One of my first memories of Grandma Judy was when she went deep sea fishing a few weeks after we moved in and brought us back some catch. For 3 days I had a crayfish and blue cod staring at me every time I opened the fridge and I just didn't have the guts to tell her we didn't eat seafood. But she came over and taught me how to prepare it and that was a game changer. From that day forward I decided I liked fish and Jason claims that was still the best meal he's ever eaten here. She promised that someday she would take us fishing with her brother on his boat and this weekend she made good on that promise. We rented a house together in Kaikoura and that morning Jason, Kylie and Jayden set out with them for some fishing. Except that about a half hour later Jason got dropped off at the dock because he was so sea sick. Poor guy. It was good for me because I had somebody to hang out with and help with the littles, but it was bad for me because there was no one to photograph their National Geographic encounters. But I guess it's not always about me, is it. They called me with the play by play action and I seriously couldn't believe what an incredible experience they were having. At first they called and told me that they caught a ton of fish (23 crayfish and 48 fish to be exact), then they called and told me that they saw a seal attack and eat an octopus. They described how it whacked it back and forth on the water until it was dead and I saw a few pictures on Glen's camera of the tentacles hanging out of its mouth as proof. Then they called to tell me that they had a pod of about 50 dolphins swimming and playing right along side the boat. Kylie loves dolphins and she said the image of these two particular dolphins looking right up at her while they swam within arms length of the boat is something she'll never forget. And she won't. And then they called to tell me about the huge Albatross birds whose wingspans are wider than the boat. And then they called to tell me about the shark. I couldn't believe it, a shark. A few nights before we went on the trip Kylie had a little anxiety attack. She started thinking of all the what if's and wasn't sure if she even wanted to go on the boat. One of the what if's was involving a shark sighting. She has a paralyzing fear of sharks, even if we're on a lake she'll ask if there are sharks. Then the night before, Glen (Judy's brother) was telling us about his adventures at sea and I could see her eyes getting bigger when he talked about his shark encounters, and the story about having to get rescued when a whale hit his first boat and sunk it was just not the sort of thing to be telling kids before heading out to the great unknown. I wasn't sure if she would even go, but she faced her fears and I was so proud of her. But back to the shark...so Glen was leaning over the boat with his hands in the water messing with the fishing line and understandably started freaking out (and let out a few choice words, according to the kids) when a large marco shark suddenly appeared within a foot of him. It caught him off guard and took a few minutes for him to regain composure, but Judy kept her head on straight and kept the kids calm. I thought it would be traumatizing for the kids, but they said it was actually one of the most incredible things they had ever seen. It was the most beautiful shade of blue and they watched for a few minutes as it circled around the boat in a stereotypical Jaws fashion before stalking and trying unsuccessfully to eat an albatross that was sitting nearby. I mean really, this was a once in a lifetime experience that they will never forget.
(Collecting all the crayfish from the nets then they used fishing rods to catch the fish)
While they were becoming one with the sea, we found our own animal encounters on dry land. But seriously, Sea World ain't got nothin' on this
We walked this same peninsula in winter and I was surprised at how much greener it was back then. I was also surprised at how much longer it seemed this time. Curse the weather man who said it was going to be cold and rainy, do you know how much fun it is to hike in muggy heat with a wool sweater? About as much fun as you can imagine hiking in muggy heat with a wool sweater would be. And not sure why I opted to carry my purse the entire way but left the water bottles in the car. My credit card and lip gloss didn't come in very handy when we were parched. It was nice being able to spend some one on one time with the little guys, although I would have preferred spending that one on one time holding hands walking side by side instead of having 50 lbs of Maddox draped across my back and 20 lbs of priceless rocks and shells in my purse for his collection. Jason carried a sleeping Ryder for most of the trip and that dead weight is brutal. It's a good thing they are both so deliciously cute. But we survived, violated the personal space of a few seals, saw some beautiful views and took advantage of every bench and resting point along the way. It's one of those things you look back on when you're in the comforts of your air conditioned car and say, "yeah, that was fun".
Just look at those kids man handling those fish like a boss. And the real miracle here is that Jayden actually ate some of the fish. I mean, I thought it was rough going just trying to get him to eat blueberries. They came back and filleted all those fish then we had a down home New Zealand feast. And it was good eats. I never thought I'd crave you, pan seared cod with a spritz of lemon, but you've come into my life and now I can't get you out of my head.
Apparently only one side of the table got the memo to look and say cheese.
Maddox in his heart of hearts just really wanted to catch a fish, so the next day they took me and the little boys for a joy ride. I told them a short ride that hugged close to the shore would be just right for the boys, but really it was just right for me too. I think I prefer hearing about the shark encounters instead of experiencing them and I think my sea legs are probably just as wobbly as Jason's. When I was on the boat I realized that it was only a few feet above the water and I couldn't believe Kylie and Jayden weren't freaked out more about being so close to that shark. It could have easily hopped on board and joined them for morning tea. We putted around for a little bit, Maddox was disappointed that he didn't catch a fish, but he decided it was for the best when I told him that he would have to eat anything he caught. We saw some seals then called it a day. This was definitely an extraordinary ending to an already extraordinary summer.
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