October 19, 2004

Long Road to Nowhere (I'm on a)

Posted by DaveSmith

Sacramento -> San Francisco -> Sydney
Hot coffee -> blood snot -> discharging a firearm in a prohibited area

Day One
Oct. 14, 2004
Sacramento -> San Francisco -> Sydney

Quick warning, my past tense vs. present tense wanders. And my spelling ain't the best. Plus somehow, I've gotten wordy. Odd, that I love Hemingway and when I want something published, I put lots of time in to make it shorter. As he said, "Sorry this is so long, I didn't have time to make it short". When I get back to edit all this down to small book length, I'll fix those problems. Until then, get fucked, as the kids say.

I leave, pressed for time, so to speak. Marletta the girlfriend, and my sisters Cary, Gina and Kellye all helped me clean out my apartment (mostly), pack and head off for OZ. That's OZ as in Australia, not the HBO series about pound you in the ass rape.

We stopped by San Francisco General Hospital to visit Benelli Dave who got creamed by a car on his Benelli single. He's doing okay, but his leg is a broken mess. We gave him a wedgie since there's nothing he could do, crippled bastard. I'm sure he'll get me back later.

We waited at the IHOP by the airport for Don who bought a jelly mold motorcycle tank from me, but he never showed. Then off to the airport where I realized I still had way too much and had to repack trying to cram all my stuff into a duffle bag, backpack and banjo case. I left some stuff behind, but hey, with my super half-assed way of leaving for this trip, that was to be expected. And the leather pants weren't for me but I had barely enough room for the leather jacket.

The guy sitting next to me on the plane spilled hot coffee on me. He seemed surprised that it didn't bother me. I had other things to be worried about besides mild burns. Not even my blood snot bothered me. I had blood snot for a couple days (probably from the dust of moving all my stuff and only drinking beer, rum and coffee) and the 14 hour flight wasn't great for it.

I wrote on my customs card that I'd been convicted of a crime. I didn't think that'd be a problem because Australia was a convict country. I had a lot of epilepsy medication on me and thought that would be the problem, plus my camping gear would be checked to make sure I wasn't smuggling in cane toads and rabbits. Customs didn't care about the pills, but they asked about the crime.

In 1990, Steve Mar, Bill Lonsdale and I were shooting .22 rifles on the wrong side of the street. Steve and I got ticketed for a misdeamenor after the cop joked, "Since they're rioting in LA about Rodney King, I could kill you and no one would ever know". Oh boy, that's always a funny thing to hear from a cop. Australia couldn't care less about "discharging a firearm in a prohibited area" and customs kicked me out at 6:15 am.

I didn't call Ashley Knopke, my ride to the train station, because I told him I'd be in customs until probably 8 am. Jordan, from the Bevelheads mailing list I'm on, unexpectedly picked me up.

Jordan and his wife Barbara live in a really neat house in Sydney. It's the house I'd like to have, if I was more responsible. The furniture was great, the house was great. Beautiful architecture. Huge windows. The house you'd expect to see Martha Stewart in if she wasn't trading cigarettes for head jobs in the pen. Of course, I'd screw up the house by parking motorcycles inside and would scratch the beautiful wood floors by dragging heavy car and motorcycle parts across the living room floor. So no nice house is in my plans.

They (which is Jordan with Barbara's permission) own a roundcase Ducati 750, a Ducati single, BSA Bantam, and a Panther. Most people don't know (and probably don't care) what a Panther is. It's a forward sloped single motorcycle that was really advanced when it was built. After WWII their engineers went elsewhere and they labored on, with the same exact engine, until they went under in the 1950's (I think).

Taking a Panther for this trip was thought about but rejected. I also thought about a BSA 350cc, a Yamaha SR500, a Honda XL350cc, a Matchless 650cc twin with a sidecar (back when I was going to try this trip with a redheaded girl that I loved), and a Vincent Comet (that's their single cylinder bike, and I know that a redheaded girl needs a 52 Vincent but the money problem cancelled that before the heartbreak problem). Barbara told Jordan he should buy a Vincent Comet before she found out how much they go for. And the Comet is the "cheap" Vincent. He can still get one, but he has to sell off his other bikes, and he's not nutty enough to get rid of his Ducs and the Panther (quit laughing at someone wanting a Panther).

Anyway, I get ahold of Ashley around 8 am and he'd been sitting at the airport for 90 minutes. Ouch. That must've sucked. Mark, another motorcycle nut, was going to meet me at the airport too. Jordan emailed Mark that he'd pick me up. I didn't let Mark know in advance about my flight because I had him confused with another Aussie who was going to take this week off and give me a ride up to Berkley Vale and a tour of Mad Max film locations around the Sydney area. Crazy friendly Aussies, I think something is up with them.

Jordan took me to the train station and I went north from Sydney to Wyong. Took a bus to Berkley Vale to Phil Hitchcock's Road and Race (http://roadandrace.com.au/). Phil raced against Mike the Bike Hailwood in the 1970s and oddly enough, didn't win. I think Phil felt sorry for Mike and let him win.

Tamara (one of Phil's lackeys whose name I hope I have right) shuffled me around so I could register the bike in my name. Tamara also has epilepsy and she had good Aussie advice about dealing with it here.

