the WAFFLE page

May 31, 2012. And there goes the Merry Month of May. Byeeee! We're almost half way through 2012. When I mentioned putting a camera in the Ute and shooting a vid of Taree yesterday, NC Art suggested a Steadicam rig to reduce shake and bounce. Yes, having worked in the TV biz for a while, I'm aware of Steadicam. Most of the newer DSLR cameras have a similar gyro device built-in as well, but I don't think any of my cameras have it. Anyway, I've just tested a "device" to see if it works. It's a pot scourer sponge hehe. I placed it scourer-side down on the dash mat that fits over the instrument panel so that it doesn't slip, then arranged the camera on top of the sponge so that it looks above the windscreen wiper. It seems secure enough - wedged between the dash and the sloping windscreen - but I don't think it'll prevent shake and bounce. Hopefully, the Ute's suspension will be sufficient to reduce it to an acceptable level, although there are some rough patches of road around here that I'll try to avoid.

Well, here I am back from a tour of Taree and a brilliant commentary. I chatted all the way, folks... never lost for words, that's me. So where's the movie? I dunno. When I plugged the camera into the computer, nuttin. I mustn't have pressed the shutter button properly. Dammit! So there I was driving around for 15 minutes, chatting merrily away, and the damn thing wasn't running. Can you believe that? Yes, you can. It's called dementia.

To make sure the thing does actually work, I just did a test in the front yard and, yes, it does. Soooo... time for TAKE TWO.

Roite... back again. This time it worked but I think the vid stopped before I finished the tour... mainly because it took longer than I thought it would.   Anyway, it was interesting and I quite enjoyed it. In fact, I can't wait to do another one. It's the old song and dance man in me... can't resist being in the limelight. It's a pretty big file, and it's downloading from the camera now. I used the Fuji S1800 cos it's got a 4GB memory card. Actually, I just watched it, and it runs 30 minutes. The camera didn't shake around too much, which was a nice surprise. But it had a bit of trouble focusing sometimes.

I think I'll put this attempt down to experience and shoot another one later. I need to shorten the running time to 15 minutes max. I could edit this one but I'd rather not. It would spoil the continuity. Besides, I ended up driving down a long, narrow country lane and came to a dead end, so I had to reverse quite a long way on idle, trying to avoid fence posts and shrubbery. HOW EMBARRASSING!

During the first shoot (which didn't happen anyway), I stopped at a liquor drive-through and there was another customer there, having trouble with her cash card. So the attendant served me and as I was about to leave, I saw a bunch of keys on the counter that looked like mine... forgetting that mine were still in the ignition. So I grabbed hers. Hehe. Once I was behind the wheel, I noticed I had two sets of keys. Oops! Then I noticed the other customer looking for hers. "Would you like a set of keys," I said as I alighted from the Ute, "I seem to have spare set." Anyway, she was cool and it all worked out okay. What was I saying about dementia?

By the way, the camera mic works okay and the commentary was quite clear despite my swollen tongue. What I'll do is look for a smallish cloth bag and fill it with fine sand (which I have), and use that as a support for the camera rather than the sponge scourer. Besides, the last thing I need is for Lindsay to march into my office and demand to know where his sponge is.

So, at least I know that the experiment works okay, provided I keep my eye on the clock. Too easy to lose track of it when I'm driving around chatting. Also, it'll be fun to do on the Odyssey. Actually, I'll do a few more around here... Wingham, Old Bar, Tinonee, etc... over the coming weeks and months.

Just checked Red Bubble and saw this. This one's for Richie. I'll be sure to check out the museum when I visit Gilgandra.

And here we are again, folks. Evening time, and time to post this and think about shoveling something tasty down the screech. BTW, I saw on telly last night that Julian Assange lost his bid to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face sex charges. Apparently he didn't use a condom. Whatever the charge, it apparently would be laughed out of court in Oz... but not in Sweden where they have some strange laws regarding sexual matters. He has two weeks to appeal against the decision by the Supreme Court in Britain. If he's extradited to Sweden, chances are he'll be extradited to the US where he'll face charges of conspiracy and espionage or whatever. It's interesting to note that although Australian authorities have denounced Assange's Wikileaks project as deplorable and a threat to international security, 80% of Aussies are in favor of Assange returning to Oz and avoiding any charges he might face in the US. Because of Australia's strong ties with America, it's highly unlikely that the government here will object to Assange facing charges in the US, in which case they'll be going against the wishes of the vast majority of the Australian voting public. Stay tooned. Gary

May 30, 2012. There... massage exercises done. Only takes a few minutes and I can do it here in front of the comp. In fact, I can do it a couple of times a day. I don't expect any visible signs of it making a difference for a few weeks, but I'll stick with it. Mad if I don't.

GPS in-car navigators. Do I need one? Probably. I just checked Google maps for the location of John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle and it's not that difficult to find.. except when you get there, of course. The complex is huge with zillion buildings and departments, and I don't think a GPS would be of much assistance in that regard. But I will need one on the Odyssey. And they're fairly cheap these days... lots of them for about 100-150 buckeroonies.

In the old days, taxi drivers in Sydney had to know the joint backwards to get a license. London cabbies' intimate knowledge of their city is legendary. But now? They're probably all using GPS devices.

The only thing missing from the newer shot of crossing the Harbor Bridge is the new Millennium train, which is pure luxury compared to the old Red Rattlers. Here's a shot of the interior. And here's one of the vestibule.

I was just thinking about taking a walk around town to photograph various aspects of Taree - buildings, shopping centers, churches, parks, etc - but then I thought it might be easier to mount a camera somewhere inside the Ute (looking through the windscreen) and shoot a short video while driving around. If it works out, I could do the same in various towns I visit on the Odyssey just to provide an overview of the place. To complement the vid, I'd also shoot a series of stills for a more detailed look and publish an album as I currently do. 

Here's a vid of a bloke driving across the Harbor Bridge from the north side into the city, and then over the Cahill Expressway (on top of Circular Quay railway station) and into Macquarie Street. He held the camera on the steering wheel which was a bit risky. I would also add a running commentary (even though my voice is weird with a swollen tongue) to explain a few things. For example, that guy driving over the Bridge was traveling in what was formally a dedicated tram lane (when Sydney had them - they were abandoned in the early '60s). On his left is the pedestrian walkway. He was heading in the same direction as the traffic on the right of the pic above.

Anyway, shooting a vid of Taree will be a bit of an experiment and there are a few things to think about... like where the sun is. It might be better to do it in the middle of the day so that I don't get sun shining directly into the lens, and I'll have to figure out how to fix the camera securely to reduce shake.

Meanwhile, it's THAT time again... 5-ish o'clock and time to post this page. It's been another slow and uneventful day; probably typical of most days until I finally get the Odyssey happening. Gary

May 29, 2012. Lymphoedema is what I have, boils and goils. How thrilling. 2012 has been a weird year, with all kinds of unexpected eventualities, and more to come. No point in bitching about it, though. As Winston said, it's something up with which we must put. BTW, I slept okay with the mask on last night. No worries.

This morning I didn't have a dentist. This afternoon I do. Dr Grant O'Donnell. He's just a short walk up the road. All I need now is a referral from Dr Jacques Hill, my doc at Port Macquarie, to say that I'm a cancer patient yadda yadda and I'll get my entire dental treatment done on Medicare, including dentures. So there ya go. Good ol' Oz.

The trouble is, my jaw has tightened since the op in Sydney and my smile barely reveals any teeth. What a bummer! A brand new set of China Clippers (as NC Art calls them) and no one will see them! Unless I take them out, of course. Actually, I did that one time. A bunch of work colleagues took me to a farewell dinner before I left Sydney to work in Brisbane back in the early 80s, and I'd just spent $1500 on a new partial upper plate. So after a few drinks, I took them out and gave them to the bloke next to me, and he passed them around the entire table. Hehe. Yes I know... no decorum.

Phoned the hospital. Busy. So I left a message, then decided to duck into the loo for a quick pee. Yep, you guessed it. THE BLOODY PHONE RANG. But all is well and Dr Hill will arrange a referral to be sent to the dentist.

Peter, formally Safrica now UK, found more stuff he'd saved from Cody's site back in 2000 and sent it to TX Greg who's been busy returning the news pages to the way they were back then (16, 17, 18). I also read the last news page Cody wrote (22) just before he died. He would have written it late October or early November 2001 in anticipation of Christmas - just days before he was killed in that dreadul auto accident. He never got around to posting it but his mate Steve found the disks in Cody's drawer and uploaded the page in January, 2002. In it, Cody spoke of being accepted into university and saving the news as a surprise for everyone (except his dad who had to sign the form). Even his mom didn't know. He also anticipated what he might look like at age 30, and created a graphic:

Hey dudes and howzit goin'.  So first off I must say how sorry I am for this totally late news page. Hey I toldya so! hehehehe.  So I thought I'd post this pic of myself (YEAH RIGHT CODE!) SHUDDUP! Yeah well this was taken with my future camera and this is what Im gonna look like when Im 30, 'Cept Im gonna have bigger furniture :)

2010 was almost 9 years further down the track at the time and must have seemed like forever away to Cody. When you're still a teen, 30 is OLD! No wonder he used to call me Fossil. Actually, Code would have turned 30 this year on July 1, and one can't help wondering if he and Steph would have married and had a bunch of little Codys running around.

NC Art sent his thoughts about Memorial Day: In Amuricah this is Memorial Day, with martial music, generals marching and the President speaking at Arlington Cemetery and the Viet Nam war memorial wall on the mall in Washington. Of course, some asshole had to point to an opinion poll claiming that soldiers and veterans favor Mitt Romney over Barack Obama for the next president by double digits. I find that odd. This president has done a masterly job in foreign relations and shutting down war operations, plus keeping troops out of new hotspots. Some of our hawks want the US to prove its exceptionalism by killing as many foreigners as we can wherever we can and however we can. Oh yeah, let's bomb Iran back to the stone age to keep them from building atomic weapons. Easy as falling off a log--or the planet!

Or even nuclear weapons! Maybe one of these days war will become obsolete but I suspect Human Nature will need to change before that could ever happen. So don't hold your breath. Also, history keeps teaching us lessons we stubbornly refuse to learn. What's that saying? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Then again, Miles Davis often said "if you're not making mistakes, you're not trying hard enough."

Anyway, nuffa that... time for a bit of telly and then some tucker. Gary

May 28, 2012. Well, here I am again, back home. And it's not all over yet, ladies and genitals. I have to get a PET scan mid July to check how the radiation therapy went... but the doc seems pretty happy with my progress so far. He'll see me again at the end of July after the scan results are known. No one does PET scans here in Taree so I've gotta hoof it down to Newcastle. Meanwhile, I have a build-up of lymph fluid in the area of the original operation...both sides of my face (but more noticeably on my left side) and under the chin. In the mornings after getting outta bed, I look like I've done 10 rounds with Mohammed Ali. The operation (which the doc referred to as "very serious") removed 43 lymph glands from my chin and neck area. Bloody hell, I didn't even know I had that many in the first place! So while I was in Port Macquarie, the lymph person happened to be on duty and gave me an exercise routine (massage) to perform at least once a day at home, as well as a special elastic mask that puts pressure on the swelling while I'm in bed. After some months, the lymph fluid should be able to find its own way without massage, and I'll be back to normal. Otherwise, the swelling would get worse and I'd end up with a head as big as a prize-winning pumpkin at a county fair.

The nurse took a couple of mug shots of my face, front and profile, to compare them with how I'll look when I'm there again in two months.

On the way out, I said to a group of nurses who recognized me, that I was doing okay, and that with a bit of massage I'd soon be back to my old handsome self again. One of them said sarcastically, "Good luck!" Hehe. Cheeky buggers.

And the stomach tube? That needs to stay in for 6 months after it was put in... so that means the end of July. By then, the puncture should have healed itself sufficiently for the tube to be removed without any complication.

Teeth. Yes, I'd heard something at the beginning of the radiation treatment about having ALL teeth removed after the treatment ended, but I wasn't sure how I would be affected. As it turns out, I am. All teeth need to be removed within the next 5 months otherwise the gums might not heal properly.. something to do with how the radiation affects the blood vessels. Sheesh! I have a partial upper plate at the mo but all the rest are mine. So it looks like I'll be in for a whole new set of choppers.

So that's the state of the nation at the moment, dear Breth. So far, so good. Gary

May 27, 2012. The internet... a modern technological marvel. Yeah, right. And mail still bounces. My reply to Richie bounced again this morning, so I had to forward it to TX Greg so that he could send it to Richie and yadda yadda. Thanks AOL. Greg reckons the fault lies with my ancient modem, and suggests I buy a new one that is IPv6 ready. What dat?

Bright and sunny and blue this morning... but a bit too fresh for my liking. I'm afraid those northern hemisphericals have stolen our summer again. Meanwhile, TX Greg has reworked Cody's news pages with the graphics Peter remembered he'd saved all those years ago. It was great to read Cody's wit and wisdom again... still as fresh as the day he wrote those words. What a scallywag he was.

Greg also mentioned the sunset pics, and that a couple of them were "awesome wicked". One of these days, I'll use the Fuji S1800 which has a wider angle lens plus panorama capability that can stitch 3 shots together in camera. NC Art commented on what I wrote about contrast and color yesterday:

   Not just the camera auto setting, but the human eye requires contrast to provide pleasurable sense of color. And that requirement, plus a gaggle of other considerations, drive photographers, painters, printers and everyone else in that curious art out of their minds in frustration.
    My years of reproducing color subjects on printing presses came out about 50/50 on satisfaction/frustration. Actually, there are but three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. For printing purposes these colors are "pure" and lacking interest singly, so If you want to paint a "color" you must use a mix of "colors." Plus black, which is not a color but the absence of color--an ideal condition that is not achievable. [Don't worry to long about that.]
    For fun if you haven't done it, use a strong magnifying glass to look at a magazine full-color photo. See all the itty bitty dots of various sizes and densities and how they overlap to appear as gradations of hues. Green blue, yellow, orange, brown, violet, and as many as you can think of. One color over another but slightly out of "register" will guarantee the finished job will go into the shit can because all the colors will be affected and not match the original art or photo.
    Black is needed for that thing called contrast to deepen shadow and pop out the real colors. And, curiously, to get a bright  white background blue is a requirement. Why? "It makes white whiter" which makes no sense. And that's why retired printers are all crazy as squirrels in heat.

