For the first “nothing” day of the trip, things were busier than I’d expected. Rising at 6.25am for a shared personal training session with mum was a wake up in more ways than one. After ten odd days on the road quaffing drinks and scoffing bread, intense physical work threw me for a loop. Her trainer had set up five or six one minute activities that ticked over after three rounds. Bosu ball balance with kettlebells, battle rope, cones and tiny hurdles. It was rough, with the kind of heart stabbing heavy breathing reserved for hard earned fatigue. I only cried on the inside.
Having not hired a rental car for the tail end of the trip, it was pretty handy that Mum had a bunch of golf ahead of her. While she was at the course, we had the car. A beast of a thing, it had all these fancy computer systems that complicated an activity that otherwise felt natural to me. There was a form of cruise control that, rather than keeping at a constant speed, had a desired speed set. You could take your feet off the brakes and accelerator while it did the work. Keeping note of the location of cars around you, it’d automatically speed up or slow down. Watching mum do it, immediately my mind went to potential future nightmare scenarios. In a world of automated vehicles, could hackers gain access to complacent drivers’ cars and make them crash? Figures of interest or celebrities destroyed by their reliance on technology? I shied away from the robot car’s computerised functions after that. Being a European car, the indicators were on the wrong side and despite my best interests this made me flick on robo driving once or twice by accident. Damn you goddamn ghost in the machine!
There’s this thing that’s been happening over the past 24 hours. Since we got back from the South Island, everyone’s asking us what the highlight of the trip was, the part that stood out. It’s sort of stumped us. Both my girlfriend and I had a great time. The couple we traveled with were awesome. A close childhood friend and his boyfriend (who was all kinds of excellent). A ton of in-jokes and compatible personalities made it a pretty stress free experience. We were also almost permanently on the move. It was pretty intense. Waking, packing up, driving three or four hours, maybe seeing something on the way then camping in the afternoon/early evening before it got dark. The necessity of having the camping gear set up before nightfall and the smaller locations we camped in meant there weren’t a ton of big night time activities. The weather also did its best to shit on our fun, which literally and figuratively put a damper on things. It’s not like you can do something about that and it’s hard to find purchase in any solid complaints. As always, Mother Nature don’t give two shits about your plans. She’s got enough on her plate already.
Highlights have been hard to pick out mainly because I went into the trip with expectations of what would stick out. The wine tour was choice, the Milford Sound trip was also terrific, but the pains of the weather were certainly felt. We ate well throughout the trip, though potentially would’ve wanted to do more in Queenstown (weather and budget being the central bugbears). The company/banter was top notch through the entire trip. South Island bakeries were universally disappointing (though I hit two Auckland bakeries in the past few hours. They’ve been doing their best to mitigate the extreme bakery misery). If anything, it’s been hard to pin down specifics of the trip because it felt like one solid adventure. There wasn’t much time to switch off, making it tricky to parse out smaller chunks. Though the Cookie Time cookie tasting like something out of a cherished memory was all kinds of great.
In a few days I’m gonna have all three weeks of the holiday behind me and I’ll likely be asking myself the same questions. Maybe I’m in denial or buying hard into Crowded’s House’s advice, but I’m not ready to leave my past home for my present home. I can get up at 6am all I like, but reality is not a wake up call I’m ready to accept.