2015 Trip Plans - It's Almost Time

Saturday, Apr 04, 2015 at 06:03

Member-Heather MG NSW

With just over a week until we set out on this year's 'Big Trip' the preparation is almost complete.
We have been leaving the house behind for considerable time periods for most of the last decade so I have a set routine each time, beginning with a List of jobs to do, which is printed off and items ticked as they are completed.

During the past few weeks we have had our (still under warranty) van to the workshop for an axle/brake check and service, a precaution as its only traveled maybe 5,000 kms. I'm glad we did it as a bearing was changed because it showed signs of wear, and whilst it may have lasted for the whole trip, we are planning possibly 20,000 kms with a considerable distance on dirt roads. We have also had a couple of small warranty items attended to or noted, these being: a leak in the bathroom which has appeared on the floor 24 hours after we traveled in heavy rain twice and we are still none the wiser as to where it's coming from (fitted a Dometic vent cover (which we bought at our cost) to the outside of the van above the shower wall vent as we suspect its entering there and is running along the top of the awning directly inside.), the AES 186 litre Dometic 3 way fridge has had a part ordered which will hopefully arrive before the end of business next Friday and be fitted, as it has randomly switched off when running on gas and has to be manually turned back on...a known fault apparently, according to our RV man. With the water leak, we will have to wait to see what happens when we next travel in rain, although if its been noted we will have no problems getting Jayco to do the necessary repairs after the warranty period expires at the end of July.

Van gas bottles are both full, as are the water tanks, the 240 v is connected so that batteries are both being kept fully charged, toilet is refreshed and empty and we have a stash of Happy bowl liners and the current treatment..Odour-b-gone tablets..which are environmentally ok for us to dig a hole and empty into the ground with a clear conscience, should this be necessary. We are quite comfortable with using our toilet the way it's intended and while we usually empty at the dump points, it sometimes fills before we can locate one convenient to our route.

We've also had our Medical and Dental check ups...colonoscopy, blood tests, and GP appointments for Reg 24 scripts which enable us to buy 6 months of medications in one trip so we don't have to search and plan ahead to find pharmacies have been booked for this coming Thursday. With the delay in Flu vaccine this year we haven't managed to have Flu injections but will find somewhere along the trip..my white blood count is a little low and apparently i am susceptible to catching any infection going around! A sign that I am no longer as young as I feel!

I've checked the first aid kit and updated a few items but we don't usually carry all that much. Snake bite kits are packed into day packs for walking.

A mail re direction form has been lodged so that a daughter receives and opens our mail, and can contact me regarding any bills and vehicle registrations which arrive in our absence. The finish date is towards the end of September.. Most of our services are direct debited and others are emailed to me which reduces the amount that is delivered by Postie.

In January, from the EO shop, I bought Maps and books relevant to South West WA and also the Great Central Road...and have been pouring over routes and places..dreaming of seeing new places to walk, mountain peaks to climb, places to fish and camp...It's been so enjoyable and helped to curb my impatience to be on the road again, something that I never tire of!

I have purchased WA National Parks Annual Vehicle Pass and relevant Fishing licences for us both.

Our lawn mower man has been contacted and will drop around every now and then, as necessary, to keep the yard looking as though someone is living here. He is happy for us to pay him cash on our return as usually the amount is under $200. Our insurance company doesn't require anything extra from us other than that someone calls in every now and then to check the place is ok, inside and out and we leave our mobile number with the couple next door in case of emergencies.

On the family front, we are going to be kept busy during the next 5 days as the grandchildren are arriving for a 'holiday' this morning and we'll be entertaining them with fishing, bush-walking, and visits to local attractions such as the zoo and Easter Blessing of the Fleet entertainment. (There's a stash of DVD's and the iPads are coming, as bad weather is forecast).

Our new grandson, Thomas, arrived safely on the 24th March and is adorable, of course. I have been fortunate to have already spent some time with him and love him so much already. It is quite difficult for me to think of leaving him behind...although I know he won't miss us. I have been promised regular photos and updates as to his growth and development and I will have to be happy with that. My rationale is that while we are both is good health then we must seize the opportunity to travel as it won't last forever.

Once we are by ourselves again at the end of the week we will pack the van, load the tinny onto the canopy roof of the Ute and also the Mangrove jack boat trailer, along with the boat gear....checking with one another that we haven't left anything really important out. I love this time but John has confessed that he hates it!

This new van is just so luxurious to live in and we have already enjoyed very much the spacious layout with slide out to accommodate the bed and a second lounge area. John removed the fixed table and we have replaced it with a lightweight folding one, which can be moved around to suit and will travel folded on the bed.

It is always a bit risky setting out with a new van although we have managed a few short trips away, one on very dusty dirt roads, and have given it a test staying unpowered for a week, and also powered. The 300 watts of solar keep the two batteries pretty much fully charged although we will carry the generator as a back up power source and to run my Nespresso coffee machine....(lol). John is very happy that we have an auto satellite dish system and he will be able to watch any football game he wants, something which he has really missed every year we go away. I was happy not to have TV reception in many places however it is an expensive ($4,000) compromise and if it keeps him wanting to travel then I am all for it! I guess we can keep in touch with weather forecasts and other news which will be handy when we are going off the sealed roads, and I will gladly watch our favourite TV shows on the ABC.

