Friday, February 04, 2011

More jockey wheel drama at Aldinga Beach

After a long drive from the Barossa, via a stop in Mt. Barker for some running electrical repairs, we arrived late afternoon at Aldinga Beach Holiday Park. There to greet us was some mail, a water filtration system and the new replacement jockey wheel. Haleleujah! This was a supersized one. Extra length so we would no longer have troubles hitching to the height of the cruiser. Extra heavy duty, able to handle a load of 850kg at the front of the van. Our jockey wheel problems would now be over once and for all. Surely!

I'd prebooked a spot in this caravan parks months ago as I knew that I would have to fly off to the US for work and would be leaving Tori and the kids alone somewhere for 8 or 9 days. I wanted to make sure that they were somewhere safe and comfortable. I thought that somewhere a bit out of town by a beautiful beach would probably fit the bill nicely. Paul, the owner, seemed nice enough. He showed us to our site, which was a decent size, but had a considerable slope. It was also blessed with a huge patch of dirt just where our awning would be. It seemed far from ideal. Nevertheless, we hooked up our glorious new jockey wheel and unhitched the van. If I just raised up the front a few feet, the caravan should be level enough to be comfortable. At least that was the theory. So I wound up the hydraulic system a few turns, when a load cracking sound of ripping metal sent me diving for cover. The weld from the top of the jack had given way and the hydraulic mechanism just pushed its way through. The jack was in use for less than 5 minutes and it was now broken beyond all repair. I couldn't believe it. The bloke in the site across the way just sort of stared in an uninviting kind of way. He seemed to be a permanent resident of the park and in no mood to engage some holiday makers in a huge van having difficulties. Not too friendly. The van was now slumped forward on the broken jockey wheel, showing that the slope of our site was more than it initially appeared. I was immediately concerned of the possibility of the van rolling away and in somewhat of a panic removed the kids from inside the van. How well does that little handbreak actually work?

I went back to reception to request some kind of assistance and Jenny, the co-owner and Paul's wife, said that she'd send Paul around in a tractor to help us out. I wasn't even sure what kind of help we needed, but was happy for any assistance and suggestion that I could get. After perusing the situation for a while, Paul decided that he could lift the van with his tractor and put the front up on blocks. This seemed like a good idea, so we went for it. The van went up on blocks ok, but the balancing looked a little precarious to say the least. I suggested to Paul that if he held the van up with his tractor, I'd put on the old jockey wheel, then we could hitch back up to the car and I'd try to orient on to the site in a way that made us more level. By this time, I was physically and mentally drained. Perhaps the wine tasting from the afternoon before and the consumption of some of the wares purchased from these fine establishments were starting to take their toll. Whatever, I was completely stuffed. And starting to think in that jittery way one does when overtired. We tried realigning the van, but no matter what, the slope of the block was too steep for a two week stay. The kids would probably roll out of bed. Everyone was already hating this caravan park. I felt uncomfortable leaving everyone here when I went swanning off to California. So despite fatigue and the fact that we'd all had enough of moving around and setting up for one day, I decided to go back to the office to tell them we weren't happy with this location within the park. The office was closed, but on ringing the bell, a slightly less friendly Jenny came from round the back of the office, dressed in her fine evening wear, to hear what we had to say. She offered us a couple of other sites within the park and so I chickened out from telling her we were leaving and went with Jaz to have a look at the alternatives that we'd been offered. More and more, this place had the feeling of trailer park rather than holiday park as we noticed a few more permanent residents. I was leaving my family to be trailer trash! I went back to the office accompanied by Jaz and a little more resolve. This time Paul came out, also not as friendly. After a bit of an exchange he said, "so you want to pass on then, do you". To which I sheepishly replied that I did. So out he went to get Jenny to organise a refund for us. When she came out this time, she was outright hostile. I couldn't have been more apologetic, but she would have none of it.
"I haven't been out for weeks. I finally get the chance and now I'm going to be late. All because of this. And after Paul spent his time helping you out with the tractor. And for what? A complete waste of time. A refund"!!!
I offered more unacknowledged apologies, took the refund and slunk out the door. The office door slammed shut loudly and the sound of Jenny stomping through the house and her continued tirade was still audible as we made our way back to the car. Quickly and without looking up, we drove out the gates never to look back at Aldinga Beach Holiday Park. We didn't even know where we were going, but knew it had to be better than there.
An hour and a bit later, we were camped in Adelaide Shores Caravan Park. A walk across the road from West Beach, a big playground and jumping cushion for the kids, close to Glenelg and all that it has to offer and most importantly of all, a beautiful grassy flat site on which to put the van. We set up again on our old mangled jockey wheel. And sighed with relief.

No comments: