Oh fair trailer, why didst thou forsake us?

Getting of to Rowany Festival each year is a lot of hard work, and that is if everything runs smoothly.  But there is so much potential for something trip to go pear shaped that over the years you expect at least one thing won’t go to plan.  Normally it’ll be ridiculous amounts of road works that slow down your trip causing you to arrive and be setting up in the dark.  Or it will be a ‘eek, no Vacancies in Tarree’ moment and you end up driving right through the night and arriving on site at sparrow’s without having slept at all.  Or you’ll rock up on site and discover your tent is all there except for your fly and suddenly you’re trying to cadge a space in someone else’s tent!  So you hope that the road trip bit isn’t going to be too traumatic… but kinda half plan for something to go awry.

roadtrip australia long road distance

This year, the cluster started before we even left town.  All packed up, a tonne of stuff to take down and thankfully only half of it was coming back.  Due to the huge amount of stuff we were taking (including but not limited to, 3 tents, poles and pegs, stonking huge solid jarrah medieval bed, hot water system, gas bottles, tables, chairs, stretchers, mattresses, sleeping gear, garb and I know not what!) we borrowed a trailer from some friends Mr&Mrs ColdSnail.

We get it all sorted and well packed – GraGra would have been proud at the weight distribution and Tetris-like way it all packed together – and hitch it to the car and get ready to hit the road.  Only we then discover that the trailer lights don’t work!  Bugger.  Is it the car? The trailer? Or the seven straight to seven round adaptor causing the problem?  Go to have a look at the adaptor and it literally falls apart in Yale’s hand.  Not good.  Off to Super Cheap to buy a new adaptor… $40 thanks for coming.  Take it back, plug it in and still no joy.  Car fuses are all good, cords in good nick… unscrew the lights and disco!   Wires are all corroded and ain’t no way them thar trailer lights are going to work.  Probably could get away with it if you’re planning on a trip around the corner to the tip, but not so much for the nearly 2000km round trip to Festival and back on one of the busies weekends of the year!

Switch to Plan B!  Try the external trailer lights we had put on GraGra’s old trailer the previous year and attach them to the borrowed trailer.  But of course, since that trailer was used a while ago to move furntiture and stuff, it’s been sitting outside and these temporary light boards aren’t designed to withstand the elements permanently so it too was sufferering from corrosion!  Off to Super Cheap to buy another external trailer light board… $104 thanks for coming.  Take it back and hook it directly to car and finally we have lift off!

Yale gets on the road nearly three hours later and $150 lighter than planned  🙁  Yeah.  That bit isn’t so great.  Things seemed to be going okay, other than the aforementioned and anticipated road works on the Pacific Highway slowing things down from time to time until… blown out trailer tyre at 100kmph just north of Taree.  Absolutely shredded.  Thankfully Yale is ‘car people’ and has the right tools, nouse and skills to 1) not careen off the road 2) change the tyre without too much ill effect and 3) get going again in short time.  Find a place to get the tyre replaced and drop it off with a promise of picking it up tomorrow.  Find somewhere to stay in Taree.

tyre tire blow out highway trailer

Come back the next afternoon to collect the tyre only to be told, ‘we didn’t get to it, sorry mate, come back after the holidays’.  Head off for the rest of the journey without a spare and keep fingers crossed.  Spend the weekend off Medievalling in a paddock – set up, dress up, go to court, shop a bit, drink a lot, pack down, and head off again!  And that’s the quickest version of that event you’ll ever hear!

medieval camping camp site

Drive back to collect tyre, thankfully all fixed… $90 thanks for coming.  And head back to Bris Vegas for a long but thankfully uneventful trip!

Just keep swimming.

I have vague recollections of this chick I knew once who used to walk around to the local pool near her house in the mornings before breakfast, and swim…   She started off just turning up and swimming for a bit of exercise because she’d been in two car accidents and was trying to stay fit while her doctors told her to lay off the scuba diving and water skiing and other fun stuff like that.  So, she started going to the local pool, and because her neck was kinda pooched from recent whiplash, she’d mostly do breaststroke.  Bobbing her way up and down the pool trying hard to keep her hair from getting wet too much because the chlorine would turn it a delightful shade of green if it was exposed everyday.

Everyday.  Back and forth.  Slowly but surely increasing the amount of laps she could do until eventually she had to limit herself to 40 laps a day (about half an hour or so) because she was spending too much time there and then having to rush to get to uni.  Not a cracking pace but a decent distance.

