As the saying goes you win some you lose some.
Mr. Deep and I created the preparedness challenge that I explained in this post feeling so confident that we would win. Who would design a competition knowing that they would lose?
We lost. We lost in spectacular fashion. To quote Bon Jovi, we went down in a blaze of glory. Only minus the glory.
Our losing began from the moment we met our fellow campers at the Crocodile Bridge rest camp. As we pulled into the camp there were two 4x4 vehicles already parked there, both with huge trailers attached. Mr. Deep asked me, "do you think those could belong to the other campers?" Of course I said no because I didn't think they made trailers appropriate for off road. Well guess what? They do and it was. This gives you a peek into what might be wrong with Mr. Deep and me. It never occurred to us that someone would have a 4x4 trailer. It was then I began to realize that Mr. Deep and I were like a high school basketball team. We are a good team but we have never played outside of our division. We practiced hard and prepared well but we were outclassed. Similar to high school students we apparently think we know everything and that everything we do is right and perfect and great and maybe that's not always the case.
|Our first clue|
|Fire starting method||Newspaper, kindling and a lighter.||A giant can of propane with a special nozzle that is used to ignite a whole pile of logs at once.||Not us||who knew this even existed?|
|Meals||Small pre-planned meals such as steak with couscous and chicken soft tacos.||More meat then you can imagine. Enough to share with the entire group and have leftovers.||Not us||This could be chalked up to different styles and they were a group of friends all sharing food.|
|Method of cooking||camp stove||Separate the coals from the campfire and cook over the coals using a large metal grill like thing.||Not us|
|Firewood||A few bags of split wood purchased at the local grocery store.||Wood from the black wattle tree which is native to Australia. This wood gives the meat extra flavor when used for cooking||Not us||You can't make this %&!^ up!|
|Bar||Cans of beer and wine. Wine was consumed out of a coffee mug to reduce number of cups to pack.||A full bar complete with special camping tumblers, real wine glasses and a bar to mix drinks.||Not us|
|Sleeping||A tent on the ground||There were three couples. One couple did have a tent on the ground (bigger than ours) one slept in their camper and one had a tent on top of the camper.||Not us||If lions do kill people while sleeping guess who was going to be the easiest target?|
|Firelighter gas can with hose and nozzle and metal grill|
|Splitting up some of the black wottle wood|
|Bobby also has a bar on his trailer. Sadly this is not a great picture of it. Yes, they are all wearing headlamps.|
|Yummy stuffed sandwiches that our fellow campers shared with us at lunch one day. These were made over the fire the night before with a special camping panini maker. Our lunches were PB&J!|
|Our not so enviable setup|
But to keep going with the boxing reference unfortunately a knockout punch was eventually delivered. Our car battery died. It didn't just die. It started dying a slow and agonizing death. At first, we blamed our camping fridge. Oh by the way, they had a camping fridge and a freezer. I saw them eating ice cream pops on day three. Not even kidding. But anyway, even though our camping fridge is supposed to have a mechanism to ensure it does not drain the car battery, when the jeep battery started to die we figured the regulator on the fridge wasn't working. To address this we starting unplugging the fridge when the car wasn't running and we shifted our planned meals around to eat our most perishable food first. When despite these efforts the battery continued to die, we bought ice at a rest camp and turned the camping fridge into a cooler.
I do want to pause and point out that Mr. Deep does get kudos for purchasing a compact jump starter prior to the trip called ResQ. This small little battery about the size of a walkman from the 80s can jump start a car 15 times on a single charge and it really does work. So that was impressive. What's not that impressive is that at this point we were jump starting our battery every time we started the car. Then one morning it became clear that although the jeep started it didn't want to keep running and that our battery was going to die for good and soon. This was definitely a low point not only because we knew at this point we clearly lost the competition but because we might be stranded and either starve to death or be eaten by wild animals. When this happened we were about 40 miles (60 kilometers) from any kind of civilization or help.
Luckily Piet was not going to leave us stranded for wild dogs to find. We kept the jeep running and then made a scheduled stop at a rest camp 40 miles away (it took half a day to get there.) When we reached the rest camp Piet called a garage, which thanks to aligning stars was located at this rest camp to fix ranger vehicles. The garage miraculously had a battery that was the right size for our jeep and it was installed and we were on our way. Yes, we were very, very lucky! When the battery was removed it was so hot that we were told it could have exploded at any time.
|This is Ivan the mechanic who installed our new battery. He saved our trip and possibly our lives!|
So lessons learned are:
1) you don't know what you don't know
2) there are many different styles of camping
3) always have an extra car battery with you
4) in addition preferably have two batteries one that runs your car and one that runs your fridge and other systems
The other people on the trip were so nice to us. They shared their delicious food with us. They didn't make fun of us at all (at least not to our faces.) They are now friends and have invited us to come and visit them in the Free State province where they live.
|New friends. I'm not in this picture as I'm behind the camera.|
|The ResQ charger got one last use on the way home from Kruger |
Park. After we left the park we stopped for gas and came across people in a car with a dead battery. Mr. Deep (sliver of orange shirt) gave them a quick jump.