The Maiden Voyage
Sleet and rain. Well, I'd always said I'd be satisfied the pod was watertight once I'd driven at 90 kph in a torrential downpour, and the day we left, the universe obliged.
Have to say the errands before departure delayed hitting the highway for some hours. The first problem was the trailer lights not all working when I hooked up to the car. I took apart the trailer-plug and checked the wiring. Being exposed to the elements and considerable vibration on the road, trailer-plugs have a hard life. I cleaned up one wire which looked a bit tenuous, re-tightened the connection, checked the lights were all AOK and we were good to go.
One more stop on route, and this one proved fortuitous. I returned an LED light to a store for replacement. It hadn't worked from purchase and I needed it for lighting the pod interior at night. I'd purposely built the camper without windows as I felt they would make the structure vulnerable. I could park with the door open during daylight hours, even during heavy rain without problem as I'd recessed the door under a small roof overhang. That worked very well, Gabby and I could sit inside, me reading and writing, her recovering from her morning jaunt and guarding the doorway with chilling, guttural growls if any exercising dogs got too close.
So, after getting the replacement light, I went to the trailer in the carpark to put the light in the camper. Turned the key, but the lock wouldn't open. Several more attempts. No joy. Got some CRC spray from the car, tried again. Still no joy. At this point, the rain was heavy and icy cold. It was late morning. If I got out bush with a dodgy lock, I'd be sleeping in the car with all my supplies locked away, unreachable. I had to find a locksmith, pronto.
Shout-out to Blair at Quality Keys in Levin. He was extremely obliging and helpful. We drove to the rear of his workshop where he could use an angle-grinder away from the public. He slipped the blade between the door and frame and cut through the solid bolt, (see pic below: the deadbolt was nearly 2cm wide. No way I could've removed it without power tools.) He fitted a heavy-duty commercial-grade lock that should withstand the rigors of the road. As a keen caravanner himself, he knew what was needed. Half an hour later, wet and cold but relieved, Gabby and I set-off again. Thanks Blair, you're a gent.
We arrived on the other side of the Tararuas intact. The Manawatu river was in full flood. We made camp high above with a view of the bridge, and I checked the river level regularly.
Everything worked a treat inside the DIY camper-pod. We were safe and warm and dry. I had a stash of books and Gabby had all that riverbank to explore. Two days later the sun came out and we hit the road again.