I remember how the early color televisions included the three primary colors in their logos or on a separate badge on the cabinet. As to a "mix" of colors, I'm reminded of an artist's palette. I'm also reminded of a physics class at school when I learned that color exists only in white light, and that the colors we see are those reflected from an object's surface after all the other colors of the spectrum have been absorbed. Pretty amazing stuff, yes? And black is when all the colors of the spectrum are absorbed.  Rainbows form when water droplets act like tiny prisms and break up white light to reveal the various colors of the spectrum. Isn't that called refraction or something?

One time I asked a friend what color the sea was and he said blue. So I asked him what color sea water was when it was gathered in a bucket. Hehe.

Back from a chat with Averil - she was sitting in the sun (streaming through the open door) reading the Sunday paper. We got to talking about camping and the various facilities provided at National Parks such as electric or gas barbeques, or at least fireplaces with grates and chopped wood. "Yeah, but you wouldn't start a roaring fire just to boil an egg," I said. Hehe. Yes, it's handy to have the gas cooker in CM. Av and old Kev spent quite a bit of their lives touring around various places and camping for a week or two...with their two German Shepherds, cat and budgerigar. On longer trips, Kev would phone ahead and organize work at the next town (he was a radiator repairer) and Av would find office work. They eventually came to Taree when Av's mother died, and then settled here. That was 25 years ago. But they had a camper trailer and used to travel up or down the coast for a week or two every now and then. Kev died 5 years ago shortly after telling me I wouldn't last five minutes in the bush. Hehe. Well, we'll see about that.

I suppose I should start thinking about getting a bit of camping gear together. It's almost winter and the stores will have lots of specials over the next few months. I already have a sleeping bag (which I haven't used since 1993), small tent, shower/change tent, beach shade, porta potti, ice chest, tool kit, hydraulic jack, a couple of vacuum flasks and stainless steel mugs, a couple of tarpaulins, even a compass! But I need cooking stuff... stuff with folding handles and all that kinda thing. And cutlery, and camping crockery (unbreakable) and glasses that aren't made outta glass. And a rubber hammer, and an axe and spade, and a gas stove lighter and and and and... I'll check out the camping dept at the local shopping mall and see what's there. No probs about storing stuff... it'll all go in CM.

And a kitchen tidy! Oh... and a toilet brush! And a solar shower!

And that's another thing. Those storage boxes.... They have U rings but no padlocks, so I gotta get about 7 or 8 padlocks, but not with keys cos I'd be there forever unlocking them. Combination locks? There's gotta be a way of simplifying the unlocking of several padlocks.

People talk about a "new beginning". That's how the Odyssey will be for me. I'll be leaving behind my whole life up to that point (except my cyber life) and starting fresh. That's an exciting prospect, albeit daunting at the same time. But maybe it's also necessary to have new beginnings in our lives just has Nature does each spring.

Tomorrow, I head off to Port Macquarie to be checked by the head honcho medico to see how I have faired with the radiation treatment, etc. I expect it to be a one-day visit but those guys at PM are usually fulla surprises hehe. I'm pretty sure the removal of the stomach tube will be scheduled for a later date. In any case, tomorrow's Waffle (if there is one) will be pretty skinny. Gary

May 26, 2011. Another Satdee. Last evening, I drove over the bridge and waited in anticipation of a sunset. The rain had ceased, but the clouds were still about. At sunset, I thought it was gonna be a dud. WRONG! As the sun set lower, the rays began to illuminate the clouds and turn them red. And the lower the sun sank, the redder they got. So I got out of the car and began snapping. Not all the pics turned out, but 24 of them did. Click here for the photo album.

And yes, I snuck one in before I posted yesterday's Waffle. :o)

I learned something about the auto setting on the camera last night. When I filled the frame with red cloud, much of the vivid color was lost. But when I included some blue sky in the frame as well, the vividness of the red returned. I figure the auto setting needs contrast in order to realistically display each color. Next time, I'll know what to do in order to capture the vividness of what I saw last night. Oh... and another thing I learned... it takes a while after the sun has set for the colors to appear. Yes, dear Breth, things are not necessarily as simple as they seem.

NC Art commented on Pastor Charles L Worley: Ole Pastor Charlie stirred up the hornets right smartly. Providence Baptist Church, also in Charlotte, had to fend off hordes of calls asking what the hell, etc. WE DIDN'T DO IT! was their message. It was that other mob called Providence Road Church. Provenance Baptist is an open church, welcoming gays, straight, and maybe even goats--rich or poor--sinners or saints. But you know about guilt by association.

Yes, guilt by association. I wonder if that has any relevance to my living with Lindsay and Sue.

I hear that the race for the US Presidency has Romney and Obama pretty much neck and neck. I also hear that Romney has a few skeletons in the closet that Obama plans to expose in his ad campaign shortly before the election. For example, Romney used to be in the business of buying companies in trouble, propping them up, then raiding the coffers before selling them. Apparently, in some cases, the coffers included employees' pension funds. Oops! Working class America ain't gonna like them apples. And who will be criticizing Romney's past deeds? None other than fellow Republicans Santorum, Gingrich, Paul and others. I've seen the clips.

Meanwhile, opinion is divided as to whether Obama has alienated many of his supporters by admitting that his personal support of same sex marriage has "evolved". I'm hoping that the marriage equality movement will have gained further momentum by the time the elections roll around, and make Romney look like a bigot.

Normally, I don't take all that much interest in foreign elections but in the case of the US it's different because American politics affect the rest of the world. Oz in particular has very close relations with the US. We've just signed a deal with the American military to have a fairly large and ongoing US presence (3000 on rotation) in Darwin. I'm sure Darwin is grateful for the extra boost to its local economy.

By the way, about Gina Rinehart, Australia's and the world's richest woman... I heard someone on the radio yesterday suggest that she should buy Greece. Yeah, and if she's got a few bob left over she could buy me a trayback ute.

There's a bit of a streaky sunset tonight and I just noticed the red clouds reflected in the tall windows of the new court house. What's the bet if I walked up there the perspective would change and they'd disappear? Anyway, dozen madder... I've just turned on the heater cos it's getting chilly, and I ain't goin' nowhere. Gary

May 25, 2012. NC Art was impressed with Mieke's pic of the cat in the window: That cat photo is a masterpiece of color and composition. How likely is it that a cat would so perfectly compliment the colors in her setting? Wow.

Yeah... and Mieke had to go all the way to France to get it! But it is a classic, and up there with the best I've seen. I passed on Art's comment to Mieke: Re. my cat shot – really??? I think it’s alright, but I would never have used the word ‘masterpiece’ anywhere near it! Please thank your friend (if he knows that you told me).

Art also did the math on what Gina Rinehart earns from her mining royalties each year: Here's the math:  $17,520,000,000.00 per year. And a kicker of $48,000,000 for that extra day every fourth year. I sure hope she's able to squeak by without running out of weekly grocery money.

Gina amuses herself by buying shares in various companies, including media companies, to get a seat on the board. Some time ago, I watched a doco about her father, mining magnate Lang Hancock. It was made back in the 70s or 80s and showed one scene where he was flying over his mining lease in Western Oz in his personal plane. He pointed to a huge red mountain below and said, "That's all iron ore." Outback Oz is often referred to as 'The Red Center'. Guess why.

And here's me getting all excited about a 30+ y/o slide-on camper I bought for $4700. Everything is relative, folks.

Received an email this morning from Peter in Safrica who visited Codysworld recently and remembered that he had some of Cody's missing news pages (including pics), so he offered to send them to me. How about that? 11 years on and things are still happening. Anyway, I forwarded the zip to TX Greg so that he can post them on CW, and I also forwarded it to Francois who keeps a copy of everything. I'm not sure if Steve is still around these days but according to Francois, he still reads his mail. So I forwarded the zip to him too. Maybe he's playing peek-a-boo. Meanwhile, the Codeman lives on. 

TX Greg wrote: WOW, that's sooooooo awesome!!! He saved the pages straight from Tripod, so will have to rework those three 16, 17 and 18 to remove Tripod script and ads. There are only the thumbs for all the pics and not the full size, but it's awesome anyway!!! I'll send Peter a thank you and see if he has any of the full size pics too! Will work up the pages this weekend. And Gary guess what weekend it is here....... MEMORIAL DAY :)

It's raining today... first time in Taree this month, I think. So I'll be able to check if CM has any leaks. I'm pretty sure she doesn't... I haven't noticed any water stains on the ceiling. I'm also aware that when Dan still owned it, there was a huge downpour at his place and it survived that. (I've since checked and didn't see any signs of leakage).

In yet another historic, post-"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" moment, the U.S. Air Force Academy graduated the nation's first group of openly gay cadets this week

On the other hand you've got Pastor Charles L Worley suggesting all gays and queers should be put in a compound surrounded by an electrified fence until they die out. Charley is one of those people who reckons if you read the Bible from cover to cover and memorize it all, you know everything you need to know hehe. I wonder how many versions of the Bible there are? Not everyone who studies the Bible has the same opinions as Charley. Now how could that be? Charley preaches hate, not love. Charley is a bad man. Charley, are you paying attention? Did you hear what I said? You're a bad man. You're a bigot. By preaching hate, you're breaking the law, Charley... and that includes God's Law. But you're too self-obsessed to realize it. And I suspect the authorities are too chicken to do anything about it as well.

Well, the rain has passed, and the sun is shining. And there are still a few clouds about, so I think I'll wander down to the river to see what kind of sunset - if any - we might get. See ya tomorrow. Gary

May 24, 2012. Whoosh day again... pay/bills day. Some years ago I went through a period where I couldn't pay the bills. That was worse... constantly hounded by debt collectors which almost drove me crazy. It got to the stage where I wouldn't answer the phone during business hours, and I had a pile of unopened mail. Thankfully, those days are long gone.

Averil said something interesting the other day about her niece's caravan, which has all the goodies and is almost new. When Averil mentioned that her niece is "still paying it off" I realized the advantage I have. I own mine. I also own the Ute. Another advantage is that both those items are not subject to depreciation. They're still worth what I paid for them... and maybe a bit more.

One important lesson I've learned about money in recent times is the value of say $20. Doesn't sound much if you're spending it on stuff you don't need, like a few beers at the pub, but $20 a week is $1000 a year, and $1000 can buy something worthwhile. There was a time I thought $20 was next to worthless. And another thing I've learned... saving is just another word for not spending.

Speaking of money, Gina Rinehart is not only Australia's richest woman, she's also the world's thanks to the mining boom in Western Oz. She now earns a million dollars every 30 minutes. Imagine that... 48 million a day. You wanna multiply that by 365? I don't have the nerve.

Also from Western Oz is my friend Mieke who's just back from galavanting around France. Here's a brilliant pic she took of a window and a cat while there, and it's superb. Note the way she used only part of the window to frame the cat. She also gets a brownie point for the cat's expression. What a great shot. 

Here's another shot (taken by a different photographer) I favorited. I can believe what he says about no one ever having been there except him. It's pristine! I'm looking forward to discovering fantastic places like that on my travels. You see how important it is to always have a camera handy?

There's been a lack cloud in the western sky lately but not today. With a bit of luck, I'll get me a sunset worth photographing. It means jumping in the car and driving over the bridge (or should that be across the bridge?) to the other side of the river so that I can put water between me and the sun, but it's worth it. Oops! Just checked again and the sun has disappeared behind cloud, which is thickening. Drat! Sunset is just 25 minutes away and now this happens! Great timing.

Oh, and how did the chicken and rice satay go last night? Pretty good. I managed about half of it... it was a bit more of a struggle than I thought it would be. The problem is I don't produce enough saliva to make it easy to swallow, so the stuff kinda sticks to my tongue and the roof of my mouth. Also, my mouth is extra sensitive due to the radiation, and spices are a lot spicier than normal! But I'll have the rest tonight with a cup of tea.

And that's about it for another quiet day, dear Breth. Gary

May 23, 2012. Breakfast... a can of TwoCal HN (High Nitrogen Liquid Nutrition). Forget corn flakes or a boiled egg and toast. Actually, the TwoCal doesn't taste too bad... kinda like a vanilla milkshake. But I do miss my morning toast spread with real butter.

I noticed when I Googled Abbott Nutrition that TwoCal sells for 6 or 7 dollars a can, but I'm on a special patient program where I buy it by the case... (licensed to buy at hospital price) 24 cans for $35...delivered.

Back from shopping. Isn't that exciting? And I got a bit ambitious with some of the food I bought - microwavable chicken and rice satay. If I shred the chicken pieces I reckon I can get through it... in which case, I'll get through the Indian Butter one as well. One small step for man... etc. I also bought the WRONG batteries...AAA instead of AA. Damn! And I refuelled... 44 liters (10 US gallons) for $64. Petrol in Oz was $1 a liter in 2008. It's almost $1.50 now. In Britain it's 1.40p or 2.26 Aussie dollars. 

