Wicked Van also gives discounts for very interesting things. For example, if you walk into the rental establishment completely naked, you get a free day of rental. Apparently they flex the rules a bit and allow you to also strip down to your skivvies at the counter, and you will still get the savings. Stay calm folks! I am not that brave, and am much too pale to ever even consider trying for this particular discount. You can imagine though, that this company often attracts interesting and light hearted patrons, so it wasn't at all shocking to find that renting from Wicked was like joining a secret society. Any time the Wicked passed the Wicked en route, there was an exchange of waves or arm flails and honks.
Now, as I said before, there were so many impressive murals driving around the island and I could not wait to see which van we were going to be rocking the next two weeks. Boy was I surprised at what we ended up with!
Behold the Pimp named Slickback!
And Cristal…you know, like the champagne.
What!? Are you kidding me!? I could have been traveling around in a David Bowie-mobile and this is what we get stuck with!? One side has a pimp, which is kind of funny in a strange way, but the other side has Boobs McGee a.k.a. Cristal, and there is no way you can miss her with a bright pink background, try as you might to blend in to your surroundings. The best part? The pimp was on the driver side, which is where Jeff was, because to be honest I was a pretty big chicken and wasn't too quick to jump at the chance to drive on the left side of the road, although I feel I did an alright job in constantly reminding him to drive on the left side, let's face it, old habits die hard and sometimes cars just drift to the right a bit :) Anyway, Jeff had a pimp on his side, and I had a hussy on mine. I wonder how many people looked over at me and thought my actual name was Cristal. How embarrassing!!!! and funny. If you can't laugh at life, you'll just end up crying. Written across the back of the van it said "Who stopped payment on my reality check?" A valid question.
Imagine yourself on vacation with your family, pulling over to the side of the road to take a picture among other tourists and motorists, maybe your photo can't quite frame out the other cars, but the general idea of the shot is still there, giving a prime example of the beauties you saw while traveling. Now imagine this van is one of those cars in the frame. Photo Op officially ruined!!! Wicked vans, tainting vacation photos and memories across the world! Ha! Life is fun.
With 2 weeks we had a general plan of places we wanted to see, but otherwise no solid timeline to follow, so we just headed south down the coast toward New Zealand's famous Moeraki Boulders. On the way we drove through Oamaru and stopped to stretch our legs which could not have been a more rewarding random find. Welcome to Oamaru, the steampunk capital of NZ. For those unfamiliar with the term, steampunk is a reference to a sub-genre of science fiction, often with a post-apocalyptic feel in which industrialized analog inventions rule the technological world rather than digital. It often also is a style with references to Victorian Era style…remember the steampunk society we saw dressed up at the Greg Broadmore exhibit in Christchurch? A fine example.
In my over-active imagination this steampunk train is also a ghost train, and when the good people of Oamaru are sleeping the slumber of wee babes in their beds, this train takes off from these tracks and travels the rails of the sky through a thick blanket of fog, the daunting glow of red light filling the conductors cabin. How could it possibly fly without a caboose? Magic and spells of course!!! Welcome to the fun inner workings of my brain. I like it in here.
|Clearly it's a magic ghost train. It has a dragon head!|
|Nothing makes me feel more welcome anywhere, than bones and metal.|
|Mad max mobile.|
|The gate keeper. Gargoyles and rust.|
Our legs were stretched and we carried on down the road as I stared out the window, my imagination aflutter with steampunk visions. We spent the night in Glencoe Camp, the first in a series of DOC (Department of Conservation) campsites that we would harass with the hideousness of Slickback and Cristal.
It was so incredible to get use to living in a van, for several reasons. First, I didn't have to set up and take down the van every day, like I did my tent. At most I just had to push backpacks around to make room for sleeping, and I didn't have to roll up my sleeping bag every morning. Have you heard the term glamping? Glamor camping. This must be it!!! Secondly, I wasn't solo in my venture, now responsibilities were shared. It's wonderful how quickly two people can deduce their roles in daily routines of food preparation and van maintenance. Who brews coffee, makes food, does dishes, fills the gas tank, navigates, drives, etc. One day on the road was all it took and the rhythms of co-travel were founded.
It was a smooth ride to the Moeraki Boulders. These rock formations are layers of clay and calcite that have formed over millions of years, and have slowly been exhumed from coastal erosion, to reveal themselves, delicate, beautiful, and almost perfectly round. God's marbles.
This rock was about 12 inches thick, and crumbled beneath my weight with a little too much ease if you ask me! Also note, the beginning of toenails are finally presenting themselves :)
|Science sees the evolution of a boulder.|
Logic sees physical evidence of the effects of time.
My brain sees an Everlasting Gobstopper.
It's been estimated that the larger of the Moeraki boulders took somewhere between 4 and 5.5 million years to grow.
There is a holiness here. You feel it in your bones.