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Goin' Up The Country

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:49 am
by Sean
Here is a log of my trip north from Perth, beginning on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018. I don't know where I'm going, but there is still another month of Winter to go, and it is cold and rainy, even stormy down in Perth now, just as it is cold and rainy up here in Warradarge' where I found myself on Wednesday afternoon, at the Halfway Mill Roadhouse Caravan Park.

Halfway between where and where, I have not yet gotten around to asking Robert, or Cliff, or Ray, the three brothers who run the roadhouse and caravan park. I am just over 200km north of Perth, on the Brand Highway (Hwy 1), and around 150 km south of Geraldton, so those would possibly be the two end points where I am approximately halfway between right now, for these past two days.

How long I will stay here, or how long I will be welcome to stay are two questions as yet unanswered. It is not paradise. In this never-ending sporadic country rain, where the showers only last for five or ten minutes, but they come every half an hour, the park is a mudbath, and my camp kitchen (when there are no other male guests in the early morning) is the mens' toilets/showers. I would like to go further north to a warmer climate, because the ex-commercial van is full of little holes that let the cold wind blow right in at night, and it is about 5 degrees in the mornings.

The soot from the butane gas stove collects on the bases of the kettle, pot, and frypan, and the only stainless-steel trough in that bathroom is hooked up to the free-to-use Simpson washing machine, so I had to use the white porcelain bathroom-style sinks to wash my dishes yesterday morning, and left black soot all over the sinks. I had to clean them up later after breakfast.

Today I had showered, dressed and hit the road by 06:15 and *made it to Eneabba racetrack by sunrise, where I cooked breakfast under cover but in the stormy winds, and used my only aluminium bucket to wash the dishes. I then drove west to Leeman on the coast, and bought fresh broccoli and canned sliced-mushrooms, and then went down to Green Head to take a few tourist photos, then back here to the Halfway Mill Roadhouse, where I have negotiated a discount rate for the week. Tomorrow, I have permission to disconnect the washing machine hoses and use the stainless-steel trough in the mens' ablutions to wash my dishes after breakfast.

Currently, this Friday, there is only one other guest, named Maureen, who just checked in and parked right beside me on the left, and as she will have full use of the ladies' ablutions the plan is to once again cook breakfast tomorrow in the mens' ablutions, as I am the only man staying here overnight, by the look of things. It is now only 13:30 so there may be more guests arrive later today. Never mind. I can see a way to cook inside the van, providing I am EXTREMELY careful, as I have not yet purchased a fire-extinguisher, and this van could go up in flames very easily with all the cotton and woolen clothing and linen I have inside him. (his name is Speed the Turtle after a character in The Swan Princess.)


It is quite a challenge converting from 2-brm flat life to 4-wheel van life, and now, at the beginning, everything takes a lot longer to organise and accomplish than what I am used to. Taking a shower, cooking breakfast, all the usual daily routine is quite an effort, but I hope that in time, I will become more accustomed to this new life, and learn new habits until things come just as naturally as they used to in the past life.

Leaving the old place, moving out, was a rushed effort, with the main objective being to take whatever I thought I might need and stuff it in the van, and then put the rest in storage. Actually the other way around because I needed the van to transport all the furniture and boxes of stuff first, and then packed what was left over in the van.

Yesterday, I pulled most of the stuff out of the van and resorted it a little more sensibly, but there is still a lot of work to be done, just to make the van more liveable.

One of the main adjustments I want to make as soon as the weather fines up is to re-hinge the doors on the wardrobe I am using laying on its back as a storage box, as well as a bed base. The doors still open outward from either side, making it quite a physical challenge to get anything in or out of storage from in there, especially with the mattress and bed-linen on top, so I must buy eight (8) new hinges, and cut the RHS (far) door in half, lengthwise. Then I will screw the far RHS length to the wardrobe edges, and then hinge the inner half of the RHS door to the outer side of the RHS door, and lastly cut the central LHS door in half crosswise, and hinge both halves to the centre-piece of the RHS door, so that both front and back of the new storage box can be opened separately, and the whole 75% of the 900mm bed-top (ex-wardrobe doors each 450mm wide), can be opened in order to lift out the larger boxes and cases therein. That is one of the tasks I hope to set myself for Sunday when the weather is forecast to fine up a little after this 4-day storm.

