Thursday, April 22, 2010

Eyre Loss

We are on the Eyre highway and we've had a lot of punctures lately, so was too good a pun not to take. Yes, I did get 'blessed' with my mothers sense of humour unfortunately.

After only having 2 punctures on the trip in total previous to arriving in Eucla, we inexplicably ran into 6 in the 3 days after. Admittedly 2 of those came from me doing an extremely shoddy repair job on the tubes, some would even say not repairing them at all, but still it is a high increase in flats, and something that has caused many a choice expletive to be shouted by me, some of which I'm not sure have even been invented yet. Nevertheless, quite impressive. Sam is still recovering from the shock.

But as seems to be a constant theme on this trip, good things always happen to more than balance the day out. The views have been absolutely amazing, getting to walk for 2 straight days no more than 300 metres away from the ocean and just beautiful surroundings. Definitely not the scenery we were expecting when we were about to start the Nullarbor.
And the day when we had the majority of our flats (and I was about to start puncturing more than just the tyres) we had yet another visitor, this time from people we had not met before. They got told about us from the "Hadgkiss Mob" (wouldn't have remembered that, but took a photo of your name on the car!!!). Ray, Chris, Pam and Heather (I hope thats right, you met us so you know how dopey we are!) met us at the Eucla Roadhouse on our day off and were on their way home after a 7 week trip in their Hot Rods around the bottom of Australia. They were extremely entertaining, at one point making Sam laugh so hard the spaghetti he was eating came out his nose. If only I had the camera....
Anyways after treating us to an all you can eat breakfast they then must've got these other guys to deliver us a huge bag of chocolate and cokes. Was definitely amazing and not to be outdone the other guys brought us less exciting but probably more valuable stuff such as fresh fruit, canned foods and rice crackers. Everyday we still get amazed at how lucky we are. We're guessing that by now we are looking so scruffy and homeless that people think we need the food or something! Well whatever it is we are very grateful for it, as we are both eating literally 3 times the amount we were before the trip started, and trust me, we used to eat a lot! Plus chocolate tastes so much better now for some reason.
Ok, have to leave as we are now a couple of days behind where we would have wanted to be, as we've lost almost two full days due to the tyre problems. That and we still are carrying a few extra kilos in our stomachs from Eucla. Too much chocolate, not enough walking. Speaking of which, been told theres 3 extra kilos of chocolate waiting for us from mum in the roadhouse here, so might have to go grab that. That should all be gone by tonight all things going well...


Me stuck in a shrub. This area was now closed to vehicles as the rocks were becoming unstable. But of course I thought it was a great idea to go sit near the edge. Well thought through.

This could've been a shot of any of the first 3 days after Eucla. At pretty much any time of the day too. Bloody tyres.

Do you remember the time when High-Vis vests, fisherman pants, fully buckled up backpack, odd looking knitted beanie and a headlamp in full sunlight were trendy? No? Neither do I. Nobody does.

And for something different, here's one of Sam posing in front of a sign

Ok, thats all for now. Two more roadhouses until we've done the Nullarbor!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Part 2- Eyre Time

Firstly, greetings from SA. Just crossed the border then.

Secondly, Part 2 of the last three weeks.

Will keep it short because of time constraints, having to try and steal another 15 kilometres today before it gets too dark.

Ok, so from Caiguna is where our pace slowed and settled just a little bit, as for the last week Sam and his mutant-like walking speed literally beat my legs into submission, developing some serious shin-splints in the process. That slowed our walking pace down from around 7 k's an hour to 5, but it didnt really affect the distance covered each day as we just went for that little bit longer while my legs were being nursed back to health.

But at every stop we kept on being warned about this Eucla Pass we were having to go up just before Eucla, with the Pass taking on epic proportions as we closed in on it. But as we kept on being told, Eucla was right there at the top of the Pass, so it wasn't all bad news. Well, it was the biggest let down as it was hardly even a hill, and certainly no match for the SlamWagon and his mutant-legged master. I took a big longer naturally, but thats only because I wanted to savour the experience. Either that or I was knackered after chasing Sam all day. And there was Eucla, literally 50 metres after the Pass finished.
We really had a great time there, meeting some great people who, as has been the custom on this trip, been far too generous and just do too much for two idiots walking on a highway. Also had some brilliant mail waiting for us, including three ridiculously huge care packages from mum and my very first love letter. Kim, I am surprised that we have put off marrying for so long. Do they do internet marriages yet? Anyways, didnt really want to leave that place and had to force our trailers out of Eucla. And two hours later we are here at the border and another roadhouse. After spending sometimes up to a week in between roadhouses having two within 12 kilometres of each other feels kind of like cheating. The burgers still tasted great though, as will the customary Magnum icecream we have to share afterwards.

