January 20, 2005

The sky is falling!

Posted by DaveSmith

You betcha. I get up in a few hours, ride an hour and my lap of Australia is done. Hopefully the oil leaks will be fixed and I'll make it to the motorbike museum.

I'm at Phil Aynley's house. I was at Mark Plummer's house but moved to the north part of Sydney for a spell.

I didn't get this posted last night and I finished the lap today. The oil leaks are still there, and the gear box still can't find 2nd. Phil Hitchcock, his son, and the banjo playing staff guy who's name I can't remember right now, put on a new rear tire, the original tank, cleaned off some of the oil leaks (I hope the way the degreaser stained the engine cleans off too), and replaced a faulty wheel bearing. Phil was going to let it slide, but the blue grass staff guy gave him grief so it got fixed. I picked up some more o-rings from Phil so I'll yank the head off for the 3rd time and fix that oil leak when I get down to Ian Gowanloch's house so he can fix the gearbox. 2nd gear is a handy gear.

Oh yeah, Phil replaced a gasket so one oil leak will hopefully stop. He adjusted the clutch but 2nd still hides. Oh, and after I left, the fuel tap lever fell off. I didn't notice until I got fuel. I have to shut it off with pliers on my Leatherman tool because the carb is screwed up so it floods and fuel pours out onto the ground. I think that's after it floods the cylinder. Which is to say, I think I'll be changing the oil tomorrow because I think it's oil and fuel now.

I'll clean the bike up on Saturday. Want to make a guess where the first oil leak will return? A tappet adjustment cover? The clutch cover? The gasket by the rear sprocket? The bevel shaft? Above or below? So many spots it leaks from. Everybody has a chance!

Instead of reading my Xmas gifts of "The Incredible Lightness of Being" or "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", I read the John Britten biography (motorcycle guy) which is good and interesting. He had an interesting life, but you probably won't care if you don't like bikes or architecture. I'd seen one of the documentaries on Britten where it seemed like he did all the work and design, but the book really shows that Britten is a broadstroke genius. Some great ideas that sometimes needs refinement.

I'll spend another week or so in Sydney before the Phillip Island Classics (vintage motorcycle races) where hopefully I can meet some people I read about in the Britten book. I've got high hopes for Incredible Lightness, but Motorcycle Maintenance has bored me twice so I haven't finished it in the past. I'll save it for Japan.

It's crazy how many offers I've had for places to stay in Sydney. I'm up to two! No, wait. There's Jordan and probably Carlos' house to stay at. That Kyle guy who makes comments doesn't answer my email, so he's lucky -- I won't drink all his beers. He's probably mad because I let the secret out: Yes, Australia is 10 miles wide by 10 miles long. The exact size of Rhode Island. But don't let anyone else know, it's a secret. It took me the better part of an afternoon to do a Lap Round Oz and I've been faking it since.

I'm very behind in my journal. I've posted 2 bits of how I got to Darwin. Mark said something like, "Did you think your dirty face might have influenced people?" Which is true. My constant 5 o'clock shadow, plus a few days worth of bugs and dirt makes me look dark. I think he's got something there. The bugs, the dirt, and walking around in my underwear makes the Aussies think I'm Italian. Then they notice that I don't have nice shoes and realize I'm from that other peninsula -- the Iberian one. Just another Portuguese on an Italian bike.

But since I'll be done with this lap soon, I need to start applying for jobs in Japan and finish writing this nonsense that you skim over at work. I've got a 500 word essay on "Why I would like to live and work in Japan" to do, and I need to talk about the ride from Darwin to the end of Australia. Did I talk about the "I'm not a brutal rapist" guy in here yet? I can't remember if I posted that story or if I just mentioned it in email to people.

Just some hints at what's coming up next: Death defying Pilbarra drinking. The incredibly friendly Porky. A merry Christmas with a friendly family. Looking away from a cute 15 year old girl's high beams. Almost hit by lightening twice while drinking beer with Canadians in a storm. Near death on a dirt road. Oiled up tent. Biting ants. Dying bike while riding at night to meet up with a kinky girl. Junkies in Adelaide. The incredibly friendly Bob Brown. The friendly Georgia and Ian Gowanloch. Talking to my hand while crossing the Nullabor. Last night's crazy dream about an ex-girlfriend that woke me up thinking, "What the hell was that dream about? I'm not the one who spent our 1st anniversary kissing and sleeping on the couch with a boy". Actually, I'll probably leave that one as that. That's a true story and I don't want to hear another well deserved lecture from Doug about my love for girls. Or as he put it, my "co-dependancy" and "self pity". "About the ladies" is what he left out. Oh, and Aussies beating the hell out of the Korean Deaflympics Team (including the 77 year old coach). Plus, Aussie kids trying to kick a kitten to death! One step closer to becoming our 51st State.

