A Lot Has Happened Since I Wrote Last Year

[Original post by Elliot Mogerman] – January 12, 2010 –

First, ramblings:

Finished Mike’s mom’s book “The Dark Moon” by John Sandford. And it took all day but I found and purchased a copy of the book Tamir recommended. In Australia it is called “Down Under” instead of “Sunburned Country.” Forgot to mention on the last blog about the bus hitting a kangaroo on the way back. People were either cheering or sad. The dinner also had like 10 salads and sausages with champagne. Mike and I were of course the loudest and the life of the group. Today we rode almost 12 hours and 1200 km. I think that’s a record. Tomorrow we should have a quick 3 hour ride to Darwin.

Okay, now for the gossip:

After two weeks and some notes I am finally writing through a year past, and sorry about the delay but it was the holidays. Saw our first live dingo. Basically it is just a wild dog but it is indigenous to Australia, like every other creature we have come across. We have also been noticing these very large trucks called road trains. In Australia, maybe because of the outback or bush, they do not have such a large network of railways. However, they learned to attach 4 to five semi trucks loads on to one combining and creating a very large and dangerous hazard if it’s windy outside or curvy roads. We passed a national park that was under fire and experienced my first ride through a small forest fire. It was more controlled than it first looked, but the air was full of black smoke and the smell of burning wood. The trees here, really love to burn, and I was actually told there is a tree that thrives in fire and uses it as a way to grow. In Darwin, we stayed at a hostel, played in the rain, and got me a new tire. We were one hour outside of Darwin and at a gas stop a man pointed out my rear tire. It was down to the metal threading and confirmed Oz roads love to eat tires. Fortunately, my bike made it to Darwin so the next day I could find a replacement tire, and also borrow a shop space to do our own oil changes. That night, we drank at a bar advertising tits out Tuesday, which seemed curious. It was a pretty normal club with two dancers on stage all night. Went to dinner next door at the bloated pig or something like that and ate an 18 hour cooked steak. Not bad.

A cyclone was in our fortunes in the northern territory so Mike and I decided to leave the next day. We parted for a little vacation, and also I was meeting a friend in Melbourne for new years. If I went west to Perth with mike, I would not have made it in time to meet my friend from Japan. So we said our farewells, and I headed south down Stuart highway, and Mike headed west. Both got caught in storms. The clouds were traveling on different levels and in different directions. In the outback here, there are huge termite mounds larger than me. Mike took a picture of one at least 15 feet tall. When I came back through Alice Springs I stayed at a hostel which used to be an old outdoor theater. So at night, they play an old film for every one if you are interested to watch under the stars. As I was riding I met other bikers on the long stretch of straight tarmac and stopped for some beers and stayed at old historic pub/hotels with them. I also saw wild emus walking in packs and they looked delicious. Yummy, barbequed emus on pizza. I still like Kangaroo better.

Next town was Coober Pedy, a big opal mining town. Had some fantastic pizza and camped out in the heat for a night. Then I got pulled over the next day for speeding through the salt covered dry lakes and was let loose with a warning. Had a nice ride through Claire and Barossa valley wine country to Adelaide. A guy from Holland I met in the Alice springs hostel was also at this one. So we hung out, went shopping, did a wine tour, and enjoyed Christmas eve with some other travelers. On the tour, I saw my first Albino wallaby. Wallabies are similar to Kangaroos, just a little smaller and I think darker colored. Since my complexion is so light, I could sympathize with the small little guys. I met a new friend on Christmas eve night while the Dutch guy and I were out. We went to one of the many beaches and enjoyed a relaxing day in the sun. Then, teaching her how to drive on her learners permit, I avoided having a heart attack and we made it to the German section area of Handorf. Here we ate some huge German sampler meals and went into a food coma.

Leaving Adelaide and heading to Melbourne was a fantastic ride. The weather was in the 70’s and the views were spectacular. I stopped for a coffee to avoid some minor drowsiness and talked with an older BMW riding couple. They warned me about Victoria’s horrible police and to watch my speed. So within 5 minutes of entering Victoria I was pulled over for doing the equivalent of 5 mph over the limit and got a ticket. This cop was fishing for anything to write me up and was not the nicest about it either. First asked me where I’m from and then questioned me about my legality of driving in Australia. I showed him my international driving license. Then he interrogated me about if my bike was registered to be in Australia. I showed him the paperwork to prove it was. After 15 minutes of going through my paperwork, he was smug about catching me for driving with no insurance. Whala! I showed him recently printed copies of insurance we procured while in Sydney. Additionally, after another 10 minutes while he was in the car and I was outside in the sun, he came out and told me I was doing 10 km over the posted speed which I know I was slowing down around the posted sign and there was no winning with this guy. So he gave me the ticket which isn’t payable until I am supposed to leave Australia, I watched him leave, and threw out the fine.

