Kruising Musings

Kruising Musing 18

16/08/17  A Fair Call

While the two of us motored along, I was quietly musing on the number of caravans travelling in the opposite direction. I was doing more waving than the Queen Mum and developing RSI in my wrist. I remarked to Di that about 1 in 4 vehicles coming the other way were travellers heading south – travellers being caravans, motorhomes, camper trailers and whiz bangs. To Di, 1 in 4 seemed a lot. Was I indeed correct?

On the road you look for anything to pass the time and we latched onto my latest theory like a magnet, resolving to put it to the test. Fact Check it – Fact or Fiction? Firstly, we deliberated and then agreed on the required statistical groups – Travellers vs Non-Travellers – and which vehicles fell into each category. It was then determined that a 10 minute survey would provide a reasonable and (for that time of day) representative statistical sample. Having laid the basis for our test, we then commenced a tally of oncoming traffic for the requisite time duration, with Di recording the count.
Calculation of the results proved that, indeed, my original estimate had been sound, with 24 Travellers recorded compared to 60 Non-Travellers, representing 28.57% of southbound traffic being Travellers. Close enough to 1 in 4 – well, 1 in 3.5 actually, but you can’t realistically have 3.5 vehicles….Hey, c’mon now, wake up! I hear you snoring. I know it’s not very riveting stuff, but it did help pass the time for a while. And besides, I like being proven CORRECT.

A good wife always forgives her husband when she’s wrong.

Travellers On The Road (Google Image)

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Kruising Musings – 17

7/08/17  What the Flock!

There’s always one in every bunch. We were camped up in a large grassy area, a few acres in size with lots of flat open space. Everyone just found their own spot, with heaps of separation from those around. Very pleasant. And then this guy pulls in! Obviously a lover of caravan parks who can’t deal with open spaces or personal space. Parking close was the first sin; then what little space did separate us was taken up by his bloody BMW; and to take out the trifecta he set up his generator on our side of his van!    What the!? Time for us to leave.

We came across a great article on campsite flocking behaviour at https://www.thegreynomads.com.au/lifestyle/in-the-spotlight/flockers/ that explains it so well.

It’s time someone developed a scrambler that establishes a silent zone of electronic garbage for a reasonable distance around your van, scrambling every electronic device except your own, and overlaying a voice message to all their audio devices “This is the much neglected voice of your social conscience speaking. You have parked way too close to your neighbour. Show them some consideration and move away”. Priceless! I’d buy one!

“Out of all my body parts, I feel like my eyes are in the best shape. I do at least a thousand eye rolls a day.”

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Kruising Musings – 16

29/09/16  Di’s Super Power

Di has a capability that has been refined to a formidable degree while we’ve been travelling. It’s not simply a talent – it’s much more than that. It’s a superpower. Let me give you an example: Di can go to drop the rubbish in the bin, a quick task there and back. On returning to the van, she can relate the names of people she’d just met, where they were from, how long they’ve been travelling, what their children do for a living, any problems with their van, good camp spots they recommend … and on it goes. She might only have been gone for a few minutes and she got all that! She’s even come back once with a copy of a recipe!

It’s more than just a capacity to talk but, more significantly, it’s a supreme ability to elicit maximum information. Me, I have no idea how a short conversation can culminate in so much detail. Hers is a superpower of which I am in awe.

It’s a universal power that she wields, extending beyond camp sites where people are inclined to converse anyway, travellers being generally an open and chatty lot. No, it knows no bounds and can happen anywhere – while I’m fuelling up the car, for example. Within half a tank, she can have found a local and extracted where the Information Centre is located along with that person’s family history. Me, I come across someone, and it’s like “G’day…Howyagoin?…Priddygoodthanksmate.” And that’s it. Didn’t give much, didn’t get much. Pleasantries over and back to pumping fuel.

Di would be eminently great screening refugees. Within minutes, I reckon her superpower would extract enough information to certify their entry status one way or the other. She would be a definite national asset. But then, if she were to do that, I’d be left to locate the Information Centre on my own…“G’day…Howyagoin?…”

“Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It’s the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all.” ― Guy de Maupassant

Categories: Kruising Musings

Kruising Musings – 15

16/05/16  Where Was That Place?

Chats with other travellers at camps often wind up being about places you or they have been and things you or they have seen or done. “Well, if you’re going near …., then you’ll HAVE to go to the ….” Right off the top of their head, with no hesitation for memory recall.