Here's some more random pics, minus the eating at Lees Point in Darwin, and the Eating of the Pie for Curt which hasn't been taken yet. I've been given plenty of veggies from Phil Aynsley and his mom. Phil, being a professional photographer, has tried his best at getting me to take a ton of pictures. Hopefully it'll sink in, but I'll probably still end up at taking one picture a week. He showed me today why I shouldn't use digital zoom on my camera while he Photoshopped the pics to make them look better. I didn't say "make the pics look good", that's asking too much.

They're in thumbnail form again, so click on 'em and they'll get bigger. I should fix this so they'll all open in another window but it's late and I'm going to go to bed. They're low quality, just like the others, so they'll load fast. While they load, think of smart ass comments you can make to some goofy guy who rode a 40 year old 250cc round OZ. Feel free to post anonymously.

I spotted this sign of a Koala drinking coke and rum.

So I looked for a koala. I spotted this one in a tree, so I pulled over. It's the only wild koala I've seen, so I was excited. I hollered, "Hey Koala bear, yes, koala bear. We say that in the US and you drugged up bastard can't do anything about it. I'd like to apologize for this antique joke, but I'm on an antique bike. What does Yoda say after he has sex? Next!"

And that, sadly enough, is a true story. The koala also didn't like me yelling, "watcha talkin' 'bout Willis" when he didn't answer. Or maybe he did like it. They're a drugged up species and I didn't have any junkies around to test my monologue on. I started to ask it, "What's brown and sticky?" but it ended up as a mumbled "how do you get a moron to say 'what' " type question. It didn't answer.

The Opera House vs. My Head. Photo by Phil Aynsley (on my beat up camera).

So many bat puns, I don't know where to start. Lucky you. Also in Sydney.

From Esperance to the Nullabor a very long dirt road runs. Riding on a dirt road at night with no lights wasn't a good idea, but it was a lot of fun. More later.

The mighty C-clamp that held my carb float bowl together. The zip tie wasn't enough.

The start of the Nullabor where, to relieve boredom, I had an ongoing conversation with my hand. Are you talking to me? I don't see anyone else.

(this entry is closed for comments)

Posted by DaveSmith at 08:11 PM | Comments (7)

January 10, 2005

The Wild West in the Tropics

Posted by DaveSmith

The pointy bit of Australia on the right side, Cape York, is the Wild West only without guns. If you're wanted by The Man for anything, that'd be a good place to hide. Everything up there is isolated once The Wet starts.

From November to June or July you're trapped. You can get in and out by plane or boat, but you can't drive in. Slowly this is changing but unless there's a gold discovery, it won't be in our lifetimes.

There's two roads into Cooktown. Both are unpaved and about 30 miles (50k) long. I can't remember exactly. The map I have is from 2003 and says 81K (50 miles) but more gets paved each year. There's an easy way and a hard way marked 4 wheel drive only that follows the coast. I took the hard way up. Developers are moving rapidly so Cooktown won't hold out for long and Australia will lose something special.

Sort of how the dotcom boom rippled out from San Francisco making real estate in California rocket. Frisco got too expensive so people moved to places like Sacramento driving up prices. People from Sacramento moved to the Sierra Mountains driving up prices there. Those people moved to Oregon driving up the prices. Oregon sure loves Californians moving up and overpaying for houses that they think they're underpaying on.

Imagine if Oregon and Washington were completely unpaved and undeveloped. Portland would be a small town reachable by two unpaved roads, but the roads are closing in. Everything north of there is The Wild West, but Cooktown is where'd you go to get supplies.

The population in Cooktown is 1,500 and Cairns would be overcrowded, overpriced, California where the population is gathering in mass and looking north.

At somepoint I'm going to return to Cooktown and make my way around Cape York. The road into Cooktown will probably be paved within 5 years which will take out the fun of getting there. Real estate prices are rising.

