2017 has been quite a year of change for me after being diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma and spending the last few months of 2016 going through Chemo I had finished the treatment at the start of this year and was on the road to getting my hair back. It actually was quite cool not to have to shave for almost 4 months! But being bald over summer was not so great.
Since starting the business in 2003 I had been running James Blond Ltd a car and truck rental business that last year did almost 10,000 rental contracts and carried a fleet of around 350 vehicles. One of the problems with a rental car company is that everyone wants a vehicle during peak holiday periods and the busiest time of the year was summer. So we never got away for more than 3 or 4 days over the last 7 years and we both wanted to explore and spend time in the South Island something I could not do when I was tied to the business.
I had managed to get through Chemo and the summer season but realised that if I had to do it again I would not cope as well. After speaking with my Hematologist who suggested that there was a better than 40% chance of needing a further round of treatment within 5 years Sarah and I decided to review our involvement with James Blond.
So with the Christmas holidays over I got in a couple of Business Brokers to get a valuation on the business and start the process. But nothing ever seems to go as planned and both came in with a valuation that I thought was on the low side and decided to shelve the idea. I had however not fully understood just how much the Chemo had affected me and over time realised that “Chemo Brain” is real and I was suffering from impaired decision making and not as organised as usual. Once I recognised this I realised I needed to sell the business. Even though I was getting better any recurrence would be harder to deal with and Sarah did not want the responsibility of the company to fall on her shoulders.
So in May we listed the business for sale, with David Moore from Link Reality. The broker was amazed at the level of interest and we soon had an offer that’s when the reality of the situation started to hit home. The business that I had started was no longer to be mine and cold feet were becoming frost bitten as I started to change my mind. Needing space to think and talk things over Sarah and I jumped into the Mitsi Canter and headed off to Taranaki for a few days away.
As you can see from the photos the weather was tropical (not!) but that did give us a good chance to talk things through as we travelled around. Spending the first night at the NZMCA camp in Otorohanga where we had a bit of fun with the van as one of the fusible links had burnt out and we spent the night with no power, but with that fixed the next day we set off for Taranaki. Spending the night in a couple of great camp sites and viewing the area around the mountain. It was then through the forgotten highway during a cloudburst to Taumarunui for a night at a very lonely NZMCA camp. I have never seen a vehicle as dirty as the camper was after that drive. Back to Auckland the next day decision made pen in our hands ready to sign our lives away.
It’s a terrible photo I know but on the 8th of August 2017 I handed over the keys and the business to Antonie, Tim and Phil for them to start writing the next chapter of the James Blond history. And after the one month handover period I was after 41 years of working a free man. What was I going to do?
Retirement seems like a good option lots of people are doing that right? So after that month it was into the Mitsi and away on a much needed break. Needless to say the weather failed to play it’s part again with some fairly heavy rain at times especially at the Kai Iwi Lakes as shown above. But we got to explore the West Coast spending the night at some great campgrounds and can highly recommend Tinopai and Kelly’s Bay both of which offered that relaxed feel of times gone by.
With the sale of the business and money burning a hole in my pocket I was also keen to update the Mitsi which after 16 years of faithful service was beginning to show it’s age so Sarah and I headed off to the Motorhome Show in Hamilton to view what was on offer.
The selection of Motorhomes was extensive and Sarah and I spent the Friday wandering around the show looking at all the different models trying to work out which one would suit us best. It was actually easier to decide what we didn’t want and then go back on the Saturday for a closer second look at the rest. One of the vans we did like was the Pilote and Gary from Deluxe Group was easy to talk to and very knowledgeable about his vans. We sat down to get serious about it and work out the numbers then heading off for a coffee to talk about it we returned only to discover that the model we where interested in had sold. Oh well turns out it was a good thing as that model only had the one proper bed with the second being made up of the couches not what we really wanted as we discovered later.
I was also very keen on the large Jayco but despite it’s size it had very little storage for larger items like our Zodiac and the outboard both of which would have had to live inside the van whilst we where travelling. Not ideal and in the end that ruled that out.
We kept going back to the Dethleffs display and had an extensive talk with Ian and Lynda who live in their Globetrotter and also with Jonas who owned the company and made an appointment to visit the yard later in the week and talk some numbers.
On the way home from the show we stopped at Ray’s Rest for a night of freedom camping and what was to be our last night in the Mitsi.
Wednesday morning rolled around and it was off to Jonas and the team at Acacia Motorhomes to talk about our new camper. After a couple of hours of negotiations we had decided that we would replace the Mitsi with a Dethleffs Globetrotter XLi and our new adventures were about to begin.
Since that date we have been away in the new van to many parts of Northland and I have taken the van on a trip to the Coromandel with a couple of my boys those adventures are posted here on this blog. 2017 has been an amazing year and we both look forward to the adventures ahead in 2018.
Since we have been out and about in the Globetrotter we have met some great people and as we spend more time in the Motorhome we are looking forward to meeting more of the motorhome community and sharing our adventures. To those we have met and to those of you we have yet to meet Seasons Greeting to you all and wishing you safe and happy travels during the holiday season and beyond.
We still have the 1995 Mitsi for sale so if you are looking for a camper please click here to view the listing on Trade Me.