I will write more in this thread as things happen, and see which of the 100 or so photos I took on the way up here on Wednesday maybe worth painting a thousand words about. Thanks for reading this monologue on what is so far quite an uneventful and unexciting tour. I guess since I am at the Halfway Mill Caravan Park, it might best be described so far as quite run-of-the-mill isn't it?

NB: This morning's 29 kay drive north took place at around 80km/h even though the speed limit is 110.

The reason? I have no roobar, and I am a vegetarian besides, so I don't want to hurt any little hopping things with Speed the Turtle. Dawns and sunsets are the peak hours for kangaroos crossing roads, so these are the times NOT to drive too fast if you don't want to hurt innocent lives and don't have a roobar. If Speed hit a Big Red at 110km/h, it would likely be game over for not just the poor kangaroo but for my driving wheels too. That is why I took so long to make it to Eneabba this morning. I almost copped a white bird around 5 kays out, but not a live kangaroo in sight. Just a single dead one at the start, to remind me why it was a stupid idea to take off all that way to Eneabba at dawn to cook my breakfast in a non-smelly place.

Re: Goin' Up The Country

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:13 am
by Sean
This is the Halfway Mill Roadhouse.

This is the Halfway Mill Caravan Park.

Re: Goin' Up The Country

Posted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:33 am
by Sean
Not a great deal to report for this weekend. It is Sunday the 5th of August, just after 4pm. Yesterday I ran a 140km round trip to purchase eight(8) mild-steel door hinges and two packets of 25 of 10g x 25mm countersunk self-tappers to renovate the doors on the wardrobe which has become my bedbase and main storage container. I did not get back from Jurien Bay Hardware Store until after noon, so I did the big carpentry project today, and rearranged a whole lot of stuff to try to make this life more liveable.

So far, so good. It is gradually becoming a bit more organised, this being Day Ten of Van Life, after a rather hurried effort of just loading everything I thought I might possibly need into the van however it all fitted quickest. Now, after a few days on the road, I am starting to sort out in my head the things that I tend to need most often, and am gradually finding time to relocate those things in somewhat easier to get to places, and storing the things which are not required so often in places where it is harder to access them.

Not much happened today. As well as the carpentry on the wardrobe cum bedbase doors, I did a load of laundry including the bed-sheets, and hung my clothes on my little foldable clothes rack and the sheets on the line out the back of the amenities. Only to notice a few black marks on the white sheets, which turned out to be something on the clothes line, either dust, birdshite, or dieseline fumes. Now the sheets are soaking in the washing machine in bleach, ready to complete the cycle tomorrow morning. The clothes are still drying on the rack in the mens' room, of which I am the only current occupant, as the only guest here tonight, as far as it looks at 16:21pm.

The storm has passed, the wind has calmed down immensely since yesterday, Friday, Thursday and Wednesday, and there has only been the occasional sprinkle of rain today, but it has been cloudy and cool, and the laundry never dried out under the verandah today. It should all be dry by the morning, hopefully.

I neglected to take photos of the carpentry job today, being too busy and uncertain how long the job would take, needing a bed base to sleep on tonight, so photos were not on today's agenda. There are now two 1745mm long by 200mm & 250mm lengths, the 200mm wide hinged to the bed-base, and the 250mm hinged to the 200, then there is a 1000 x 450mm lid at the front, and a 745 x 450mm lid at the back, both hinged to the 1745x250mm second length, so it is possible to open the storage box under the bed more easily now. It has made it easier to reorganise everything more sensibly.
It could still use some kind of hook & line system hanging from the roof to hold the doors open when needed. That will be another project for another day. I won't be wasting another $20 of diesel driving that 140km to the hardware store and back for a while yet.

This coming week, there will likely be one single trip to buy a fresh onion into Leeman or Green Head if the diesel is running low, and then on Friday I plan to head to Geraldton, where there are more shopping venues and hopefully less outrageous prices than at the Jurien Bay IGA where I stopped yesterday to pay $3.50 for 12 cheese single slices. That is what it costs for 24 cheese single slices at the IGA in Perth. Double pricing ... probably because this part of the country is not likely into the dairy farming like down south, so the cheese has to be trucked up. Still, that price was classic highway robbery, considering that trucks drive on the highways to transport the cheese up here. It is not that costly.

