Today I thought about the road trip I took in New Zealand after the ski season was done. I had bought this 1992 Subaru Outback there for $1200 that we called Martha, and me and my now-boyfriend, and 2 of our good guy friends took a 3.5-week long road trip through the South Island in the Suby. There were 5 snowboards, 4 full-sized humans, and all the crap we had brought with us to NZ and lived with for the past 5 months in the car. We had to put half the backseat down to fit all the junk so the 2 people in the back had to share a seat and a half – pretty funny to see the boys pretty much sitting on each other’s laps with bags piled practically over their heads.
We bought a $25 tent from K-mart so each night we’d unpack the entire car, put everything on top or under it, and 2 people would sleep in the back and 2 would sleep in the tent. A very serious game of rock-paper-scissors would determine your fate for the night – tent or car. But I remember a couple nights it rained so all 4 of us had to sleep in the car with all the bags, boards, and belongings – sitting upright. God that was uncomfortable, but funny too. We didn’t have electronics or music (I drove the car a few miles off the lot before I realized the speakers were blown) so we’d play 20 questions about the things and people we’d seen on the trip, eat a ton of cookies, and get drunk so we could just pass out.
It was the king of road trips in a country that seemed made for road tripping. Wherever you were, the next beautiful and different destination was only a few hours away. I’ve never been somewhere that felt so open and free, like there were still hundreds and hundreds of miles that didn’t belong to anyone. We would camp on the beach and by the river, and always had a huge campfire going. One night we kept our beers cold in the river water and made hobo packs we roasted on large forked sticks we found. Another night we cooked baked beans and spaghetti-o’s on the fire right in the can. We found a waterfall, and the boys got naked in it, and they said butterflies flew all around them. We had no plan, just a road map and some flights to Sydney to make in a few weeks. Everyday we’d wake up, pick the next destination and go.
I’ve been feeling like I could use an adventure again, a real one. I want to cram too many people into an old beat-up car and just drive without an agenda, and sing because the stereo is broken, and eat sandwiches made the on the hood of the car. I want rock paper scissors to be the most serious decision-making factor of the day again.
Oh, I’ll let you in on a little secret – I favor rock. Once they figured that out, there were quite a few nights in the tent.