Yeppoon 1. Part 2.

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As I mentioned in the previous post … we had to do most of our driving on the Bruce Highway in order to get to Yeppoon.  The Bruce Highway is the primary highway running from south to north in Queensland that has numerous stretches where you are restricted to a single lane.  Car traffic would be tough enough but  you add in the trucks and the caravans and “oy vey,” or, as we like to say in Canada with fumbling French Canadian, “oy tres tres vey.”

First of all, part of driving is not just about what you get to do, it is also about considering other drivers. The caravanners who insist on driving 10+ km under the speed limit, holding back a huge line of cars and trucks that stretches out over a couple of km’s are the worst kind of drivers.  Passing lanes can be few and far between.  These mindless muppets cannot master the concept of consideration on the road.  Most caravanners pull over at regular intervals and allow people to pass and go on their way.    Other drivers get fed up and their frustration causes them to take risks, some of which have serious consequences. Misjudge the oncoming traffic and you are toast.  The offending caravanner drives on, still oblivious to anyone but himself and the carnage he caused behind him.  No wonder so many people hate caravanners.  These idiots are actually only a small percentage of the group.  You will find most caravanners use the secondary roads whenever they can, and even avoid driving during peak traffic out of consideration for those needing to get to and from work.  So, here are pictures of the two idiots we dealt with on our trip up to Yeppoon.  The first one fluctuated between 10 – 20 km under the speed limit.  He did not even pull over when he hit the town.

As for the truckers … riding through the waves they have created in the hot bitumen was the scariest thing so far. It is terrifying in your single lane, sandwiched into the traffic, with oncoming traffic of the same density, and no wiggle room to make a mistake. We hit it and it was like we had blown a tire. Thank heavens Derek is such a good driver. He drives and I scream that we are going to die. He was really impressed that I was strong enough to make the seat belt stretch that far and how flexible I was to be able to fold myself underneath the front seat.

It was a lovely drive. We hit Rock Hampton and then took the road that hugged the coastline heading towards Yeppoon. Once there, we found our recommended (by a friend) caravan site, and pulled in. I was expecting to be on the beach, idyllic sites, off a bit from the party crowd, left to ourselves. Instead, we looked down the line of sandwiched-into-place caravans, the vehicles parked on the opposite side of a single lane that separated the from the caravans. There were tiers of parking and we were on the upper tier just below the cabins, with only a small row of bushes and a couple trees separating us. We drove in towards the spot the owner pointed us to and realized our caravan was much bigger than any of the others on our tier and that there was no room to do the swing needed to back it into place. The vehicles were all in the way.

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So we sat and waited until a couple of people came out to move their vehicles and once we tracked down the others, people backed their vehicles and sat in them waiting for us to park. I think it was a 32 point turn to negotiate the limited space. The front end of the truck was in the bushes on the edge of our tier. In the middle of our parking someone came in and wanted down the road, they drove right up next to the caravan and waited.  One of the other people watching finally told them that we were trying to park and being as her vehicle was stopped so that it blocked the entrance to our site … we probably were not going to be able to park it until she moved.   She had to back up and join the others waiting in a queue to put their vehicles back once we parked. Derek managed to get us in and all the vehicles loaded themselves back into their places, leaving us to wonder where we would park our truck once we unhooked. Down the road was the answer.

Going forward, if anyone had to come or go, we all had to stop what we were doing and move our vehicles.

I love when you first arrive at a park. Everyone finds an excuse to come out and stand around in a crowd to assess the “new meat.” They consider your caravan, what you are pulling it with, how you drive, how you park, what you look like, and approachability. Then they either move in for the kill or do some kind of satanic chant around your caravan that means no-one will ever “see” you or speak to you.  I begged Derek to let me put out the Satan lawn ornaments and to start the bonfire to encourage them to “ban” us but he had “forgotten” to pack the ornaments or matches.

We could hear the people on either side of us, even whispering.  It was like having several radio stations playing at the same time except there were no dials available for us to at least choose a channel we liked. Hearing their every bathroom sound, their intimate moments and even passing gas . . . well Derek and I build a wall of pillows and quilts between us in bed, neither one of us undressed in front of the other and we avoided any meaningful eye contact.  Sitting out next to our caravan, we had the view of the vehicles in front of us. Directly behind us, visible through the sparse bushes, were people sitting outside their cabins, watching us. I was really sorry I had not crocheted us matching sardine outfits. We hated it. We had booked in for a week, because our ex-good friend  said it was the best site ever. I was googling a hit man while Derek tried to find something flash to hang over the hitch of the caravan. Everyone else had bright buckets that you know were purchased just for that purpose. Evidently, none of the people who owned caravans with hitches, who were sandwiched in a park with caravans remembered that.  I can imagine how many of them ended up having knee and hip replacements after walking into someone else’s caravan hitch and wondering where the hell that thing came from.   We decided to disperse the crowd of seniors frowning at our bare hitch by covering it with a flash bit of something. I offered one of my bras but Derek said he was not sure many of the women would know what it was and therefore it would be a wasted attempt at humour and he knew how much I valued my humour.  He told me to go put my bra back on.

