Bittersweet dreams of leaving / by Tori Reed

The second of February 2014 saw me pack my belongings into Barbara (the white station wagon, if you see us, give us a wave) and head off into the beautiful sun that New Zealand had prepared for me that day.  I'd decided early in the morning that I would just start driving and see where it got me.  So, on went the podcasts (the infinite monkey cage is a great way to pass time) and off Barbs and I went.

It's always a pleasure driving through Otago.  The beautiful glacial carved mountain sides giving way to the forever autumnal colours of central Otago, before leading over the gorgeous Lindis Pass which is more reminiscent of sleeping bodies covered in brushed velvet than terra firma than an alpine pass. 

The sun was so invigoratingly persistent, before I knew the time, I was passing Mt Cook/Aoraki and lo and behold, he deigns to appear for me!  (The first three years of living in the South Island I was convinced Aoraki was a ficitional mountain as I never saw it through the clouds) Framed by ribbons of clouds makes it seem sharper, angrier. The low cotton wool cumulous adds definition to the aggressive, black edges.  The sun kisses the ridge lines of the lower hills, giving an ethereal glow, heightened by the ever surprising glacial blue of Lake Pukaki.  The smell of wild sage fills my nostrils and I smile, feeling at peace with my decision to leave Queenstown.

Then I find myself in terrain of muted browns, greens, yellows, like a faded bruise eking itself out on the rolling hills of the Hurunui.  I'm still feeling really awake and alive, aided by the sun and the constant conversation of many comedians, scientists and historians I have the fortune of downloading.  What a lucky world we live in :)

It's then that I realise I haven't put petrol in my car for some time....... over 600km's on one tank. Go Barbs!  Only problem being, the petrol stations appear to be few and far between in this part of the world.... ooops.  I commit to stopping in the next town and putting aside my rule of never crossing the road for fast food or petrol and pull up in the carpark of a pub with one car.  It's 4.30pm and I've been driving since 9am.  I hop out of the car, stretch my legs and lope over to the entrance.  The acrid smell of urinal cakes and bleach fill my nose as I enter the to remain unnamed establishment and the assault to my nose is assisted by the dank lighting making me squint into the darkness. My eyes adjust and I try to find signs of life.... it really smells bad in here.  I am informed by a lady who should remember how to smile the only petrol is 30kms north or 20kms south.  Now I have to break a third rule, backtracking. Reality is, Barbara doesn't have 30k's in her so backtracking it is.

With her tanks replenished and a friendly chat with the station attendant, we're set to make it all the way to Picton. Why not ey?  So that's exactly what we did.

Coming back onto the coastal road was an absolute treat.  The clouds had finally gotten the better of the sun making dramatic sea cliff edges and pounding surf all the more mesmerising.  But getting to Picton was very satisfying.  I'd managed about 10 hours of solo driving with no dramas, the last hour, to say the least was tedious.

But here we were, Barbara and I against the rainforested edges of the Marlborough Sounds.  Just two girls against the world..  I decided that our bond was strong enough to attempt 'sleep' that night in Barbara.  If I am to be honest, not all that much sleep occurred.  Despite having driven over 800 kilometres, the fact that the only place to sleep was over the handbrake resulted in my knee hitting the horn every time I rolled over to get 'comfortable'.  On the bright side, at least I was awake in time for the first ferry through the Marlborough Sounds to Wellington.  Breathtaking....

Fast forward to the 6th of February and Barbara and I are making our way north from Wellington to Levin where I have been booked to play at the "Orgainic River Festival".  A four day affair of disorganisation, music, amazing people and a beautiful setting.  I played so much that weekend, my fingers were raw, my voice hoarse and a handful of new friends was made.  I had the pleasure of jamming with cellists from Germany and New Zealand, bass players from Holland, saxophonists who own chocolate factories, and every nature of people in between.  Everything came out smelling like camp fire smoke, which is one of the pleasures you get to take home.  And I learnt, when you're going to bed at dawn, don't sleep in a yellow tent.

So here we are, back in Wellington, building schemes and dreams for touring.  Now all I need is to find a band to do that with......