Crash and Learn: Part 1

Australia, Health & Safety, Lost Girls RTW Adventure, Photography & Video, Tours & Attractions — By on July 6, 2007 at 5:08 pm

All you loyal readers out there can attest to the fact that unbelievable luck has often followed in Holly, Amanda and my footsteps throughout our round-the-world journey. For those of you just tuning in to our blog, allow me to recap. During our travels, The Lost Girls have managed to:

1. Convince the Brazilian embassy to put a special “rush order” on our visa applications to get them back a few hours later (we didn’t realize they’d have to keep our passports which we desperately needed for a flight the next day!) 2. Foil the dastardly plans of two pickpockets / bag slashers (I kicked the guy who razored my purse in Thailand and Holly faced her Vietnamese assailant head on, scaring her away before she could steal anything) 3. Persuade (a.k.a. bribe with cash) the Cambodian border patrol that it was OK for them to place our visas on the last page of our passport (where stamps aren’t officially allowed) so we could get into the country. 4. Avoid any major illnesses despite eating street food and brushing our teeth with tap water in Kenya, India and throughout S.E. Asia. 5. Secure a countless number of hostels, trains, planes, tours, etc. when we were told it was impossible during the high tourist seasons in which we were visiting a particular country or region. And these are just to name a few!

We always joked that one day our good fortune was bound to run out, but with only a couple weeks left in our year-long trip, it looked like we were in the clear. Well, that’s what we thought anyway. As fate would have it, a road trip to Hunter Valley, Australia’s renowned wine region, would cause all our confidence to come crashing down on us – literally! Our tale of woe begins innocently enough…

It was a bright, beautiful morning in the vineyards as three cute, little Lost Girls cruised happily along in their psychedelic, pimped-out World Nomads’ camper van. The sun was shining, birds were singing, locals greeted one another with huge smiles and “G’Day Mate’s” and dingos realized the error of their ways and returned stolen babies! As if life wasn’t perfect enough already, the girls and I were headed to the area’s most luxurious and swanky spa, The Golden Door, where we were lucky enough to secure a complimentary two-night stay complete with meals, exercise classes and massages. No sleeping head to toe in the van bunk beds tonight! Anyway, I digress. Back to the story:

So…I was driving through one of the vast vineyard/restaurant/resort properties that spotted Hunter Valley when I got a little turned around. “How the heck do I get out of here?” I asked Holly and Amanda. “Oh wait, never mind. I see,” I exclaimed as I realized all I had to do was simply follow the gravel road around the front of the nearby hotel and out the gate. “La la la la la. La la la la la. La la la la la la,” I whistled, as I shifted into second, preparing to cruise gently under the charming, wooden awning of the lodge.

CRASH, BOOM, SHUDDER, SHAKE, SPLINTER, CRACK!!!!
CRASH, BOOM, SHUDDER, SHAKE, SPLINTER, CRACK!!!!

(Repeat a few dozen times)

Oh, my God! The entire roof – and our picture perfect day – was caving in on us! As Holly and Amanda screamed and covered their eyes with their hands, I gripped tightly to the wheel, trying to keep the shaking van straight and praying we’d come out the other side in one piece. Huge chunks of wood rained down on the vehicle as fluffy bits of fiber glass floated down on our heads like snow. In that instant, the sun went behind the clouds, the birds stopped singing, the locals’ grins morphed into horrified frowns, dingos started stealing babies again and I realized that I’d royally destroyed our only mode of transportation – and our perfect Lost Girls Luck record!

As the sawdust cleared, I managed to pull myself together long enough to turn the van off and slide out the door in a pool of shame as the hotel owner came running outside to confront the crazy American girl who’d defaced her property. Maybe it was my shocked expression or sputtering series of “Oh, my God, I’m so sorry. Oh my God,” but she immediately took pity on us, asking if we were OK and trying to make us feel better with a “This awning is lower than it looks. It could happen to anyone. Don’t worry about it! The most important thing is that you’re not hurt” pep talk. Since I was bordering on catatonic, Amanda took charge and followed the owner inside to exchange contact information. Sensing that I was in no shape to get back behind the wheel, Holly hopped in the driver’s seat and steered us away from the scene of my crime and back onto the main road.

