How Did We Meet?

Several years ago, we took a trip to NZ.  The trip included the making of new friends.  Jim and Mari from Minnesota. 

Since that trip, Jim and Mari have made a point of visiting us here in Morro Bay.  Twice.  The second time occurred this week.  They were in Oceano with their daughter, Missy, and her family which included one great husband and two very “playing in the sand” children.  Being Easter vacation or spring break as some would call it, Mari and Jim’s daughter booked a house right on the ocean (and sand) for a week’s stay.  

Mari texted me and told me they might be the area…Pismo she said.  “Great”, we said.  As the date approached the Oceano address was shared with us and we accepted an invite for lunch (to be served outside).  

Missy excelled in conversation.  One of her questions of us all was, “How did you guys meet?”  

Jim suggested on the street corner.  Mari said, “No.  We met on the train.”  Rayman and I couldn’t remember exactly.  A discussion ensued.  We met on the train.  No, we met at the train station.  No, we met them on the train. No, didn’t we meet up in Queensland.  No it was Christchurch.  

Really, people, it is amazing we were sitting on the deck of this house in Oceano at all.  I guess it is proof that we weren’t always so daffy!!

After a considerable review of surviving memories, we came to an agreement that we met at the train station while sharing a bench while waiting to board the train that would carry us to Christchurch.  I think we met at Picton, on the South Island.  

Mari saved the day.  She remembered the most.  We boarded the train and sat together.  We talked and talked much of the time.  When we disembarked, we head our separate ways without plans to meet again.  A lovely encounter.  

While writing this, I wondered if I had written about our time together in NZ and this is an excerpt from my blog from 2011!!  Read it below.

AND our new Minnesota friends, Jim and Mari (mary). We met them on the train trip from Picton to Christchurch.

Rayman at the train.

Rayman at the train.

Their schedule was very much like ours. So, we invited them to ride with us and take the tour of the Sound, which they did. So, here’s a few interesting tidbits about our new friends. They have two daughters. One married a fellow from Alameda and they moved to Sydney for his work and they are visiting them. Jim has worked for the same firm for 42 years. That’s almost unheard of…and according to my calculations he entered the work force at about age 4. Isn’t that illegal? Mari is a scream. She managed to lock herself into the bathroom near the power generator and before Jim approached the restroom to save her, he said, “Is there anyone naked in here?” He swears that was a question, not wishful thinking. I have my doubts.

Jim loves old cars and heats his garage to 46 degrees so he can work on them. I’m not kidding. 46. I can’t even feel my fingers at 46.

When we were in Christchurch, we ran into them (a very small world) and went to Antarctica with them (the exhibit).


While we were there, Jim (works in IT) spent all of our tea time (we took a break) trying to get a reservation made for the Doubtful Sound cruise using his computer. Every time he hit the “purchase” button, something went wrong. I think it was because he was using a DOS based computer. He did not give up. In fact, he missed the all-important feeding of the penguins trying to spend money on a cruise. And he works with computers all day. Just saying.

Oh, I kid Jim. He was a hoot.

Penguins before the feeding.

But I digress.

On Doubtful Sound.

Your author having some fun.

As we were driving back from our cruise, we were all high from the scenery. Rayman was trying to perfect his driving skills…when a beep sounded. “What’s that”, Ray exclaimed. ( To save you from wondering yourself…it was the I’M OUT OF GAS warning from the Toyota we were riding in.) “Maybe we’re out of gas! The gas gauge shows empty.”

NZ is very sparsely populated. That is really the beauty of this country. You can drive for HOURS without seeing people. You see sheep, yes. People no. And gas stations are even more infrequent. “My RAV emits a sound and it means I have about 2 gallons remaining.” exclaimed Mari. “We are back at the lake, we’ll probably make it.” pronounced Jim. Rayman said, “Where’s a road sign showing how far we are from Queenstown? Why the heck don’t they provide more signs with distances?” Like that would help, I thought.

“Well, I’m confident we’ll make it”, Jim asserted while Mari added, “My RAV has two gallons remaining when it beeps at me.” To which I proclaimed, “Let me read the owner’s manual.” “Is there a car manual in the glove box?”, Jim wondered aloud.

After flipping through the index and locating the “LOW FUEL ALERT”, it was determined that 1.7 gallons remained and that the car would, in fact, alert us in the event of low fuel. Having delivered this news, “How far are we? Why don’t they post more signs?”, Rayman intoned. “Oh, I’m sure we’ll make it. I mean we’re here at the lake”, Jim suggested again.

Then we came upon a one-car bridge with a traffic light. We had to stop. “OH, GREAT. I DID NOT WANT TO STOP.”, Ray snarled. The light changed. We were on the bridge and I murmured, “If we’re going to run out of gas, let it be here because we will get all the help we will ever need.” Snorting and snarling ensued.

Drifting in on fumes, we arrived at a gas station and it took $97 of fuel to fill the car. Does “just by the hair of your chinny, chin, chin have meaning to you?

Isn’t the driver of the car responsible for the status of the fuel? Just saying…now. Didn’t dare say it then.

The end of the story is more heart rendering. As we drove back, Mari invited us to dinner as a thank you for us inviting them to Doubtful Sound. We thanked them but thought maybe they could just buy us some gas (and in our defense, this was before we knew it would cost $97). So Mari remarks, “Well, it is my birthday”…(yada yada yada). IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY? OF COURSE, WE’LL LET YOU TAKE US TO DINNER!!! She had us at birthday.

Mary’s birthday dinner!!

So, we had a delightful dinner with Jim and Mari followed by a complimentary dessert because the meat was too tough. Tasty but tough is how we all described it to the server. But it didn’t really matter. We have a perfectly lovely day and dinner and with our wonderful new Minnesota friends. And we sang happy birthday during the half time of the Rugby World cup semi-finals in which the All Blacks held off the Wallabies…and then we hugged goodbye.

I think they were going to the bungie jumping place today to watch. Personally, I was planning on a major collapse. This involved sleeping in, eating breakfast late, publishing my blog, writing my new blog entry, having a progressive dinner and then throwing myself into be at 7:45 to relax, regenerate and repack my suitcase for about the 25th time so that we can head out tomorrow back from the most southern place I’ve ever been to Auckland for 2 nights, then Sydney for 2 nights and the, OMG, back to LAX on Saturday (which will be Friday for you) which I have marveled before allows us to take a 15 hour flight and arriving before we take off. And the highlight of all this just might be that Air New Zealand safety film at the beginning of our flight back to Sydney.

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