Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Driving with Thelma... To Christchurch and Back. (Part 2)

The story continues from Driving with Thelma... To Christchurch and Back. (Part 1)...

So we are on our way to Wellington for our trip to Christchurch with Thelma at the wheel, where she had been since we left Tirau. I had offered and asked to have a turn at driving but not yet.

She had said that she likes to talk to help her concentrate or sing along to songs. (I personally find that a bit of a distraction but it's what she wanted)
Unfortunately the stations she had programmed into her radio had either been changed by the lady who had used the car while Thelma was away or we couldn't pick up the radio waves this far down the country. Thelma said that being a BMW it should - I beg to differ. Besides the point, I was a little concerned about how much she was looking at the computer and pushing buttons while driving, so asked if I could have the hand book and check it out so she could stop worrying and just concentrated on the driving.
She passed me the manual and I looked up "radio". No, it wasn't listed in the index so I started trying to find a picture of the computer system to see if it would give instructions.

And then there was a strange loud noise.
I looked up...
And out the front windscreen I could see we were off the road, careering down a ditch and there seemed to be no stopping us.

I could see the grass and road markers on the drivers side rushing past and a bank on my side looming very close it felt like were going to mount it. In my rush of thoughts, I thought we are going to crash; if we go up this bank; or clip it we are going to roll or flip; what is going to happen...

And then I called out to "Jesus, Jesus". Quietly and confidently at first and then I got louder and louder...
And then we came to a stop - safe in the ditch.

Thelma and I hugged and thanked God together.

Bracing ourselves we got out to see what had happened...
The front passenger wheel had a gouge out of the tyre and the back one was going down. The drivers side mirror was completely broken and just hanging by the wires that help set its position. There was damage to the paint work and one or two gouges but not a lot else.
Returning to the scene...

It seemed that no-one else was going to stop and check on us but we could tell there had been cars behind us. And then a couple came up and stopped on the other side of the road. They had come past after us and seen all the dust (which we didn't know we had created) and our vehicle stopped in the ditch. They felt they should see if we were OK and if we had cell phones. (Probably thought 'the poor old ladies') another man drove up in a beat-up old van. (the couple informed me that they didn't want to leave us, with this man still here much later, as we had waited for a truck from the AA)
The tracks of the wheels where we came off the road

Thelma was a member of the AA so she rung for assistance but either she wasn't clear with what we needed (she wouldn't call it an accident - as no one was hurt and no other vehicles were involved, so she said) or they were not understanding, as it took nearly two hours for someone to come. The man who had stopped with his partner, drove the car out of the ditch for us so if the tyre was to be changed it would be easier to do so. We even unloaded all the things from the back so as to get the spare out and had them spread out over the grass.Is was there that we saw all the stuff Thelma had with her. But the tyre wasn't changed out here so we had to pack it all back again.

The wheel marks going up the bank
We didn't know where we were because it was out on the open road. At elast we knew it was SH1. I knew we had left Waiouru some time ago and we must nearly be at Taihape. It turned out we were just 9 km north of Taihape. The AA said they couldn't come out for what Thelma was asking for so in the end she was put through to her Insurance with the AA. Finally, they sent a mechanic with a truck and he decided the wheels would be alright to drive slowly back into Taihape. I went with the lady of the couple in their car while the man drove Thelma's vehicle with her and the dog in.

Why it took so long to have someone come out to us I have no idea. I know it was out in the country and we couldn't get any bearings but the fact that there seemed to no-one available to actually do the job of 'rescuing' us was a bit poor, especially when Thelma belonged to the AA breakdown service. She also spent a lot of time arguing with the call centres and complaining so I wonder if it would have been quicker or not.

Once at the mechanics breakdown garage, the front wheel was changed to the spare. (Interestingly enough the spare wheel on a BMW says it can't be driven over 120 km/hour - not like others that advise you to not drive over 40km/hour. Needless to say we weren't going to go over 90 after that); the back one just needed the dirt and stones removed from between the tyre and the wheel rim. The mirror was taped up with bubble wrap and 'cable tied' to the door so it wouldn't bang on the car as we drove.
The road sign that broke the mirror

So after another hour at the garage for all these repairs we were on the road again. I'd rung home and Theresa, ending up cancelling tea and thinking I wasn't going to see them at all.

I insisted and drove the rest of the way to Wellington - a road I know well - and Thelma after sometime delayed shock feelings settled a little.

But ever the driver, she would tell me to slow down , keep away from walls, keep to certain sides of the road and basically lose all confidence in driving which was totally understandable. I also struggled with no side mirror. You may think you don't use it much but when it is not there you truly learn how much you do use it.

The culvert that damaged the front tyre
We stopped at Bulls for a cuppa and to feed Pepper, after buying some dog food, and then arrived safely in Wellington at 11.45pm. We called into Theresa's for a cuppa. Thelma sat in the car with Pepper as she didn't realize Theresa and Steven actually lived in the city. We brought Thelma her cup of tea while she sat in the car.

By midnight we were up at my parents settling into our beds for the early morning rise to catch the ferry the next day.

Looking back I now see it wasn't as bad as it could have been - by a long shot.
Thelma still doesn't know what happened and why we went off the road. I wonder if she was still playing with the buttons on the radio or had she fallen asleep momentarily. Did she take the curve too fast. I don't suppose we will really ever know.

I believe that my calling out to Jesus caused us to come down off the bank - the marks through the grass show this. Sitting in a car that appears to be out of control is a frightening thing especially when you have no control of the wheel or brakes.
These pictures can't really show the proportions and so the angle the vehicle was. The height of the bank can be seen on the right of the right pic, remembering it is further back from the car now. In the left pic you can see where the car came back down and you have a general idea of the height and angle as compared to Don (more about him later) and Thelma standing near it. Just passed where the car is stopped the bank gives way to a long drop...

All I know is that God kept us safe and that me being there to help in the drive to Wellington and back home was all in the plan for our lives.

I thank God for His goodness and mercy.

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