Tuesday, 2 May 2017

From Camper Van to Spaceship!

Greetings from the SS Ken - Star Ship Ken, that is!  That's what it feels like anyway, cocooned away from the rest of the world in our thermally modified vehicle.  With less than a month to go until winter, the temperature is dropping fast and we are doing our best to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at us here in Southland.  Gore is really weird weather wise!  Most of the time it's weird as in good - when everyone else is getting bombarded with storms and endless rain, Gore is blessed with clear skies and sunshine.  Even all the locals tell us that compared to the rest of Southland, winters in Gore are not that bad.  Still, we never know what each day is going to bring. One day the sun will be shining but the air feels arctic; the next the sky is dark.  All day.  Clear but dark, with the merest teasing hint of golden light underneath, far in the distance but it never makes it up to the surface.  Apparently that's quite common in Gore.

Here's Gore for you - golden and glorious one day!

Dark and dreary the next!

Today however it is raining.  A lot.  The ground outside is squelchy, the rain is clattering on the roof and the sky is a dismal grey.  We're going to be holed up here for a couple of days at least but thanks to my obsession with watching the weather we were well and truly ready for it.  We've spent the last two days installing extra insulation in Ken.  Whilst the dehumidifier works brilliantly, as the air has got colder and damper, our sleeping area was once again suffering from severe damp and condensation.  It makes us feel slightly better to know we're not alone here; even the biggest, flashest motor homes have all been driving past with 'crying windows'.  It's hardly surprising when your house is made of metal!  And in all honesty I did think that it was a little too good to be true to think that we were going to get away so lightly all year round.  When you live the way we do, you do what you can, you think outside the square and you do your best.  And if that doesn't work, well you just try and think of something else!

Damp Buster 1: Installing thermal foil screens

The first thing we did was to install thermal bubble foil on the inside of the bedroom windows.  This we did relatively easily using those big foil thingys you put on the inside of your car windscreen to protect against the elements.  I know, makes perfect sense right!  Cheap too, as we bought them from the Warehouse when they were 50% off.  The most expensive part of this exercise was the industrial strength velcro tape we got from Mitre 10 for $27 to attach the screens securely to the windows, but even that we got twice as much use from, as Gareth realised the tape was wide enough for us to cut in half.  The result was we were super toasty that night!  It made the inside of the van so much warmer and although we woke up to a temperature of just two degrees, we weren't affected by the chilly air. We had also managed to stay nice and dry.  Excellent!

Damp Buster 2: Bubble wrapping the windows!
Might not be pretty but it works!

What wasn't excellent was when we peeked inside the foil and saw that the glass behind was still soaking wet - worse than before in fact.  The reason for this was that although the foil was protecting us from getting wet, it was only acting as a guard against condensation, not a preventative.  At that moment I knew exactly what we needed - something which would adhere right against the glass and stop the moisture from being able to form.  'We need to bubble wrap the windows!' I grinned to Gareth. I remembered seeing the tip on Simple Savings and indeed had tried it on our bedroom windows last winter in the old house with success.  So off we traipsed to town again and picked up a huge roll of bubble wrap from Mitre 10 for $16.  This gave us enough to not only wrap the windows but also enough to line our storage space under the bed too, where despite installing several 'Damp Rid' containers they held not a drop of moisture whilst in the weeks that followed our clothes had become actually wet.  

Despite getting really over this whole insulation business we both worked as a team, measuring, trimming and sticking until at last we were done.  It's one of the best things about living on the road, working together, finding solutions for stuff and above all, keeping on smiling.  Now we had an extra layer of protection to go underneath our foil screens AND had the thick blinds to roll down over the top!  You're probably wondering 'how the heck is she going to be able to see to drive with bubble wrap on the windows?!'  Simple - being the long windows down the side of the van you don't actually need to see out of them to drive anyway.  When you're in a van the size of Ken you have mirrors covering every available line of vision - boy, do we have a lot of mirrors!  

Job done, we once again tucked up for the night and again we were warm as toast as the rain belted down throughout the night.  We woke up late this morning (our sleeping area is rather darker now!) and Gareth tentatively pulled back the blind to assess the damp.  'Nothing.  It's dry!' he said.  Success!  At least for now.  We know it's going to get a lot colder and a lot wetter and who knows how that might affect us.  It may work for the whole winter, it may not but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  

Nothing we appreciate more than a free meal!

Our tiny crockpot, full to the brim with lamb stew.
You can see how dark it is today!

It's just another of several bridges we are trying to cross at the moment.  The main one being whether to try and survive the winter in Gore or whether to head north for a few months only to have to come all the way back down again to where we want to be.  We both really love Gore and we've grown really fond of our camping spot, it feels like home.  It's a bit like a tiny village really!  There's us, the 'young ones', then there's Brian and his wife (we still don't know her name, we just call her Mrs Brian!) and their little dog Brandy. They've been here around 18 months, doing up their big bus. There's also Bevin, the caretaker and his beautiful red setter Inca who are here every day.  Apart from that there's not too many people around these days, it's starting to get very quiet but it's always nice to meet new neighbours.  Only yesterday Bevin brought us some neck chops from one of his own sheep to make a lamb stew, which Gareth has thrown together in our tiny crockpot whilst I've been writing this.  There's never a day that goes by where we don't feel extremely lucky or blessed in some way.  Is it any wonder we struggle to leave!

For this month at least, we don't really have a choice but to stay, as Minnie is still receiving vet treatment.  She's been confirmed as having hypothyroidism and the vet is hopeful that her new medication will make the world of difference.  With a bit of luck after the end of the month we can move on properly but travelling will potentially be more difficult as winter progresses, particularly here in the South where the roads and conditions are unknown to us. Winter is going to suck at times, we're under no illusions there.  It's going to be hard and it's going to be challenging but we KNOW that.  We just have to get through it, in our shiny, silver foiled, bubbly spaceship!

1 comment:

  1. Head up to Nelson, you'll enjoy a sunny winter (with the odd morning frost). Or if you winter over on the West Coast, you won't get any frosts and the winters are mild. :-)