Jennifer Gilbert and David Jones (or ‘Numb Thumbs’ around the traps) are well-known to Vista RV devotees, thanks to David’s position as the moderator of the Vista Owners Group web chat pages on the Australia4WD Forum.
David is frequently seen on the Vista RV trade show stands, where he gives buyers an on-the-road perspective of the brand and helps to organise annual owner get-togethers, at campgrounds around Australia, especially in the far outback.
David came to camping through Scouts – ‘back in the Stone Age’ – and was very active in bushwalking, white water kayaking, rock climbing and cross-country skiing in university. He continued that in later years, being actively involved in programs such as cross-country ski and outdoor leadership training.
The couple share a similar background: “I was heavily involved in bushwalking and cross-country skiing and was even active in downhill skiing,” Jenn said. “We met at a charity bush dance. I still try to get out there and enjoy bushwalking experiences whenever possible.”
David and Jenn introduced their kids to the outdoors and their son has followed suit, partaking in guiding and outdoor leadership training.
The couple bought a Jayco camper in 2000.
“We began to look for a serious offroad camper, and did a lot of research,” said David. “After many years and a lot of thinking, we bought a Crossover in 2010 and towed that all over the country. Then, two years ago, we enjoyed the new XL for two weeks, so then we had to have one.
“We were able to sell our old Crossover for essentially what we had paid for it and so that step was a minimal strain on the budget.”
“We liked the Crossover,” Jenn added, “but adore the XL. We love the extra room inside – it’s amazing how much difference an extra 300mm makes – and the longer kitchen makes meal prep so much easier.”
“We’re not likely to change this one for a long time,” David said. “They’re designed to go offroad, they are over-engineered to make sure that nothing fails and will go further than your car will so this one is going to suit us for a long time.”
“We retired last year and went away for three months then, and the year before we had long-service leave and went away for six or seven weeks,” said Jenn.
“We plan to do a lot more of it.”
WHO ARE THEY?
Names: David Jones and Jennifer Gilbert
Where’s home: Clifton Hill, Victoria
Home on the road: Vista RV Crossover XL
Modifications: Lithium batteries and “lots of little touches to make life more comfortable.”
Tow vehicle: 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel
Modifications: Roo bar, snorkel, auxiliary long-range fuel tank and UHF radio
Scariest moment:“We don’t often get scared,” David said. “Usually it’s driving in closer-in areas – on major highways, or in suburbia, where you get crazy drivers doing dumb things. This year was while driving towards Cameron Corner. We came over a crest and someone had stopped on the road just over the crest. Usually, you keep as far left as you can over a crest, and there was this guy stopped on the road.
“We were towing the XL at the time. It was an interesting exercise to swerve and recover on the gravel road. Luckily, the XL is a very stable trailer.”
Lessons learnt: Try to keep the weight down, in vehicle and trailer; be prepared, as in the old Scout motto, but don’t be over-prepared. In other words don’t carry a lot of stuff that you don’t need,” David said. “But do carry things that are vital. We carry a satellite phone just in case, but don’t carry a lot of stuff we don’t need. In other words, we don’t need an HF radio and an EPIRB as well. We always carry a good first-aid kit and have the knowledge to use it. You can’t have too much water; and make sure you have enough fuel.”