In January I sold my little yellow car to someone who fell in love with it because it was yellow.  Exactly the reason I bought it.  So after we’d had a cup of tea and done the change of ownership online, I watched as she drove off and felt very happy. The little yellow car was in good hands.

First I had to work out how I would do the food shopping.  A friend took me to do a large shop before Christmas and then another friend offered to take me any Monday I want to go. Another friend is taking me to the monthly foot massage that I love.  I can walk up Main Street and get cash, walk to the library, the medical centre, the pharmacy,  but for anything further afield I have to organise transport or catch the bus.

There’s a local bus service. I have a senior card. So it should be straightforward if I want to go to Paraparaumu or Waikanae. I have to accept that what might have taken me an hour might now take over three. This is a big chunk of writing time so I’m not happy about that.

However, like someone who sticks a reluctant toe in the water of a very peaceful stream, then dives into the choppy waves slapping against the rocks by a waterfall, I am choosing to sit on a bus for hours and hours when, on Thursday,  I catch an intercity bus from Otaki to Auckland for the Samesame but Different Festival. The festival is part of Auckland Pride Week and I’m happy to be part of it. I’m also looking forward to the concert by 80s women musicians.

I chose to travel by bus because I like seeing the country and because I want to check how I go on a long bus trip. In any case no other form of transport stops at Otaki except the Capital Connection train which stops here at around 7.15am and returns around 6.15pm.  .  Organising catching a plane or a train just makes you feel tired before you even start on the trip. And yes I know that in the time it takes the bus to get from Otaki to Auckland I could fly to San Francisco.

Its going to be interesting. There’s the getting on and off the bus, managing the toilet/cafe stops, using the stick that Marilyn gave me.  I don’t need the stick at home or around Otaki but I learned when I went to Dunedin last year that when I’m away I need it. My friend Anna found me a branch of manuka on which she painted beautiful strange curved lines.  She said it was a Crone’s stick. It worked beautifully.

I need a stick when I’m away because my legs are sore and I tend to limp if its one of the days when they’re really sore. Add the unfamiliarity of footpath heights, the up and down steps into buildings, plus uneven surfaces of footpaths and in public spaces, its not surprising.  When I went to Auckland for the Auckland launch of These Two Hands, I took a stick and Mary McCallum (Makaro Press) drove us there and back and also kept an eye on my stick. I walked across a Ponsonby Road pedestrian crossing in the middle of the night, no problem.

Sticks can be a bloody nuisance in ways I had not anticipated. First its getting used to actually having one. I tend to walk off and leave the stick behind. What I really need is a stick which can be set to yell when I walk away without it. I can’t be the only one who leaves their stick behind in cafes, galleries and restaurants. Maybe someone, somewhere, is working out how to set a stick to yell ‘Oy Renée‘ when I walk off without it?

But wait, there’s more…it’s not only Auckland. Next Monday I’m travelling on to Kaitaia to stay a couple of nights with friends, then back to Auckland, stay the night there, and then home. All on the bus.

Yeah yeah, I know its not like climbing Everest or trekking to Antarctica but it is stepping out of my comfort zone. I’ve done a bit of that before of course but this time once I’m on the bus I can’t change my mind and walk away.

If I like it and it works for me, then I’ll organise some more trips. I’d like to have a look around Hawke’s Bay, make sure the bots of it I love are still there.  I want to go round the East Coast one more time, and I’d also like to travel around the South Island. Maybe go to Reefton and have one of their whitebait sandwiches?  And maybe go round the Catlins again. Is Henry the Tuatara still in Invercargill?

So a lot depends on this particular Auckland/Kaitaia bus trip.

There’s a difference between choosing to spend time on a bus and having to spend time on a bus. The fact that I’m travelling to Auckland and Kaitaia on the bus is because I want to, not because I have to. Makes a difference.

I’ll let you know how it goes…