When things don’t work out the way you planned

when-things-dont-work-out-the-way-you-plannedSometimes the reality of a place doesn’t quite live up to what the travel agent sold you. Maybe you didn’t read the fine print. Maybe you forgot to ask how long it was going to take to get there.

That’s what happened on my last trip to New Zealand. In my role as Organizatron, I managed to convince my group of friends that Milford Sound was a ‘must see’ attraction and subsequently booked everyone on a day trip. That day just happened to be New Year’s Eve 2008.

As the crow flies, Milford Sound is a mere hour from Queenstown so if you look at it on a map, it seems deceptively close. However, the one thing anyone who has been to New Zealand knows is that there are lots of lakes and those lakes tend to get in the way of roads.

At dawn, we gathered at reception to wait for the bus and it was only then that we started to wonder how long we were going to be away for. Someone asked the guy at the desk and the response was, ‘twelve hours’. Huh?

There was immediate dissent. Some people considered forfeiting their place, others hunkered down.  I stuck to my guns. Milford Sound was worth seeing.

Once aboard the bus with our snow-flake tattooed driver, we sat back and enjoyed the scenery. Alpine landscape transformed into Fjordland. Seas of pink, blue and purple Phlox stretched out across impossibly beautiful valleys. Along the way, it started to rain. Then we hit a bit of snow. And then, in the  middle of summer, what transpired can only be described as a low range typhoon.

There we were aboard a cruise ship being battered by gale force winds and torrential rain, clinging to our sad little buffet lunches and hoping to God that we didn’t all drown.

But then something happened. We decided to go out onto the deck. We looked up. Pouring down the cliffs were rivers of white water; epic mist and precipitation. We had arrived in Middle Earth. Then the dolphins showed up, impervious to the tempest, and played in the bow wave.

The five hour bus ride home was cold and wet and quiet. Everyone was exhausted, and yet, there was this feeling that we had survived something heroic.

When we cheered at the fireworks at midnight, I knew that I would never forget that New Years’.

Have you ever booked something that turned out to be awful?  Tell me your tales of woe …

1 comment on “When things don’t work out the way you planned

  1. i loved that whole day! true, the travel length estimate was somewhat disquieting in the morning, but as soon as we were on the bus i thought it was great. and yeah, the perfect storm was perfect.

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