Rob and Cait go caravanning
Being the crazy man I am, I just had to enter a run that was a) in another state and b) had a history of being cancelled. The lovely Cait decided that she would accompany me on this adventure. I had been looking at cheapest possible accommodation options, and had happened upon Tawonga Caravan Park. Originally I had tried booking a cabin, but none were left, so the lovely Cait agreed that if no cabins were available, then a caravan would have to do.
Car packed, we headed off early Friday for a 7-8 hour drive to Victoria.
Music selection is essential on a long trip. Initially 2WS FM kept us going, but eventually faded, so after clearing the outskirts of Sydney, on went the Partridge Family (yes, we are tragic), and the Karaoke Express was up and running. The Bee Gees also got blasted as we rocked along the road to Gundagai hitting those high notes.
We stopped for lunch at Gundagai. A wall of heat hit us as we emerged from our air conditioned cocoon of comfort to eat and take photos. We parked, carried the esky 100 metres, then drove the car over to where we had just carried the esky. Obviously those high notes had affected our brains.
|A blurry selfie with Dog on the Tuckerbox. Note the strap of high tech expensive camera around Cait's neck|
Then it was back on the Hume Highway to Victoria. For the first time in my life I drove over the mighty Murray as we headed off to Tawonga. We had a few nervous moments following my beautifully hand drawn map that seemed to bear absolutely no resemblance to where we were driving, but we got there somehow. As we approached the caravan park we passed the delightful Mountain Creek Motel. Cait politely enquired why we were staying in a caravan when there was a perfectly lovely motel nearby - or words to that effect. I will leave the translating up to you, dear reader. I would just add that there is a reason why she loves me, and when I discover what that is, I will share it with you in another blog.
The rain was falling in a soft romantic way (I thought) as we unpacked the car and settled into caravan life. Then we had the first of many picturesque walks to the amenities block. As we did, we discovered that a local business was selling wood fired pizzas, so we were set for a great first night in out little home on wheels. We had all the key ingredients to a perfect weekend away, which are as follows;
|and LOVE !!|
At that point Eric arrived to let me know that the Bogong to Hotham run had just been cancelled. Oh well. C'est la vie and all that stuff. More time to eat, drink, and play scrabble (which I won the first night). Our neighbours had Neil Diamond blasting next door ("sweet Caroline BAH BAH BAH") so not all bad. We also got the chance to listen to a young fellow doing impersonations of boguns from Queensland. "I'm from Queensland AY". He kept this up for about half an hour until I realised that he was no longer doing impersonations and pretty much spoke like that anyway. We also passed the time by Cait asking me to work out the chords to The Partridge Family theme song on my guitar so we could have a little sing-a-long. Come on get happeeeeeee !!!!
Day 2 saw us contemplating a few options. We did consider a walk up to the top of Mount Bogong, but given the dodgy weather, decided a drive to Mt Hotham and then a beer at the Bright Brewery might be a better option (note - this was an incredibly better option as it turned out. More on this later).
We set out in the rain for Mount Hotham for the most terrifying ride of my life. For some reason, a little tiny switch in my brain decided to click onto to the "be afraid, be very afraid setting" as we ascended the narrow winding road to the summit of Hotham. Despite the lovely Cait driving in a very safe and responsible manner, all I could see were precipitous drops as I hallucinated scenarios of out of control slides over the edge resulting in exploding fireballs of death as our shattered bodies were flung like broken rag dolls across the alpine mountain sides. I have never been so scared in my life, I shit you not. It didn't help much when Cait asked "are you really that scared?", and when I answered "YES" she cackled and took her hands off the wheel as she yelled "look, no hands !!" Hilarious dear wife.
|We are all going to die.|
|What was louder ? the sound of wheels pushing aside sheets of water, or my screams of "you are going over 40 !". You decide.|
|look at that car driving along that terrifyingly narrow little tiny ledge that is supposed to be a road|
|Cait hooning along at well over 40km. Slow down woman !!|
|foggy, wet, narrow, no guard rails - perfect driving conditions|
|blurry bushes indicative of our high speed - ZOOM|
|More bushes blurred by our excessive speeding - WHOOSH|
Eventually we reached the top and I could calm down a bit. Of course it took a while to remove my hands from the door handles, and then we went for a nice ramble to the top of Hotham.
