Nothing to report – I wish!
JUST once when we go on holiday and I sit down to write this column, I’d like to start with these three words: nothing to report.
Then I could immediately finish with: take care of you.
Apart from the fact that I wouldn’t get paid, it would mean that Rita and I were having a wonderful, trouble-free sojourn on a beach somewhere, under blue skies with Scotch in hand.
Alas, that is not the way our holidays usually go, and so it is with this year’s. But hey!
The bright side is that I’ll earn a couple of bucks and believe me it will come in particularly handy after this.
So we went to Koroit as you know and enjoyed their fantastic hospitality and truck show, as we have now for many years.
After writing up the story on the Sunday for the previous edition of Big Rigs, we hooked up the van to move onto Robe in SA – stopping in at Mount Gambier on the way to interview Murray Langford and take a gander at his superb collection of old trucks.
His story will appear in a future edition so keep a look out for that.
Then it was on to Robe, where we deposited ourselves for a night or three until our site at Brighton Beach, near Adelaide, became available.
We have lusted for an absolute beachfront site for a few years now, since Tweed Council destroyed the old Kingscliff Caravan Park and turned it into a rich man’s paradise – that reminds me of Stalag 13.
Brighton appeared to offer what we were after and it made sense to keep going from Koroit, as we were already well on the way.
We left Robe early on the day of departure, planning to make Brighton by lunchtime so we could spend the arvo wallowing in the waters, on what was to be a 41 degree day.
Nine o’clock in the AM arrived and we stopped at Meningie to top up the tank and grab brekky.
It was around 115 kilometres up the road where the little Irish bastard, Murphy, caught up with us.
“Be leavin’ me behind would ya? I don’t bloody tink so!”
It was on a very long uphill stretch of motorway – with a breakdown lane two foot narrower than the caravan – that Murphy worked his charms on the motor of the (not so) trustworthy Territory.
“What’s happening?” asked Rita fearfully as the car lost power and started coughing and spluttering.
“f***ing Murphy’s what’s happening!” I replied, as the sweat instantaneously started pouring from my brow.
We managed to crest the hill and just over the peak was a gap where I could roll off the road. Opening the bonnet, the motor was so scorching hot that I feared we would set fire to the dry grass underneath.
I tried starting her up again and she did, running just long enough to back the car over a patch of gravel.
Now this scenario had happened to us once before, coming home from – of all places, Koroit – on a stinking hot day, the Turditory had conked.
The RACV guy at the time told us that the temps combined with low fuel had probably caused vapour lock.
We sat for a bit while the engine cooled, loosened the fuel cap and got home that time without further trouble.
Indeed, this was why we’d topped up at Meningie.
While we waited, another car pulling a three-horse trailer, also pulled up on the road verge.
Turned out that Erin had done an off-side tyre. We invited her to sit under our awning until the SA version of the RACV turned up to help her out.
(Because there was NO WAY that I was going to risk life and limb with my arse sticking out into heavy oncoming traffic).
Not wanting to leave the poor girl sweltering in the afternoon sun meant a two hour wait before we tried to move on.
Between that first breakdown and the 43 kms to our destination, we conked it another four times.
That 43 kilometres took us five nerve-wracked hours! Of course, as we got closer, the traffic increased exponentially and with one eye on the NavGod, I tried to keep to backstreets as much as possible.
Sitting on the grass in one suburban street a passer-by helpfully informed us that her mechanic worked just around the corner and he was brilliant, honest and very fairly priced.
I nursed the old girl around the corner and, with a bit of persuading got them to hook up their diagnostic computer.
“Got a problem with your electric seat?” the bloke asked.
“That’s the only bloody thing I DON’T have a problem with,” I spewed in reply.
“Well we can’t find anything else. That will be $55 thanks.”
From there we conked in the middle of a major intersection amidst roadworks, and another couple of side streets – where one nice homeowner brought us out glasses of chilled water, we having run out of fluids some hours before.
Finally we arrived at the van park around 5pm and poor Rita was so overheated and stressed that I honestly thought she was on the verge of having a heart attack.
She’d also shed more than a few tears over that last 43 k’s and I gotta say that I really wanted to join her.
She said she was unable to help me unhook so I left her in the airconditioned office while I set up.
By the time I’d unhooked, popped the top and rolled out the awning, she thought I’d had the heart attack – and I reckon I was close!
She came across to the van, we walked to the beach and I just fell in. So did Rita! In the 13 years we’ve been together I’ve never seen her do that. She is very much a tippy-toe into the water kinda girl.
That evening with a drink in hand, she says, “I wouldn’t mind a bit of tennis tonight, love.”
“What! In this f***ing humidity?!”
1: We don’t play tennis.
2: She’s talking about the AO on TV.
I so need the rest of this holiday to be stress free.
Another gem Rita gave me was when a mate sent me a pic of a Holden Acadia on FB, saying, “You need one of these.” I replied to him: “Yeah … nah. They only pull 2 ton.”
Rita immediately comes back with, “They pull 2 ton more than our Effing Turditory!” Haha.
Murphy let us off the 40-80mm of rain expected the day after we arrived, instead showering us with only 27mm. Such a kind little bugger.
The following Monday I take the car to the nearest Ford dealer and their horrific hourly rates to find out the problem.
Four days later and what was to be $3,500, which I got back to $2,150 by purchasing a second hand catalytic converter, we were informed that we’d got a dud load of fuel.
They gave me a sample which stank like varnish – and consequently I didn’t drink.
Only problem now is that the fuel receipt, which we were sure was in the car, isn’t. And we paid cash.
Oh well, that’s a worry for when we get back home.
That is, if we get back home.
Because we haven’t tried hauling the caravan yet.
To be continued.
Take care of us.