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.” (more…)
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. (more…)
The Western Explorer traverses a lovely, yet weather-swept landscape of button grass and scrubby little eucalypt trees. Imagine a grey sky over dripping, uneven clumps of grass, sodden bark, tons of happy frogs, and dozens of lively creeks and rivers. And occasionally, a breathtaking glimpse of that great wide Ocean to remind me where I am on the map. That is, seriously down under. (more…)
West from Penguin, I traveled open.
My plan was to make a plan along the way.
I like looking at maps, and this map of Tasmania was showing a gravel track over 100 kms long called the “Western Explorer.” Say no more!
Along the North coast, it becomes impossible to miss a huge peninsular mountain called “the Nut.” How could I resist when the detour was only 20 kms?
The tour was about to begin. For real begin, the next morning, rubber side down. I was unaccountably nervous. I couldn’t think straight. Just kept re-checking my gear. I couldn’t give attention to eating. Thankfully some other couch surfers put coffee and salad in front of me. But what’s the big deal? I’m a veteran, aren’t I? (more…)
Finally in Australia!
It was an amazing trip, and I’m sorry I can only offer a few photos right now. The story is, for me, attached to some pretty serious emotions.
Unfortunately, Lily and I separated pretty much upon our arrival. We are, to put it simply, very different people.
Fortunately, her family has been incredibly supportive of me. Not sure what I would’ve done without them! Probably just ran back to the USA with my tail between my legs. So thank you!
Instead I went out into the outback of Queensland and helped Carolyn, Lily’s sister, and their father Keith, on their cattle properties. There’s been a long drought here so it wasn’t easy, but the practical skills and peaceful country lifestyle suited me just fine.
Well it has been a long time since I crashed my bike in Egypt.
I was pretty messed up after that, physically of course, but also spiritually. It was a hard hit, having to come home, and the recovery of my injury was (and still is) complicated and long.
I apologize to anyone who may have expected me to write. In that group I include myself; recovering from a leg injury certainly sounds like a good opportunity to sit and write, but I never wrote a book about my three years bike touring.
Instead, Lily came to live in Wisconsin. In August 2011 we had a lovely ceremony of commitment called New Equator.
Instead of wedding gifts, we asked our guests to provide us with money towards a sailboat. They did, and May 2012 we moved to Los Angeles, California to live aboard her.
We got a kitten!
And we are now five days from our departure – sailing South to Mexico, then across the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia, and from there island-hopping all the way to Australia. Perhaps I’ll go around the world the other direction this time.
My old touring bike is still in Mostafa’s apartment in Alexandria. I hope to retrieve it one day and to continue where I left off, but for now, life got in the way of the world bike tour.
This is not goodbye, just a last chance to do something I’ve been meaning to do: reach out to you, here.