Finally!! The big day. We are going to pick up the caravan, fill it full of all the treasures we had bought, and start the long drive towards home. Every detail had been taken care of. We had a whole week to make sure we had insurance and all the necessary bits and pieces that add several thousands of dollars to your already hefty purchase. We now knew that we had to buy a even more stuff, and we had voted on which children we could sell for the best price.

We got lost on the way to the dealer. Mainly because we could not figure out how to work the new Hema meant to lead us through the wilderness of Australia and never get lost. Either we were incredibly dumb, really old, or crappy shoppers.  All we knew was that we already sucked at being Nomads and we hadn’t even been allowed to hook up the caravan to our truck yet.

The phone rang. It was a 20 something receptionist asking where we were and telling us we were supposed to be there a half hour ago and people were waiting on us and had other things to do. We really liked her immediately. Then, when we tried to explain to her that we had not been given any time, she informed us that the people doing the hand over would have explained all of this to us. We told her they hadn’t because the show was closing down for the day and everyone was in a rush and no one had phoned us since then. She rolled her eyes. I could hear her over the phone. This whole “Grey Nomad,” “caravaning” thing was starting to get on my nerves. It is like once we signed on the dotted line we had entered this alternate reality where everyone was treating us like we were seniors in a Giant Nursing Home of a life where everyone wanted to pat our hands, scold us, and tell us that our perception of reality was not at all real. All that was missing was someone coming at us with a spoon of gruel making airplane noises.

We got to the dealer and she was just as pleasant in person. When I tried to address her accusations, she dismissed me with a wave of her hand saying “whatever, we don’t have time to argue this right now, I have papers for you to sign.” Derek talked. I was too busy giving her the stink eye and wondering what the heck had happened to my laser destruction beams and why she was still sitting there and not busy vaporizing.

The men in the back were much more pleasant. They stuffed a couple of folders in our hands and began what would be 6 hours of non-stop instructions on how everything worked and what else we absolutely had to have and did we want them to put it on now, they only had a little bit of time, but could do it right now if we wanted . . . $1500.00.   Derek calmly sorted through all of that and I tried to make sense of 5,000 buttons, and sequences, and warnings, without much success because somewhere into hour 2 of non-stop instruction with terms that made no sense to me all I could hear was “whaw whaw whaw whaw whawddy whaw don’t ever touch whaw whaw.” Continue reading

Prologue 4: Waiting in Melbourne Part 2.


We decided to take the trolley to and from anywhere we had to go, and leave the car where it was.  I informed Derek that I would not be going with him to get the car.  I would wait down on the street for him.  I kept reminding him of that, telling him several times during the day that I did not want, under any circumstances, to ride in the elevator again.  He didn’t say anything, in that vague kind of not saying anything way when you are not sure if it means “ya ok, no prob, you can wait for me” or “ya ok, no prob, you keep talking and believe whatever you want but you are coming with me and that’s that no need for me to discuss it with you further.”  Derek is like that, he keeps his cards close to his chest.

Meanwhile,  we trollied our little hearts out.  All these young people kept standing up and offering us their seats, the ones that say they are reserved for the handicapped, mothers with small children or the elderly.  Derek was quite put out that they were offering him a seat. I am not sure what he sees when he looks in the mirror.  Maybe he thought that  he had put on some weight around the middle and they thought he might be pregnant.

We ended up jumping off in the downtown area and as Derek grabbed my hand so we could run and catch the walk light up ahead, I managed to DEEEEEPLY massage my forehead with a metal sign.  I started sobbing like a kid and he was hugging me, not so much to comfort me as it was to muffle the sounds of my wailing.  I had to hit him so he would let go and I could breathe.  He set me down on a bench seat and made me drink some water (his cure for everything) and wrapped my head with something – I suspect it was one of his tube socks.  I had a goose egg.  I was not feeling good.  What kind of an idiot walks into a street sign?  Not a young person, let me tell you.  It had to be an taller, old person.  The kind of person who just bought a caravan.  I was starting to see a trend here and I didn’t like it. Continue reading

Prologue 3: Waiting in Melbourne Part 1.



