Headed up North
The day I hoped I wouldn't see again has arrived. On Saturday the 22nd of march we picked up a Maui 6 person camper van in Sydney and headed north. The final destination will be cairns with planned stops at Byron Bay, Brisbane, lone pine sanctuary, and maybe somewhere in the Gold Coast. It's a road trip though so we'll see where we end up.
The point is that I will be driving on the wrong side of the road... Again!
This vehicle was a re location rig we found online. Sydney is a major drop off area for these rentals and Carines is a major pick up point and they were either running low or someone reserved this particular one needing it moved up north.
And north is the direction we were heading.
They give us $50 towards gas, which isn't much in Australia. and we have 7 days to get the van from the pick up location to the drop off site.
We only pay $5 a day for it and if we want it for any additional days its $75 per day. There is also a $1,000 insurance bond that they charged one of our cards for and we get it back if there are no accidents.
Because Hitch hiking is illegal in Australia and to get to these other destinations of ours we'd have to buy plane tickets as well as ground transportation and accommodations. This way we will save a bit of money and have all those needs taken care of.
Mitchell has spent a good amount of time driving in New Zealand and Australia so we had him for the first leg of driving. He sat in the lobby while Alicia and I did the paperwork for the camper. We opted out of taking toll roads because basically the process was a mess and we wanted to save a few bucks. You can't stop and pay you have to register a credit card online and when you go through the toll you automatically get charged.
So we decided to take a route that was only 12 min longer. We didn't realize that the way we picked would take Mitchell right through the heart of Sydney on a Saturday in a 6 birth van! Mitchell was unaware of the toll roads option until
we were actually on the road. He didn't like the desicion we made for him.
Ill just say he was a bit stressed as we drove through Sydney.
About 4 hours into our trip Alicia swapped me spots in the back so I became Mitchell's co pilot.
About an hour later the van was shaking pretty bad and Mitchell and I started wondering what was going on. Pulling over to check it out, I discovered the front passenger tire was flat! Prior to this we had been making good time.
It was a team effort with Mitchell working the jack in the front and Alicia and I on our hands and knees at the rear of the van releasing the spare tire. It was surprising to me that the cars passing by where only able to see us girls while Mitchell was out of sight. Yet no one pulled over to see if they could help us.
We jacked the van up and had the tires ready to swap but we couldn't get the jack to go high enough. There was a lot of frustrated words coming from our 3rd team member. He was not a happy camper!
I stood back and continued to keep my eyes on the approaching vehicles, hoping someone would stop. Two cyclists were coming up on us, slowing a bit so I waved them in and asked for their thoughts. They were training for the iron man in Australia that was 6 weeks away. Soon their support car arrived and she had a jack that we borrowed. While we kept at it the cyclists got on the road again and had the support lady call another cyclists who was approaching, to come assist. By the time he and 2 others arrived we had finished the job.
Before the lady left she told me of a koala hospital up the road. It was free to go into and there were lots of wild koalas in the area. I would have loved to have seen that but it's going to have to be on my next trip. We were behind schedule now.
We soon had to stop for our first gas fill up and since I owed Alicia money I filled the tank, with diesel. I'm pretty sure she owes me money now.
Mitchell paid for the next round of fuel when we were a mere 30min away from our destination and truly running on fumes! It was around 10:45pm and nothing was opened not even a gas station! We asked a couple on foot, Alicia ran across the street to the police station and Mitchell flagged down a taxi to ask the driver.
The open station that was referred to us was in a near by town. We didn't know if it'd be best to just park on the street where we were, waiting tell morning or attempt the drive. We attempted the drive and we made it, coasting into the station.
We arrived after hours into the camp ground with the gate closed in front of us. Alicia knocked on the door and no one answered. Then she went to the pay phone and called the after hours number. The man on the other end couldn't hear her so she hung up, frustrated. Mitchell and I watching from inside our home on wheels. A guy came out and asked her if she had just called. He gave her some instructions and then she came running back to the rig. "Okay Casey stay down for just a bit. I forgot to mention it was extra money for more then 2 people."
We parked, backing into our spot right next to the office and in a sleepy campground. I'm sure everyone enjoyed waking up to the back up beeping noise our monster of a camper made as we parked. How embarrassing!
The next morning was an eventful one! Alicia got us officially checked in and we made sure all the windows facing the office had the shades closed in order to hide me. I laid in my overhead bed messaging a few people while Alicia started breakfast.
Suddenly there was a loud explosion!
I looked down at Alicia in the kitchen and saw our glass cook top shattered! It had JUST been lit, she set the pan on the burner with a bit of olive oil in it and stepped to the side to begin beating the eggs up. Nothing else happened to cause this glass top to explode! Nothing!
Mitchell was outside setting up the awning when this happened. He stepped back in already talking to us and looked right at the damage. Not noticing it he continued to talk and then eventually stopped in disbelief. I believe he said, "well that's not good."
So our dear Alicia used her Skype minutes to call the number we had for the rental company. It took talking to 3 people before being connected to the right person. The lady she was connected with told Alicia that unfortunately we were going to need to pay for it.
We were apparently supposed to lift the glass top up and cook with it up. How were we supposed to know that?
The 3 of us watched an instructional video before leaving the rental office yesterday and none of us remembered that being mentioned. They gave us the video on a thumb drive to watch again if we needed. We WILL be watching it before we return it to confirm that we didn't miss that part. We did a walk thru with a lady to check the rig out before driving it and it was never mentioned with her. There were 3 instructional stickers on the glass surface as well. One of them was a picture that looked like it was telling us NOT to lift the top up while cooking. We have a picture of that as we plan to do everything we can to dispute this charge!
I took the beat up eggs and bacon to the campground kitchen to cook while Alicia continued to deal with the company. Mitchell had already started cleaning the shattered glass.
When I returned with breakfast Alicia told us that the somewhat good news was the quote for replacing the top was only $200. She offered to pay it herself, why I don't know. I joked with her telling her, yes! You were the one cooking so the blame is fully on you!
Then of course said no we'd be splitting it 3 ways if we ended up having to pay it.
There's nothing one can really do in a situation like this. Shit happens and you move on. Things always get better.
Mitchell played "don't worry be happy" over the speakers while we had breakfast and we all sang along and laughed.
He had a craving for a chia drink the night before and when we made a grocery stop on the way to Byron I bought a $6 bottle of delicious goodness for us to share with breakfast. It was a apples, banana, cinnamon, chia made by an Aussie juice co.
Yummy juice and Mr. Bobby Mcferrin singing "don't worry be happy" to us over the cabin speakers turned out to be a great way to re start the morning.
We completed our day of much needed relaxation with a walk thru the town of Byron Bay and some time in the warm ocean water.
Just a portion of Byron bay.
And I finally met up with a friend I have I my known over Facebook! Shasta was introduced to me via FB by our mutual friend Monica. Shasta has been in Australua since January and she has a big as true planned as well so Monica paired us up. We both just happened to be in Byron bay. She's a definitely being added to my collection of friends! We already have plans together for tomorrow!