. On the map, two cities were highlighted. One was the capital of New Zealand, Wellington, a big city. The second was a much smaller town, Cromwell on the South Island. I was so excited, I googled Cromwell and found the New Zealand equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce. I emailed them with my tale of woe, not being able to find my former exchange student. I gave them her name, and what I thought was her married name, Smith. The next day I received an email from Ria’s father!
Imagine how excited we were at finally being able to connect with this young lady that we had not heard from since a thank you note for a wedding gift from 2006. Since then Chris, Ria’s dad, has sent us material and given us much advice about our trip. This has taken a lot of anxiety out of our planning. By the way, I had the last name wrong, really wrong. That was why I could not find her on Facebook or other social media.
We really can’t wait to see Ria, her husband and young son, as well as her mom and dad. This is a picture of Ria from her wedding, she looked so radiant and happy.
A connection had been made across the length of North America and the Pacific Ocean.
Thanks to guest bloggers John and Cathy for sharing this first installment of their epic New Zealand adventure. We look forward to all of their upcoming posts!
Best–The Lively Little Campers