camping disasters – an epic – part two

Continued on from here.

It was about 1.30pm when Bean left. Given that we had no mobile phone reception that far out of town I didn’t bother getting my phone out of the car when he left and I don’t wear a watch these days so I wasn’t able to keep track of time. I knew it’d take him about 45 minutes to get back into town and then at least half an hour to get a car trailer organised, another 45 minutes back out to the car and yet another 45 minutes back out the camp site, so I wasn’t expecting him back for a while anyway, no point clock watching.

A while later the sprogs were getting cold after swimming for so long and they were asking for food so I took them back to the camp site with the intention of cooking an early dinner. At the camp site I was met with several food related problems…

The ice in the esky had melted already and the food was begining to get warm.

The esky had become a temporary ant’s nest (I thought eskies were well sealed too!?).

The frypan, bowls, plates, mugs and cutlery were all still unwashed from the previous night’s and that morning’s meals, and to top it all off the dishwashing detergent was in the kombi on the side of the highway several kilometres away!

By this stage the overtired, disappointed sprogs were complaining loudly about their empty tummies so I gave them a banana each. The camp site was in the belting sun, no shade at all, so we hid out in the hot tent and ate bananas until the whole 2kgs of bananas that we’d brought with us were gone. Dinner could wait until Bean got back with the dishwashing liquid and some ice for the esky. Until then, the esky would stay closed to conserve whatever chill was left in the water that half filled it.

Sprout asked me when her bed would be made up, and I told her it couldn’t happen until her Dad got back with the air mattress pump and the bedding.

Moe asked me for more food.

I asked a passerby what the time was. Twenty to six.

Wow. I had expected that Bean would be back by then. I had asked him if he thought it’d be best if we all went, just in case he needed some help, or something came up and he couldn’t let me know about it. He didn’t think it was fair to expect the sprogs to sit in the for hours all over again, not after the previous 24 hours. I had to agree, and hope that things went smoothly for him.

At twenty to six I began to curse him. Why was he not back yet? Why was I having to fend for myself at a camp site with two cranky, hungry kids and some vital camping stuff missing from the equation?

After eating some nuts the sprogs and I went for a walk. We asked someone at a neighbouring camp site what the time was. It was 6.30pm. The man asked me if I was ok and it was then that the dam broke and a floor of tears poured forth.

No, I most certainly was not ok. My partner left 5 hours ago to deal with our broken down car, it shouldn’t take so long, he wouldn’t leave us for that long without bedding at the very least. He would have been eager to get back to us. I was very worried something had happened and I had no way of contacting him. The men and woman at my neighbouring camp site were very kind, and well set up. They assured me that sometimes things like moving cars take longer than we anticipate and they lent me their satellite phone to call Bean, but the call went straight through to message bank. He was probably out of range. It’d be ok, but oh how it felt like it wouldn’t be. I was so worried about him. My camp site neighbours called their adult daughter who lived in town and asked her to go around to our house and see if he was there, or if the kombi had made it back at the very least, then to call the police and see if there had been any accidents reported.

Finally, just after 7pm, Bean pulled into our camp site in his parent’s car. I felt so relieved, and so furious. I thanked my neighbours and went and cried and swore at Bean.

We got the air beds inflated and begged some dishwashing liquid from another neighbouring camp site. Washed up what we could, salvaged what we could from the ant infested esky, filled it with a new bag of ice that Bean had grabbed in town and put it inside the tent, safe from further ant attacks. For dinner we had more sausages and some hashbrowns. By this stage I had given up feeling stressed about the complete lack of nutrient value in the dinners we’d provided our children for two nights in a row. We warmed up some water for face, hand and feet washing then got the sprogs into bed at around 9.30pm.

Bean and I then sat down to drink a mug of hot chocolate each and take a breather and catch up on the incredibly stressful afternoons we’d both had. I cried. Oh how I cried. This is not what camping is supposed to be like! I love camping. I’m supposed to be having a nice time. I thought you were dead. I want to go home. Please can we give up now and go home tomorrow morning… Oh how miserable I was.

The tent flapped in the wind all night long, and coupled with the mosquitos that had made it into our tent, made for a sleepless night for me.

At 5am Sprout woke up crying. She was hungry and really wanted food.

Bean tried to keep her quiet but she woke Moe anyway. After much coaxing and some cursing they were both asleep again and we got another hour of sleep before the day had to begin.

Bean took Sprout and Moe to the water’s edge for some fishing while I stayed at the camp and did some journalling. They were back soon after, having given up because stress levels were already high and Bean had become sick of explaining to Sprout that fishing wasn’t as simple as casting out and reeling back in immediately to find a fish fillet at the end of the line!

