Downsizing: motorhome to campervan?

When we were on our long trip this year we discussed the idea of getting a smaller van. Although the Winnie suits us in terms of being wonderfully comfortable and livable, it is also rather a big ‘thing’ to drive and needs to be stored away from home because of its size. At this stage it is still worth quite a bit of money, but every long trip adds to the lowering of value because of mileage. Our thoughts were that having a smaller vehicle might mean we could revert to just having one vehicle. Because we gave up having a second car a few years ago it really hurts to being paying licence and insurance on two vehicles.

I’ve been doing some research: buying a second hand van and having it converted by Dove Campers, buying a used one, and, of course, buying a brand new van. Jayco have just come out with a 19′ campervan that is more than $20,000 cheaper than their normal campervans, yet has almost all of the features we have on the Winnie. The only thing missing is the heater and an inverter. The inverter is important for running our Apple TV and charging devices. Wee have found that the good quality pure sine wave inverter of 150 watts which we installed in the Winnie works well and the downside of anything bigger is that they use more battery power. The vans are diesel and a heater could be installed if we find that we need it. My bottom line is to have a cassette toilet and going too small to have a little ensuite is not an option at this stage.

This campervan is so new that they don’t yet have one in the showroom. It is being shipped to WA, literally by ship as they find rail results in very dusty vehicles which are hard to clean out thoroughly, and may be available to view by Tuesday next week.

We picked up the Winnie from Marie and Geoff’s place yesterday and having it sitting on the verge at the front of our units. It is booked in with Ken Peachy for Thursday and we want to see if the house batteries can cope for a few days of not being charged up or plugged into shore power whilst running our large 12v fridge/freezer. Being a compressor fridge it isn’t on all of the time and it’s not a true test since we are not using 12v power for lights or charing devices, however it should give us a guide as to whether we need new house batteries or not. I’m amazed they are doing so well as we have flattened them a couple of times, accidentally, and they are not supposed to be able to recover. However, we have noticed that they will still charge up to the maximum, which is heartening.

Our Working Voices choir dilemna is still around, coming to hit us in the face on our return. We have enjoyed the choir very much over the years, but our present choir director spends too much time trying to teach us songs that we are probably not capable of learning and have little interest in, and not enough time on what we regard as our core repertoire. We are not good enough to be singing at concerts, but rousing songs at rallys and events to do with the union movement go over well. Some of us went to her house warming on Sunday evening and it makes it too difficult to fire her. Nevertheless, paying her $200 per rehearsal and some of her costs when we go away for festivals when she doesn’t actually do what we ask of her is basically silly.

Attendance is low for a great part of the year and numbers are gradually dropping, with only one new member in the past couple of years. Whether it is because of the nature of rehearsals (too much note bashing, not enough fun) or because people are tired of the whole thing isn’t entirely clear, perhaps a combination of both. Stephen is working on looking at choir finances for the past year. The union movement have been a source of income this year which may partly offset what would be an huge funding deficit for the financial year.

Matthew has set as one of his goals to meet up with me for coffee once a month. I’m happy to do this, though it seems to set it as a goal without involving me seems quite odd. Whatever! We met yesterday with the woman who takes him out on Mondays and Fridays. She has two people in wheelchairs on these outings, which run from 9.00 to 4.00 p.m. The other person needs to be able to drive their own wheelchair and to some extendt manage their own food and drink as Matt needs full support. We went to Antz at the other end of Victoria Park (actually East Vic Park) and it worked out well as I walked there and they gave me a lift back. The staff at the cafe coped well and the space is large enough for two powered wheelchairs to not get in the way. Matt seemed happy enough, though a bit confused as to whether to have his support worker or myself help him with his drink and cake.

Stephen and I are having difficulty with our homecoming. Stephne says that he thinks our difficulties with sleeping have to do with grieving now that we are home. Although we like being home again, the adventure is over and even the activities we like and look forward to, such as having Matt home to tea and seeing our families don’t offset the downsides enough. Stephen is back into the WASO chorus and preparing for a couple of concerts before the end of the year. He was sleepy all day on Sunday and Monday, whilst not sleeping well at night. I’ve just slept through the night for only the second time since we’ve been home. Checking with Stephen I found that he also had a good nights sleep. Perhaps we’ved turned a corner.

We have an appointment for Mum at the Breast Clinic this afternoon. I will go to the nursing home and travel in the ambulance with her and Marie and Robyne will come by train. We hope that by spoiling her we can all help to ease her through the discomfort and inconvenience of the appointment. It wouldn’t be her choice to go.

It seems that those of us who still have parents living are seeing the same pattern of gradual loss of independence and health, with no compensating factors for them. We do have a friend who is slightly older than Mum who is lives fairly independently in a retirement village, but it is quite rare for someone of her age. Really, what is the point of outliving one’s enjoyment of life. My mother is still enough herself to know what her situation is. She doesn’t want treatment for her cancer and there is a health directive in place that she won’t have antibiotics in case of infection or be resusitated if she has a stroke or heart attack, but she has a very strong body with only gradual deterioration.

I suppose the only thing is that unless someday I am in her sitz im leben I won’t really know what it is like and whether I would want to still go on living. Comparing my life with my son’s, I always feel extremely lucky to have been as active and healthy for so long. I might still feel lucky if I only have to cope with the normal infirmities of being really old.

Matt and me