Friday, 22 January 2016

When Enough, Is Enough, Is Enough

We started our trip home today ... from Melbourne.

It was raining as we left, stopped for fifteen minutes along the way and then a few minutes before we reached Narrandra. That made more than 400kms of wet weather driving. Unpleasant but symptomatic of the last week.

This tour was called the Map of Tassie Tour and should have involved seven weeks touring the only place in Australia we haven't been. We had tried to get there eleven months ago but a drug-crazed maniac in a stolen car smashed the four passenger side panels on our car three days before we were due to leave. This time, we made it as far as Melbourne - to within one kilometre of the boat in fact - when we somehow managed to have an accident with a Lambourgini.

The last nine days we had been on a holding pattern, waiting for an assessment of the damage by our insurer. In the interim, we can't speak highly enough of GIO for their support, speed and directness in helping us and for the wonderful generosity of Ashley Gardens Caravan Park for providing us with high quality accommodation, changing their bookings as our circumstances changed and for the incredible tariff reduction. Faith gets restored in humans just when you need it.

The assessor rang yesterday and told us to go home, as it might take a while. He rang today, as we drove into Narrandera, our overnight stop on the three day drive home. This time he delivered the killer blow. We knew the stub axle was snapped clean off. We knew that the van skin needed repair. We knew that stuff.

The rain, which had attacked us all the way from Melbourne, had just started to ease, when he rang to tell us the Avan had four cracks in the frame and he would be writing it off. "How soon can you come back to Melbourne and get the rest of your gear out of it?"

Broken and now written off
We have been informed that the van is four weeks outside the full replacement period, so instead, we can expect only a payout. The assessor has assured us he'll put up an argument for management to extend us a leniency but, as well as GIO have always treated us, including this fiasco, I'm not confident. This will mean a payout that will leave us five to six thousand dollars short of getting a new van.

In the mean time, while all that is decided, I have to get home and then return nearly 1200kms back to Melbourne to remove what remains in the van, including a custom built mattress which was made to cater for my wife's back injuries.

Its a confident statement to say this represents any van owner's worst nightmare. It was bad enough to again lose the holiday we had planned and missed out on last year, let alone in such dreadfully unfair circumstances. To lose the van is a debacle.

Yes, its a first world problem. Yes, we walked away. Yes our car wasn't damaged. Yes the fires in Tasmania would have made our trip unbearable. Yes, yes, yes. None of that helps.

We have lost something as important to us as our own home. I have spent an uncountable number of hours customising the van - who doesn't right? All those sundowners spent discussing options and improvements. All those hours designing, creating and making changes to get it just the way we wanted it. All the months we had spent on the road, sharing as much intimacy with it as we did with each other. Its all gone and because of the payment falling short of what we will need to replace it, it may also mean that we are left without the means to add funds to buy a new van.

Buy second hand? Sure. Good suggestion but we wanted the van to last for 15 years and I don't fancy adding someone else's kilometres to my own. It feels like we would be buying more problems.

Do I blame myself? Maybe. I don't know. It was all such a blur. We drove to Melbourne over three days. The last leg was less than 150kms. I was fresh. I was driving carefully, well under the 40km speed limit for the section of road I was driving.

It is all just plain, dumb, bad luck.

Our bad luck ... and the very real possibility that this will be our last road adventure for a while. Quite a while.

In time, we'll probably accept this turn of events. We're not angry. Completely the opposite. We both feel terribly sad. We've lost our freedom. We've been sidelined at the peak of our form and just as we were playing our best game. The lifestyle we had worked for - that my wife had taken early retirement so we could pursue - has been cut off, as though we had fallen mute in mid sentence.

Some dreams have been dashed.

Somehow, it doesn't seem fair ... but with two day's driving until home, I haven't got time for such deliberations.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear what happened Peter. I'm glad to hear you are both unhurt, physically at least, although I imagine your spirit is aching somewhat. All that driving won't help either but I'm sure you'll find the time and peace you need after this episode is over. I wish you well.


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