James Baker, he’s young, but man his wise beyond his years. Here at Recreational Society we run with the mandate take out what you take in… well! James does better, every trip he goes on he takes a couple of rubbish bags and fills them with roadside litter… he calls it his hobby.
I turned 20 last week and have had the Delica for 2 and a half years. She’s called Nora, sorta a mix from a saying bloody Nora and now turned to Nora the explorer. I was brought up camping in the back of Dads 1980’s Hilux Surf or Mum’s Escort wagon, so naturally I had to get a wagon to camp from. I had a 1984 Mitsubishi L200 ute which I did a lot of camping out of with a tent but it started becoming heinously expensive to keep running. I wanted something that I could stay inside of and be low-key. I was looking towards a Land Cruiser when one of my neighbours rolled in with his mates Delica and from then that’s all I’ve ever wanted. It took me over 8 months of searching to find a manual diesel one. Bought it two days before Christmas at 3pm flew down to Christchurch at 6pm and was home by 9pm the next day.
I don’t quite know how to explain how I adventure, it has changed a lot recently. I used to almost solely travel to chase waves and bike tracks. I like to be away from the masses in the middle of nowhere under the stars. I Love the hills, I Love beaches. I like going places most people don’t have the balls to go. Lots of my recent missions have been different though, still been chasing the waves but with less cause most of the time. It is a case of wondering where that road goes and then getting horrendously lost, it’s bloody excellent. I don’t plan trips, I tend to have a vauge heading and make it up as I go. I hate having plans because I get side tracked with new places to go and never follow through with them. Definitely aim from more out of ways places though the only time you’ll see me near civilisation is when I’m picking up food.
The van is set up weird, it’s ultra utilitarian. I’m on my 4th or 5th time completely rebuilding it so its nearly how I want it haha. It has got a full 2000mm x 600mm box on one side for surfboards, fishing rods, as much roadside rubbish as I can fit and just about anything I can throw in it. I like to go prepared to do stuff. The other side has a kitchen which fits out the sliding door, it can hold enough food for a week. Then behind that is a meter long open box which has a pull out tool/car spares drawer and storage for clothes and the awning tent. This box can also be seen regularly filled with black sacks full of roadside rubbish. It’s a bit of a hobby of mine. On to the top of this box is a big ol foam mattress with enough room that’s its not quite like sleeping in a coffin but not much more.
For cooking I use a gas cooker, I have one pan and a billy. I’m not living in luxury but I’ve got a heck of a lot more than I bring on bike packing trips so it feels like glamping for sure.
For food I have the good ol chilly bin. I’ll buy a bag of ice once a week and it does all I need pretty much. The only meat I ever eat is fish that I catch so I very rarely need to keep things frozen. It’s pretty easy living. For water I carry a 20 litre water container and a few 3 litre bottles, I’ve never run out so I’m happy, this all lies in the kitchen box
The awning has an awning tent, it’s an easy set up. Just a tab that fits into a little clasp bit and a zip on the other side then boom an enormous amount of room. I use to use it a lot as I’d rock up somewhere and stay a few days. It makes an out of the sun/rain room to get changed and cook and eat. Now a few of my mates have cottoned on to this whole adventure idea so I don’t go alone as much anymore. I’m gonna change it, sorta planning to get a 270 degree awning with sides. I’d like a bit more space and make it easier to park my mates wagons under it to make a campsite. Nora is the mothership for all the convoy missions
While the chilli bin has been fine, I plan to get a fridge. I’ve got a dual battery tray coming from Aussie for Nora. So soon she’ll be getting a few more lights, mainly a camp light in the awning and maybe an RGB LED strip inside for having a boogie. I’ll look further into getting a fridge too but I haven’t got as far as figuring that out yet
MODS there are so many mods to do! I have an A3 page list of mods on my wall, there’s lights and roof racks and awning ideas and more bar work and different boxes the list goes on. I have dozens of bits and pieces in the shed for Nora. This is a list that will never end, there’s always more refinement to be done. I’m in the planning for a new van (another Delica) so this list will never be completed and I doubt I’ll ever finish it on the next van. Just one of those things, I Love tinkering. It’s funny looking back to when I first got Nora and seeing all the changes some big, some small. There is barely an untouched corner -I Love it!
I’ve learned so much, I’ve learned a lot about how cable ties and tape actually can fix anything. I’ve learned a lot about the importance of independence and being able to just hang out with yourself. Being able to motivate yourself to do things and go places; it’s always worth it.
All in all though the van has actually changed me, I guess from being young it really shaped me because I have had the van. I have always been able to get out and see the country and go where I want. I’ve definitely got a travel bug. The next van will be a long wheel base Delica and the plan is to qualify as a sparky by the end of next year. Maybe work another year then live and travel out of the van for the next year (or 10). Then go overseas and continue with that.
I’m pretty sold that if I didn’t have the van I’d be still stuck in my hometown dreaming about going places but with no real ambition like lots of my peers. Nora has really exposed me to how easy it is to see the places and has given me a reason to not need a reason to go everywhere.