Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Nelson, and long-term living in a sleepervan (Day 13)

After the rather hectic pace of the past few days, it was nice to drive at a leisurely pace and take in the different sights of the South Island.  It is has less population than the North Island, and things like gas stations and cell/wifi reception points can be few and far between.

We stopped in the neat town of Nelson to stock up on supplies and to treat ourselves to lunch in a cafe.  We happened upon the Yello Cafe and decided it looked like a good place to go in.  J had a delicious grilled brie sandwich with chicken and cranberries, with a side of cajun fries.  I had the "Kiwi Burger", a fascinating pile of deliciousness served on rosemary focaccia bread: burger patty, steamed beet slices, sprouts, a fried egg, field greens and carrots, bacon, and a grainy mustard.  Needless to say that served as both lunch AND dinner for us that day.  I also had a lovely kiwifruit juice with it.  "When in Rome", as they say!

We drove some more, and stopped for the night at Old MacDonald's Farm, near Abel Tasman National Park, and spent a quiet evening preparing dinner and enjoying some much-missed internet time.

We've sort of settled into a routine.  We wake early in our little sleepervan, make breakfast on our camp stove at the back of the van, and either eat it in bed (to stay warm) or occasionally outside if there is a picnic table.  Typically I fall into the roll of preparing breakfast while Jen UNmakes our bed.  It is essentially 4 wooden panels with the bed mattress on top in the back of the van where there would have been seating.  Underneath is storage, so during the day, we remove one panel, partially unmake the sheets, etc., so we can have access to our clothing and pantry basket.

If there are hot showers available at our campsite, we take advantage of them; otherwise, we get ready for the day, brush our teeth in the small sink at the back of our van (we're equipped with a large fresh-water and grey-water storage), and off we go. 

We either snack on fruit/trail mix/granola bars (or occasionally Tim Tams!) while we drive and stop at any interesting points along the way, or find a nice place to stop and make a more proper lunch (typically a sandwich).

After the day's adventures are done, or when daylight starts to leave us, we open up our Camping NZ App (you can use it offline) to see which campsites are closeby.  They are categorized by cost.  Some are free with minimal or no facilities (usually just a place to park and a public long-drop toilet if you're lucky), while others can range between $1-$10 or $11-$20, and a few $21 and up.  The App tells you the general cost per person for non-powered or powered sights (our little sleepervan doesn't have power), and what kind of ammenities are available (communal kitchen, laundry machines, wifi, hot showers which can be paid or free, etc).  We alternate between which kind of place we chose.  It's nice to save money on the free ones, but we do occasionally need to shower and do laundry, or have use of a full kitchen instead of our little camp stove, so it's nice to have options.

We park, and typically I make dinner while J re-makes our bed and organizes the inside of the van for sleeping.  We typically have dinner in bed, as the nights can get pretty cold, especially now that we're in the South Island (it has been as cold as 2 degrees Celcius).  If there is a kitchen facility or even outdoor sink with cold water, we take our dishes there to wash them.  We have washed them in our little sink before, but it's a bit of a pain to constantly pump water and there isn't a lot of room, so if there aren't sink facilities we somtimes save the dirty dishes for the next day when we're at a better facility.

After the work is done, we get ready for bed, and typically turn on the car engine so we can run the heat for several minutes to warm up the car.  We download our camera photos from the day onto the computer, we look through them all, and occasionally play a game or write my blog before we fall asleep, exhausted from the day.

It's a simple life, in a way.  Every day life tasks take longer - changing in a public bathroom with minimal place to put all your clothing can be a tedious challenge, and there's no such thing as leaving dishes in the sink for several days because you're too tired.  Space is very limited in our little home, and things need to be constantly tidied up (e.g. the front seats become storage areas for our clothes/cameras/backpacks during the night, and need to be emptied before the day's drive).

While it has its challenges, I've rather enjoyed living in this little home so far.  Especially after a long day out adventuring, it feels like a welcome relief to come back to our little sleepervan and have no other pressing needs but dinner and sleep.

We've more or less reached halfway of our time in New Zealand, and I'm sure the next thirteen days hold more surprises and challenges.

Our sleepervan

Our bed with the curtains drawn

Cooking dinner with mountains in the background

Steak dinner in bed

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