Waiting…

After all the excitement of getting the van, things ground to a halt.  We were given a time frame of 12 weeks after which we could move to the block and into the van.  In my excitement I cleaned out the garage, threw out 20 garbage bags of clutter, sold a pile of belongings on eBay and started packing the kitchen.

Unfortunately I got a little over excited as I only left us a few things to get by.  As the months wore on we started eating our cereal out of plastic storage containers.  In my infinite wisdom I had told husband that

“in the van we wont have a dish washer so we will have to wash up right away and therefore won’t need any more that 2 of each thing…”

The build had been delayed by weather and public holidays and 3 months was turning into 6.  We were living in a permanent state of “half packed”.

Meanwhile we had started to think about how we would need to set ourselves up for this year of our lives in a van.  We wanted to be as thrifty as possible.  My parents gave us some fencing materials to make a yard around the van for the dogs.  We also planned to build a solid floor in the annex to make it warmer and husband was going to to make a shelter over the entire thing to protect it from weathering.

I got the ok from work to take some unwanted pallets.  They were the perfect width to make a floor for the annex.  It would save us on building materials and would be a fun little project.

After this I became a bit of a pallet maniac.  I noticed derelict pallets everywhere and on one occasion embarrassed myself trying to haul a particularly heavy one into my car from next to a garbage hopper behind a building (dodgy!)

I had ideas flowing out left and right…build a dog kennel out of pallets.  We could pull them apart and use them for fencing, what about a table, planter box, raised garden bed, outdoor furniture… it had gotten a little out of hand!  For more ideas see http://www.1001pallets.com/

To get more appropriate shelter supplies we went to the second hand building traders and got some more bargains.

We were excited and ready to go but we couldn’t start anything until the permits are processed for occupancy.

I had booked in some leave from work for 2 weeks at the end of June for the move.  The aim was to move and give the dogs time to acclimatise and get all settled in over the 2 weeks.

It may however be spent cleaning the rental, finishing the packing and getting things into storage.  Who knows perhaps I’ll relax and read a book.

 

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Frankie and the Apostles

Having driven so far we decided that the Great Ocean Road and Twelve Apostles was a great first adventure to have with Frankie.  We made our way to Apollo Bay and set up camp.

It was a bush style caravan park and there were Koalas everywhere! We spent the first day checking out the van.  We were like kids in a cubby;  pulling out cupboards, checking windows, laughing at the crazy linoleum on the floor and having cheese and bikkies at 5pm like the grey nomads do.  I felt like we had joined a new club.  People didn’t seem to notice that we were new to this caravan thing.  I however felt like I was walking around with a giant sign on my head saying

“First time caravaner”

We walked around the park looking at other people’s set-ups like a couple of seagulls looking for food.  We oohed and aahed at the fancy ones and enjoyed seeing other old vans like ours.  Heading back to the van I beamed like someone who had just been upgraded to first class. I do however feel like I’d like to keep in touch with our more rustic camping side.  There is nothing better than pitching your tent in a national park and having a camp-fire.

I must admit though that it was especially nice to have running water on the camp-site rather than having to carry dishes to a camp kitchen.  The bed however was horrendous.  it was a crappy foam thing that caused us to both roll in to the middle.  This inevitably led to husband sleeping like a starfish in the middle and me trying not to either fall out of the bed or into the divot with him.  First thing on the list – purchase inner spring! Until then, I was on the bunk 😦

The next day we went to the Twelve Apostles National Park. We walked the beach on the south side and then went across to the viewing area with the bus-loads of other tourists.

It was a great little adventure but way too short. It was time to hitch her up and start the 10 hour haul home. We stopped at Torquay for fish and chips before heading inland and up the highway.

 

Husband drove most of the way home but as fatigue set in I needed to have a go.

I hopped in and did all my checks and pulled out.  I found it surprisingly light to tow even though I had nothing to compare it to.  Before long it came time to overtake a truck.  The trucks on these highways are the big double semi trailer kind called a B-double.  White knuckled and somewhat terrified that my lack of spatial awareness was going to cause us to bump into a truck I went for it.  It wasn’t to bad except for the horrifying pull you feel as you come out the front of the truck.  I wish I’d known that ahead of time but husband had settled in for a nap before I even pulled onto the road.

As the day turned to night my confidence grew and we made it back to the caravan park out of town where Frankie would live for the next few months.

I spent some time at the van with our dogs over the next week or so before MIL decided she wanted to move closer to the block while the build was happening.  She moved into the van and a few months later moved Frankie to her block.  Frankie had found her new home for the foreseeable future.

 

 

 

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Life with Wilma?

A few weeks after committing to buy the van we arranged to drive to Victoria to collect our “first home”.

We had a few issues trying to figure out whether my Mazda 6 wagon could tow the van without breaking my insurance conditions.  Bev was borderline too small so we decided  it would be best to take my husbands work Ute (a Mitsubishi Triton turbo Diesel).  The last thing we wanted was to be one of those slow, annoying caravan people you curse and  shake your fist at for going 40km/h on the open road.

Now before you think I am one of those crazy people who names everything,  my car got the name Bev because of the personalised number plates she had when I bought her (BEV93B).

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We arranged to take a long weekend and drove as far as we could manage after work.  We didn’t know how far we would get so we just drove until we were tired and camped just off the highway in our mini 4 seasons hiking tent.

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The next day we made it to the small Victorian town of Winchelsea, about 1.5 hours west of Melbourne. Goodbye tent hello caravan!

As we went through all the formalities with the owner he casually mentioned his reasons for selling:

” The kids are sad to see Wilma go but with another baby on the way we just can’t afford to keep her”.

WILMA…..!!! Oh dear, we barely owned her and she was already having an identity crisis.  He went on to tell us how he was going to get a sign writer to paint a pin-up style picture of Wilma from the Flintstones on the back with her name.

We toyed with the idea of calling her Wilma and following through with his ideas but unfortunately we already thought of her as Frankie, despite the lack of originality in her name.

After a quick inspection of the extremely retro orange interior we packed up ready to make our way down to the Great Ocean Road for Frankie’s first adventure.

 

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Finding Frankie

When we first entertained the idea of moving into a caravan it was as a joke.

My mother in law (MIL) had purchased a large block of land 40 minutes from the city and had been living with us for a year or so while building her place.   She joked that once her place was finished that we should live with her to save for a place of our own.

The problem with this was that she was building a 1 bedroom cottage with a loft.  We were also conscious that we would all want our own space after living together for so long.

MIL suggested that we could camp on her property if we wanted.  I laughed at the time, imagining us freezing half to death in the depths of winter.

The suggestion grew in my mind over a period of months and before I knew it I was  comparing camper trailers and caravans on the internet.

Rent was a dead weight, holding us captive so close to being able to make meaningful headway in our savings.  I started drawing up budgets of how much we could save if we no longer had to pay rent and electricity.

It was at that point that we started seriously considering it as an option.

After trawling the internet and researching every detail (a trait that makes me good at my job but bad at making quick decisions) I made a call to a man who had advertised a Franklin arrow on Gumtree.

We agreed to buy it but it wasn’t to be.  We later got a call to say his wife had sold it without letting him know…I was pretty disappointed.   I had gotten a little too excited and had already started to call her Frankie.  I guess that means that our van should actually be Frankie 2?

After a week or so I saw another van advertised on eBay.  A Franklin similar to the other one.  In spite of my usually cautious nature I pounced,  probably too quickly and bid on it.

We paid $5000 for the van with annex and made plans for the 8 hour road trip to get it. Nervous anticipation followed.  What on earth had I committed to buy??

 

 

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