AH, holidays, don’t we love ’em?
The dream of getting away. The promise of escape.
The prospect of rest and relaxation.
Reads a bit like the The Shawshank Redemption now that I think about it.
But before we enjoy holidays, we often have to endure getting there.
The anxiety of packing. The stress of fitting it all in the boot. The eight-hour drive to the Queensland border – or wherever you might have to drive eight hours to.
It’s not long before that can start to read like, “I’m over this already’’.
The drive has to be a long way because the best trips are always epic.
And it has to be done in a day so that the limited amount of time you have before you have to drive back is already making you wonder whether it’s worth the effort.
Only in that way can you truly savour getting on the road.
Packing can be an issue.
Some people think you should take more than just a toothbrush and shaver. And there’s only ever one winner in that debate.
Fitting the spoils of that victory into a standard boot can be challenging.
Modern automobile design fixates a lot on accommodating the engine.
In my humble opinion, more time should be devoted to expanding the boot. That way all that extra stuff you pack might fit. No doubt, people would start packing more. But at least you’d feel like you were in with a winning chance.
Perhaps the tetchiness of packing the boot has something to do with getting up before dawn. They say it’s always darkest.
And if you’ve ever packed a boot at that time of day, you’ll know why.
It’s called the sound of ignition. Cranking it up. HR huff ’n’ puff.
I’m sure even the Dalai Lama has little hissy fits when the toiletries bag won’t fit in the last possible bit of space beneath the boot hinge when you’ve exhausted all other potential cram spots, thus requiring a total repack.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nor was it constructed by meditating, although it might help if you gave it a bit of thought.
Sometimes you’ve just got to roll up the sleeves (of your pyjamas) and make like Lleyton Hewitt fighting his way through a five-setter in the garage. C’monnnnnn!!!!!
Kerry Packer was, by all accounts, a grade-one crank. But he got things done.
You may in no way resemble Packer’s personal wealth profile, but when it comes to deep-seated emotional issues, packing the boot is one of the great levellers.
I’ve been reading a book about superstar footballer Lionel Messi lately.
By all accounts, he is a very cool customer.
Blessed with great anticipation.
Able to raise the levels of those around him.
When I pack the boot, I raise the levels of those around me too. Anxiety levels.
Nothing that a good squish, a mild profanity, a repack, another squish and so on won’t fix.
All grace under fire.
But let he who has not crammed the first suitcase throw the first “tch tch’’.
Not that we had to get up before dawn.
It just helps if you’re driving to the Queensland border.
If you left any later, you’d effectively lose a day of your limited days away.
Flying would be good but motoring eight hours up the Pacific Highway seems much more ... I was going to say “fulfilling”?
But having made the trip yet again – one day up, one day back, two days gone out of a seven-day break – there’s no doubt it’s just “longer’’.
Thankfully, the journey is much smoother now that the bypasses are starting to bite.
It used to take four hours to get to Kempsey for a leg stretch. These days you can be in Coffs in the same time with the same level of buttock fatigue.
It will only get better once the pollies get their act together and open both lanes of the new autobahn outside Woolgoolga.
The Big Banana will one day be nothing more than a yellow ‘‘whoosh’’ as you fly by.
Assuming they raise the speed limit above 80km/h.
Things tend to drag on these types of trips, no matter how many rounds of ‘‘What roadkill was that?’’ you play.
If possible, sleeping is highly recommended. But not if you’re the driver.
The driver’s job is to witness heads bobbing around in seatbelts.
Talk about “assume the crash position”.
Make that “slobber position”.
It mightn’t look pretty, but it helps avoid some of that “old school’’ duelling in those stretches where they haven’t made it dual carriageway yet.
Macksville to Coffs, Grafton to Ballina, from here to eternity.
Deciding whether you want to ‘‘get there on time, or with a crushed skull’’, adds meaning to the phrase ‘‘eyes wide shut’’.
But there is a big diff between sleeping and grimacing.
With the latter, you can still hear the engine screaming as you race to beat the “Left Lane Ends” sign.
Still, it helps pass the time until you arrive at your destination.
With any luck you can settle in and try to forget about having to do it all again in reverse.