Craig Update #2|
(sent March 30th, 2002 from Hobart, Tasmania
Those of you I missed the first time around for update #1...sorry. I'm slowly but surely getting the state.or.us -> .au (Oregon to Australia) trasition done. I've had everyone's email addresses scatter amongst two email accounts, napkins, scraps of paper, and so on...so some of you got missed (or are still being missed and just don't know it yet). Please let me know if you hear of someone that I missed.
First off, a couple quick pictures:
- Me at the bottom of Tasmania: (with the very southern tip in the background)
- Gladstone, Tasmania
(my best business-speak)
I saw this and thought maybe the town was trying to micro-manage its resources and save money by combining municipal services of similar nature:
I decided I wanted to try and get to the very bottom tip of Tasmania. Of course there had to be a couple delays along the way. I left from Hobart and camped out that night. The whole ride on the southern penninsula is very nice. Not a lot of traffic and many produce stands on the side of the road where you just throw your money into a jar. I camped that night in a picnic shelter near the roadside. It looked like it was going to storm, so sleeping on a picnic table under a shelter seemed a whole lot drier than my tent. Sure enough, tons of lightning and thunder came about. It was kinda cool sitting under that shelter with the huge storm out there and knowing I wasn't stuck in it.
I got up the early the next day so I could get all the way to the end of the road, where the 4 mile trail to the South Cape starts from. It was a pretty hot day and I stopped around 1pm for a quick drink of water. A guy was working on an addition to his house nearby. He saw me and walked over and we started talking. I asked him if I could get some extra water from him just to be on the safe side. He said sure and I went into his yard. We talked for awhile and eventually his wife came home. We talked some more and a guy from across the road came over with a full beer and said that it was "that time." They invited me to their garden for some homemade cider. Well, to show you how hard it is to stay on any kind of schedule down here....six hours later I found myself drunk and throwing a stick to their very overweight dog named Ted. They told me I could just stay over and have dinner and leave in the morning, so I did that. The next day I reached Lune River, which is pretty much where the southern pavement ends in Australia. My rear tire went flat...so I fixed it. I rode a little while longer (nearly 10 seconds), and it went flat again, then I realized that the sidewall was blown out of the tire. I put on my emergency (and skinnier) tire, which wasn't really suitable for a rough road. To make a long story short, I broke my all time record with SIX flat tires in one day. Sometime after I just finished fixing flat #5 and talking out loud to the bike "you'd better behave you little stinker" (well, close to that), a hippie couple walked right beside me and caught me talking to the bike. He didn't laugh at me for talking to the bike, he just looked a little jealous thinking I was on better drugs than he was.
The southern tip of Tasmania was really stormy, I could see why so many ships crashed there. The waves were some of the scariest I've seen. I wanted to go to the very southern tip of Tasmania (you can see it in the background of the photo), but that whole area is covered with very thick brush about neck high. Reaching the very southern point would require an IMAX film crew and John Krackenhouer to write the sordid details of your 1 mile trek.
The next day I was in a strong headwind and decided to stop about 50k south of Hobart, rather than pushing on into dark. I stayed at this stinky hostel that a lot of fruit pickers stayed at. I think it used to be a smoky insurance office in its glory days. The guy that ran it asked me what kind of work I did and whatnot. Turns out he was having problems with some horse racing program he had and needed the code tweaked but didn't know how. I spent about 30 minutes with it and got it to do what he wanted...he said the room was on him. He was pretty excited about the changes...since it would save him about 2 hours a week. It is kind of funny how everything kind of works out like that.
I'm like so way a lot closer to having my travel website up and running. I've had to spend entire days coding to get it so I can easily update it from anywhere. I thought I'd be able to just plug in my laptop and blast everything up to the site...but that hasn't happened....so I'm having to set up this whole complicated system instead. When everything is done though, it will be really easy for me to create "day entries" on the site and upload them. That said, I hope to have the website up and going pretty soon (shh, I know I said that last time also). It will be pretty cool when it is done and have about 1300 photos for you to look at when you should be working instead.
I'm finally starting to get settled into things here. Tossing out the crap I don't need, buying more crap I do need, figuring out the best place to store stuff so I don't have to spend 30 minutes looking for it every time. Haven't really lost any weight. They have these good cookies down here called Tim Tams. They call them biscuits down here too. Crackers seem to be called biscuits also. I don't know what they call biscuits. I've already started using new synonyms without knowing it. You hang around with the UK people too long (hi rob!) and you preface things with "bloody" without thinking about it. College is "uni". A wrench is a spanner. Sex is a root. A truck is a ute. (this took me a long time to get), and I've started calling any of my possessions that are causing me problems (broken zipper, disk I/O error, etc.) a "dodgy bastard". Oh, and down here, never name your kid Randy.
Damn possums are screwing with my tent right now.
People down here are into politics just like they are in the US, except they have all their own problems to deal with, I haven't heard much about internal US problems down here except for Enron and the White house. A lot of people have said that I've been the first American they've met since September 11th. Most just wanted to know about how things were in the States nowdays.
