Location: Manning Valley
Date: May 2012

May 26, 2012. Last evening after the rain had stopped, the clouds decided to hang around. I drove over the Martin Bridge to the south bank of the Manning River in anticipation of a sunset. Nothing much had happened after the sun had disappeared, and I was about to leave, when I noticed some of the cloud turning red. So I waited, and I'm glad I did. The lower the sun sank below the horizon, the redder the clouds became, and I was treated to a pretty special show by Nature. Click here for the photo album.

May 20, 2012. Yesterday afternoon I took a drive to Talawahl Nature Reserve, about 10 kms south of Taree, and followed Breakneck road to the Lookout. I'd been there a couple of years ago but in the morning when the sun was directly in front of the camera. So this time I chose late afternoon hoping for some better shots and maybe even a sunset. But it didn't quite happen that way. Nonetheless, some of the pics are okay and there are a couple of shots of Taree nestled in the valley. It looks pretty small from up there - hardly a city of 20,000. You'll notice a pink haze on the horizon caused by smoke from fires lit by the Rural Fire Service during their regular hazard reduction program. I was alone at the lookout until some guys in their 4WDs turned up and gave me a few more photographic opportunities. Click here for the photo album.

May 10, 2012. My friend Art from North Carolina sent a bunch of interesting and unusual photos today, which I thought deserved a page of their own. Click here for Photos Worth Your Time.

May 9, 2012. And here it is, dear Breth! Chateau de Mobile. As you know, I've spent years trying to get my transport for the Odyssey right. First the idea of towing a caravan with Tough Titties (the old HQ Holden), then Bluey the Nissan Nomad, then the Toyota Hi Ace campervan (which was a wreck) and now, ye olde Freeway slide-on, circa 1980.

I've been checking out old slide-ons for a while now, and particularly after buying the Ford Falcon XG ute in November 2011. I spotted CdeM about a week ago on eBay, when the auction had reached less than $2000. Woohoo! So I followed it and on the final day, as expected, the bids came thick and fast as the final hours and then minutes ticked by. I was the highest bidder at $4700 until the last few seconds when I was outbid. Damn!

But the following day, eBay emailed me and said the highest bidder had reneged on the deal and that I now had a second chance at buying the van. Yeah? Who me? Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause. I agreed, and then got in touch with the owner. I scraped up every last penny - cash, borrowed, whatever - and told the owner I could pay in two stages... Monday and the following Thursday. He accepted, and then delivered the van the next day, Friday. 

Dan was fantastic. He reversed the thing into the yard and maneuvered it into a spot in front of the spare garage. It wasn't easy, but he got it there with no mishaps. Then he spent about an hour setting it up on jacks. And he did all that gratis... (but only because I convinced him I was broke, geriatric and stupid hehe). Then when the big moment came to check out the interior, he gave me a sheepish look and admitted he'd forgotten to being the keys to the door. No worries. I wasn't going anywhere. So the keys arrived in the mail today (Wednesday).

I'm thrilled. $4700 is cheap, but an absolute bargain when you consider all the extras that come with it: air conditioning, solar power, 240v inverter, second battery, two pull-out awnings (side and rear), CD stacker, 4 mechanical jacks, tons of storage, stainless steel water tank and 12v pump and... get this... a refurbished interior that's as good as new. Has this kid done well or has this kid done well? The exterior is a bit shabby here and there, with a few minor battle scars but overall I'm tickled pink.

The van is standing pretty high off unlevel ground at the mo, and I was a bit nervous about getting inside to take pics. So I tippy toed around hoping the thing didn't topple. As a consequence, there's nothing too adventurous or creative in terms of the photos, but they'll do for now. In fact, some of the pics are lopsided because I took them one-handed while I was hanging on to something else to keep my balance. I didn't take pics of the sleeping area. I'll do that another time when I can climb in there and let the light in.

Next step? Find me a trayback 4WD ute and sell the Ford. The Ford is unsuitable because it's a tub ute. But that's okay... no hurry. I've got this cancer thing to finalize yet, and it's coming into winter. Speaking of cancer, as I was gingerly backing out of the doorway, and feeling my way down the ladder while taking a few more pics, my stomach feeding-tube caught on something and the lid popped open, spurting puke all over the place. Luckily, I was out of the van by then and the smelly goo went over my track pants leg, shoe, and a bit over my shirt. The rest went on the ground. The laundry is next door so I made good use of running water and a cloth. Okay... time to check out the photo album. And no, I didn't take any pics of the puke.


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