Made it to Melbourne a criminal, and saw my old Dutch friend Gewrin. Which sounds like Kevin, but put a Jewish “CH” gargly sound on the K and you’ve got it. We teamed up with an Austria guy and went to china town for some tepanyaki. The manager liked my stories of riding a bike, and gave us a free round of beer to start our evening. Too bad the employees were not as friendly. New years eve came and so did my friend. We went out to a nice dinner on the harbor and watched an early fireworks show. Then back at the accommodation we watched another rooftop fireworks show. The weather was cold, windy and rainy. Almost didn’t get to see any fireworks show, but the Aussies are dedicated enough to be patient and make it happen. Next day walked around the nice parks in Melbourne. And then took a bus tour to the Great Ocean road where some of the most wonderful views of London Bridge, Loch and gorge, and the 12 apostles lie. The Aussies recognize if you put some cool names on stuff, tourists will come from all over, and they do. Visited an event at Queen Elizabeth Market similar to the Scottsdale culinary festival. Not sure how authentic it was, but I ate African food. Then I met a Mexican, the second one in Australia. And he brought his own salsa. We were riding a tram with a German, following Australian’s advice, without a ticket. Well the Victoria tram police came on board and hunted us down. They are best described as the KKK of police. We were forced off the tram (which is a freaking bus) and began there yelling and finger pointing. I told them my friend doesn’t speak English and within 30 seconds they had a Spanish translator on the phone. The fines were in the area of $200 for not paying a $2 ticket. They wanted names, were we were staying, etc. If we did not let them verify where we were staying they said the police would arrest us and take us to jail. So I used a fake name of someone I knew staying at the hostel, and they called to verify if I was staying there. I didn’t have my ID because we were at the beach. They said if I don’t pay they will call immigration and not let me leave or come back to the country. They were sending all my fine info back to the hostel and I needed to follow up with them to pay it. So now I’m wanted on two counts of breaking the law in Victoria.

My favorite jean’s pockets were both ripped and unusable but I found a tailor to replace them and now I have my jeans again. Went to a house party and saw a Koala in the wild running or slowly maneuvering down the street and also a black ring tailed possum. Went to Phillips island and saw the smallest living species of penguin do there majestically cute parade. Aussies are creative when it comes to names. They call them the little penguins, out of 17 species these are the smallest. But how fun watching them run back and forth from the ocean to get over the beach to feed there young and play at night. Checked out one of the largest museums in Melbourne and spent a good amount of time checking out the wonderful exhibits. On another note, I went to an internet café and was video conferencing with Jeff. Have you ever seen cable guy, in the scene where Jim Carey visits the main character at the prison, lifts his shirt, and presses his chest to the glass in front of the other inmates? Well, Jeff thought I missed him immensely and did this for a laugh right as a few girls were walking by to glance at my big oversized screen monitor the café provided. Quite glad I could provide a day of amusement for these ladies. It was quite funny. Riding in Melbourne city is pretty strange. I am used to the opposite side thing, but they turn weird on the streets because the tram system runs in the middle of the roads. So if you want to turn right, instead of getting in the far right lane, you get as far away as the turn as possible, ending up in the opposite crosswalk, and like a bullet when the light changes you dart in front of traffic to make your turn.

I am meeting up with Mike tonight at his friend’s house about an hour outside of Melbourne so I ended up sitting around the market after checking out and reading my book all day. So far, it’s some good, very creatively humored writing. Thanks Tamir. But pretend homeless guys kept coming up to me for change and interrupting my reading experience. I arrived to meet Mike and his courteous friends in there eco friendly house in the country. Had some fruit, talked, and then went to bed. Next day we did some off road riding around the area and took some pretty nice curvy hills back to there house. I dropped the bike once on some crappy terrain but bounced right back up and continued without anyone even realizing what happened. But my new jeans are pissed at me for getting them dusty. Tomorrow we head back to Melbourne to get on a ferry for Tasmania.

