Weekend Adventures: Part 2

The next day, the family got going even earlier, because they were going to the town of Lyttleton. It was a long way away. Everyone was excited. Today they would finally get to ride the gondola! Singing the songs from the Frozen soundtrack, they headed off down the road, in the opposite direction from the mountains. Annie would not have to suffer through rapturous descriptions of the beauty of the mountains during the car ride. Things were good.

Lyttleton is a small town on the east coast of New Zealand. The family had never been there before. After they drove through Lyttleton they drove down a windy road, and the trees were so tall and close together that Annie was a little scared. Maybe bears lived in these forest. Mommy and Daddy always said that there weren’t bears in New Zealand, but you never knew. Maybe they would find a little house where three bears lived. Or maybe, while they were gone, a big-kid bear would wander into Annie’s house and eat up all her porridge. Annie often worried about this.

But at the end of the road was a parking lot, and at the end of the parking lot was a playground. All Annie’s thoughts of bears disappeared and she gave a squeal of joy.

It was an old-looking playground, with wood and metal and old tires. Annie realized before her parents did that the wooden part of the playground was shaped like a crude ship, complete with a mast and a crow’s nest and an area below decks. Daddy found a plank that pirates might use, and hoped that they would play pirates. Annie let him know immediately that they were not pirates, and she totally ignored his talk of the plank. Mommy found the slide that was behind the ship. It was built into the hill and it was very steep and very long. Annie considered the idea of going down the slide for about a second before she decided it would be too scary. But she was very excited to watch Mommy hurtle down.

But the playground was wet. Annie did not see this as huge problem but Mommy and Daddy did not want to stay. Eventually Annie agreed to explore a winding path that led down to the water. After she agreed, she had no choice but to race ahead in front of Mommy and Daddy to be the First Leader. Annie always had to be First Leader when exploring new places.

There were only a few other people on the little beach. There was an old wooden dock, and paths that led up onto the mountain behind them. Annie and Mommy and Daddy walked on the beach and found more shells. Mommy helped Annie find the most beautiful purple shells. Annie checked them to make sure they didn’t have anything living in them, and then gave them all to Daddy to hold for her while she had more adventures.

By this time Annie was growing hungry. She had already eaten an apple, but she and her parents wanted some lunch. They drove back up into town, and walked up and down the road. There was a giant metal thing on the side of the road that Mommy called an anchor – Annie was curious what it was, until Mommy started explaining, and then she lost interest. There were kids on bicycles and skateboards and scooters. They were more interesting than the anchor or the stores on the road. Annie watched in open-mouthed awe as a boy barreled down a long flight of stairs on his bicycle. Not long after, she watched a group of boys sit on their skateboards and roll down a very steep sidewalk, also at breakneck speed. She was speechless as she watched these things.

They were all happy to find a cafe for lunch, where Mommy and Daddy got grown-up food, and Annie got a blueberry muffin. Annie was very helpful to her parents, smushing her face against the glass display window to point out the foods that had the most vegetables, which she felt her parents would most enjoy. But she was not interested in any of these things herself. A nice lady brought the muffin out to Annie, steaming hot, with a tiny plate that had 3 pats of butter on it. Annie was so excited she wiggled with joy. She allowed Mommy to put some of the butter inside her muffin, but then she ate it right off. It was delicious.

And then, finally, it was time to ride the gondola up the mountain! This was so exciting. The family had been talking about it for weeks. Annie had been trying to picture it, to imagine what it would be like. The gondolas were tiny boxes that moved along a wire and carried you up high into the air, up to the sky. You had to climb into the gondola at the bottom of the mountain, as it was moving slowly past you, and then when you were safely inside, the doors closed. And then it moved up… up… up the mountain.

“I am not scared at all!” Annie told her parents several times. They had all been wondering whether Annie would be scared. Annie had been reassuring everyone all day that she would not be scared. She was certain, however, that Cora Rose would be scared, and she had promised Cora and her parents that she would protect her sister. She did her very best to protect her sister, to make sure that Cora was not scared. Annie looked down at the sheep grazing on the mountain below them, and the town that was getting farther and farther away, and then at a beautiful lake that came into view only when they went up very high. She repeated to everyone that she was not scared at all.

There was a big building at the top of the mountain, with a store, and a ride, and a restaurant. The store was okay but Mommy didn’t seem to want to buy anything for Annie so Annie decided to take off her shoes and socks and run around, shrieking happily. Cora, watching Annie, and sick of being a lump that everyone ignored, decided that her own moment had come, and she needed to Walk. The two girls – blissfully oblivious to the reactions of the people around them – ran happily around the store. Mommy and Daddy decided very quickly that now was not a good time to shop. Instead, they went down some stairs to the ride.

It was a small ride, but it was a ride that Annie would remember vividly afterwards. There was a car you got to sit in, and it drove around through an exhibit, and there were displays and people talking to you about history.

Annie realized very, very quickly that this was a Scary ride. It started off with volcanoes, and went downhill from there, through dark forests echoing ominously with the cries of jungle animals, and shadows of monstrous birds towering over her. Annie tried not to cry but it was terrifying. Then there were shadowy people that you didn’t notice until you were close to them. When they got to the model of the boat, and the lights started to flicker like lightening, and there were sounds of waves and rain and thunder, and Annie saw the boat rock dangerously back and forth – at this point it was all too much for Annie and she started to weep loudly.  Mommy hastily handed Cora Rose to Daddy so she could pull Annie onto her lap. Annie huddled on Mommy’s lap for the remainder of the ride, Mommy’s arms wrapped tightly around her for protection.

When they were safely off, Mommy asked Annie if she would ever want to go on the ride again.

“No!” Annie answered, without a moment’s hesitation. “It was too scary!”

After such a harrowing experience, it was natural to need a pick-me-up, so the family headed upstairs to the restaurant. Mommy and Daddy told Annie she could pick out One Thing. There were a lot of treats to choose from so it took Annie some time to make up her mind for sure. But when she saw the ice cream bar, she knew it would be the One Thing. It had pink and blue ice cream and a picture of a unicorn on the package, with a promise of “magical pink crumbs” inside. She was not disappointed. It was everything Annie could ever have hoped for, and more.  Annie was in heaven.

?????????? out of 5 stars! (Annie)

After the ice cream bar, everyone was tired and ready to head for home. Annie climbed back onto the gondola as it moved past her. She was good at this now. She still wasn’t scared of the gondola, and she let everyone know it. It wasn’t like the terrifying ride with the ship and the giant birds that was so upsetting. She could focus on protecting Cora Rose again. Cora Rose, insensible of her sister’s benevolent guardianship, stood up on the seat the whole way down, looking out the window.

0 thoughts on “Weekend Adventures: Part 2”

  1. What an adventure! Annie must be an expert on playgrounds by now. She has always
    loved them. How wonderful that New Zealand is full of playgrounds. She was a brave
    girl to ride in gondolas without fear!

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