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A Day Trip (Sometimes I Need To Tell A Story)
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An Outing Story  (every now and then I feel a need to tell a story - some of you may too, and I would be delighted to read them)

Hubs and I went on a Probus-organized bus trip yesterday (amazing what old folks will do for 'entertainment' :) )  Bus was driven by one of the members (supposed to be a 'pro' ) and it turned out to be a used-import bus from Japan which was brought down from Napier after the earthquake (probably millions of kilometers in Tokyo, with very narrow () no-armrest, no-contour seats (think cozy but not comfortable), certainly no luxury coach and under most circumstances something you would not want to travel more than five miles in.  We had to cross State Highway 1, main north-south road (two-lane, uncontrolled crossing) and I said to hubs - even though we were going to the mountains (foothills)  - that this was probably the most dangerous part of the trip.  Wrong!!!!

"Tom" had not driven this bus before and about halfway through the trip finally got familiar with the gearbox.  But it turned out Tom did not know where he was going.  Neither did Paul, who had organized the trip.  I did, because that's where I grew up (the only reason I decided to go on the trip - well, also hubs didn't want to go by himself.)  So we missed the first place we were going to visit but I shouted out and he braked hard and the car following (bus wasn't big enough for all) nearly slammed into the rear of us :rolleyes: .  Tom started backing up and the other driver hastened!!! to get out of his way.  We did about a ten-point turn with the bus on the narrow two-lane road and eventually made our destination for the traditional Kiwi "feed" called morning tea.  Scones with whipped cream and raspberry jam, other cream cakes, pikelets (I dunno what all because I just passed by and had some OJ).

After a tour of the gardens and a little talk about the farm (I filled in some gaps) it was on to the next "run" as sheep stations are called in these parts, for lunch.  I said to hubs, I hope Paul gets his act together because we are almost there, but no so I hollered as loud as I can holler these days with my impaired voice, and Tom slammed on the brakes again, with same result as last time :blink: , although this time he could back up a little and make it.  We were directed first into the house for lunch!!! out on the lawn (about 1 hr. after morning tea.)  Hubs had said he was going to "wing" the food and eat what he felt was safe, but I made us a couple of ham and swiss filled rolls because I was definitely not "winging it".  Turns out lunch on offer was  - make-your-own filled rolls with ham and swiss (only ours were better - and we we did supplement with a few of their extras).  So I was able to successfully follow gluten-free eating rule three - when taking food to a venue, try to match what is going to be served :D .  WIN!! for me.  Later, trays of cake and chocolate rumballs were presented, but we had our own little goodies, equally as nice.

I know the couple who have the "run", having babysat the husband (aged 6) on a summer vacation at a beachhouse, along with his siblings, when I was about 15, while his mom bonded with a new baby, and having contributed to a book about the area his wife co-edited a few years ago.  He hates to be reminded of this, but during this vacation he said he wanted to tell me something, and I leaned in and he whispered, "I'm going to marry you one day, you sweet little thing!"  :ph34r:  Ever the ladies' man, Bruce, although you look at him now, this sinewy, rangy man with the grey hair (now where did that come from?, I don't have that).  

So the daughter of the house who is now 23 and gave up her banking career to come home and learn the ropes on the farm because neither of her brothers were interested in working that hard, acts as our tour guide - on the bus - as we set off on our farm tour of Middle Rock.  Fortunately, Bruce has roaded the entire farm (approx 3,000 acres of rolling tussock hill country) with a road the bus was able to handle with reasonable aplomb.  Charlotte is a kick-in-the-pants, a natural stand-up comedienne, (never destined to work in a bank!) and had us in stiches with her stories, but was very informative at the same time.  I learned some things from her that I hadn't learned as a child because we left there when I was nine.  Like they don't get rid of all the matagouri (very thorny shrub about 3-4 feet high and wide) on their property because it provides good protection from snow for ewes when they are lambing (the snow forms in drifts around it but leaves hollows where there is no snow and new grass for the mom and her baby, and that the kind of sheep they farm (corriedales, developed in New Zealand, which my dad tended to favor), while not as likely to twin or triplet, do not need assistance in lambing and actually make a nest to give birth in (amongst the matagouri).

