The following morning a cab arrived at the crack of 9:00 to take the three of us to Kea Campers where we were to pick up our camper van. Our trim little 20 footer is quite new with something like 20,000 km on the odometer. Shower, toilet, microwave, cooktop, TV, stereo system, 6 speed standard transmission. We might be turtles, but, man, we would travel in style!
After our orientation it was quickly decided that Kim would take the first shift given that Dad’s back was still acting up a bit and in any event, Kim was keen to drive. After a provisioning trip to the grocery store we finally left the city heading northwest towards Hanmer Springs as our first night’s destination. Our first stop enroute was for a picnic lunch and as Hwy 1 ran close to the ocean we decided it would be nice to have a view of same as we had yet to have even a glimpse. Waikuku Beach, perhaps 45 minutes from Christchurch, rivaled Long Beach in length and beauty and despite being a lovely sunny day was almost deserted, save for the surf club lifeguard and ourselves. Did I say sunny? Julie managed to burn the tops of her feet – the only exposed parts she forgot about – in the twenty minutes or so that we lingered, munching our sandwiches and gazing transfixed at the crashing surf and sea birds riding the wind.
If it hadn’t been so soon after the start of our adventure we would have stayed longer. Back in the camper van we set off again getting the feel of the road. Once we left the main hwy to head in a more westerly direction, the road, a shoulderless two lane track started winding, twisting and turning through lovely rural landscapes. The sky was blue, the traffic was light, we were with our Kim, and life could not get much better. Well except for the rising discomfort pulsing from my lower back. Hammer Springs is a natural hot springs and our campsite – a Top 10 – was less than a kilometer away (800 meters according to our host). The facility had perhaps 10 different pools one could choose from, all with varying temperatures. Some were adult only, some were therapeutic and it was all very nicely laid out. You had to pay extra for the waterslide so we didn’t. Not wanting to take any valuables with us to the pools I put $40.00 in my pocket thinking this would be ample however this proved a mistake as the tariff per adult was $17.00. Our darling daughter volunteered to go back to the campsite and wisely drove the van to the pool. I say wisely because by this time I was having considerable difficulty walking as the level of pain kept rising with each step. Gratefully I hobbled to it and laid down on the back bench. I have experienced back pain before, but never like this. Needless to say, both Julie & Kim were very distressed to see me like this. I tried observing the pain but could not even observe my breath so consuming it was. Kim prayed for me and Julie fed me more Tylenol. Finally I gained control or at least I was able to converse rather than focus solely on this agony within that radiated and invaded into every moment and every thought. I think it was at this point that I consented that it might not be a bad idea to see a doctor the following day. Sleep did not come easily that night, but it did come in fits and starts. Ah, the joys of travel.
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