‘I’m making the most of my second chance at life’

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Grey nomad back on the road in vintage vans
Lisa (inset) is very excited to be finally back on the road again in her vintage van

With a medical history that left her immunocompromised, solo grey nomad LISA MORA was particularly vulnerable to the threat of the coronavirus. Here, she tells of her joy at finally feeling confident enough to get back on the open road again. 

“Unlike some grey nomads, being a full-time caravanner came more as a necessity than a choice to me, as did my early retirement. A diagnosis of autoimmune Rheumatoid Arthritis five years ago, and my consequent struggles with depression and anxiety, made running the business that had been my passion and joy, impossible.

I was put on disability, lost everything, and became homeless. When I was finally put on a medicine that enabled me to walk again after having been completely crippled, it was like having had a near death experience!

It was a second chance at life that I thought I would never get. I became determined to juice as much out of life and appreciate my body’s abilities for as long as I was able. Having always been an avid road-tripping caravanner with my business Vintage Caravan Magazine, I figured that a full-time life on the road, seeing as much of Australia as I could in my 1968 Viscount vintage caravan would be the best way of making the most of my situation.

I have travelled extensively around Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales, exploring as much of the back roads as possible. I’ll often spend a couple of days, and sometimes weeks in one place, so I can recuperate and save money for my next road trip.

My favourite places are in the Outback. Roads that other people might find boring are a never-ending source of fascination to me. Whenever I’m out there all by myself, with my music cranked up, singing along at the top of my lungs, or in total silence contemplating the gorgeous combinations of nature’s colours … the road is my happy place.

And then coronavirus happened!

Ah, the best made plans! At the time, I was staying at the Allora Showgrounds in Queensland. I love Allora. It’s a gorgeous little historic town about two hours west of Brisbane in the Darling Downs. I often base myself there when I need some time off the road.

By some weird coincidence (or, as I prefer to say, ‘synchronicity’ as I don’t believe anything is a coincidence anymore), I had just treated myself to two nights in a gorgeous self-contained historic B&B called ‘Roseneath Cottage’ while my caravan was at the local welders getting a new drawbar put on.

The day I was supposed to check out was the day restrictions came in, and the Allora showgrounds, along with most caravan parks around the country, were completely closed to campers. I had nowhere to go. I had heard that some caravan parks would permit ‘essential travellers’ with no set home to go to such as myself, but most required you to be ‘fully self-contained’ as they were not allowing access to communal amenities blocks, so that counted me out.

Not that I was keen to use any communal facilities anyway. As a high risk, immunocompromised person, I was anxious about catching the virus! I also heard reports of some caravanners in small towns being hassled by locals, so I wasn’t game to go very far.

Thankfully, the owners of the B&B graciously agreed to let me stay on at a significantly reduced rate for as long as it took until I could get back on the road again.

I thought it would be a few weeks, but it ended up being almost three months! Eventually though, we finally got the green light to travel again. Hallelujah! With various border restrictions still in place though, I’ll probably leave the rest of my Big Lap until next year now.

For now, I am just over the moon happy to be able to indulge in some real live human contact with my friends and family again!”

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6 Responses to ‘I’m making the most of my second chance at life’

  1. Good on you Lisa. Go get um! Perhaps i need some of your medication for the aches and pains to allow me to travel more. Any chance you can give me the heads up on the medication for the arthritis.

    • Hi Dave,
      It took two years of monthly visits to my rheumatologist and an excruciating trial and error of a plethora of ever increasing strengths of medicines that didn’t work until I was finally approved for specialist biological medications. I’m now on my third one and it’s called Olumiant. The first one I tried was Humira, that didn’t work, the second was Actemra and that enabled me to walk again but made me suicidally depressed.
      RA is not really “arthritis” as the name suggests, and people often assume it is. Many of us with it prefer to call it Rheumatoid Disease to avoid this confusion as it is a systemic degenerative autoimmune disease, that is; it also affects the eyes, lungs & heart as well as the joints and treatments that work great for one person may have zero affect on another.
      So, if you’re asking me about treatments for osteoarthritis “aches and pains”, I’m afraid I wouldn’t know much about that. If you have RA, on the other hand, then your rheumatologist would be the best person to advise you on the best treatment plan for you.
      I’m always in pain somewhere, even on the top tier medications, but I’ve just adapted to it by choosing to focus on things that make me feel good, like beautiful scenery, my cute little rolling home, my sweet little dog, music, meditating and being very, very thankful for every little thing I CAN do in the moments when I am able. On days that I can’t, I stay in bed and rest an abnormal amount recovering and recharging until next time I push myself again! You learn a lot about the importance of life balance and limiting stress with this disease!

  2. I had a caravan very similar to your one. I fitted a shower and toilet combo in it and used it for years. It was so very convenient. Good luck on the road,,,

  3. I’m in a similiar situation with a compromised immune system too. Having already made it to QLD, from Vic before havoc reigned, I ended up renting a furnished unit in Gladstone for 6 months. I feel a lot safer being here even though I would love to be out on the road. Best to be safe.

  4. good onya enjoy we are only here once

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