First up, Im going to need to establish exactly WTF ‘the bees knees’ means.
Helpfully, nobody seems to know for sure. Some say it has to do with the fact that bees carry all that pollen goodness they have collected in a small pouch just above their ‘knees’. But there is no real evidence this is the source of the saying. More likely it is just a bit of made up nonsense intended to capture the uniqueness of the thing being described and these days, referring to the excellence of it. That is, it’s just a silly saying. No origins required.
For example, an article appeared in a New Zealand newspaper called The West Coast Times in August 1906. It included an inventory of cargo carried by the SS Zealandia:
- a quantity of post holes
- 3 bags of treacle
- and 7 cases of bees knees.
Kelly and I are about to take off on a road trip around the South Island of New Zealand, and even though we have our own motorhome, Ripley (pictured above) here in Australia, we are still choosing a van as modus operandi this trip.
We will defo be looking to stock her with a few cases of bees knees along the way.
Here is a dump of off the top of my head reasons we have come to absolutely love this style of travelling over the last few years.
It’s cheaper than most motels/resorts/Airbnb’s. Especially if you are free camping. And mostly when you are not.
To be fair, Ripley was not cheap. We bought her second hand and she was still not cheap. But there are plenty of home-on-wheels options available for the more budget conscious. Camper-vans, caravans, camper trailers and even roof-top tents can be found that make this form of travel totally doable. And if you are hiring a van for your holiday your cost is also negating hotel/motel accomodation, meals (when you cook in) and transport/car hire.
You are not constantly packing up all your shit each morning and then unpacking it at the next accomodation point. A corollary to this point is that you end up carrying a lot more of it. But hey… bees knees.
You are free to come and go wherever and whenever you want. Plans can change and routes can re-route. You can chase better weather or more obscure destinations or hot tips from fellow travellers. Sure in reality there are multiple constraints that can end up interfering with this ideal of travel freedom. But essentially, you can have a damn good crack at it.
People you meet seem to be friendlier on the road than in the 5 star boutique hotel that you spent 3 hours researching on Trivago only to find the whole experience somehow aesthetically sterile and experientially hollow in a boutique sort of way.
People you meet are more interesting too. Travel on the road and you are guaranteed to eventually find yourself immersed in various titrated mixtures of poets, artists, adventurers, backpackers, rescuers, seekers, travellers, experts, weirdoes, psychopaths, fringe dwellers, eccentrics, battlers, special interest groups, retirees, escapees, artisans, and plain old salt-of-the-earth folk just like you. Yup, if nothing else, you meet far more interesting people.
It will be an Adventure. Perhaps a small one. Perhaps a life changer. But for sure, by way of the people you meet or the things that happenstance… you will be far more prognostically adventure-prone.
Afternoon naps and sundowners. At some point…not everyday, cuz van parks can be noisy and cramped and crazy… but at some point you will pull up besides a gorgeous sparkling uncrowded lake for a super nice nap, or be sitting outside your rig in the cool afternoon sea-breeze watching the surf, or find yourself nestled up overlooking some magnificent view, with a glass of wine in one hand and something yummy in the other, chatting to some fellow travellers you have just met, with absolutely no need to go anywhere or do anything…. and you will suddenly get it.