Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Day 3 well 4 to be more accurate (The point is the trip not the destination)

I've got to be honest ... sleeping all cramped into the van with Hamish starfishing all night and Jack snoring doesn't work out to be the best nights sleep I've ever had. Luckily they are both happy as Larry but at one point last night I had a mini freak out as I was so squished into the door of the van that I felt claustrophobic and had to sit up so I could breath. Hamish of course then commandeered all of the space I left and I was left perching on the edge wondering if 'accidentally' kicking him in the head was ok.

I miss my bed....

But that's all I have to complain about. Well almost. The only other thing is how is it home time tomorrow? and why do days like these go so quickly? when there are so many boring days that go so slowly.

We woke up and hung out, letting everything dry after the nights mist. We decided that we would head 1/2 way home today to make tomorrow less hectic but we also didn't want to leave. The kids want to come back to Bellingen as soon as we can and as often as we can. And that suits me just fine. Surprisingly they both said they would choose to do this tiny camper thing again and that suits me fine as well. I can set up camp in about 15 minutes and pack it down almost as quickly. If I was designing it I can think of some mods that would make it better and I'd ditch the weird cumbersome fridge that keeps things sort of cool but not cold enough to wonder if you're risking salmonella. But it's been a good little portable home.

We headed into town for our first meal that someone else cooked and then drove back to the Never Never (with a takeaway coffee in hand, I'm just to inner west to not have a proper coffee if I can). We made our last rock sculptures and had our last swim in the icy water then packed our wet selves back into the van. By my figuring we would be fishing in Bulahdelah by 3 .... my figuring is so often wrong.

We got here after 4 and I sent the kids walking over the bridge to get bait and milk while I set up camp. They are currently fishing on the jetty while I enjoy a glass of red. It's not the most peaceful spot, so close to the main road into town. But it makes having lugged the fishing gear worthwhile and we are only a few hours from home.

I'll be sorry to pack up tomorrow. It feels like we could have at least another few days and maybe settled a little more into one space or another. I noticed today that I caught myself moving the kids on and stopped. I guess normal life require a lot of moving them and myself on and it was so refreshing to have a few days where we could just be and do as we pleased without having anywhere in particular to be. I think that's what I liked best. And what I'd like to try and find ways of feeling more in our day to day.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Day 2 (You know it's a good day when your van starts)

The kids wake up WAY to early. At home this isn't an issue, they wake, feed themselves and settle down into some TV. Here it's a family affair that consists of me pulling the covers over my head while trying to convince them that reading should send them back to sleep.

It doesn't ...

So we get up while the dew is still on the ground and open the van as the windows are so fogged up it needs drying out and start cooking bacon and banana rolls, which in my mind is the perfect camping breakfast.

The kids are both being blissful and annoying as hell in equal doses and in in that way I guess they are being perfect. They are helping sometimes, and fighting sometimes but they are never complaining so I'm a happy woman.

After breakfast we have a luxurious 5 minute shower, first one for the trip and pack up the van.

Driving further afield in this place reminds me of why I love it so much that we almost moved here. It's all rolling hills, tie-dye and rivers .... so many beautiful rivers. It's like the other half of me. There is the one that loves the vibrant place we call home and then the other that feels a longing for spaces this green and open.

We drive passing over wooden bridges and cattle grates until I see it. The place I've been thinking of. (And didn't realise how scared I was until then that I wouldn't find it)

We pull over and explore further up river and we find the perfect spot. Big granite boulders in the middle of a crisp stream with a 20 metre escarpment on the other side. Perfect for mum.

Over the years I have thought about what it would be like spreading mums ashes. In my mind it was all revenant and calm and serene. In the end we did it my way, a little hectic with the kids 1/2 naked and me trying to prise my way into the container with a rotten stick because I had underestimated how hard that thing was going to be to open.

We had waded across the river to a hard to reach space that looked over a pebble beach we had been sitting on on the other side. No one would have a reason to come across here. But the view from this side is of the beauty of the other. Just what mum would have liked. Where she can look but doesn't have to swim.

