mistake gone wrong

You remember that thing where I try to motivate myself to write about a trip by saying to myself “I won’t write about anything new until I finish writing about this trip”? Yeah, remind me never to do that again.

I fully intend to go back and finish that bit off at some point, along with a lot of other misadventures in between then and now, but all that putting an arbitrary brake on my writing seems to do is make me stop writing, which seems to be akin to throwing out a whole lot of baby and very little bathwater.

So to quickly bring things up to date for the past several years… I crashed the bike, moved house, got promoted, moved house again, turned 30, bought another bike, got a nephew, moved house again, got a niece, started not-dating and then dating an old girlfriend, went to Coral Bay, got promoted again, went to Singapore, proposed, got engaged, got married, moved house, got another nephew, went to Rottnest, left old job for a new one… and that mostly brings us up to date. Oh, I also now have a step-rabbit as part of the marriage deal.

bunny

Lap of Australia Day 1: Perth to Hamelin Pool

Okay, everything packed and strapped in, got my wallet, got my phone, earplugs in, bike started. Ooh, I should take a departure photo.

Prepared for takeoff

I’m already leaving later than I’d hoped, but that’s always the way. Anyhow, today it couldn’t be helped. Right. Lid on, leg over, lean the bike off the sidestand, whoop, little too far, back we come… baaack…BAAAAACK… ooh crap, abandon ship. And with a muffled thump, the bike goes face down into the driveway. Exhale deeply. Miraculously the indicator hasn’t taken it’s regular position as first point of contact with the ground, and the only thing that needs doing is brushing off some chunks of grass, adjusting the wing mirror and leaving some of my dignity behind. Ceremonial bike-drop complete, I stop a couple of kilometres up the road to top up with fuel at the BP, then I jump on the Freeway and start heading North.

It’s overcast, but comfortable. Not bad for riding weather really. For some reason as I get North of Wanneroo I get Proud Mary stuck in my head, where it would continue to bang around for the next four or five hours. I ride past a sign suggesting I visit the Leaning Tower of Gingin, which sounded bizarre enough to investigate if I wasn’t already trying to make up for lost time. After the better part of an hour I manage to free myself of civilisation and the road starts to open up into long, sweeping bends between endless rows of gum trees, and I start to feel relaxed. I feel like I’m on holiday.

Soon enough the trees turn into scrub and stay that way for the next hour or so as I take the new road up the coast. I’m still behind on time when I start getting close to Cervantes and the temperature has dropped a couple more degrees. I feel like I should keep moving to try and stay ahead of the storm (having no idea whatsoever which direction it’s coming from of course), so I decide not to stop at the Pinnacles even before I start being harrassed by waves of sand being whipped up across the road and in and out of willy-willys.

Roadside

I fill up at Cervantes and get back on the road. Half an hour later and I’m riding past Leeman when I am struck by actual sunlight. It’s bright, and warm, and sadly doesn’t last long. Still, I continue to motor along at a gentle pace, that is until I start to see some disturbingly grey clouds to the West, and a blur of landscape below them. I speed up just a fraction and start to pay more attention to their approach. The horizon eeks closer and closer to me as the dunes and distant scrub to my left are slowly swallowed whole and disappear from view as the storm overwhelms them. I’m getting close to Dongara when there is only the width of a single paddock between me and the leading edge of the darkness. It becomes apparent at this time, as I lift up my bug-ridden visor to get a better look, that I am being stalked by what can only be described as a wall of water.

As I’m approaching Dongara (and shelther), the speed limit drops and so I slow down and resign myself to my squelchy fate. Two or three drops of rain appear on my visor, after which the bike and I are completely engulfed in cold water falling from the sky, and the smell of wet bitumen. Since I’m already wet, I don’t bother stopping at Dongara and keep trundling on to Geraldton.

Ash. Housewares.

By the time I get there, the clouds have parted and there are patches of blue sky to be seen. I get some fuel and a snack and start moving again. As I get out of Geraldton, I am overjoyed to see hills ahead. There’s little traffic heading this way and the road to Northampton sweeps up and down and side to side, and I remember why I wanted to ride my motorcycle on this trip. The scrub gives way to paddocks and pastoral land for a short while, after which the landscape changes back to thicker scrub which gives way to red dirt and spinifex. I get a little giddy when I see those horrid little spiky bushes. I haven’t seen them since I was a kid, and it occurs to me that this is the furthest North I’ve ever been on my bike.

I’m fast running out of light by the time I grab some food at the roadhouse and turn off the highway onto the road heading to Denham, but I stop a few k’s down the road at Hamelin Pool where I’m staying for the night. The owners and overnighters are all out on the porch with a drink when I pull up, and as the sheets hadn’t yet been changed in the room I’d booked, I happily took up the offer of a bigger room in which I deposited all of my gear. You only have to step outside and look up at the sky to know how far from the city you are. Well there’s that and the fact that neither of the two mobile phone carriers you’re using have any signal. I’m delighted to find a gloriously hot shower in the bathrooms, and after setting an alarm for the morning I feel plenty tired enough to call it an early night. Tomorrow I’ll actually have time to stop a bit more and take it all in, but so far things are looking pretty good. One day down, 41 to go.

Home on the road

 

the mud map

I’ve sacrificed a bit of route fidelity for the sake of visibility and being able to get everything on one map, but this is the gist of it, starting from Perth and moving in a clockwise direction. The pieces are coming together more and more as lift-off approaches and with any luck I’ll actually be prepared by the time I’m meant to be leaving, which is…. in about 134 hours time.

Yikes.

venturing forth

I have been laying low lately. And when I say lately, I mean for the better part of this year. As much as this may amuse some of you (Hi, Mum), part of it is due to modesty. Actually, modesty’s not the right word, maybe ‘fear’ is more appropriate. Basically I’ve been trying to keep various aspects of my activities quiet so that in the event that a great deal of planning and effort comes crashing down in a spectacular ball of flames, I can pretend it had nothing to do with me and walk away whistling in an entirely un-suspicious fashion. The whole thing is still up in the air at the moment, and it’ll be anywhere from another 3 weeks to another 4-5 months before I know whether this airships’s gonna fly or not, but I’ll keep you posted (if in an avoidant, skewiff fashion).

On a more concrete note, I can tell you that one of my plans is coming along nicely, and that is to head off on a national tour in fifty days time. I’ve got 6 weeks off from work and one motorcycle with which to fill it. I’m not certain about the formation of that last sentence, but you get where I’m coming from, right? I’m going to be headed out of town to the North until I hit ocean, then turning right and heading East until it happens again. At that point I’ll start heading South, cross a small bit of ocean in order to watch some bike racing for a few days, then return to the mainland for a few days of local shenanigans before starting to head back West again. It’s gonna be awesome. Well, either awesome or incredibly boring and painful, but part of the allure is finding out. Tragically I do have to board an aircraft at one point during the trip in order to come briefly home for a number of matrimonial proceedings (none of which have any legal implications for me personally). I say tragically in reference to the air travel, not the celebrations, those should be delightful, I’m just not the biggest fan of travelling by plane.

Between now and departure I have a fairly hefty list of to-do items to get through though. With any luck I’ll get most of them sorted early on so that I don’t end up running around frantically in the few days prior to departure with a crazed look in my eyes, but inevitably I’ll run into some drama or other. I also plan to wake up on time this year on the day I intend to leave. Hopefully that should help.

an afternoon note

I probably couldn’t count the number of things I’ve written here about not writing unless I took my shoes and socks off. Still, it’s something that I think about from time to time. While I could rationalise that nothing overwhelming has been happening in my life of late that would warrant writing about, often what I write isn’t so much about events but about what I’ve been thinking and how I’ve interpreted things. The curious part of this is that I certainly haven’t stopped thinking. I can say that I definitely continue to ponder and cogitate with great frequency. The thoughts are still there, it’s just that I haven’t been writing them down for some reason which I can’t seem to put my proverbial finger on.

One possibility that’s been floating about in the back of my mind is the fear of persecution. While there’s an XKCD strip that succinctly (if with colourful language) describes my idealistic sentiments on the nature of self-publishing on the internet, there’s only so much effort I can put into keeping myself from reality, and the reality is that it doesn’t take much to turn something I’ve put down in words into a gallows from which to hang me. It’s the kind of thing that concerns me more as I end up further and further down this path of being a ‘professional’. While I intentionally barely talk about my work these days, it only takes one remark out of context for an employer to decide that some loose interpretation of my words doesn’t align or comply with their corporate vision, mission statement, magic 8-ball or what have you. These things occur to me. I like the idea of a place where one isn’t considered guilty until proven guilty, but I’ve yet to come across one.

I am not ‘down’ with the sickness

I hate being sick. It just gets in the way of everything. It interferes with my plans. Plans for eating, sleeping, exercising, reading, working, socialising, thinking clearly, they all go down the tube. The fact that I have this free time off work but can’t do anything with it would almost be frustrating if I weren’t so preoccupied with being stiff, sore and generally achy. There’s nothing much else to be done but to curl up in bed and wait for my immune system to do it’s thing at a microscopic level.

Bah, humbug.

