Ernst signs of aging

On Facebook, some of you have already guessed right, which we have made. Here comes the slightly more detailed resolution, because it was not that easy.
The road conditions of the last 3000 km were very different. From best-developed (funded by the EU) highways over mediocre country roads to the last dirt roads, but which are to be driven told by Googlemaps with a normal car. In some ways, it was also a bit up to us, since we are always looking for remote and pretty places to stay overnight. They are mostly not located directly on the main road. Now we rumbled over hill and dale. Ernst also did a good job for the most part.
In Thessaloniki we did a maintenancestop to do the laundry and look around the car. And what we found point 1: The dog was not allowed in the laundromat. Point 2: Greek construction workers are not afraid if you are sitting in front of the laundrette with your dog, throwing up the sidewalk two meters away with their hammer drill. Point 3: Ernst was fine, but the roof rack was broken and two bolts were sheared off. Such a crap, a repair was due. The Ernst was already 30 years old, but that was difficult after all. Finally we had up there our solar system, the sand plates, our laundry ton and the alu box with dog food. When we then calculated, we also came up with the idea that it was possibly, so under certain circumstances, maybe a little too much for the roof rack. Well, now it was broken and we had to think something over. Still in Thessaloniki on a busy and parked street, we made an extended damage record, loaded half of the dog food under the forward bench. We climbed up to the roof to take a closer look and made a battle plan.
Aluminum welding failed.. Tying together was not an option either. So it had to be a support structure. The next Praktiker hardware store (yes, it still exists here!) was ours and we got the following things:

  • two big and two small angles
  • a threaded rod
  • matching washers and nuts
  • perforated plate
  • bike tube
  • bolts

We still had to adjust the angles and bend them at the ends. One dares Martin so much, but with his bare hands, he would not have done that and the right tool (so best a vise) we had not with us. But we drove first very carefully towards our evening destination. On the way we wanted to refuel, but missed the first gas station, so we drove on. In the meantime, it had become dark and the roads curvy, so we drove as on raw eggs, so that the rack would not break us on the other side. We stopped at the next gas station (which was even cheaper) and an elderly woman fueled the Ernst. Of course, you do not do that yourself here. As this always takes a bit longer with Ernst, we had time to examine the gas station a bit. Pretty lumbering, lots of scrap and car parts, and … but wait! What was there? A vise! We asked the gas station woman if we could use it briefly and she nodded at us. Martin bent the bracket plates and the ride could continue. From that moment on, we really believe in Providence, and most of all, that things come easy, you just have to let them come.

The next day we were ready and could do the necessary work. So it was the firstthing to put down everything from the roof rack. Unpack the aluminum box, dog food pouches for dog food pouches. Laundry basket, sand plates and the associated lashing straps.

Then prepare material and make a puzzle photo for you;) And then it started: We bent the threaded rod in about 8 cm long U’s to then put this over the support tubes.

Inside came a bit of bicycle hose and from below the angles were attached and secured with a perforated plate, washers and nuts. The angles were then attached to the anyway existing bracket on the roof. We forgot to install the new stainless steel bolts because of our enthusiasm (Of course we do not drive without, we screwed galvanized steel bolts directly into Thessaloniki on the rack).

Then of course all the scraps back up, everything in the box, tie down, marvel at work. But at the prospect, you just could not complain about the whistling five degrees cold wind. In the end, we agreed: Holds better than the original.

When does a journey start?

Finally, we are rolling. Not just the short rides to run errands or do important things. No, this time it finally starts. It does not feel right yet. We drive through Berlin, Conny’s hometown. The area is familiar, the last errands are actions as they are done in daily life. But today is the day. THE day. Today. We start our world trip.

Was that the beginning? We have been working towards this goal for so long, pushing the “Ernst” project forward, and the last days and weeks we have not been doing anything else, soone can say that the journey has begun for a long time already.

But when was that exactly? Was it the spark of the idea to do a world trip? Was it the purchase of Ernst, our camper? Was it the beginning of the conversion of our VW LT Florida? Maybe it will not start until we pass milestones like Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia or when we arrive in Boston? Or was it 11:28 am today when we rolled from the parking lot of Conny’s parents?

No matter how you define a travel start, every journey around the world begins with the release of the handbrake.