There is nothing I like more than an unplanned road trip. The open road beckons, adventure, experiences, breakdowns and interesting people.
Fifty years ago my girlfriend and I threw some gear into the back of my old 1954 Vauxhall Velox and hit the road.
Two weeks leave from our demanding jobs, a chance not to work shifts for a short while, a chance to get to know each other better.
We had no idea where we were going other than a vague trip around the North Island.
The car was a cot-case of course so there was always that little uncertainty about whether or not we would actually reach our destination or, even, the top of the next hill.
In those times I was a dab hand at mechanics, self or Dad-taught, in the days when car owners could actually mend their own vehicles, maybe with some Heath Robinson affair like the girlfriend's panty hose being used as a fan-belt until we got to the nearest service station.
We were young and did not worry.
We would drive a few hours, find a place to stay, visit all the sights wherever we were and finish the day usually with the home-cooked meal in the motel unit or motor camp.
Cafes and decent restaurants were expensive and few and far between in the early 1970s.
We caught up with a few old friends and some relations as you do.
Back then travel, even around New Zealand, could be an adventure.
Neither of us had seen all the sights there are to see in the North Island, a geyser, Lake Taupō, Waitomo caves, tourists.
We lived in Wellington so did not have much contact with overseas tourists.
We listened to Australian and American accents, spent time with couples who were the same age as our parents or grandparents, some on their first time overseas, one or two American couples where the husband was bringing his wife back to New Zealand to look at the place after spending time here as a young soldier prior to going to the Pacific to fight during World War II.
As teenagers we were struck by how nice these tourists were and how much they loved New Zealand, a place we thought was a bit boring but all right I suppose.
On our honeymoon a year or so later, still in the old bomb, we fitted in a six-day jaunt around the South Island between work commitments.
In those days much of the state highway system down south was still unsealed.
But the scenery was to die for.
Again, big drives during the day, heaps of photos on the old Instamatic camera, hit a tourist spot at night and, hopefully, find a decent place to eat.
The now-bride was not keen on cooking during her honeymoon.
In those two trips described, almost circumnavigations of both islands, the dear old Vauxhall let us down once. It died at Kaikoura.
A walk to the local service station, a yack about symptoms with the mechanic, a $5 fuse purchased, back to the car, replace the old fuse – Bob's your aunty, away we go.
That old bomb carried us thousands of miles, gave us great memories.
It cost me $175 and I sold it to my father for $5, the cost of a change of ownership, after about two years. He then drove it for another year or two.
Family arrived and the cars slowly got more modern, but we always enjoyed the road trips. With young children we did have to stop our free and easy ways in terms of where we would travel to and what sort of place we would stay in.
Pre-booking places to stay usually by an expensive toll-call or even by letter, staying in one place as a base but spending a week or so exploring the surrounding area, bush walks, shops, children's attractions and sights. Visiting friends with young families and doing family stuff.
Again great family memories, usually recorded on the increasingly flasher family cameras, the Instamatic long consigned to the bottom drawer.
Once the youngest left home we then began road-tripping overseas, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Still the sense of adventure. The freedom to go where we wanted and to see what we wanted. Meeting different and interesting people.
By now wine-tasting also figured in our travels so taking wine-trips with fellow Dinkies from all over the world, all in the same bus so we don't get into trouble with the local Constabulary.
The road trip still beckons. I still get a thrill taking off from home in our somewhat flash and dependable red rocket. What awaits?
Road trips were a popular pastime for my generation. It was very expensive to travel overseas so seeing the country was always an option.