We’d only gone a few miles, when visions of hundreds of dollars in deductibles and the shame of confessing to World Nomads that I’d wrecked their beautiful van began tormenting me and a panic attack set it. “Stop the car!” I shouted. “I’m freaking out!” Holly and Amanda did their best to calm me down by reminding me that worse case, we were only responsible for $400 dollars, that this story would add flavor to our reign as World Nomads Ambassadors and that one day I’d look back at the whole thing and laugh. With a roof so severely dented that it practically brushed our heads and slits of sunlight shining through gaping holes of ripped fiber glass, I found it hard to find the humor of the situation at that moment, but I appreciated the support of my fellow Lost Girls.

While I knew it would take a little time for me to feel better about my unfortunate and completely foolish accident (I mean, I freakin’ drove under an awning that was about, oh, 6″ too short!), I didn’t want my stupid mistake to completely ruin our road trip. After all, we had a fabulous 2-day spa vacation to look forward (thank God, cause we sure as heck couldn’t sleep in the van now!) As we pulled our freshly-crunched vehicle into the parking lot of The Golden Door (‘hiding’ it in the furthest spot), I realized that good luck hadn’t completely abandoned us. I mean, what are the chances that the one time we get into a car accident happened to be the same day we scored a last minute media stay at a five-star facility? If not for this fortunate twist of fate, we’d probably have to sleep in a field or in the bed of roof shards on the van floor. Maybe all hope wasn’t lost – even if Holly, Amanda and I were!

Stay tuned for our continued crash saga as we return to Sydney to face the music and the folks at Auto Barn!

In the meantime, enjoy this video clip we took of our Aussie heroes – kind employees at Balloon Aloft, the best hot air balloon company in Hunter Valley- who patched up the van for us when rainy weather appeared imminent!

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    8 Comments

  • Thena says:

    Hi Girls! Your site is outstanding. Don’t feel too bad about the van. Road trip accidents happen all the time. My family and I drove from Spesbac, Germany to Paris,France last year and the door to our mini van was almost bent backwards when a car pulling a horse trailer passed us too closely at a gas station. Everyone started screaming. Haaaa! Paying extra for the insurance is SOOOOOOO worth it!!! You can spot us Americans from miles away. Especially those of us from the south. Take care ya’ll!!

  • robmeyer says:

    Well, I guess you can’t expect to make it all the way around the world without a couple of hiccups along the way!

    As far as your great luck up to this point, I would say a lot of it has to do with the amazing attitude you guys have throughout your journeys. I can’t imagine anyone actually getting upset with the Lost Girls!

  • Dellie says:

    Girls, I’m so sorry that you had to go through that incident. I can imagine how you felt-so many emotions all jumbled together at the same time. But it’s over now and thankfully you are all OK. Now you are actually able to look back and write about it. Though not the type of incident that you’d ever want to go through again, there had to be something worth learning from it all-if only to never underestimate the height of your vehicle when approaching an overhead obstacle (bridge,portico,awning). I am very glad that you LGs got through that little travel glitch unscathed and that your angels were watching over you.

  • Andrew says:

    The never ending virtues of Duct Tape = )

    Glad you are all ok.

  • 6th Floor blog says:

    Oops?

    Just randomly found your blog, and so far it sounds great and I’m jealous.

  • Just Me says:

    Sorry about the van incident, but really, it is kind of funny and will make a great story in recounting your trip in the years to come!!

  • Mitchell says:

    Hi lost girls,
    I just came across your blog and wanted to drop you a note telling how impressed I was with the information you have posted there.
    I like your journey and this lovely colorful man van and everything which around
    you.Keep up the great work. You are providing a great resource in the Internet .

  • I was curious if you ever considered changing the layout of your
    website? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.

    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could
    connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?