Although he was already quite fond of the place, due to the well timed chocolates and soft drinks George now loves Canada. Especially Barry and Noreen!

Beautiful and sunny all day, then as we neared our final hurdle before our highly anticipated break, the thunder rolled in, the sky darkened and lightning started all around us. Felt like I was 12 again playing Nintendo and this was the final level of Super Mario Bros. Sort of. Eucla Pass was obviously Bowser. Bowser turned out to be a sissy.

Right it is then, good to know. That could've been costly.

Sam levitating, again.

Sam on the border. Pretty sure he's tossing up whether or not to upgrade to the trailer behind him. It might be slightly heavier but on the plus side it'd hold all the chocolate mum sent us.

And there you are, up to date. Pretty sure I wouldn't have missed anything. Will be back in reception at the Nullarbor Roadhouse, around 5 days down the track. Until then.

Part 1- Forward March

Rewinding back three weeks is tough, especially if you are blessed with the memory of a goldfish. But there are a few things I remember quite well from the first nine days from Norseman to Caiguna. I definitely remember the first day and the last. The first being possibly the worst day on the trip and the last being up there with the best.

Day one was tough, as we knew it would be. Forced to overload our trailers to the absolute limits of what the wheels would allow us to take always was going to increase the chances of something bad happening. Nothing really did, except another wheel blew off the trailer, spraying ball bearings all over the road. At the time this was the second wheel wrecked in 40 kilometres and given the current weight being carried and distance still needed to go, I started having a trademark Leigh breakdown, a beautiful sight to anyone who has been lucky enough to witness it before and I'll just leave it to the imagination what it involves for people who haven't. We continued on regardless but for Sam eventually the combination of hills and pulling the equivalent of three and a half extra Sams took its toll and we had to finish up early, stopping at around 30 kilometres for the day, much less than we were hoping. The day was brightened by Therese, the lady from the Norseman Hotel, who somehow managed to enlist a backpacker to deliver a missing tail light off my trailer and a big block of fruit and nut chocolate (which Sam decided that he then liked after 21 years of insisting he doesn't).

The first 200 kilometres was extremely hilly, and we were told otherwise leading up to Norseman so we got rather disheartened by that and left us wondering how long this was actually going to take to get to our next actual town, Ceduna, only some 1170 kilometres away at the time. But the good news was it rapidly improved and with us eating and drinking around 15 kilograms of weight out of Sams trailer each day we started averaging 45 kilometres a day, actually an improvement on any of our previous speeds. Arriving at our first stop, Balladonia, 190 kilometres down the road, was a relief more than anything as we knew we had got through the worst of it for a while. The kitchen staff were quite busy during our brief stay cooking us up 5 days worth of missed junk and comfort food.

From there we landed on the flat, straight roads including the 90 Mile Straight, Australia's longest straight road and thats when things really got going. 4 days it took us to get to Caiguna, and waiting for us there was a phone call from an Aunty and a pre-paid meal. Was quite strange getting in there and they already knew who we were and said we had a call waiting for us, and that we already had our meals paid for by an anonymous caller, my guess was correctly mum. After our meal we ran into the Carpinteyro family who introduced themselves and then gave us $40 to pay for our NEXT meal, as well as a box of RedBulls which were gratefully recieved and strategically used. Thank you so much, hope the rest of your trip went well! Was a perfect finish to a really great few days.

And that is the first half. Might do the second later tonight if we're still in internet reception, but might not be. As I used to tell my school teachers, I'll have it in soon.

Road upgrades. For the record, Sam and I approve. Best road we've been on, hands down.

This might be a beautiful scene for motorists or to the untrained walking eye, but for Sam and I this is heartbreaking stuff. Especially at 2 in the arvo with plenty still left to do. 10 kilometre hill and we had to finish it that day. Its going to be even tougher for Sam with him heading for the trees like that.

Been told that we must be having pretty good weather. Well, yes, but it rains a LOT. We obviously just dont like using the already temperamental camera in the rain. Here's Sam looking like a banana.

And one of me on a hill looking ponderous. I'm pretty sure I'm pondering 1- How Sam got the camera and 2- Why is he taking a photo of me when he knows he'll pay dearly for it later on. The answers never came.