Things could be an awful lot worse, it’s just that it’s been a while since I’ve had my host body properly hijacked by some low-level life form so I’m more grumpy about it than usual. I also want to do some serious pondering about life direction (career direction more specifically) and it’s hard to do when my head is all cloudy and I don’t feel like getting out of bed, let alone doing anything productive. It’s hard to get inspired to change your life when all you really want is some soup. Soup. Now there’s a good idea. But hopefully this is the lower point of whatever this sickness is, and I can start working myself back towards normal function, for there is much that I would like to do.

crazy and context

I was standing in the shower thinking about how easy my life is right now (don’t worry, I have plans afoot to make things much more difficult for myself), and it occurred to me how abstracted from a hunter-gatherer reality almost everything that I do is. I tried to picture myself explaining to some guy who lives in a tree on some savannah what it is I do all day, not even getting into the odd mechanics of modern life where I pay for goods and services by handing someone my flat bit of plastic and letting them hold it for a minute, the result of which is that somewhere in the world an electronic representation of a number changes.

The most peculiar thing I may have to explain however, might be the concept of exercise. I am picturing a conversation where I explain that I was running two nights ago. Not from anything, not to avoid being caught somewhere or eaten by something larger than I am, and not to get to a destination. In fact, I was running in a big circle so that I could get back to where I started from. Sometimes, I count how long it takes me to run in a circle, and I try to get back where I started from sooner than last time. Occasionally I’ll get on a special machine where I can run as fast as I want to, and I don’t go anywhere!

Sometimes I climb stairs or hills when I don’t need to get to the top, and when I get there, I come right back down again.

Other days, I pick up heavy things and put them back down again. I do this a lot of times from the same place. Sometimes I’ll stand or lie down in a funny way to make it harder for me to lift the heavy things, or I put them on the end of a stick, then I lift the stick up instead. Once I’m done, I put the heavy things back exactly where they came from. If I don’t, the other people who lift the heavy things would get angry with me.

But why? Why would you do these things, I picture the guy asking me.

Well, where I live, we have so much food that I do all this exercise so that at the end of each day I’ve used up all the food I’ve eaten, and it’s like I never ate anything at all. Sometimes if I run on the spot enough and lift enough heavy things, it’s like I’ve un-eaten some food. I also sweat a lot, so I generally drink a lot of clean water afterwards and then wash myself in it so that I don’t feel so hot and sticky.

I expect that this is the point where the fellow would holler something in a language I don’t understand, and I would either be burnt at the stake, or the local doctor would start drilling holes in my head to let the crazy out.

confusion

Things have been a bit roughly shod lately, and while basic cognitive operations resumed regular service as of around this time last week, there’s still a lot of wanderers upstairs bumping into walls and looking uncertain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m outwardly pretty functional. I’m doing my typical kicking of asses and taking of names at work, which is nice, but I just feel… aloof. It’s kind of cool to be technically competent in your field, there’s definitely a sense of satisfaction to it. And while I know that I don’t know everything about my work, I know enough conceptually and have enough well-worn mental schema to be able to deal with most anything that I come across day to day. The satisfaction comes and goes however. Some days I think that being able to do what I do is fantastic, other days I find it meaningless and intellectually unfulfilling. I could probably say the same for most vocations I’ve undertaken though.

I apologise for the state of my writing at the moment, I’m long out of practice. Articulating complex thoughts has been troublesome all-round this week actually, I’ve found my mouth frequently exceeding my brain’s capability to keep up during conversations, none of which has put me into any precarious situations, but I’ve regularly had to use humour to sketch over the fact that my tongue seems to be stumbling awkwardly over my lips.

All told, my current list of complaints are mostly self-directed. Right now I don’t feel as mentally sharp as I usually like to think I am. This might be related to my trying to force a few overly large thoughts through an otherwise occupied mind and the subsequent slowing and blockages that entails, but with any luck I’ll be able to detach my brain from the running gear over Easter and let it spin freely for a while. Hopefully that’ll help.

Well, that worked.

Like a lot of people, I find it really easy to start something, but the act of actually getting around to doing the tough bits towards the end often kicks my apathy into gear, particularly when it comes to things like documenting my trips. I wrote practically nothing about my jaunt to Malaysia, and far less than I could have about the time I spent in England, so I thought that this time, having finished riding across the country and back on my bike, I would coax myself into doing things properly by committing not to write any other blog material until I had finished writing up my trip notes into proper journal entries. In one respect; that I finished my writing, this was a success. However it also meant that I did no other writing of substance for the subsequent 13 months or so while I procrastinated about getting on with the job.

The business and other madness of life that went on in the meantime certainly didn’t help, but obviously the tactic I employed didn’t have quite the type of effect that I had hoped for.

On the bright side, I’m aiming to get back into writing more habitually now that it’s all done, and with any luck I’ll be able to pick up where I left off in terms of contemplation, articulation, and other forms of glorified navel-gazing.