I’ve reached that glorious age of 31 where everyone around me seems to be well on their way to starting a family, including my older sister Candice and her partner David. My nephew, Bowyn, was about to turn one and I had not even met him yet–as adventures afar kept me on the road worldwide. I needed to get myself to New Zealand and start influencing my nephew in wild adventures, and perhaps introduce a few bad habits like all Aunties with a wicked sense of humor should.
Ultimately we all find different ways in how we choose to engage with the world around us, and for me, photography gave me that ability. When the camera developed into a passion and obsession, I could create the most unusual excuses to travel to far-flung places in order to capture images. One of the toughest cons is that my obsession has developed so much that I find myself on the road constantly and away from family and friends. Sometimes that means I miss out on the subtle moments where it may not seem like much, but the subtle moments such as seeing my nephew turn one is a joyous memory to collect.
We planned for three nights away at the Omarukokere Bivvy in the Kaweka Range on the North Island where we could disconnect and escape the madness of the Easter holiday. Every man and his dog would be out searching for that prime camping spot, and if you’re going to do something right, may as well go all the way. I felt pretty damn proud that I could introduce my nephew to his first helicopter ride before turning one or before even riding a plane. There was a brief moment of fear as Bowyn became disgruntled in the front seat as we kept trying to place ear muffs on his little noggin, but as soon as we took off, I think I may have ignited his new life obsession of speed and adrenaline.
I’ve quickly learned that camping with young ones is a whole new set of challenges. As we set up the tents, he managed to crawl down a steep river bank and somehow not topple all the way down. His squeals of delight would scare off some critters, but we joked that it would attract potential Sika deer as they roared through the valley. There were a few challenging times, but the sweet moments quickly soothe them away. I think Bowyn and I have hit it off on our first outing, as I received his approval by touching foreheads.
I’ve been allowing myself to pick up a new obsession with fly fishing, and the rivers that intertwine through the Kawekas are ideal for catching rainbow trout. From afar, I had a sneaking suspicion on why people loved fly fishing, but until I picked up the rod last year and floated down a river in southern Colorado, holy hell I was instantly hooked. Here in the Kawekas, when I wasn’t untangling the line, I was loving the beautiful calm feeling to be wading through the water and casting the line.
From the time we spent in the Kawekas and spending time back in civilization, we noticed a change in Bowyn. When he was outdoors and riding that sweet free ride in the backpack on Mum’s back, he was constantly engaged and calm. But once technology began swirling around him such as phones or TV, he became easily upset more often. To be honest, I noticed that if I’ve spent too much time typing away on emails and not getting my dose of Vitamin D, I too become upset and easily negative.
It’s easy to fall into excuses where it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything we want to. I believe we have enough time, but it comes down to priorities and learning time manage. If I’ve let a day slip away being stuck behind a computer, then I have to accept that I chose to prioritize that over getting outside or making time to exercise. It was a wakeup call hanging out with my nephew and learning to be more savvy with my work. I realized at times I need to put the technology away otherwise I am teaching him bad habits that he’ll grow into from watching us.
In the end, it goes to show that sleeping in the dirt is the cure to keeping the soul grounded no matter how much time you’ve spent on this planet. We’ve already planned spring adventures to keep introducing Bowyn to new activities, and hopefully teaching him the right habits of developing a love to be outside!