Friday 7 January 2011

That extra inch makes all the difference

Story in the news today about a man in the Nelson area who last night set about a campervan with a machete, and then tried to set fire to it, to the horror of the couple cowering inside it. It was, even making allowances for its battered and blackened condition in the report, a particularly ugly home-made campervan - but all the same, that was rather an OTT reaction on the part of the attacker. (Apparently it was blocking his view, and the recent criticisms of freedom campers by the general public were just grist to his mill.)

Campervans get an unfair press. They do look dorky, it can't be denied, especially the pop-top ones when their tops are, er, popped: it totally destroys the proportions. They're like those frogs that can inflate their throat pouches to huge balloons. Or frigate birds, ditto. And it is highly irritating to get stuck behind one on a winding road, as it grinds along so slowly.

But when you're in one, they can be kind of fun, especially when you take it off road, lock the hubs and do a bit of 4WDing through creeks where the water comes up to the top of the wheel arches and where, if you did get stuck, you'd have to risk a croc encounter if you got out and waded.

We spent a week trundling through the Northern Territory in our own little convoy, and it was an unexpected pleasure, even if we did once get a flattie. Pete and James came over all macho and lay in the dust to change the wheel, scraping away the soil when the jack wasn't cranked high enough. "I need another inch," Pete said to James. "I've been told that before," James replied.

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