Day 2: Narrogin to Tendenup

Friday 30th December, 2022

Yesterday we did quite a long day of driving after visiting the centenary park in Narrogin. The main aim was to get out the heat. We made a few stops along the way, using public toilets, etc. just to break it up. Stephen did not feel up to doing any driving, so it was all up to me.

In Katanning we got fuel and bought some lunch to take out to Lake Ewlymartup. Our thinking was that the wind might be coming off the lake and therefore a bit cooler. But no, it was even hotter. We had a rest after lunch, parked in the shade with the engine running and the air conditioner on. It’s surprising to us how well the house cools down, given that the cold air has to travel through the opening from the dashboard to the rear.

Eventually as we were approaching Cranbrook it began to cool down, dropping by 1 degree at a time, then a more dramatic drop by Cranbrook. We felt we had driven far enough south and after a bit of a diversion to Sukey’s Lookout we made it to Kendenup Nature Based Camp. We stayed here last year and already knew that there was only a $5 difference between powered and unpowered site costs, so opted for powered. It think we didn’t quite trust that the weather was cool.

I felt tired when we arrived and made a coffee and relaxed for awhile until dinner time. Stephen got caught up with a neighbour who wanted a long chat. He had a bit of a rant about people who have a university education. I asked Stephen if he had disclosed his educational status and he said he did, so the neighbour made an exception in his case.

We used 4WD for the first time on the gravel road to Sukey’s Lookout. It made us feel safer, but I can’t say I felt a noticeable difference. I remembered to take it out of 4WD before getting back on the paved road.

We were told we were sharing a space with a campervan and it came home very noisily just after we went to bed. They parked just in front of us, there was plenty of room behind, but their power cord might have been a bit short. Anyway, they left early and I was able to see that it was a rather beaten up old van.

There are nicer places to camp here if you don’t need power, so we plan to take that option if we come back here again. Unless we need power for some reason.

Day 1 – Vic Park to Narrogin

Thursday 29th and Friday 30th December, 2022

Packing for this trip has been quite a business. We can’t leave the basics in the Sherwood due to the heat, so we had to pack everything. Then deciding how much food to bring was difficult too. But, eventually we got there and set off. We had something to drop off at Marie and Geoff’s, so that was our first port of call. They kindly invited us to lunch and we sat around the table having a good discussion until Stephen and I thought we should get on our way.

It was forecast to be quite hot, but was pretty nice up in Roleystone, especially as they have evaporative airconditioning. It works well on a day with a breeze and not too hot.

We made it to Brookton by about 4.00 p.m., but decided to just have coffee, then keep going. The sun is still quite high at that time of day and it was still very warm. We thought about stopping at Pingelly, but the same applied, it felt too warm and we weren’t tired. We rang the caravan park in Narrogin, just to make sure we could get in and arrived at around 6.00 p.m. It is one of the council caravan parks, $35 per night, everything you need and nothing you don’t. We had the air conditioning going until about 8.00 p.m.

I liked the showers, they had been freshly done with nice tiling, a good bench for all of the stuff you have to bring, and no mould. I had my evening and morning showers there.

We were assigned a bay that was in the sun, but there was plenty of room so we chose another spot which had shade.

This morning Stephen wanted to stay here and explore the town, but it looks like it will be another hot afternoon/evening here and I don’t much fancy just sitting in air conditioning. A compromise is that we will spend most of the morning here whilst it is still fairly mild, then travel during the hot part of the day. We are not quite sure how far south we have to go to get cooler weather. The BOM says Denmark, but then the weather station is at Albany Airport, so could it be true?

The main thing is that we would be able to get into a caravan park for the night if it is still hot when we arrive at wherever we decide to stay tonight. By 3.00 a.m. this morning it was cool enough for us to need the doona over us even though today is very hot.

These are some photos taken by Stephen. He walked along the pathway whilst I sat here to blog.

Travels with the Sherwood: An overnight near Rockingham

I keep meaning to write this up, then getting lazy.

On Thursday last week (15th December, 2022) Stephen was singing with The Real Sing at Rockingham shopping centre. We decided to have a mini break, staying overnight in the area. A new ‘camping’ site had popped up on Google Maps in Naval Base on the beach. We drove down early enough in the afternoon to have a look at it on our way down to Rockingham. It’s clearly most informal, just parking on the edge of a no through road next to the railway, but looked nice enough that we felt we could stay.

