There is always at least one comical, “Day gone wrong” story from anyone who has gone on a big trip. I’m sure we will encounter many more, but I think that this one will be especially memorable- due to it falling on Easter Sunday.
We were heading from Wellington to Napier, with plans for finding the free hot pools in Napier when we arrived. We decided to take a detour to see some cool rocks (cuz who doesn’t like cool rocks?). The signs directed us up a steep gravel road that wound its way around a hilltop, went through some private property, and eventually turned into a quick downhill strip to the “parking area.” It had rained a significant amount in the days prior and so we parked in a spot that wasn’t a puddle. It wasn’t too difficult, as (for the first time in quite some time) we were the only car there. Can you tell where this is going?
We started the walk towards the rocks but quickly decided to turn back… the path was squishy, liquidy grass that seeped mud with every step. We didn’t really feel like getting our feet soaked, so we decided we were satisfied with the view. We whipped up a quick sandwich lunch and loaded up to leave.
The conversation in the car went a little something like this:
Alec: Try not to drive through that mud puddle.
Molly: Yup, thanks.
Alec: Wait what are you doing, we need to go that way?
Molly *slightly panicky*: I’m sliding!
Alec *reassuring*: You’re fine! Just backup…
Molly: I can’t!
*cue sound of wheels spinning on mud*
Alec: Do you want me to drive?
So we craftily managed to swap spots without getting out of the car. (Remember: we were trying to avoid muddy shoes)
Alec then did a bit of thinking out loud. “Hmm…. we’re front wheel drive….” and after a momentary hesitation decided to try to drive through the grass to get back on the gravel road….
Which is exactly where we got stuck.
Our front two tires were deeply sunk in the squishy, liquidy grass we previously mentioned. We tried pushing. No luck. We went on an expedition for wood planks and tried to leverage the wheel. No luck.
We filled a plastic bag with rocks from the gravel road and shoved them under the tires in the hopes of giving traction. No luck.
At this point it had been the better part of an hour, our shoes and socks were thoroughly soaked with muddy water (there goes trying to keep our shoes clean) and we were pretty sure the mud was just getting deeper.
There was a guest book for the attraction. It informed us that on average, someone visited about….. every second day. So there went the hope of help driving down the road for a Sunday afternoon sightseeing journey.
We considered calling a company to tow us out. But we couldn’t think of who we would call, or if they would be working on Easter Sunday for that matter. That is… if we had cell service. Which we didn’t.
So we went with our only other probable option- walking to the closest farmhouse and begging for help. We hoped out loud that we wouldn’t be disturbing anyone’s Easter dinner because we would feel really bad if we did.
The first house wasn’t far…. just at the top of the hill. Unfortunately for us, no one was home. So we continued on. Down the steep, winding hilltop road… to the next farmhouse. At this point we gained cell service but were still unsure who to call- or if they would even be able to do the job.
The house at the bottom of the hill was eerily quiet. We walked through the overgrown yard to knock on the glass front door… which swung open at our knock.
The view of the empty kitchen gave us enough of a hint that the house was uninhabited- so we speed walked our way back to the main road.
The next house wasn’t for quite a while. Both of us were beginning to feel a bit discouraged so we took turns trying to be positive. At least it wasn’t raining! Eventually we have to get out somehow! It’ll make a good story!
We passed a herd of skittish bulls, some uninterested horses, and a cow that had jumped the fence. We trailed her for a few minutes, which was an interesting game. She would try one direction only to find a fence. Pause-look back towards us- and try the other direction. This continued until she found an entry back into a paddock and ran off towards freedom.
The next houses we found were across the road from each other. We thought we might have heard an approaching car so Molly stood sentry on the road while Alec ran up the long gravel driveway to knock on the door of the first farmhouse.
And while he was up knocking, there was a call from the house across the road! And a person!
We both briskly walked across to meet her in the middle with her two trailing sheepdogs….
Her name was Renee and she saved the day. After explaining our situation she jumped right into action. After exclaiming at our walking the 4 mile distance to her house, she phoned up her neighbor Jack, to tow us out. She insisted he was the man for the job because he had the tractor.
While we waited for Jack she gave us glasses of water and homemade rocky road from her freezer. We chatted about the farming property owned by her Father and she explained how the land was divided by section. One of our favorite moments of the day was when she went to take a topographical map off of her fridge. In the process she knocked off a number of magnets and other photographs, exclaiming, “Whoops! Oh no. Sorry…” the whole time.
She even called her pet sheep down from the hill to say hello. We didn’t know sheep responded to being called.
When Jack rolled up with his tractor, Renee gave us a ride back down to our car. Jack greeted us with handshakes and a cheerful smile.
We felt a bit better about our efforts when even Jack, Alec & Renee combined couldn’t push our car out.
Jack towed us back out of the mud, and then up to the beginning of the hill. His tractor was so massive, Alec wasn’t even as tall as the wheels.
We thanked both of them many times and even gave them hugs. We were so grateful for their help but also for their cheerful demeanor and friendly attitude.
As we drove off we breathed a sigh of relief and resigned to pass on the good deed. We might not ever see Jack and Renee again, but we hope to be able to help someone else out the way they helped us.