Wednesday, March 18, 2009

#30 Driving on the Left Side of the Road

When Catherine picked me up in her car after I had been traveling for 30hrs, I was a bit knackered and seeing cars driving on the opposite side of the road really threw me. Cat is a fast driver and the roads were very curvy…everywhere. Needless to say I was a little hesitant about getting behind the wheel of our rental car when we got off the ferry in Picton, South Island. I certainly needed to get more comfortable with seeing people driving and seeing the road signs and intersections. On my third day there it was my turn and I was ready. It was actually really fun driving around the super curvy roads, but it was tougher in town and I usually would switch with Catherine before we got into any town with more than a couple stop signs. Of course the first time I get behind the wheel I didn’t notice that we were almost out of gas. About an hour into the ride Catherine asked about gas and I looked down and it was below empty. We started looking for gas stations but didn’t find one until probably 40mins later. I’m not sure if Catherine was upset that I hadn’t noticed, but it was a pretty quite ride till we found gas.

They have an...interesting road rule in New Zealand. If you are on a road and going to turn left (you will not be crossing lanes) and there is a person coming from the opposite direction about to turn right (crossing traffic), you have to let them turn in front of you before you turn. I forgot this rule when I did the North Island by myself and each day I kept trying to think of what the rule was, but would only remember when there was no one to ask. On my last day in the car I had a chance to ask someone and was observant of this rule after that…though I never had to use it. By the end of the trip and being able to drive by myself for a couple days, I really got used it and enjoyed the new challenge. I even felt comfortable driving in cities where there are tons of round-a-bouts and strange intersections. I even started looking the right before I crossed the road. What is going to happen when I get home! It will be then that I get mixed up and get hit by a car. Let’s hope not.

*The first time I got in my car and had to turn at a major intersection, I completely forgot which side I needed to turn on to. Thankfully a truck pulled up in one of the lanes and be the rule of deduction I knew where I was to go. Every now and then I still feel a little strange making turns.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

#29 New Zealand Feb 14-Mar 1

I have two friends who live in Wellington, New Zealand. I knew they were going to be there for at least two years and it would be a wonderful excuse for a vacation. Before I left I didn’t even care that it was New Zealand, it could have been Spain or California, I just wanted to get out of the country and have some adventure. Little did I know that New Zealand would be such a great place to go. There is so much outdoor sport and beautiful scenery. I almost completed my ten new things just on this trip and I’m sure that if I really combed through, I could find 50 new things that I did including sitting in hot springs, which felt wonderful after all the tramping and running I did, even though the bug bites on my feet felt like they were burning off when I stepped in the water.

I digress. It was a wonderful vacation and I ended up meeting several new friends and meeting up with a couple old ones including an old university friend who was traveling through the country for four months and an old high school friend who had just moved to Christchurch two weeks before. It was a strange place to catch up with so many people, but it was so wonderful to see them all the same. I only wish I could have stayed two more weeks, but that is just an excuse to go back to the Land of the Kiwi some day.

More stories from my trip to follow...