The singing went well. The choir were being paid and sang with small breaks from 6.00 to 8.00 p.m. By the end they sounded a bit tired and the shoppers mostly just pushed through as they were wanting to get home. But, the early part went very well and it showed what a good choir can do, given that they had no accompaniment.

Stephen and I had some food before he started singing. Later I noticed that there were a couple of clothing shops nearby and ducked in to get presents for Stephen and Matt. I felt pleased that it was so easy, given that we were there for two hours anyway.

We then drove north to our camping spot and easily got a slot between two vans. There was even a truck parked overnight along the same fence. As we arrived a freight train was moving nearby, very noisy, but we didn’t hear any overnight.

In the morning many of the vans had left before we even stepped outside
I took this photo in the evening when it was windy and the sea was quite choppy. In the morning it was very calm. There is an amenities block with cold showers and toilets with plastic seats

The morning was sunny and bright and we took our time showering and having breakfast before doing a small walk. Then we drove up to South Beach. It was busy, but we still got a spot away from the cafe where we had a view of the sea. We had hot drinks and a shared French toast. Afterwards we sat on the lawn in the shade until the wind changed to a south westerly and got too cold.

At South Beach

Then it was time to get ready and head to Matt’s place for the annual christmas party. We thought it would be our visit with Matt for the weekend, but as we mostly chatted with other parents (so nice to catch up) we felt a bit guilty. On Sunday we were feeling well rested and I organised taxis so he could come for tea.

On Saturday morning there was a bushfire in the same area where we camped. Although it is fairly industrial there is also quite a lot of bushland, some of which is a national park. How lucky were we that it didn’t happen when we were there!

On Monday when I went to review the camping area it has disappeared off Wikicamps. Vanished! This can happen with informal camping spots. I think we could still stay there, just that it is no longer sort of endorsed by Wikicamps. We’ve been worried that free and cheap sites might disappear due to Wikicamps being now owned by a major caravan park company. But I also think that it is probably wise to keep it discreet. There are a lot of places on Perth beaches where it’s possible to stay overnight where there are no houses overlooking car parks. The rangers seem to tacitly accept it. But, if the sites are advertised they might have to crack down.

We’ve been coping well with the hotter weather so far. When the nights are over 20 degrees we leave the airconditioning on the ‘dehumidify’ setting and are able to sleep under a sheet and cotton blanket. We open up in the morning for fresh air, then put the airconditioning on again when it’s hot. But I’ve also found I’m not bothered too much by spending a bit of time outside in the heat, even the easterlys don’t seem to be really hot and we are getting south westerly breezes in the afternoons.

We just got our new storage box for the back of the van yesterday. It was ready about a month earlier than promised. Unfortunately we probably won’t get it put on in time for our Albany trip. It’s quite tiny compared with the other illegal one but it can hold some essentials. We tested this as soon as we got it home. I rang Ken Peachey Caravans, but they are on leave from today until about the 9th January. We will be on our way fairly soon after Christmas, so it will have to wait until we get back.

COVID update: hopefully the last one

Stephen was up early this morning getting ready for some tasks. He seems much better, perhaps just needing a sense of purpose to get going. He is planning his first singing engagement tomorrow – the WASO Chorus are singing at the Children’s Hospital. There were no rehearsals for this, but they do it each year and we would expect it to go well. I’m surprised that they are allowed to sing in a hospital, given mask rules, but they only go to the main foyer.

We are going to the last Mackie Street Singers tonight. There are quite a few more singing engagements for Stephen before Christmas and he plans to do most of them. I need a planner like my sister has for her son!

COVID update: positive tests don’t mean a thing!

Monday December 5, 2022

Stephen tested positive again this morning. It’s day 9 after his positive PCR test and it seems a bit strange. He rang his GP for advice. Turns out, he shouldn’t be testing now. A negative RAT is not needed to come out of isolation and it’s apparently quite normal to still be ‘shedding’.

On a personal note, we don’t know if he can still pass on the infection to me, but are a bit over wearing masks around the house. We have kept the windows and sliding doors open all day for good ventilation.

He still spent most of the day in bed as he isn’t feeling all that strong. No more RATS!

