We woke to our stunning parkup after a peaceful night. The view over the river Clyde was just as beautiful in the morning light as it was when we arrived and we had to pinch ourselves that the Instagramable moment we’d hoped for was achievable.
Part of the dream was having our morning coffee-with-a-view and we bounced out of bed, dug out the Aeropress, put a pan of water on the hob. That’s when we realized the burners don’t have a sparker. What? We checked the little grill/oven. It has a built in sparker and fired right up. But the burners? No. We need a lighter, which we have not got.
This, for the Schulzes, is a disaster. Morning coffee is more than a habit for us. It’s a ritual, a long process of waking, savoring, planning, and most of all, taking the beginning of the day to appreciate what we have and contemplate what lies ahead. Ok, it’s only coffee, but we panicked.
“We could twist a piece of paper, light it on the grill, then light the burner with that!” suggested Jack with enthusiasm. I was reluctant to risk a fire on our first day out. Besides, we had a “no open flame” policy on our boat and I prefer to continue that policy while living in a big tin can with limited egress.
“We need a lighter,” I said, and I looked out the window to see if any cars were approaching our roadside overlook. The night before several carloads of young people had gathered for a few hours, enjoying the evening, sharing a few beers and a smoke. They were gone by about 9pm and didn’t bother us, but it made me think this little lot could be a place where people come with their takeaway breakfast, or just to enjoy the view. And a smoke.
“Fat chance,” said Jack. “It’s Saturday morning.”
A few minutes later a car pulled in. It was a single woman, and I leapt out of the van and approached her with a smile. She rolled down the window and I told her we just bought the van and can’t make coffee because we don’t have a lighter for the hob. She instantly handed me a disposable lighter and I asked it I could borrow it.
“Keep it,” she said with a smile. I thanked her and skipped back to the camper. Within minutes we had coffee in our cups, breakfast on our plates, and all was right with the world again.
We watched as the nice woman got out of her car and appeared to be digging around in the boot, in the backseat, all over the car. After a while she knocked on our window. “This one’s got more in it,” she said, and handed us another lighter. This clearly was a woman who understands the importance of morning coffee, even in a country of tea drinkers.
So ok, we’re missing a few essentials. We made a list, but we were reluctant to leave this gorgeous long distance vista, especially after spending much of the last month in cheap hotel rooms with views of the parking lot.
The other thing we learned on that first night is the importance of a level parkup. We were only tilted a few degrees, but we had to call up our dormant sailing skills to navigate the inside of the camper without incurring the hip and shin bruises familiar to most sailors. We moved the van across the lot to a more level space in the corner, then pulled the wheel ramps out of the “garage” and experimented with placement. We got it closer to level, and vowed to be more mindful in the future.
We stayed another night at that first place, learning how the heater and refrigerator work, moving things around for convenience, adding to our list. On Sunday we drove back down to the big retail park and once again went from store to store to store, this time with a little better idea of what we need to be comfortable and functional.
I found another parkup that looked promising, this one down along the riverbank, with a cafe across the street. We can’t believe our good fortune. We know we won’t always be able to find free places to spend the night, but we’re glad we held out for a camper that’s set up for off grid wild camping. We know we can last a week or two before we have to find services like fresh water, gray water dumping, and toilet cassette emptying. We have just enough solar power to keep things working, so far. Life is good.