Having established the house was not flame-grilled spicy Cajun flavour, we struck out for South Island last Wednesday morning.
The convalescent car was loaded down with the essentials: one dog, a box of unspecified kitchen utensils, the waterblaster, two flatscreen computer monitors, three laptops, a coolbox full of pickles, the bright blue clamshell paddling pool (because you never know when your feet will get unbearably hot on a roadtrip) and the trailer stacked with Husband’s two KTM dirtbikes.
We had a non-refundable booking on the 18:25 Interislander ferry, so left The Outlaws’ house in Mount Wellington at 07:30. By our calculations, as long as we averaged 75kph – a conservative bordering on insulting estimate for Husband’s style of driving – this was PLENTY OF TIME to drive 660km and allow for snack stops, beverages, lunch, some leisurely sight-seeing, walking the dog and (of course) paddling.
The only downside was what to do with ourselves when we arrived far too early for the latest check-in of 17:30.
Another paddle, perhaps.
See? That’s the beauty of transportable paddling pools.
Now, unfortunately, what our calculations did not account for was kilometres of road works along the SH1. Another unforeseen variable: the diversion through Palmerston North during rush hour. Also Andrew’s shopping spree at Repco, and the pit-stop for a dash of spot welding on the trailer.
So, the trailer. When we first moved to Waitakere, we acquired this accoutrement to denote our status as Westies (the others were: wearing thermals under t-shirts, making fashion statements with fleece, and wiping our noses on our sleeves). We bought it on Trademe – where else? – and considered it a grand investment until we discovered the frame was riddled with rust.
At least this gave Husband an opportunity to weld with purpose as opposed to practising his MIG welder on random pieces of scrap metal lying around the place, but even after A LOT of practice, the trailer was still somewhat short of a heavy-duty industrial-standard towing apparatus.
Andrew originally intended to transport the two KTM dirt bikes AND his Honda road bike on the trailer. When he tested this arrangement, apart from the trailer being too small to physically accommodate three snorting motorbikes, the weight of the Honda alone – over 220kg, or about as heavy as a baby hippo with an unchecked appetite for water lilies– made the trailer bed sit on the axle stops.
Andrew asked MarkJ if he could leave the Honda at his place.
Just south of Auckland, Andrew decided it was the ideal time to start worrying about the trailer’s unsteady gait. Since he was already aware of this, I can only presume he was bored. The previous night, I had followed in the MR2 as Husband towed the trailer behind the Surf; I submitted a full report on the trailer’s vigorous lean to the left and tendency to weave around the road independent of the car. On occasion, it actually looked like the trailer was attempting to overtake the towing vehicle. And Husband can’t have failed to have noted the ‘BANG!’ whenever the trailer negotiated an obstacle e.g. a leaf, crisp packet, piece of gravel etc.
In other words, I’m not sure why the trailer demanded his attention more than – say – the shocking state of Repco’s customer service, or the ever diminishing range of BP Connect’s sandwiches, or cyclists victimised by lorries, or whether New Zealand is really as environmentally friendly as advertised.
Anyway, during a practical expression of fretting, Husband discovered a crack in the trailer’s suspension arm. It appeared to be getting steadily worse. We stopped to have it welded, but the gap reopened within 50km.
By now well behind schedule, we had no option but to carry on. For the rest of the trip, it seemed entirely likely that the trailer would disintegrate, most probably at 100kph.
By the time we hit Taupo, it was obvious there would be no paddling in the Interislander terminal carpark.
When we were diverted to Palmerston North, we knew we were officially Extremely Late.
“We’re not going to make it,” said Andrew cheerfully.
“Look, we’ll be there around 17:55-”
“They won’t let us on,” asserted Andrew confidently.
“Oh, come on! It’s a full half hour before the ferry sails! D’you think I should phone Interislander-”
“For what? Tell them to hold the ferry for us? PaHA!”
“NO, YOU BERK! TO TELL THEM WE’RE ON OUR WAY AND NOT GIVE OUR SLOT TO SOMEONE ELSE!” I said, even more shrilly than the sentiment comes across in print.
“Nah, waste of time.”
Husband flogged the car into Wellington. By driving slightly above the legal limit, we arrived at the Interislander terminal at 17:52. The man at the check-in booth didn’t even reprimand us; no pithy comments as to our presence relative to check-in time. He didn’t even laconically suggest that we were ‘cutting it a bit fine’.
When I got to the ferry lounge, I just burst into tears. There was wailing (muted).
We finally arrived at the house – late – although for the last few kilometres I think we dragged the trailer rather than towed it.