COVID journey update Saturday 3rd December, 2022

Yesterday we had an excited FaceTime call from Matt as he was just about to leave his room. He had a negative RAT and was therefore released from isolation. He and his support worker cooked up some lunch to take out with him. They then drove a van into town for coffee, lunch and people watching.

Matt enjoying the mild weather outside of the Museum in Perth

Stephen, on the other hand, was still confined as he wanted to wait until Saturday (today) to do a RAT with the idea that it is more likely to register negative the later he leaves it.

Both have been on antiviral medication, Matt on Paxlovid as he doesn’t have to worry about the drug interacting with medications (basically he doesn’t take anything that isn’t available at a pharmacy without a script), but Stephen was prescribed the alternative as he takes a variety of medications for heart and prostrate problems.

I’ve dismantled my couch setup in the Sherwood and put things away so that she is ready to be driven. A couple of days ago I moved her slightly out of the car bay to wash the Hilux. It had lots of dirt from getting dusty, then rain making the dust look even worse. The habitation part looks OK unless you inspect very closely. I discovered that the portion of the roof that is under the bed extension has a very narrow section that will be hard to clean. I’ve decided to wait until we do a drive through clean of the whole van to tackle it.

I’ll post an update when we know the result of Stephen’s test. He is feeling quite good and looking forward to getting back into his normal busy life.

UPDATE: Sadly Stephen’s test this morning is still positive. And he has confessed to still feeling that he wants to lie in bed today. So, he’s better, but not yet well.

Travels with the Sherwood: Little Folk in the Forest and COVID affected family. November, 2022

At Little Folk in the Forest – we were supposed to be able to read the words, but it was difficultšŸ¤£

Little Folk in the Forest 18th to 20th November, 2022

Our time at the LFF was enjoyable, with catching up with friends the best part. We joined in the dancing on Friday night and basically stuffed up our dances, but other people were doing it too. We went to bed after the dance, whilst a smaller group continued into the early hours. Although we were close to the main building we couldn’t hear them as they were singing and playing in the round, with no sound equipment.

The Ceilidh at Little Folk in the Forest

It was bitterly cold, and our heater, probably due to the fuel tank being too low, wouldn’t work. I could hardly wait for Stephen to come to bed and warm me up. The second night wasn’t quite as cold fortunately. We were parked in the main area on a bit of a slope, which probably also contributed to the line going into the fuel tank not connecting. The fan and fuel pump came on, but then would fade out for lack of fuel. We have yet to fill up the tank so that I can check on the heater.

On Saturday afternoon Stephen sang a G&S song during the open mike session which was able to happen in the outdoor Dome setting as although we had a bit of rain it was clear enough in the afternoon.

Stephen

We had had some leaking in the roof of the van which Ken Peachy Caravans had attempted to fix, but then it leaked again so they had another go on the Monday after we got back from LFF. It’s always tricky with leaks to find out exactly what is happening. And it has to be really heavy rain to cause problems. Although we had some light rain at LFF we didn’t have any leaking. However, it had leaked the day before we left after some heavy downpours.

On Sunday everything finishes at 2.00 p.m. We had been snacking in the morning so weren’t hungry, and decided to pack up and go into town for lunch. Due to delays in chatting with friends we didn’t get to the cafe until 3.00 p.m., and of course, the cafe kitchen had closed. We tried another one nearby and fortunately it was open. They do dinner as well, so just stay open all day.

One of our friends has given us a book on 4WD driving, which is very interesting and detailed. He and his wife are very experienced with off roading in their 4WD Toyota, I think it might be Landcruiser. Our friend said that airing down the tyres is one of the main ways to either avoid getting bogged or to get the vehicle out in case we do get bogged.

Family COVID story, so far. 25th November to December 1, 2022

We hadn’t seen Matt (apart from on Facetime) for a couple of weekends in a row due to Dunsborough Songfest and LFF happening on consecutive weekends. We were looking forward to seeing Matt on Sunday the 27th, but had a call from his house on the morning of Friday the 25th to say that he has COVID and will have to isolate in his room for seven days. We wondered how he would cope, but he seems to have been fine. At first he was feeling ill, so perhaps glad to rest.