Us at Balladonia Station. Someone wanted a photo of Sam and I together, and we thought we might as well make them useful and take one with our camera as well.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Eucla, baby

Eucla, baby.
Those two words has been the answer to pretty much every question we have asked each other for the last 18 days.

For instance it has answered all of the following, in some cases many times....
- When are we getting back into phone reception?
- How about internet reception?
- Any chance of taking a day off soon?
- What are the chances of having a shower?
- Can we wash our clothes soon? I've been wearing the same clothes for 2 weeks straight.
- Where is mum sending my bike pants to stop my mammoth chafe?
- Will we ever get time to fix all the tyres we have busted?
- Is mum going to send us any food, because we are eating like horses.
- I'm hungry. Whats the closest place that we can buy even half decent supplies?
- Are we actually ever going to stay in a proper Caravan Park and not roadside like homeless bums?

And so on. And we are finally here!!! It has been such a hectic couple of weeks that I'm only going to put one general post up now, then jog the memory banks and split the last 3 weeks up into two parts tomorrow.

But for the record, it has been an excellent few weeks (which was definitely not what we were expecting!) People have only got impossibly friendlier as we go along and whenever Sam and I are beginning to have a bad time, something or someone good always pops up at the right moment to brighten our day. Special mention to Noreen and Bill (I am REALLY hoping that is your names, you have to forgive us as we're both terrible with remembering anything, let alone names), the Canadians who have come to our rescue at the perfect moments twice now with soft drinks and chocolate, reinforcing our belief that 1- Sam and I are currently two of the luckiest people in Australia and 2- Canada is home to the best-natured people on the planet (Australia a very close second, of course!)
But they are by no means the only people who have helped out. Every day without fail someone always stops for a chat, photo or to see if there is anything we would like. It's a very warm feeling sometimes, although that could be just the 35 degree temperatures as well...

Other news, caught up with the support crew of Alan Bate, a guy attempting to break the world record of cycling the globe in 99 days. They of course gave us some food and drink, including some sweet sweet chocolate and were pretty interested about the whole trek. Anyways they posted us up on their site. I cant find my way around it as I am computer illiterate, but heres the link to a photo they put up of me. Sam didnt make the cut, I think they were just pretty impressed with my beard to be honest....

And of course we have gained more photos, even with our trusty $100 camera on the fritz. She is currently quite picky as to when and where she will actually work. I can relate to that.
Heres the photos.

Making it to Eucla, baby. Understandably quite a big moment for us, hence the tacky photo. Apologies.

Sam pretending he's a tree. There was so many of these trees as anyone who has crossed the Nullarbor would know (shoe trees, bottle trees, hat trees, glove trees... etc), but unfortunately not a towel tree which would been great seeing that we have lost both our towels. Using a singlet instead, not as nice but considering the rate of current showers its not really a huge issue at the moment.

The famous Madura GutBuster. Unfortunately it didnt come close to busting Sams' gut and he graciously offered the communal (my) wallet up for a second helping. The four burly lads at the next table were suitably impressed given none finished theirs.

For anyone who wants to know what I'd look like right before I strangle you, this'd be it. Sam knows how I get around cameras...

Charmaine, Dave and their great family, who caught up with us twice, once bearing half a trailer load of goodies including a few cans of liquid gold...soft drink. Add to that an hour of great chatting and you really made our days! Oh, and apparently I'm off to a boxing match just after the photo.

Finally, heres a draft result of a bit of a project I was attempting while doing the 90 Mile Straight. Was going to take photos of all the straight, but interest quickly faded. So heres two days of life walking the 90 mile straight.

I need your help to make this work properly as I couldnt get the background music I wanted for it (Once again, computer illiterate!)
So please, open up this website first in another window -------- , then play the second song down called "Bird of Feather"
Then flick back to this page and play the video below.
The music will run out towards the end, but you know what they say, you pay peanuts you get monkeys. It's close enough!

SlamVision! 90 Mile Straight

Song choice dedicated to friend currently being missed more than clean clothes and supermarkets.

Ok, hopefully that was worth the pain. Will probably be back tomorrow for less interesting, more detailed junk.

Oh and Bec, that was probably the best comment I have had, like ever. Well worth the 18 day wait. Thug life indeed.

Ok thats definitely it now. Bye!

And I love you mum :)
(Wasnt even blackmailed into saying that or anything, she's just pretty ace)