A black car with a flat tyre

How’s Van Life On The Road? – What To Do Next

Mike Mather

Great Expectations

Today, I am moving from one glorious free location to another with the great and joyous expectation of seeing my son and daughter-in-law, and Billy the wonder-grandchild. I live in a 4.5 metre caravan, so my house is on my back, like a hairy, middle-aged tortoise. It’s a little over one hour in perfect conditions to my son’s home. Today, as usual, is not perfect.

Just 15kms from departure, I realise that the van and I are swerving more than usual, and I suspect that I have a flat tyre somewhere. I was right: the driver's side rear wheel is going down fast.

A green and white caravan parked in treed surroundings and 2003 silver Subaru Forrestor

Photo by Mike Mather

Realisation - Life As We Know It...

As I am travelling on a motorway at 100kph, and there is little safety in pulling over immediately, I decide to take the next exit. Did I mention it’s pouring rain? It’s pouring rain!

The exit leads to some hills. I can’t park here. Eventually, I stop atop a hill where there is sufficient optical safety and room for all the other non-stranded motorists to pass by. The rain is getting heavier.

At the time of pulling over, I have gotten to such a state that I reach for my phone to call the RACQ, my auto club. But it doesn’t take me very long to realise that I am completely able to do this alone.

With hazard lights on, I brave the cool and wet conditions outside my air-conned cocoon saloon.

Now to assemble a plan of action - have you ever watched yourself think in a crisis?

It’s scary crazy, but funny.

The back of the car is full of camping equipment like my annex and polls, esky, and fire pit. I move these to the cabin of the caravan begrudgingly.

Using What God Gave You

Next, I look for all the required implements, and find to my amazement that I have two jacks. When I bought this car, I wanted to have the best low-cost jack available. I had not bought a car in the age of the internet before, so I searched and found this one and had it delivered from its far away manufacturer.

The spare wheel is in new condition, and it makes me happy. Through this crisis-thinking, I have been amazed at how I have to struggle to remember how to do the most mundane tasks. I start to recall how to change a tyre.

The wheel nuts won’t budge. It’s always annoying when the machinist that put your new tyres on does such a great job of it that you can’t undo their good work without a power drill and the right attachments.

Freeway with traffic at dusk and cloudy skies

Photo by Durmuş Kavcıoğlu on Unsplash

It’s still raining, but it’s okay. I am surprised at how I am on the side of this busy road, in the rain in Autumn, changing a tyre with a caravan in tow, and I’M OKAY.

In my crisis-brain, I have thought that lifting the car with the van on the tow-bar is going to be problematic. I’m sure that in the comments section below, many of you will tell me what I should’ve done - but where were you when I needed you?

Carefully, I chock the wheels so that the caravan doesn’t roll back down the hill into the oncoming traffic. I blush with embarrassment that this might even happen. Then, I replace the stabiliser bar with the caravans jockey wheel and tentatively raise the van off the tow ball. It moves slightly back and toward the curbside. I am imaging its 1.6 tonne mass rolling freely down the hill. It doesn’t.

The Pursuit of Happiness and Letting Go

Yada, yada, yada…

With the help of some firewood that I conveniently had in the car, I moved those stubborn bloody nuts and changed the wheel.

After I put the caravan back on the hitch and secured everything as per my ‘Hitchin-ritual’, I thanked the Buddha’s for all their help and circuitously (with Google Maps) found my way back to the motorway.

The point of this story is that I need to be constantly reminded that every catastrophe that has occurred in my life, apart from the current one, has turned out alright.

I am learning that the pain of disappointment is so temporary and usually brief.

Through practise, I have gotten betterer at pausing when agitated.

And with not a lot of extraordinary brain muscle, I can usually work it out myself and/or find someone who can help. In this case, it turns out that the 1,589 fellow-travellers that passed me by KNEW that I didn’t need help!

A young man punching the sky in exaltation. He is sitting on a mountain surrounded by pink clouds

Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

And trusting in a Higher Power helps. For me, my constant prayers for humility, compassion, and sometimes even, wisdom, gets me through the day.

One day it won’t, and it’ll be my turn to shuffle off this mortal coil, perhaps into another precious human life. Until then, and with humility, I’m getting better - One Day At a Time.

love alwaz

Mad Hatter looking red haired man with blue flowers in his hat

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

Our newsletter, The Third Age, is published Sundays and comprises a few fascination articles around a theme that broadly relates to Dharmaholic's passion - sobriety, Buddhism, and growing up.
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About the Author Mike Mather

Mike was born in 1963 which technically makes him one of the youngest of the Baby Boomers. An Australian with Indigenous and European heritage, he has been an avid and required student of Buddhism and alcoholism since 2008.

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