jen yu: new zealand 2004 - stan

new zealand 2004 - the adventures of flat stanly

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november 25 - december 7, 2004
read about stan's trip
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Less than a week before we departed for New Zealand, Steve, my brother-in-law, emailed to let me know that he was sending Flat Stanley to our house via priority mail. Some of you may be familiar with Flat Stanley (I was not). My nephew, Ben, who is five years old, had a class project to send his "Flat Stanley" to various friends and relatives and have a picture taken of Flat Stanley in different locations so the children could learn about geography. I was delighted that Steve sent Flat Stanley to us first. Jeremy asked if Flat Stanley would be interested in New Zealand and Steve said, "Flat Stanley thinks New Zealand sounds cool."

Flat Stanley arrived the day before we flew to Christchurch. Ben had colored him and wrote his name in green (his favorite color) on the back. Flat Stanley was laminated. It was important to photograph Flat Stanley at one location in California. Had we more time before our departure, we would have taken him for a turn about the Huntington Gardens, Caltech, and perhaps West Hollywood to see how hip three-dimensional people live. Instead, we settled on the Air New Zealand terminal at LAX out of convenience more than anything else.

Flat Stanley went with us everywhere in New Zealand, hitching a free ride in my backpack. He visited the Tasman Sea, glaciers, saw Mounts Cook and Tasman, hiked two of New Zealand's Great Walks, visited numerous passes, and enjoyed the public botanical gardens in Christchurch. Of course, tramping in New Zealand is not without inherent dangers. On the Rees Track, Flat Stanley broke his arm (well, it ripped off when we pulled him out for a photo), but we applied first-aid immediately. Back at the DOC office in Glenorchy, some cellotape had him right as rain. Within two days, he was backpacking the Routeburn Track. A DOC ranger told me she had also encountered a "Flat Stanley" equivalent in New Zealand who belonged to her niece. "Sweet as!" (some Kiwi slang for you there).

Flat Stanley was an agreeable travelling companion. Sometimes he was a little too quiet and we forgot about him altogether, but he was always a trooper and endured some very wet and cold conditions. Shortly after our return to the States, Flat Stanley made his way back to Atlanta via USPS. Quite the seasoned traveler, he was preparing for his next journey. Bon voyage, Flat Stanley.

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