When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one and a lily with the other.

~ Chinese Proverb ~

Happy Trails To You

December 8th, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 0 secs

Where will your happy trails take you next?

Life looks good on the back of a truck. At least it did when Ruth and I were sitting on the back on a comfy mattress, watching the New Zealand countryside roll by. It was 1988, and we were on our first overseas trip. Having just graduated, money was tight. So I worked a couple of part time jobs to raise enough for our trip. But happy trails to New Zealand cost almost everything I’d saved just in getting there. So we skipped the idea of a motorhome and decided to hitch instead.

Rucksacks at the ready, we flew into Auckland in darkness and found our way to a ramshackle backpackers hostel that would take us in. Actually they were full. But they were okay about us pitching our small tent in the backyard. Which meant that the next morning we awoke to a symphony of throat clearers, gargling and spitting, at the outside sinks right beside our tent.

But it was all part of the adventure, so we had a good laugh. Which is just the thing you need to do when you are following one of your own happy trails. Wherever they take you, you can expect surprising things to crop up.

Which is precisely what happened on the back of the truck. As the afternoon sun started sinking in the North Island sky, it was as if everything couldn’t be grander. Until, Ruth gave me a sharp poke on the shoulder. Looking round, I too saw the high flames leaping from the mattress. The truck passenger was smoking and had thrown his cigarette butt out the window where it landed onto the mattress. There, the wind had fanned the embers and whoosh! Three feet high (1 metre) flames threatened to engulf the entire mattress, complete with both of us on it.

Frantically bashing on the truck’s roof made the driver pull over and together we hauled the mattress off and stomped the flames out. Then came the recriminations. They blamed us for starting the fire. Then, when that clearly made no sense, they refused to use water to wet down the mattress because the passenger planned to sleep on it that night!

After that, the rest of the long ride involved nervously bobbing down to sniff the mattress, lest any smouldering embers should spring up once more.

Was that in the happy trails itinerary? No. Nor did we see it in any brochures. The fact that the rucksack we borrowed from friends was damaged by the fire wasn’t great. But we were okay and it was part an incredibly memorable adventure.

Sometimes you just have to follow your happy trails to where they take you. Not that you should forsake common sense. But with a spirit of adventure and an abiding acceptance that a real life lived naturally comes complete with plenty of twists and turns.

Happy trails to you!


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