A Poet’s Lesson

Everything was wet.

Some things less than others, but my gear was all just damp. My poor shoes, my poor feet! I had basically camped in a puddle last night — talk about getting a soggy bottom!

But at least it wasn’t raining again, at least not right now.

I left the highway for the relative peace of the side road, heading to find a campsite in Murray Valley. Around a bend I noticed an entry into an apparent campground, and a sign that said “Poet’s Paradise.”

This gave me pause.

Earlier, in the midst of misery, when it was raining and hailing and then raining some more, I had fantasized briefly about buying a warm, dry motel room. But then the rain had stopped, and the sun came out a bit, and, escaping oppression, my spirit felt strong enough to ditch camp again. I could dry things by the fire.

So I gave it a miss, and pedaled into the gathering dusk.

But only for about 100 meters.

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Not bad for day one.

Leaving Crunchytown was not easy.

I had so much fun there. I became such good friends with the whole crazy bunch: Sam and Shath and Charlene and Kenza and Matt and Mehdi and Jonathan. I could easily envision myself taking a spare room there and staying in Melbourne. It’s a pretty happening place.

But of course, there’s a tour on. And no matter what excuses I can come up with, be it “not enough writings been done,” or “new bikes just arrived that need tune-ups,” or “the fellas need more instruction on the fine points of Dungeons & Dragons,” or “I’ve got the sniffles”… there comes a day when you’ve just got to leave, as painful as it may be. You know how it is. Continue reading

Photos: East Coast of Tasmania

From Hobart, the weather did get better. Warmer, drier, sunnier! And there were no mountains. As I go North, the days get longer; things are looking up!

It was an idyllic cruise up to the Northeast corner of Tasmania, then back west to Devonport, where I began. It was quite strange to actually be returning to somewhere I recognize!

The trip was nice.

No drama.

So this time I will just let the photos tell the stories.

Georges Bay

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Jeffrey’s Track


Jeffrey's Track: for suitable vehicles only
Jeffrey’s Track: for suitable vehicles only

It was a full afternoon’s ride from Ellendale to Lachlan, so I finally rolled into the village as dusk was beginning to descend. I removed my sunglasses to gain some time — always worth a half hour or so. =)
I couldn’t shake that nervous feeling one gets when you’re about to attempt something difficult, something other people might consider impossible. That swimming-against-the-current uncertainty. A bit scary, but undeniably exhilarating. I wondered if people passing me might think I was lost – or crazy – heading for a tiny village with no real through road at dusk.
A visit to the one and only shop in the village did not dispel this feeling. Continue reading

What goes up… probably goes up again

So began a series of what I’ll call “afternoon surprise mountains.”

Sounds kind of fun, doesn’t it? Like a children’s after-school cartoon, or a wacky dessert on offer at the ice cream parlor.

But no. These were just the road, my road, that same road to adventure I’ve always been on. Only, for about five days in a row, it happened to go up at the end. Like the sound of a question mark?
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The Queenstown Hill

A car tourist from Melbourne asked me, “So where are you going?”

Meaning, today. Not “What are you going to achieve in your life”. Fwew!

Her sister and her dreadlocked friend seemed interested too, but they just nodded when I answered,
“Today I’ll shoot for Queenstown, and try to camp somewhere on the other side.”
I guess on their map it doesn’t look too far away. But she was quick to point out, “Oo there’s a big hill over that side of Queenstown. Good luck!”

And that was the first time of many that I was warned of the Queenstown “hill.” Continue reading

Gettin stuff done.

In the morning I was surprised to see the river had risen two feet or more. Thanks to some lovely road engineer, however, my camp was nice and dry on top of a flattened pile of gravel.
The water was delicious, if a bit brown from the tannins. But just getting through the scrub to a clean-running spot on the bank to fill my jug was a risky maneuver for my injured leg. Continue reading

A low-tech ecological bike tour of the world, by Charles Brigham