Friday, February 26, 2010
Keepin' On Truckin'
House trucks are probably the nearest lifestyle choice in New Zealand to the gypsy caravans that roamed across Europe. In recent years they have been joined on our roads by a new group of wanderers - the Aussies call them “Grey Nomads”. These are usually semi-retired types who hit the highway in style with most of the trappings of modern life on board.
I first heard of the Grey Nomads when an Australian friend told me about the thousands of people who migrate up the Eastern coasts to escape the winter and then go south again when the steamy heat of the Queensland summer returns. I thought this was only an Australian thing, but then I came across a Kamo couple who are doing something very similar – except in their case, they follow the seasonal work each year.
They are a very organized couple and prepared for this way of life years ago by building a self-contained flat in the basement of their house. This has become a home base while the rest of the house is rented out all year round. When I first met them they looked as fit as a fiddle and had lots of yarns about their trips throughout our beautiful land.
These days, they see heaps of other people on the road like themselves, who fancy some time away from home and want a lifestyle that frees them from the dreary chores of cutting hedges and mowing lawns. Feeding this self-fulfilling fantasy is a steady stream of ex-rental camper vans that come onto the market each year and attract buyers who at one time might have been after a caravan. Sadly, the property boom has seen many motor camps and caravan parks being sold to developers. This has made camper vans even more popular due their capacity to be able to be parked up in places unsuitable for caravans.
There are also plenty of motorized nomads who prefer to fit out their own motor homes (and house trucks) to suit their own needs and I find these vehicles the most interesting. Each person, or couple, have a unique way of fitting out their own vehicle and I am often impressed with how ingeniously they cram so much stuff into such a small space.
Modern communication technology has added aerials and satellite dishes to the outside of motor homes and I recently met a man who also has solar panels to extend his camping time. He used to be an advertising man and now earns a good living making hand illustrated cards with humorous and thoughtful sayings. On board are computers and a printer which help him produce the cards that he supplies to outlets all over New Zealand.
I must say that writing this article has given “Doodling Dave” some ideas. Who knows, one day you might occasionally see an aging campervan with the name “The Dawdling Doodler “ parked in some secluded spot while I write and draw my weekly cartoons.