Wednesday, 12/22 - Narrows Park, Hamilton
We are not dead.
We have not crashed, flipped, or exploded.
I have driven an unfamiliar vehicle on unfamiliar motorways just over 300k and the worst that's happened is I have a wicked bad stress knot in my trap, where I always get them. As I write the wife is preparing spaghetti dinner for our first night of camping. Its gone from sunny an hot to overcast and rainy and right now we're getting the occasional drizzle.
The day started off early, 8:30 or so, packing and preparing to check out. AT precisely 10am on the dot our Walkabout caravan arrived. The man who delivered it gave us the overview, his thoughts on where we should go, and tried not to laugh at the American tourists. He guided me to a nearby grocery store where we left him to be picked up by somebody from his company. I have the distinct impression that he was picked up, got in the car, looked at the driver and said, “Oh yeah, they're gonna die. Hahahahaha!” I would have.
Our first goal was Sheep World. My knitter was very excited about the baby lambs. I'm happy to say we didn't get lost (or destroyed) getting out of Auckland or to Sheep World. Score one for the tourists.
Sheep World was pretty cool for a place called Sheep World. It was about wool of all types, had a massive gift shop full of things useless to residents of Hawaii, and an interesting Sheep to Fashion Shop room talking about the whole process of making wool usable.
There was also a large animal part mostly full of small to medium animals. We saw a possum, rabbits, emus, miniature horses, donkeys, eels, lambs, sheep, and alpacas. Angela got to feel the eels and emus. Emus are big, quick birds. “Just hold your hand out flat and they'll eat it.” Yeah, and not a finger. I played photographer. She had lots of fun. I was not bored. Win.
From there I immediately turned the wrong direction (but into the correct lane) and had to drive at least 20k the wrong way (north) on a bendy two-lane road. Damnit,
This is as good a time as any to detail my issues piloting Captain Slow. I've named the caravan in honor of James “Captain Slow” May of Top Gear fame because its not American and because thats how I'll be driving for the next two and a half weeks.
The pedals are right but the stick is on the left. The wipers and turn signals are reversed and I've made that mistake a few times. Got the wife to laugh to laugh for a kilometer when I tried flashing my lights at someone to come in but instead double squirted the windshield wiper fluid. *salad pause* Right turns feel like left turns and lefts feel like rights. I have to remember the white line should be on my side and the grass on hers. To be sure I'm turning from the correct lane to the correct lane I've taken to following the guy in front of me and hoping he knows what he's doing. And roundabouts are a little nerve-wracking because I don't want to annoy the bloke behind me. Also, we're very tall *pause for laughter* and have been getting blown around the road. I also yclept the caravan Forrest instead of Captain Slow for just that reason. But Forrest was American. And retarded.
We got turned around and back on the course we'd decided on in the Sheep World parking lot. Very pretty. Cool view of Auckland from the bridge. We spent $70 on gas for ¾ of a tank then stocked up on groceries.
We got a little *figuring out how to light the stove without blowing us up pause* lost trying to find our first camp because we did not plan ahead all that well, but a few minutes in a Yamaha parking lot with maps fixed that.
And now we're here and set up for the night. Another long day, but a different kind of long.
One thing both of us have noticed is not-quite-hidden racism towards the Japanese. I'm pretty sure they are buying and moving here at an alarming rate. But two otherwise very pleasant people have used the term “Japs” which I'm pretty sure would get you punched (or karate chopped) at home.
Something I've found myself thinking is, “Wow, this petrol station/motorway/store/whatever is so nice.” Like I expect it to be less nice than America because it is so very not America. Its like my brain is shouting at the petrol station, “Be more rustic, damnit!”
Time to close up for the night. Hopefully its not too cold or uncomfortable because if it is we'll have to figure out how to live with it,
*A Very Short Time Later*Oh yeah! Almost forgot. We needed cash to get our campsite and she (the nice lady at the desk/office/room in her house) directed us to the airport. Tiny little place but it had and ATM. It also had an invisible speed bump that startled the three of us (Angela, me, and the Captain) and make us jump. Funny now. Then, not so much. That is all.