Rolling on South – Plus Ross’ Road Rage

Back at the end of August we were still in Christchurch. Wyn hung out with a friend from Dunedin (who we’d run into the evening before) and I hung out on the internet with my virtual friends. Or caught up with some photos or the blog. By the end of that we were about ready to head south. Except we decided this might be a good opportunity for Wyn to get her own laptop. We’ve shared one so far which means that quite a bit of a day can go by by the time we’ve both caught up with our worlds. We’d looked a bit while we’d been in some shops and it was time to plunge on in. So on Wednesday we headed back to Tower Junction. We took Suzi and the car, fairly sure we were going south.She’s a dangerous place Tower Junction. Shops all over the shop. “You want it. We’ve got it. Let’s talk” sort of shops. Several shops had lots of lovely laptops. It was interesting comparing the different sales people. All the talk of dual-core processors made our heads spin. We went to Harvey Norman’s for a comparison but by then I was over it. The young sales guy there seemed to say the first thing that came into his head and/or whatever he thought we wanted to hear. Plus he hardly paused for breath. The only way to escape him was to escape the shop. It was handy having Suzi in the carpark at Tower Junction as we had somewhere to retreat for lunch and to regroup.

Wyn settled on a nice Sony laptop at a shop with a sales guy who didn’t badger. It came in black or white but it turned out late in the day that white would have to come from somewhere else the next morning but that shouldn’t be a problem. Faced with another night in Christchurch we figured we’d better at least look like we were heading south so we parked up in Suzi at Weedons, just south of Templeton. The NZMCA has a place there we can stay at. It’s nicely rural and great for plane spotters as it is on the approach path to Christchurch Airport.

With a strong wind from the north in the morning it was even more spectacular as the big jets turned over Weedons for their final slow descent. We headed back in the car to Tower Junction to find that the laptop hadn’t arrived. We muttered a bit and the sales guy jumped into his car and was soon back with Wyn’s new white laptop. And eventually we were back at Weedons and then on our way south, albeit separately.

I like the roads south of Christchurch; there’s lots of passing lanes for traffic to get itself sorted out. With the wind behind her Suzi was cruising along nicely and I had to keep her speed down to 95kmph. Her speed limit is 90kmph but that speed impedes other traffic too much and is less than what all the big trucks travel at so it seems better to settle for 95kmph. It’s slightly illegal but causes a loss less aggro – especially as we get further south where the drivers seem to get worse. I use Nev the Nav to keep an eye on speed. He is more accurate than vehicle speedos and he gives me a warning if I go over 95kmph.

So there I was, cruising along at 94.5kmph just south of Dunsandel with happy thoughts about how good travelling is with lots of passing lanes and how nobody needs to be stupid. When somebody decided to be stupid. A truck and trailer thing had caught up slowly behind which wasn’t going to be a problem as there was a sign saying there was a passing area about 4kms up the road. Someone with a brain could have worked out that we’d reach that in a bit over two minutes and all could be sorted then. But no. To my considerable surprise I saw the truck pulling alongside, in a slow-motion overtaking manoeuvre. There wasn’t anything coming the other way so I assumed that he had worked out that he’d get safely past. Except that by the time his trailer was beside my right ear he must have seen that traffic coming the other way was wanting to use that side of the road – as they might. He might even have been regretting being too stupid to work out how long it would take to overtake an 8-metre truck with a 20-metre truck and trailer when going less than 5 kmph faster. He did however have a plan.

He put his indicator on to indicate that he was moving back to the left and started moving to the left. This startled me a bit as his trailer was still beside my right ear when he had this idea. It took a moment to work out that he intended to occupy the bit of road that I intended to occupy. It was good that he was keen on avoiding a 200kmph truck v car head-on meeting. But not so good that he had lost any interest in my well being.  It didn’t take me long to see that rapid braking was in my best interests and this allowed the truck to return to the correct side of the road and avoid any unpleasant bangs or crashes. I was livid at his stupidity and selfishness and lack of any regard for the safety of other road users – specifically me. I said so with my horn. I said so with my horn continuously and for quite a while. That helped but I was hoping he’d stop somewhere up the road so that I could stop as well and ask him what he was thinking. He didn’t though; he turned off just before Ashburton. He reached his turnoff about 30 seconds before I did, and about 3 safe passing zones later. His dangerous overtaking gained him about half a minute which doesn’t seem a lot really. It occurred to me that all this took place adjacent to where the Dunsandel cemetery is which is where my Mum is these days. Heck, if it had ended badly I might have been joining her.

Wyn stopped at the supermarket in Ashburton and caught up with me at Ealing at another NZMCA spot which was a good place for a late lunch and for me to calm down. The day was getting on and we hoped for a coffee at the nice Whitestone Cafe in Oamaru. Wyn stopped at a craft shop so I got to Oamaru first at 4.40pm and was relieved to see that the cafe was open to 5pm. Except that when I asked about coffee the woman explained that she’d just finished cleaning the coffee machine so coffee wasn’t available. So much for that idea. It seems a funny way to run a cafe.

We settled for coffee in Suzi before heading on to Dunedin in the gathering gloom. By this stage we were travelling into a headwind which got stronger as we got further south. We headed through Dunedin playing spot-the-difference and arrived out at Wingatui at 7pm and were soon set up for the night. After tea Wyn got her new laptop out of the box and we made a start setting it up. We soon realised that even though it came with Microsoft Office which had been a big selling point, the Home and Student version didn’t include Outlook. Quite why students and people in homes mightn’t want email is a bit of a mystery. It obviously has more to do with money than sensible packaging. It was a big disappointment since Wyn had told the sales guy that one of the main things she wanted to use the laptop for was email. Selling her one with no email capability was not very nice at all. I figured she’d be able to use Outlook Express, not realising that it’d been abandoned about 4 years ago and is no longer an option.

Nevertheless, we managed to get the virus protection going and get it going on the internet and downloaded all the updates necessary (and unnecessary) so at least it was working.

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