Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 14 & 15 - The long and winding road that leads to my door

We had another farewell with Kevin and Shar, this time with less hilarity from dad getting into his leathers. He has become quite good at it now, but the squeaking will still drive you nuts.

With the trailer fixed and reattached, Dad and I left the gong, via another scenic route, and started the long journey home. The look in our faces was one of weariness and exhaustion, but not at the same time, sometimes respectively, and home was now the shining beacon of rest.

Nothing and no one was left to be seen, so Dad and I took the Hume highway, turned off at Wagga Wagga, and stopped at Narrandera for the night. They were really friendly people at the motel next to the Caravan Park. The owner was a bike nut as well and it took a long time for Dad to stop talking to him. Apparently Mum and Dad stayed here once before on a trip to SA.

For dinner, dad and I crossed the road to the roadhouse dinner across the road. After a couple of weeks, I was pretty sick of eating at service stations but this one came with a little bit of gold. They had a small stand with books for purchase and at the front was an anthology of Spike Milligan poetry called “Knees, Fleas, and Elephants”. My reaction could only be expressed in emoticon...


What the hell was a service station in the middle of nowhere selling Spike Milligan books? Doing awesomely that’s what! They had four copies of the book there, so they are expecting to shift product. A good chuckle at under $5, my jaw dropped pretty rapidly, but I still purchased my copy before my mouth hit the ground, but only just. The service station clerk looked at me weird, but I get that a lot.

After a sleep, dad and I were back on the road again, we headed to Hay, then Balranald, but instead of going through Mildura dad and I turned off and Manangatang (real name) and then back through Ouyen (not convinced of real name) following the Mallee (B12) highway. I had never come through this way before and you enter South Australia through Pinnaroo. It is shorter than going through Mildura and the Riverland by almost 80 kilometres if you are heading to Adelaide.

The service station at Pinnaroo is very bike friendly as well, run by another bike nut. Dad can find them.
The ride to Adelaide is uneventful. We get a sprinkling of rain, but we are dry within seconds. We arrive at my house and I convince Dad to stay for a bit and travel to Whyalla tomorrow. He woke up early the next morning and finished the last leg.

5000 kilometres, two weeks, umpteen blog entries later the adventure has come to an end. It is sad to think how quickly is disappeared. It is sadder to think I have to go back to working for a living. The only thing not sad is my bum.

But what does it know.

Thank you to all who played a part in my father and my adventure, whether you fed us, washed us, picked us off the ground, put up with our fatigued tempers, fixed our trailer, or hurled abuse from the side, you will be a permanent fixture in the memories of our time.

Make sure you all look after your selves, and hopefully dad, I, or both will see you on the next grand trip.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 13 - Gresford to Wollongong

A good night sleep does wonders to the aches and pains.
Had a chat with the youngest brother about all sort of things. Got myself and the bike out of the swamp without dropping it. That was not the worst; I got me new boots dirty and covered with mud. Just something else that has to be cleaned.

Headed off to visit Rod at Greta. It’s funny how some people do not change as we age, Rod is one of those.

On me bike and off to Cessnock to visit Uncle Bruce and Aunty Verle, as Russ rolls his eyes about more sidecar chatter. So much like my dad but so different. After more tea and bickies but no lamingtons we depart for the trip to Wollongong to retrieve the repaired trailer and bits. I can still find my way after taking the wrong turn or is it I don’t read the signs.

The easy way to the gong is down the freeway to Sydney and follow the signs to Canberra and turn off to go down Mt Oosly and find Kev’s place again. Haven’t seen them for years and then they can’t get rid of me.
What a great way to spend a Sunday arvo by riding through the Sydney traffic. Hooray!
This time I remembered to change helmets with Russ, as the tinted visor makes night riding a bit of a challenge when going into the gong. And I have to mention that my son reminded me that part of the road is for traffic coming the other way so I have to keep to the left. He takes all the fun out of my old age!

Day 12 - Wingham to Gresford (almost Gresford)

I found it hard to sleep on my cousin’s bed, being a little short, so I slept on the floor. I woke up, had a shower and then spoke to cousins via the power of the internet.

Uncle Matt cooked us breakfast and we had a long and lazy morning drinking tea and eating Nan’s awesome fruit cake. Dad and I got on the topic of NSW roads being really crap and seeing numerous “rough surface ahead” signs, but not enough (realistically the NSW government should put a “Rough Surface Roads in NSW” sign at the NSW boarder – it will save them some trouble), and Uncle Matt suggested that he and Dad quickly duck off to the shed and machine up some preload spacers for dad’s back shocks.

It must be awesome to have the skills to go off and do that, I can only whinge and hope someone knows what to do.

The spacers only took an hour and a half to make, and Dad and I set off to Gresford to see Uncle Athol and Sarah around 3pm. They don’t actually live in Gresford, or East Gresford (there is no West Gresford), but they do like to flirt with it for mobile coverage. There is a relief and a worry when not having mobile signal; it is a relief when people cannot contact you, but it is worrying because those people will think you are ignoring them.

From Wingham, Dad and I travelled via Gloucester and Dungog. I felt they were making up names as they go. With so much rain, the area through Gloucester I found quite remarkable. It is on the edge of a couple of national parks, but yet it does not feel like it is trying very hard to be that pleasant. As we rode into town the sun was setting behind Barrington Tops and the town is surrounded by hills and mountains, and it reminded me of Zurich in Switzerland, expect with less neutral loving chocolate dripping yodelling weirdos... It just had weirdos; less people but in higher concentrations.