Bean agreed with me that it was time to go home. Only, by that time I wanted to try to salvage the weekend. Our helpful neighbours had left and they had a much better camp site than ours, with a path right down the hill to the water’s edge and some shade too. We decided to move our camp once more, but just 100 metres this time, not 20kms! Down came the tent, and back up again.

The ice in our crappy esky had melted again so we needed to head back to the general store for more. We went for a quick swim, had a snack and all hopped in the car, hoping that the sproggets would sleep on the way there. Thankfully the sprogs slept, which was about the only useful thing to come out of that drive. The general store was out of ice. The closest place to get more was a further 25km away, turning a 40km round trip into a 70km round trip.

It was then that I proposed we admit defeat. That we go back to the camp and have some avocado and tinned tuna sandwiches for lunch, sacrifice the food in the esky to the warm-esky Gods and spend the afternoon by the water’s edge until the day cooled down a bit when we could then pack up our camp (yet again) and go home. Bean agreed. It was definitely time to give up.

Back at the camp we had our lunch, paddled for a while in the shallow, clear water of the beautiful Waychinicup inlet and then began our final pack up. We packed some, then we swam some, then we packed some more. We had the car packed and ready to go by 3pm so we went down to the water for one last swim before bidding good riddance to that particular camping adventure.

This camping trip cost us a lot financially. A couple of tanks full of fuel, with all the running about. A whole lot of good food wasted. Money spent rather unnecessarily on camping equipment that wasn’t quite right but was just a bit of a compromise because we needed something like it to go camping with and we wanted to go camping NOW. It’s put us in a pretty terrible position for the week ahead with several hundred dollars worth of unexpected costs and an unknown amount of damage done to my kombi. We don’t know if we can get away with simply having the carbies cleaned and/or replaced or whether she’ll need a full engine rebuild. Obviously we’ll begin with rebuilding the carbies and see how she goes.

Still, we’ve learned a lot and won’t make this disaster our last camping trip.

In future we’ll make sure we’re well set up with camping gear relevant to where we’re camping and what we want out of our camping experience. We’ll most definitely never take the word of other people who tell us that a camp site is “great”, and we’ll choose to camp only at sites we’ve seen for ourselves before we arrive with a car load of camping gear and heads full of expectations of a fabulously relaxing weekend. We live close enough to heaps of gorgeous places that we can make day trips to scope out the suitability of camp sites for future trips. We’ll also never take my poor kombi on a gravel road again, and we’ll never rely on duct tape to keep the air filter on either! I have to say, I’m rather fond of the idea of owning a satellite phone too. That would be very useful given that so many of these places don’t have mobile reception.

As far as the kombi goes, this is probably the nudge I needed to learn about the engine. I know enough about kombi bodies, but up until now I’ve shied away from learning about the mechanics, figuring that I’d learn when the time to pull the kombi off the road and restore her came*. May as well start with a carbie rebuild eh?

Photos from the nice parts of our weekend to follow in (yet) another post.


*The time to take my kombi off the road for restoration is getting very close by the way… Van Halen (Bean’s kombi) is probably a couple of months worth of weekend body work away from a respray and new interior then it’ll be Brigit’s turn.

posted by wildecrafted in journal,volkswagen and have Comments (7)

7 Responses to “camping disasters – an epic – part two”

  1. […] To be continued… share this:EmailShareFacebookDiggStumbleUponReddit posted by Kimberley in journal,volkswagen and have No Comments Tags: boat harbour, camping, camping disasters, cape riche, kombi, kombi breakdown, norman's beach, volkswagen, VW, waychinicup […]

  2. Kristy Ratcliffe says:

    You poor things !!! Next time go with another family – US, to be exact. Sorry this happened to you guys, what a shocker. Let’s go to good old Cosy Corner soon. Then you’re back on the horse with a fun time with others… what do you say?

    • Kimberley says:

      Sure! Once we’re better set up that’d be great.
      It’s our intention to set ourselves up well and then go for weekend trips around the great southern once a month.

  3. cass says:

    Oh my. Wow. I am speechless. I am without speech. That kind of stuff sends my blood pressure soaring, I’m not surprised you cried a lot! You poor things, I hope you all had a relaxing dinner and sleep when you finally made it home. x

  4. Cindy says:

    Oh dear. Wow. That was stressful! I am *so* sorry that I said Cape Riche was great, I remember going there as a child, I don’t remember the gravel road just the awesome clear water (not too wavey?) Anyhow, I hope next time is a far better experience. xx

  5. Tricia says:

    Oh no! Sorry your camping trip was such a dissaster. And I do hope your Combi can be fixed.

    I can’t imagine how stressed you would have been when waiting for the bean. I’m horrible in situations like that.


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