12th – 17th Feb 2021 – THB To Glen Mervyn Dam
I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been struggling through this COVID crisis. It has really changed our living and travelling lifestyle, and we were not prepared for just how much. You might have imagined that people in our situation would not feel the differences as much as others, but it has been my experience, so far, that it is worse for the perpetual traveller than the steady worker.
Just chatting with Will, as we sit here at Glen Mervyn Dam, south of Collie, we discussed the people we know and their circumstances, the changes to their lives etcetera. The ones who work in the traditional sense (full time, week after week) seem to have been mostly unaffected in the way their lives are run. Yes, they have had lockdowns, kids who can’t go to school, and the same stress over catching this thing as us all, but mostly they have been able to go to work, and continue their usual routines.
The travellers and the like, have not been able to carry on their usual lives. There are many like us, who spend their time at the travel home bases, planning the next adventure, before heading off on that adventure. Some overseas (that would have been us this year) and some in their own country (last years plan). All of which has been thrown into complete chaos. Last year it was difficult to even get out and about within Australia (and I’m mostly talking about Australia, as that is all I have experienced in this pandemic time) and our own states, let alone anything else.
My thoughts are that a sudden and massive change to any lifestyle is a difficult process to adjust to. For anyone. Transitioning into retirement has been the one big change people have had to adjust to, and relating that emotional and physical adjustment to our current situations, should give us some insight into what people are going through, and help us all to be more tolerant, helpful and understanding when people are being difficult. Just because your situation is different, doesn’t make it any more or less a struggle. Consider that when hearing others stories. Listen to the stories, and understand instead of judging.
Anyway, blah, blah, blah, we’ve finally pushed our anxiety aside, and got out in the new travel vehicle. The Reconn2 (I’ve initially called Monty???) and The Old Girl (100 series GXL Landcruiser, 19yrs old), with 2 fat bikes on the rack. Wednesday, the Surly Wednesday with 3.8” tyres, and Sandy the Surly Karate Monkey, with 2.8” tyres. Our plan is to do some cycle training, by riding ahead of the vehicle each time we move, taking it in turns.
Day one, saw us drive a whole 62kms, during a regional lockdown ( more a lock up, I feel, but hey?) trapping us in the Peel region for another day. We drove the long, scenic way, from THB to Heron Point, where we were lucky to get the last little spot to park the small, compact Monty, under the shade of some trees. It is Friday after all, and lots of Peel residents obviously were busting to escape southward too.
We enjoyed two nights there, caught some crabs (blue swimmers, which the Peel inlet is famous for) and a couple of beautiful sunsets. Rodgie is getting better at having to be secured on lead much of the time, and is enjoying the freedom of bush walks and swimming. Also lots of new friends with plenty of pats.
Day three, 14th Feb,and the first day of cycle training. I was first off, so hopped on Sandy, just after 8am, and headed towards Waroona. Lucky for us, we have ridden the motorbikes around this area quite a bit, and know some good, quiet backroads. Now I am very unfit, no surprises there. Two knee replacements, and a year of making bad excuses and poor choices, and here I am. Huh! So the very slight uphill gradient, a minor easterly breeze to ride into, and knobbly fat tires made me slow and tired. But it didn’t take long for my body to remember what to do, and just go into automatic peddle mode. My mind, however, took a bit longer. The first 10kms I spent complaining to myself how hard it was, then things started to get back into place. Only 6kms to the next turn, then have a drink, oh look at the little cows, how cool are those red tailed, black cockatoos, and next minute, I’ve ridden 21kms, and Waroona is in reach. That is the benefit of experience, right there. Fit or not, you just know you are capable.
Will and the support vehicle caught me about 3kms from the destination, so they left me to cycle it, to have a cold drink, a shady seat and some lunch ready when I got there. Just under 30kms, not bad for my first day out.
From Waroona we drove to Logue Brook Dam/Lake Brockman, making our total for the day a massive 56kms. Ha ha ha, should have cycled the whole way. Being a Sunday, the lake was busy with water skiers, and other noisy machines, but very few were camping as they had to get kids to school and themselves to work, tomorrow. This left us with only a couple of other campers, and a zillion little birds, to enjoy the evening in peace. Rodgie was able to roam free without annoying anyone, having lots of swims, and fun chasing the ball. Monty is very simple to set up, with our biggest challenge getting him level. It’s all new for us tenters, but we’re working well together to figure how it all works.
A comfortable night in the camper, and the dog gets us up early. She sleeps inside with us, just less stress, and needs to be out and about early. So one of us gets up, and coffee is on, dog played with, and we are able to relax in the shade of the trees and just observe. It is very nice. We’ve missed it. The water in the lake is clean, fresh and cold, so we used it to wash, cool down and do dishes. Why have we not camped here before? Beautiful spot. Even with the V8 ski boats boring around it was still nice. Anyway, they are mainly around on weekends, and some afternoons. Besides, they are fun to watch for a while too.
While here, we did a “Rodgie Training” day, and cycled around the lake, with a cooling swim in the middle, of our 7km ride. Rodgie loves to run with the bikes, and is very good at not getting tangled up. She was off lead, and enjoyed sniffing and running, swimming and being out on an adventure of her own. As we ride at her pace, we hope to not over work her. She doesn’t have a self metering capability. She will not stop unless we make her.