We spoke to him on Facetime Friday evening and I saw him on Sunday morning, just talking to him from outside on his patio. He had been calmly watching a cooking programme when I arrived. He later rang Stephen to have a Facetime session. He has to wait for staff to go into his room for something else (e.g. a meal) and fully kitted up for just a Facetime session would take up too much time, and waste PPE as well.

Matt and friend before he got COVID

On Friday night, also the 25th, Stephen woke me up to say he had a sore throat. He was giving me the chance to move to the spare bed, but as we use my study as a store room it would have taken a big effort to get it ready and I stayed in the room with him for the night. On Saturday late afternoon he did another RAT which had a very faint second line, and because he was feeling ill, like having a cold, we decided to begin taking more serious precautions.

I had cleared out my study so that I could use the bed, we designated the small toilet room as mine only, and Stephen has been staying mostly in the main bedroom ever since. We went to the nearby clinic to have a PCR test a bit later on Sunday morning, that came through positive on Monday morning. We got even more serious about keeping out of each other’s way. I took over any food preparation where I was going to be eating (he still makes his own breakfasts and lunch), and set up the Sherwood as a sitting room. It means I can relax without having to wear a mask all the time.

Stephen contacted his GP and was prescribed an antiviral medication. It was on an e-script, which turned out to have some downsides. First of all I had to take his mobile to the pharmacy and it wouldn’t transfer to my phone. Then, the pharmacy was very busy and it had to be scanned when they had finished a couple of complex scripts, rather than me just being able to drop it off, go and do some shopping, and come back, as we normally would. As we pass our GP to get to the shopping centre we will be sure to ask for a paper script in future. But, the clinic probably preferred that I didn’t drop in as I might have been a carrier.

Stephen has been contacted by the Health Department to see if he needed support. I suppose it means that if he was on his own they would have helped with taking the script to the pharmacy, shopping, food prep. etc. We are not sure as he has me to do those things.

I am trying to not test every day, just every second day. Stephen had a RAT on Tuesday which had a very strong second line, confirming that the brand of RAT we are using at the moment CAN detect COVID. I tested yesterday and it was negative again. Although we are taking precautions we are not sure if it will work to keep me COVID free. We are doing our best.

Yesterday I spoke with Matt a couple of times. We had had a very hot day on Tuesday and they have had to set up a portable airconditioner in his room because using the main house airconditioner would have circulated air from his room to the rest of the house. His staff don’t just wear KN95 masks when they go into his room, they dress in full PPE, and so far noone else in his house has COVID.

On that hot day we had a bit of the same problem. When I was out in the Sherwood I definitely needed the airconditioning, whereas the house stayed fairly cool for most of the day. In the evening we had it on for a short time, but it was too much of a worry and we relied on the overhead fans, which do work extremely well if you are directly under them.

Having lunch in the Sherwood. I’ve converted the dinette to a bed so that I can comfortably lounge when reading.
This is the RAT testing kit we are using at the moment. We were given five packs of five when we had our last booster a few months ago. Assuming Stephen has one of the latest variants we are pleased to have RATs that actually work.

Where did Stephen catch COVID? There are a couple of possibilities during last week where he went to a couple of things and I didn’t, but there was also our annual Harold Peden lecture at the union building. Our choir director had tested positive the preceding week and didn’t come to our rehearsal Thursday night. We considered him recovered on Tuesday night so that we could sing (Working Voices Choir). The room the lecture wa held in is fairly small without good ventilation apart from air conditioning, which has a tendency to spread things around. Stephen and I were almost the only people wearing masks, but we took them off to eat. He might have been just unlucky, compared with me.

Matt has been living a fairly normal life, going to shopping centres and Ten Pin Bowling, though some of his staff do make sure they only take him to outside venues. Given that we are in a ‘wave’ and he doesn’t wear a mask, it seems like he was almost bound to get COVID at some point. Thankfully, he hasn’t been seriously ill, so far. There are, of course, non respiratory effects of COVID that show up after the first phase, but his regular staff should be able to tell if he has problems. Not sure about relief staff.

So, here we are on Thursday morning, 1st December, 2022. Stephen has just done a RAT which is positive, still.

Added here for no reason except that it tickles me.

I should have been keeping a daily log as even though it is less than a week we’ve had trouble remembering the exact sequence of events.