We’ve been travelling for two years and I have to admit that my memory of things is starting to blur a little. Details like place names are sometimes impossible to recall. I’m a visual thinker. If I see a name, I’m more likely to remember and recall it than if I just hear it. So if I haven’t seen a placename for a while, it’s easier to forget it. Di’s different, so between the two of us, we can generally put together the details but the process can be a bit hit and miss. We’d look at each other and say, “Now, where was that place where we.…? Was it….? No, wasn’t it ….?” Enough can usually be pieced together to get by.

20160518 Our Trip To Date

I really envy those people who have memories that can retain every little detail of their lives since they were born. Sometimes even earlier, it seems. They are the “analogue” types, who use their natural grey matter to instantly recall and trot out stories and details and names with a clarity like it happened 20 minutes ago, not 20 years. How do they do that!? To me, it’s like some magical gift.

This is not an age related thing with me. I’ve always been the same. I’m the “digital” type when it comes to facts. I’m a tool user. I make a tool to do the work. A big part of my career involved information – its’ storage, recall and dissemination. Around this, I constructed databases to manage the mountains of information. There was, therefore, no need for me to remember any or all the detail; just how to find it quickly. I’m still doing the same thing now as we travel. The places we’ve been in the past three years are all detailed as an electronic snail trail winding its way across a GPS mapping app in my tablet. I can refer to it to see where we’ve been. And this blog forms a diary of our journey and what we’ve done. Again, there’s no need for me to remember all the detail.

I once heard that we are capable of remembering only so much, and to add anything new to that finite capacity, we have to get rid of some old memories to make new space. While home over Christmas, we both took time to read back through the blog and surprisingly discovered that some of it was almost like new, as we’d forgotten it. Those bits had been cleaned out to make space for the new. A little bulb came on illuminating memories that had gone dim. How good is it that we’ve been doing the blog from the very start, and also transposing it into printed coffee table books in case the blog ever goes belly up as web sites are wont to do. They will be our long-term memory of our travels. Five have already been printed, and volume six is underway.

So, in conversations, we “digital” folks will continue to rely on each other to fill in the blanks, as all couples do anyway. And if necessary I’ll trot out the tablet to add some more detail for those bastards with instant recall. That’s just the way we roll.

“It was impossible to get a conversation going. Everybody was talking too much.” – Yogi Berra

Photo 3-09-2014 7 03 00 pm

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Kruising Musings – 14


20151215 Kruising Around Australia Map

16/12/15  How Good Is It To Be At Home!

How good is it to have a shower in your own home after travelling in a van for eight months. It felt so luxurious. My first reaction was “I’ll have to give this place a good write up on WikiCamps”, but this wasn’t a camp; it was Home. It felt so good that I still considered making the WikiCamps entry anyway, but we’d likely end up with brightly painted vans full of backpackers named Bjorn or Sven landing on our doorstep looking for the terrific bathroom facilities.

Seriously, though, how good is it to shower in water that you didn’t have to pre-heat for eight minutes. Or to luxuriate in the shower without worrying about emptying the water tank. How good is it to be able to towel yourself dry without hitting the walls or ceiling with hands and elbows.

We both felt that we were ready to come back this time. There was none of the awkward discomfort associated with the much larger living space in the apartment that we experienced on our previous return home, when it took about a week to adjust to not being in the caravan. We were both quite comfortable this time, glad to be back in our home again. I think we’ve become much more seasoned travellers. As soon as I got back last time, all I could think of was where we’d be going next and when we’d be heading out. This time, I feel happy and relaxed about being back for as long as it lasts. Having said that though, we’re both looking forward to heading off again. In fact, Di started planning our next trip while we were travelling back the other day…

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“It’s funny. When you leave your home and wander really far, you always think, ‘I want to go home.’ But then you come home, and of course it’s not the same. You can’t live with it, you can’t live away from it. And it seems like from then on there’s always this yearning for some place that doesn’t exist. I felt that. Still do. I’m never completely at home anywhere.” ― Danzy Senna

Categories: General News, Kruising Musings, Travel News

Kruising Musings – 13

24/09/15  Tread Lightly

It is a real shame how some people treat Australia like a garbage bin or a big outdoor toilet.
As we travel around, we see litter and toilet paper in the most beautiful of places. Snack bar wrappers, drink cans, cigarette butts and plastic water bottles litter walking paths and picnic areas and roadsides and points of interest – just about everywhere. Empty beer cans lie on the side of the track in the remotest of places, casually discarded from passing cars. At bush camping sites and rest stops, some with toilets, the nearby grasses and bushes are decorated like Christmas trees with wind-blown lengths of white toilet paper. In a dry climate, toilet paper will not readily degrade and takes a long time to decompose away.