A while ago TX Greg warned me that most electricians tend to be experts in domestic installations but not so familiar with caravans, solar, 12 volt and AGM batteries. So I phoned SAM. Well, SAM Technologies Electrical and Solar is busy at the mo trying desperately to fill solar power orders for houses, factories, etc, because there's a government rebate until the end of the financial year. They're flat out. But after June 30? No worries. SAM is based in Taree but does all the installation work for a company in Tuncurry (about a 30 minute drive away) that specialises in AGM batteries, solar panels and all that kinda gear. So there ya go.

If I owned a house I'd have solar panels installed in a minute - even if they do look as ugly as a hatful (of assholes). There was a TV program some time ago about a house in Sydney that is completely self sufficient. It's not a big house... just a small terrace in the inner city. It produces enough solar energy to power all the electrical appliances and actually makes money on the surplus power that it sells back to the grid. It recycles all its water, including kitchen, bathroom and laundry to be reused for washing, showering and toilet flushing. Toilet waste is treated so that it can be used to water the fruit and vege garden... so it even provides its own food. In fact nothing is wasted. Kitchen scraps and other organic waste are used to make compost. Fresh water comes from tanks connected to the roof where rain water is collected. Can you imagine how much money that family saves each year? I think it's a fantastic idea. Mind you, if they ever sold the house, they'd have to start all over again. Hehe.

Ah, a message from the mail delivery subsystem to say that my email to Richie this morning has not been delivered after 4 hours, but they'll keep trying. Dunno what that's all about.

Anyway, I think it's wonderful that I can drive somewhere - anywhere - and have electrickity to power my goodies without a power pole in sight. And no bills. Even when I do stay at a caravan park for whatever reason, I can choose a cheaper unpowered site. And the air conditioner? I can't see myself using it except during an occasional heat wave, in which case I'd get a powered site and stay for the duration. A portable generator is an option but it's extra baggage and I don't like the idea of carrying a jerry can of petrol around.

Well, almost time to try that chicken and rice satay. Actually, I have before but that was back when I was a whole person. It's quite nice. And I'll turn on the telly to watch a bit of news and current affairs to see if the world is any sillier than it was yesterday. Gary

May 22, 2012. Off to the local doc in about an hour for a checkup and a squirt of frozen gas to get rid of any skin cancers. I also need my prescriptions renewed. Sometimes I feel like an endangered species.

There's a series on telly called Diamond Queen, about Queen Elizabeth II and her 60 year reign. Someone asked about the republican movement in Britain and if maintaining the monarchy was worth the expense. Turns out that most of the world's republics spend just as much on maintaining their bureaucracies if not more, but attract very little in the way of income-producing publicity as a result. The recent royal wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton, for example, was watched by a third of the world's population on television.

Can you imagine Betty kicking off her shoes, and getting about in trousers and a shirt? That's how she was on board Britannia, the Royal Yacht. She felt relaxed and completely at home there, and was very sad to see it decomissioned and turned into a museum when Tony Blair came to power. I think it was also used as a troop ship during the Falklands War.

But to put the Queen's reign in perspective, she was Queen of England when Winston Churchill was Prime Minister, when Dwight Eisenhower was President of the United States and Nikita Khrushchev was head of the USSR. And she's still here today as Head of State. She visited Oz just after her coronation and there I was watching the Royal Parade in Sydney, sitting on my father's shoulders as a 10 year old.

Back from the doc... blood pressure's a bit low and I was given quite a few squirts. Otherwise, I'm in reasonable nick for an old bloke.

Looks like I can scratch any attempt at taking a sunset pic this evening... not a cloud in the sky. In fact, it's been quite warm today, warm enough to use the a/c in the car. But once the sun sets, it gets quite cold, and quickly. It is, after all, late autumn.

So what have I done today? Bugger all, basically. If this were a homework assignment, I'd get detention and a note to take home to my mother. I did spend a while reading earlier Waffle from my time in Sydney hospital just to remind myself of how awful that period was. It was almost like being kidnapped by aliens and going through some kind of experiment. For some weeks after I returned home, I'd leave the bedroom light on at night in case I woke from a bad dream. Sometimes I'd have to leave the bed in the middle of the night and sit in my office easy chair to reassure myself that I was indeed ME and at home. I'm not sure what caused the disorientation but some say it was the after effects of the anesthetic. In any case, that's one time and place I never wanna revisit.

I also read a bit of the Scrapbook and realized how grateful I am to have finally gotten around to digitizing all that ancient stuff and documenting the story of my working life. If it weren't there in black and white, with pictures, I'm not sure I'd believe that it really happened. It all seems so remote from the reality of the here and now that I'm experiencing. And Aussie Odyssey? Well, that's gonna seem surreal too. I'm sure I'll often gaze out CM's window at the view and wonder if I'm dreaming, or if it's all real. Gary

May 21, 2012. Roite. Well, I've got two extension leads to hook CM up to the house power. You just plug the male end into the laundry power socket and... oops! The van inlet also takes a male end. Hmmm. So I abandoned that idea and used Dan's highly suss system of switching on the inverter to deliver 240v to the van. It worked... and I discovered a couple of things that operate on 240v. Some of the electrical items, like lights, have two switches... one black for 12v and the other white for 240v. The twin fluros above the door work on 240v only. Anyway, I was there to test the fridge, so I switched over to electric and hung around for a while. Then I felt the freezer compartment with the palm of my hand and it was getting distinctly cold. So there ya go... the fridge works. Couldn't hear any noise though. No compressor?

It's as I suspected... no 12v setting on the fridge so it's only a 2-way. But that's okay. I had a re-read of forum comments about how long a 9kg gas bottle can run a fridge and they're all over the place... anything from a week to a month and even longer. Refills are about $30 which seems pretty expensive to run a fridge for only 1 week. That's over $1500 a year! If someone goes camping for a few weeks once in a while, no problem. But I'll be out there 365 days a year. $1500 would buy a second solar panel and a second AGM battery, which would power the fridge for free for the next 10 years. Lots to think about, ladies and genitals.

It'll be pretty kiff when I finally get an AGM battery hooked up to the solar panel and the gas connected. Home sweet home.

There's a new page coming to Aussie Odyssey. NC Art writes some great stuff... literary pieces. He emailed one the other day which I really enjoyed, and another today of recollections of life during the Great Depression. So I'm putting a page together called Art's Art. I've asked Art to write a short (yeah, right) bio that I can use as an introduction.

Robyn Gibb died today from a long battle with cancer, aged 62. He and his brothers formed one of the great bands of the 20th century... the Bee Gees. They are probably best known for their disco hits like Stayin' Alive but they also wrote great songs like I Started a Joke, How Deep is Your Love, and Massachusetts, and collaborated with some of the music industry's biggest stars. Their first hit was Spicks and Specks here in Oz, then they left our shores for England to seek fame and fortune.

It's been another quiet day, I'm afraid... not a lot to Waffle about. However, about an hour ago I checked the western sky for cloud and it looked promising. So at 4:30 I drove over the bridge to the southern bank of the Manning and watched the sun set. For a while there I thought nature was gonna reward me with something spectacular but no. As the sun began to sink from sight, there was a dense band of cloud just above and below the horizon that prevented the rays from reaching a large mass of cloud higher in the sky. Had that been lit, it would have been stunning. Oh well... Gary

May 20, 2012. Here's something interesting. What does Freeway have in common with Winnebago? They're the same company.

I saw a camper similar to mine for sale yesterday sitting on a Ford Courier cab chassis. It was only $5000 for both camper and ute, but the two were a single unit. I prefer the slide-on idea. If/when I sell the ute, I can keep the camper or vice versa. Also, I can separate the pair and put the camper on jacks if I want to.

If you'd like to check out those pics I took yesterday of Breakneck Lookout and the view over Taree, you'll find the link to the album here.

TX Greg asked when I'll be getting the stomach tube taken out. I asked that same question to the nurse who phoned a week or two back and she said the doc will want to check me out first to see if I've maintained a reasonable weight while not using the tube, and eating normally. Well, my weight has improved slightly to about 62kg which is only 3kg below my normal weight. And I've not used the tube for several weeks. That should satisfy the doc but I doubt they'll perform the op there and then. I might have to be booked in at a later date which will mean a return trip to Port Macquarie. I'm due to see the doc May 28 at midday. I'm also due to see my local doc next Tuesday but that's a different story.

It's 4pm and I'm thinking about driving down to the river to get a few sunset pics - provided there's a few suitable clouds. I haven't done much else today except check to see if the Antrid worked - and it did. But I put some more there just to be sure. I also chatted to Averil for a while. Oh... and I read part of the Kenwood radio/tape manual and tried to get the damn thing to work. Bleh. Another day. What happened to the days when there was an on/off switch, a volume control and a tuning knob? I do have a Sony portable CD/radio/cassette player anyway, so it's no drama. It's got a good sound too.

Yep, things have slowed down and will remain that way for a while so I'll have to rely on photography and buggerizing around with words to keep me occupied. TX Greg wants me to test CM's fridge so I'll plug in the house power tomorrow and give it a whirl. BTW, Greg, I'm pretty sure it doesn't run on 12v... only gas and 240. Meanwhile, there's no way I'll be buying a new 3-way camper fridge, not at almost a grand! Sheesh. The old Swedish-made Electrolux will do just fine. And it's bigger!

I sat in CM earlier today and felt good about that big sofa in the dinette area. Most small campers have little pokey seating areas that are designed for sitting. CM's is designed for LOUNGING. You can stretch your legs out and take a nap if you want. Or if the neighbors drop in, it can seat 4 no worries.

I got Greg's approval of AGM deep cycle batteries today... heavy things that have a design life of 8 to 10 years. Greg also explained amps, volts and watts: Yes the old Amps X Volts = Watts. That battery is rated at 125 Amp hour so 125amps X 12volts = 1500 watts, meaning that the battery will be dead after one hour of 1500 watts being pulled out. Or say the radio pulls 5amps X 12volts = 60watts  We have a total of 1500watts to play with, so 1500 Divided by 60 = 25 total hours you can play the radio before a dead battery. Now of course there are plenty of variables there, but hope that makes it a little easier to understand.

Yes it does, and thanks. I haven't purchased an AGM battery yet, and don't intend to until I get a sparky to check out the electrics. I'm just trying to educate myself. Another thing I've gotta figure out is how to balance what I "pull out" with what the solar panel is putting back in. I can't see myself using anything that pulls major watts... just lights, laptop, maybe a small TV, and battery charger for cameras, phone etc. Rechargeable AA batteries, I've noticed, take 12 hours to charge using the trickle method. Four of my cameras use AAs.

One question: If I use an inverter to convert 12v to 240v, does that affect the rate at which watts are drawn from the battery? In other words, does 240 pull more watts at a faster rate than 12?

And the sunset? Forget it... not enough cloud, and what was present was too low on the horizon. So, maybe tomorrow. Gary

May 19, 2012. Have you heard of Dylan Moran? He has an interesting view of Australia and its inhabitants.

I've kept TX Greg pretty busy with questions about the technical aspects of Chateau Mobile... in particular gas fittings and electrics. I've been sending him pics of various components and he's spotted a lot of faults that I would never have noticed. So there's a fair bit of work to be done to bring those things up to scratch.

Yesterday, I said that the cost of repairs will postphone the purchase of a trayback ute. But then I realized I have no way of transporting CM to the workshops where the repairs will be carried out. Soooo, I'll have to get a trayback ute before I start spending money on anything else. The gas people are not gonna come to me so I need to go to them. The electrician might work from here, but the van is in an awkward spot at the mo and needs to be moved as well as raised to a workable height.

Yeah... Rome wasn't built in a day.

And now for something completely different... Art sent this link to a short film called The Beauty of Pollination.

So what's gonna happen with CM for the next whatever months while I save up for a trayback ute? NOTHIN. I'm not qualified to fiddle with the gas or electrics and there's really nothing else to fiddle with - unless I get a broom and a bucket of red barn paint like Art suggested. I blew virtually all the dough I have on CM so saving is gonna be a slow and frustrating process... so near and yet so far as they say in the classics. Oh well... I'll have to go back to what I was doing before CM came along. Actually, I've wasted today... it's warm and sunny, and a perfect day for going somewhere to photograph things. Tomorrow looks pretty good, and so does the rest of the week.

Me and my big mouth. As soon as I wrote that I grabbed the camera and headed for Breakneck Lookout, which is not far from here. Last time I was there it was morning and the sun was directly in front of the view, dammit. So I figured I'd have better luck late in the afternoon. Well, it wasn't as good as I'd hoped, but not too bad. Also I wasn't too keen on waiting until after sunset to drive back along that dark, dirt road with roos and wombats and god knows what else leaping from the bushes.

So there's sleepy Taree nestled in the valley, looking north east from Breakneck Lookout. Pretty small, huh? To my right is the ocean which you can see from there - just a big patch of blue - although I did make out the sails of a large yacht. I took a few pics while there... not all that crash hot... but I'll post them tomorrow. Bit late now. The lookout would be a good spot to camp overnight and take pics of the sunrise (which is straight ahead) but there's a nearby settlement of indigenous people, some of whom get up to a few naughty tricks, so I don't think I'd wanna be camped there on my lonesome if they turned up.

Speaking of photography and trying to get all the elements just right, here's a comment from NC Art: Ansell Adams, the famous American landscape photographer, often returned to a single sight repeatedly until all the elements were present for him to photograph the reality of a thing envisioned in his mind. One iconic shot required multiple trips to a mountain top over a period of months.

By the way, as I stood there, I saw smoke from a fire way off in the distance. I suspect the pink haze on the horizon is the result of that.

