December 18, 2004

Coconuts and Krauts. OR, 90 Years of Dead Gay Brit Adventures.

Posted by DaveSmith

Leaving Cairns and heading to Cooktown.

I'm in Perth now, trying to catch up with old posts. The last one was a month old after a brief period of being homesick. The homesickness ended weeks ago, pretty much after I typed up that post.

I asked myself, "what would I be doing in Sacramento right now" which would be something that rhymes with "Jack Shit". That and typing it up, ended the girlcrazy homesickness. Plus, I have new goals. It's always good to have crazy goals and I didn't know what to do after riding round the world.

I think that after working a year in Japan, that should pay for Southeast Asia to India to Europe. I'll probably ship my bike to the US East Coast from Morrocco and ride back through the US. Stop by Milwaukee to give a wedgie to someone who needs one. Then down to the Appalachian foothills of Kentucky to drink some 'shine with Pop, my grandfather. Maybe by then I'll have learned how to play banjo, but I doubt it.

Then, I'll work myself to death again. Mooch from Doug and learn how to work on Brit bikes up in Oregon. Get a Vincent Comet and follow the path of TE Shaw aka TE Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia. Start from where he grew up, visit Oxford, French castles and then the Middle East. Sure, I should be on a Brough Superior but there's no way I can afford that. Unless someone wants to lend me one? I'm sure most of you have a spair one sitting in your basement. It's odd that a Vincent would be the cheaper bike.

And later, at some point, I'll tour South and Central America on a pre-war Norton single where I hope to see people having sex with dolphins. Or were they masturbating them? I can't remember. It's been a while since I've read The Motorcycle Diaries. I didn't remember that part from when I read the book, but the Rev. Jerme Dean reminded me of it and it's stuck in my head since then. Whenever I see a picture of Che, I think of people having sex with dolphins which always makes me laugh. I'm laughing now thinking of me thinking of people having sex with dolphins. I'm not stealing the idea of traveling the Americas on a pre-war Norton from the movie, I'm simply plagiarizing it from the book.

So Samueljohn, please fill me in on what you've done to your Comet. It's years from happening but it'll give me something to think about when I'm riding. Oh, and if anyone has something they want me to think about for hours on end, let me know.

I'm in Perth for a bit waiting to get my bike fixed, so I should catch up on the old posts. I'm staying at a great house with Tony and his five kids: Kellie, Kirsty, Mitchell, Emma and Ashley. One boy, four girls. Sixteen to eight. Liz, their mother, died of cancer Easter this year. I wish I would've met her.

Bike at the Coral Sea in Daintree or maybe Cape Trib.

Okay, so I left Cairns went up to Cape Tribulation and Daintree and met a crazy German....


I stop in Cape Tribulation and wander the hot beach in black riding pants with boots. Follow the signs to the look-out point where a young American couple ask me to take their picture with their camera. Still missing a girl of my own to be poking and prodding, I need to be in motion again, so I head towards my motorcycle. I've got days to kill waiting for 2 shipments of medication and my tank to arrive at Pat's house. I'd like to go to Cooktown but it's many kays of unpaved road that gives a 4-wheel drive warning. My bike has been anything but reliable so I'll stick to paved roads. Although I've only pushed it once so I'm tempted.

I can hear another thumper (single cylinder engine) starting and I think, "Damn, I missed the person who I could've started a conversation with". But he hasn't left and he sees me walking up so he stops his engine and says hi.

His name is Dimitri and he's on a Honda XL400. A German with a Greek name who bought a motorcycle to travel on. He wants to sell it, buy a horse, and travel on horseback -- eventually taking the horse to Southeast Asia then ride back to Germany. He hops off and we wander the beach together as he tells me this. He's still figuring out his plans and I'm just wandering.

Dimitri wants a coconut so we throw rocks at some in a tree but can't hit any because we're both bad shots. He tries to climb a couple trees but coconut trees are hard to climb, so we decide to make pasta with pesto sauce using a bit of water from the Coral Sea for the salt. He continues with his story.

Dimitri climbing a coconut tree.