But roads north will be unpaved through my lifetime and I want to wander out there. Fuck off in the bush. It's like watching as California becomes a giant suburb from Oregon to Mexico. That will happen before Cape York gets paved thanks to Australia having a small population.

Fishing, pulling mangoes and coconuts from the trees, and of course, my diet of bread, pepperoni and cheese. Only when I go back I'll for sure have a cooler, an eski in OZ, so I can have cold beer. I'll need a dirt bike for that. I wonder if I can put an offroad sidecar on a Combat Wombat? Hodaka is the good American motorcycle company from the 1970s.

So I left Cooktown on the easy dirt road that takes you to Laketown. That's when I got back to Cairns and gave up on the tank that cost me 3 weeks. It would've been nice visiting Ayers Rock, but then I would've missed meeting Dimitri. I'm still waiting for an email from him so I can find out what he's been up to. The Wild West with a good internet connection.

I took Developmental 1 from Ravenshoe to Georgetown to Normanton, the spot where the world's larget croc was caught by a girl named Krystina in 1953. I went to Karumba for no reason. I'd been aiming for Normanton and somehow Karumba screamed "Hey Dave!" while staring at the map during the long ride to Normanton. Karumba's a small fishing town, population around 300, on the Gulf of Carpentaria. I didn't stop, just rode through town out by the docks and then back to Normanton. I was hoping to be able to see the beach but didn't find an easy way of getting there. I had to follow the same road out of Karumba back to Normanton. It's nice being isolated like that.

Northern Australia is beautiful, hot and the red iron dirt and dust covers all. The humidity dies away as and dry heat isn't bad.

Out here is where I spent days riding on the single lane roads. Pulling off for cars and road trains. I met a German couple on push bikes riding around Australia. They left Germany, rode across Southeast Asia and made their way into Darwin. I think they were heading to Tasmania, but I'm not sure. I was dumb and didn't get a picture of them. I need to take more pictures. I bought a camcorder before I left and there's about 30 seconds of drunk parrots on it. That's all I've filmed.

I saw a fiery red hot sun going down as a fiery red hot moon rose on the other side. I've never been anywhere flat like that where you could see them both. It was very close to a full moon.

Down to Cloncurry and west to Mt. Isa. It was outside of Isa where I met a cute blonde nurse from New York City. She'd been in Sydney, bought a Toyota Minivan (caravan in OZ) and was heading to Darwin to work ICU at a hospital. I was hoping to run into her at Darwin but didn't know how big Darwin is. No bludgeonings for me this time, so I didn't meet her at work.

I thought about her a lot on the way up there. Trying to figure out a way of making up for the poor first meeting. I was dirty, unshaved, oily and tired. I'm usually more entertaining when I meet someone but not this time. I knew I wouldn't see her again, but it's the same reason people buy lotto tickets. Just the hopes of what might happen.

I spent some time singing bits from the Ramones song "I don't want to be a pinhead no more, I just met a nurse that I could go for" in my high pitched squeely voice. I think my voice is higher pitched than a 12 year old girl, it's in the range that only dogs can hear. I didn't realize how gay I sounded until I saw myself in Trekkies 2. That's "gay" in the "homosexual" way, not "gay" in the pejorative sense. So yeah, no cute blonde nurse for me to hit on.

"Cute blonde nurse" sounds like my wife who've I've always been a gentleman with except for that time when I didn't talk to her for a couple states because I was mad that she wouldn't put jalapeno peppers on a veal pizza that Ashby, another one of my brothers in law, made. I don't know if you've ever ridden or driven long distances, but anyone who has knows what I'm talking about. Little things that you stew about. Mad at Donna, and mad at myself for being mad about something so insipid. It kept me quiet for a state or two though. They were those medium sized states like Alabama or Missouri. So yes, I've never hit on my wife. She's not crazy enough for me.

In case you just joined in, Donna, a friend of mine, married me before I left so I'd have health care. Health care in the US would cost me about $300/month (remember, that's in US dollars). My pre-existing condition, brain death and epilepsy which prompted this round the world trip, might push it to $350/month. Donna's a cute, blonde nurse. Our wedding wasnice. It was held at a Marshmallow Peep eating contest with Marletta, my girlfriend at the time, by my side and Josh, Donna's soon to be boyfriend was there. Josh has a tattoo of the state of Illinois with a corn cob on his leg. So obviously, Josh is the crazy one.

