Location: Manning Valley
Date: October 2013

October 24, 2013. Here's another set of Historic Photos sent to me by NC Art. Click here for the album.

October 21, 2013. Yes, I finally did it! My first ever shakedown cruise in PJ. Here are a couple of pastes from Waffle: The link to the photos is below.

It was with some trepidation just now that I checked to see if the fridge was cold. That would have been the final straw if the flame had blown out overnight or whatever. But lo and behold, ladies and genitals, it's as cold as penguin's bum. Frost around the freezer compartment, and the ice bricks are still frozen. Once the gray clouds start to clear, I'll load up PJ with the necessaries and be off on my first ever mini O. Gotta have a fridge, mate. Every camper needs a fridge. And on the way to Wingham I'll stock it with a few beers to celebrate my accomplishment. Woohoo!

See you later in Wingham!
Roite! Guess where I am? When I parked next to the peeps on the far left, I said, "Am I too close?" And they said, "Yeah, too close!" But they were only joking. Then I was telling them that this is my very first trip in the camper -  first shakedown - and that I was surprised that they assumed I was an old... my mind was searching for the word 'hand' but the bloke jumped in and said, "drunk!" Hehe

Anyway, it's 6pm now and I thought I'd take a few pics before dark just to let you know that I actually DID IT! I'm kinda numb, actually. Relaxed but numb. Maybe it was all that packing. It went on forever! So I decided not to bring the TV or the bike. It's only for a day or two. But I'll be glad when the packing is over and I start the real Odyssey and never have to pack anything agaain!

Still cloudy so I'll look forward to a sunny day tomorrow and lots of shutter bugging. I brought the porta potti 'just in case' but there are flush loos just across the road from where I'm parked. I'm kinda brain dead actually, so think I'll have an early night - if I can handle all the weird noises hehe.
Last night was a bit of a cockup and I was dead tired. Slept for 12 hours and would have slept longer if the neighbors hadn't made such a bloody racket leaving in the morning. But today has been good - slowly acclimatizing myself to the no-schedule, no-stress, who-gives-a-stuff state of mind. Maybe I'll be better organized in future but at the mo I reckon this camp overnight and take off again next day is for the birds. Once I get settled I like to stay that way.
Good thing I had the screw top container (an empty 5-liter plastic one). I needed it a couple of times during the night which was far preferable to finding my way in the dark over to the loos across the road. In fact, about the only shaking I've been doing on this shakedown so far has been in the loo (or bottle). Actually, there are many things to learn such as which cupboard is best for crockery, which is best for food, how not to park on an angle so things don't keep rolling off the table, etc.
Adventure? Had enough of that last night trying to pee in the dark, and climbing over a camper full of things that should have been outside. There were times when I was having serious misgivings about the nomad lifestyle. There was also a bit of adventure when I arrived in town and called in to a bottle shop for a six-pack of Toohey's Extra Dry. There was a major barney across the road at the fruit market. One bloke had lost it altogether, throwing fists wildly at another bloke and screaming his head off. A girl/woman with him was also screaming and trying to get him to quit but to no avail. So that was my introduction to camping in Wingham. But as Steve said, the worst is over now and all seems well. I wish the wind would die down though... the river valley is channeling the wind directly towards this camp ground, rocking PJ. I had to close the hatch cos it was flapping about like a hooked mullet. Oh, and another thing... one of the last of the campers is packing up so I might be on my Pat Malone tonight. Spooky!
Just before I go, there was one particular time today when I thought "this is the life". I sat on a camp chair under the dappled shade of a tree looking at the scenery and felt totally relaxed, as if nothing in the world really mattered. I think this shakedown will have taught me a few valuable lessons, mostly about being better organized, so that the next mini O will be an improvement. For one thing, I'll park closer to the action. And that's lesson #1. Don't unpack until you've checked a few things. Once you've unpacked, that's it, you're stuck for the duration.
Yes, folks, the awning works! Naturally, I did it the wrong way and got all muddled up when I tried to retract the damn thing, so I checked the video with that German chick I posted the other day. There were a couple of little tricks the vid didn't show but I managed to figure them out for myself before resorting to yelling for help. Beforehand, I spent quite a while there practicing my skills at doing absolutely nothing - except drinking a beer. One passer by and his family asked if there were many people going past and I said, "Only when I sit out here." Fair dinkum, for a while there I thought the whole damn town was going past. It is, after all, a recreation area rather than a camping area, with lots of boaties. Quite a lot groups use the BBQ facilities - like a couple of families last night with the noisiest, most boistrous kids imagineable. One of them, a little girl about 5 or 6, wandered into the men's loo when I was in there. "Sorry, darling, you're in the wrong one." *Grin* "Wrong one, darling, you belong in the other one." *Grin*

Speaking of women, a middle aged blonde dressed like the chick in the Fiamma video, wearing leather pants, long leather high-heeled boots and a leather bikini top called at PJ's door to ask me where I was from. When I answered Taree, she said, "Oh, you're a local," and wandered off. What was that all about? I dunno but it reminded me of TX Greg's buxom visitor in the red swimsuit, only more scary. Later, as I sat sipping my beer under the awning, thinking how wonderful life was, she appeared outta the blue again but this time asked if I had any spare coffee. "Sorry, darling, all outta coffee." Sheesh. And this is shakedown #1?

Oh yes, and this morning a fairly large group had a breakfast barbie with lots of ho, ho, ho's and loud smal ltalk while I was busy rubbing the sleep from my eyes and wishing they'd all disappear.

I tellya what I miss - I miss my desk and typist chair. I kept getting backache in PJ working on the comp so I gotta figure out a better seating arrangement. Actually, the best place to sit is outside on the camp chair, so I might consider an outdoor office next time.

Last night, there was a full moon rising... a huge yellow disk slowly climbing the sky above the far end of the river in the east, with just enough scattered cloud to frame the moon. The perfect setting for a great shot! But who knows bugger all about manual settings for such shots? And whose tripod was in the van? And who hadn't checked the weather page for info about this event, and was totally unprepared? Yeah. So that's one thing I gotta do... learn manual settings and night photography for such occasions. That would have been such a fantastic shot! It's enough to make a grown man weep.
Sooooooo, one thing I didn't expect was the upheaval to my schedule caused by a couple of days camping. I won't be able to enjoy camping as much as I should until I can eat normal food, speak normally, and attain a reasonable level of fitness to cope with life in the bush. Nancy is on a mission to prove to Dr Clark, the specialist, that the technique she's using now should have been started at the very beginning. It would have been all over by now if she had. That said, she's pretty happy with the progress. She also suggested a few more exciting places to visit for my next shakedowns... Wingham is not exactly top of her list of "must visit" places hehe.

Yes, I am a bit underwhelmed by shakedown #1, mainly because of my fitness and diet issues but also because I wasn't very well organized and probably expected too much. I intend to make a few changes next time. So I guess you could say the learning curve was worthwhile. As the more experienced GNs say to the newbies, don't worry about it. You'll learn as you go.

Actually, one thing I learned is that flies don't bother you if you're not sweating. And the best way to avoid sweating is to do bugger all. Fine with me. And the fridge? Yes, the fridge - it works very well. Click here for the photo album.

October 14, 2013. A collection of colorful birds in Nature's Paintbrush. Click here for the album.

October 13, 2013. Francois from New Caledonia sent a bunch of pics of puppy dogs saying the most profound things! Click here for the album.


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