Jack came to the rescue finding a sharp stone to pry the top of the container just moments before I started pounding on it with a rock and we took handfuls and threw it all over the escarpment. There was nothing somber about it. We played Dave Brubecks 'Take Five' mums favourite song, which clashed horrendously with the space. One handful I threw headed straight into Jack and then we realised a bunch of it had landed on our thongs that we had left a few levels down. I stood for a second and looked at the chaos and laughed and cuddled the boys and thought just how mum would have thought it was all such a perfect mess. All felt like it was as it should be. No movie moment. Just us doing it our way.

We slipped back down the bank waded across the river and sat in the sun looking back at the spot. The kids made rock sculptures, I cried a little and laughed a lot and then we all jumped into the frigid water that was so clear you could see the bottom even though it was deeper than I am tall and made sure we had washed all of mum off of us.

And that was it .... I thought I would feel something mountainous. I don't ... just a calm and sense of right.

After drying ourselves on the rocks we drove back to the same spot we stayed last night. We walked into town decided to buy each other gifts to remember this trip. Jack wanted a beautiful set of pencils. Hamish a crystal necklace and me a ball of hand dyed wool to make a pompom.

And as I sat here making a start on my pompom the kids ran on the grass in the dark with sparklers, drew on rocks we had found and we ate sausages as the mist rolled in. They both talked about how they think they will always remember this trip. And how thankful they are to my mum for teaching me how to be a mum because apparently she did a pretty awesome job. And suddenly my crazy 'lets hire a campervan in winter and just drive' idea feels like the best decision I've made in many years.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Day 1 (Adventure are you sure?)

What happens when you start dreaming about owning a campervan and have school holidays come up in the same month. Apparently if you're me you book a rental van and plan an escape. And by plan I mean book a rental van and think 'WINTER BE DAMNED I'll drive north'.

That's pretty much how this whole thing started.

As I was talking about maybe doing this I mentioned to a friend that the one location I was feeling pulled to was Bellingen. It's a place I've loved for years and the only place I've ever seen a spot that I could imagine putting mums ashes. 'Do it' she said 'take your mum and go' and so we did.

Sunday we went to grab the van at 930am but instead of the original plan of leaving as early as possible, my deciding to take it easy the day before (mistake #1) meant we finally got on the road by 12. It took me about 4 hours to realise that we needed to figure out where we were going to stay on the first night. We travelled off the motorway towards the coast to no avail. We even looked at staying in a caravan park but being Sunday they were all closed.

Cut to another 45 minute drive with the sun chasing us finally pulling up just after dusk in Wingham.

We pulled up next to a sign that said overnight camping, and jumped out of the car.

It was freezing and smelled weird. As we turned everything off we realised why. 1000s of bats were barrelling through the air. And that smell was bat poo.

We weren't the only people staying there. There was two caravan setups and one very loud obnoxious drunk couple in a car that started fighting so horrendously that we wondered if we should call the police. And then they passed out.

Hamish cooked our sausages while Jack and I set up the van for sleep. Once we had eaten we jumped into bed for warmth and read our books. We then fell into as good a sleep as three people crammed into a double bed inside a van on a freezing night can.

When we woke we realised we had parked in the only muddy shaded part of the ground so I moved the van to the other side and cooked breakfast made coffee and charged our phones (mistake #2).

I accidentally left the battery running after the move and it had run it flat.

Cut to two hours later 5 phone calls, one walk through a nature reserve to the local NRMA only to be told we should have called another number....

We were on the road.

We made it to Bellingen by 3 and parked in the showground. We wandered into town to grab some supplies and the kids had a paddle in the pristine river.

I really love it here. I'm wearing a light jumper, the sounds and smells are of people playing guitar and horses. I can't wait to wake up in the morning.

I hope our travels tomorrow find the spot I'm looking for and I get to let go of mums ashes. I hope we either find a better place to stay or we come back here and explore this little town again. I hope the car starts in the morning.
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