Sunday, February 20, 2011

NZ- Tuesday, 1/4

Tuesday, 1/4- Castlecliff Seaside Holiday Park, Wanganui North Island

Today the late sunlight played in our favor as we pushed as far north as we could once we got off the ferry. The place we landed, Wanganui, was a semi-guess by the World's Greatest Naviguesser and I think it worked out great.

We started the waiting day in Picton. Why a waiting day? Because pretty much the whole morning was spent waiting for the ferry, the waiting at the ferry, then waiting on the ferry. It was a less than exciting day in New Zealand. Not that that's bad. We sat in the park and read this morning. I got to feel manly by buying leather oil and oiling my hat and buying rope for my hammock. Of course, there is nothing at this campsite to hang my hammock on but whatever. Staying by the Picton harbour also allowed us to again experience (you don't use this, you experience it) the Exceloo, the most futuristic public toilet in existence.

On board the ferry, Angela was very excited to sit outside in the front, excuse me, the bow. Daylight crossing means pretty views of the Sound. Or it means a quickly cold and wind-blown wife going inside to read and play PSP. I did make a friend with a very small and not at all shy child who told me all about the bug in her super bounce ball that was “pretending” and trying to get away. “Honey, come here and leave the man alone.” Aww, we were having fun.

Once off the ferry we drove for about two and a half or three hours, pushing north. Our goal tomorrow is a national park for hiking and we were trying to avoid a long drive prior to. We failed that, but never mind. We don't alk much on drive days sometimes. We talked about that today. And we're both ok with it. Its nice not to feel the need to fill the air with noise and mindless chatter, though sometimes that's fun too. The Quiet, when it is true and comfortable, is an excellent thing. It is a trust and a begin together.

While we drove through a whole lotta nuthin', today was the least scenic day of the trip minus the last 25km or so, I thought about home and our global attitude. Specifically the chest-pounding which has become all too prevalent in post-9/11 America. The “We are the Greatest Country in the World Ever!” stuff. Everyone has to qualify statements about America with the GOAT tag or be questioned as unpatriotic.

Surely we are a great county. But the greatest of all time? Even of our time? I'm not so sure. And what I really wasn't sure about was why other countries let us get away with our posturing, as annoying as it must be. I've come up with two reasons, acting independently but in parallel.

The first is apathy. Countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Canada don't care about chest-pounding or being the best in the world over all, just in things like rugby and football (soccer). They aren't even aware that a contest for GOAT was going on. Too busy living in their free, beautiful, clean countries I suppose.

Great Britain also falls in to the apathy category, but for different reasons. They didn't invent the GOAT contest, that honor would probably fall to the Greeks, but they were the best at it for a number of centuries. I imagine they look at us like my dad looks at me. “Six pack, full head of dark hair, boundless energy. I had all that when I was your age. But look at me now. This is you in 300 years. If you're lucky.” Germany is apathetic too, but only because they've seen first hand what that level of flag-waving madness can come to when taken to extreme.

The other reason other countries put up with us loudly proclaiming our greatness is it means its harder for us to hear them sneaking up on us. The Ninja Theory. Of course I'm talking about Japan and China, who are poised to drop from the rooftops and garrote us before we even know they are there. We're too busy talking about how many medals we won at the last Games or how open-minded we are because we elected a black guy president (after only 200 years of freedom!) and because we are starting to let the gays marry (seven whole states! Seven! So open-minded.)

None of this means I'm anti-America or that I don't think we are a great country. I just think we'd benefit from lowering the flags, putting our heads down, and getting some forward movement happening. Today's big new hit is tomorrow's golden oldie.

Anyway, our time here is drawing to a close and neither of us are ready for it. There's still so much we haven't seen or done, even around our stop for the night. We could take a two-hour paddleboat ride, but that blows a ton of time for travel to other places and other things. So much to do. We'll have to come back. Still with out a plan, but with a better idea.

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