Back on track

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

– J.R.R Tolkien 

I’ve been meaning to write up a post dedicated to the Tardis and all its mannerisms, modifications and shortcomings. Being as busy as we have been, that hasn’t happened yet. For the sake of this story, all you need to know is that it is seriously lacking in the torque department (a problem only exacerbated by a cold engine), and that I just installed an extension that allows our in-house T-Rex Anne to use the handbrake.

Despite its lack of torque, I’m fairly confident in our home’s ability to pull us through some pretty rough roads and trails. Once we’ve made it through, Anne usually agrees with me too, as she dries her palms and unclenches her teeth with a crowbar. I don’t tend to worry as much, but I am very focused while driving in poor conditions.

Focus is everything. On Tuesday, we were testing out the video functionality on my camera. We set up the shot and I jumped into the Tardis; Anne took on the role of cameraperson while I drove through the frame along a narrow gravel road.

This was going to be amazing.

I nail it on the first try. It’s a straight, flat road, to be fair, but my new career as a professional stunt driver is looking brighter already. We discuss a second shot, similar to the first but at a different angle. I climb in again to back the camper out of the frame. The engine is still cold, and even with the manual choke on, it struggles to provide enough power for the reverse gear. A lot of spluttering and two stalls later, I shift into first and pull away to find a spot to turn around up ahead. I find it less than 50 metres down the road; a sloped gravel driveway with a ditch on either side.

A simple three-point turn; I reverse down into the driveway, quickly shifting back into first before the front wheels come off the main path. The engine is cold and I’m a little too quick off the clutch. Stall. The camper rolls back a little further under its own weight before I hit the brakes. Slightly flustered. Handbrake on. Restart engine. A little extra gas this time. I lift my foot off the brake and roll backwards. A combination of muscle memory and the twelve-cm handbrake extension means the handbrake is only pulled up halfway. I hit the brakes again, but the front wheels are now also off the main path on an incline. Try again. The camper rattles as the front right wheel spins, kicking up gravel into the wheel arch. I’ve rolled back far enough that my left rear wheel is just off the gravel; the camper is leaning in the general direction of the adjacent ditch, pulling just enough weight off the right to lose traction. I jump out to put a chock behind the rear wheels, just in case.

The cameraperson is still waiting; I signal to her to join me. It is at this point that I remember the advice given to us by a friend who owns a similar old camper: bring a winch. Good advice, but we’re already short on space and a good winch is expensive, I remember thinking. We don’t have a winch. I shouldn’t need it here anyways, just turn the wheels back to the direction I drove down from, less of a slope there. The camper shudders as the gravel tries to get in through the wheel arch. I might be stuck. No winch. We do have my old military-issue collapsible shovel in the back, a wad of toilet paper stuffed in its carrying case for woodland bathroom breaks. I don’t think I’ll need the paper right now, but I could dig out some of the gravel under the wheel and stick something under it to improve traction. I instruct Anne to find fallen branches while I scrape at the rocky ground. Two cars pass us by, but I’m more confident in my plan than in my Norwegian, so I let them. I shouldn’t have. Anne yells at me to stop from outside the camper, as the branches placed under the wheels fly into the woods behind us. I’m stuck.

Perhaps we could jack it up and get something underneath, suggests Anne, for the second time. I’m less confident now than when I ignored her the first time, so I set up the hydraulic jack and give it a few pumps. The jack came with the camper, I haven’t used it before. I should have. It doesn’t work. It’s warm, I’m sweaty, and I’m really wishing I had decided to grace the world with another long exposure of a waterfall instead of trying my hand at video production. Last idea. I cut out a strip of the carpet from behind the passenger seat, where it’s out of sight. Maybe this will provide enough traction to get us back on the road.

Fortunately, I’ll never know, as one of the cars that drove by earlier, a large 4x4 pickup truck with beefy tires, is making its way back along the road. I flag it down and ask the driver if he speaks English. He doesn’t. I explain that I am stuck and ask if he can help pull us out. He stares at me blankly. He doesn’t understand English either, I think. I point at the front of the camper and act out my best tug-of-war impression. His eyes widen slightly in comprehension as a grin spreads across his face. He nods and pulls his truck around in front of us. I climb back in the Tardis and gun the engine as he starts driving. We’re away. Back on flat and mostly solid ground. I could kiss him. I don’t. I shake his hand and thank him profusely instead. He leaves as we repack our emergency toolkit. I make sure to put the toilet paper back in the shovel. We’re mobile again, about an hour behind schedule but no real harm caused besides a bruised ego. Life is good again. I should buy a winch.

If you can’t get enough of our stories, you can find the rest here. If you want to get to know us better or simply want more of a backstory, click here.

If you can’t get enough of our stories, you can find the rest here. If you want to get to know us better or simply want more of a backstory, click here.

