Many will know, and a lot more won’t that I love the idea of traveling around in a VW camper. So when I finally grew a pair and booked my holiday or as the locals call it ‘an over sea’s experience’ the idea of seeing the islands from a camper van was an opportunity not to be missed.
So came the day when I had to pick the van up and being that I was going to spend two months with it most of the time it being my only companion the nice people at the depot let me choose which van I wanted. My eyes fell on Ricky Marlin, a bright orange and yellow beast, with a giant Marlin leaping from the water. I said ‘Awesome’ like the locals. I looked around to make sure there were no others, the old crone looked cool but Ricky was at the front bathing in the Auckland sunshine raring to go where as the old crone hid in the deep depth of the depot. And so the sweet love affair began.
At first I didn’t get on with him. My left foot was constantly trying to find the non existent clutch and my left hand kept on reaching for the gear lever to change the gears. But Ricky had all of this under control and all I had to do was control the ‘gas’ and the brakes. Ricky was an automatic and theres an art to driving them, esp when you need it to be a low gear. Ricky also kept it secret on how to change radio stations, until the 3rd week which was a pain, as once out of Auckland it was the sound of static or rumble of Ricky’s stomach. But once he revealed the button to search the local stations I was singing along to Bruno Mars, Queen, Black Eyed Peas, Katie Perry and Moorehouse (NZ pop band). I quickly fell in love with ‘Classic Hits – the best of the 80s 90s and now’ the only issue was the frequency would change from area to area often having their own news and presenters but still the same top class tunes.
Sure it was cold in the evening, but Ricky had a little gap for my power adapter to connect my heater and during the day in the baking heat of Northland Ricky pumped the air conditioning on. The only downside was Ricky was a drinker, a terrible drinker. He would demand fuel every couple of days and occasional would hit the hard black stuff. But he never complained and got tired as we drove 400km in one go. Sure he slowed down on the hills and I had to will him up, then encourage him to take it easy on the other side as we basically free rolled down the snaking road to level ground.
After two months I’ve become quite attached to Ricky, Ive learnt to handle his poor steering, and got use to getting him going in the morning. I’ve learnt to run him in gently to ease him into top speed, I’ve got use to the time it takes for the condensation to go and the way the wipers work. In return he has got me from A to B and now back to A. His kept me dry, warm and entertained. We’ve had adventures on some of the toughest and highest roads in NZ and not once has he let me down.
After 8298km or 5156 miles. (Thats the equivalent to driving the length of Britain 8 times or driving two thirds of the coast line or exploring NZ)it’s time to give him up and make my own way in the world.
Goodbye Ricky. I hope your new companions treat you with respect. Beep your horn when your passing through my neighbourhood.