Re: Goin' Up The Country

Posted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:36 am
by Sean
Oh, I am starting to use masking tape and alfoil to block up all the holes in the van, including the chimney top in the roof, which has been blowing ice-cold air straight into the van all night until I thought to block it last night. It was still freezing outside the doona cover, but today has been less windy, so slightly warmer in here. It is now 16:35 and I have not had need to run the diesel to warm the place up yet, but am about to do that right as soon as I post this addenum. The chill is beginning for the afternoon now.

Re: Goin' Up The Country

Posted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:40 am
by Sean
Glad I am not 6'6". I can just crawl over the desk and music keyboard between the seats into the cab and start the motor to warm the place up without needing to open any doors to get from the back to the front or front back to the back again. One of the benefits of being a midget.

Re: Goin' Up The Country

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:54 am
by Sean
Big Steve & Little Nell woke me up at 06:00 this morning. Ray told me he was coming back from the shearing today, and I promised to have the sheets in bleach out of the washing-machine by 08:00. Last night was very, very cold, with the new clean sheets, which was why I thought it was so cold it woke me up from the chill. It turned out I'd left the LHF window down half-an-inch, although I don't remember ever winding it down yesterday. That was the chill factor.

Anyway, I got out of bed at 06:15 and met Steve and Nell on the way to the shower, then found that someone had chucked all my bleach-covered, soaking wet, half-washed sheets on top of my almost dry clothes-rack, so they could wash a few of his work clothes before 6am, FFS! I was not happy, Jan.

Never mind, I told myself. Take a shower, cook breakfast, and worry about it later. As it turned out, nobody came to retrieve the other clobber after the machine finished, so I chucked all his stuff in the porcelain sink and rewashed my sheets, (for the third time in 24 hours), then hung them on the line, after cleaning all the black shite off the lines first. There was no noticable bleached stains on my clothes, not that it really mattered, and I've chucked all his washing back where I found it this morning, my clothes are almost dry, and the sheets are halfway there here at the Halfway Mill.

The sky is light clouds and there is a bit of sun, and much less moisture than yesterday, so all worked out just fine because I didn't get cranky with Big Steve, which would have been likely most unfortunate for moi, both on the receiving end of his wrath, as well as being made rather unwelcome to remain here at this place, where I have already paid for the next four(4) nights and don't want to waste anymore of the little cash I have until Friday on another site ... not until Friday when Speed & I plan to head north to Geraldton to stock up on supplies at hopefully less extortionate prices than what they're charging at Jurien Bay IGA.

We are all still friends because Seano kept his cool this morning. I think that is a little bit of good harmony for The Universe on a Monday morning.

Re: Goin' Up The Country

Posted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:34 am
by Sean
It's Thursday, August 9th. A lot has happened this morning since 6am. A lot of miles to say the least. After having put up with the animals, Steve & Nell parking across my half-raked leaf pile yesterday, practically ruining another day's work for me after having ruined my laundry day on Sunday, I woke up and got out of bed this morning at 04:54, and went to take a shower, still undecided on whether to stay the last night at the Halfway Mill or not.

When I got to the shower, I saw that Steve had left a small bar of Country Life (or should that be Cuntry Life?) soap on the ledge in the shower stall. It is meant to be left on the basin on the other side of the bathroom. A small thing, I know, but while taking a shower, I thought it was not the kind of social circle I wanted to be a part of, so I thought about the weather and the distance to Geraldton, and the diesel I had left, and the cash I had left, and the danger of kangaroos at sunrise fora 2001 model Transit with no roo-bar, and breakfast, and said to myself, "Well, Stuff It!" I made a cupo of tea when I got back to the van, and thought it over some more while drinking the tea ... Where did I want to cook breakfast?