Such careless and thoughtless lack of respect for the environment spoils it for the next person who comes along. A place should be left better from our having been there, not worse. By using common sense and common courtesy, what is available today will be there to enjoy tomorrow.

So, please, take out what you bring in. Smokers, carry a sealable butt container. Properly dispose of waste. Leave what you find so the next person can also enjoy it.

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Leave no trace of your having passed that way.

“Tread lightly upon this earth, seeing, understanding but never imposing.” – Anon

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Kruising Musings – 12

27/08/2015   E.A. Murphy Lives in Darwin!

We spent seven weeks at Berry Springs before heading on. It wasn’t intended to be that long, but circumstances conspired to keep us there. Now, everyone knows that when things go wrong, they invariably happen in threes. We learned during our stay near Darwin that the next thing to happen after the first three isn’t really the fourth – it’s the start of a brand new series of three. During our time there, we went on to our fifth set of threes that kept rolling in on us like waves on a beach.

  1. Car trouble initially brought us to Darwin earlier than intended. We had to wait almost a week to have it worked on.
  2. I ordered a couple of very common parts from the local Land Rover dealer to restock my kit of spares. The expected 4-5 days delivery time from Sydney ended up being twice that.
  3. A slow-leaking van tyre was irreparable, and with no local stocks of that particular brand, the replacement had to come up from Adelaide. Again, the expected 4-5 days delivery time pushed out to twice that.

Continue reading

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Kruising Musings – 11

16/07/2015   Boundaries

Boundaries

This country is a big place, with enough space to go around. When I think of a great camp spot, I picture it next to a cool river, beneath a shady gum tree, or on a hilltop with a great view, but always with no-one else in sight; just the two of us and the countryside. Sounds nice, but not always achievable.

Firstly, at any given time there could be up to 450,000 other rigs scattered around just about every part of the country. And chances are that, of that number, quite a lot will be in the same area as us and, like us, looking for that same idyllic and serene camp site. No matter where we are, there have always been lots of other travellers. Locations quickly become chockers by the afternoon and look more like a caravan park than our envisaged solitary bush paradise.

The odds of sharing with the masses can be lessened, though. A lot of travellers don’t like taking their caravan or motorhome over rough roads. If you have to travel over a dirt road to get there, more so if the road is rough and corrugated, the camp site will be populated by the sub-set who have off-road capability or who take it steady coming in. Further reducing the competition is a lack of amenities – toilet; water; power – as lots of rigs aren’t self-contained. Even more significantly reducing the chances of having neighbours is if the location isn’t listed in any of the camp site reference sources like Camps Australia and WikiCamps. These are obviously hard to find. I know of two and am not having them listed, but sure as eggs, someone in the above-mentioned horde will eventually do so.

So far in our travels, we’ve camped at 81 locations in five states/territories for an average of 4 days each, and in no more than 10 of those locations could it be said that we were on our own without neighbours in sight. Most of the time, we’ve shared camp sites with other travellers and they with us. We always try therefore to be mindful of the etiquette of living within close proximity to strangers and have for the most part found others to be like that too. And generally everyone has an enjoyable experience.

But people are people, whether they are travelling or not, and there are always the few exceptions.
Recently, we were camped next to a lovely running stream and a great view up the river – close to qualifying as an idyllic location, I’d have to admit. We went away for the day and arrived back to find that someone had come in during the day and backed their caravan in very close to ours and in such a way that our great view was blocked. We’d previously seen this same van at another location, and I specifically remembered it because it was unnecessarily parked in such a way as to partly block the access track and impede movement of other vehicles. Not a way to make friends, I thought at the time.

I know we can’t own a view but, with a little consideration, these people could have run their van forward a couple of metres, retaining their view of the river and still allowing us ours. They knew they’d blocked us as the wife mentioned it in passing in a rather unapologetic way. In fact, they’d backed in so close that the tail of their van was actually sitting over our wood pile and portable fire pit!

