Was It All A Dream?

After 30 amazing days in New Zealand, I am finally home. The last 46 hours are a blur of packing, airports, flying, trying to sleep on planes, and time zones changes. My body is rebelling against me right now, and who can blame it- it has no idea what time, date or season it’s supposed to be in.

Auckland Skyline from Mount Victoria in Devonport
I mentioned in my last post, which was over a week ago (unacceptable, I know, but unavoidable), on Facebook and to many people that I specifically tried to do as little reflection as possible about this trip while still on it. On the flight from San Francisco to Auckland, I finally started the process of looking at some of my pictures and listening to the old audio journals I took while on the road. I got as far as day two before I had to stop. Only two days in to my reflection, I was left with one overwhelming question- Was it all a dream?
Rangitoto Island near Auckland
Looking through those photos of the first two days brought back such strong emotions, but it also was a reminder to me of how long ago those days were. I kept thinking to myself “Wow, I did so much in those first two days, and I have twenty-eight more with similarly rewarding experiences?”
I’ve recieved a fair amount of criticism for my push-it-to the-limit travel style. I completely understand that to some people, the idea of driving oneself so hard while on vacation is counter-productive to what the experience is supposed to be. Some people tell me that they are sure I’m not enjoying myself as much as I could and that if I just slowed down some, it would be a better trip. While I appreciate the fact that everyone has their own opinion, I can’t imagine doing this trip any other way. While I am beyond exhausted right now, I’m pleased with what I did and how I did it. I’m sure over the next few weeks and months of reflection, editing photos and writing blog posts about New Zealand, that I won’t regret the style or pacing of this trip. 
San Francisco from the Marin Headlands- one of my favorite viewpoints anywhere
Yesterday, my long journey home was broken up by an 11 hour layover in San Francisco. When I purchased my ticket to New Zealand with this long layover built in, I was excited, since I love San Francisco so much. I’d started thinking about a day packed with all kinds of stuff, from doing some of my favorite San Francisco things to catching a few sights I had missed on my trip there last September. As the New Zealand trip grew closer, and even more so once I was on the trip and in New Zealand, I began to wonder if I was physically (and mentally) have enough energy left to spend that dream day in San Fran. I didn’t make any reservations on what to do until a couple days before when I decided, more or less out of guilt, that I couldn’t just hang around the airport and waste the opportunity to have a day in one of my favorite cities. It wasn’t a very productive day, but I was still glad I didn’t just lounge around the airport looking for places to nap. 
I also got the opportunity to have dinner with my friend and respected blogger/podcaster Chris Christensen of the Amateur Traveller. Chris was kind enough to let me tell many, many New Zealand travel stories, and the process of hearing myself talk about a lot of it, especially to someone who is a fellow traveling soul, was therapeutic in a way. I kept getting goosebumps recalling various experiences to Chris. It reassured me that I will be able to actively recapture many of those emotions as I begin the process of looking back. He said he could tell how tired I was and did so in a kind tactful way I would expect from a guy like Chris. Most people would have probably been nervous around someone rambling incoherently from both the exhaustion of the trip and the lack of sleep over the previous two days. As I prepared to head back to the airport, I did confess to him about that question I kept asking myself- Was it all just a dream?
Rainbow near Cape Reinga
Today’s also been a high emotion day. I was so excited to see my wife, who I missed so much. We’d kept in real good touch through my renting of a New Zealand cellphone, but that is a poor substitute for being able to hold her. We went straight from the airport to see my sister and brother-in-law, in town for her baby shower. It was so great seeing my little sister with that cute little baby bump and seeing both of them with that impending glow that comes from the impending journey into parenthood. My parents also had a special glow with the baby coming, even though this will be their fourth grandchild. Then, finally, we made it home and I was able to reunite with our three furry children, who I had also missed more than I am able to describe. 
The whole morning I kept thinking about how incredibly blessed I am to have the opportunity to pursue my travels dreams, but also be able to come home to the loving embrace of an incredible soulmate and family. Under the circumstances, I would not have been surprised to have broken out in tears at every reunion, in fact it is what I expected to happen, but I was to emotionally spent for tears, but not to recognize how lucky a guy I am. 
My guess is the next few months, this blog and my Facebook page will be pretty New Zealand intensive in both articles and pictures. I have no idea when I’ll recover enough to start this, but I should have a pretty entertaining New Zealand by the Numbers post by later this week.
Thanks again to all the people who followed along with me- through comments and likes both here and on Facebook. Having you all in my life just adds to the already overflowing cup of blessings I have. Thanks also to the people of New Zealand, whose kindness & generosity is made even more incredible by the sincerity ain which they offer it. You have a truly incredible county.
Now, it’s time to start the process of catching up on sleep… which isn’t going to be solved in sort order.

3 Responses to “Was It All A Dream?”

  1. Ali says:

    Sounds like you had a great time! I've done trips at a fast pace and at a slow pace, and it all just depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Traveling quickly isn't sustainable over a long period of time, but I think in a month, if it's how you want to travel, pushing yourself to go faster so you can see more is totally understandable. It probably helped that you had the camper van so you weren't sitting in buses and planes the whole time. Having control and being able to pull over and stop whenever you wanted probably helped a lot. Looking forward to more NZ posts! 

  2. Elle says:

    Welcome back buddy!  I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed your trip. I can't wait to see your pictures and read all about it once you've fully recovered.

    The best part of your trip is IT WASN'T A DREAM!

  3. Kris Koeller says:

    Welcome back. Looks like you finally caught San Francisco on a nice day. 


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