I love road trips. Which is probably a good thing given that my dearest people live some 442 kilometres away and other people who I like a fair bit also live several hundred kilometres away. I love a road trip so much that for our honeymoon we bought a banged up old kombi, named her Blanche and set our sights on central Australia for the next six weeks. I wasn’t even put off by the fact that three days before the wedding dad and I were pushing Blanche up and down the driveway trying to get it started because the starter motor had given up the battle. Shane was in the driver’s seat with strict instructions ‘once it starts, go straight to John Lee’s’. (Incidentally, John Lee is THE greatest mechanic ever and has got me out of a few pickles and he didn’t let us down this time either). Breaking down is part of driving. Especially when you chew up as many white lines as we do. On some trips, Shane has quite nonchalantly said ‘oh I’ve broken down there’ and I always laugh because he’s probably broken down more times than some people have had hot dinners. I’ve often thought that it could be a good book – an exploration of the link between cars breaking down and life but I haven’t quite figured it out yet. Shane’s a good person to be with when a car breaks down – if he was any more laid back, he’d be horizontal and it’s this casual (possibly apathetic) nature that means we just get on with figuring out a way to get home. Another example to illustrate this point is – very early in our courtship, Shane had a phone call to inform him his car had been stolen. His response? “oh that’s a shame”. I kid you not. But I digress.
Driving. I’ve done a great deal. Shane and I were together for about eight years (!!!) before I finally decided to move to “Serenity Now!” (get it? ‘Seinfield’ reference?) and the farm at Jeparit. This meant that weekends were spent gallivanting around the countryside – Melbourne – Yarrawonga – Jeparit – Adelaide and so on and so forth. My first car was my brother’s and his name was Simon. A light blue Lexan with the paint peeling off the roof but so much boot space. I could, and frequently did, fit my entire life in it and move. I distinctly remember being all packed up (complete with goldfish in the front seat) and driving out of our digs in Richmond and farewelling city life. My second car was more than just a car. It was a symbol of my independence and the fact I had a real job and was appropriately named Frida. It had door handles that pulled out (as opposed to up) and a back windscreen wiper, which, to me, were the epitome of sophistication at the time. When I quit my job I sold it and listened to the ever sensible Shane who thinks that it’s not wise to owe money on a depreciating asset. Kill joy. But I did get a nice little black number that served me well and I named her Pug (because she was a Peugeot but saying it was a Peugeot made me sound like a wanker and reminded me of French class in year 7 and 8 when Madam Moar would always tell us she only drove French cars. It’s also really hard to spell). I even accidentally took it down the Cobb Highway when I missed a turn on the way to a conference in Queensland. A memorable quote from this trip is ‘do you really think it’s going to be 160km of dirt road?’ Yep. It was. And not a public toilet or a tree in sight.
Now I have a very sensible (see how much influence Shane has had on my life?) family wagon. It’s another Peugeot and hasn’t really got a name yet. I’m not even sure if it’s a male or a female car yet. But it does have heaps of boot space and excellent fuel economy. And seat warmers. Now we have two new little people to indoctrinate into the road tripping way of life. I’m steadfastly against the boys getting DVD players while Shane reckons it might be a good idea. I think they should get used to having singsongs with Farnsy and Crowded House, playing eye spy and maybe even a bit of car cricket. But for now, when we road trip around the state, we have the magic little red basket of sanity. It sits on Shane’s knee (I drive because I’m a better driver and a bit of a control freak) and he passes back books and toys until we can no longer endure the confines of the car and recharge at an approved toilet/park/coffee stop before we again hit the frog and toad bound for an exciting destination. But hopefully our days of breaking down are well behind us.