If you don't know, US medical care insurance is very expensive and if you have a pre-existing condition like epilepsy, it goes up even more when you're paying for it yourself. Donna, a friend of mine, married me so I'm covered by her health insurance. Man, that's a relief. I don't have to try to figure out how to buy anti-seizure medication in other countries. I can have it mailed to her and she can mail it to me.

My epilepsy doctor also gave me some sort of creepy drug that I'm supposed to shove up my ass if I think I'm going to have a seizure. I've only had one gran mal, so I don't know if I'd know when I'd have another seizure, but riding around with a package with 2 huge plastic syringes marked "insert rectally" should start up some interesting conversations. I should start wearing assless leather chaps listening to the Village People.

I packed the bike, and headed north around 5pm looking for a camping ground. Camping ground offices close at 5 and I had no luck at the spots I tried. I splurged on some good Thai food and headed north doing exactly what I didn't want to do: unfamiliar bike, unfamiliar roads, unfamiliar driving rules (they ride on the other side of the road from the US and I rarely see turnabouts -- people in California get confused and treat them like stop signs). I looked for a place to camp at night, which I also didn't want to do. The lights on the bike get super dim as 1960s Italian electronics ain't the best. They took Lucas and made it worse. I'm also allergic to something in Australia and my nose is pouring snot which is hard to wipe when you're wearing a motorcycle helmet.

I couldn't see anything and it starts sprinkling rain. And Australia is having a drought. I find a parking lot to camp in. It quits raining, so I pull out just my sleeping bag. It's around 8pm local time, around 2am California time and I'm beat.

First night was in Morsetti, Australia. Luckily it started raining again, so I got out my tent after trying to hide from the rain by pulling my jacket over my face. 50 feet from a major road and 100 yards from train tracks. It's my first night in Australia and I'm happy to be here. That's not meant to sound sarcastic. This country is great.

(note: comments have been closed for this entry)

Posted by DaveSmith at October 19, 2004 03:45 AM

I knew we shoulda packed those chaps. Don't get in a bingle, and watch yer clacker. (Australian slang's hilarious)

Posted by: t. girlfriend at October 19, 2004 09:05 AM

Hey Dave!
I was in a crappy ass mood this morning & your post totally cheered me up. I really admire that you're doing this. And that's not sarcasm either.


Posted by: smiller at October 19, 2004 09:45 AM

I'd *almost* suggest you have the procedure for your 'special' medication tatooed on yourself-- i.e. ("In Case of Emergency..."), but that could possibly be interpreted incorrectly.

Hey smiller- your linkie no workie...

Posted by: deeann at October 19, 2004 11:24 AM

Dave! Congrats on getting down to the land down under. Do the toilets really swirl the other way when flushed? Don't forget to put out the "need money and pills" sign when you sleep.
Anyway Toecutter, take care! I'll remember you when I look at the night sky. What's next?


Posted by: Alex Z. (or Alex Z.A.) at October 19, 2004 01:28 PM

Dave! Congrats on getting down to the land down under. Do the toilets really swirl the other way when flushed? Don't forget to put out the "need money and pills" sign when you sleep.
Anyway Toecutter, take care! I'll remember you when I look at the night sky. What's next?


Posted by: Alex Z. (or Alex Z.A.) at October 19, 2004 01:29 PM

great first installment! shall I edit a G-rated version for the kidlets' classrooms or do you have that in the works? have a great time, dude...

Posted by: kellye at October 19, 2004 01:37 PM

Special Awwstralia Operating Instructions: Criminal-colony ex-pat told me that nobody can say "Good day" ke-rectly, lest they come from the island. But we figgered out it sounds zactly like if you was sittin' on the bench, and yer buddy's at bat, and he takes a real close pitch on the inside corner, and there's base runners on first and third, full count, close game, and the umpire waits for a second, then yells "Bawl Four!!", and you gotta scream something, so you go "Good Eye" real fast and nervous.
Sounds just like how they say "Hey."
Now they'll never know you're from the other new world...

Posted by: Ashby at October 19, 2004 03:59 PM

Hey Dave,

Sleeping on the side of the road...watch out for those amorous Kangaroos!! Big feet so you know what that means!!!

Farmdog (aka Dennis)

Posted by: farmdog at October 20, 2004 12:40 AM

Last night at Bill's house, we had frito pie and hot dish. It was a dream cometrue.

Posted by: Sarah at October 20, 2004 08:16 AM

I'm hanging out with Australian PhDs in just an hour...and am still trying to craft the perfect "Oh, by the way, can my spastic friend spend the night in your yard?"...On the other hand, I might be able to get you a digbum job (my,my, does that sound wrong out of context)in the outback (still sounds wrong)...Better than washing dishes....Eat a witchetty grub for me...then mail the others to me care of Time Tested Books- Scott won't mind.

Posted by: at October 20, 2004 03:46 PM

Hmmm... digbum in the outback. Yes, that does sound not quite right.

Posted by: deeann at October 20, 2004 03:56 PM

Good work, Monkey Boy!

Posted by: tess at October 20, 2004 04:04 PM

Yer still a douchebag! It's not the same here without you - I no longer have little hairy men barging into my house demanding food. Oh, wait...nevermind.

Posted by: Charlene at October 20, 2004 07:29 PM

I can't believe I actually miss you. Same with Patrone. He says he's shocked by this. Hope your nose quits with the running.

Posted by: ed at October 21, 2004 02:53 PM