Anyway, Lindsay is gonna cook dinner tonight... fish cakes in the oven... two for me. Sue's in hospital. She took a fall the other day in the bathroom and bruised her hip. Gary

May 18, 2012. When I looked at the two chicken rissoles from Eddy's last night - after they came out of the oven - I figured I'd be lucky to get through just one. But, no, I managed to eat both. It wasn't easy. I can only use my front teeth, and my tongue is still numb and a little swollen, which makes it difficult to maneuver food around in my mouth and then position it for swallowing. Nevertheless, they were a treat to eat... and I was burping garlic for an hour afterwards hehe.

And boiled eggs? NC ART says: For soft boiled, experience alone is needed for the time to leave an egg in water after heat is off. Elevation above sea level makes a difference also. For hard boiling, just leave the egg in water until it's cool. Crack shell gently and it can be peeled smoothly with no ragged tears. Trust me.

Art also says: Traveling is wonderful if you remember that anticipation is half the fun, getting there is another half. Being there, time is best used planning [anticipating] the next leg to somewhere. The 'there' part of somewhere is often disappointing after an hour or so.

I guess that depends on where 'there' is. In any case, a house on wheels solves that little problem quick smart. As a photographer (of sorts) I've discovered that the time of day can make a big difference to the appeal of a given place. First thing in the morning or around sunset can turn the most ordinary of scenes into something magical. A good example is the road outside this house. During the day it's just another road... boring. But at 4:30am it can be a different story

Oregon Richie often mentions the mountains in his area, snow-covered peaks his state is famous for. We have only one alpine region in Oz. The continent is mostly flat but we do have mountains, the most famous of which are along the Great Dividing Range that runs all the way up and down the eastern seaboard. It's often called the Great Divide because the rivers on the western side flow inland and those on the eastern side flow into the sea.

Francois spent much of his life as a mountaineer, but he's also familiar with campers and gas fridges. He owned a camper for 20 years. He says if anyone tries to drive while operating a gas fridge, the flame will be extinguished by the wind and the fridge will shut itself down. Fair enough. He says he camped one time with the fridge operating from a 13kg gas bottle and it only lasted a week! 2kg a day! I've read other reports of gas lasting much longer but I guess I'll have to find out for myself. Francois also talks about batteries... one to start the engine and the other to power lights and other electrical equipment. The two can be connected while driving but need to be independent when camped. The battery in CM is independent always, and is constantly charged by the solar panel (except at night, of course). In 20 years of use, I forgot once to cut electricity from the fridge after one exhausting and freezing day driving in the rain in Sweden: I'd to find a tow truck in the morning, not easy! that was in 1983 and costed us 3200F: around 600€ nowadays I think... with this mail, you've distracted me from my pain and boredom: yet 1 month 1/2 to take this chemo.

But as Francois says, I'll soon get into a routine and remember to keep an eye on all the things that need regular checking. I read about fire extinguishers and fire blankets yesterday and realized that my sleeping quarters and the van's only escape route are at opposite ends. Oops! In Das Busse, the extinguisher and blanket were stored in a compartment at the rear of the van under a whole bunch of other stuff, which would have taken many precious minutes to reach in an emergency. I'll get two extinguishers... one for each end of the van, and two blankets, one of which will sleep with me. I'll get a smoke alarm as well.

Back from another squiz at CM to try the switches and see what works on 12v. But I'm buggered if I can figure out how to operate this CD changer. Does anyone know about these things? The door slides across but I can't see a slot inside to insert a CD. There's a sign "Push" in there but when I push nothing happens. I've seen a few pics on the net that show a box separate from the changer that the CDs are stacked into and then apparently inserted into the changer. But if there's supposed to be a box (or cartridge) I can't see it. I do have a remote control somewhere. The radio/tape player works okay, and the speakers are working but this CD changer thing has me bamboozled.

While I was there I gave the ants something to eat. It's called Antrid and it's honey based. They take it back to the nest and die. Then the rest of the nest (being cannibals) feed on the corpses and whammo, no more ants. That's the theory, anyway.

I took some pics of the inverter and second battery and emailed them to TX Greg who doesn't like the arrangement. Lots of wires and stuff that looks a bit dodgy. So I think I'll have to get an electrician to check it all out and re-do what's necessary. Greg also doesn't like the water-acid battery leaking fumes inside a closed area with an inverter sitting next to it. Soooo, I can see a new deep cycle battery on the horizon. I can also see the trayback ute being postphoned for a while.

But there's more! The gas fittings look a bit suspect so I'd best have the local gas people do a full inspection of all fittings and applicances (fridge/stove) and recondition/replace what's necessary.

However, despite these nuisance discoveries, I'm still very happy with CM and I think I got myself a real bargain. It's just a matter of making sure there are no hazards lurking in dark corners when I take off. Oh, one other thing I discovered inside the van... the mattress is not foam, it's an innerspring with a quilted top.

So there ya go... not the most productive of days, and a few disappointments... but it'll all work out in the end. Gary

May 17, 2012. Everything's easy when you know how. Yeah? I was puzzled by the "step" up to the sleeping quarters in CM. It's a box that I thought might be another storage area but it has no hinges or handle, and it's screwed together. What could it be? And what's inside? Ask TX Greg and you get a simple answer: That would be where the fresh water tank is mounted. The tops are usually screwed down in place. The cut out youre seeing is to allow heated air inside the area, say like in winter in freezing temps to keep the tank and pipes from freezing up.

What I wanna know is why things freeze up but never cool up. Anyway, thanks to Greg's experience, I now know what lies in the box. When I asked Dan what all the electrical switches were for he wrote back and said, "Try them and see what happens." Hehe. Yeah, well, I suppose it was a dumb question.

But I'm not the only dumb one. One day I was talking to Averil and Kev when Averil admitted that she could never boil an egg without bursting its shell. I explained to her that you place the egg in cold water and bring it to the boil. That way the egg expands slowly and the shell stays intact. If you plunge a cold egg into boiling water, the shell expands too quickly and breaks. So there ya go, those two were married 50 years and Kev never got to have a boiled egg for breakfast.

A long time ago, a mate of mine said he never bought Lotto tickets because there was just as much likelihood of the six winning numbers being 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 as any other combination, and "what are the chances of that happening?" Last night's winning numbers (including the two supplementaries) were 15, 21, 23, 24, 31, 32, 33, 34. Yeah... go figure. So with that kind of unlikely result, was there a winner? Yes or no? The answer, dear Breth, is yes.

Back to water tanks. The stainless steel tank in CM holds 50 liters, which sounds like a lot until you consider that a regular shower uses about 10 liters a minute. So is it possible to get a decent shower from a solar camping bag that holds about 5 gallons/20 liters?

I have a pop-up shower/loo tent but you can bet your sweet bippy that it ain't strong enough to hold a 40lb bag of water at shower height, so I'm gonna have to attach some kinda hook thingy to the van or put the tent under a tree. I think there are about 3 trees somewhere out in the Nullarbor so I'll have to find out where they are. Anyway, I'll figure something out...

Back from returning the screw jack to the hire place and getting a medication repeat from the pharmacy... AND stopping off at Eddy's Chickens to buy two gourmet chicken crumbed rissoles. They're yummy, and pretty soft... I think I can manage them. I'll find out tonight. And they only cost $2. I  managed to demolish a bowl of cheese macaroni last night without too much hassle.

Checked a few forums to see how long a 9kg (20lb) bottle of gas lasts in a camper and one bloke said it's like asking how long is a piece of string. Well, the answer to the latter question is this: a piece of string is double its length from the middle to one end. But 9kg of LPG can last a couple of months with moderate to average usage. One tip is to save boiled water in a vacuum flask (which I intend to do) and another is to turn down the thermostat on the fridge overnight. Also, use wood fires or campground BBQs for cooking when available (or pull up outside Joe's Burgers hehe).

A new/full 9kg gas bottle is about fifty bucks, but refills are cheaper. You just swap bottles. I think it works out at about $3 a kilo. You can also buy a safety gizmo for about $40 that fits onto the bottle and checks for leaks. It also lets you know when the gas is getting low.

I asked Greg about having the fridge operating on gas while driving, which, quite frankly, is something I'd be loathe to do. It seems the law in the US agrees with me: The gas bottle shall remain turned OFF while the vehicle is in transit. Failure to do so in the event of an accident a ruptured line could result in a explosion, fire, injury and or death. I really don't fancy any of those four options so I reckon I'll run the fridge off the battery while in transit. Hehe. Anyway, what's a solar panel for? I can use gas while stationary. And if I end up posting pics on AO taken from outer space, you'll know I've done something wrong.

Anyway, it's all very exciting. Reminds me of my older bro when he was building his first house in Sydney at a suburb called Chester Hill. It was just a frame with no floors or walls or anything but he still invited the family to picnic on the front er... well it wasn't even a lawn yet. I feel the same way about CM, and I'm enjoying the learning curve... getting info and tips from Greg and reading various forums. Pretty soon I'll be a fully fledged expert. As Greg says: The more you know before you go, makes for a happy camper! hehe

Yep, lots to learn but that's okay. Keeps the brain active. Gary

May 16, 2012. How times change. Here's a 1970 Aussie Ford Falcon that sold for about $4000 new and is now fetching almost $100,000.

And now to marriage equality, and same sex marriage. I heard a bloke last night on telly talking about children needing to be raised in a loving environment by both a father and a mother... IN AN IDEAL WORLD. Hehe. Incidentally, he was raised by a single parent. But what's this IDEAL WORLD bullshit? There's no such place. When I hear people like Mitt Romney say that marriage should be between and man and a woman, to me they're saying that marriage is about sex... about genitalia. Sex makes babies, not marriages. Sex itself doesn't make a loving environment to raise kids. Love does. And opposite sexes don't have an exclusive monopoly on love.

You wanna know why marriage equality is so important? Try this true story. And don't forget the tissues.

Justin put a link to a lovely story on his blog this morning about an older bro sticking up for his younger bro.

You hear expressions like smell the roses but they become cliche. Most of us go about our daily lives with blinkers on, and one day becomes pretty much the same as the last, or the next. Before you know it, it's been 365 clones between one Christmas and the next. So when I think about the Odyssey, I think about making each day count.

My recent brushes with mortality have given me a new perspective. I believe that life can be extended by being continually stimulated... by looking forward to each tomorrow, by relishing new experiences, by being interested and curious. Old photographs that I never really appreciated in my younger days are now taking on a new significance. They're priceless heirlooms...snippets of history. I appreciate now that every time I press that shutter button I'm capturing something that will be of benefit to people long after I'm gone. I only regret now that I didn't take more photos down through the years. But now I have the opportunity to record every day of my travels around Oz, and I think that's a very worthwhile project. Who was GK? Check out the album.

Ya know, life is not just about being alive. It's about DOING something worthwhile while you're here. Cody figured that out long before most of us do. 

So what have I done today? Er... not all that much actually. Copped a bit of cheek from TX Greg, answered a bit of email and read the Electrolux fridge manual. Hehe. Oh well... there's always tomorrow. Gary

May 15, 2012. If you've forgotten how it all started, here's Dave Allen to remind you about Adam and Eve.

And the winner is... Mr Gary Kelly! $13.05 in last night's Lotto. Eat your heart out Bill. Richie was telling me about a bloke he knows who won $4M in lotto recently. He and his wife were "credit dirtbags" who caused Richie some grief with a couple of finance deals. Then, not long ago the wife divorced the guy. Hello? Bad timing, darling! He just won $4M.

Meanwhile, I figured out why Chateau Mobile managed to resist toppling over while resting on 3 legs. The cab-over counterbalances the weight at the rear. It first happened when Dan was raising the camper above his trailer. At one stage when the camper was about a meter off the ground, the rear jack fell out of its bracket but the camper stayed level. Then it happened again last night when Chris and his mate were lowering it. So as it turns out, the loose jack wasn't as potentially catastrophic as I first thought. However, I'm still relieved that the thing is now safely lowered.

The jacks weren't the real problem. The uneven ground was the problem because one corner was significantly lower than the other three (to drain rainwater away from the garage door). I won't be choosing uneven ground again I can assure you. In any case, once CM is mounted on my next ute, it's gonna STAY THERE.

Speaking of relieved, TX Greg wrote: ME TOO :)  Glad you got it lowered! Take some more pics! I intend to! When you get some free time and can fight your way thru the jungle on that side, take the lower outside cover off the back of the fridge and snap me a pic. That fridge is an Electrolux, or known here as Dometic (pronounced doe-met-ick) I've worked on hundreds of those. It is the original fridge that came with the camper and after what 30 years, well let's keep our fingers crossed she will work. With a pic of the back side I can mark on it and show you some tips to test it out and how to light it on gas on the back side if needed :) Snap me one of the inside controls too!

They're called Dometic here as well. Hey, old fridges never die. We've got an oldie in the laundry. It's gotta be 50 years old, and weighs a ton. Greg also asked if the van came with a power cord to connect to mains power. Dunno yet, but I have a long extension cord in the laundry, which is part of the garage complex. Anyway, extension cords are cheap as.

Back from having a bit of a squiz at the exterior. A previous owner put some sort of waterpoof goo in various bodywork joins which is a pretty rough and ready job. Probably works okay but I'd like to have it done again properly just for cosmetic appeal. The aloominum (that's Oregon speak for aluminium) flap that covers the front windows works okay but the struts meant to keep it open are rusted and stuffed, so they need to be replaced at some stage. From what I can see, the van is basically sound. Things that need attention are relatively minor and don't affect the van's readiness for use. Yes, folks, I'm confident that Chateau Mobile is good for another 10 years at least! Now I gotta git me a trayback ute. And a gas bottle.

Steve W wrote and agrees with Chris: You are a worry, you do change your mind so often. Here's what I propose, I will not contribute to your Aussie Odyssey fund until you are ready to go…….because you will keep procrastinating and probably end up buying a Double Decker Bus, a British Red Telephone Box on castors or a tractor or some other bloody thing. Once you set off (i.e. actually depart in a sensible vehicle) I will commit to your fund. Otherwise, you will buy a fish-eye lens or something similarly useless!

