Snippets from the road


It is inevitable that things happen when you’re on the road. Actually, they happen anyway, but somehow they acquire more significance when you’re many miles from home; they become part of your adventure.

For instance, there was the young Australian woman who was afraid of the dark, heights, and small spaces and yet she paid to join us on our black water rafting trip. This involved jumping backwards off ledges into the water below, laying flat on your stomach or back to squeeze through narrow passages in the rock, and turning off your headlamp in the cave to float sightless down the stream. She did really well, though I could hear her hyperventilating every once in awhile. I decided not to tell anyone that I don’t like going underwater, heights, or small spaces…

Photographing the enormous kauri tree with my panoramic camera trained sideways, I got flak from another tourist about my “really old technology.” Too bad the iPhone panoramic function he was trying to use only works vertically. In other words, shut your mouth buddy. It’s rude to deride someone for their choice of tool.

And then there was the walk with an award-winning conservationist who called everything “beautiful” and was the walking billboard for the wonder of New Zealand. The air is pristine, the water is clear, the Coromandel Peninsula the most beautiful place in the world. He has a gold medal from the Queen! He found two of the biggest kauri in New Zealand! He rescued people off that mountain over there! He single-handedly stopped logging of native trees! All these are important, of course, but I wanted to learn about the country. The Maori? Who? Oh yes, they made these grooves in the rock over here.

Or how about the time we arrived in Hamilton and tried to park in a garage? We forgot the camper van has a high top and it banged ominously through the height indicator pipes. Of course there were cars behind us. I had to get out, redirect the traffic into another lane, then guide Sir backward while watching for cars coming into the garage. And of course go bang, clunk under the bars again. Did I mention that we are driving a van that is bright green with purple accents? It has 40s style pinup girls and the company name–Jucy–all over it. Oh so subtle. We blend into the hills.

And lastly there is the variation of response we get when people learn we are from San Francisco on account of the America’s Cup. Some scowl, some say nothing, some try to be big about the loss. I try not to be a sucky American but that win is not helping me.

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