Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A is for Arthur's Pass

**Today marks the beginning of the 2014 Writers of Kern Blog Challenge. I told you I had motorcycle stories. During this annual blogging event, I'll be regaling you with 26 of them, A-Z. So now, away we go -- Clutches Out!




Two of the scariest incidents I’ve experienced astride a motorcycle occurred on a tour of New Zealand’s South Island in 2000. The trip was my retirement gift to myself, and I rode a BMW 800, a bike provided by the tour company. Judy came along but rented a compact Toyota Echo and became a part of the adventure. This is the tale of one of those gut-wrenching episodes.

Just the two of us traveled together our last riding day before returning our wheels in Christchurch. The route wound us down the coast and inland through Arthur’s Pass, the highest pass over the Southern Alps. On State Highway 73, we encountered a road crew blasting a narrow, curvy road out of the side of a mountain. Heavy machinery, yellow behemoths, inhabited the area, blocking the single traffic lane. We would have to negotiate the pass with only the help of timed traffic signals at each end of the stretch. We soon learned those signals were out of sync.

When the red light turned green, we naively proceeded, unable to see far enough ahead to discern “the mess.” Navigating a couple of curves, we came upon the snarl and had to brake and stop on a hill. Three vehicles were still in the lane, coming toward us! No place to move over! In order to get to a wider spot, I had to back down the left-leaning gravel-strewn road, countering the tilt of the road. After a bit of maneuvering, all of us managed to squeeze past each other. Judy and I snugged up to the rock to our left, and the cars coming at us crept along with their passenger-side tires half off the cliff.

I let out the deep breath I’d been holding. Whew! The worst was over! But around the next bend, I came upon a huge crane that occupied the entire lane. No big deal after what we’d already survived. We were stopped on a slight hill this time. But, when the equipment moved and we could continue, my eyes bulged as the six vehicles that had been stopped on the other side of the crane headed toward us. For an interminable ten minutes, everyone inched forward, negotiating the pass, while the road crew urged us on with wild gestures and shouting, “You’ve got plenty of room!” 

After untangling, all the vehicles in our line whizzed down the other side of the mountain and stopped at the first cafĂ©. Judy and I parked the car and bike then hugged each other and screamed. “Plenty of room,” she said, “A feather’s width does not equate to ‘plenty of room’!” Then we groaned our fears and chatted with the Kiwi couple who were in the Toyota SUV ahead of us. Now we were like old friends; we’d survived a helluva experience together.
~ xoA ~
(Photos from the Internet)




21 comments:

  1. Yikes! I would have stopped and had a beer or three. And then waited to continue.

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    1. Had I not been on the motorcycle, I might have done just that, Kathleen! Thanks for reading a commenting. xoA

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  2. So glad you are old friends and not past friends! Yikes is right!

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    1. Amen to that, Anke. We know how lucky we were (and are). Thanks for reading and commenting. xoA

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  3. I was already too chicken to ride a motorcycle on a public road. Now I know I'll never even entertain the notion. Scary! And glad you're alright.

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    1. Thanks, Mandy, and thanks for writing. Motorcycling is a calculated risk, and risk is a healthy thing. But when the fear is great and the risk life threatening, it's best to listen. There's no arguing with that or saying, "Just get over it." xoA

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  4. a harrowing ride to be sure. there must be a lot of stories on that road. TR

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    1. There are a million of them, Terry! Thanks for commenting. xoA

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  5. What an experience. I loved every moment . . . especially "Plenty of room!!"

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    1. Thanks, Beth. It's all relative, as they say. xoA

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  6. Huh. Having trouble commenting. Hopefully you won'the have a billion duplicate posts from me. As always I end up wanting to travel after reading your stories. What a scary moment. Was curious where Arthur's pass got its name?

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    1. Named for Arthur Dobson, who discovered this pass over the Southern Alps in 1864. He and his family were quite prominent in New Zealand history. Thanks for asking, Anna. xoA

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  7. Those close calls make us grateful to be alive. I've had a few myself... the most recent being the warp-speed highway from Amsterdam to Roermond in the Netherlands. 160 kms. of sheer terror as the driver of the car I rode in zipped in and out of lanes. He said the same thing: Lots of room... lots of room! When it was time to return, I insisted on taking the train.

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  8. Hi Joanna ~ Thanks for commenting and sharing. Yes, I experience gratitude and a new-found sense of power within for having survived those close calls.

    Good idea to take the train when you are not in charge of the lane changes! xoA

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  9. Not fond of narrow mountain passes especially in situations like just just described. Interesting way to make new friends!

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    1. Funny, Joan, but when you've lived through these kinds of experiences together, you experience an instant bonding. Yeah, I could skip those construction sites on narrow passes myself. Thanks for commenting. xoA

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    2. A nerve-racking experience. I am sure you were wracked with fears of imminent destruction and death. I am so glad you're able to write about it. XOD

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    3. Yep. It was a doozy of an experience. I told you I have stories. Thanks for commenting, Dennis. xoA

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  10. Sorry I'm so late chiming in! We were traveling last week. What an experience, Annis! I have to admit, as much as I admire you for your adventurous spirit, your motorcycle life had me a little nervous...and this story shows why! Rob and I have planned out a "sometime in the future" trip to New Zealand's South Island that includes a drive over Arthur's Pass. Your story revived my desire to go!

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    1. Thanks for writing, Joan. You will LOVE New Zealand. Move it closer to the top of your travel list. xoA

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  11. Wow, I just had a panic attack just listening to the story. My goodness I would have been freaking out the entire time. You guys made it through and I am grateful. We can't live without the Day Maker :-)

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