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August 15, 2001
Life on the road (or How did the pioneers do it?) (Gail)

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Waiting to pick up the motorhome

Weíve been traveling from Sydney to Dubbo to get to the Western Plains Zoo.

Itís true, I suppose, that getting here has been half the fun.  Driving from Sydney to our first stop wasnít too difficult and we avoided running over any small pets or cars.  Our system of Gail drives, Russell navigates and the boys play Game Boy, worked very well.

We checked in and then decided to go shopping for supplies.  The directions we were given were a bit off so we stopped and I went out to ask.  Anyone who knows me knows I get lost in elevators and am not the best choice for asking these technical questions, but I try.  Seems I sent us a long way down the wrong road looking for the third roundabout, which never did appear.  By now we were tired and slightly frazzled but trying to keep a happy front.  Finally Russell spotted the markets.  What we didnít see until it was too late was the completely out of place height cross bar which took off the T.V. satellite.  We finally got over the shock and frustration when we called and found the replacement would not be $1,000 as first feared.

Things have gone from bad to worse since then.  Firstly there are no trampolines at the caravan parks and so far the playgrounds have been, well, small to say the best.  We had to make it very clear, no rough housing inside so the boys are a bit restricted in their activity.  But even quiet activities can cause problems as Joss just now falling out of his top bunk bed proves, (heís fine).

Russell made the observation that our accommodations are getting smaller, from a house to motels/car, motorhome, next to come, a train compartment.  There is no room to spread out as we had in the house and motels and no place to get away from each other.

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Joss (writing in his journal) on mom & dad's bed

This motorhome has been interesting.  Hereís a short list: the bathroom door sticks and Cam and Joss canít open it easily.  The only light switch is in the ceiling and they canít reach it without standing on the toilet (Joss fell yesterday when he tried this), which may be the only use for it, as the toilet doesnít flush anyway.  The bathroom wasnít clean and Iíve had to take care of it.  The water didnít work until we spent part of yesterday with the repair guys who rigged it to work (for now). The pump is very loud.  The smoke detector has no battery.  There is no gauge for the propane tank, they rec. pouring hot water on the tank to judge fullness.

If I am cooking getting past me through the kitchen is a tight squeeze.  Flatware is stored in the top cupboard, knives and all.  There are no nearby electrical outlets and virtually no countertop so we plug the toaster in up by the bed (remember no smoke detector), there is no live feed for water, there is no spatula, no oven, and the sponge has already fallen apart.  The dishes had to washed before using them.  Still everyone is fed and happy.

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Cooking in a tight spot

The bedding consists of sleeping bags and sheets, however zippers on three of the bags donít work and some of the sheets have burn holes.  I packed my own pillow.  We have four small drawers to unpack our clothing in so most things are still in the suitcases that we pull out of the one closet when needed.  The challenge is to know which suitcase.  Add to this the constant dirt and grass we all track in plus the boyís stick and rock collections and you have a rather untidy space.  My solution has been to nag about removing shoes, carpet the floors with old newspapers and sweep constantly.

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We still read to the boys every night

One small NZ footnote.  We wanted to bring a musical instrument for the Joss to play and decided on a recorder.  The day before we left he heard someone outside playing Taps on a trumpet.  Taps is one of the tunes he has learned.  He ran to his window opened it and played Taps back, shyly.  I tried to get him to go out and find out who was playing and then we heard a flute join in.  I went out alone and met two very nice young men, Johann (from Vermont, living in NZ) and David, members of the James Hargest Concert Band.  The members are ages 13 to 18.  They were to be in a competition later that day.  I went to get Joss and he brought his recorder down to show them but wouldnít play.  They were very nice to him and encouraged him to keep playing.  The next morning when we got up to leave for the airport Russell found a note for Joss in front of our door, as they had promised.  They had won the Gold as is the school tradition.  Joss was excited that he had met Gold Medal Winners and was impressed they get to keep the Gold forever.  It was very nice way to leave a very nice country.


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