“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.”
Robert Lois Stevenson
Last week Tony B. sent me an email reminding me that if I parked in the wrong place at QE2 Park in Christchurch, I would be towed away.
No, he’s not so badly out of touch that he didn’t realise I am no longer there, he had just sent out a missive to a group without editing its members. Nevertheless, his kind thought has prompted me to write about how we get around here on Raoul. I have included a short video of our Monday morning commute to work, as it occurred this week.
We have four vehicles on the island – two tractors and two ‘mules’. The tractors are only driven by people with special privileges (hey! I am one – it means I get to drive up and down the airstrip towing a mower for hours on end, getting intimately acquainted with the music on my iPod). The mules are little 4WD vehicles that act as people- and gear-transporters. They can go forwards or backwards - not too complicated - and apparently have a max speed of 40kmh, although this is only hearsay of course.
One of the mules needs a new wheel bearing, which means it cannot be driven until the HMNZS Canterbury returns late next month, as we do not keep a supply of obviously needed spare parts in the workshop (I know….go figure! I guess DOC has a tight budget….)
It is a constant source of concern that the roads should remain passable, not least because we may need them to evacuate if we have to. This means they have to be maintained so John, Bas and I have volunteered to do road maintenance and we have used the opportunity to introduce Bas to ‘Kiwi Work Practices 101’. Notice the nonchalant way he leans on that shovel? This took hours of practice.
Most of our work involves shovelling pumice and sand out of one of the ravines and then tootling off to find potholes to fill. We have to keep a wary eye out for drooping pohutukawas as they form a virtual tunnel in sections of our small roading network and can catch out the unwary driver by slowly sagging to the point where the top of the vehicle will collide with a very solid tree trunk.
All our vehicles are very sturdy, but would inevitably come off second best in a clash with a pohutukawa.