Road Show!


We picked up the camper van today from Jucy rentals. Sir is familiar with driving on the left, but I am not. Thus I am navigator. Friends, it must be because I am in the southern hemisphere that caused my skills to take a tumble. Also, I turned down the GPS since we are taking the scenic route. Very scenic, as it turned out. When the lovely paved road suddenly turned to gravel, I was fairly sure it had all gone pear shaped. And so it had. We were headed due south, rather than due north. We backtracked but I was unable to identify where I went wrong; it was as though the north part of route existed only in my pretty spiral-bound map of New Zealand. But the road was sure pretty.

Fortunately, before the navigation debacle, we had visited the Kauri Museum, a place I didn’t want to miss. Kauri is a type of tree. A most magnificent, prehistoric looking tree. Actually, it looks just like the trees children draw–straight trunk, unlikely looking branches, and fluffy green leaf clouds. There is one here that is over 2000 years old. Naturally I spent nearly as much time in the gift shop as I did viewing the exhibits (which were fabulous and included lots of specimens, furniture, a slow-motion sawmill, old films, and loud-mouthed children running barefoot through the place). I talked Sir into buying me a hand-turned bowl made of Kauri.

Our final destination was Paihia, the largest town in the Bay of Islands area, and we arrived some hours behind schedule. Oops. We pulled the camper van into a holiday spot just south of the town and commenced trying to settle in. Previous to this we had been coddled in hotels and resorts and I do not know by what stretch Sir thought he was a camper, because the last disastrous outdoor experience was in Mendocino in 1990.

The camper is pretty self-contained except there is no space for clothing, cameras, knitting, guitars, sports gear, etc. In order to cook, we had to put the suitcases on the grass and pull out the camp chairs. Then movements had to be coordinated such that the fridge did not need to be opened when the stove was on, and the upper cupboard was closed when removing pans below. I have many bruises on my head–I’m a slow learner. If you are outside the van, you can only see 3/4 of the person cooking; conversely, if you are on kitchen duty, you have to bend down to say something to the person outside (and try not to clonk your head on the way back up). Passing out the plates with food on them is a delicate balancing act.

To go to sleep, we had to find our nightclothes in the suitcases we had put on the grass, go into the van and change, stand outside in those garments, load the cases back in, pull out the bed, stand in a very small area trapped between cases and bed, make up the bed, climb onto it, fill the space in which you had been standing with the last piece of the bed, and then realize you hadn’t brushed your teeth.

I’m betting that Sir’s limit is about 2 nights before we’re in a motel.

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