They’d already set up and unhitched by the time we’d gotten back from our drive, so what could I do? Jumping up and down and whinging seemed a bit childish and petulant. I considered just lighting up the fire pit, but figured their blazing caravan would probably be too close to our van for safety. So I moved the wood pile and fire pit and afforded them no hospitality whatsoever, aside from the evil eye as I fired up my generator. A much more adult solution, I thought. Strike One against them.

We learned later that when they initially pulled in, the wife had taken out a chair, sat down uninvited beneath the awning of the next caravan along and told the somewhat stunned owners that she was going to wait there in the shade while her husband finished setting up their caravan. Strike Two.

Later that evening and again uninvited, they gate-crashed those same people while they were entertaining a group of friends. They were given a very cold-shouldered reception until they left. Strike Three.

Most people get it, but you encounter the occasional ones who seem to have no boundaries when it comes to interacting with others, like the above couple who blissfully travel the country, knowingly or unknowingly leaving a trail of disruption and irritation wherever they set foot. We’ve also come across:

  • the “Twanger DJs” who reckon everyone will appreciate their community broadcast of heartfelt ballads about a) knowin’ when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, b) my woman/man left me, c) I have a gun, d) I am going to shoot my woman/man, e) the gov’ment’s trying to take my gun, or f) I’m goin’ to jail ‘cause I shot my woman/man;
  • the “Sprawlers” who spread their vehicle, van, awning, generator and the rest of their gear across a couple of camp sites, maximising their own space and precluding anyone else – especially appreciated when there are no other sites available as a result;
  • the “Camp Barons” who don’t go for the whole open-range concept and instead fence off a large camp site with pickets and rope (similar to the Sprawlers but neater);
  • the “ETs” who have loud “phone home” conversations on speaker outside their van;
  • the “Not In My Back Yarders” (aka NIMBYs) who let their little Rat-Dog roam free and think it’s just so cute when it piddles and poops in my camp site. (BTW These dogs make great fishing bait);
  • the “Front Row Forwards” who see a gap and just have to take it, setting up in that little bit of space in front of someone’s van, regardless that the space was there because the car was unhitched, and they are now blocking that van from being re-hitched; and
  • the “Huddlers” whose flocking instinct compels them set up camp right beside you when there are literally acres of space available.

Boundary n, pl –ries 1. something that indicates the farthest limit, as of an area; border 2. (cricket) the marked limit of the playing area.

Boundaries are necessary to maintain order, establish limits, provide containment, ensure an absence of chaos and mayhem, and result in 4 or 6 runs depending on how the boundary is reached. Most people do get it; every now and then, though…

All I’m saying is, in the laissez-faire environment of a camp site, it’s important to have boundaries to avoid my playing area and your playing area intersecting above my wood pile.

“You can observe a lot by just watching.” – Yogi Berra

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Kruising Musings – 10

01/07/2015   Travellers Conversations

Travellers Conversations tend to kick off pretty much the same way – “G’day. Where have you come in from?” or perhaps “How long are you staying?” if you might be eyeing off their particular camp spot. That opener breaks the ice and the conversation runs on from there. The thing that we share with everyone else in a campground is “travelling”. We are all from some other place and on our way to somewhere else.

But having kicked off the Travellers Conversation, it takes on a standard theme. Get a couple of people together with any common interest and before you know it, the conversation is like a tennis match; one person serves up their particular line, the other receives and returns theirs. Put a couple of travellers together, doesn’t matter whether they are male or female, and very quickly they start talking about how they do a particular thing, or how they’ve set up their rig, or how great a particular camp spot was on the other side of the country.

It never fails.

Travellers Conversations are enjoyable and informative, and often we take away a useful gem or two. Not every time though. One guy I got talking to was just so enthusiastic about how he’d converted all his on-board storage to “48 baskets, nothing else, just 48 baskets” and proceeded to detail where each one was located. Sometimes, despite the other person’s enthusiasm and excitement over their own experiences, it can be difficult to share it with them to the same extent. “Well, nice talking with you. Think I may have left the kettle on…”

Di loves to get into Travellers Conversations, particularly about the special places people have been. And she’ll make notes and borrow their Camps Book to compare anecdotes with our book. Most times, these pay off and we end up in a great place. In the meantime, I’m looking at converting our on-board storage to baskets…

“When you come to a fork in the road….take it.” – Yogi Berra

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Kruising Musings – 9

14/03/2015

“Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip…

…In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Photo 3-09-2014 7 03 00 pm

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