Well, since then she’s gotten nearly 20 years older, had two more car nasty accidents which turned her youthful whiplash incidents into a particularly pervasive and persistent chronic back pain condition, has had a kid, become way too sedentary and, like many of us, has gained more weight than she should have.  So, anyway now she’s out there in her granny togs and she’s back in the pool after a long absence.  Her first day out swimming she managed six laps.  Only six.  With many, many rest breaks it took her over an hour.  To do just six laps.  And oh my god, it hurt so much I didn’t… err, she didn’t ever want to go back.  But she came back the following week and managed to do eight laps, then tried next time and managed ten laps.

It’s costing her a lot of effort and she needs a lot of rest breaks and fuck it hurts to keep going.  And she probably won’t ever get anywhere near the 40 laps per day of her stronger, younger self… but she’s going to just keep swimming anyway.

just keep swimming fish are friends not food

I’ve never depended on the kindness of strangers.

I saw a pretty young woman with interesting (*twitch twitch*) dress sense broken down on the side of the road yesterday morning on Meadowlands Road in a crappy old red Holden Barina.  She was pulled off to the kerb, had her hazard lights on and was talking animatedly on her mobile phone; presumably attempting to acquire some roadside assistance.  Plenty of cars drove right on past her, myself included… though this is primarily because I am of little or no use in such situations, as I have no mechanical knowledge, and there is nothing I could do for her that she and her mobile phone are unable to accomplish on their own.  And I was potentially running a bit late for an appointment :S

But it reminded me of a different broken down vehicle I saw not so long ago in Coorparoo, not far from the Coorparoo State High School.  It was another woman experiencing similar vehicular trouble parked on the side of the road. This time an older woman, very well dressed, probably in her early to mid 40s, in an older model, but very tidy, Mercedes Benz.  However, in this situation, the woman wasn’t phone in hand, desperately trying to find help because she had somehow attracted the attention of not ONE, but THREE would be knights in shining armour, who had stopped their cars on the side of the road nearby, all on hand to gallantly offer their assistance.

mechanical car failure woman side of road alone help required

So there is a turn up for the books!  And with it goes an old theory of mine that guys will come rushing to the aid of a cute young thing with bare shoulders and a windswept carefree look about her, but that ladies of more mature years are often left to fend for ourselves.  However, I dare say in the specific cases I have mentioned, it has less to do the age of the women involved, nor how perky the jiggly bits nor how stylish she may be… but rather a fair deal more to do with the appearance of financial wherewithal and social status attributed to driving a Mercedes Benz, as compared to a banged up faded old Barina.

What’s the world coming to when super short shorts with the stupid pockets hanging out low above shapely young legs is less likely to gain you assistance than driving a once expensive, imported car.  Who knows what on earth men are thinking about these days?

What I do know is that it probably pays to keep your RACQ membership up to date – just in case.

Never mind the serentiy… how’s the civility!

I was stopped at a set of lights near my house yesterday waiting my turn right to take the Not so Small Child on our daily rat run to school, when I noticed a young guy, maybe in his early 20s, in a sleek black V8 HSV Maloo ute.  He was coming up the hill and had obviously broken down right in the middle of the intersection. He was looking exasperated, as you do in these situations, and was out of his car looking under the hood.  A guy on a pushbike, probably in his mid-30s, who was also stopped at the intersection called out to him to offer assistance, as you do in these situations:  “Hey mate!  Do you want a push?”.  The young guy looks up from under the hood and calls back, “I’ll give you a fuckin’ push in a minute!” … as you do in these situations!

What the fuck?  The guy on the pushbike looked perplexed and with his hands in the air said, “Mate, I was just offering to help?!?” and the guy with the broken down ute pointedly ignored him.  The light changed green, the guy behind me impatiently beeped his horn, and so I left the scene of the Pushbiking Samaritan and the DicklessV8 Driver.

I’m at a loss to understand why someone who is obviously in a bit of a bind, upon receiving an offer of assistance, would react this way?  Did he think the guy on the push bike was being smug?  Was he under the impression the offer of help was somehow disingenuous?  Was he just in a foul mood and decided to take it out on the first person who interacted with him?  Did he have a mild case of tourettes?  Or is his default position when interacting with others, one of habitually not being courteous to strangers regardless of situational factors?  I don’t know.  I have no idea what the idiot was thinking.