I refueled at Three Ways and gave up completely my thoughts about visiting Ayers Rock but since the exhaust threads that hold in my pipe had stripped, I went north. Bailing wire was keeping it in but I didn't want to risk it. I stopped at Renner Springs for a very much needed beer.

It's hot out there, you know. It'd been several days since I'd taken a shower, so I paid $2 for one. Then I figured, hell, I might as well pay the $4 to camp there. I bought a 6 pack which the waitress kept in the fridge for me. I had to drink it outside in the shade since somehow it's illegal if I could've enjoyed the air conditioning. Drinking inside cost an extra $2 a beer. I met a couple of Brits and read a good sized chunk of Catch 22.

North, I went. Looking at the lizards, the skinny cows that were trying to kill me, and pulling over to retighten the exhaust nut and figure out different ways to get bailing wire to hold in the pipe while being covered with flies. I kept seeing the Brits again. They slowed once when they passed as I was working on my bike, but I waved them on.

I made it to Katherine and was greeted with the traditional Aboriginal greeting of "got a ciggie?". It's like being at a punk rock show only Americans tend to say "smoke" instead of "ciggie".

I've heard from lots of warnings from Australians that the Aboriginals like sniffing fuel and how they'd steal it when the bike wasn't guarded. Along with descriptions about how the full blood Aboriginals are great people, but once they've been mixed with white, they turn into criminals.

Silly me, I've been talking to them whenever I'm in a small town. They're in all the shady parts and, just like the Aussies of European descent, have been really friendly.

All Aussies are super friendly at least for the brief length of time I'm around. I've heard the warnings, and usually from the same person, "Oh yeah, Aussies are a racist bunch" in a friendly way.

I've had a couple of weird comments about my "dark complexion". It went over my head the first time. I'm a slow learner but the second comment caught on.

I'm not pasty white but I'm not dark. I don't even look like I have a tan most of the time. I spent time trying to figure it out while riding in the outback but couldn't make sense of it. I'm half Portuguese -- Pot o' Grease -- and half hill-billy. My mom is Portuguese and my dad's from the Appalachian foothills of Kentucky. Just standard hillbilly -- German, English, Irish whatever is crawling around them there hills and hollers playing banjo and making moonshine.

Don't worry, it's no Deliverance -- the Ohio River running through Southshore, Kentucky isn't going to make anyone squeal like a pig. Hillbillies save the buggery for the Ozarks, I reckon. I've never thought about the skin complexion of the Portuguese being dark, but luckily it's been pointed out a couple times by friendly Aussies. That's a not sarcastic friendly Aussies. If they had the KKK here, I'm sure they'd take the Aborigine to dinner and say, "Sorry mate, hate to be a bother but I have to burn this cross on your lawn".

So all this, plus bailing wire, got me to Darwin.

Posted by DaveSmith at 03:36 AM | Comments (9)

January 06, 2005

The Map, as of yet

Posted by DaveSmith

Thankfully, with a bit of swiping from the lovely folks at Lonely Planet, here's the map so far.

If you want to add your name to the email list, you'll get an email when I update. I promise on Stan Lee's grave that I won't give your email out. Excelsior!

Yes, as much as I poke fun of my "heavy drinking", this has been a mostly, and quite sadly, alcohol free trip. I just can't afford to drink. My biggest expense is fuel, then oil as I change it every 1,000 miles, then way down on the list is food. Shipping my bike will be a lot. About $1,000 USD from Melbourne to Christchurch including fees, NZ registration and insurance. I think I'll run out of money in NZ and I'll live off credit cards while I find a job in Japan or Korea teaching English.

But at least I can Australia to the list of countries I've ridden drunk in. That makes two.

The toy run I went on in Port Hedland was basically a pub crawl. I wasn't drunk -- I was sticking to beer -- but the cut-off in OZ is .05% which gets you a warning in the US, I think. I had enough VBs though to switch back to looking right, not left, when leaving a parking lot. I didn't see the car that almost hit me, but 3 other guys on motorcycles said they thought I was going to be hit for sure. Then Porky, or maybe it was Chook, bought me another beer. Porky was very good to me out in the Pilbarra.