But gee the road was rough.

My arse and back hurt so much after that leg, and when I went to the toilet, my piss had a head. Barman would walk past and compliment me on my pour. I found it uncomfortable... cough... anyway...

Sarah and Athol greeted us with love and warmth; we greeted them with tired faces, shivering bodies, and angry hearts. The country roads were starting to take the toll on dad and I, and we were at our limits. Sarah and Athol made us dinner, a cup of tea, and threw a few more logs on the fire.

We put our feet up, had ice cream, wicked ice cream, and watched “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”. I had forgotten how long that movie went. It has side plots that go nowhere; like a Quentin Tarantino movie. But it is wonderfully shot and looks awesome even after all these years.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Manilla to Wingham

Awake to a very sunny frosty morning, these I do not miss.

I find it really hard to leave places and wish I had more time to spend with the important friends in this life. Had a look at the very large outfit (more sidecars and rolling of the eyes) The Suzi Boulevard? Is a huge monster by itself without fitting a chair to it. Well you can’t complain about lack of power.

Got loaded up and directions for a shortcut to Bendemeer – the final section of the Oxley to Port Macquarie. The last time I was this way was for the 10 anniversary of the Long flat (Forbes River) rally in 1991. It’s still rough in places, but some of the best scenery in the state. It still attracts the boy racers by the score.
Stop at Walcha for fuel for bike and us, a chance to sit in the sunshine. We heard a small engine coming down the street and it was small wishbone shaped 3 wheeler with its occupant secured in a wheel chair, anything is possible!
Off again into more windy bits, complete with all the shadowy wet bits which caused some small step outs of the rear wheel! These make me a bit more nervous. And it is always in the windiest part that parts of your body wave their bits for attention ie: bladder, nose, itchy parts even fart pains makes a show at trying to shift you on the seat. The road over is still rough in the not smooth places and just keeps the smooth bits apart so they cannot propagate into a complete smooth surface.
Stopped at the big round-a-bout on the highway for more fuel all-round, then followed the road to Taree and on to Wingham, this bit was a bit boring and the only interest was the "I can’t see that shiny blue police car sitting between the bridges". Got more directions to get to Matts place, follow the detour into town and follow the signs to the gun club? Yep on dusk and with traffic up ya ass I got plenty of time to read through the novel length signs as you come into town. So go straight through and find a public dunny and ring little brother to come and get us, accompanied with all the shit about not been able to find my way. Guess what more rough streets to go navigate through and my favourite the fine gravel on the intersections just to see if you are awake. Another dirt driveway to go up as well! yipppppeeeeeeeeeeee.
Well we made it to another brother’s house and an added point bonus is I haven’t seen mum in almost 2 weeks so what a surprise and treat this is.

Day 10 - Putt putt putty take 2

With the new fill in luggage system secured to the bike all was set for our renewed assault on the road from Winsor to Singleton in the Upper Hunter.
As we turned to the right on to Hambledon road the very considerate person in the right lane pulled out just in front of us and moved across into the left lane. The new rules do allow for this as in the past you had to go to the lane you were in. We don't want to talk about what I thought at the time. Count to ten slowly...
With all the not get ant where travel from the previous day I went as far as Colo Heights to fill the bike up. It was a different trip without the trailer on the back
We decided that we need a few items of undies and socks, with some jeans and jumpers as well to keep the load down.
A silent cheer went up as we passed the place we made it to the day before. The road was still a bit divited and the rear end found the limit of its travel on the shockies, this was giving the passenger some bits of wake up.
The Putty road has had some major improvements from 25 years ago but for some reason the speed limits have gotten lower so it now takes you longer to travel, it still is some of the most beautiful mountains in the state.
Passing out of the putty and the 10 mile I remember Mark, I worked with him and he died a few months before I was married.
Finally got through all the ripped up areas of the mines, will they put the land back to it’s original contors and shape when the ripe all the wealth they can? Or is that some of our grandkids problem? If so we need to educate them so they know how.
Had lunch and refuelled in Muswellbrook and made a call to see Neil #4 son.

He works at a turf farm and looks quite happy.
Going over the bridge I noticed the colour of the water, the only time it was dirty was when it had flooded, I was told it was only after the conveyor was put under the river that the water downstream is always that dirty. Government hay?
Neil told me that Eddy was out of hospital and at home in Aberdeen, so this was our next stop. Both he and Jenny are well. I have not seen them since our dads funeral 8 years ago. Had a chat with them and headed for Tamworth and my hermit oldest brother. It still gets cold up through Murrurundi at this time of year. Trying to find it in the dark was great. Rough road, bad memory for directions, and the thought “can’t these people find a place with no dirt road and corrugates?”

Colin is still the same very much happier out on the land with cattle and horses. I received a foul look when asked “where are the sheep?” I don’t think he likes them very much. But he is happy.

Said our farewells and headed for Manilla and Dave and Terese Williams. After getting directions from some torch waving loony at the corner I proceeded up the wrong street to have a look at a house for sale. They all thought I got lost! HA

What a warm welcome we received, for a lot of our old friends this is the first time they have seen Russ grown up. For some reason his height comes up in comparison to mine. We are fed and we talk till the early hours of the morning. This is happening a lot on this trip for some reason.
I am pulling up really good at the end of each leg that we travel and this is really a surprise to all.