When you last heard from me, we were heading off to New Zealand right before the mid-term elections, missing out on the crucial Get Out the Vote endeavor. As I posted gorgeous photos on Facebook, one of my friends wrote, “So smart to leave the country before the election and avoid the rush.”
Our tour guide told us that wi-fi on the South Island is known as Why-Try? Right during the crucial period when I hoped to be sneaking peeks at the election results, we were scheduled to go from spotty coverage to being completely off the wi-fi grid, with barely any cell coverage. (Which we didn’t have anyway, not wanting to pay a fortune for even an accidental and momentary activation of cellular data.) Before we went totally dark, I lamented our imminent news blackout via text to my SwingLeft canvassing friend, who texted back, “Lucky you!”
But I didn’t feel lucky–I felt cut off from the thing I’ve obsessed about for the past two years. I guess I am not good at going cold turkey.
Luckily, someone on the tour with a New Zealand cell plan could get a little bit of coverage as the results dribbled in. We got lots of perpetually circling loading symbols, and a bit of CNN. This ushered in PTSD reminiscent of November 8, 2016, as Florida turned red. In a little while, it was apparent that the Democrats had secured the House, but just barely. Maybe it would have been better to be a normal person who likes to unplug on vacation.
The next day brought horizontal rain and a blizzard and several hours of driving incommunicado. But at a little town where we stretched our legs, the woman who ran a gift shop asked us about the election, then let us take over her laptop so we could find out where things stood (better). As we regained coverage over the next several days, the blue tide swelled, lifting our moods.
Throughout New Zealand, everyone we met was more interested in the mid-terms than most people in the United States. Kiwis were following the House and Senate races, and commiserated with us about Trump. Some British tourists congratulated us on the mid-terms and lamented Brexit, reassuring us that the U.S. did not have a monopoly on lunacy; ours was just more obvious.
Eventually we could truly relax. And guess what? We were in a beautiful country! Here are some highlights from our fabulous New Zealand Trails tour:
Milford Sound and the Routeburn Track–our first night we slept on this boat, and saw penguins, seals, many waterfalls, and where the sound spills into the Tasman Sea. Breathtaking, and apparently lucky we could see anything at all besides the atmospherics, aka “rain.”
We did some stuff besides hiking and election obsessing: Biking in Arrowtown and Dolphin–or perhaps Alien?–Encounter:
Hiking in Abel Tasman National Park, then donning backpacks (for Lorrie, the first time in more than 30 years) in Nelson Lakes National Park:
The West Coast:
Our last day was spent walking along gorgeous Lake Wanaka, with the famous Lake Wanaka Monster looming up from the lupine:
It’s good to be home. The rains and the new political landscape make it possible to breathe a little easier.