Hehe. Fishes don't think they're useless. Anyway, do you have any idea what those things are worth? Thanks a stack for the offer, Steve. Mucho appreciated. I promise no more mind changing. I've got 5 cameras already, which is plenty. 

Steve went on to say that the wife of his best friend passed away last night from cancer in her mid 50s. He suggests I don't leave the Odyssey too long. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Steve. Last night I watched a story on telly about a bloke who survived a major cancer operation, and then went through all the radiation and chemo routine as a precaution. However, the cancer ended up returning, casting a dark shadow over his future. That happened to my younger bro as well. I figure que sera sera... meantime, I'm going ahead with my plans to travel Oz. No point in worrying about what might never happen.

That bloke in the TV story did all kinds of things to avoid the cancer returning, like giving up his job to spend more time focusing on fighting the disease,  riding his bicycle and sticking to a strict diet. In other words, HE WAS THINKING ABOUT THE CANCER. I'm not. Bugger the cancer. I'm focusing on my dream... my head is full of thoughts about Chateau Mobile and the places I'll visit. Cancer schmancer.

Actually, I was thinking about something my younger bro said after his return bout of cancer was pronounced terminal. He said to his son that he wasn't worried. "There's nothing more I want to see, nothing more I want to do. I'm ready." Oh? His wife must have been thrilled with that comment. The son used it in his eulogy at the funeral.

Back from another squiz, this time inside the van. I opened one of the cupboards and spotted a large plastic envelope with a whole bunch of papers inside... stuff from way back! The electrical wiring and fittings were checked and approved in 1974! Whoa! I was in Gosford then, working for a local advertising agency and driving my old Benz. The gas installation was checked in 1984 - the year I started at 2DAY FM. There's a lockable compartment outside that has all the necessary fittings and room for a largish gas bottle. Surprisingly, all the keys are numbered originals.

Meanwhile, all the wiring has since been re-done, together with the rest of the interior renovations. By the way, the foam seating and bedding is dense foam (and not ordinary sponge rubber). You can feel its firmness and comfort. Quality stuff! The fabric covering is royal blue and not black as it looks in the photos. It feels like wool. As I sat there, taking it all in, I thought how slide-ons and campervans are chalk and cheese. CM has miles more room, comfort, features and storage, and I'm tickled pink.

For Greg's info... there's no exterior door to the back of the fridge, but I do have the original Electrolux user manual with all the diagrams and instructions. Other manuals include one for the Kenwood, one for the a/c unit and one for the Fiamma awnings. So I've got a bit of reading to do. I've also written to Dan to arrange a time when I can phone him on the mobile from the van to ask a heap of questions about various fittings and switches - there's a lot to learn.

I have a feeling the old girl's been sitting around in someone's yard for donkey's years before the person prior to Dan bought it with the intention of doing it up. It wasn't a cheap job just to re-sell it either. All the materials are top shelf, and the workmanship is first class. Dan bought it for about the same price I paid, so the owner at that time must have had some drama where he needed liquidity, fast. He would have lost quite a few bikkies on the deal. The solar panel and accessories are worth a grand or more, the Fiamma awnings are worth about a grand each, and that doesn't include the air conditioner, Kenwood CD stacker, all the carpentry, interior linings and materials! Then Dan's luck ran out and he also had to sell. And who was waiting in the wings ready to pounce? MOI!

Been reading heaps of stuff on an Explore Oz forum about solar panels and regulators and watts, volts and amp/hours and do you think I understand any of it? I think I'll stick to gas for refrigeration and cooking, and use the second battery for lights, TV, charging laptop/phone/camera batteries, etc. I've also got an ice chest that keeps ice frozen for 5 days or more. Two bags of ice is only about $5. But I think my learning curve regarding things technical will go vertical once I'm on the road and talking to other campers and travelers.

I took the ladder downstairs to check out the solar panel on CM's roof but it's too high to get a really good look. It's a fair size panel... maybe 3' long and 2' wide. There's a ton of room up there if I ever want to instal a second panel, and there's also a ton of room in one of the side storage boxes for 2 deep cycle batteries. The battery there at the mo is a regular auto battery. Here's what one of the forum contributors had to say about that: We have 2 115 amp Trojan deep cycle batteries in our caravan and 2 80 watt BP solar panels, we run a 40 litre engel and the normal fluro lights & tv, stayed in one spot beechworth for 3 wk's no shore power no problems. I hope this is some help, but doesn't come cheap but the old cliche you get what you pay for.

Jeez, Louise! You can say that again. But I've already got one solar panel, and I could start with just 1 deep cycle battery. You have to keep in mind that once all that gear is installed you have free power for the next 10 years! Currently, this house chews up close to $2000 worth a year. That would buy a second solar panel and 2 DC batteries no worries. Anyway, all that's for another time. Settle down, G... you're getting ahead of yourself. Hehe. I can happily manage with what I have already. And camp fires are free.

Come to think of it, can you imagine going camping and using a microwave? No self-respecting boy scout would EVER admit to that!

Goodness me, look at all that stuff I've written! The boy's excited. Hehe. And why not? That's not a dream sitting out there in the drive, ladies and genitals. It's real! Gary

May 14, 2012. Long time since I linked to Craig Ferguson and the Late Late Show. Here he is interviewing Billy Connolly... two crazy Scots.


Yesterday, I forgot to post TX Greg's link to a camper being lifted the easy way

When I chatted to Averil yesterday, she mentioned mutual friends of ours who just bought a new caravan with all the mod cons, including shower and toilet. So I said to Averil, "if you collected all the water you used for your shower this morning, how heavy would it be?" Then I asked her if she realized how much water needs to be carried to supply a week's worth of showering and flushing for 2 people. She gets pissed off when I spoil her simplistic view of things.

Speaking of pissed off, NC Art went to a lot of trouble to bake a batch of cookies for the local church fair but they were rejected.

Well, it's two days since I freaked at one of the jacks NOT supporting CM but there's been no catastrophe... yet. So I'm quite relaxed about it now. ...ish. Chris or Stan or both will turn up one day this week and together we'll sort out the prob and get CM closer to ground level. Then I can play in there and learn all about the various fittings and furnishings before launch day. I'll probably start stocking the camper from time to time as well... kitchen cleaning stuff, cutlery, camping/cooking utensils, etc. I'd like to be more or less ready to go before the day arrives.

I've been buggerizing around looking at some of my older pics and found this one. For some reason I'm more impressed with it than I was 2 years ago when I took it. So I posted it on Red Bubble. I discovered another pic I quite like so I posted that as well. How to Park a Vampire.

Oregon Richie has probably never heard of Josephine Cochran, but he has her to thank for the latest technology recently installed in his kitchen: The first useable dishwasher was invented by a woman, Josephine Cochran, in 1893. She was quoted as saying “If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I’ll do it myself” (Bellis). Her machine was a hand operated mechanical machine. Operating instructions for later models said, “Put concentrated lye, with gold dust or sal soda, as needed in the water” (Symser).  In 1893 she unveiled her invention at the World’s Fair, but only hotels and restaurants bought her machine. It was not until the 1950’s that her invention was seen in countless modern households.  Josephine Cochran founded a manufacturing company to make her machine, which today is called Kitchen Aid. 

My parents never had a dishwasher and I've never had one. Dunno about my bros. But Richie's new one is his pride and joy. In fact, he's not dining in restaurants anymore just so he can use it hehe. And he even uses extra plates.

Well, who should arrive at the front door at 5pm to save the day? Chris and his fence-building mate. "Gary!" Those two blokes got stuck into winding Chateau Mobile down to about a foot off the ground right away. There were a few heart-in-the-mouth moments (for me at least) but they managed the job without major incident. At one stage, when the job was almost done, the jack that was previously unattached to the back corner came off its wooden chocks and slid out of the bracket, leaving CM standing on just 3. Hehe. Anyway, they fixed that and all's well. The front is about a foot off the ground and resting on two blocks (standing vertically) as well as the jacks. The rear is a little higher and still supported by the jacks. But that's okay... I'll attend to that tomorrow. In the meantime, it's safe. AND I'M VERY RELIEVED!

Chris asked me what I was doing. "You change your mind every five minutes! One minute you've got a van, the next you've got a ute, and now this camper. What's going on?" Good question hehe.

Well, ladies and genitals... I'll sleep well tonight. Gary

May 13, 2012. I believe it's Mother's Day today. Second Sunday in May. My mom's birthday was May 4 so we celebrated both days on the same day.

Meanwhile, as I expected, TX Greg was shocked by yesterday's pics of CM and the jack situation. Holy Crap Gary!!! I've never seen that type of hook system used. Ours are all bolted on to the corner brackets. Greg asked if I'll need to raise CM higher to get a trayback underneath it. No. It's still 4" above the height of the box trailer it arrived on, so that should be enough clearance without going any higher. The fact that he added the storage box under the unit, which is about a foot tall, changed the total height extension needed. True, but the slope of the ground in the bottom corner of the driveway exacerbates the problem. In normal circumstances, that extra storage will come in mighty handy.

And while I'm typing this I noticed one other thing. Get the shrubs off the side of the camper by at least a few feet. That creates a very nice bridge for ants, spiders, etc. to come make your home their home. And the other problem, as the wind blows the branches against the sidewall, it will rub the paint right off it spots. I don't have the tools to give the "shrubs" a major cutback. It's a wisteria, and those things completely take over. It's from next door. I asked the estate agent ages ago to tell the bloke next door to get rid of it but he hasn't responded. And you're right about the ants... they're already crawling all over the place. I did what I could with the wisteria before CM arrived but that's about my limit. BTW, here's a shot of the same wisteria in a more positive light.

Oregon Richie writes: And of course, being a fan of NASA based acronyms over the years, I do know what CM stands for from the Apollo era... "Command Module", of course !!  That fits, too.  After all, except for little rocket thrusters YOUR own CM will do everything that the one at NASA did, save for surviving a re-entry trip through the atmosphere at 25 K miles per hour, but... sail through the Aussie atmosphere it will do quite nicely.

Anyway, I've had nightmares about this situation since I first discovered it yesterday - imagining all kinds of catastrophic scenarios. I checked the "handyman - work wanted" ads in the local paper online this morning and then remembered Chris, the bloke who erected the front fence here back in 2009. He's pretty cluey - ex-farmer, cop, and experienced handyman - so I'll give him a call. In fact, I did earlier but the phone didn't answer. Too early Sunday morning I guess. He's got the wrong kinda ute for this job but maybe he knows someone with a trayback. He probably knows just about everybody in Taree.

Just got in touch with Chris. He's gonna come around and take a look but as he reminded me, it's not only Sunday but also Mother's Day. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world... Also, he doesn't know anyone with a trayback ute. YET.

It's mid afternoon now and Chris hasn't showed... so I'm not sure when he will... late today? Tomorrow? He didn't say. People are like that ya know... they think you don't need to go to the toilet or shower or do the shopping or anything like that while you wait for them to arrive. So bugger it... I'll go next door and have a chat with Averil, otherwise she'll think I'm ignoring her.

Ooer! I've been fiddling around with Facebook, and it's almost 7pm! Better jet. Gary

May 12, 2012. The chilly wind didn't eventuate... at least not this far north... so today will be very pleasant @ 24C and sunny. Today is also the day I summon the courage to lower Chateau Mobile so that it rests on the concrete bricks I bought yesterday. You know the footage you see on telly sometimes of skyscrapers being detonated so that they implode and collapse in on themselves? Yeah... well I'm kinda having visions of that.

The problem is, CM is sitting on uneven ground... a sloping driveway, which not only slopes front to back but also from one side to the other. Hmmm. And those bricks are all the same size. Back from checking and it's worse than I thought... one of the jacks is not attached to the van properly. There are two welded hooks that are supposed to slide into slots that support the van but Dan somehow didn't make one of them happen. As you can see, one of the slots is actually resting on the hook... very precariously I might add. I'm just back from a hire place in Taree where I hired a screw jack for $11. Hopefully that will take the load in case the jack slips out of place, which it could easily do if there's a strong gust of wind. 

I can see what happened. All 3 jacks except the offending one are sitting on firm ground. But the 4th jack would be dangling in mid air if not for those 3 wooden chocks beneath it. There's a dip in the concrete drive that's about 3" below the jack's reach. Dan has inadvertently lifted the jack out of the socket in his attempts to make the length of the 4th equal to the other three.

So here I am on my own and it's a two-man job. There's no one around here except geriatrics and loony Linds... and women. And it's a Saturday. In the second photo you can see how the jack is barely making contact with the van on that corner. And to think I was up there the other day taking photos!

Anyway, I've phoned all kinds of people looking for advice or assistance and gotten zip. Everybody suggests you phone someone else. Like the cops... sorry mate... have you given the fire brigade a call? They've got all that lifting equipment. Well, I didn't want to phone emergency for something like this so I phoned the local number and got an answering machine... please call during office hours 9 to 5 weekdays. Yeah, right.

You know what I need? It's all very simple. I need someone with a trayback ute. Back up, lower the van onto the tray, drive forward a few feet to where the ground is more level and those chocks are not needed on the 4th jack, raise the van, drive the ute out, lower the van normally. Boom, boom. So who do I know with a trayback ute? No one 'cept Dan and he's an hour away. Also, the original deal was supposed to be pick-up from his place, which I couldn't do, so he delivered CM to Taree free. He also reckons I'm a great bloke (so he said on my eBay feedback) so I can't disappoint his impression of me hehe.