Then it was time for another ride down the mountain. More screaming. We hit the Bright Brewery and it was all worthwhile. An Amber Ale to soothe the nerves. Also had time to duck into Woolworths where Cait was nearly trampled by a deranged woman reinventing ways to get ahead of others in a queue. We also discovered the fantastic local Cloud 9 cinema, and decided to make tomorrow afternoon "date night". On the way back we stopped at the lookout that earlier in the day was fogged out. Now it was only partly fogged out, but an indicator of possibly why the race was cancelled, considering that weather forecasts had predictions of a "major weather event".
|a Bogong moth|
Then it was back to the van for another fun night of Scrabble (which I won again - to be fair I got all the good letters while Cait had nothing but vowels). As we played, we "eavesdropped" on the youngsters next door as they discussed life's great issues at the top of their voices ("do you reckon I'll get a root tonight ?") We also hit the BBQ area for a chat with the locals. Actually, I wandered off and left Cait exchanging recipes and continuing her education in the ways of caravan park life with the women who had been coming there for years. As my soy sausages sizzled, I gazed upon the mighty Mt Bogong which was now bathed in a beautiful warm golden glow, and wondered yet again why the lovely Cait puts up with me.
Day 3 was supposed to be "race day", but sadly it wasn't. I had made tentative plans with Eric to climb Bogong if the weather wasn't too horrific, which of course it wasn't. See Running with the Bear for more details about this adventure.
Eric and I arrived back at the caravan park, whereupon Cait told me some yarn about being "locked out" and asking the fellow next door to "help her out". Honestly, what is the world coming too when you can't leave your wife alone for a few hours without some random trying to park his thongs under your (foam mattress on a sheet of timber) bed.
After the movie we had a quick shop at Woolworths (this time without being bowled over by a local nut job), and I picked up a nice six pack of Pale Ale from the Bright Brewery. We also strolled along the river where we discovered the local water park and kids having more fun than should be allowed. Water slides, diving boards, water fights. Next time I'm wearing my Speedos to town.
As we drove through the caravan park, Cait asked "do they just sit there all day and drink ?" Yes they do lovely Cait - welcome to life in a caravan park (the kids, however, spend all day riding bikes, swimming in the river and playing board games and have a life time of happy memories that sees them returning lemming-like for years to come - just like I was doing). Back at the van we settled into catching up on the days events at the caravan park as our young friends next door did shots and discussed that days hangovers and rooting. Then another round of Scrabble where Caiti kicked my butt. The things that happen in Tawonga.
(note: I grew up in and around caravan parks, was reliving my childhood, and was loving every minute of our stay. Cait will no doubt look back in many years to come and fondly wonder where four days of her life went)
Sadly all good things must come to an end, and today was the day. We had made tentative plans to go and climb Kosciuszko, but given weather predictions, had canned that idea and rearranged to head off early. I was touched when Cait agreed that we should head home a day sooner. I knew how much she was loving her life in a caravan. I think she had a tear as we began driving away, already missing our first thing in the morning and last thing at night walks to the toilet block, thongs a slapping. She had recovered slightly by the time we handed our van key in at the office, but when I suggested we could come back again next year, she started crying some more. Don't worry lovely Cait, Tawonga will always be there waiting.
|Cait so sad to leave (with our rootin' tootin', shots shootin', bogon impersonating mate looking on in the background "AY")|
Of course, as we headed off, the valley was bathed in the most beautiful warm morning sun. If only all that golden goodness had arrived a day or two earlier, then instead of sitting comfortably, I would instead be in the car cramping, sore, dehydrated, head achy and blistered after running 64km from Bogong to Hotham. Oh, what might have been. Then it was time to pop Meatloaf into the CD player, warm up the vocal cords, and start rocking our way home like the Bat Out Of Hell couple that we are.