First day in Tazzie the weather was in the 60’s and 70’s throughout the day. There are the most quaint and charming beach homes along the coast. Mike and I decided to ride opposite starting point then most travelers and went on to complete the entire northwest route. In the morning, we passed the most brilliant exaggerated views of the coast. The air is filled with many great smells like everything around us is blooming right at this moment. We confronted some off road riding as Mike wanted one last chance to go off road before the trip ended. I discovered that off road riding and I don’t mix. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy riding a motorbike very much. The experience, thrill, feel of wind on you, the smells, weather, pure simple joy makes riding a bike a life long treat. Now the feel of walking on ice with dress shoes and always being off balance and uncomfortable is one way to describe how I feel when riding on a track. The bike constantly jolts and moves from under you, our tires are meant for road surfaces and are fully inflated which doesn’t help. After hours of this brain disfiguring riding I hit a deep patch of loose dirt, or sand, and lost control. Even through accelerating and trying to hold the bike up I just couldn’t and fell pretty hard at 40 mph. The bike slightly turned around in direction facing the opposite way and took a dip down a run off on the side of the road. For what seemed like 30 seconds of sliding on my ass and eating more dirt than I normally like to intake for my usual internal cleaning, I dusted off wondering why people enjoy this activity immensely. Mike road the bike up the terrain and I bounced right back on. About an hour later we ended up at a river crossing and took a barge across with the bikes. Before we got on, I noticed a nail in my tire. So we took it out to find it didn’t pierce through and I wasn’t leaking air. For the one minute journey on the boat I promised myself no more off road riding as my butt hurt and it’s hard to just simply enjoy the riding experience. After we departed the barge, I discovered an oil leak that is going pretty slow but I need to keep an eye on the temperature. A lot of the rivers here have a rich brown tint to the water and a bartender at a pub told us it is the tenant from the tress. On the way back to town we saw dove lake in cradle mountain national park. At night we drank a few beers and had some pizza at Barrie’s. Barrie loves lining the bottom of his crust with flour, maybe too much. We camped and listened to the ocean as we fell asleep.

Next day riding is all on road and I want to slow down and enjoy the sights and smells in a more casual approach. We stopped at a café in Davenport and I drank the most fantastic chocolate honeycomb milk ever made. I ate a meat pie with cheese and bacon baked on top, oishi! I would tell you about the great riding before and after lunch but the big crash after lunch kind of occupy my thoughts right now. Yes another one and not pretty for the bike. So we are on great mountain curvy roads on our way to St Helens near Launceston. I went to pass a car to catch up to Mike and coming up to a turn a little fast, after it just rained nonetheless. A car from the other direction was coming around the other way pretty fast. All these variables caused me to turn a little to wide and fast. Around the bend my bike was already pretty low scraping the ground and I came dangerously close to the edge fastly approaching dirt and a drop off the cliff of which I could not see how far of steep of a drop it was. When I hit the dirt, the bike dropped and I slid on the ground to watch the bike barrel roll down the mountain side. Luckily the cars stopped to help. But the only serious damage was my ego. I am now more banged up and mentally rethinking the events of earlier. I looked down at the bike in this ditch carved out by numerous cars before me. A local stopped and called his buddy with a tow truck who works for emergency services. 30 minutes later he was giving us stories about how this ditch has been occupied by many cars and that’s why it is carved out so nicely. After clearing a path of debris we pulled my bulletproof bike out and it started right up. I had to tie my severely damaged panniers to the sides and anchor the windscreen down as it was half popped off and broken. We rode back to the previous town and settled down in a camp sight. The next morning we found a BMW dealer and they took the bike for repairs and service. It should be back to normal by tonight. Also, I am trying to find a welder or fabricator to try and fix the cases for my luggage so I can keep them for the duration of the trip. At dinner, we inhaled some cold beer in jugs and Mike told me how impressed he is with my resilience. Not what I want to be known for, but it’s a good positive from an almost very bad experience. On the way back we saw a small bird more colorful than some of the brightly spectacled parrots of the land. This little guy had a red face, black clouding on its feathers, a neck tan, yellow breast and possibly more if we looked closer. It was like a flying rainbow and very cute.

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