My workbench

My workbench

Monday, May 31, 2010

Paul

As the driver passed, he gestured apothetically- there is simply no room.  I've seen it a hundred times, and totally understand the sentiment.  I smiled and waved in appreciation of the acknowledgement, glad that he at least made eye contact and WOULD have picked me up if not for the full car.  As I turned back to face the empty road, I heard the squeal of tires sliding over loose gravel behind me; he had stopped.  I gathered my things, quickly stuffing my still-damp sandals into the side of my bag and rushing towards the car; I never expected a lift to actually happen.  I saw him arranging and stuffing bags, trying to make room for me and my cargo.  As I approached, I thanked him and asked where he was headed.  Perth!  I haven't grinned so widely in a while, as I confessed that I was also headed in that direction.  With my ruck on my lap, my legs splayed over my duffel, we pulled away from the gravel, embarking on a three day, 2000km drive from Port Augusta to Perth.  This will turn out to be the greatest lift I've ever had, to date.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A drifting mind.

Every so often, someone asks me when my 'trip' is going to 'end.'  I chuckle, and explain my thoughts on the inevitability of settling down (which I occasionally consider a possibility) along with the spontaneity of it's occurance.  "I'll travel until I don't, and then I won't travel," I say, smiling, "well, mostly." 

I turned 26 a few days ago, marking two full years on the road (I recall landing in Ireland on the 23rd of May, 2008).  People keep reminding me of my age, and how much time I have to explore everything.  Age itself no longer truly matters; The experience of an 18 year old may prove to be just as wise as the sagely advice of a 70 year old grandfather.
I feel old.  Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes, and it was a super treat to be able to conference-call and get the whole family on Skype- I'll add some credit so we can do that again.

In travel news, I'm still in Adelaide, extending my stay due to weather (that's my current excuse).  Really I just couldn't be bothered to pack my bag today.  From here, I'll be hitching to Port Augusta, where I hope to catch a ride all the way to Perth, thousands of kms away.  I'll try to catch a lift with a trucker ('truckie' in Aussie), as they're usually pretty bored and will apreciate having someone to talk to.  That's the theory, anyway.  Anything can happen on the road.

Oh, and should I spend July 4th in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or fly to Frankfurt ( and possibly hitch to friends)?  Life's full of tough choices...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Am I in California?

A train, tram, regional train, and a 4km walk later, and I'm back on the road!  I headed towards Torquay and the great ocean road, planning to make my way to Adelaide.  The first guy who picked me up, Rob, ended up bringing me to a winery where he worked.  I spent the night at the winery, partying with the german and french guys working there.  I got a lift with Stefan, from East Germany, to Torquay and the start of the great ocean road, the next day.

My first lift up the Great Ocean Road (easily the most beautiful) was a group of Indians whom did not speak much English.  They gave me a lift to Apollo Bay, where I cooked some lunch (Quinoa), and hiked out.  A few short lifts found me at a caravan park approaching sunset, and I camped for the night.  At the roadhouse (caravan park/pub/hotel/bistro/cafe/gasstop) I discovered Carlton Dark, a pretty good (on tap) local dark.
Progress became slow as I made my way towards the end of the Great Ocean Road, gaining little over a hundred kms and camping in the small farming village of Yumbak.

I had promised mom that I would contact her for my birthday, so I needed to be somewhere internet-enabled to make contact.  I figured the 500kms to Adelaide would be reachable in a day, if I started off early.  By 8AM, I was on the road. Donny gave me a lift to Portland, during which I learned that South Africa really can be as dangerous as I've been lead to believe.  A little while waiting on the side of the highway and I caught a lift in to Heywood, waiting again an hour or more before catching a horse-trainer transporting one of his horses to a race in Mt Gambier.  He actually offered me a lift to Adelaide, as one of the guys who worked for him was driving up in the morning.  We swapped numbers, and I promised I would call if I found myself in need.  By then I had begun to realize that unless I caught a lucky long-distance lift, I was not going to have a chance to make it to Adelaide.  I started walking uphill from the race course, a 7km hike out of town.  Two kms down the road, A contractor picked me up, offering a lift into town.  Along the way, we did a bit of sightseeing.

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I was dropped at the outer edge of Mt. Gambiers, having passed a McDonalds not far away.  I considered walking back that way, as most of the McDs here offer free WiFi- A flushing toilet was a brief second in the back of my mind somewhere.  I decided to risk it, pushing ahead.  Heath gave me a lift to his hometown 30kms down the line, and then decided to give me an extra 100km.  He had, years ago, picked up a Dutch hitch-hiker traveling the same route I was on.  They became friends, and the Dutch guy lived with him for a few months.  Ever since, Heath's been pretty good about giving hospitality towards travelers.  You really never know who you might meet.  A final lift a few kms out to the countryside saw me settle in for a long haul.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne

I grabbed a standby car from Brisbane to Sydney, camping out along the way and taking a paying passenger (cute Taiwanese girl).  I couchsurfed with an aussie naval officer in sydney for a few days before heading south yet again.  She was unfortunately on-duty, so she couldn't drink- instead I was fed food and beer, given lifts, and watched some footie (TV).
Getting out of Sydney, I took a suburban train, stuck out my thumb, and away I went!  A quick lift from two Maori boys who were pretty chill, then a guy whom had seen me at the first spot but couldn't get over.  A 28 year old gave me a lift from the edge of town to a little village 20kms away, where I camped for the night by a creek (FAR too close to houses).  Waking, I hit the road with an older woman a hundred or so KMs down the road, after being offered some hospitality- she'd been hitch-hiking all around Australia since she was 14, and is mid-50s now.  The 32yrld couple were pretty awesome, again offering hospitality.  A hunter just returning from a few weeks in the bush gave me a lift over the border with Victoria, and dropped me in Genoa...Australia.  A sweet grandmother gave me a lift to Mallacoota, stopping at a beautiful lakeside town beforehand to show me around a bit.  I camped on the beach in mallacoota for two days- it was rainy and fairly miserable, but I had fun nonetheless.  Lots of thinking and stretching.  Oh, and I ate prawns (shrimp) by accident in some fried rice.  I was kinda disturbed when I realized that, but they didn't taste bad.  I wonder what my revulsion with seafood is all about?
Getting a quick lift (after walking 2km down the road) back to Genoa, I got a convoy pull over!  Larry (fr) and Marie (de) in Larry's car, where my bag went.  Alex (de) and laura (de) were in the big SUV loaded down, and in I hopped.  We drove aaaall the way to Wilson's prom, and camped in a caravan park for two nights.  The camping was fun, albeit wet, and I hit it off with Larry pretty well.  On our way out, I paid my share of the caravan camping fees, and was politely put off.  I was initially peeved, but realized that I was getting nowhere trying to engage any of the germans in conversation.  Three highschool students gave me a lift to Inverloch, where I caught another a few moments later.  My final lift drove me 134ks to a surburb of Melbourne, where I caught a suburban train in.