When Bad Weather Happens To Good Travelers
“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.” Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat
I’m a planner. When I plan a trip, I research the weather and I try to travel when the weather in that country is great. I have always had good weather luck. The bad weather usually clears up before I arrive or begins after I leave. Until now. I just returned from a road trip through New Zealand. It is really the best way to see New Zealand. Whether you are staying in a different hotel every night, camping or driving a motor home, as long as you can drive on the opposite side of the road, it’s the way to go. (Tongariro National Park)
The first half of the trip was great. (Hawkes Bay)
It was unseasonably cold for a New Zealand summer but sunny and beautiful.(Marlborough)
We had the ten-hour drive detour because of the damage from the Kaikoura earthquake (me after ten hours in Methven) .
I’m not a great passenger or driver so road trip were not words in my vocabulary.
Music helped. Prepare your playlists beforehand. Stretching and peeing every time you have a rest stop is useful. Your body will thank you later. Bring food, snacks and water with you. I’m always prepared to be the lifesaver in a threatening situation. Work out your anger before you sit in a van for two to four weeks. You don’t want it stuck in your head. If being a whiner is your normal state, try to get it under control. The thing about being in a van for ten hours is that you are doing something, but you aren’t really doing anything. (Canterbury)
The great part of road trips is that every day is different. Tomorrow brings new landscapes, new towns, new attractions, and new hotel rooms. (Lake Tecapo)
We drove the next day for several hours to Mount Cook. I was looking forward to taking a helicopter to the top of that glacier. I was ready. I had my glacier hiking gear which I lugged from Los Angeles. The next morning it was raining, windy, and very foggy.
It was not the kind of rain that was going to clear up in an hour. It was animals lining up in pairs rain. This was only the beginning. It rained for the next several days. There was snow on the mountains in summer. Activities were canceled. We kept driving.
New Zealand is all about outdoor adrenalin rush activities. There aren’t a lot of museums on the road and if there are any, they are closed. It is not fun driving for hours looking at nothing but rain and fog. There aren’t a lot of photographic pit stops. Having ice-cream blended with fresh fruit served by a cute guy was the highlight of the day. (Cromwell- the fruit bowl of New Zealand)
Life’s trials will test you and shape you. When I got to Queenstown after two wet days of driving, I was riding up a mountain in a gondola with a Swiss mother and daughter. I was cold, wet and depressed. The last thing that I wanted to be doing was still sitting. They were smiling.” Why are you smiling?,” I asked. ”We are on holidays. We are having fun. We are happy.”
They were right. Optimism is a choice. It was funny, laughing about the road food, weather and the fact that everything was closed most of the time. Those are the travel stories. I got off the gondola. The view of Queenstown is magical and the rain gives it an other worldly middle earth quality. It took my breath away.
At the top of the mountain, far away from the US was a Jelly Belly store. For those of you who don’t know me, Jelly Bellys are my favorite candy. I never leave the country without them but they quickly run out. It was one of those stores with individual flavors that you can mix and match. I took it as a sign from God to get my act together. They were right. I was on holiday – just different from what I planned. I carefully picked thirteen flavors (They were in packages). The girl told me that if I picked seven more it would be almost the same price (which was high for Jelly Bellys). I can’t resist a deal but I also knew I would make myself sick. I saw two little boys and told them it was their lucky day and to choose seven packets of Jelly Bellies. They ran into the store. Their grandparents followed and I explained why I did it. They laughed and the whole family started telling me things they loved to do there when it was raining.
I walked back from the gondola to the hotel in the rain. It was Queenstown, full of young adventure seeking people and everything was open late. I found myself in front of Fergburger – a Queenstown hamburger institution and got in the queue. I forgot for a minute how lucky I was to be in New Zealand and about to have the famous Fergburger. Rain will do that to you if you let it.