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Packing the Bags for the Last Time.


New York City. 9th Oct

New York City 9Th Oct.


Well the third task we had has fallen into place. We have sold the bakkie. At the time we were up in the Adirondacks admiring the fall colours when Amir first contacted us. I think he had sent enquiries before but I didn’t associate the different enquiries. He had a storage facility in Claremont in NH some three hours drive away from our position and suggested we make our way there.. But by the time we heard back from him our route had taken us west to Niagara Falls. (The city a bit of a dive but the Falls Park area a joy). Of course he wanted to see it but lived near Boston. I suggested meeting halfway somewhere but he had a brother living in Albany, the NY capital, some 500kms away and he would check it over. Took us a couple of days to get there but met up with Nabeel, Amir’s brother, on Saturday morning, the 5th Oct. He is a volunteer fireman.

We met at the station where he gave the bakkie a thorough inspection and needed to know all the workings of the vehicle and camper. Amir only wanted the camper that sat on the back chassis. But we decided, as it wasn’t an easy job lifting the camper off the chassis, it was best he has the whole vehicle for the same price. I think that will work out well. It gives him time to decide what he wants to do with it and to repair the few things that require work.

We didn’t realize that Amir wanted it there and then but it would take Joan a couple of days to wash the bedding and pack up our personal things. Apart from those things Amir wanted everything left as if we were heading off. So that’s what happened.


On the Monday, in pouring rain, we had our last pack up and duly delivered the old bakkie to Nabeel at the fire station. He kindly dropped us off at the Greyhound depot where we caught the bus to NYC for three days.


Back Home in Bellingen 27th Oct. 2019


It was so sad seeing the bakkie sitting there in the pouring rain outside the Latham Fire Station that Monday. It has brought the curtain down on such an important segment of our lives. Many years ago I said to Joan what about spending ten years travelling. I think I was meaning continually. Well I think that was a bit of a pipe dream with three kids to consider. But we’ve done the next best thing. Twelve years of off and on travelling in all continents. Most of it in the VW and bakkie. There have been bad times, memories, and many good times. Maybe we didn’t visit all the tourist spots on people’s lists, but we did experience many wonderful happenings, met interesting people and made our travel part of our lives. Not just a month away on holiday where you came back for people to ask you, ‘Did you have a good time?’ People don’t ask you that when you are at home and it is a silly question when you have just spent six months driving up Africa or finding your way across Asia. It is just part of your life.

We are very pleased Amir has bought the bakkie. It would have been sacrilege leaving it sitting in the car park at DFW airport. To be crushed when the authorities realize it’s a discard. He has been emailing me with ideas. So we know it’s in good hands.

We will head overseas again. But it will be different. No bakkie, and less driving. But home is having a stronger pull. It’s so nice waking up to the sounds of the birds’ dawn chorus. The whip bird’s whip and magpies yodelling. Pottering on the jobs around the place, then sitting on the back deck at dusk looking up the valley having a Sundowner. The simple things in life seem to be always the best.




New England in the Fall


Fall Colours plus one of the covered bridges in this area


Near Lake Durant. New York State

Boondocking Near Lake Durant. NY State. 30th Sept.


We had three objectives on this trip: take in the fall colours in the New England area, Spend time with Adam visiting different areas up there. And selling the bakkie.

Unfortunately for Adam he was a week or so too early to experience the colours although they were starting to turn. But we enjoyed travelling with him despite the close company we had to keep in the cab of the van.

But after he flew back we decided to once more head up into Vermont and in particular Green Mountain. It’s higher and we weren’t disappointed to the autumn display all around us. I think Joan would have taken many hundreds of photos so perhaps you should baulk if she invites you around to see her slides. It was spectacular. Every turn on the road brought more amazing sites. How were we to know then that the best was still to come. It’s a busy time in that area with all the bus loads bringing hordes of geriatrics to ‘Oooh and Awww”

Yesterday we headed south back into Massachusetts then into New York State where we once more turned north into the Adirondacks and immediately we knew we were in something special. The trees here are more advanced and the range of colours is exceptional. It was just a continuous mass of reds, rusts, golds and yellow interspersed with the evergreen conifers. We are camped tonight on the edge of Lake Durant, on the old cobbled road where once more Joan has been at it with the camera.

The weather is cooler but still very bearable what with a good fire and warm clothes. In all the places we’ve stopped it there has been a good supply of dead branches to supplement the wood we buy. This is going to be our last long trip in the bakkie and I feel this drive through the fall colours is the perfect finale for us. I am tired.

