The man of our house is good with directions, on most occasions. Really good. It’s very handy because he usually finds his way around without a problem and we get spoilt for it because we can rely on him to get us to places. He also loves exploring new places and going to events and a friend of ours has called him “Jacques Cousteau” for good reason, and he does it all with unconquerable enthusiasm and insuppressible energy. He keeps going and going like the Duracell bunny (while I’m the tired one bent over double catching my breath) which means that we don’t really do anything slowly. We’re forever moving at a fast pace but every now and then we do that whilst chasing a wild goose when Ironman’s usual steadfast aim and command desserts or fails him momentarily and since we don’t get that many opportunities to tease the one who loves teasing the rest of us relentlessly, we grab one when it presents itself.
Going to an event like the Caravan and Camping Show in Perth back in the days when the kids were little he strode off in a direction assuming that the rest of us will follow but without taking into account the fact that a show such as that is like a wonderland for young kids. There are so many different tents, caravans and camper trailers to discover and explore that all three kids kept going into different caravans at the same time while I’m trying to keep an eye on who’s where and where my husband is headed in the throng of people and I end up like a cross between a mother hen and a kelpie (trying to herd her young) whilst also watching my husband’s back disappear amongst the crowds. And it all seemed to happen in fast forward; there was no slow ambling through the displays to take it all in in a relaxed way. By the time we went home I was completely worn out from running around after the kids, couldn’t remember having seen anything worthwhile and didn’t achieve any objective other than assuring my kids all got back home safely afterwards. Suffice to say we didn’t go back for another ten years (and this time sans kids – much to their relief by that stage).
On another occasion we were in Albany (Southwest WA) for a long weekend and ended up watching the vintage car races in town on the Sunday afternoon, which was great fun. Most of the roads in the centre of town were closed due to the races and while we were watching Ironman and Child No 3 decided that it was a good idea to go and get a gelato. The only problem was that they had to take such a detour on their way back due to all the road closures that they went up and down roads just to find themselves at dead ends several times and eventually just about got lost despite a great sense of direction (temporary lost, I think) and a quick trip to buy ice cream became an extended and diverted wild goose trek.
Last year on our trip to Namibia we had a few hours to spare in Windhoek before our flight to Cape Town departed so we decided to stop at the craft market and we also had to refuel the vehicles. Driving around Windhoek with friends of ours following behind in their vehicle proved to have its own set of challenges (especially for our friends who were foreign to the city) as my normally determined husband changed his mind so many times about which way to go and each time it involved a split-second last-minute decision to change lanes or make a U-turn where there’s not enough room to turn a 4×4 around causing us (and our poor friends) to drive over kerbs and sidewalks and all the while they’re trying to keep our vehicle in sight otherwise they’d be lost when eventually I said that we were taking them off-road in the city of Windhoek. There was a fair bit of backwards and forwards chasing until at long last we found, firstly, parking outside the craft market and secondly the filling station on the way to the airport. It seemed such a crazy pursuit of something as innocuous as a craft market or filling station, but add to the picture pre-Easter weekend traffic, Windhoek road works and the fact the we don’t drive around Windhoek every day (more like once every five years) and it made for some interesting CBD off-road driving.
And then when The Giants visited Perth earlier this year I was reminded of our wild goose chase experiences in the past. We decided to set off for the city early on the Sunday morning to avoid the massive crowds we got stuck in the day before, the plan being to have breakfast in the city somewhere. We caught the train and arrived in the city bright and early. The thing we didn’t reckon with was that most of the malls in the city were still closed that early on a Sunday morning and we couldn’t walk through them to where we wanted to go and every time we got to a dead end Ironman would turn around and march off in a different direction without saying a word, and us slow bunnies with our inferior non-Duracell batteries scuttled behind trying to keep up until we got to the next dead end where he’d again suddenly change direction without warning. The other thing we didn’t take into account was that other people might have had the same plan as ours, also wanting to have breakfast in the city so it wasn’t all that easy to find an open café or restaurant with a free table either, and again at the last minute when Ironman saw a queue of people he’d turn around without a word and start walking in the opposite direction as fast as we’d come. We were still headed in one direction when he’d already turned around and passed us going the back the way we’d come. In the end we found a lovely breakfast spot though, had a delicious breaky, and then started the march again towards the area where we were hoping to see the Giants. It was all well worth it after we made it to the spot where we decided to wait (and subsequently waited for about two hours), because the show was spellbinding.
In his defence, I have to add that my husband does willingly go on wild goose chases in search of some or other obscure thing someone in the family needs, usually at the most inconvenient of times. Whether it’s a specific rare type of cheese or sherry vinegar that I need, running shoes for the kids or in the latest instance, palm cards for Child No 3, he’ll be content driving from shop to shop to find the right thing. Last weekend when Child No 3 decided that she needed a multi-coloured pack of palm cards for her Science exam revision it was my husband who happily went to three different shops (which were miles apart) to find the right thing for her (study aids are important). When closing time drew near I ended up phoning the last shop to check if they had this very specific item in stock, which they did, and asked them to hold it while our hunter-and-sourcer-of-hard-to-find items-at-times-when-no-one-else-is-in-the-slightest-inclined-or-motivated-to-drive-from-shop-to-shop went along and bought it, brought the prized item home and saved the day.