Oh well... not much I can do now except hope the weather stays calm. Tomorrow, I'll think more about where I can get a trayback from. Hire one? Gary

May 11, 2012. Glorious day yesterday, and another one today. Just like summer. But from tomorrow, a chilly wind will blow from the south and the temperature will plummet to about 20/21C, which is not too bad but not as balmy as 28/29. However, I didn't go sailing along in the Ute to anywhere special... just to the barber shop for a bit of a snip and then Bunnings for 4 concrete bricks. TX Greg calls 'em cinder blocks and reckons they sell for a buck each "over there". Yeah, well not "over here". Four cost me $16.55.

Anyway, I've decided to lower the camper and rest it on the blocks while I await a trayback ute... which could be months away. Since I don't have any experience with operating mechanical jacks, I did a little research on the net yesterday and found this instruction sheet, which, according to TX Greg, is very comprehensive. Once CM is down to almost ground level, Greg suggests plugging the power in and fiddling with all the gadgets to learn how they operate... fridge, stove, a/c, water pump, CD player, etc. He also suggests getting my ass in there the first time it rains to check for leaks with a flashlight. ...and don't forget to lift up the mattress in the cabover and make sure it's dry under the bed. I remember the story of the couple camping...he and his wife started to have sex in the cabover. The wood had rotted and after a few humps there was a big crash as the bed and both of them buck naked landed on the hood of the truck to the amazement of fellow campers watching, hahaha.

Ya know, I've had that Ute six months now and this is the first time I've carried anything remotely workmanlike in the back... 4 bricks.

But Greg's right... gotta play with all the toys to familiarize myself with their workings. And there's no way I'm gonna do that while CM's perched up there in the clouds. It'll also give me a chance to check out the solar panel on the roof.

Now where did I hear or read this? Can't remember but it seems only 14% of elegible voters turned out to vote against marriage equality in North Carolina. What a joke!

Dunno where the day's gone, but it's dark outside already! Catch you tomorrow. Gary

May 10, 2012. I was wondering when Francois would respond to my naming the camper Chateau de Mobile. Is this expression french? If yes, it's "chateau mobile" which is meaning  mobile castle and with this "de" it isn't french. If it's an english expression, just forget what i said here. Anyway congrats to have bought it: your 1st step in the good way. I hope you'll have something to bring it elsewhere soon to begin your odyssey.

Ah! Well, then we had better dump the "de" and go with Chateau Mobile. CM is easier for Richie anyway... he prefers acronyms. I did French and Latin in high school for one year. I think I swapped them for Business Principles and Geography. :-(

Francois goes on to talk about the removal of skin cancers, for which he's had to use a special cream. But after 3 weeks of using the cream, he's feeling pain and nausea, and is exhausted. He also has to stay at home for another 2 months which is frustrating... Francois is an outdoors man and loves the sun. He knows I've also had many skin cancers removed but never mentioned chemo afterwards. True. Maybe mine were not so bad because I don't spend so much time in the sun. When I do, I wear sun screen.

TX Greg says CM looks pretty sharp on the inside. The large outside light on the back for some reason reminded me of a old slogan for a motel chain here "We'll leave the light on for you". Yes you finally have your own portable home, less maid service, hehe :)

Barack Obama talked about a light on the hill when he spoke in Afghanistan recently. Human beings and moths, it seems, have something in common. Christmas cards with traditional scenes of snow-covered streets and trees always show yellow lights in the windows of the houses. As to maid service, well, I reckon I can probably handle 7' x 12' hehe. BTW, that dinette/lounge area can be used to make another double bed but I doubt I'll ever use it. There's a spare cushion covered in the same material in the "loft". Come to think of it, I really like the black and apricot decor. It looks very swisho.

NC Art suggests getting a big bucket of red barn paint and a broom and tarting up the exterior hehe. That'll get some attention whether stationary or whizzing down the highway. I'm not dismissing the idea of turning the outside of CM into bit of a fashion statement. It could be on the cards if I ever have a few bob to spare. I suspect that job was next on the to-do list of whoever renovated the interior, but he/she apparently had an unexpected change of plans for whatever reason... just as Dan did when his marriage folded.

Art then goes on to comment on the marriage equality issue in North Carolina: As expected, the anti-gay marriage amendment was passed overwhelmingly. It has yet to dawn on its supporters that we can now use the constitution to discriminate against anyone we might disapprove of. People with warts or pink hair... or make circumcision mandatory for all male voters, or even female maybe. Hell, it took 150 years before women got to vote, longer than that for black citizens to vote without being lynched by the Ku Klux Klan. And so it goes...backward!

But then, on the other hand, you get Obama supporting same-sex marriage.

Here's a bunch of unusual photographs Art forwarded which I thought were worth putting together on a special page. I was gonna make an album but then thought better of it, and made an HTML page instead... so when you get there, just scroll down to the end. It's called Photos Worth Your Time.

Pay/bills day today, by the way, and I'm sooooo poor! Oh well hehe... gotta be patient. And it's that time again, dear Breth... dinner (pasta and tomato with meat sauce) and a bit of telly. Gary

May 9, 2012. Quite frankly, the fact of the matter is... I'd love a dollar for every time Peter Reith said that on telly last night. Quite frankly, the fact of the matter is Reith is a politician. Another of his favs is the reality is... Others begin every sentence with "clearly" or "let me be quite clear about this..." Polly speak drives me nuts. It's repetitive and meaningless.

Just having a browse through Red Bubble and spotted this shot in Tasmania by my mate Terry. How's this for a spectacular landscape? Terry has traveled extensively around the world, including over a million miles around Oz, so I've got a bit of catching up to do.

Guess what just arrived? The keys to CdeM. So I guess I better go and check it out! 

Done! And the thing didn't fall over while I was inside taking photos. But I crept around being ultra careful not to "rock the boat" as it were. Check out the journal entry here (with a link to the pics).

Well, that took a while to put together with all the link pages and yadda yadda. This site is getting pretty complicated. It's 4pm now. By the way, Loony Linds has been niggling me about CdeM's interior... "can't always believe photos ya know", "I'll believe it when I see it", etc. Yeah? Well, chewy on his boot. He's just hoping that I've blown it again... that I've bought a dud like I did with Das Busse. Sorry, Linds... I've kicked a goal this time. Sorry to disappoint you.

Since I wrote that, he's seen the pics and has begrudgingly admitted that I've done pretty well.

Yes, I'm a very happy chappy. The interior of CdeM is better than I expected - very respectable indeed, and quite comfy. I can imagine feeling completely at home in there (or outside under the awning) no matter where I happen to be. Whoever owned it before Dan did a great job of the carpentry and the interior lining. It's very professional. If the exterior ever needs a bit of cosmetic work done, that's cool. I can handle that. Quite frankly, the fact of the matter is, CdeM is ready to rock and roll around Oz... er, once I get something to put it on.

So there ya go, ladies and genitals, it's just like Oregon Richie says... er, I've forgotten... something about dreams and don't give up and all that kinda stuff. Cos ONE DAY it'll happen. Gary

May 8, 2012. Only in Australia! Absolutely unbelievable!

I received an email this morning containing the story of an Australian fisherman who saved the life of a great white shark by untangling it from one of his nets. The shark was so grateful, it followed the fisherman everywhere and the two formed a mutual affection. Yeah right. Check out the real story here.

I also received an email about the use of WTC steel in the building of an American warship, USS New York. What does the web site Hoax-Slayer have to say about that? No hoax here, folks.

Meanwhile, here's what NC Art has to say about Biden's comment on same-sex marriage: Yeah, I was surprised at Joe Biden's pronouncement on gay marriages. A few days earlier Former prez Bill Clinton told North Carolina what he thought of a state constitutional amendment to spell out precisely what or who people can marry in this state. It is on a special ballot to be voted on Tuesday (tomorrow) and the howling mad fundamentalist Christians seem determined to make it happen. I and mine do not choose to approve of such a vicious, mean spirited measure whose purpose is to appease the backward and the ignorant who believe in discrimination against those awful "others." The thing already is state law, but these assholes want to nail it down tight. For the first time in 105 years the NC legislature has a majority of radical conservatives and has been busy repealing progressive laws and proposing other crap like this.

Art also writes in relation to my intended purchase of a trayback ute: Are you thinking full time 4WD or selective? Seems that full time would be unnecessary and guzzle petrol like a ten-day camel!

Well, I don't think $5K will give me a great deal of choice in the matter. It'll be a case of ya git what ya git. In any case, the Odyssey will be a series of short hops and long stays... no long drives for this kid. CdeM won't be very kind to the fuel gauge either. But, as I said to Dan when we chatted about this very subject, CdeM will be a lot cheaper than motels.

Bright and sunny, the perfect day for doing the laundry... so that's what I'm doing. And when the key for CdeM arrives, I'll check out the interior and do some happy snapping. If you hear a loud bang, you'll know that the van has toppled off its stilts and demolished the garage - with me in it. I'll take a couple of pics of that too using the Fuji S1800 cos it has a wide-ish lens (28mm). I suppose I could do a short vid but I'll save that for later when the van is sitting on a ute. If the tongue is back to normal by then I'll be able to do a running commentary as well. :o)

First load of laundry is hanging on the line. And did I manage to trip over the peg basket and spill pegs all over the place? Yes I did. How did you guess? Meanwhile, the second load is spinning merrily.

And now? Noodles, but they're not as easy to eat as macaroni. The little wriggly buggers are doing their best to scatter in all directions, and my tongue still doesn't have sufficient feeling to know where they are. However, I'm getting the hang of it. Putting them into my mouth involves a lot of purse-lipped sucking. If I were to do this in a restaurant I'd be asked to leave, I'm sure. Persistence, that's what it takes. Besides, I love noodles and I'm determined to win this battle. It's also forcing my mouth to open wider than normal, so I guess that's good exercise in anticipation of the giant burgerwiththeworks I intend to demolish one day soon.

So where's my key? It failed to materialize. Maybe Dan sent it registered mail or something. Anyway, it should be here tomorrow. If not, I'll start making grumbling noises.

"If I had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses." Did Henry Ford really say that? I guess he did... and I think he was right.

Just as I was about to take the laundry off the line, I spotted young Keiran coming home from running a shopping errand for his mom. It's been ages since I chatted with him, so I brought him up to speed with the cancer biz, and CdeM and the Ute. He's looking great - very handsome, in fact - but he hasn't grown an inch! Well, not vertically anyway. He's wearing contact lenses now instead of glasses, and he looks terrific. He's 14 already, and attending Taree high school in year 9. I asked about Josh, who's also doing well... still studying to be a primary school teacher (and doing some prac work in class) at Coffs Harbor university. He should graduate in about 2 years. Anyway, it was a buzz to chat to Keiran again. He radiates joy.

Well, that's about it, dear Breth. Time to post this Waffle and watch a bit of telly. Gary

May 7, 2012. Jeez, it's a bit picadilly this morning so I hope the sun pops out and gets a bit warmer. I need to do the laundry. On the Odyssey it'll be different... probably the local laundromat. But if I'm miles from town, I could do what Steinbeck did... put a few clothes in a bucket with water and detergent, secure the lid, and let it shake rattle and roll as I drive. After an hour or two, remove, rinse, and hang out to dry. I don't iron anything, dear Breth... haven't ironed anything for years. I used to... religiously... but not now. I've decided that wrinkles are cool.

Those relatively severe after effects of the last radiation dose (which the hospital nurse admitted was higher than previously), have settled down now, and my mouth and jaw are feeling okay... not back to normal yet, but okay. I really don't have any idea of when I'll be back to eating normally but the sooner it happens the better! Hopefully within the next month or two.

I got a note this morning that the keys to the back door of CdeM are in the mail, so they should arrive tomorrow (I'm assuming there are two keys... one spare). Then I'll take some pics of the camper interior and post an album. I've also joined a Ford Forum and mentioned that I drive an XG XR6 in good nick. They're pretty rare these days (the model with the quad headlights) and moderately sought after. I mentioned that I need to replace it with a trayback so I'm hoping that some enthusiast out there might make an offer to buy my current chariot. If I can get about $3K for it then an additional $2K-ish should be enough to buy a reasonable old 4WD trayback. Age need not be a prob... it's condition that matters, and regular maintenance.

I just splurged $5 on tomorrow night's $70M Lotto hehe. I figured I'd rather have a one in a billion chance of winning than no chance at all! Anyway, dozen madder. I'm getting where I wanna go, albeit slowly. And I'm having fun.

And now for something completely reasonable... VP Biden on Gay Marriage - Who do you love?

Marriage is not for me, which is a conclusion I arrived at a long time ago. I prefer solo. But that's me. If other people, including same sex couples, wanna tie the knot, fine. I don't see that other people's preferences are any of my business, nor mine theirs.

Back to the subject of eating normally... I just polished off half a bowl of macaroni with cheese and chilli. Not a bad effort, and I didn't bite my tongue once! And I can tell you what... that chilli let me know in a hurry that there's nothing wrong with my taste buds. I reckon I'm at a stage now where I could handle foods that are a little more adventurous... nothing that needs serious biting or chewing, mind you, but stuff that's a bit more solid that I've been having over the past few months. Yeah? Go me!

I've been buggerizing around again today...Googling and Foruming and generally wasting time. Day dreaming! Oh well... a bloke's gotta buggerize around sometimes. Besides, I've almost talked myself hoarse about CdeM lately, so I better lay off a while... at least until tomorrow when I take a bunch of pics. Until then, ladies and genitals, do unto others. Hehe. Gary

May 6, 2012. Here's an excerpt from what I wrote Richie this morning: I remember that part in Travels with Charley when Steinbeck pulled into a service station to refuel. He got talking to the owner who said he'd love to just dump his current life and take off around the US, doing what Steinbeck was doing. When Steinbeck asked him what was holding him back, he said he was too committed to the business and bills and yadda, yadda. It makes me wonder where I would be now if I hadn't gone broke in the mid 90s and lost my way. Maybe I would be like that guy at the service station with too many "excuses" NOT to set myself free. Now I have no valid reason to say no to the Odyssey. Which is kinda scary in a way. Hehe.

