In retrospect I'm glad I didn't go through with it. It wouldn't have been a healthy move. But hindsight is 20/20.
I abandoned the idea, but New Zealand still held its appeal as a beautiful place to explore.
Years later when I got into bicycle touring, the country was an obvious choice for a long trip, but it was also an ambitious one - too ambitious for me. I didn't have the money, or the time, and most importantly, I didn't have the experience under my belt to know how to schedule and prepare for such a huge adventure.
Then much later in 2010, in a desperate attempt to relieve the pressure of work and get some perspective on my life, I threw together a trip to Australia and Tasmania. That involved transporting the bike as luggage, acquiring a passport, getting immunizations, exchanging currency, booking things from half a world away, learning new traffic laws, making field repairs, and so on.
The trip was a success, and my confidence got a boost.
I also realized how much fun there was to be had, combining bicycling with computers, gadgets, and photography! It was a convergence of hobbies, and the trip left me wanting more.
In 2011 I went on another long trip, crossing a big chunk of the US. Again, my life was in upheaval, and I was looking for answers. It wasn't one of those grand things where the rider dips one wheel into the Pacific, then rolls it into the Atlantic months later, but it was a good solid chunk of exercise, meditation, photography, and some soul-searching as well.
It was also very seat-of-the-pants. From one day to the next I didn't know how far I would get, where I would be spending the night, where I would eat, or what I would see on the way.
Ultimately, that experience was a confidence boost as well. I told myself that the next time I did a bike trip, it would be something really ambitious.
Life had other plans of course. I got very busy with a new job and a series of romantic misadventures, then I bought a duplex - easily the biggest project I've ever undertaken.
Then I met Kerry. Kerry likes adventure. I believe it was our third date, when we met in a huge parking lot in San Francisco, me on my bicycle, her on her skateboard, and we attached a long bungee cable to the back of my bike and towed her around like she was skiing on a lake, hitting 25mph turns and whipping around me, until the police showed up and ordered us to stop.
We saw The Desolation Of Smaug twice in the theatre, and suddenly, a bicycle tour of New Zealand was right there in the front of my mind again.
And now, a year later, we're doing it. On matching recumbents, but with cameras from rival companies. It's gonna be a Canon vs. Sony shootout, spread over 30 days, with bicycling, swimming, surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, hiking... And OF COURSE, a tour of Hobbiton.
It's costing us both a painful amount of money, but we both think it's worth it. We've been preparing for months, and we fly out in two more weeks. I've been putting in an absurd amount of work hours to earn extra vacation time, and I'm simultaneously excited, anxious, and exhausted.