Dimitri wants to go to Cooktown to a place called The Pointhouse. He was told there is a girl named Linda who works there who could help him find a horse and someone to teach him to live off the bush. He's ridden out from Darwin sticking to unpaved roads and asking people how to live off the land. There are no boy scouts in Germany so he wants to learn here. Hopefully he can buy a horse, learn to live off the land and travel Australia. Then go north to Southeast Asia with his horse and ride over to Germany with his newfound bush skills.

He asks if I'd want to go to Cooktown and I said sure. I wasn't sure if my bike would make it but I'd give it the old college try. While we eat, Dimitri whittles an arrow and says he's been a vegetarian but if he can kill his own meat he'd eat that. He attaches an arrow tip and throws his arrow at a bird. He missed. He wasn't planning on hitting the bird which was good because we're in a national park and if he killed a park bird in front of the other tourists Bad Things would probably happen.

We asked a ranger about the road to Cooktown and he said it just had a leveler go over it and it was in good shape. With nary a thought to my bleeding bike, we left.

I've ridden off road once before but that was on a dirt bike with knobby tires. An hour of fun in Colorado with Jay Wright at Bare Bones Racing. I bought a parts Duc single from Jay and he took me out on an 85cc bike. Better to learn how to ride on a small bike where you can't just power your way through the rough spots. If Old Man Foster didn't ditch me to hang out with Susie in Denver, he could've done the same thing gasping for air in the high altitude. Now I'll try many kilometers on an old bike with skinny street tires. This should be fun. It's just unpaved gravel so I figure the 4 wheel warning sign is just some useless government warning. Australia seems like the US in useless government blather.

We have to cross a creek over rocks. I stop and watch Dimitri go first. He bounces a lot and makes it. He tells me if I think I'm in trouble to give it throttle and hope (which is the Golden Rule of riding motorbikes). I go through bouncing off the rocks and I'm damned glad Phil put heavy duty spokes on the bike. A good idea that never occurred to me. I loosen the steering dampner a lot.

We ride a few more km and I'm trying to climb a hill (they call a mountain) at wide open throttle in first but it's too steep and the bike dies. Pretty close to a run off that Dimitri and I try pushing the bike to as it's flat. We get close but the road is gravel and we can't get traction so we stop. Even with the front brake on the bike slides backwards a bit. I'm about to try starting it and pushing it while running it in first but a truck comes up and 2 guys hop out to give us a hand.

When they stopped the truck, it slid back a bit too. So they moved it to the flat spot we were close too and came over to help. All four of us pushed the bike up. They said there's a few more climbs this steep so good luck. Lucky for them they had beers. Had a breather and got the bike running flat out on the flat part. Hit the hill with some speed and made it to the top.

After that I kept my speed up and didn't have any problems with the steep mountains. At the top of one I hit my first patch of bull dust. The bike slid all over but I didn't drop it. Bull dust is really thin dust that is horrible to ride through. Much worse than sand. Dimitri said it wasn't a bad section of bull dust and that he's dropped his bike a few times hitting much deeper sections.

We ride and Dimitri crosses another creek stream. Almost for me. I made it about 3/4 of the way and stall the bike while bouncing off giant rocks again. Probably should've gassed it but screwed up and didn't. Pushed the bike to the other side and it wouldn't start. But we're at a neat spot to camp so we stayed there. Put the tents up under the sign that says "No Camping".

I open up the points and condenser cap and pour water out. I wonder if that's what killed it. I'll have to post to Adventure Rider under the old bike section and find out what's going on.

Dimitri said he came out with a girl named Carmen to ride horses with. The place they were supposed to work at went under before they got there, so they hitch-hiked up from Alice Springs to Darwin to look for used motorcycles. Carmen is short and couldn't find any used bikes she felt comfortable on. She told Dimitri that she'd ride down to Cairns with another German they met in Darwin.

Dimitri got to Cairns (taking unpaved roads most of the way) and got email from Carmen that said she was in love with the other German. Dimitri said Carmen had a troubled life and he waited for Carmen while she had another boyfriend. They broke up and she wanted to go to Australia so Dimitri came along hoping to win Carmen over.

Now that he was rejected he was going to do his own thing. Find a horse, learn to live off the land, and travel. Someone in Cairns told him to ask Linda at the Powerhouse in Cooktown to find out how.

