I met Jonathan and Jennifer Luth last year just after they – and their Sprinter motorhome – had arrived in Australia.
Their bright blue Sprinter had travelled in a cratave from the US, and they were at my Sprinter–guru friend Eric’s place in Gippsland, Vic, getting ready for an epic journey around Australia. Their travel blog ‘Vagaries Abound’ has made great reading and to say their 12 months of Australian travels were extensive would be an understatement.
Now they are in New Zealand and their scenic photos have been fascinating, with the most recent showing them at the southernmost point of the South Island.
They have already travelled extensively in the States and Central America and after they put a tick against New Zealand they were even contemplating returning home to Kansas via South and Central America. However, Jennifer told me, “We were contemplating it, if we had enough money, but we don’t. We definitely plan for it in the future, plus trips to the other continents as well, but will have to return home to Oklahoma to earn some money so we can start again in a few years.”
Jonathan is an engineer and his expertise has kept them mobile where others would have been calling for help.
THE PERFECT CARAVAN PARK
In a column I wrote in 2001, I mentioned that a new RV park owner in America was seeking answers to what constituted the perfect RV park, so I wrote this:
“What’s your idea of a perfect caravan park and have you actually found such a place? We have stayed in hundreds of parks over the years and have found a few that come close. On a scale of 1-10, they would get a 9. At the other end there are a few with my rating of 3 or 4 and most would fall into the 6-7 range. A couple I won’t mention would drop off the bottom of the scale and never be visited or heard of again!
“On my list of desired features would be showers big enough to swing a fair-sized cat with a dry area where you can don your jocks and socks without getting them all wet. They would have water-wasting shower heads that don’t cut you in half when you turn them on hard and have water – not water vapour – coming from them. Plenty of hooks, a seat to put stuff on and a glass door – not a curtain between wet and dry areas. We haven’t visited Pambula for a while but the park on the beach came close to perfect in the amenities block. The shower dressing area floor was even heated.
“Definitely no keys should be needed to get into the amenities! How many times do you go to have a shower and find the key’s back in the van, or your wife comes back furious because the key’s still in your pocket and she couldn’t get in?
“Space between vans, preferably with a hedge between as well, is very necessary and it would suit me if families were allocated one area and us old fogeys another. Picnic tables with seats on each site would be nice and a barbecue with wood supplied would be lovely.
“I’m keen on courtesy buses to local clubs so you can have a few glasses of nectar with your meal without giving the local booze bus boys a bonus.
“Proper drive-through sites are good if you are just overnighting – not the ones where you have to jack-knife the outfit to fit on the little patch they allocate.
“We’ve met some delightful people running caravan parks over the years and keep up our friendship with a number of them even when our travels don’t find us using their parks. We have also met some real pains who should never be allowed to come face to face with the travelling public. They – more than their park – would put them on the bottom of any ratings list!”
In the fifteen years since then, I’ve stayed in countless caravan parks, including independent parks, members of caravan park chains and council-owned parks and have found some that come close to perfect. That’s until you compare prices and find that some are so expensive they are out of the question for older people travelling our great land on a reduced income or the age pension.
I guess that sums up why I am so keen on free or budget camping and why I’ve set Yemmy up with all the conveniences of home even when I’m parked in a quiet little spot along some bush track or relaxing in one of Queensland’s lovely national parks.
TALKING ABOUT YEMMY
Last month I told you about the bad thing I’d done to Yemmy – it turns out to have been more than $10,000 bad!
As I write he’s still with the repair shop at Rutherglen, Vic, and would you believe the hardest part they had to source was a little warning sticker that goes on the air-con unit. It has to come all the way from Germany and will take up to 15 working days to arrive!
It’s amazing how many things are normally just outside in Yemmy and are now 400km away.
I searched the house for my hearing aids recently looking in all the likely and unlikely places until I remembered I’d used them at the Rutherglen Australian Caravan Club Muster to hear what people were saying at the happy hours. They are still safely in one of Yemmy’s drawers!
WHAT AN ACT
I sometimes put something out for the magpie family that visits me most mornings and the other day they put on an act I’ve never seen before. Two males stood close together, both pecked some tidbit and then with perfect timing they both stretched up and carolled. They repeated this sequence over and over and it was lovely to watch. Did I have my camera or iPhone handy? No, worse luck, so I can’t share it with you and I don’t suppose they will come back for a reprise of their performance.
See you down the track.