“Breaker, breaker, do you read me?”

Have you ever watched those American or maybe Aussie doco/reality TV things where the main characters are truckies traversing the countryside and meeting deaths door but thanks to their resilience and expertise they live to tell the tale. They are usually presented in a nail biting context so viewer is left cliffhanging at ad breaks and then they all end up back at the depot reliving the event with their mates.

Wellllll…Gilbert & I headed off down South with our little yard truck and a tandem hitched on a buying trip and we were laughing at the phrases and ways these were presented…then we had our own little death defying moment, (not really) and on the way home were in fits of laughter as we turned it in one of those docos. Please excuse gross exaggerations and in no way at anytime did we ACTUALLY fear for our lives, except maybe when the earthquake struck…

…They were heading South with a truck and trailer unit and this was going to be a real long haul with little sleep as people were depending on that load to be back by Tuesday Night. Pressure was on as they hit the highway to make good time so a thermos and sandwich provided sustenance and the music blared as they made their way down the Island. Breaking News let them know Cyclone Harry was on its way. Could they do this trip if the Cyclone hit the country as predicted? They’d just have to chance it. Arriving in Upper Hutt after the GPS sent them down narrow valleys and up long winding hills instead just over the main highway, meant Gilbert couldn’t let his concentration lapse for a moment or they’d both be killed. That wasn’t an option as they’d barely seen baby grandchild no.8 and besides, Gilbert had a spa job booked in for Wednesday am.

Finally arriving there and the tractor inspected it took some good old Kiwi ingenuity to get it on the truck. Time and time again Gilbert tried to straddle the ramps but the steep and unsteady nature of these things meant it was touch and go for a while. Rudolf, (sorry but that WAS his name) guided Gilbert and finally they arrived back at the house to reflect on how bad it could’ve been if it had gone wrong.

When Tricia’s phone rang she moved away to under the veranda to talk to Steve who was organising their next load but just as she answered she felt the ground shaking beneath her. She knew this had to be wrong but nobody else seemed to notice. “Hey, whats that she called? Is this OK?”

“No” said Steve on the phone. “Its an earthquake and its a BIG one.” The wind chimes were jingling violently. The phone line went dead and Tricia knew she had to get out. The building could go at any time. She would be trapped and Gilbert wouldn’t have anyone to make the thermos and sandwich for the homeward trip. There was no way around it but to move, and move quickly. She managed to get past the flower garden that was between her and the men who only now realised something was a miss. “Are you alright?” Rudolf asked.”That could have been nasty.”

They had a cup of tea to restore their nerves before taking the main road that Rudolf guided them to (which Tom Tom should have known about) and arrived where they were to crash for the night. With strong winds and more threatening heavy rain, they loaded up what was left of the statues in the dark (Earthquake remember), so they could leave early in the morning. A bottle or two of red meant they didn’t worry about aftershocks that night and they left after just coffee feeling the pressure of the trip ahead. They couldn’t wait a minute longer.

The cyclone was making its way down the country. Steady rain and rising winds were making negotiating this stretch of road difficult. On the highway around the Tararua Ranges Gilbert deftly managed the gears and the hundreds of camper vans on the road when he suddenly noticed a flapping strop. “We’ll have to stop” he said, but where? There were no stopping bays and it was a few miles ahead he saw another strop was dangling. It was imperative they stop and see what was happening when a roadside area opened up in front of them. Gilbert judging it right managed to get off the road and in the driving rain he surveyed the damage. Two strops broken. The tractor could come off at any time. Gilbert knew everything depended on him. Tricia was hopeless in these situations.

There was more.  The rain form the cyclone meant the river beside them was rising at an alarming rate. Would it breach it banks and flood the road. Gilbert would have to hurry. He undid what they had and redid them. It took time that they didn’t have, but he had to get this right. If the tractor came off it could mean a serious accident. People could lose lives and he would be late for his spa job. He wasn’t going to let that happen. They got on their way again but they would now have to stop in Taupo for chains. The strops weren’t going to cut it any longer.   

They searched to find a place where he could get his load off the road and the Taupo Top Ten holiday park with its exorbitant peak rates was the only option. They settled in knowing if they couldn’t get the chains they needed, they might not ever get home again. Tricia crushed her thumb in the dark night going to the toilet. (I know). She wasn’t going to be much help now. He would only be able to depend on her talking to keep him awake.

They were able to get the chains to secure the tractor and headed off. It was a worry, would Tricia’s talking be enough to keep Gilbert awake or would it put them both to sleep? They got home safely stopping only for pies and quick checks and meeting up with the YardArt team that afternoon was a relief. They had done it, despite the odds of a Cyclone and an Earthquake. There was no wine needed for a deep sleep that night!Image 

Well it was a truck and trailer…I wasn’t lying… 

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