Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Police and MacGyver

Duck tape did not solve the problem.
We parked our car and trailer on the roadside, in Kiel. It was time to say goodbye to Nikolas and his wife Flora, have a cup of coffee in their apartment, and move on. We had found out that we have to be Nuremberg a day earlier than we thought, so we had a lot driving to do. As usual, we checked the caravan and the car. This time around, annoyingly, we found that everything was not OK: the cable that connects our caravan to the car was damaged, badly. It is too long and part of it had dragged on the ground, so part of it has just disappeared. Not good. The lights in the caravan still work, so we’ve decided we can still go on. After our coffee.

Sleepless on a motorway

We drove several hours after the coffee I got in a Moomin mug (Oh, how much I miss my Moomin mugs…), eating a Döner on our way. Around 8pm, somewhere on autobahn number 2, we turned to a “rastplatz”. Germany is full of good parking places by the road, some of them even have toilets and places to cook. There are usually many trucks - I think this is the only way to tell if the place is any good. Our parking place had no facilities but we just needed a place to sleep.

Our heater didn’t work. The temperature in the caravan was 13°c and the night was going to be cold. Timo checked the batteries. They were ok. We still had gas but not that much. Had the damaged cable had any effect? We had no idea. I was ready to sleep under extra blankets, but Timo wanted to find a new gas bottle  - or a place with electricity. So we started up again, Väinö half asleep on the back seat. Half of the lights on the caravan were out, and of course it was raining.

We stopped at three different gas stations with no help. I tried to Google all possible locations that might be helpful. We took a turn into a caravan site, just to find out it was not open. I was getting desperate. Right then we spotted a police car. In a dark and otherwise empty parking-lot of an Aldi supermarket.

Police inspection

We drove up next to the police car and I went to talk. The policeman on the driver’s seat opened the window and I found out I was disturbing their evening meal  - Döner, of course. The police officer talked rather good english and suggested we should go to a gas station near by. That place had a huge parking space for trucks, and it was open 24/7.

We drove to the gas station and Timo went to ask for gas, electricity or any kind of help. Soon I noticed that the police car had driven to the same station. Perhaps they had noticed the illegal lighting - or lack of it - on our caravan, perhaps they were just friendly or had nothing else to do. They came to check that we got help.

With help translating from the police officers, we managed to buy a new gas bottle. While Timo was installing it, I showed the caravan to the officers. Because they asked, and you don’t say no to a policeman. “It is soooo big!”, they said. I’m sure they had a memorable night shift.

My darling MacGyver

The new gas bottle did not help with the heating, though. It was way past 10pm. I was exhausted. Timo checked all possible components with a multimeter. If you go on the road for a year, you MUST have a multimeter. And some knowledge of how to use it. We also have the manual for our heating system. With their help, Timo discovered that a fuse in the heater was out. A tiny little tube of glass.

Fortunately the gas station sold glass fuses. With that little piece, the machine started. We had heating!

At half past eleven we were able to go to bed. On a parking-lot of the gas station. A noisy motorway next to us. At least it was warm. And we were in our own beds.

The only downer was that I had lost my tablet. The one where I read my morning paper and nice book in the evenings with the Kindle app. I hadn’t used it during the day. We searched everywhere. The only strangers we had in the caravan were the police officers. I don’t think they took it. It is just misplaced.

I downloaded the Kindle app and our family library to my phone. One chapter of wizard Dresden’s adventures (Butcher’s Dresden files, highly recommend)  was exactly what I needed after a day like this. His life is also quite messy. But he doesn’t have foreign police officers as friends, and a clone of MacGyver as a husband.

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