The other objective for this trip was to sell the bakkie or dispose of it somehow. An advertisement on Craig’s List has brought quite a few responses and I am sure would have sold with the first person to look it over but he was concerned it didn’t have the emissions control certificate and wouldn’t be able to register with out it. But today I have another couple of enquiries so will see how that turns out.

In the mean time I emailed Dan who we spoke to on the last trip. He was the bloke who spelt it out to us we would have no trouble selling it and after giving him more details says he will sell it for us in a week or two. I hope he comes good, he seems to know how to get around the emissions problem. But I hope he doesn’t want us to drive to Boise in Idaho where he lives, some 4000kms.


United States is so very much a car-centred society. Just amazing and I hope Australia never gets the same way. Early on after leaving Omaha we stayed at a state park site at Rocky Creek. There were a middle-aged couple opposite us in a tent not far from the lake. The toilet block was some 100 metres max from us. I saw her get in the car and I said to Joan that I’d bet she’s driving up to the loo. Joan said she thought she was going further afield after her visit. But sure enough, back in the car and back to the campsite. We have seen that type of thing happen so many times. Pavements are rare in many suburbs. Obesity is a problem.


We like our morning coffee. And often prefer our own to some of the muck they serve up as espresso. Not always but often the case we go away kicking ourselves for going into the place. But while Adam was with us and we were travelling long distances we found Dunkin’ Donuts make a very passable latte and cappuccino as well as my more mundane Americano.


Fair Haven State Park. Shores of Lake Ontario. 2nd Oct


There was an article in the papers over a week or two back saying that bird numbers in North America have collapsed by over 25% since 1970. Reminds me of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” Then it was DDT and what it was doing to the shells of the native birds. Now it seems to be lack of habitat and pesticides. They did something about it last time after her book became a best seller but unfortunately with mad men in charge of this country they are going the other way and relaxing regulations so farmers can use more pesticides and national parks are being ravaged by oil and coal men. This is a mad bloody country.

We have noticed the lack of bird sound on this trip many times even if in deep forest. But the other day at Lake Durant it was a joy to hear and see a good range of smaller types. Then during the night the mournful sound of a pair of loons.


Fair Haven SP is right on the shores of Lake Ontario. And our site is on a bluff metres from the drop off. It was hot yesterday. Then it blew a gale during the night with showery rain and today the weather has turned cold. The wind feels like its come from Alaska by way of the lake

We’ve just heard a noise outside. I opened the door to find a raccoon in our rubbish inches from my face. Don’t know who got the biggest shock and didn’t mean to catch his tail in the door when I slammed it. Bigger than we expected and we were able to watch it at the bottom of the tree for a while. Quite a beautiful animal in its winter coat









Minuteman. Memorial to the Elite of the Militia


The Bridge Where the Fighting Occurred 1775


Walden Pond


Henry Thoreau and Cottage Facsimile

Berlin, Ohio 7th Sept.


This is Amish country. After days of flat corn and bean fields it’s a delight getting back into a few hills, trees, and a bit of action. Though the Amish are not renowned for too much action in the modern sense of the word.

It is amazing how they have kept their way of life when all around them are tuning in to the 21st century, although many have melded their old ways with parts of the modern and you sometimes see a golf buggy trundling along the road instead of the more sleek and romantic horse and trap. The women with their long skirts and bonnets and the men in braces and straw hats look odd initially but you soon get used to it. They are friendly and happy to get into a conversation. Joan was intrigued in the washing on the lines in the front yards of the farm houses laid out in perfect order: towels all together, sheets next, then the men’s garments followed by the women’s. Not sure if they colour coordinated the pegs like my Mother used to. Many schools with the kids playing outside. And paddocks mowed by genuine horse power.

Talking to one of the RVers at the camp site he was saying how they loved coming to this area. The people were so friendly, so different. Then I realized to him it was the easy way to visit another country and not have to leave the comfort of your own. You don’t even have to learn a new language!

It’s a real tourist dive. The Amish don’t seem to mind getting their pound of flesh out of the gullible. But once you hit the back roads you experience their simple way of life.


Lionsgate, Vermont 16th Sept


A lot has happened since the last post. We made it to Boston in time to meet Adam who ended up a day late with his British Airways plane breaking down. Where we stayed at Framingham, a suburb of Boston, is only 20kms from Concord where in April 1775 the Revolutionaries made their stand against the British who were marching on the town to confiscate weapons they knew had been stashed there. The bridge where the skirmish happened and where Waldo Emerson composed his famed words “The shot heard around the world.” Of course it’s not the same bridge, I believe its been rebuilt some seven times but it IS a very historical place and not ruined by over commercialization.

