Cruising with Caravanners.

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Do you know what anywhere you go, including a cruise to the other side of the world, if you mention caravanning and that you own one, you are immediately encircled in a group hug whether you want it or not. Everything else about who you are disappears and a huge neon sign appears over your head with a strobe light that tells all people that have ever had a caravan, or looked at a caravan, or stood near a caravan that there you are!! Shelter from the storm.

And don’t ever turn around too quickly because then the electric magnetic waves just create a vortex that sucks them in even faster.  Spinning would be suicide.

They don’t even ask your name. After the way too close hug and furtive kissing of the cheeks and forehead, it is straight to the, “So, what kind of rig do you have?”

And the pissing contest begins.

Some contests are really hard to win when you are standing next to your entry.  No-one ever won the 4-H Champion Steer title when they were standing there holding an old milk cow.  Even an idiot can see the difference between that and a really prime, well fed, bulked up and groomed hunk of beef.  It is the same with caravans.  Even an idiot can compare what is being said with what they see in front of them.  On a ship, one the other side of the world, you can tell everyone anything you want.  And people do.   Everyone has the best caravan ever. They believe that because the salesman who sold it to them told them that and perhaps they did not go to enough caravan manufacturers or shows to know that if everyone was claiming to have the best caravan, it is just not possible that every caravan on the road is the best caravan. In a fantasy world yes, anything IS possible but in real life, there are actual losers. There are “not even close-ers” and “you have got to be freaking kidding me-ers.” And most important, there are a bunch of us that are “who care-ers.”

It took me about 3 nanoseconds to realize that every caravan is manufactured by a 5th generation dude from a true blue Australian family who wandered out of a crack in Uluru and walked barefoot across the dessert with the safely guarded secret plan to build the best ever in the world caravan. These people are saints.  The glossy pamphlets and nifty videos they hand out tell you.  They campaign every year for the Smith family foundation, donate regularly to save the Koala’s Fund and play Santa, the reindeer, 1 camel, 2 sheep , and baby Jesus in the community Christmas play each year. They don’t make caravans to make money, they do it because they love Australia and seeing families and seniors go forth and caravan. The only reason they charge the money they do is to help create jobs and to provide a one stop lot for pensioners to deposit their life savings. Every caravan built has the best hinges on their cupboards that are not anything like the other caravan companies who all put crap hinges on because they just don’t care about Australians at all.   AND, they all throw in a free TV because you are such a great family, not unlike their great family, but a great family in a lesser, not significant way, and they feel really close to you after spending an hour with you cooped up in a small space sitting on sweaty fake leather seats around a small wobbly table, talking colour options and payment plans. How great is that?

They love you.  Just for shopping with them.  They.  Love.  You.

There are a lot of caravanners out there on the road, wandering all by themselves because their children hate them for spending their inheritance on themselves.  That love from the caravan company can go a long way towards healing the world.  That, and the free TV.

I swear, this is the true story of every single caravan out there on the road!

We are all just one big happy family, packing our underwear and soap on a rope and heading off to EXPERIENCE Australia before we die.

When on a cruise ship, there is no escape. They make you dress up and sit at a table with proper dishes and everything.  They tuck you in with your napkin and pushing your chair way under the table.  You are not going anywhere, you pretty much have to sit there until dinner is over. Usually, the conversation at a cruise ship table is all about how many cruises you have been on, which ships, where you have cruised to and what kind of a cabin you have.  I like to just surrender at first question and hope they move on. You know, lay on the floor on your back and expose your belly? I tell them, “this is our first cruise,” “we won it by clipping Pate for cats coupons and handing them in every time we bought a case. Each coupon was entered in a draw for this cruise.  Turned out we were the only people in the draw.” “Cabin?? There are cabins on here? We are in a large dark room with large crates and some escaped chickens.” When they ask us about which excursions we are doing at the next port, I make Derek run from the table crying, table napkin dabbing at his eye. I do that because Derek won’t let me stick a fork in my eye everytime they start in and because I hope they will take their victory lap, write unkind things about us on the bathroom walls and move on.  I admit it doesn’t always work, but I have to try.

These people are merciless. They play the game with or without your co-operation and the caravan game is exactly like the cruise game except you one has “ruise” after the “c” and the other one has “aravan.”  I admit, I was just not prepared to be hit with the caravan game on a cruise.  I  clearly have lived a sheltered life.  I was not prepared. Derek was not prepared.  We got hit head on.

We had no plan. The subject came up, the chairs circled and it began.  And then just when we thought we had put the whole “my caravan cost more and is bigger and better” to bed, turned out there was an advice section that came after that.  They started with telling us where to go.
“You have to go here.”
“Don’t go there.”
“Remember when you park to do this.”
“For better TV reception try this.”
“Watch out for …”
“Look for ….”
“Buy a …”
“Don’t ever forget to take …”
“If this happens, make sure …”
“Which place have you stayed at?”
“Why on earth would you have stayed there?”
“Do this instead of this.”

I told Derek that whatever it was that made us look like we were newbies, we had to stop it. I am even prepared to wear a hat with corks hanging off it if I have to. I just wanted it to stop.

The funny thing is I found that most people were not that much more experienced than we were. There are tons of caravanners who tend to just travel a short distance from their homes. They might do a “one of” big trip and then that is it. Just like the cruise people who do the same cruise over and over again on the same ship, caravanners exhibit the same kind of behaviour. Other states come to Queensland. Queenslanders go up the coast a bit. I don’t understand it. Derek and I don’t even take the same road to and from the grocery store. The people on the ship confirmed it for us. We are whacking weirdo’s. I nudged Derek. He looked at me, our eyes crossed and rolled to the back of our heads. Our marriage counselling kicked in. “Blame is not a game, use it and your marriage will never be the same.” Page 327 of our manuals. Day 282 of the marriage seminar. We both got “A’s” on the final test. We will not blame one another. We have parents for that.

I have a feeling we will be doing more caravanning alone in the woods, staving off the wingdings that want to kidnap and kill people. There are more recent incidents happening – did you hear? Perhaps the Wolf Creek guy was misjudged. He did spend several hours around the campfire talking with those people before any killing and torturing began. They probably only talked about their campervan and the cupboard hinges. I can understand that he snapped.

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