The ride across on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry was pretty calm, the same can't be said for the people at the dinner buffet. When you book a trip on the ferry, you get a place to stay (hostel room with 40 other snoring people if you go the cheap route), a buffet dinner and a buffet breakfast. I talked to a guy a few days later who came across on the same ferry and he told me he had his heart set on this rasberry cheesecake. When he went to get a slice, a woman cut in front of him and shoveled the last 4 slices of the cheesecake onto her plate. He said that was the first time he thought about starting a fight with a woman. There is another (much smaller) boat called the Devil Cat that takes only 6 hours to cross. I met this guy who came across on it. He said they don't run the boat when the swells are above 4 meters high (12 feet or so for you non base 10 measurement system people). When he came across they were at 3.9 meters. He said just about everyone on the boat was losing their last breakfast,lunch, and dinner for the past month. Blech.
It is taking me ahwile to get used to biking a lot shorter distances. My biggest day was about 60 miles. There is so much to see here that it doesn't feel right to spend all day biking and blowing past everything. I decided I wanted to go up to Flinders Island so I could get pictures of a confluence that had not been done yet. (check it out, http://www.confluence.org, click on Australia->Tasmania, then in the intersection in the upper right corner on the island). I'm glad that got me up there, because I had a great time on Flinders Island. You'll have to wait for the website for all the stories there, but it is a small island of about 1000 people. Everyone is so nice. A guy I met there Wayne (who was on the front of the humanclock site holding a jar of Vegemite) said that when you drive everyone will wave to you...figuring that even if they don't know you, they will probably know you in another week or two.
I'm leaving Hobart in a day or two, then going to wind my way up the west coast back to Devonport, then back to Melbourne. From Melbourne I'll be able to send up all 70 megs of travel and clock photos I've piled up and get the travel website online.
Oh yeah, I found out that they did a piece on the clock site on BBC radio, got a ton of bloody email after that one. Speaking of which, check out the front page of the clock site, I ran into a survey crew on this backround in way southern Tasmania. I also have a good one of Wayne & Lisa's baby wombat Lana that will be up there shortly.
I'll leave you with a few things I've noticed lately:
- The trolleys (shopping carts) down here are different than in the US. They have four free-floating casters instead of two. They are a major pain to try and push in a given direction. It is rather amusing to each lunch outside a grocery store and watch people try and push their carts over an inclined parking lot to their cars. They all have to get on the downhill side of the cart and do this sideways shuffle. So if you want to make some money, get a bunch of carts and send them down here.
- saw a bumper sticker that read "Watch my ass, not hers"
- A guy on the Ferry to Tasmania said that there are basically two beers in Tasmania. Boags and Cascade. Boags is brewed in Launceston, and Cascade is brewed in Hobart. People have a strong loyality to their hometown beer. I found this to be true in that you can easily tell if you are closer to Launceston or Hobart simply by observing the roadside litter. I saw empty cans of Boags until I was about 150km from Hobart, to which I started seeing nothing but littered cans of Cascade.
- I was having coffee at a cafe in Devonport and this guy saw that I was bike touring. He told me all about Tasmania and how he was leading a nature hike for a group of people later that night. I hadn't eaten all morning and was feeling dizzy, so I was half listening to him as I was shoveling food into my mouth. He eventually said that he didn't have to lead the nature hike till 7:00pm, so he was going to go home and watch a couple of pornos and relax beforehand. Boy...I gotta get to Launceston before dark...see ya!
- I'm told that Australians shorten a lot of their words, such as "Uni" is short for University...our equivelant of College. The only word that isn't shortened and is probably the longest in the Australian vocabulary is Corrugated Iron. Speaking of which....
- Being sarcastic here, but this is worth pointing out. Most of the roofs here are corrugated metal. Rain gutters are attached to the roof and the downspouts run into a large tank. Guess what they do with the water?..they drink it! Even more remarkable is that they tend to keep on living afterwards. If you did this in the US you would be drinking water plus a zillion other chemicals such as polyunsaturatedtetramonofemaleinXisnamedExene.
- Girls, if you want to refer to any of your ex-boyfriends as being a moron, you can call them a "nob". (doesn't apply to guys named Mike or Craig or Peter or Kevin or Chris or Jeff)
- I get the impression down here that many of the male farmers would gladly change their son's name to "Lumpy Buttcheeks" if they could get their hands on a F-350 truck. I've heard from a couple different people that they can only get the Ford F-150 truck, which is pretty wimpy by US standards...something that a white collar farmer would drive.
- They charge for Tomato Sauce (ketchup, catsup) down here. If you are from Australia and reading this, you can open up any refrigerator in the United States and in the door you will find these little packets of tomato sauce dating back to 1979. Take-away shops in the States give you 10 times the amount you can use.
- (this was really random) Out in the the boonies north of Launceston, I stopped to ask a guy walking his dog where the camping ground was....and ended up having a 20 minute dicussion on how he wrote an assembler for a DEC PDP-11 mainframe way back when.
- I've gotten more mileage (or is that kilometerage) out of Chuck Barnes' guy-in-the-bigfoot-costume-scaring-kids-on-a-nature-walk-and-the-kids-yell-"get him!" story than you can shake a stick at.
- I know some of you were worried, especially Bollino, but I can still have chips and salsa down here, but it is a bit more ghetto. Chips are usually Doritos and the salsa is Frito Lay, but at least I can still get my "thinking food".