Day 8: Homeward Bound

ligar Bay

The last day of the trip, the family left after breakfast, to give themselves plenty of time to get back to the airport. They were in such a hurry to leave that they did not have time to fill up the car with gas, or to leave the keys to the house behind.

This was frustrating to Annie because it meant that in the car, Mommy was not concentrating on her conversation the way a mommy should. Annie had been talking about bears, and Mommy had been telling Annie about mommy bears, and how they could sometimes be mean, in order to protect their babies. Mommy had talked about how she was like that, too, if anyone was threatening to hurt Cora Rose.

Annie thought about this, and then laughed. “I would like to see a mommy bear meeting with MY mommy!” she said. “That would be so silly! When we get home, we will play a game, and I will be a little girl, and you will be my mommy, and Cora will be the baby bear, and Daddy will be the mommy bear!”

“How can there be no gas stations at all?” Mommy was muttering to Daddy. She was driving the car.

“There are literally no gas stations from Takaka to Riwaka.” Daddy was brandishing a phone with directions on the screen. “We’re halfway, so it would take just as long to go back. It’s like 38 minutes to Riwaka.”

Annie spoke louder. “And then Baby Bear and I can go off together and play, and we can play on the swings, and then on the see-saw, we can go up and down and up and down.”

“And up and down!” Mommy agreed. “How can there be no gas for 38 minutes? We will never last that long! Why is it all uphill? This hill has to end.” The road flattened out and Mommy breathed a little more easily. Then they drove around a corner and started chugging up another steep incline. “We can’t make it over those mountains. We are already on empty!”

“Wouldn’t that be a fun game, Mommy? We can play when we get back. The house can be behind the couch.”

“Yes, that would be fun,” said Mommy. “We can play that. I’ll be the mommy bear, and Daddy will be the daddy bear, and Cora will be the baby bear and you’ll be the little girl? That sounds like fun.”

“No!” said Annie. “NOOOOO! You are not listening, that’s not how it is at all!” She burst into tears.

The car inched up the hill, very slowly, conserving gas.

“I mean Daddy will be the mommy bear! That’s what I meant!” Mommy said hastily. “I just said it wrong! Right?”

“Yes, that’s what she said, I’ll be the mommy bear,” Daddy agreed, staring at his iPhone screen as he talked.

Annie whimpered a little to show they weren’t totally forgiven, but she was pacified. 

“We’re never going to make it,” Mommy muttered.

An irritated car zipped around them.

Cora started to cry.


But the car did not fail them. It drove up those mountains, with the gauge on “empty” the whole time. And just after they miraculously crested the hill and started downhill, and the tension in the car palpably lessened, they reached a sign for Ngarua Caves. The car pulled down a narrow dirt road into a parking lot.

Mommy was the most excited about the caves. Cora knew instinctively that the caves would not be edible and would have no birds in them, so she was only mildly interested. Annie, however, was surprised by how much she enjoyed the caves. She had been a little scared at the idea of caves, but when confronted with the narrow staircase that led down and down between the rocks, she was excited rather than scared.

She loved the weird rock formations. The ones on the ceiling reminded her of chandeliers. They were so beautiful. But even more exciting were the stories, and the bones. Above the caves, their guide explained, there were sinkholes – places where it looked like there was ground, but if you stepped on it, you would fall through into one of the many caves riddling the hills. Many animals had fallen in. Hundreds of years ago, people fell in (and actually a person had fallen in not that long ago, but it was a rare occurrence). Moas, the large, ostrich-like birds that used to roam New Zealand, had fallen into the caves. More recently (and even up until the present day), sheep and cows fall into the caves. Annie was terrified and fascinated. Kiwis, the little birds that New Zealanders love, had fallen into the caves. Annie explained to their guide that she had had a cookie the day before that was shaped like a kiwi. She described it in great detail, and he asked if she had brought one for him, and she told him that she had not. She and Cora were the only kids on the tour.


The rest of the trip to Riwaka was downhill, which was good because it gave Mommy and Daddy time to worry about other things. As the car coasted down the hill, Daddy reached into his pocket to take out his keys, and instead pulled out the keys to the trampoline house.

And so Mommy and Annie and Cora had a relaxing stop at the Riwaka Resurgence, which was nearby. It was more than a 2-hour stop because it was a long way back for Daddy. Mommy and Annie and Cora walked on a path through the jungle, along a river, much like the other walks they had been on. Mommy and Annie agreed that the water was beautiful. They stopped and ate snacks. It was a beautiful sunny day. Annie carried around a stick with some leaves on the end because it was an umbrella to protect her from the rain.

Swimming was permitted in the green-blue waters of the Riwaka Resurgence. Annie’s swim suit was in the car, which was well on its way back to Ligar Bay, but she took off her shoes, and then her socks. Then she rolled up her pants. Then she took her pants off altogether. The water was too cold for Annie to really go swimming but she dipped her toes in a little, and sat on the bank, and got covered with mud.

Cora felt grouchy because she kind of wanted to crawl around on the steep bank to the river, but she also wanted her mother to hold her, and she did NOT want to go in the water, not even her toes, and she wanted to eat the sticks and dirt that she found. She especially didn’t want to wear the hat that her mother kept trying to sneak onto her head, whenever she wasn’t paying attention. Overall, she felt dissatisfied with the situation. And she was not particularly happy when her father returned, either, because it meant she had to go back in the car. The family had to go straight to the airport and skip their final stop, WOW, the World of WearableArt.

But they made it on the airplane without any problem. Annie was happy, because she got to look at the inflight magazine again. She made her daddy open it right up to the page advertising for the Hansel and Gretel ballet, the same picture she had looked at when she flew up the week before. It was easy to pick up where she had left off.

1 thought on “Day 8: Homeward Bound”

  1. Pingback: Ligar Bay: A Week in Paradise – Year in New Zealand

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