Coming off the excitement from the Legacy Event celebration, my father and I headed off to New Zealand for a once-in-a-lifetime experience full of adventure and memories.
While we wondered if our trip would ever get off the ground with a tornado warning and Vice President Pence’s visit to Chattanooga delaying our start, our trip went off without a hitch from there. Several themes were at the core of our trip...
First, the people we traveled with and the New Zealanders we met along the way were some of the friendliest people we've ever encountered and they will remain in our memories forever. The photo on the right is a traditional Maori goodbye between Ra, a Maori chief from Rotorua, and me. The grasping of the shoulders and touching of the forehead and noses represents the connection between the two people. When saying goodbye, you touch foreheads and noses two times. The first time you touch, you breathe in, which represents you taking the “spirit” of the other person with you until you meet again. As you touch the second time, you breathe out, which represents departure and blessing the other person as you leave.
A close second was the spectacular scenery and geography that we experienced. From sunrises over the Pacific to viewing glaciers in the Southern Alps of the South Island to a water excursion through Doubtful Sound, every day brought new and amazing sights to be seen. When we were on our boat excursion on Doubtful Sound viewing penguins and seals, the captain of our boat saw whales breaching out in the Tasman Sea at the entrance to Doubtful Sound. Our guide said in the years that she had been leading this trip, they had never seen whales breaching. Dad and I felt blessed to see this amazing display!
In a land known for its adventure, Dad and I were not going to be left behind. From zip lining through native forests to taking a helicopter ride up to see the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, Dad and I did not want to miss any opportunity. On our helicopter ride, we landed on a snow-capped shelf of the rock formation (at about 6,700 feet) above the Franz Josef glacier and below Mount Tasman (11,473 feet) and Mount Cook (12,218 feet) which are the highest peaks in New Zealand. From there, we took off and flew toward Mount Tasman and Mount Cook and then over the Fox glacier as we headed back to the landing pad (at sea level). Amazing visual experience!!!
And while our Smithsonian tour was wonderfully laid out for our time in New Zealand, several surprises occurred along the way including having afternoon tea in Wellington at the residence of the US Ambassador to New Zealand. Our time included meeting the Ambassador and his wife, Gail and Scott Brown, and included a tour of the house including experiencing his love for rock music.
But the greatest part of the trip was creating great memories with my father that will remain with us forever.
So what did I learn from my time with Dad in New Zealand?
First, I learned at no matter what age you are that you can always try new things and adventures. Do not let age or some other limiting factor, such as fear, keep you from experiencing amazing opportunities that present themselves.
Second, be intentional and take time to get to know people you may not normally associate with. Some of my favorite memories are getting to know our travel group, tour guide and bus drivers and learning about what was important to them. While many of us had differences of viewpoints on many issues, we also found we had way more in common than we thought and the relationships grew from that.
Finally, I learned the importance of being intentional and making memories with those special people in our lives. The memories that my father and I made together during these days in New Zealand will be cherished and remain with me for a lifetime! But you do not need to go on long vacations for this to happen. Wherever you may live, you can take time from your busy schedules on a daily basis to make special memories with your family and friends around you. Be intentional about making those memories!
This trip was just an amazing experience! It only further motivates me to assist each and every one of our clients to “create their own lasting legacies”, not just financially, but on their own adventures and special times together with the important people in their lives!