When Neil Armstrong lifted off from Cape Canavaral on the Apollo Mission back in 1969 it took him four days to reach his lunar destination, some 380,000 kilometres away.
Four days after our ‘blast off’ we were only 35 k’s from Blenheim and hunkering down inside a box on wheels, as the elements rocked the truck we now call home and arrested any of our attempts made to explore new surrounds.
Now, it’s pretty ambitious to draw parallels between the first moon landing and us, a family of four embarking on a trip through NZ. But on a day like today, stuck inside while it’s hosing down, one can begin to imagine what life might’ve been like back then being locked inside a 4x3m capsule and exposing those around you to an entire days worth of bodily functions. If anything, the crew on Apollo had the advantage of zero gravity and could probably float away to a corner of the ceiling if they needed some time on their own.
One thing we can’t admit to the experience of, is being watched by over 100,000 spectators waving mini New Zealand flags with millions more tuning in around the world, whilst Dave Dobbyn played ‘God of Nations’ on the electric, as we calmly strode to our awaiting cab.
We were however, fortunate enough to catch up with a few good mates on our day of departure, and with the countdown looming, family harnessed in, and checklist completed (chocolate – check. wine – check. kids – check) we were ready for the off. As the clearance from Mummy (masquerading as the mission controller) came through and with our countdown approaching zero, the familiar jingle of keys turning in the ignition, fired up the single main 2.3 litre diesel rocket booster. So, with a quick glance at the instrument panel and nod to the smiling faces around, our little ‘shuttle’ nosed forward on the first leg of the ‘Monk’s Mission’. It was literally “one small drive for a man, one totally insignificant leap for mankind”.