Who knew waiting for the caravan would end up being such an adventure. We had to take our one night out of the resort and find a hotel. Ballarat was fully booked so we decided to head to Melbourne where we found a boutique type hotel room, centrally located close to the tram lines.

There was not much parking. So this “boutique” consisted of an elegant older house with an above ground tunnel attachment through the garden area, connecting it to what was once an older apartment building. It was on a lovely street, separated from one of the major roads by a nature strip and large trees. We could either park on the street, wherever . . . Including 5 blocks away, playing the “where the hell will we park now” game every time we left and came back, hauling our stuff through the city like pack mules minus the muscles and the “I could give a shit” attitude most mules possess OR (isn’t this sentence epic???) we could pay to park in the limited parking area in the back.

We decided to pay.

We assumed that “limited parking” meant that there were just a few spaces. We first drove into the typical parkade door to find ourselves in what looked like a small garage bay. The door closed behind us and we looked at each other and then around the garage for where we were supposed to park. There appeared to be room to park maybe three vehicles in a very random, angled kind of way … maybe. There were no other vehicles. And then we saw a door attached to a large container and a button. OH, the ramp was clearly there, behind the door! Right? Continue reading

Prologue 2: Waiting.


There is some kind of weird mojo that happens when you buy a caravan. I think you put out a scent that other caravaners pick up on or something because all of a sudden, whenever we are out in public, we hesitate in a step, and we are surrounded by caravanners, slapping us on the back, telling us their life stories, and showing us pictures on their phones.

Everyone is “Del and Betty” or “Bernie and Sue.” They have cute little names for their caravans, matching shirts, and they know everything about caravanning. Except …. everyone’s “everything knowing” is diametrically opposed to everyone else’s. It’s a three ring circus minus that flying monkeys but with a really freaky sideshow.

We start hearing stories about the dangers of “some of those idiots” out there. These are stories about the very young, the very wealthy, and basically anyone who doesn’t do it like they do. People warn us about things get stolen, how some parks cheat you and how people siphon diesel. People warn us about “Al and Barb from Queensland” driving a later model Jayco, who you can’t get rid of if they latch on to you. They talk caravan dealers and tell you tons of horror stories about your dealer, reciting the same crap you hear 90 million times at the caravan shows and dealers. They usually start with things like “You won’t find another dealer who makes their hinges like ours does . . . ” Continue reading

Prologue 1. We Bought A Caravan.

prologue 1

So we did it. We bought a caravan.

Well, it wasn’t quite that easy. It was actually a very long, drawn-out process.

First, there was the part where Derek started telling me about several friends who had awesome experiences caravaning. Of course he always just “happened” to run into these long lost friends, that I had never heard him mention before, at the grocery store, or the gym, or basically anywhere where I wasn’t and neither was any other witness that could confirm the whole event. He assured me, even if I was getting older and my memory was clearly beginning to fail, he had indeed, mentioned these people many times before.

Then we had the period where he sold me on all the wonderful places in Australia that he wanted to show me, places that, sadly I probably would never get to see because (insert wailing and gnashing of teeth here and tether your wrist to your forehead with velcro) we didn’t have a caravan. You would need one because it would take weeks to get to these places and we would be out in the wilderness, seeing things maybe no other white man but him had seen. Certainly no other white Canadian woman would have seen them. He found all his beautiful picture books and told me of his epic tales of long ago and things there were to see just outside of the range of the picture in the book. He always seemed to turn the channel and find a show on Discovery, filmed by National Geographic, narrated by David Attenborough, about the wilds of Australia and the privileged few who would ever get to see these areas . . . in that you would have to have a (the wailing velcro thing again) caravan to get to. I think Derek even covered the television with extra gauze. Continue reading