By 6am I had warmed the van in the rain, then pulled up under the roof of the garage and left all the empty aluminium cans that Maureen and I had consumed, (she drank coke and redbull, and I drank beer), as well as all the ringtops of the cans (for the Cambodian amputees), outside the shop for Cliff, Robert & Ray to collect, and set off for Geraldton. 187.22km according to the Internet. Not a single car or truck came near me heading north until after I made it to Dongara. Then, with just over a quarter of a tank of diesel left, I made it to Geraldton, and turned off the Brand Highway onto the Northwest-Coastal Highway and drove north for 10km until I found Chapman Valley Road, turned right, and drove 500m to Hall Road, and then 2km north to the Batavia Coast Caravan Park, where I met Jason's daughter, and then Jason's wife, and finally Jason himself.

I paud $25 for an unpowered site, and then parked the van by the camp kitchen to cook my breakfat at last. Whilst cooking brreakfast, Jason came by and we discussed breakfasts, and he mentioned that he and his family are into the plant-based diet, like I am. We discussed eggs & cheese, and vegans, which we are not, and hibiscus tea. I think we will hopefully get along okay now.

Now I am parked on top of the UP3 unpowered site #3, and there is something small and alive in the back of the van, rummaging around all the spare plastic shopping bags I brought along. I guess it is about the size of a mouse or a lizard, or perhaps a small snake, or a big spider. I do not know what it is. I hope that the weather improves in the next few minutes, because I know that I will not be able to sleep tonight unless I go through the bag and find whatever it is, and evict it from my van. Back after that ...

Re: Goin' Up The Country

Posted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:12 am
by Sean
I removed a whole lot of stuff out of the back, and then went through all the spare plastic shopping bags, and found nothing, and now there is no noise coming from the back of the van, as if something little is running around in there, but that does not mean that it has gone, because I never found what it was in the beginning. All I can guess is that it has moved to another hiding place inside the van where there are no plastic bags and so it is not making any noise now, even though it is, whatever it is, an unwelcome guest in my van; my home. I hope that the weather is better tomorrow.

Re: Goin' Up The Country

Posted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:21 am
by Sean
It would be nice to know what it actually happens to be, because I am not sure whether it might be poisonous or not, nor whether it would be something that likes to bite sleeping men on the fact and give them tetanus, which I have already had once, and do not want to have to suffer again.

This is written from the slow caravan park wi-fi because I have moved from the unpowered site down the back to the powered site across the road from the mens' bathroom & cooking area. Sensible for an extra $5. I don't know if I want to stay on here after this anymore. Too many grey-nomads and Seri, Jason's missus, won't give me the pensioner dicount because I am under 55, which sucks big time because I am 50 & a 1/2 and probably the poorest one here in this godforsaken park.

Re: Goin' Up The Country

Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:25 am
by Sean
Friday, August 10th, 2018.

I moved to a powered site for last night for an extra $5. I moved to a site across the road from the toilets and camp kitchen, and it was worth the extra $5 to have power and water and be close to the amenities. I got up at 04:45 again this morning, took a shower, dressed and cooked breakfast by 6am. Then I went out the front across the road to observe the Sun rise at 7am over the hills to the east. I got a few photos but too tired to sort through them and scale them down for the web tonight. I hope to have some time to add selected photos tomorrow.

After I went shopping and drew some money from the bank to pay tonight's site fees at the Batavia Coast Caravan Park, I got back by 11am and Seri the bitch told me that they'd sold out my site from under me and I was not welcome to stay there tonight, so I got back in the van and drove another 50km north on a wing and a prayer, not knowing where I might end up, but glad to be out of Geraldton, dirty old town that it turned out to be in 27 hours I was there. I arrived in Northampton and pulled into the shire-run caravan park, and met Graham. Graham offered me a nice little powered site and offered me a $5 discount on the usual $30/night rate, so I have benefitted greatly from being kicked out of Geraldton, by $5 and a whole lot of happiness now.

I feel much more at home here at Northampton than I did at Batavia Coast Caravan Park. What a depressing place it was. I am glad that Seri was kind enough to kick me out, because this is not only $5 cheaper, but it is far, far better. Even the toilets smell cleaner by far. I asked Graham what cleaner he uses to get that nice, authentic aroma of a clean mens' room, and he told me it is called Praire Rose.

I will do my best to get the time to post up some photos of this lovely little van park by the river tomorrow if I don't freeze tonight. It is forecast to be 4*C ccording to Google tonight.