Words and photos by Teva Explorer Peter Amend.
Good morning, Juniper,
It’s almost Father’s Day. I know, crazy — I finally get to celebrate this holiday!
You’ve been with us for eighteen months now — it’s wild. Next time I look up, you’ll be 18. They say time flies, and it’s true, but I’ve really savored every moment with you. Every milestone, from your first tooth to your first time drinking from a sippy cup to the first time you looked at me and called me “Dad’n.”
Traveling with you has been one of the biggest highlights of our short time on Earth together. Mommy and I love having a cozy home for you, but while it’s comfortable to wake up in our own beds every day, we know that you’ll learn more about world by seeing it firsthand. You’ll learn about different kinds of people who believe, dream, and eat differently than we do. You’ll touch new kinds of rocks, step in different mud, gaze at unusual plants. You’ll see strange animals, smell new things, taste unfamiliar flavors, and these kinds of experiences are quite important so that you grow up with a heart full of empathy, understanding, and compassion for the rest of the world.
“While it’s comfortable to wake up in our own beds, we know you’ll learn more about the world by seeing it firsthand. These experiences are quite important so that you grow up with a heart full of compassion for the rest of the world.”
After flying together to Hawaii, Mexico, Canada, and road tripping all over California, we realized that it was time to visit a place we’ve been dying to take you: New Zealand. You’re almost two years old and we’ve gotta take advantage of free flights while we can!
Shortly after your first birthday, we landed on the other side of the world in Queenstown, New Zealand. We hired a motorhome for a road trip around the South Island, and explored that magic land as a trio. Mommy and I had each been there before we’d met each other, so it was a special place to come back to, especially since you’re with us now. That’s where all of these photos are from.
Sweet girl, here are some thoughts on this Father’s Day.
Adventuring with you is really a different sort of thing. I’ve slept in alpine bivvies under the open sky, on a pitching catamaran in the middle of a lightning storm, and under the high desert Milky Way, but nothing in the world compares to the feeling of you falling asleep on my chest. You’ve taught me to slow it down a bit. To enjoy time playing in the grass at a roadside rest stop and worry less about our final destination. I’m learning more about being present in the moment, like when we’re holding hands by the lake and walking with our toes in the sand and I don’t look at the notifications on my phone once.
Juni-tunes, I hope that when the wind whispers through your hair, it tugs at memories of sitting on my shoulders, holding onto me as we cruised Milford Sound. And when you dance in the forest, you recall the ferns tickling your cheeks while you ran down the trail at Te Anau. When you trip and fall, remember that I’m always here to pick you up, hug you tight, and teach you how to balance on the slippery rocks to avoid slipping next time. When you jump in a lake, I hope you always giggle like you did when we skinny-dipped in Wakatipu.
Take the slow lane often, and always stop for snacks. Hold your standards high and expectations reasonable. Say hello to strangers and smile until your face hurts. Take selfies with the ones you love, not to just post online but to share in a message when you miss being together.
You may not remember exactly what we did, where we went, or the things we saw, but I know you’ll remember how special you felt as we roamed the earth together, your tiny hand holding mine.
Juni, my heart explodes for you. Thanks for making me a father.