But even Steinbeck had a house and a missus waiting for him back home. He had security waiting for him back there. I don't. Once I'm gone, there'll be nothing to return to (not that there's much anyway). I'll be like the proverbial tumble weed except that I'll be tethered to cyber space by a wireless modem.

And on the subject of "home", I wrote: When the day of departure to the great unknown finally arrives, it's gonna be weird on the first night not having to return home. Make that weird for the first week or two. It'll be very interesting to write about, actually... getting used to the idea that home is where ever I am at any given time. Aussie Odyssey will be my address.

I suppose that feeling of being "unattached" to anything physically permanent will fade once I get used to the furnishings and fittings inside CdeM... the things I see around me when I wake each morning... boiling the kettle and making a cuppa. Those things will become associated with being "home" and belonging to something familiar. On occasions when I do go "out" it'll be to visit the caravan next door hehe, for a bite to eat and a bit of a chat with the neighbors. And after that, I'll return "home".

So after spending a month on the road, the feeling could be very different to my first night or two. And after a year? It could have become an addiction. Stay tooned.

NC Art wrote the other day: I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other. That makes me wonder about the title of the book/journal I'll be writing. Steinbeck had Charley for company - hence the title of his book Travels with Charley. But I only have me. Travels with Me? Hehe. Yeah... well, maybe. Steinbeck spent only 3 months on the road and took notes on his manual typewriter. Then he wrote his book when he returned home to his missus. But I'll be writing mine on the fly, publishing the journal on this web site as each chapter is written (provided I'm in an area where I can get on line). But the journal could end up being impossibly lengthy to be published as a book, so it may be that when I'm too bloody old to keep traveling, I'll write a condensed version and publish it as a book, together with selected photos. Anyway, all that remains to be seen. I haven't even started yet!

"Your son is quite intelligent, Mrs Kelly, but he spends all his time in class day dreaming!" So my teacher said according to my mother. I left school at 14 after passing the Intermediate Certificate with flying colors (Year 9). My mother dragged me into the city to undergo a vocational test (or whatever the damn things are called) and they said I would make a great lawyer or journalist. Hehe. So mom made me sit for an entrance exam and IQ test for admission to the Registrar General's Department as a clerk. I was to study at night school for my Leaving Certificate (graduation) and then study law at university. Yeah right. I had other ideas and, after a stint at the RG's, I got a job as a DJ at Long John's Disco in Kings Cross. See what happens when you don't listen to your mother's advice? You end up broke, on your ass, and caring for a couple of ratbags like Lindsay and Sue.

HOW-BLOODY-EVER, it seems to me that the wheel of life is about to turn full circle, and the kid who wouldn't listen - who broke all the rules - is now about to embark on his greatest day dream. :o)

Meanwhile, Land Rover owner and greatest fan thereof, Oregon Richie, sent this link to a story about the British marque's epic transcontinental road trip from Birmingham to Beijing. Read the story and check out the stunning pics.

You wanna learn a thing or two about positive psychology? You wanna learn a thing or two about Happiness and its Causes? Check out Dr Martin Seligman. I watched him last night and he said basically what I've always believed. If you wanna be happy, if you wanna get rid of depression, do something nice for someone else.

It's true ya know. You think I'm doing this Odyssey thing for moi? No way, Jose. I'm doing it for THEE. I figure if I keep you entertained and happy you'll write lots of emails telling me how wonderful I am.

TX Greg used to work for an RV dealer. Did you know that? Well, he did (so did Oregon Richie, actually) and my recent purchase of CdeM has revived many memories for Greg, including memories of RV fridges, which are quite unlike the common compressor freon models used in homes today.

The Absorption type fridge is actually one of the oldest forms of refrigeration. Remember the old style coffee percolators? Well that’s kind of the way this fridge works. Ammonia liquid in a sealed coil is boiled into a gas vapor, either by the electric heating element or the gas burner, and as the gas condenses back to a liquid it pulls the heat out of the fridge. The reason they are still used in RV’s today is simple, self-contained, don’t have to rely on electricity. But there are major limits to what you can expect these units to handle.

Greg forgets that I had one of those fridges in my VW Kombi campervan for 8 years. Hehe. I had it running off the battery while driving, and gas when  stationary. CdeM has solar so I'll use that some of the time and gas for longer periods. One trick is to turn the fridge off overnight to conserve power, and turn it back on in the morning. The second battery Dan installed is a regular 12v auto battery, but one of these days I'll check out deep-cycle batteries. They ain't cheap tho! Hey, what am I talking about? The quarterly power bill in this house is enough to buy one deep cycle battery designed to last 10 years! And the solar panel should last 20 years! And the sun is free! Go figure.

Greg reckons I should crank the camper down so it's not so high off the ground, but I've checked the jacks and they don't move a millimeter - forwards, backwards or sideways. They did at one stage when Dan was raising it off the box trailer but that was before the weight was evenly distributed. Anyway, it's in an awkward position at the mo, between a garage wall and a bunch of shrubbery. Just now I used a 5-step ladder to check out the solar panel on the roof but it's not long enough. I did see part of the frame that anchors the panel and it looks pretty substantial, so I'd say it's a pretty big panel. Dan said a 50 or 60 watter, and then raved on about watts and volts but it all went straight over my head. I also noticed quite a few small dents in the side walls so I figure either CdeM's been parked on a golf course from time to time or been the victim of hail.

NC Art suggests that as far as tarting up old vans is concerned, I should follow the lead of Afghans and Pakistanis. Uh... no thanks. Bit rich for me. Art also says, I've never seen a cuddly camel, but that beast shown in the link is the most loathsome critter I can imagine! Great photograph though. Camels were used during early exploration of Oz but became redundant after the introduction and spread of motor cars and trucks. Their handlers (mostly Afghans) were told to dispose of their charges by shooting them. But the handlers had developed a strong affection for their even-toed ungulates and refused to kill them. Instead, they freed them and let them roam wherever they pleased. The camels quickly adapted to the Aussie outback and flourished. Now there are millions of the feral beasts doing significant harm to the environment's scarce water resources. However, as an alternative to Government controlled culling programs, Camels Australia Export has developed markets for trade in live camels and camel meat. The Birdsville Pub out in the middle of nowhere (pop 120) is famous for its curry camel pies and other outback delicacies.

Speaking of curry camel pies, I just made a scrambled egg for lunch. Yes, folks, ONE egg. Last time I used two and couldn't eat it all. Mmmm. Not bad. A friend of mine calls them 'bum nuts'.

Anyway, Richie's link to the Birmingham to Beijing bash put me in the mood to check out old Land Rovers that might be for sale, and look at what I found. It's enough to make a grown man cry. What a great old girl that is... perfect for Chateau de Mobile but I'M NOT READY YET! It's at Spring Ridge (pop 437) west of Taree, a good day's drive. I wonder if the guy would do a swap? I wrote him anyway.

Jeez, imagine that... CdeM sitting on the tray of an old series III Landy. What a good look!

There goes another day, dear Breth. I've frittered the afternoon away... and forgotten to do the laundry as well! But there's no one to spank me so who cares. Gary

May 5, 2012. About this time last year I rented a RAV4 (which cost a fortune) and drove to Tamworth to collect a Toyota campervan which turned out to be a pile of junk. I was devastated, and six months later I sold it. But as Oregon Richie often says, "keep your eyes on the prize". One year later, faith in my dream was justified when Chateau de Mobile turned up in my driveway. Just goes to show how much difference a year can make (with a cancer scare thrown in for good measure hehe).

Quite a few times over the past six years, I've doubted my ability to get this Odyssey thing happening. I figured it was just another case of Kelly's got a million ideas but none of them work. I'm not sure what kept pushing me despite the doubts. Maybe it was the realization that if not the Odyssey, then what?

I watched a story last night on telly about an Aussie who is the world's oldest university graduate at age 97. Hehe. His first degree was way back in 1936. He has four degrees altogether... the last was a law degree in 2006. Now there's a bloke who can teach us all a lesson about "it's never too late to try something new".

TX Greg wants to know if I've decided to leave CdeM standing on jacks or lower it and stand it on cinder blocks. (I had to do a Google to see what cinder blocks are).  Well, I think I'll leave it on the jacks. Each of those jacks is supporting about 150kgs so that should be okay. They look extremely sturdy and feel rock solid. I'll just check regularly to make sure the weight is evenly distributed. The two jacks sitting on grass should be okay because that earth has been undisturbed for about 40 years or more. I saw what happened when the new fence was erected and they needed a Bobcat to dig a trench. Then they tried a manual posthole digger but had to upgrade to a motorized one because the ground was so hard.

NC Art wrote: Seems you have got yourself a nice looking travel rig, uh except for a camel to park it on. I hadda smile cos you were so damned pleased with the acquisition. Now let us see the innards when you get the key. Next off, you gotta get the tongue and teeth working so you can chew/swallow a tough roasted leg of lamb. Then the extra plumbing goes in the dust bin and you're good to go. Happy trails to you, as cowboy Roy Rogers sang to Dale Evans and his horse in old movies

When I get the key, I'll have to check the camper's steadiness before I venture inside to take piccies. I'd be happier if the thing was lowered to about a foot off the ground but then I'd have to wind it up again when the time comes to park it on a camel. However, the one pictured below is about the same height off the ground and no one seems perturbed. The pic was taken in 1979 when the old Freeway was near new. They hauled it half way around the Outback (on the back of a 2WD Ford ute) before driving east across Queensland to Townsville, and then down the coast through Brisbane and back to Sydney. The pic comes from the Vintage Caravans website.

Actually, I've not thought of CdeM as being "nice looking"... the outside is a bit battered and bruised after 30-ish years of being hauled around the country (I bet she could tell a few stories), but she's practical. Moreover, the inside has been refurbished with new timber cupboards, paneling, shelving and various other appointments. Slide-ons use space very cleverly and creatively, providing the comforts of a caravan with the convenience of a campervan. No shower or loo inside but that's okay. I'll use public conveniences when available, or my pop-up shower/loo tent. Water is very heavy to carry, and I'd rather not carry any more than necessary.

Here's what Oregon Richie had to say: Now then... I'm glad the slide-on camper has made it to your home and I think it's a pretty cool little unit, all in all... and can stand on its own jack-stands !!  I'll look forward to the rest of the pics, and of course when she's all mounted on and tied down and good to go, as it were.... I'm sure you are pretty glad it's there and seems like you are on the right track... with all matters be they practical or anything else.  Ticket to ride, indeed !!  It's never too late, of course.... and as the old song goes.... "Hold on tight.... to your dreams.......".

As to tarting up the exterior of CdeM, well, maybe I could eventually get around to doing something like this... or this... or this... or this. It's amazing what a coat of paint and a little imagination can do ya know. Anyway, I haven't felt this good about a house since I had my little cottage in Glebe. And you know why? Cos IT'S MINE! Mineminemineminemineminemine MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!

As to that pic above, I'll have millions like that some day, with Chateau de Mobile parked in all kinds of interesting places... by the sea, by a billabong, in the bush by a creek, with Uluru in the background, way out in the middle of the Nullabor, with the Harbor Bridge and Opera House in the background, with Parliament House in the background... actually, the mind boggles. Yeah! That can be a kind of sub-plot to the Odyssey, to see how many places I can feature Chateau de Mobile in a photograph. Hehe. That sounds like fun!

Have you got the pronunication of Chateau de Mobile right yet? Chateau de Mo-beeeeele. What that has to do with an Aussie-built slide-on traveling the Land Down Under I have no idea... but it dozen madder. And neither does a Japanese camel (which will probably be the breed that eventually carries it).

Well, that's it for another day, Dear Breth. Same time, same station tomorra. Gary

May 4, 2012. Guess who's arriving any minute now? Dan with Chateau de Mobile. He decided to deliver it Friday instead of Saturday. And here's another bonus with this thing... he lives about a half hour's drive from here at Laurieton. Lots of the campers I've seen for sale on eBay and Gumtree, etc, have been miles away in other states. So I think this one was destined for Uncle Gary. Hey, I even lost Round 1 of the auction and then got a Second Chance when the winner reneged! Does that sound like destiny or what? 

TX Greg was wondering about the jacks on CdeM... mechanical or hydraulic. These are mechanical, and like Greg says, a bit more elbow grease but less to go wrong. However he did quote something I wrote yesterday: "Well, there's not much that can go wrong with one of's just a box that sits on the back of a ute." Hehe, I'm going to remember that quote :)-----

So what happens now? Nuthin'. At least not for a while. But it looks like 2013 will be the year of the Odyssey, which will make it about 6 years since I first hatched the idea. Oh how I long for my house on wheels. Jeez, imagine how many places I could travel in the next 6 years, being on the road every day. That's almost 2200 days!

Oops! It's almost 9:30 and no Dan, so I'm visualizing CdeM scattered all over the highway in pieces. Nope. All's well. He just phoned and said he'd been delayed (probably picking up the pieces), and will be here within the hour. I am a bit of a worry wart, ya know.

So where was I? Oh yes... 2200 days. A day here, a couple of days there could mean visiting a thousand places! That's a lotta shutter button clicking, and sausages on campfires.

Dan greeted me out in the street and asked if I lived in this house. "I hope so, mate. I've been wandering around in there and so far nobody has said anything." He's a pretty cluey bloke, and backed CdeM down the drive without too much trouble (given that all the shrubbery on the driver's side blocked his vision somewhat). So I helped by keeping an eye on things. Then he spent the best part of an hour setting up CdeM on jacks and making sure the weight was evenly distributed on uneven ground. He was most helpful indeed, and even supplied a couple of chocks to sit under the jacks. I mentioned Greg's concern about the corner brackets and he said, "those things are as strong as..." They looked pretty solid to me.

