2017-08-22

Eight weeks away from home (part 1)

(about a road trip to The Netherlands to get a new table saw for the Not Just Sawdust workshop)

Now here’s a story that started with our (fourth) cheap table saw breaking down during the making of a video for our Not Just Sawdust YouTube channel. Paul Wilmore from Wilmore’s World of Wood, started a crowdfund action, out of the blue, some followers donated by Paypal and within a few weeks we had a decent budget for another table saw. No, not for a top of the bill professional machine, but nevertheless a reasonable amount to think about a portable version of a DeWalt or Makita. I will be for ever grateful to the woodworking community, it is indeed a special bunch of people. However after reading reviews on all sorts of brands and models I came to the conclusion that all these machines are great for those who use it at weekends in their garage shop, good enough for the experienced hobby woodworker, but here in Portugal it will be used practically daily and often gets abused with hardwood, recycled beams and so on. Next to that I was looking for a saw that could cut at least up to 80mm or preferably more. After a few disappointments with sellers on Ebay and other websites, I finally got hold of a Metabo (well in fact it’s an Elektra Beckum with another brand name on it) that can do the job I want it to do. The only problem is that it was located in The Netherlands and I had to find a way to get it into our Portuguese workshop. What happened after that would turn out to be an adventure...

Hitting the road...

The van was loaded with our personal stuff, a big BMW motorcycle and some boxes to be delivered at different addresses in The Netherlands. All that with only one purpose, the extra budget to pay for fuel and toll roads. Next to the donations from family members it should be enough to reach Holland, from there on we could only hold on to the words of our family that all would be arranged.
You’ve probably heard the news about the bushfires in Portugal, on the day more than 60 people were killed by the flames, we found out that the van was leaking cooling fluid, and decided to call for help. Our friend and mechanic George, was out for a day and we had to wait until the next day, resulting in, us not driving these roads in central Portugal where the devastating events took place.

Yes, we would have been on that exact route where people got trapped on the road and died in their cars. It took some real good thinking to leave central Portugal for that matter, because fires had, and still are after almost 2 months, all around. Nevertheless we did leave for The Netherlands 2 days later than planned, driving on the toll roads towards the Spanish border. It went remarkably well, although the van had some troubles keeping up to speed when climbing a few mountains, but with such a heavy load that was to be expected. The whole nightly journey thru Spain was over before we knew it and we crossed the French border with the sun coming up behind us.

Casteljaloux, Aquitaine, France

We had our first real coffee and an ice cream, just relaxing on a terras to be driving of later towards Periguex and than Limoges. We slept most of the day at a parking lot just after crossing the border and although the first night went very well, France is something else... busy, toll roads, even the ones that should not supposed to be. And... no Leclerc or other supermarket open after 8 PM... it’s turned out to be even harder to find a fuel station, other than the ones on the toll roads. We ended up just outside Paris around 4PM, waiting for the end of rush hour. Hot, hot, hot! We drove during the night from the French border to Limoges and had some sleep outside an early closed McDonald's.. well everything was closed. No fuel station anywhere. Suddenly major problems with the van that just doesn’t start when we want it to. We slept a bit more in the morning, were forced to use a toll road to get the van tanked up with diesel.

After a nervous day, there we were, at Aire De Service De Limours briis sous Forges. Finally some service in France... Free WiFi and charging stations. Coffee was good to. (Non-portuguese prizes) Nervous again because the starter engine only worked when it wanted to. We took a gamble to stop there, parked the car backwards on a small slope just incase as we were both to tired to be concentrated in rush hour traffic... You could say we had an adventurist journey so far where all that was planned didn't happen....

Traveling thru Paris went well, we drove of at around 9PM. Never thought this could happen but for some reason my phone had lost all that was on.. apps, pictures, videos.. but, yes, despite the worries about starting again after a stop, we made it to the Netherlands. After an all night drive passing Lille, Antwerp and the flat parts of Holland, we arrived at 5am Thursday morning. We set up our tent in my sister's garden and chilled... Some real issues had to be solved with the van first, after that we could do a tour thru The Netherlands and deliver our packages and the big Motorcycle.

Next time.. A few small projects and driving around in The Netherlands.