Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Monkeys and Motor Homes

Me and my camper van for the night

Monkeys and motor homes …….Yep! Those are two things I dreamed about having as a little girl when I grew up.  Not so sure about the monkeys, I think it came from my love to take care of animals and have a pet. I thought a monkey would be the ultimate pet, but later on, growing up, that dream slowly fizzled away and I settled for hamsters, mice, frogs, fish, and turtles.

The motor home, however, has always been in the back of my head.  When I was younger, I wanted a motor home so that I could travel around during the summer from craft fair to craft fair selling my arts and crafts.  At that age, I already knew I had a strong creative side and loved art.  Growing up, my family did a lot of road trips with the five kids, but we never had a camper van. We came across a lot of them on the roads so the idea stayed present in my mind.  However, I didn’t even step foot inside of one, except for maybe at a car lot when they were on display and for sale.  But wouldn’t you know, last night I finally ended up sleeping in one and I was the happiest young lady in the world!

A storm is in the air.....
This trip is always keeping me on my toes.  As I’ve stated many times, I never know what to expect from one day to another.  For the last five days I’ve had the most wonderful time traveling with my parents, staying in nice hotels, eating delicious meals out a restaurants and touring the southern portion of New Zelandand’s South Island by car.  Sadly, I left them yesterday morning, set off for a school visit in Queenstown and then hit the road to ride 70 kilometers to Wanaka.  Rain was hovering in the clouds above me and I kept telling them they could let down as soon as I arrived at my destination.  They listened.  I arrived at Wanaka and not a drop of rain, so of course I pressed my luck. I stocked up on some food at the supermarket and decided to ride just a bit longer to a campground 15 kilometers up the road. If it had been raining I probably would have treated myself to a hostel.  By the time I arrived at the campground, it was almost dark and looked like the storm was just about to come.

I asked the man at the reception who seemed quite friendly for a campsite that was more protected than others. I was ready to accept my fate, well almost….In the past I’ve been lucky to camp under BBQ areas and picnic sights if it was raining, just to keep dry.  There’s nothing I hate more than packing up a wet tent in my bag. He replied by saying “You mean trees? Take your pick there are trees all around!”  I looked at him with a big smile and asked if he was fully booked and pointed up to one of the cabins that looked empty to see if I could possibly pitch my tent under one of the overhanging.  Then I proceeded talking, doing something I never do.  I started smooth talking him, not so much out of pity, but for fun, I could see he was a jolly older fellow in good spirits.  I told him how much more fun it was to camp and stay dry and that I had a long day ahead of me tomorrow.  I told him I had cycled 15,000 kilometers and that I have 15,000 to go!  He replied with the proposal to pay $3 NZD to stay in a motor home.  I didn’t think twice, I took it! In fact I was so thankful, I started to express my gratitude and the young gentleman behind me, a tourist too, became really entertained as well!  I told him he just became the nicest man on all the South I sland and the first to offer me a discount.  I thought I had found the deal of the day earlier when I stopped at a McDonalds for a 60 cent ice cream cone and got 30 minutes of free wifi, but he had just topped that.  I explained to him a bit more about my trip and suddenly Darren, the tourist behind me, and I were the best of friends.  Darren admitted that he wouldn’t sleep soundly if he knew I was out all night in the rainstorm.  I would have settled for just a porch to protect my tent, but with a motor home, I couldn’t complain, it was a dream of mine that was about to come true.

My windows were weatherized with duck tape
I wheeled my bike over to the RV section of the campsite to see what awaited me.  There sat a motor home that was probably older than I was.  A few of the windows had been bashed and taped up with duck tape.  Inside there were 3 single beds and a double with an enticing Speights Beer poster overhanging the headboard.  I had a kitchenette and a mini bedside table. The motor home even had a small skylight above my head and there were windows on every side tinted so that I could enjoy my view but no one could see me!  It was perfect, more than I needed for a good night’s sleep.  In fact, if I were in Vietnam, they probably would have expected that I go out on the town and find people to fill it, and charge me more!

Sweet dreams with my favorite Kiwi beer

Click here to watch the short video tour of my motor home

By the time I got settled, showered, and prepared my dinner in the campground kitchen, a gourmet can of chickpea curry on quinoa, it had started raining, but only a light sprinkle.  To my surprise, the clouds never let go and the entire storm passed with only a few sprinkles.  I was relieved to sleep protected just in case it had rained.  I did sleep pretty soundly, except for the fact that I had an usual dream.  I dreamt that a man kept knocking on the door of my motor home trying to get in.  I kept sending him away but in the end the only way I could escape was to drive away (this camper van wasn’t the driving type in real life, it had to be attached as a trailer, mind you).  So I started driving the motor home all around the lake and town trying to flea.  No, I wasn’t panicked or frantic in my sleep, and I didn’t awake abruptly, …..I guess the dream so closely paralleled my reality, a familiar experience I had back in China, except without a motor home.  Therefore, I couldn’t be bothered to let the dream really disturb my sleep, it just made me think of my young Chinese cyclist friend back in China, Jaume, ha!

My motorhome even had bike parking

Now that I’ve tried out a night in a motor home, I must admit, I’d love to do it again.  In fact, I’m already starting to think about a trip around New Zealand, not on a bike, but in a motor home kayaking and hiking on the tracks in the national parks.  What an adventure that would be! 

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