Charlotte said she is often asked why their run is named "Middle Rock", and she says it's because their dad says that every time he digs a post hole for a fence, there is a rock right in the middle of it.  She says her dad has spent his life making roads, planting trees, digging fence postholes, and picking stones and rocks.  But he also has some fun on the side.  Another story.  Her mom and dad went to the A&P show (think a very ag County Fair) and followed their separate interests, agreeing to meet for lunch at a certain time.  Lynn's idea of time is not as good as Bruce's, so by the time Lynn showed up 15 minutes late, Bruce had already bought a microlite plane!!!.  For some time after that her dad used to vanish in the evenings, no one knew where, until one day they unexpectedly came upon a hangar built on a far corner of the property with a small landing strip!

Someone asks a question about water and she directs Tom off the road into a paddock and we end up facing a steep gulley! where we can see the headwaters of the Selwyn River, and later on she tells us that a very controversial new irrigation scheme is planning a canal through their property (I had wondered where it was going to go) and because there is a hill blocking it's way they are going to build a dam and create a reservoir in the valley she was pointing out which will practically divide their farm in half.  Given the benefits of the water she seemed pretty philosophical about this.  Tom got the bus out of there without rolling it.

We left Middle Rock and did a quick visit to Terrace Downs Resort (all these properties are part of the land my dad used to manage and which I roamed as a child) which is now a golf course and lodges, resort-owned rentals, private houses (lots owned by Americans and Brits) and the resort now Japanese-owned but Kiwi-managed.  Because he wanted a good education for his children, the owner personally funds an additional teacher at what used to be our one-room school which now has 26 children and two teachers.  On the way out of the parking area Tom cut things a bit short and we ended up tearing a bit of sheet metal off the bus on a rock.  Hey, not to worry!

Next stop, The Point, for afternoon tea (no, they hadn't eaten enough yet!).  Lynn was trying to tell them where to go and I said to her, Don't worry, I know where it is.  So I got Tom to go straight ahead instead of turning right where he wanted to go, and then I told him to turn left on the road at the top of the rise.  He says, No, this doesn't look right, we're on the wrong road!!! until he sees the sign that says "The Point".  Another brake slamming, backing up job and we arrive at one of the old historic farm houses dating to 1860, which survived the earthquake even without foundations, and has not been modernized much beyond electricity and plumbing.  Here I used to go ice skating on the pond for school physical education, and managed to fall IN the pond on VJ-day for those of you old enough to know what that is.  More tea, more home baking, enough to fatten an army, lovely lawns and grounds, tennis court, swimming pool - I used to think as a kid that everyone lived this way and why didn't we??  Well, we did have the magnificent mountain views.

By the time we left The Point we were running an hour and a half late (I thought the program was mighty ambitious) and it was decided to cross State Highway 1 at a place where there were traffic lights.  But our route took us through the epicenter of the first big quake and they were undertaking the major (final) road rebuild and we got detoured.  After several other detours, much backseat driving from the rear of the bus, peoples consulting their GPS, a call to Tom's boss that the bus he had 'borrowed' was going to be late getting back, and being unable to cross the highway at any lights, we took yet another detour by turning left onto the highway (yes, that's right - proper side of the road) and finally ended up in a place everyone recognized.  Phew!!!  And home, unglutened, unbowed, unharmed (except for the bus and Tom's ego).

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Thank you Neroli!

 

I love the idea of this thread and will be back to tell a story.....

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Tom drives a bus like my husband tries to navigate from the passenger's side with one of those dreadful mobile phone apps and satellite devices, he can be pretending to look at email or textmessages one minute and the next, just as you are going past something screams "WAIT TURN THERE !"  <_<  :blink:  :o   whether or not "there" is really supposed to be a turn.  :angry:      

 

I was reading a story about how these cell phone maps have repeatedly sent people into danger so much, that the nickname for them in the UK is not sat - navs, but twat - navs. :P    

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Tom drives a bus like my husband tries to navigate from the passenger's side with one of those dreadful mobile phone apps and satellite devices, he can be pretending to look at email or textmessages one minute and the next, just as you are going past something screams "WAIT TURN THERE !"  <_<  :blink:  :o   whether or not "there" is really supposed to be a turn.  :angry:      

 

I was reading a story about how these cell phone maps have repeatedly sent people into danger so much, that the nickname for them in the UK is not sat - navs, but twat - navs. :P    

At one point I had to laugh, Takala.   We were at a six-point intersection (on the plains here roads shoot off at all angles) and there was so much advice being shouted from the back of the bus that Tom just sat there, right out in the flipping middle of the intersection, and said "When you have all made up your minds, let me know." :lol:  Fortunately these were the lesser travelled roads :blink:

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I loved your story. And I also think it should stay a current thread.

 

One last thing.  So it's NOT normal to shout directions at the driver?

 

Colleen 

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