My fault. I should've only been drinking Everclear or Bacardi 151 so I would've been invincible again. No, no, I'm kidding -- it wasn't a drunken biker thing.

Okay, here's the map. The parts in red are the unpaved roads. About 80k (50 miles) around Cooktown and a bit more going from Esperance to the Nullabor (Latin for no trees, land of a 90 mile straight road). That last section was the part that got my adrenaline flowing, but I'll wait until I catch up on posts for that story.

I never thought I'd say something like, "I'm just glad to be alive and to celebrate life" either. And I suppose a head wacking ago, I wouldn't have. No wait, I was blowing that off again until I had the seizure from the 4 hemotomas from the noggin' wackin'. I'm a slow learner and it took several "well, that should've killed me" experiences until I figured you really need to get off your ass instead of planning on getting off your ass. I'd always wanted to see the world but stuff that I want to do, I shut up about. I feel I'll jinx it if I talk about it. Until I read someone's story about how it was a good idea, when you want to go round the world, to tell people about it. That way it makes it way harder to back out of it. So I did, and I'm making the attempt.

I've got friends with cancer. A friend who had his nuts chopped off from cancer. A friend's dad who's dying of a brain tumor. I've met people with cancer on this trip on the East and West Coasts. A bald architect's wife who I hope is doing okay. I stayed Christmas at a house where the mom of 5 kids died of cancer -- which isn't the traditional Aussie way of celebrating Easter. Their grandmother is bald from the chemo/radiation treatment that she's going through. I've been trying to write in my head a long "People Who Died" post but it's proven to be a pain in the ass. Or in Australia, a bloody pain in the fuckin' ass. Or in England, a sticky wicket.

Anyway, I've mostly stuck to the road that circles Australia. I've read that they finished paving it all right before the Sydney Olympics. Some parts are 4 lanes in both directions, some parts are 1 single lane that the traffic shares.

(this entry is closed for commenting)

Posted by DaveSmith at 02:03 AM | Comments (9)

January 04, 2005

New Years Update

Posted by DaveSmith

Alright, Happy New Year folks!

I was in Perth when the tsunamis struck. I'm not sure what time they hit, but I was swimming in the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day (Dec. 26). It's major news here, but keeping up with news while traveling is hard. I was glued in front of the teevee when I made it to Melbourne.

I'm in Melbourne right now and I'll try to catch up on the missed posts and adventures while I'm drinking VB beer and listening to The Saints (probably the best Aussie punk band after Birthday Party). I'm staying at a friend's house, Anna, who's not motorcycle minded but has a large book collection. Still, there's no way I'm going to read any of her Ayn Rand collection. She's got "And The Ass Saw the Angel" by Nick Cave (he's in Birthday Party), and since he was born in Melbourne it'd make it fitting to read it here. I think as a musician junky writer he's probably sharing a couch with Jim Carroll calling up Tommy Ramone and singing "It's the end of the Ramones" by the Mr. T Experience. Not that Tommy is a junky and a writer like those other two. Although Nick Cave has quit heroin (I think) and I don't know what happened to Jim Carroll.

I'll be in Melbourne until next week, then to Sydney and up to Phil's shop to complete my lap around Australia. Then over to Phillips Island at the end of January for the vintage bike races. My bike gets shipped to New Zealand Feb. 2 and I show up in Christchurch on Feb. 18.

I'll answer some questions from emails and posts and try to catch up on the journal. It's weird editing Darwin when I've almost circled Australia.


Why am I doing this? That brings up the antique joke, why does a dog lick his balls? Because he can.


I believe prostitution is legal in all the Australian states. I haven't visited any hookers but Anna and I drove by some street walkers a couple days ago. She said that ain't allowed but it happens anyway just like in the US. They didn't look, or dress like hookers, but one looked like Edith Massey.

Edith is in John Waters movies. The Egg Lady from Polyester. If I had balls, I would've gotten a blow job from The Egg Lady but seeing a hooker ain't for me and I had sarcastic sex once before so I don't need to try that again. Even strip bars make me feel uncomfortable and I tend to laugh when a girl tries to do some sexy lingerie thing in front of me (which doesn't help). Damn this Catholic upbringing.... Too bad the head beating didn't knock my sexual sense around. I've read about that happening to people. I could be out paying The Egg Lady, but that would interfere with Jenny No 2's warning about eating roadkill. Insert drumroll here.


