January 8th, 2016
Seven years ago, almost to the day, I’d left this very driveway on another road trip. Last time I was carried by Annette the Vannette. She was held together mostly by rust and painted a unique shade of “cow”. Acquired for a song from some German backpackers on their way out of the country, she was thoroughly used up. But what a wonderful vehicle. With her shimmering, glow-in-the-dark stars adorning her ceiling. The stars hung silently over a simple mattress that concealed all the necessities of travel, hastily and untidily stowed beneath. Ok… so she was a bit of a junker, but she was my carriage for a pretty awesome month-long journey into Northland: one of the few areas of New Zealand I’d not yet explored.
This time however, the set up was somewhat more sophisticated. Still pretty basic, but it was a definite step up.
Here, I owe a big “thank you” to my legendary cousin Jason for having been my go-between in the purchasing of the caravan I am writing this from and the car which tows it. (Not only that, but he also helped me out with Annette all those years ago and has consistently gone above and beyond). Thanks Jase. You truly are a champion.
I see this phase as an intermediate step on my way to my own real Tinyhouse (see the mock up of its proposed design). It’s modelled on a girl in Auckland (YouTube video), whose story was presented by Living Big in A Tiny House (YouTube Channel). I liked how she had found a cheap way to decrease her rent and I hope to do similar. My plan is to advertise on TradeMe.co.nz and community notice boards in the local area I decide to settle in. We’ll see how that goes. But for now it is also going to be a useful set up for travelling, as I need a place to house my dogs when I can’t supervise them directly. The camper is well-ventilated and I have a portable fan that makes it great for the summer months.
Today’s drive was always going to be an adrenalin pumping ride. “Why?” you ask… Because I was on the wrong side of the law for hours through heavily populated roadways. While my new car was able to tow the trailer, it hadn’t had a trailer light coupling installed. So I was driving straight down State Highway 1 for hundreds of kilometres past Highway Patrol and Police cars with the thought of discovery thumping at my conscience continuously. Well… it crossed my mind every now and then at least. Meh! I had to get down the country to attend a good friend’s wedding. I could get the thing fixed up ASAP after that.
I won’t bore you with the details of the 8-9hrs of driving that followed (driving with a trailer means slower progress unfortunately). Let it suffice to say that I nearly ran out of petrol once and the highlight of the trip was a nice lay over at Lake Taupo where I let the dogs have a run around and where Jake, my water-loving Pugalier had a bit of a swim. Other than that, it was a procession of long, winding roads framed by paddocks, small towns and picturesque forestry pine plantations. If you’ve never driven it, you should give it a go.
Made it to Ohau having managed to dodge the fuzz. Actually, I even got pulled over and had the registration on my trailer spot checked by the Highway Patrol. But he must’ve had eyes only for the registration and WOF (Warrant of Fitness- a regular safety certification required for vehicles on New Zealand roads). Whew! Winning!
All up, it was a long day of driving. But it signifies the beginning of a new chapter in my life. It’s the beginning of a nomadic existence, in which I choose every day to be open to possibility and change.