When the Polynesians first arrived on these islands in their fleets of
carved wooden canoes, they called this place the “Land of the Long
Beautiful as that name sounds, when my friend Daryl Stewart and I began
planning our trip to New Zealand, we hoped this name might not come true
during our stay. It’s almost 10,000 miles from Washington DC to
isolated nation in the world. We hoped the weather would cooperate
But as I left the U.S., weather wasn’t topping my list of concerns.
In fact, I should have predicted this was going to be a rather unusual
vacation from the beginning! For the first time in all my travels
sniffed out by a bomb dog!
The bizarre experience occurred as I passed through the security line at
LA airport. I was surprised and totally non-plussed when this big
bomb-search beagle stopped directly at my side. I couldn’t
believe he was
pointing me out. I felt everyone regarding me suspiciously as the
inspector who held his leash pulled me aside.
Eyeing me carefully, the uniformed woman searched me. She
anything wrong. The dog was sniffing directly at my backpack and
“Take out all the contents of your backpack,” she ordered.
Puzzled, I obeyed her.
No bomb, no explosives. No scissors or knife. Nothing
dropped to the table.
“What did you have in here that you’ve removed?” she asked,
empty pack. An obviously senior traveler, I knew I looked innocent of
I frowned. Nothing came to mind. Suddenly it dawned on me.
“I bet it
could be that bologna sandwich. I made one at home and ate it at
Airport while I waited for the flight,” I confessed.
Her stern demeanor softened. Bomb dogs, trained to detect all
dangerous objects, can also react to the smell of food, she explained.
sent me on my way.
However, this minor glitch in my departure left me mentally chewing over
that long gone bologna sandwich. I began to wonder whether this
little episode could be a sign. I have to admit that it may be
but occasionally I feel superstitious and sometimes I’m sure I have
often my vague premonitions have come true!
Could the bomb dog incident be a preamble to what might lie ahead? What
else might surface as I explored this faraway country with my friend
Daryl, in fact, was the reason I was taking this trip.
A good friend from when I worked at the University of Maryland, Daryl
Stewart is also now retired. However, that hardly describes her
life. She is the hard-working owner of a beautiful horse farm located at
foot of South Mountain in Maryland. She manages this 200-acre farm
conjunction with her daughter Kim who is a leading horse trainer
specializing in hunters and jumpers.
With 30 or 40 horses boarded in their stables along with keeping several
brood mares of their own, the two work overtime keeping up with the
stables, an indoor riding ring, barns, fields of hay and the many other
responsibilities that keep the horse business functioning smoothly.
is the most knowledgeable person I know on farming and equine
and that’s precisely why she called me in January.
“Do you want to go to New Zealand with me?” she asked.
Her question took me totally by surprise. I know she has little time or
inclination for international travel.
She explained: her daughter Kim had just returned from New Zealand.
loved the South Island, especially the area around Motueka, an isolated
community on the northwest seacoast. A center of green tea, hops
growing with an emerging crafts community, this village might be a good
place for a part-time horse farm or vacation home, Kim told her mother.
“Why don’t you go take a look for yourself?” she suggested.
You can guess my response to Daryl’s travel question.
“When do you want to leave?”
Six weeks later we were off.