The distances in Australia are long, about the size of Rhode Island between people. Americans are always referring to distances with the size of Rhode Island. I've never been to Rhode Island and I have fuck all of an idea about how big or small it is. So why I can't think of a good way of saying how remote places are, Ian in Benleigh (near Brisbane) complained about the heavy traffic when there were 8 cars on the road. Does that help?

I think the population of the entire country is as much as LA. 20 million people in OZ. Isn't that Southern California after passing the Grapevine? 85% of the Aussie population lives in the cities which is basically Sydney, Mackay/Townsville, Cairns, Darwin, Perth, and Melbourne. I might have over-estimated some of that. Should Mackay count? Adelaide is around 40,000 people and it's considered a large city here and I didn't count that.

The East Coast of Australia is wet rain forest. After going east of Cairns it got to be Mad Max. Nothing until Katherine then nothing until Darwin. You have to go back to Katherine to leave Darwin and then towns are isolated until Perth. From Perth south then east towards Adelaide towns are close. Some bits of an hour long ride between them but not days apart.


One of the main reasons why Americans aren't liked is because we don't care that we aren't liked. Can you see the pattern here? If you haven't been in the US, you don't know that the teevee news is Britney has a boob job, the war in Iraq is going great, and the death of all Americans because if you freeze-framed your teevee you can almost make out that Janet Jackson has a nipple. The newspapers tell you a bit more because stuff like 150,000 dead in tsunamis gets used as filler in the back pages over by the bit about how many dead local soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Okay, the tsunamis were major news but it's probably getting less attention then Janet Jackson's nipple.


Monkey Mia is a place I went to because the name has "monkey" in it. It's also a place where dolphins swim up to the beach to mooch food from people. Those damned dolphins should get a job instead of acting like a public idiot waiting for donations. Thanks, by the way, for the Xmas donations. That was enough to pay my plane ticket to New Zealand. $99 for the ticket and with fees $191. I haven't gotten my entry visa yet, so it'll be going up.


A roadtrain is like a giant semi. Instead of 18 wheelers, they're 20 wheelers -- shit, maybe they're 22 wheels. I think the cut-off size is 53.5 meters long so 175.5 feet (58.5 yards) although they seem to cheat. Usually 3 large trailers behind them, although I saw several with 1 short trailer and 3 large trailers. Pretty fuckin' big and when you're out in the Outback on one lane roads you need to pull off to let them pass. If they have to swerve and hit the gravel on one side, it'd bring up a wall of rocks.

That's one lane as in literally one lane, not a lane on each size. That's on the only paved road that circles Australia. I don't think there's any roads that cross east-west and there's one that goes north-south. So if the USA had a population of 20 million, I-80 would be one lane through Nevada until Nebraska. It'd widen up to two lanes at Salt Lake City but would be back to one lane on the edge of town.


Back to the stuff I'd written on the road.

After the possible sleeping seizure I make it to Fitzroy Crossing. I check a post on Adventure Rider and Frank Warner says to check out Geikei Gorge. My map is on the bike so I ask a waitress. The answer, "Hang a right at the Shell servo and it's 18K down bitumen road". Can't get much easier than that. I thought it would be days away.

It's a nice spot so I camped. Probably illegally but I don't think I was in the National Park. I sat and watched wallabys, kangaroos, wild sow with some young'uns, cattle and heard the howling of dingos.

A guy pulled up to let his dogs run around the river. River, they call it, but it's mostly sandbanks before The Wet. After the rain starts it'll flood all over the place. He told me how his dog caught a 4 foot goanna (monitor lizard) yesterday.

So, I'll pretend you just asked, what do you do at night when you're
camping in the outback? Well today is December 5 and I left Darwin
today. I have a horrible itchy rash. It's not as bad as having
scabies though. I've been living off my Trip Diet of beers, bread,
pepperoni, cheese and chicken. But I tried somehing different "Majans
CrackerMix". I think there's something in there that doesn't like me.
That sucks as I still have some left and the only other food I
have is white bread. Dinner tonight shall be mooshed Wonder White
bread and a One A Day vitamin. It's not as bad as the American Wonder
bread. I can't squish the entire package to be smaller than my
fist like you can in the states.

