The thieves took more than they thought when they made off with this particular 4 x 4!

Read Jonny's latest column below or online at the Northern Advocate.

You don't miss it until it's gone. And even then maybe not straight away.

That was the case this past week. Backing my car into our glorified communal right-of-way, I noticed my four-wheeled friend had gone.

My one icon of manliness was just not there. I'm talking about my Suzuki 4x4. Old school, square in shape, with that early '90s swagger.

My beach truck had been stolen. 
I sat there staring at the empty patch of asphalt with the staccato violin theme music from Psycho ringing in my ears, as the reality kicked in.

Stolen! When? After cross-examining my wife and daughter we realised that the last time anyone had seen it was last Saturday night.

Oh how I took that wee truck for granted over the last four years as it had ferried me down to the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

It made the mighty Ruakaka Beach my oyster. 
It gave me ease of access to anywhere on the beach my friends and family trotted off to with gay abandonment on their hind legs.

Well it did until the council started putting the squeeze on vehicle access to Whangarei's answer to Ninety Mile Beach.

My four-wheel drive forays onto the beach seem to have been diminishing for some time.

The curtailing started late last year when environmentalists finally got their way and shut off the beach access by the racecourse which was about three minutes away from my house.

That access was replaced by the council who decided to botch together a Mad Max type of obstacle course designed to ensure no one would use it.

That left only one other nearby vehicle access available, but not on our side of town which I affectionately refer to as the Bronx; it's on the posh side, at the Ruakaka Surf Life Saving Club.

With this entrance, however, you need a key. Who gets a key? People on the south side of the river (the star bellied snitches), or if you have a mobility impairment you get a key. I got a key.

I rocked down there on Boxing Day only to find they had changed the lock to the gate. Did they tell me?

Did they as hell as like! 
I did eventually get another key but now have no way to get there, as my mobile man's shed (the wheels and sand beneath my feet) has gone.

There are many rivers to cross in life but really I just want to get to the shore - so damn the tree huggers, the councillors, the bureaucrats who guard the keys, and last, but not least, don't forget the thieves.

After writing this column I drove home and started role playing True Detectives, driving through the semi industrial back roads of Ruakaka, through the potholed track in the forest and around the back block, looking for an abandoned burnt out wreck.

And there it was, abandoned but not burnt out.

Drained of petrol and missing a hat but, all in all, very intact. I feel much more appreciative of the truck, of the beach, of the diversity of Ruakaka. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Published 20/03/2017

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