Travelling without a map

I’m driving down the island this weekend. I love driving the van. It’s comfortable, high off the ground and has a stereo that can be turned up quite loud. It’s not quite as good at handling the corners as a car but I don’t think anyone following it would expect it to be.
I’d forgotten what it was like long distance driving. You have to be relaxed (so it doesn’t feel like you are chasing the vehicle in front or fleeing the vehicle behind) and alert (so you can anticipate any problems before they become problems). The original plan was to cruise down the east side of the island but after asking for people’s favourite scenic drives on Twitter I decided it might be more fun to go the west side of the island and spend the night in Whanganui. I’ve never been to Whanganui….and I’m not there now. Somehow I found myself on SH4 instead of SH3 and heading toward New Plymouth. It wasn’t the plan but with a couple of days up my sleeve I wasn’t too concerned. There were tiny wild animals on the side of the road plus rockfalls to watch out for so it was quite interesting. Then I turned a corner and discovered I was right on the coast. HOW EXCITING! This euphoria lasted about 3 mins – just as long as it took to drive across the bridge past Mokau and to the end of a line of cars stopped by a landslip. The fall was right across the road. As I was turning round the local fire brigade turned up to have a look. I think it’ll be a late one for that crew.
Basically that detour meant that I’d travelled 120km and 90mins to get exactly nowhere. The sun was going down. There’s not much point taking the scenic route if all you can see is white lines and cats-eyes.
I’ve holed up in a basic hotel along the way. I’m happy to be here (now). The Thai ginger pork from the restaurant down the road was delicious. Although there was no way I could have known about the slip I can’t quite silence the little “If only…” voice. The one that says “If only you’d turned around when you first realised you’d missed the turn you’d be in soaking in a bath in Whanganui not stuck in the middle of nowhere.”
I hate it when that voice is right.


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