Very nearby is Walden Pond where Henry Thoreau lived for two years, built his little cottage and tried living as independently as possible. It is a tranquil lake surrounded by lovely trees showing their first signs of autumn colouration.

The airbnb at Framingham was a delight. Under the main house it was spacious, comfortable beds and looked out onto woods. We watched squirrels storing acorns and chipmunks scurrying from shelter to shelter.

We took the scenic route to where we are now. A mistake as it took us almost 9 hours to get here. But Lionsgate is an inn at the end of a gravel road. In the middle of forest where the fall is more advanced although greenery still outnumbers fall colours. A very beautiful area. Today we went for a drive ending up on the islands on Lake Champlain a kilometre or two from the Canadian border.

The Barges on the Illinois River at Havana



Our First Covered Bridge. An old Rail Line


Loading the Bakkie onto the Mack Truck


Havana, Illinois. 6th September


Not the best start of for our two months away. I mentioned in the last blog how the van started the first time but after sitting in the campsite for a day all it would do was cough and wheeze when started. That was on the Saturday of the Labour Day long weekend and of course nothing was to happen until the first day back, Tuesday. Chad, the bloke who serviced the bakkie in our absence kept putting us off and I think had lost interest in our situation. On the Tuesday I rang a mobile diesel mechanic who duly appeared, changed the fuel filters that Chad had said were not available in the US. Tried it but still the same. That was US$441 worth. But he did call the Mack tow truck which turned up and soon had the van on the back and us clambering mountaineering-like into the cab.

Our sprits were decidedly low. However, at the workshop, Nick, a young mechanic, came out, introduced himself, asked what year the bakkie was, and with no further ado, grabbed a couple of spanners, and started fiddling. Remember this type of vehicle is not sold in USA, there was no diagnostic plug, and so he was flying blind.

Fifteen minutes later, the motor was idling beautifully, revving well and ready for a test run. Things were looking brighter. But it was evident to Nick something was still not right. It lacked power. No acceleration. By now it was late and they needed to keep at it the next day. The dropped us off at the nearest motel, a Motel 8. Now Joan has always been disparaging of this hotel chain but it was roomy, clean, comfortable bed and friendly staff. Could’ve done with a couple more pillows but we did have a TV remote. Kenneth, the Uber driver said his experience with a Motel 8 stay included not even a TV remote.

I called the workshop a couple of times the next day only to hear bad news. But they were persevering and even had the big boss over to give advice. In the meantime I started looking at hire car agencies, as we needed to get to Boston to meet Adam on the 12th. I also started looking up local car wreckers. What a terrible way for the bakkie to end its life! We had faith in these mechanics and I didn’t think anyone else could do a better job but one had to be practical.

Juan phoned us early the next day, Thursday and I could tell by by the sound of his voice he had good news. Problems solved. It all comes back to storing the bakkie in a non temp-controlled shed for over 12 months in below zero temperatures for weeks on end. In that situation the diesel takes on a turpentine appearance and changes its viscosity. It becomes more sludge like and that clogs up the filters, pump, the works. They took out the tank, emptied it, put another fuel filter in as the ones put in the day before were full of the sludge. Replaced a couple of fuel line that were cracking causing air to creep in and bypassed one of the fuel filters as the pump on it was dicey. We were ecstatic.

So, at ten yesterday morning we hit Interstate 80. A shit of a road as it’s full of semis, but so good to be moving. We stayed the night at Rock Creek state park and today branched off onto the local roads and experienced some of Small Town America. Many lovely places with their spired court houses and clean streets.

Havana is one such place. There is a delightful little campsite here over watched by Deb. Perched on the banks of the Illinois River metres from the broad river. A tug boat went up river not long after we arrived pushing 15 barges, five long and three wide each 20 metres in length. It was an amazing sight. This is Oktoberfest weekend in Havana and the festivities started off tonight with a parade. Very lively and enough candies thrown from the floats to ruin the most shiniest of kids teeth. There were feed and trinket stalls up town. Also a MAGA stall filled with Trump insignia. It was pleasing to see no buyers of goods in there the two times we walked past.






A Model of the Book Depository and Elm Street With Bullet Trajectory.


The JFK Memorial Near the Book Depository


The Window From Where Oswald Fired


Book Depository in Background. Old Court House in Right. From Hotel


The Sliced Lady


Kevin Keen to See Joan. Where We Stored Bakkie