But, alas, it never happened!
But first, before we get to the unveiling, a little background. Lou and I were in New Zealand. We spent a week driving around the North Island – from Auckland up to the Bay of Islands, back down to the glowworm caves at Waitomo, and a quick visit to the geothermal area at Rotorua. The standard boat trip through the glowworm cave was great; gliding through the cave in nearly complete darkness beneath the tiny lights produced by thousands of little worms hanging from the ceiling overhead. But afterward, too late, we found out that there’s a much better way to view the spectacle by climbing into a waterproof insulated suit carefully adjusted to perfect neutral density and then floating on your back for several hours as a gentle current carries you past the endless constellation of twinkling glowworm lights above you. Ah well. maybe next time.
Leaving the North Island, we took a ferry to join a unique “Hike & Like It” group on the South Island. The group was divided into two parts; one part to go periodically on 2-3 day backpacking trips while the other part did shorter day trips in the area. Our first backpacking trip going hut-to-hut on the 72-kilometer St James Walkway taught a number of things – how to sleep alongside everyone else on a slanted wooden shelf; how to cross streams on the ubiquitous 3-rope bridges – one rope to walk on, two ropes to hold on to – and how it’s much easier to walk in the water (don’t tell the Boy Scouts) than to climb up and down over the numerous ridges that intersected the stream. On a trail to Mt Aspiring, we learned the hard way that it is true – those (expletive deleted) kaka birds that clatter up and down all night on the tin roof over your head will steal your boots if you leave them outside the door. On the world-renowned Milford Track, there was the famous “Outhouse With A View” perched high on a narrow neck separating two deep valleys and overlooking the infamous “12-second drop”.
But it was while backpacking on the Abel Tasman Trail that I had my brief chance for fame. The trail winds along the densely wooded western shore of the South Island. (As an aside, did you know that many Kiwi maps show that New Zealand actually has three major islands , the North Island, the South Island, and way off in the northwest the West Island which looks a lot like Australia). Anyhow it was our second day on the Abel Tasman. By now, the group had pretty much separated with everyone hiking at their own speed. I was alone when I reached a side trail leading a half-mile or so to a small lake beloved by the Kiwis as the place for nude bathing. Naturally I was interested in seeing all of the local scenery so I dropped my pack and headed up the side trail. I just arrived at the lake when I ran into a very obnoxious woman, a local newspaper reporter who had attached herself to our group for “publicity” purposes. At the far end of the lake, as advertised, a young Kiwi couple were enjoying the water au naturel.
“Go on in,” the newspaper lady advised me. Naturally I demurred. “I just got out,” she said, “You really have to try it!” and she headed off back down the trail. So I figured why not? It’s pretty warm and the water will certainly feel good. So I got undressed, carefully avoiding looking at the couple playing at the other end of the lake (she was really good looking, I don’t remember him so much). I just started into the lake when I heard a clicking noise behind me and turned to find that the damn photographer was busy taking pictures of me. Naturally I was somewhat taken aback. But she brushed my protest aside. “Just smile nice,” she said, “And I’ll make you the centerfold in Modern Maturity magazine!”
Contributed by: Bill Stanley
Reprinted with permission from the “Marquette Quarterly”
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