To the Dickless V8 Driver:  I would strongly recommend that you cash in your V8 that you probably like to tinker with on weekends to make you feel like you know something about cars, and perhaps swap it for a nice reliable Camry.  You might also consider having its regularly scheduled services carried out by a qualified mechanic at a reputable service centre while you’re at it.

To the Pushbiking Samaritan:  I hope this unfortunate interaction doesn’t inhibit your instinct to offer assistance to others in the future.  The community needs people prepared to put themselves out for others in the midst of our busy, busy lives.  I also hope the universe is sending you good vibes for offering assistance to someone who seriously needed your help, but as it turned out, seriously didn’t deserve your help!

Poor Wheel Driving.

School holidays are over so it’s back to the daily routine of circumnavigating the burbs to take the Small Child to school.  Over the last five years that he’s been going to school a mere 3kms from home, the drive to school seems to be getting longer and longer.  The traffic seems to be getting worse and worse, and my patience for the situation is getting shorter and shorter as my morning commute takes an average of 40 MINUTES to drive the 6 km round trip.  But worse than the daily morning routine of making sure we have everything we need… and worse than the rude drivers that go speeding past you in the left hand lane only to cut you off and cross three lanes in front of you to turn right… and worse than the sheer banality of morning radio… and worse than the five sets of unsynched traffic lights that I need to traverse on my daily rat run is the plethora of ever so shiny stonkin’ huge 4WDs that all the soccer mom’s insist on driving to the school every morning and afternoon!

That’s right, because they seem to feel that if you’re the biggest thing on the road, then you automatically have right of way in any given situation, making traversing normally quiet suburban streets a nightmare.  So even if you never intend on taking that thing off the bitumen you sure as hell better get yourself one of the biggest legal frickin’ monster trucks that money can buy, else you’re just being down right negligent with your family’s safety. Right?

I am sick of the long line up of 4WDs near the school.  If 90% or more of your driving requirements involves running around town and city driving, then I swear you have no business owning one of these damn things.  They are an absolute menace, especially near a school environment.  Not only has the increased ownership in large 4WD vehicles with their limited visibility seen children being run over in their OWN driveways by their OWN parents overtaking the previously staggering statistics on backyard swimming pool drowning fatalities in Queensland each year –  but if a child is struck, even at low speed, the bonnet of most 4WDs is at your average primary school aged child’s head height… so risk of death and/or serious injury is significantly increased compared to similar impact injuries with smaller vehicles.  Why do we allow people to unnecessarily endanger children by bringing them anywhere near schools?

Furthermore these safety conscious parents insist on parking them in the small side streets surrounding the schools on both sides of narrow roads leaving barely enough space for a compact car to squeeze between them.  And God help you should you come up against one coming in the other direction, because the drivers will just sit there waving their hands around ineffectually, silently indicting their total impotence at manoeuvring their vehicles… ie: their complete inability to reverse their vehicles with anything resembling competence.  No, they won’t even try to move, they will just wait for you in your smaller car to reverse, or pull into a driveway or just get away of their way somehow.  No shit.  Many of these people seriously can’t drive these huge off road vehicles.  They demonstrate laughable lack of skills in manoeuvring their cars, they are completely unable to reverse them, and don’t get me started on how poorly parked they are prepared to leave these suburban monsters creating further hazards!

Get rid of 4WD near schools.

I learned to drive in a Datsun 180B and an old 1975 G60 Nissan Patrol with a three speed gearbox, no handbrake and a top speed of 80kph downhill with the wind behind it (and for the record I’d estimate that vehicle did well over 80% of it’s eventual 300,000 kms out of the city and potentially between 30-40% of those clicks on unsealed roads).  When I think of all the modern technology and safety gear stuffed into late model 4WDs, for the life of me I can’t understand why these people can’t drive them better?  And I’m tired of hearing the excuses and rationalizations for owning them in the city.

No stuff it,  There should be a three block 4WD exclusion zone in every direction around primary schools, and if you still choose to own one of these stupid suburban menaces, then get out of your damn car 150m away and walk your kid into school.  If you can’t park it properly, and you can’t reverse down a regular suburban street and you can’t see little kids behind or near your vehicle then you have no business driving the damn thing at all let alone near primary schools filled with excitable and unpredictable small children!