Sunday, September 23, 2012

Picking Up our Blue Sky Caravan

We'd spent a week or so at Keynton in Victoria and another few days with friends at Geelong waiting patiently to collect our caravan. It was something akin to being a kid and waiting for Father Christmas to slide down the chimney.

There'd been a few days delay in pick up, but it gave us a little longer to get our Toyota Prada 4WD fitted with a dual battery pack, electric braking system and tow bar preparatory to hooking up the van. We did that at ARB Geelong where the service was excellent and we also bought a set of load distribution or stabilizer bars. At almost $4,000 it was a tad more expensive than I had imagined, although we knew the work had to be done and we had budgeted for it.

Although we'd brought a lot of cutlery and equipment from home (a car full in fact), there was a lot more we had to buy. Another $500 for wheel chocks, sullage and fresh water hoses, tent pegs, extension mirrors for the car and so on and we were ready to collect the van. Because we had too much stuff for the one car, our friends came to the Bellarine Caravan site with us and brought some of it with them.

Our van, which we had seen a week earlier, was waiting patiently for us all shiny and new with a "new everything" smell inside. If only someone could can that smell, they could make a fortune.

Graham, one of the caravan people gave us a tour of the caravan and explained all the ins and outs ... how to erect the TV antenna, how to lock the  ventilation hatches, turn the water heater to gas, put chemicals into the toilet, all the time giving helpful hints and tips that would make our life as Nomad Caravaners all the more interesting and less challenging. That took almost an hour. At about that time it began to rain.

Next I had to hook the van up to the Prado. Staff member, Dave brought a bag of tools over and showed me how to set up the Hayman Reese towing equipment complete with stabiliser bars, once again advising me of the safety tips and traps. I stood there with an umbrella as it rained quite heavily for most of the time. When it was all connected, we set up the extension mirrors and although I could hardly see anything in the rear vision mirror, we drove out of the caravan site and up the Ballarat Highway in late afternoon traffic.

We had planned to travel only 15 km to a caravan park to stay for a day or two and get set up. Also, our friends were picking up a Blue Sky caravan the same as ours and theirs was to be delivered the next day. We arrived at the El Dorado Tourist Park on Ballarat Road and fortunately were allocated a drive-through site. (I'm yet to practise the reversing!). As it was still raining quite heavily, friends Michael and Gayle suggested we leave the van and return home with them and stay overnight. For that we were very thankful and although we were looking forward to sleeping in our new mobile home, realised it would have been a disaster trying to set up in the rain.

The next day we went back after the rain had stopped and spent a day or so finding spaces for socks, cutlery and getting all the other things settled in. We spent the first night in our caravan and as we were both exhausted went to sleep early and slept comfortably.

Michael and Gayle joined us in their Blue Sky van which they were fortunate enough to pick up on a rain free day. Damn ... some people have all the luck.

Next post, I'll tell you about the things that didn't go well and how lucky we are to have experienced friends to help show us the ropes of caravaning.


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