It was quite unexpected.
Having left at 7am from my friend’s house post-adult sleepover, I had a fabulous 5 hour journey to Taupo listening to my choice of podcast, stopping at every toilet, market, and cafe on route, and without the “what’s this awful music?” and “you just went to the toilet” and “let’s talk about cranes.” I actually don’t mind talking about cranes.
I was off to a great start. I received two free hash browns from McDonald’s because they put milk in my soy flat white (I know – McDonald’s coffee, bad Chloe, but I do support the local cafes on route) and at this point I knew I was destined for an unpredictable road trip. Hash browns are also not that wondrous for my insides, just like milk, but when they’re free and you’re already on the path to poo danger it seemed to make sense to gobble those up while they were hot.
I also made the wrong turn to highway 1 North rather than South and thought, man I am incapable of functioning alone. Turns out, I am BRILLIANT at being alone. I turned around successfully, and experienced allergic reactions to neither said hash brown or sip of milk #Winning.
When I made it to Taupo I whipped out the new tent I had demanded from Luis after informing him that if he ever wanted to camp with me again we would need a tent built for fully developed humans, not tiny rabbits. The last time we camped in Taupo, I left him to put up the tent while I went food shopping. As I drove around aimlessly at the camp grounds in search of a tent I hadn’t seen before, I laughed at the tiny one man tent I drove past feeling sorry for who ever turned up with that sleeping bag for a tent. Then Luis jumps out, ta-da! Massive LOL.
Great success! Turns out, I don’t need a man, at all. I put that tent up like a tent building pro and only had 2 incidents where one pole smashed me in the lady garden, as I tried to give the tent some shape. This happened because I had used the wrong pole to start with putting too much pressure on one side. Ow.
With an achievement like that under your belt there really is only one thing that should follow; I went for a run into Taupo along the lake, and later drove to the Millennium hotel for a Sav and sat at one of their tables almost on the lake with the black swans. The sun went down as I read The Rosie Project and wrote last weeks post on travelling to the North. And here I am in the South! Intrepid, independent explorer…
Then I get a phone call at 7:30pm.
“I have just finished at the Coast Guard and I won’t get there until midnight. It’ll be dangerous on my motorbike”
“Makes sense. I am a lone wolf. Come up tomorrow morning.”
“You’re the best. I love you, and sometimes I just think, wow, how did I get so lucky? You’re amazing! The day I marry you is going to better than if I received all the motorbikes in the world on the back of a yacht presented to me by Bear Grylls,” I thought I heard him say.
Then I went into total independent woman mode strutting my independent ass back to the car and booked myself a table for 1 at the Hilton.
“You’re on your own?”
“Mam, I am going to give you the best table in the restaurant”
“Why, thank you. How kind. See you in 10”
The nice German waitress gave me a prime viewing seat for the last of the sunset as it went down behind the mountains. It turns out, you get extra special service for being alone! She even offered me one of her male colleagues for company. Totally worth, sometimes, being alone; ZERO pressures to have a good time, have an interesting convo, or feel financial angst as you offer to split the bill.
So I ate, and read, and drank wine while onlookers quickly stared back down as I caught them wondering why I would be alone on the outskirts of Taupo. Had I been stood up? Ha! No. I was CAMPING ALONE LIKE AN INTREPID EXPLORER IN THE OUTBACK NEW ZEALAND [except I was in Taupo, which is a little on the outskirts of a big town surrounded by friendly families and couples who told their children to stop talking at 10pm].
It was silent, and only once did the idea of someone creeping into my tent cross my mind [especially with the sound of youths donuting on the road]. I laid there, wrapped in my hoodie and duvet, reading The Rosie Effect with my C light (for Chloe…) and phone torch excited to be achieving a night in the wilderness.
After a successful nights sleep escaping the night time creepers, Luis turned up to all of my womanly independence. It’s now customary to camp alone every 6 months forever more. When there are children, he may look after them for the weekend, and we can take turns in what I have now learned to be an important, liberating time for some peace and tranquility all to yourself. Try it if you can! It’s quite spectacular.