Monday, 9 April 2012

Seventeen Seventy to Gladstone

I received this recommedation (or rather criticism) on my Warm Showers profile :

I recommend that the next time Adrian stays with a host that he takes a shower after arriving hot & sweaty from a long ride. This would seem a common and hygienic courtesy before jumping into a clean bed for the night.

Fair enough.

Also, this recommendation from my number one fan :

I endorse the previous comment about Adrian's lack of showering before enjoying the host's facilities. Also that he extend the courtesy of arriving more or less at the time he gives so that his hosts are not inconvenienced and his dinner spoiled! Finally, after enjoying all he needs gratis, Adrian should not copy private complaint emails onto his blog and then proceed to make 'ironic' references to his aggrieved host.

She also sent me this email :

I was tired and anxious to get to bed and had already taken you in mid-week at your request. Unlike you, I don’t have the latitude of a home-based job and making my own hours. I’m away from home long hours, do heavy work across the language barrier, and had to leave for a long commute early the next morning. Going on your declared 6pm arrival and your own assertion about arriving at your pit stops on time, 9:30pm was way over time. I suggest you be more honest in your communications as well as more organised if you seek accommodation with people you don’t know.

If you're reading this Patricia, I think you should get back to your heavy work across the language barrier.

I'm making new friends!

Anyway, back to the story. Rodney came back from the bakery at seven, just after I'd had a shower and used his towel. Another complaint coming up no doubt... We had a bit of a chat in front of his ock band's equipment - they're making an album. He was amazed that a human being could cycle 100 miles in a day and didn't understand why I would put myself through such an ideal. I explained the zen feeling I get from riding my bicycle and he told me how birdwatching gives him a similar sensation. We both agreed that it's good to regularly do something alone, in a quiet place, to give free reign to ones thoughts. Although his kitchen was somewaht scantly provisioned (his fridge only contained coke and Vegemite) because he works in a bakery, he phoned the girls there and said I could have anything I wanted! So I had two delicious croissants with ham and cheese, and a coffee. He bakes all that bread, cakes and pies during the night?!

It was already hot and looking at the mile-long hill, for a moment I thought, "I can't do this." But do it I did. One foot follows the other, you get into a rhythm and do what has to be done. Thai Green Curry still hung in the air and coffee would have been a more pleasant aroma. I cheerily waved at a road cyclist and he blanked me. What, just because mine's a hybrid and I'm wearing swimming shorts and a pink T shirt? I did 200 miles in the last two days, you neon-shirted, ignorant pig. I can't get all this stuff out of my head and have realised that Oz has taught me very little. It's a canvas to paint my thoughts across.

Being Easter Monday, all the 2.2s are going home in their 4x4s now. The road was littered with huge vehicles towing trailers and boats. He's a real man because he's driving a big 4WD. Actually he's small, rotund and has a jelly tot willy. She's chubby too, but is immaculately turned out and is wearing one of her many pairs of sparkly flip flops. Two fractuous doughballs fidget in the back, playing hand-held computer games, their thumbs being the only exercised parts of their anatomy. It took hours to load up, drive here, unload, motorboat for a couple of hours, load up, drive, unload again. What a waste of fuel, time and money.

A mere 80 miles today in extreme heat, through thinning gum forests and mangrove swamps. Stopped in Miriam Vale for my umpteenth chicken, salad and mayo roll. God, they're always so tasty, full of succulent veg (lashings of beetroot). I was bored of water and started to daydream about the huge, watery fizzy drinks you get in Maccas. That's what I wanted. Nothing else would satisfy and the next town of Benarby was bound to be overflowing with fast food. No such luck. A few tin shacks. By the time I reached Gladstone it was dark and my coke cravings had passed. I still had an ice cream though... It was a bit surreal to be in a brightly lit restaurant after a few days cycling hard in the boondocks. A long snake of hungry vehicles queued at the drive-in window, 'Fame' was blaring out from the PA and outside a million starlings seemed to be prophesizing the end of the world.

Couchsurfer Lynda provided exactly what I needed : calm, convivial sanity. I even had a shower before I sat down to her pasta dish! Lynda is a young woman who lives for volunteering. Currently working for six months at an alumina factory owned by Rio Tinto, she's saving up for another big working trip to Africa. Gladstone is a boom town. There's so much factory and mining work here, that the companies are competing for new workers with benefits such as the free gym, golf and unlimited movie tickets that Lynda enjoys. There was even a Queensland mining advert on TV! Totally knackered and enjoyed a fan-assisted sound sleep once the tartan bedspread had been thrown aside.

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