At the very end of our 2010 trip I decided to spontaneously reorganise the fittings on the roof of the van. To put it another way: I drove into a tree.
It wasn’t quite as bad as it sounds. After arriving back in Croatia after a month on the road we had planned to spend two weeks with Iva’s family at their house in Rijeka. They have a lot of space outside the house, and so I had resolved to drive the camper into their courtyard so that I could clean the van with their garden hose and also do something about the leaking front windscreen.
The path up to the courtyard was just wide enough for the camper, but there were some overhanging branches and we also had to contend with the fact that the entrance path was sloped steeply upward. Obviously I didn’t want to over-accelerate and then smash the van into the corner of their house (especially not with Iva’s parents watching).
One 5-point turn in the middle of the road later, the camper was at last pointing in the right direction, and I eased it forward through the gates with Iva watching from ahead, guiding me on with her trademark hand signals (i.e. vague, confusing and unintelligible). It all started so well, and I was ready for the big push to haul the van up the slope and into the courtyard.
A branch is not a branch is not a branch.
A few seconds after hitting the accelerator I learned this valuable lesson in Croatian dendrology. There was a scraping noise and then a crunch, as the protruding branch above the gate arbitrarily repositioned the solar panel – and our roof box – by about half a metre, tearing it from it’s mountings and very nearly punching a hole in the roof of the van.
And that was the silver lining, or at least the consolation, of the whole misadventure … it could have been much, much worse. As it turned out, the solar panel wasn’t broken, but nor was it attached to the van any more. The roof box was slightly cracked but still perfectly usable.
Half a year later, and this morning I finally got around to remounting the solar panel. The helpful man at Perohaus recommended rawlplugs for fixing things to zinc, which worked perfectly. Now all I have to do is put the roof box back where it belongs and we’re back to square one.