Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Random 1-month van livin' news

It's been about a month since we started our van living. Things started a little rough with a week of rain. I've always said that living in a van is fantastic unless it is raining for an extended period. Nothing dries, you can't hangout outside, and the condensation on the inside of the van in the morning is gross. We've got things pretty dialed now. We absolutely love the public facilities and off-road areas where we can camp. Speaking of those public facilities, we just discovered a massive covered pavillion in Crescent Head, NSW that has power hookups, free electric BBQs, and shelter from the common evening squalls. All of these things are what people pay $40/night for in the campgrounds, but it's free if you look around the corner.

We are doing a lot of surfing and biking and have so far decided that Crescent Head is the best place for us to hone our surfing skills. We've been here over a week and despite leaving yesterday, we found ourselves back here again. We still haven't left our state of NSW. The days are short (sunset around 5 pm) and it's not very warm (70 degrees) so it would behoove us to drive way farther north. New South Wales has some amazing coastline and scenery so we have decided that the short days and cooler weather are worth it.

A couple of weeks ago we learned that the $480 that we spent requesting a 1-year tourist visa, was denied. We were informed that 1-year tourist visas are rare and require "compelling and compassionate" applications. What the hell does that mean? We were given a 6-month visa and have to leave the country before we can get another entry (November). I guess we will have to spend our money elsewhere Australia! New Zealand, Bali, Thailand?

A couple of weeks ago we parked close to a river off a dirt road in the bush. We usually have a window and our sliding door open with mosquito netting during the night. We woke in the middle of the night to rustling of a plastic bag. Scott woke me up and I told him it was "just the wind". Sure enough, it WAS something in the van. For a while I was curled in a ball afraid to look out from under the covers as I was sure it was a goanna (big ass lizard) or a snake. Turns out, it was a mouse who was very interested in our tomatoes. The next day we set an elaborate trap with a cantilever over a big container of water. We headed out on a long bike ride and when we came back to the van we hoped to find a plump mouse floating in the bucket. The trap was never tripped and we never heard the mouse again -- smart little thing escaped.

Including our friendship with the local mice, we have had some great run-ins with lots of kangaroos and large birds of prey. There are some albatross-like birds that feed while we surf and I have managed to hit one of them while surfing. In fact, today, the bird got run over by the wave and as I tried to stand up on the wave, he rolled over my board! I don't imagine I'm the first to hit one of these guys since they seem quite nonchalant about humans, surfboards, and waves.

The latest P-I-the-A is our main computer must have a crack in the keyboard electronics board because we have lost both the "h" and the "g" key. The password to login included a "g" so we had to beg the local cafe to use their USB keyboard in order to login to the computer. I've managed to remap the keys to other rarely used keys but I'm sure we will be losing t, y, b, n soon. Time to shop for a new laptop and backup our pictures.

We have mastered the art of cooking all our yummy meals on a hotplate BBQ -- since these are free and readily available throughout the parks. Thin crust pizza and portobello mushroom sandwiches are our latest craze. Whenever we are near grocery stores we stock up on supplies for these all-time favorite meals.

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