2012.03.14 Running in the Rouge, worrying about the wombats

Written by David Green.


When I unpacked my suitcase following my return from Baton Rouge I was reminded of something I did when I went there to visit my granddaughter Caroline. As I emptied the suitcase, I pulled on a bright white long sleeve shirt and thought I might have mistakenly packed one of Rosie’s shirts. And then I remembered...Mardi Gras Mambo.

My son-in-law Taylor registered for the Mardi Gras Mambo 10K run, but Rosie had signed up for the one-mile Fun Run/Walk. At least, I thought Rosie had said Walk. She figured I could sign up for it too when we went to pick up their packets. It cost only $10 to register and came with a cool long sleeve shirt, and since Rosie said we could just walk, I figured why not.

Why not? 8:30 a.m. in the morning, that’s why not. That would be the starting time for the Fun Run/Walk. But, Caroline  was going to be there in her jogging stroller and I didn’t want to miss out on any time gazing upon that sweet face.  Had I been thinking, I would have offered to babysit her and we could have slept in, but I had not been thinking. So, I set my phone alarm for 7 a.m. preparing to leave the house at 8 a.m.

My alarm never went off and Rosie and Taylor snoozed after theirs did. Suddenly, about 10 minutes to 8, Rosie was yelling at me to wake up. Shower plans were scrapped and we all scrambled to get dressed. 

Parking was a nightmare and by the time we finally belted Caroline into the jogging stroller and arrived at the staging area, the one-mile event had started. So, we had to run to catch up with everyone else. And then we had to run when Rosie saw her friend Laura.

“I thought you said we were going to walk,” I complained at first. But Rosie had originally signed up with Laura so I gamely ran when I could so we could catch up with her. 

But Laura, 8 1/2 months pregnant and pushing her 18-month-old in a jogging stroller, was running at a pretty fast clip alongside her husband. He was warming up for the 10K run we discovered as they passed us on the return path to the finish line.

Rosie and I finished 39th and 40th out of 50 females, and seven males had a slower time than us. Rosie thought it curious that the results showed me ahead of her until she realized we were so late we never attached our numbers to our shirts. They were in the basket of Caroline’s stroller and the chips were read as we ran across the finish...because, really, you gotta make that last dash when the finish line is in sight even if you are the third oldest participant in the race and totally out of shape.

Old and out of shape. That’s the state I’m in—and not just when it comes to Mardi Gras Mambos. I’m flat out pooped out in the Adult Child in New Zealand arena.

I know Maddie is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, but I can’t help worrying about her. New Zealand is sooooo far away! And she appears to be in territory with way more trees than people—and no WiFi.

“Wifi for a minute at McDonald’s but don’t know when I’ll have it next. Don’t worry if you don’t hear for a little while. We’re outside Nelson now and we’ll explore the Abel Tasman area the next few days,” she emailed on March 2.

“Haha, telling me to not worry!” I emailed back.

“In Takaka,” she emailed on March 4. “Rarely Internet so don't worry when I don't write for a couple days/weeks. We've been campervanning. Pretty beautiful places....We made friends with a guy from New York in a parking lot last night and he gave us good tips.”

Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that will allay a mother’s fears. A guy from New York giving tips in a parking lot.

By March 8 we hadn’t heard anything from her. “I am sicker than sick with a Cajun Cold I think I picked up in Baton Rouge. Make me happy and email me something...”

By March 9, I was getting pretty worried. I really thought she had said “Don't worry when I don't write for a couple days.” It’s only now that I notice the slash mark and “weeks.”  

“Is it time for me to go looking for you?” I email. I know I’m talking to myself. “I miss you and I don’t think ‘a couple days’ is the same thing as 5 days. It’s time for you to find a McDonald’s and say hi.”

“OK,” I say on March 10. “I’m ready to call the embassy. Dad says, ‘Don’t be stoopid.’ I say (to you), I wouldn’t if you’d hurry the hell up and email or Skype or something.”

Later that night she finally emerges from the bush.

“Don't be stoopid. It's impossible to get internet sometimes and it's really really annoying worrying about how you're worrying about me.,” she scolded me. “It should only be about 2 more weeks of it being this hard to get internet but you're gonna have to deal with it until then... there's rarely wifi and sometimes it doesn’t work even when there is a McDonald’s and libraries turn it off when they're closed and lots of camp sites are far from town. I’ll write you a nicer email about the lovely time I'm having later but just letting you know I'm alive. And now we're down to Arthur's pass. But I'm going to stop worrying about you worrying about me just so you know, so try not to worry so much.”

Maybe I should just take up running.

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