We made it to Cooktown the next day and stopped at the Powerhouse. There's no Linda that works there but they figured out that he wanted the Linda that works at The Crock Shop. We go to the Crock Shop and Linda says she doesn't know and to try asking Ray and Ivan who have another house up north. She said they were leaving north soon. Linda didn't know the address so Dimitri asked a few neighbors to find Ray and Ivan's house.

They weren't home but a friend said they'd be back soon so we waited. Ray and Linda didn't know where to get a horse and didn't know of any Aboriginies wanting to teach people how to live off the land. But they offered to give Dimitri a job. They hired an American girl with a small kid last year that drove up there in a truck with no shocks. She was supposed to make it back up this year. You get north in November and The Wet keeps you in until June or July. Unless you pay the mailman to fly you out in his plane, you can't get out. The roads are impassible.

Dimitri and I camp out near Cooktown on the beach of the Coral Sea. He's eaten alive by sandflies, biting ants, mosquitos (mozzies in OZ), and a huge centipede. He took 90% of the punishment and I got off easy. Maybe my cherry red sunburn kept them away from me. I think on Christmas, I'll get sunburned and ride a boat so I get seasick. I don't know if I can get seasick, but being red and green for Christmas would be nice. I tried to dye myself blue for a bus ride to Chicago, but that was 16 years ago and it's a different story all together.

He's trying to figure out what to do. He's got another friend named Catherine who's coming out from Germany. I think he should get together with her. If he wasn't 23, and I assume she's the same age, I would've stuck around to meet her. Dimitri wasn't sure if he'd meet up with her. He's getting his mom, a professional photographer, to send him a camera from Germany so he's staying in Cooktown. He's also waiting to meet up with an Elder Aborigine who might teach him, but the old guy (he's 40!) might be too busy. I'm running low on pills and I need to get to Pat's house in Edmonton to check on pills and my tank.

(this entry has been closed for comments)

Posted by DaveSmith at December 18, 2004 03:23 AM

> He's ridden out from Darwin sticking to unpaved
> roads and asking people how to live off the land.
> There are no boy scouts in Germany so he wants to
> learn here.

Th' Germans used to have boy scouts--they was called Hitler Jugend, or Hitler Youth. I think Dimitri was born about 65 years too late.

Posted by: the_jeffrey_tambor at December 18, 2004 11:29 PM

Re: T.E. Lawrence

You also need to visit Camp Bovington, about three hours from London via choo choo train. Lawrence was last stationed there in the Tank Corps under the name of "Private Shaw." He crashed his Brough there in '35 and that's where they buried him--the Royal Tank Museum has a Brough Superior on display, along with relics from his Arabian campaign. You need to see that (and all the nifty, rare Natzee panzers, of course)...

Posted by: the_jeffrey_tambor at December 18, 2004 11:47 PM

Dave....when do you fly out to New Zealand? Alex and I go Dec 27th for 4 weeks. See you in Christchurch maybe???

Good to read what you have been up to. Look after yourself.

Posted by: Brendan at December 19, 2004 01:36 AM

Okay Slim, that is a journey. Be careful of the undercarriage on the rocks, don't want to crack a casing. I am still fond of the theme of heart-broken men reeling around the outback, looking for fulfillment. Watch out! Remember "Treasure of Sierra Madre". Some friends they were.
If New Zealand is next, I will watch the entire Lord of the Rings just for the landscape, so I can picture you.
Happy Christmas, my man, and I think Japan could take a year alone. Even if you are working.

Posted by: samueljohn at December 20, 2004 05:07 PM


You could try this guy for bike shipping to NZ. If he can't do it for you for the right price, he may be able to point you in the right direction.
I'll be in NZ with 2 friends from 30/12 to 17/1. If you're back in Sydney, send through an email.


Posted by: Sharon at December 22, 2004 03:04 AM

Okay Lil Davey,
X-mas is almost here. This year I'm giving you $$$ so you don't sell my priceless gifts on ebay. Ben & Ashby are here AND Mom and Dad got Tivo (how sad are you?). Cary, Kellye, & I will toast you at midnight . Please do the same, cause the family that drinks together, stays together! See you sometime...

Posted by: Gina at December 22, 2004 11:00 PM