The beach was a couple of blocks away. The only good thing was that we did manage to find a property for sale on our hike to it.

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There was a small shopping centre across a busy road and down a bit was a pub with very pricey food. For those who had booked in there for a month and spent their days sitting out to the side of their caravans, not talking to each other, reading or whatever, it was a dream come true.  It was kind of like being in an outdoor nursing home and the dining room was a short hike down the road. Even without someone sounding the bell, everyone appeared outside of their caravans and hopped in their vehicles to drive off to eat. Once there, we all assembled and tried to mingle with the 4 local folk and pretend we did not know one another.

People were shocked when we said the one night that we were going to the pub, except we planned to walk.  A whole gang congregated to try and talk us out of it.  As we walked down the road towards the pub a young man in a car turned around and came back and asked us where we were going.  When we told him, he offered to drive us, as it really was “quite a walk.”  We assured him we would be fine.  The pub was only a couple of blocks and really quite an easy walk.  We were so confused.  I told Derek we had to get home in good time or they would be masterminding our rescue, sounding the alarm, preparing coffee and sandwiches for the search parties. I don’t quite understand what the point is of having a caravan with a stove and microwave when you always eat out.  I started to think the whole site was part of some elaborate TV show and the joke was on us.  Was this really caravanning?  It got even worse when we became a legend.  We were introduced to new people as “the ones who WALKED all the way to the pub,” with knowing head nods and odd looks.  People spoke in whispers around us and some even tried to touch us.  We were a team, Derek with his balding head, and me with a belly … Buddah had nothing on us.

The site had strong rules, no showering or doing your own laundry but for  a small fee you could use their facilities. There were plenty of things, normally provided in other parks, that they charged for. The other campers policed the park’s rules. Some confronted directly by trying to brand or pin a scarlet letter on people, while others just ran and “told.” New arrivals were quickly sorted into “liked” or “not.” I credit Derek with the fact we are liked. He has this ability to talk with anyone and to keep his eyes from rolling and to keep control of his face.  I can do that too, with a little assistance from a paper bag . . . over my head.  Mostly I am not allowed out of the caravan for a couple of days until Derek has time to convert everyone to “not likely to kill us in our sleep” kind of friends before he introduces me to the mix, having already made the appropriate apologies for the way I am.

If anyone tried to do anything with their caravan, like leave, a mob gathered, each shouting out advice, offering to hold your purse and insisting you exchange email addresses so you can “keep in touch.” The lady below tried to leave one afternoon and this was about the time Derek and I started formulating the details for the early, early, god-forsaken hour of the morning early plan to leave on our final day.

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I stayed in the caravan or walked down to the beach, which I had to myself every single time I went down there. Apparently, no-one walked or even drove down there.  It was enough to come and stay at a caravan park that promised you would be “on the beach.”  I am pretty sure most of them had never walked to the bottom of the park and had no idea that the beach was actually several blocks away.  Besides, the park did not really encourage beach visiting, as the gate was locked for sunrise and sunset which is probably the time most beaches see some kind of action … except that may just be a Canadian thing, I am not sure.  I think people who wanted to take a romantic walk along the beach at sunset ended up just sleeping on the ground beside the gate and waiting until morning.  Clearly seniors are wayyy past that kind of stupidity.  When Derek got back from golf, we spent time exploring the area. And we fell in love.

Each day, when Derek got back from golf, we spent time exploring the area. And we fell in love. . . with the area … we were observing a cone of no sexual intimacy due to the close proximity of all our neighbours and their ability to hear everything.

We quickly added Yeppoon and Emu Park to our list of possible places we might want to live. Life is full of possibilities, you never know. I just insisted that it not be near the caravan park.

We knew we had to come back up in a month for a series of golf games Derek had committed to, so we scoured the other caravan sites and found one we loved. We booked ourselves in … where else, but a place called Kinka Beach. We only habitate the most awesome sounding places. I think Derek has made it his life-long mission to see to it that he keep me continually embarrassed with my Canadian friends.

Finally, on our last night, we decided to go out to a restaurant we had seen in town. We were lucky to find an unreserved table as it was clearly the place to be … hence we wanted to be there. While we were in all our being glory, the bikers decided to start a row. I am not sure how we escaped with our lives but I am happy to share my life-saving tips. Sit there, eat your dinner, say nothing. Worked like a charm. We now refer to that day as the day I saved my hubby’s life. He actually wanted to thank me but as I said before… you could hear everything in the park. We found this out because the woman in the caravan to our right was whispering dirty nothing in her husband’s ear and the guy in the caravan to the left of us took action, assuming it was his wife.  You can’t just go around getting naked and jumping on people and expecting them to be on the same page, especially not when she has knitting needles in her hands.  I cannot deny that we learned so many valuable lessons from the little campsite that we will never visit again.  I had my sharpies out, all ready to write “farewell” messages on the bathroom walls but Derek said we had to go.  Some of the people were looking out of the window and were half dressed.  It was “now or never.”

It really does change you when you escape with your life so very many times.  The colours are a little brighter, the days a bit more sunny.  You want to hug everyone . . . but then you realize . . .you are older, you have a caravan, and you should just stop that shit right now!

 

 

 

 

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