So..where are we off to this year? Well, we are meeting my sister and her husband in the very salubrious rest area at Iron Knob on 19th of April. Our ute is booked in for 40,000 km service the following day in Pt Augusta. Providing the weather is kind we will be visiting Mt Ive Station and the Gawler Ranges before heading to Streaky bay for a few days fishing. After that..West across the Nullarbor and the South West of WA until the winter weather drives us further north. Our expected most northern camp will be Cape Keraudren on the southern end of 80 mile beach, and the only place we have booked is Cape Range National Park near Exmouth, for 5 nights in the second half of July after WA school holidays. I want to return to the East via the Great Central Road then maybe the Plenty Highway en-route to visit our daughter for her 40th birthday in Brisbane on 3rd September...
There will be new places and returning to ones we have previously stayed, new places to fish, walk, photograph and camp...a mix of National Parks, free and low cost camps, caravan parks...depending on what is available. We have a set up which enables us to travel by ourselves on the dirt and are very happy to do so and are looking forward to red dirt, campfire meals and cold, starry nights..the waxing and waning of the lunar cycles... fishing, walking in new places and a simple life.

Maybe we will see you along the way. We have EO stickers and spare wheel cover on the van, along with our name 'Glyde Inn' and would love to say hello and share a yarn. I hope to be keeping my usual blogs with photos of this trip.

The final few days....

During the past few days we have had a quite major hiccup to our plans.. The outboard motor which was serviced on 25th March some two hours travel time each way from home (closest service place for Mercury) would not pump water when John attempted to take our 7 year old grandson fishing earlier this week. It was the first time he had used it since the 100 hr. service so we are very glad he tried to use it before setting out. After a call to the repairer when they opened on Tuesday (after the Easter break) , John took it back on Wednesday and watched while it was stripped down... then waited hours without the cause being found. The place refused to accept that it was not working due to something which was done during the service and John spent a very frustrating day,returning to our daughters place late afternoon still minus motor and with steam coming out his ears! He was not a happy man at all!
It was finally decided that the repairs will be covered under warranty (due to regular servicing) however they can't guarantee that these will be done in time for us to take it with us on Monday...so...its been decided that, if necessary, a replacement motor (different brand) will be purchased during the next day or two, and the one needing repairs left at the workshop until our return in September. We will know which by lunch time today...so its going to be a rush either way. Yesterday to assist I spent time online researching the different 15 hp motors and where we could access one..and we have managed to find a Marine place almost locally (close to an hours travel time each way) has one in stock. We are so fortunate that we can afford to do do this if necessary as to leave minus tinny and motor would change our plans quite dramatically at this point.

Over Easter, our eldest daughter (almost 40) decided to chuck a 'wobbly' after returning from a short visit with family...just to give me a few sleepless nights! This was while we had the grand kids staying so luckily there was plenty of other stuff going on during the day to distract me! I took them home on Wednesday and left my Mazda 2 with our daughter and son in law to use in our absence, getting a ride home with John in the ute.

John spent most of one day cleaning gutters and mulching the veggie patch, tidying garden edges etc...

House smoke alarm batteries were changed on the weekend when daylight saving ended...

Yesterday we saw the GP and got our reg 24 scripts, along with flu injections.. good to know that we should now avoid catching any of the strains in the vaccine. The remainder of the day was so busy with me ploughing through the housework..cleaning floors and bathrooms, changing all the beds and airing bedding and all the other stuff necessary for the house to be left for the winter months.

The fridge part for the 3 way Dometic in the van, has arrived, and should be fitted this morning. Our RV man lives just down the road and will call in on his way to work. I am to run the fridge on gas to ensure it is working correctly....timely as it needs to be turned on anyway at this point. I am going to begin packing the van today.

Yesterday John checked the sacrificial anode in the van HWS. It still has 3 to 6 months left so he put it back in but has bought a spare and will check it while we are away, replacing when necessary.

So...there's now only the packing of clothes, personal items and food into the van for me and I love this part..the anticipation of what is to come..unknown places and a changing landscape each day, campfires and the starry starry nights...a change in seasons and weather. John has confessed he hates the packing bit...and it does entail some physical effort...putting the boat loader onto the canopy roof as it won't fit in our garage with it in place, then loading the tinny, and associated boating gear, and fitting the stone stomper ( a very simple job) .... ensuring he hasn't forgotten anything!

I am still having difficulty getting more that 6 hours sleep at night..up each morning in the dark around 4 to 5 am but am hoping that once we are traveling, I will sleep longer..although I am able to quietly occupy myself for lengthy periods on laptop if necessary, while John sleeps just a couple of metres away!

Saturday 11th April.

Yaahhh! Outboard motor is repaired and home. Think it may be given a test run on the lake this morning just to make sure, although it was pumping water through yesterday in the workshop! It's a great relief and now John can concentrate on packing.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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