I had just had a legal driver’s license for a few weeks the summer I turned 16 when my family took a vacation in our motor home to Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and beyond. My mother was uncomfortable driving the 42-foot behemoth, so when my father came down horribly ill – perhaps altitude sickness – guess who took the wheel?!
As fate would have it, we were on the Beartooth Highway that winds its way 67 miles between Cooke City and Red Lodge Montana. They didn’t name it Beartooth because bears are cute and cuddly. At that time it was a vicious highway for motorists that would teach anyone to appreciate the flatlands of Kansas. But it is also one of the most beautiful drives in the U.S.
I was young and stupid enough to have no fear as I took the wheel. The only fear I remember from the day is that in the faces of oncoming motorists.
My farm girl, no fear heritage came in handy at this time. I learned to drive on a stick shift in my dad’s old ’64 Ford pick-up truck and perfected my skills on my first car, a 1980 Ford Mustang.
My husband, however, is not as experienced on a manual transmission as I, and therefore he volunteered for the more challenging task of navigation. Did I mention our GPS didn’t function properly?
Just like that day on the Beartooth Highway in Montana, no one on the motorways of Wales was injured – to the best of my knowledge. We set a Meyer family record of four times around a round-about before deciding which exit to take, and I turned into a round-about the wrong way just once.
I share this with you because once again Bruce and I are taking to the roadways of another land, and this time we’re doing so in a motor home. We’ll be on New Zealand’s south island, driving from roughly Christchurch to Queenstown and back.
The people of New Zealand, known affectionately as Kiwis, drive on the left hand side of the road. We’re told the motor home has an automatic transmission, and for that reason, Bruce plans to do a majority of the driving. That means I have to navigate.
This trip has disaster written all over it.