When I got to Darwin on a Thursday and had to figure out how to fix my
newest bike problem. The exhaust flange introduced himself to me as
Mr. Stripped. Frank says he knows him well but don't offer him a beer or he'll never leave.

It's about 95F/40C while raining for a bit. It doesn't cool down, just makes it even more humid. I get three recommendations for John Ottley Engineering. With 2 people, including a motorcycle mechanic as the Yamaha, Harley, Ducati dealer saying, "he's expensive, he's slow but he's the best". John's a machinist who works out of his home. I swing by and he says the head would have to come out, and he's not sure he has the tool for something that size. He says he can do some bushwork to it that should last forever. Either way, come back first thing on Friday.

He's got a '63 Ford F350 with a 460 that looks pretty nice. He's building a 5th wheeler for it. He's also got a Goldwing with a trailer that he and his wife take off on leaving for 6 to 8 weeks at a time. Luckily I caught him at home. He has some framed pictures of a Holden hotrod he built that was voted best in state twice in a row. It looked pretty nice but he sold it so I couldn't see it.

John tells me a good spot to camp at Lees Point. It's a "no camping" place at the beach. but small motorcycles hide easily. I think I have "cheapskate" tattoed on my forehead because that's how I like camping. I figure if I skip out of the paid campgrounds then I can buy an occasional beer. Every few days though, I need to ge one just for the shower and a shave.

I get bread, beers, Dutch Pepporoni and Dutch Blue Cheese which I eat on the beach as the sun sets. And Guy, I have a picture for you which will be posted soon. Check out Guy's Meathenge site.

I show up at 8:30 and John starts to work. He hands me a sheet of copper, a tap and puts me to work making a new exhaust gasket. He cuts a little of the exhaust flange to so it'd reach a couple of threads that weren't stripped, and he makes a holder that keeps the header pipe shoved in. Then he takes away the gasket I'm fumbling with and finishes it off in a sander. A bit of work and everything is fine. There's no charge and he invites me over the next afternoon to go on the 2004 Darwin Toy & Tucker Run. And he points me off for a motorcycle wrecker so I can replace my mirror. I think I'll do a post about what's broken so far.

I got a mirror and went to the Aviation Heritage Center. The area between Katherine and Darwin was the site of the biggest base in the Southern Hemisphere during WWII. I've been stoping by abandoned bases the entire ride up.

Darwin and Katherine were bombed by the Japanese 64 times in 1942 & 43. During the first bomb attack Feb 19, 188 Japanese planes came in. One of the quotes at the Center was from a Japanese pilot. He said something like, "we felt bad attacking Darwin because there were so many civilians around -- it wasn't a purely military target like Pearl Harbor was".

There were a few USAAF planes around when this happened. Not to dumb this down but that's United States Army Air Force before the Air Force became its own service. So Kittyhawk planes in the area which went on the defense and were shot to pieces. It was American pilots with no combat experience going into a fight with combat forces. Plus they
were flying out of date planes rejected by England. The first American pilot to be shot down (Lt Col Peres, I think) died and crashed at the closest intersection to where John Ottley lives.

The next day I wander around some more and park myself in front of a computer checking email. My dad might have had a small stroke. Or maybe he just pinched a nerve. Tests are needed. I try to find out how much it'll cost to get my bike to New Zealand. I spend the day sending emails to places asking. I've done this before in Brisbane and didn't get any responses.

I show up and go to the toy run without a toy. Man, that's slimey, I
meant to get something but ran out of time (out sending emails), so I
kicked in $10 for a charity badge. I figure since John didn't charge
me, I should pay something even though I'm on a tight budget. Still
feel like a deadbeat though.

John likes to ride up at the front which isn't where I'd like be especially as I'm just visiting. I had a tv camera crew on me because of the old bike, and since it was organized by the Ulysses Club, they're the ones who should be filmed. Not some visiting kook with a hole in his head. The cap from my air filter falls off on the ride and gets run over by another motorcyclist. Hopefully that's on film.

I was wearing the shirt with the girl's face on it. It's a good shirt that came with my apartment. Left behind by the old tenants Cary and Mary. It's a face from a friend of Mary's so now she's internationally famous. Everyone thinks she's someone famous anyway but they just can't place the face. People have asked about it in the US and in Australia and insist they've seen it before.

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Posted by DaveSmith at 04:56 PM | Comments (9)