It was Friday morning, and my flatmates, Mary and Courtney, and I had just trekked into the city only to be told that the car company did not rent cars to people under 21, despite the information online which had indicated otherwise. It’s times like these that I wish I took a note from Superbad and had the license of a 25-year-old organ donor from Hawaii. The friendly woman at the front desk sent us next door to a small café for breakfast while she tried to sort things out. She kindly took it upon herself to call another rental company, and fifteen minutes later she sent us even further down the road to check out the minivan in their lot.
When we arrived, the door was locked and the office was vacant; a hanging sign told us to call a phone number for assistance. After a few rings, a woman picked up and told us that she would be back in the office in two minutes. After twenty minutes of attempting to amuse ourselves in an empty parking lot, she strolled into the office and made us aware that the company would rent us the car only if we didn’t want any insurance coverage. Despite my aspirations to become a soccer mom for a weekend, my desire to pay thousands of dollars in the event of an accident was significantly smaller, so we declined the minivan and walked the hour back to our flat. When we finally arrived, we collapsed in the kitchen and explained to our Kiwi host, Jes, how five miles of walking, four phone calls, three games of parking lot Ninja, two car rental companies, and one chocolate muffin had managed to wipe away visions of weekend adventures to the Otago Peninsula, the Catlins, and the Moeraki Boulders.
“We’ll just be spontaneous then,” Jes concluded. A few moments later, she brought up one of the activities from our Bucket List that hung on the wall. “How about Baldwin Street?”
When someone wants to know if you’d like to walk up the steepest street in the world, there is really only one question you can ask: “What time should we leave?”
“How about 3:00?” Jes replied.
I glanced at my watch. It was 2:58. In approximately two minutes we were out the door, completely ready to conquer the climb ahead of us. For your entertainment, the entire ordeal has been depicted for you in the following ( and highly accurate) manner below:
For your convenience:
For no reason at all:
We made our way back down Baldwin just as the sun was about to set. As we neared the bottom, Jes asked the question that was to spur our second spontaneous decision that evening: “Do you all feel like going to Signal Hill?”
We had already walked all the way to Baldwin Street, and Signal Hill would be on our way home..Putting them together just made sense!
For the record, Signal Hill is not really a hill; it’s more like a marathon of steep streets. We still booked it the entire way to the top, each pretending that we weren’t about to keel over from the exertion. For my part, I had to make up an elaborate story about a wheezing squirrel named Jeremy that was following us in order to cover up the origin of the uncomfortable gasping noises. I offered to stay behind to fight the asthmatic creature off, but the jig was up when someone pointed out there are no squirrels in New Zealand.
We made it to the top just in time to watch the fading colors in the sky. The magnificent view was worth the exhausting climb, and although I was slightly disappointed Jeremy couldn’t join us (I had grown quite attached to my imaginary squirrel), I was content being with my fabulous flatmates.
We skipped back home in the dark, blasting happy tunes, and enjoying the art of getting lost in the Botanical Gardens. Collapsing in the kitchen for the second time that day, Jes took a look at the pedometer she’d been required to wear for physio and informed us that we’d walked about 21,000 steps that afternoon. All in all, that put Mary, Courtney, and me at about 15 miles for the day.
Although our day had not turned out like we’d planned, we had everything we could really want. We had plenty of adventures, plenty of laughter, and plenty of good company. Even with tired legs, it’s pretty hard to not be content with all of that.