Day five, 16th Feb, and it is Will’s turn to cycle off. When I cycled, I just got on my bike and left Will to pack up completely, but today, there was more complicated and new things to deal with, so Will helped with it all before his ride. Our planned journey involved dirt roads today, so we wanted to put our new Stone Stomper on. This meant hitching the car and camper up first. It was very simple, after Will bolted the attachment bar to the car, it literally just clipped on. Then, as we were in a tight spot, we wanted two people to spot and ensure no smashies, crashies, or whammies (A little quote from Ryan Van Duzer on YouTube).
Finally Will was able to head off, a bit later than he wanted, as it was going to reach 35C today. Rodgie and I had a walk, she had a swim, and we finished up the pack up. The March flies were getting the better of both of us, so we jumped in the car and began our drive. Only 16kms to Hoffman Mill campground, along Clarke road. I thought we’d pass Will close to the Mill, but there was no sign of him. On checking my phone he’d messaged to say Madam Google had lead him astray yet again. He was on some mountain bike trail, and the going was tough. We had time to spare, so Rodgie and I tried to find the road through to Tallanalla rd, which we wanted to take south to Collie. It was completely blocked off, with barriers. Absolutely no way through. Bugger. I tried to get hold of Will, but to no avail, so decided just to drive back the way we’d come. Luckily he was just at the top of the hill, having a drink, about 1.5kms from the Mill.
He was buggered, after a tough ride, and happy to get in the cool car away from the annoying March flies. We couldn’t find another route, so had to backtrack to Southwest highway, before turning onto Mornington road and heading to Collie via Harris River Dam road. It’s more quiet, and scenic. The poor Old Girl does struggle to pull the camper up the slightest of hills. We are both actually surprised at how difficult it seems.
In Collie, we did some shopping, had lunch and decided on our next stop. Two choices, Glen Mervyn Dam or Grimwade. As it was, we had had enough for the day and Glen Mervyn Dam was nice, free, and quiet. Once used for recreational boating, it’s currently too low, making it perfect. There is no drinking water, and a clean drop toilet. Not too much rubbish, but still more than necessary. We pick up what we can. So this huge day, that wore us out, was a total of 106kms. Ha ha ha, again the amount we could cycle.
Rodgie dog had a great day again, exploring, swimming, and chasing the ball. Although she did come down ill in the afternoon, vomiting in the car, refusing to eat or drink, and shaking a bit. Silly mutt has eaten something bad from the bush, (luckily for us, no 1080 baits around here) and made us worry a lot. I even thought about ringing a vet, but decided just to wait and watch her. She just went to bed and didn’t get up till this morning. It was a lucky outcome, and a lesson to be more careful. She is a pup, and has no idea what she should or shouldn’t eat.
So today, 17th Feb, here at Glen Mervyn Dam, we are relaxing, smashing March flies, and enjoying the birds and peaceful surrounds. We’ll probably cycle around the dam, have a swim or two, and look at our options for tomorrow. It is nice to be out and about adventuring again. Everyday helps us feel more confident and more like our usual selves. It is our therapy.
Disaster! At 3am!
Bloody hell, what is this shit? After a great ride around the dam, about 5kms, and a lovely evening watching Rodgie play with the ducks, we secured things a little more and tucked ourselves in for another nice sleep in our camper. We were aware there may be a bit of wind (20-30kms/hr, possible) and some rain (up to 5mm). Confident that this rig would have no issues, we went to sleep. It got windy, a bit more than 30kms/hr, with a couple of bigger gusts, and some heavy rain. It woke us. Just as we were both thinking to get up and put the awning away, a massive gust hit us in a second, and the entire awning was picked up and smashed over the roof of the van. Mother of God!
It all happened so fast, then it was over. We jumped, literally, out of bed, and out into the rain (which was now only drizzle) to secure the destroyed awning. To do this, we needed to lower the roof, so poor Rodgie, got shut inside (with a light on), the roof came down, and Will and I flipped the awning back over, and Will managed to duck tape it in McGyver style, to get us through till morning. The storm came and went in no time, and we wondered how the other campers fared. With the roof back up, we let Rodgie out to do a wizz, and we all went back to bed.
Morning came and I reached for my glasses, which I hang over the window flap. Something wasn’t right here, they wouldn’t fit over my ear properly??? For fuck sake, I’d totally forgotten about them in the nights drama, while running around in my undies, in the rain, three quarters blind (no glasses cause it was raining and there wasn’t time) so they’d got bent when we put the roof down. Ugh! Lucky they are plastic frames, it was a warm morning and I was able to bend them back into shape. I cannot function without my glasses. So blind, so so blind.
After doing a better job of securing the wrecked awning we hitched up and decided to continue down to Kendanup, where we were going to visit some cycling friends. No point stressing too much, what is done is done and now we just need to get it repaired and learn the lessons. It is a sun shade, just a sun shade, and not a protection from the wind and rain. Also, the tie down kit that came with it is not adequate, so we will follow our usual process of more is best for these things. No other campers had any issues, and some of them had much older and more flimsy set ups, so we think we may have been hit by a bullet, or Willy Willy. Who knows.
We drove all the way home, after a relaxing morning, and even with the mini drama we still enjoyed the almost 2 weeks away. It did help us shake off the fears the world situation had encouraged us to have, and we are now planning new and exciting things for the rest of this year.
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”