I’ve been meaning to write up a post dedicated to the Tardis and all its mannerisms, modifications and shortcomings. Being as busy as we have been, that hasn’t happened yet. For the sake of this story, all you need to know is that it is seriously lacking in the torque department (a problem only exacerbated by a cold engine), and that I just installed an extension that allows our in-house T-Rex Anne to use the handbrake.

Despite its lack of torque, I’m fairly confident in our home’s ability to pull us through some pretty rough roads and trails. Once we’ve made it through, Anne usually agrees with me too, as she dries her palms and unclenches her teeth with a crowbar. I don’t tend to worry as much, but I am very focused while driving in poor conditions.

Focus is everything. On Tuesday, we were testing out the video functionality on my camera. We set up the shot and I jumped into the Tardis; Anne took on the role of cameraperson while I drove through the frame along a narrow gravel road.

This was going to be amazing.

I nail it on the first try. It’s a straight, flat road, to be fair, but my new career as a professional stunt driver is looking brighter already. We discuss a second shot, similar to the first but at a different angle. I climb in again to back the camper out of the frame. The engine is still cold, and even with the manual choke on, it struggles to provide enough power for the reverse gear. A lot of spluttering and two stalls later, I shift into first and pull away to find a spot to turn around up ahead. I find it less than 50 metres down the road; a sloped gravel driveway with a ditch on either side.

A simple three-point turn; I reverse down into the driveway, quickly shifting back into first before the front wheels come off the main path. The engine is cold and I’m a little too quick off the clutch. Stall. The camper rolls back a little further under its own weight before I hit the brakes. Slightly flustered. Handbrake on. Restart engine. A little extra gas this time. I lift my foot off the brake and roll backwards. A combination of muscle memory and the twelve-cm handbrake extension means the handbrake is only pulled up halfway. I hit the brakes again, but the front wheels are now also off the main path on an incline. Try again. The camper rattles as the front right wheel spins, kicking up gravel into the wheel arch. I’ve rolled back far enough that my left rear wheel is just off the gravel; the camper is leaning in the general direction of the adjacent ditch, pulling just enough weight off the right to lose traction. I jump out to put a chock behind the rear wheels, just in case.

The cameraperson is still waiting; I signal to her to join me. It is at this point that I remember the advice given to us by a friend who owns a similar old camper: bring a winch. Good advice, but we’re already short on space and a good winch is expensive, I remember thinking. We don’t have a winch. I shouldn’t need it here anyways, just turn the wheels back to the direction I drove down from, less of a slope there. The camper shudders as the gravel tries to get in through the wheel arch. I might be stuck. No winch. We do have my old military-issue collapsible shovel in the back, a wad of toilet paper stuffed in its carrying case for woodland bathroom breaks. I don’t think I’ll need the paper right now, but I could dig out some of the gravel under the wheel and stick something under it to improve traction. I instruct Anne to find fallen branches while I scrape at the rocky ground. Two cars pass us by, but I’m more confident in my plan than in my Norwegian, so I let them. I shouldn’t have. Anne yells at me to stop from outside the camper, as the branches placed under the wheels fly into the woods behind us. I’m stuck.

Perhaps we could jack it up and get something underneath, suggests Anne, for the second time. I’m less confident now than when I ignored her the first time, so I set up the hydraulic jack and give it a few pumps. The jack came with the camper, I haven’t used it before. I should have. It doesn’t work. It’s warm, I’m sweaty, and I’m really wishing I had decided to grace the world with another long exposure of a waterfall instead of trying my hand at video production. Last idea. I cut out a strip of the carpet from behind the passenger seat, where it’s out of sight. Maybe this will provide enough traction to get us back on the road.

Fortunately, I’ll never know, as one of the cars that drove by earlier, a large 4x4 pickup truck with beefy tires, is making its way back along the road. I flag it down and ask the driver if he speaks English. He doesn’t. I explain that I am stuck and ask if he can help pull us out. He stares at me blankly. He doesn’t understand English either, I think. I point at the front of the camper and act out my best tug-of-war impression. His eyes widen slightly in comprehension as a grin spreads across his face. He nods and pulls his truck around in front of us. I climb back in the Tardis and gun the engine as he starts driving. We’re away. Back on flat and mostly solid ground. I could kiss him. I don’t. I shake his hand and thank him profusely instead. He leaves as we repack our emergency toolkit. I make sure to put the toilet paper back in the shovel. We’re mobile again, about an hour behind schedule but no real harm caused besides a bruised ego. Life is good again. I should buy a winch.

4 Comments

  1. Pauline

    Thanks for that Jasper, a thoroughly enjoyable read. Glad to hear all is well again.

    Reply
    • Jasper

      Thanks Pauline… At least we got something out of it.

      Reply
  2. Anita

    Brilliant story! Glad everyone and everything is alright (again). How are the bruises, turning green-yellowish by now? Have a safe trip to the next video 😉

    Reply
    • Jasper

      Haha, the bruises have long been forgotten.

      Reply

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