As a curly haired, chubby cheeked 10-year-old I assumed my parents knew and had experienced everything in the whole world. In my mind, they were the coolest for it. It wasn’t until my late teens that I realized my mom and dad might still have their own Bucket Lists, separate from each other.
One of my dad’s bucket list items, from a very young age, was visiting Australia. In 2012 my parents came to Melbourne to visit me for the first time so I like to think I helped my dad cross that one off the list. He’s crossed it out so many times now his poor notebook has probably ripped. Flying in a helicopter was also on the list for him.
While planning our Queenstown trip, people kept telling my mom that we had to do the helicopter flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound. To make a very long (funny-now, frustrating-then) story short: my mom succumbed to peer pressure and signed us up. Hours later she tried to cancel. She fought but tickets were non-refundable. She spent the entire night thinking up terrible excuses. When we got to the launch pad the next day she tried to stay behind, but we forced her into the helicopter.
We flew from Queenstown, through snow-capped mountains, over disturbingly blue lakes and landed on a glacier. We then flew through the fjords of Milford Sound, past jaw dropping waterfalls (and lots of ice falls) and landed on the pristine coastline of the Tasman Sea.
The views were incredible but the best part was watching my dad taking it all in. He does it quietly, with a slight smile that triples in size once he snaps back to reality. What my mom is thinking is never a secret because she shares it immediately:
“This is the best thing ever!”
“How much would a helicopter cost?”
“Can you tell the pilot to stay away from the mountains.”
“I can’t believe I was going to stay back”.
At breakfast the next morning my mom, confident and proud, pronounced the helicopter ride to be “one of her favorite experience of all her life”. My dad smiled in complete agreement.