Leaving Taupo in the rear view mirror, the large Holden accelerated with a throaty gurgle, heading further south on one of the best roads I have ever driven in my life. The destination was known, even the approximate time we would arrive was plotted to within an hour or two depending on how many stops we made along the way. It was a certainty that we would arrive at my sister-in-law’s that evening. However, the time it would take to get there, well, that was for my wife and I alone. And what lie ahead for us, around each curvy bend, hill crest, or gully, that was all new. It may have been the most direct route from Taupo to Napier, New Zealand, yet it was also a wandering path that felt exhilarating; an explosion of site, smell, and feeling. The car was perfect. The music that played on the radio set the score lying before the windscreen, blurring past us in green hues, blue skies, and white puffy clouds. For us, it no longer mattered what time we arrived, nor how long it took. It was all about the next kilometer and the imagery that became burned to our souls.
Great road trips have a way of wiping clean the hours spent in traffic, commuting to mindless jobs, taking the same roads to and from, just hoping by chance that you can shave one minute off the drive. I, personally, love driving. But I do not always enjoy drives to or from work. They are obligatory mind numbing and take time from the possibility of doing something constructive. However, I did say that I do not ALWAYS enjoy these commutes. See, regardless how much I wish every drive could be as fulfilling as the Taupo Pass, it is with certainty that some days you must push through the doldrums and find something remarkable.
Taking the direct route will statistically provide your arrival at the destination at the calculated time that you would expect. We also have several electronic devices that will help us manage these courses of action, and re-route us around troublesome areas of congestion or unexpected road closures. For the directionally challenged, these devices are not just a want but a need, helping thousands of hapless drivers navigate such well marked directionally oriented signs and placards, always pointing out where we are and where we are headed. At any rate, those routes will make the most efficient use of our time, and if driven with just a bit of vigor, you can even outrun the clock on your mobile device, beating the arrival time but a few minutes.
I do hope when I say this, that I am indeed not in a great minority about my manner to course correct. My manner is maybe a dying art, born in the days when signs were only placed every twenty-five or more miles down a road. When I want to get off the main road, I just point the car in the direction I want to head and push down the accelerator. If the sun is behind me and I have not eaten lunch yet, then I am heading west. If the sun is in front of me and I just got off work, well, I am probably not going to have a happy wife when I get home. But I will be heading east.
When you drive in this manner, you have to have no real desire to arrive anywhere at any specific time. If this course is taken during the work day, just forget about answering the mobile phone. Who ever is calling will want you to be somewhere you will not be able to be when they need you to actually be there breathing and occupying space. It is better for them to carry on thinking you are doing something equally as important. So, just drive. Find a new path. As long as there is no sign saying “No Outlet” you’re not going to go terribly awry. And when you do arrive at the destination you sought, you might just have enjoyed the journey enough to make the task at hand a wee more bareable.
Not all roads will be the Taupo Pass. This I know. That was a unique time in history when everything was just right. However, there is no reason that the daily commute has to be a bore – the daily routine obvious and apparent. Instead of becoming frustrated with the mundane, amuse yourself and humor your imagination. Being unpredictable can often be the most memorable experience of your life.
That is, unless you’re the kind of person who still thinks the world is flat. Then, please, for all of our sakes, listen to what Siri tells you.
I’ll pave my own way.