Turns out he bought the camper not all that long ago for about the same price I paid... so he didn't lose much, and is not all that pissed off. He's selling it because he's gone through a divorce and has had to change his plans. BTW, the little dude with the check shirt 10 times too big, holding the rear door open in one of the photos on eBay is his nephew. I thought it might have been his son. One time, he had CdeM sitting on the Rodeo tray and took it on a camping holiday for a couple of weeks out west of Wauchope in mountainous country with winding dirt roads and said the camper was rock solid on the tray, with no alterations to the standard suspension. Incidentally, that boat across the road in the pic is for sale @ $7500 including trailer and outboard.

While he was here, he made up a special lead which connects the second battery to the solar thingy and provides the camper with 240v power. How cool! BUT... the silly boi forgot to bring the damn keys to CdeM's back door! So I told him I wasn't going anywhere and not to worry. He's gonna post the keys to me rather than drive all the way back. Any Qs I have he can answer via email.

The thing that really surprised me was just how damn big the thing is! It makes Das Busse look like a toy, and Bluey even more so. As you can see, it sits almost as high as the garage. It'll come down a little when it's resting on the ute tray but even so, it's a lot taller and bigger than a regular campervan. I asked Dan about the interior and he said it's all been renovated. It looks really cool inside. I can't wait to see it! The outside is a bit rough, with a few dings here and there, but that's okay. I can handle that. Judging by the dings in the leading edges of the top of the cab over, CdeM has had a few altercations with tree branches over the years hehe. I'm gonna have to watch that... as well as shopfront awnings and low-flying kookaburras.

Another thing Dan mentioned was attaching some kind of deflector (nose cone) under the cab over to stop wind buffeting the flat section of wall near the small window, and to improve fuel economy. The gap between the roof of the ute and the underside of the cab over is about 14 inches. 

I took about a dozen pics today and will take a lot more, including interior shots, when I get the keys. Then I'll post an album some time next week.

Yes, ladies and genitals, I think I've done pretty well this time around. That old dame is one serious camper! And it even comes with tie-downs!

And now as the sun sinks slowly in the west and the clouds turn pink, it's time for this old geezer to feed his face and watch a bit of telly. And remember, as NC Art always says, just because one of the kids at the day-care center is resisting a rest, doesn't mean you should call the police. Gary

May 3, 2012. Weeeell, another nice morning... sunny and blue. 

TX Greg wrote: I noticed in the (camper) pics that the jacks are currently off the camper, only the corner brackets. I think I have mentioned before that you really need to check those corner brackets for rotted wood where the lag bolts screw in. I’ve just seen it happen before, raise up camper, corner rotted, camper falls, and major damage.

Hmmm. I imagine Dan would be pretty thorough about things like that. He runs his own antenna biz and is a bit of a handyman type. He bought his Holden Rodeo as a "repairable" write-off a few years ago and did it up. But I'll check.

Before he gets there to unload it you also need to think about putting some type of blocking under those jacks where youre putting it on your driveway so the jacks don’t sink in the ground. Your gravel driveway isn’t like concrete! You might even want to lower it and have the camper set on cinder blocks so the weight will be off the jacks in case one jack cylinder fails.

Yep, I've thought about sitting the jacks on something solid. I've emailed Dan and asked him to bring something. He's probably got bits of this and that lying around in his yard or shed. Not sure what the height will be once it’s on a tray back, but you might need an elevator to get inside :) I was worried about that myself, and wondered what he meant by "cab clearance is 1190mm". So I wrote and asked him. It's the distance between the tray and the underside of the cab it should be okay. You’re going to have to do something better for steps than what I see in this pic. Just don’t want to see you breaking a leg before you leave the driveway!!! Yeah, yeah, yeah... don't worry, Greggie baby... everything will be hunky dory.

...As soon as I figure out what I'm gonna do about tie-downs, that is. Hehe. There's always something! I don't want my slide-on to end up being a slide-off!

Greg is sad that I've wasted a lot of time and money on boo boos like Bluey and Das Busse and haven't even slept one night under the stars in the Outback yet! True. But maybe attending to the cancer business and getting it out of the way before I hit the road was meant to be. This stomach tube dangling down my leg ain't a good look either. As to the Ute, I'm confident I'll get my money back, or close to it. She's a good car. But I suspect a 4WD trayback will cost a bit more. And the slide-on? Well, there's not much that can go wrong with one of's just a box that sits on the back of a ute. If I look after it, it'll last for years. Ditto, me.

Steve W had this to say about a choice of vehicle: I have done a lot of travelling around Oz, usually towing a boat, but if you want to see the best spots, you really do need a 4WD. Yes more expensive, but you will access places that you won't otherwise be able to. If you are still looking for a ute, you cannot go past a Nissan Navara, 4wd diesel. Drove one around Oz and it would pull anything out of anywhere. If you can find one under say, 150,000 kms grab it. They are a great machine. My two and a half penny's worth.

Thanks for the tip, Steve. I've noticed a few NNs around the traps at reasonable prices, but I've gotta get my finances back in order before I make the next plunge. With winter coming, that won't be a major hassle - too cold to go anywhere anyway.

So here I am, ladies and genitals, a couple of years off 70 with practically nothing to show for it except a crazy idea and an old camper. But ya never know ya luck. I might just manage to kick a goal before I kick the bucket. Sometimes I think about all my former colleagues wallowing in all their money and success, wearing expensive clothes, dining in posh restaurants, living the Life of Riley, and how embarrassed I should feel by comparison about being a failure. But I don't feel that way ya know. Hehe. I just feel that this old dog's day is a bit late in arriving.

Actually, I must say I do feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement about securing the purchase of Le Chateau de Mobile. Hehe. Les antique caravanes such as this are not easy to find in decent nick, and CERTAINLY not easy to find under $5K with solar power, air con, awnings, jacks and all the other goodies mine has. Remember when I used to sit in Das Busse parked in the backyard in the hope that I could acclimatize myself? Didn't work. But this time, I got a feeling CdeM and I are gonna get along like a house on fire (probably not the best of metaphors, that one). You wanna see cool? Check out this site for major cool!

Averil just called. She's not been a well girl lately but she's improving. She said that today is the 5th anniversary of Kev's death. "You wouldn't last five minutes in the bush!" he once told me hehe. Bloody old stirrer he was. Anyway, we're all in the same damn queue so I better get my act together before it's too late to discover Oz! Gary

May 2, 2012. On telly the other night, Australian Story was about Lynn White, a full-time advocate for animal welfare. In a complex modern world, there aren't too many people who can galvanize the nation on a single issue. Lyn White is one such person. She first featured on Australian Story ten years ago. Back then she was a former South Australian police officer embarking on a new career as an advocate for animals. No one could have guessed the drama and the headlines that would follow. Going where most fear to tread, armed only with a small camera, Lyn White has ignited a fiery debate about the future of Australia's live cattle trade with Indonesia, after her evidence of gross mistreatment by abattoir workers was made public on Four Corners.

I watched the show and found myself at odds with Lynn when she said she couldn't be an advocate for animal welfare and eat them. So what does she feed her pet dogs? Corn flakes? Nature has seen fit to create what we know as the 'food chain'. Plants provide food for herbivores, which turn it into meat for carnivores. I have no problem with vegetarianism but to say you can't believe in animal welfare and be a meat eater is taking it a bit too far. You can watch the show or read the transcript here.

Meanwhile, after forgetting to post April 30 Waffle on the 30th but then posting it the next day, May 1, NC Art is wondering if the radiation treatment has affected my brain. Indubitably. Furthermore, he doesn't blame Oregon Richie or TX Greg for being confused about my on-again, off-again camper/ute decisions. I too wonder, since your Ute is such a sweet running rig, why start over on the quest to replace it with some unknown vehicle to accommodate the camper part of the deal, tail wags dog-wise. Oh well, DownUnderites are at least as peculiar as Americans.

Well, I agree... to a point. But I bought the Ute last November before I was fully conversant with the tub versus trayback issue. I thought a ute was a ute was a ute but it turns out that's not the case. This pic is off the net but it's similar to the camper I bought. Mine also has those two side storage boxes at the bottom. If you remove them, you have a slide-on that will fit a tub ute like mine. So why don't I remove the storage boxes and keep my Ute? BECAUSE I'd have nowhere to store stuff. What's more, Dan has added an extra storage area that fits flush with all sides of the camper base, and sits neatly on a trayback ute. So it's really quite simple. Remove all the storage boxes and keep my current vehicle, or keep all the storage boxes and get a trayback. If I'd known all this before I bought the Ute, I would have bought a trayback instead. As I wrote Richie, this morning, I wish I'd known what I know now when I still had TT.

Another advantage I MIGHT have in my quest for another ute is an opportunity to buy a 4WD. I don't intend to rough it too much on the Odyssey but many national parks and camping areas are only accessible by dirt road.

TX Greg wrote: No, can't call it Trailer Trash. That's more a term for someone living in a true mobile home. It was also a failed attempt by me to crack a joke. I think you should call it Donkey. There are two ways to look at a name: the means of carrying you on the Odyssey, or well hehe you get the other definition :) I do?

John Steinbeck in his book Travels With Charley made reference to 'Trailer Trash' back in the '60s. He visited a trailer park and was quite impressed with how well equipped they were, even back then. He also pointed out how practical they were for people working in certain industries who might have to change jobs or locations from time to time. Instead of having to sell up house and move everything, all they had to do was relocate the trailer. Too easy.

Pardon me while I decipher Dan's measurements into something I can understand:
Total width of camper (excluding roll-out awning) is 2095mm... 6.8'
Total height (excluding Solar panel) is 2250mm... 7.38' 
Length of floor is 2310mm... 7.58'
Width of tray skid timbers is 1835... 6.02'
The height of the added storage underneath is 280mm... 11"
Cab clearance is 1190mm... 3.9'

He doesn't include the full length (including cab over) but my guess is about 12' - 13'. As Richie and I discussed one time, having the sleeping quarters separate from the rest of the camper means you don't have to rearrange the dinette or whatever every time you wanna get into or out of bed.

Unless there's a problem, Dan will deliver the camper on Saturday morning. I spent today pruning more branches and stuff to make room. Stan could do it in minutes with his slasher but he's swanning around Queensland somewhere on holidays.  I've got a good feeling about this camper. I think it's gonna work out okay. The exterior looks a tad shabby in places but the interior seems recently re-furbished. Those materials are not 30+ years old. Seems like Dan had big plans for this old girl but, for whatever reason, they changed.

By the way, the weather today was brilliant... almost like summer. Gary

May 1, 2012. Another month gone and the year's almost half way through! However, January, for me, does seem a long time ago because it's when I was a patient at Royal Prince Albert in Sydney... which seems like an experience from a previous life. Even all the radiation business at Port Macquarie and the stomach tube business seems oddly alien, like a series of bad dreams.

Anyway, I spoke to Dan the Man this morning about paying for the camper. He sounds quite young, probably 30-ish. Yesterday, though, I got sidetracked reading various forums about slide-ons and center of gravity and stability and weight distribution and fuel consumption, etc, etc. There's a lot more to hauling a slide-on around than I thunk. All the contributors to the forums agree that weight is a major issue and needs to be treated seriously.  Those older slide-ons weigh about 600/700kgs dry (1300/1500 pounds), and are a bit top heavy, especially mounted on a trayback. They were originally designed for tub utes. Most correspondents recommend the fitting of bellows type airbag suspension to the rear of a ute destined to carry a slide-on, particularly if it's going to be a fairly permanent arrangement. A pair of airbags costs about $500 and I'd guess about the same for fitting. But apparently they improve handling and overall stability dramatically.

So there I was last evening reading forums and forgetting all about posting Waffle. The consensus of opinion is that slide-ons are a good idea provided proper attention is paid to weight and suspension issues, and that a suitable vehicle is used to haul the camper. Increased fuel consumption is apparently far less of an issue when carrying a load than it is compared to towing. Many users of slide-ons like the idea of having their hitch free to tow a boat (or trailer). Another advantage is being free to use 4WD tracks without towing anything.

Speaking of rough bush tracks, I don't see myself getting too adventurous in that department. I read a little about a 4WD track that runs almost a thousand kilometers from Kununurra west to Derby across the Kimberley in the top end of Oz. All very picturesque and geologically significant BUT... The Kimberley experiences monsoonal rains (wet season) from December - March, which will often wash away tracks and bridges. The Gibb River Road becomes impassable at crossings such as the Barnett, Hann, Durack, Pentecost and King Rivers. Road closures during the wet season are a part of life in the Kimberley. Travel must be limited to the months of March - November and only then by checking current road conditions and weather reports for possible effects of cyclone activity experienced. Once the dry season has settled in, the graders will make a couple of attempts to smooth out the worst of the ruts but they cannot cut out the corrugations. 

Nuff said. Timid little Gary here will stick to the tried and true, thank you very much. The dear boy has no desire to be posthumously awarded for anything even remotely brave.

Meanwhile, Dan's loss is my gain, and it goes some way to compensating me for the losses I made on Bluey and Das Busse. Things I don't need to buy now are a/c, awnings, a solar panel, deep cycle battery and inverter, CD stacker, legs, storage boxes, etc, all of which would add up to a tidy sum. But I do need to buy another ute, and I don't expect it'll be a clean swap. That'll be another story for another day. 

Here's a Freeway that sold for $7,200... looks a bit high on the tray through. Here's one from a dealer who wants $10,000. And here's one we won't even talk about.

By the way, Art, I tried twice this morning to answer your mail "Blogged off?" and they both bounced. But no one else's did, so I dunno what's going on. Gary


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