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Some Jobs, Some Responsibilities, Still No Better Time Than Now
Hello Everyone! By now, I feel reasonably assured that anyone crazy enough to be following my travels already knows who I am, and has a good idea of who my lovely partner in crime is (No, not Tom), Kristi. However, for those new to the report, a little run down may be necessary.
Me: Alex Smith, now 26yrs old, intrepid traveler, in love with life and his girl friend/recently turned fiancée Kristi. Kristi: 24yrs old, wonderfully beautiful, larger than life spirit, and a fanciful dreamer.
Together, our plan is to travel the world, and I aim to do everything necessary to make it happen.
By now, the previous adventure in which my riding partner Tom Reuter and I undertook a ride from Seattle to Argentina during the Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2011, is but a memory. However there are some among us that bear scars as proof of the journey. Along that journey came many ridiculous and adventurous situations, comical incidents, and disastrous events.
In the 13 months that have elapsed between my return from South America, and our current recent departure from the USA and arrival in Australia, a few eventful things have happened. I went back to my old job for a few weeks, bought a radical 2009 DR650 from a member of the ADVrider community, road it home across the states from Alabama, got a job at a motorcycle shop for 7 months, got a job laying carpet for 10 weeks, and rode miscellaneous motorcycles a total of over 15k miles. Basically, I spent the first summer at home in over 7 years. My parents were happy, my friends were happy, Kristi was very happy, and life was good. Best of all, I asked Kristi to marry me, and she said yes.
In the interim period, Kristi and I developed the best laid plans of mice and men, and purchased working holiday visas for the Country/Continent of the famous Land Down Under, aka Australia. Shortly thereafter, we bought ourselves some one way tickets. For us, it was the next logical step. Without a serious stash of cash in the bank, we planned to allow Australia to provide us the opportunity to travel the country, why supporting ourselves financially while we’re there. We hoped it would work out as well, as the one way plane tickets, and non-refundable visa applications set us back just under $2,800 USD.
Well, we’ve only just arrived here in Sydney, Australia, and we were lucky enough to know someone here that could come collect us. My friend, Josh, whom bought a motorcycle from another traveling partner while in Panama, and then rode it to Vancouver, BC before flying home, collected us at the airport. We don’t know what will happen next, nor do we have a general plan other than finding jobs nearly ASAP. We’ll go where the wind blows us, and if we’re lucky enough, we’ll find a cheap motorcycle to ride when we can. What happens after Australia is also unknown, but we now have a wedding to keep in mind, and Kristi will not likely let me forget that!
The events have since transpired as follows!
We’re off! At least, that’s what I was thinking on the morning of Wednesday, January 16th. I hadn’t slept more than a couple of hours that night. Why? Because. Like always I had left 100% off my packing to the very last minute. It was reminiscent of a previous trip I seem to remember. Anyhow, it happened that I only forgot one thing; my camera battery charger. However, it was already charged. That previous adventure had me riding nearly 200 miles on 2hrs of sleep. This time, my sister, and her lovely children, my niece Ellie (4yrs) and nephew Spencer (2yrs) came up from their apartment (basement of the house) to see Kristi and I before we took off. Brandon, my brother in law, couldn’t be bothered. He’s too practical, as he knows I’ll have to come back eventually!
Please meet my lovely sister and her babies.
When I left home the first time, Ellie had just turned 2yrs old, and Spencer hadn’t been born as my Sister was 7.5 months pregnant. This time, I have a chance of being remembered when I come home. My sister gave me a proper goodbye. She also made me kickass travel cards (business cards for travelers) that have a picture of Kristi and I on the front with our names and emails. AWESOME.
Kristi spent the night at her family’s house the night before, and that morning Kristi’s mom Debbie dropped her off at my house. Please meet my future Mother in Law! Mom #2.
My Dad on the other hand, never likes to see me go away for any length of time. However, he fully understands. He’s the one that taught me anyhow. So in lieu of better options, he pretends to be ok with everything. Jolly even. It’s a good thing too, because if he got emotional, I would too. And then so would Kristi, and surely our mothers would follow suit, and then we’d all be a mess. So here is my Dad, with a rather bland look on his face, as if to say, “Heeeey”. I’m sure you can imagine. Meet my father.
He takes more pictures than I do however, and always has his camera around. He’s old school though, and won’t buy himself a kick ass camera. I might have to gift him one some time. Here he is saying goodbye the best he knows how.
Somehow, I finagled my lovely mother into driving Kristi and I to the Vancouver International Airport. Turns out she pulled a fast one, and used it as an excuse to visit her brother, my uncle, while in Canada. Here’s my lovely mother.
Kristi and I decided that a parting shot would be wise. We want to know what we used to look like a year from now. Maybe we’ll have tan bodies? Not likely, not for me at least.
Neither of us had ever been in the departing area of the Vancouver airport before, and thought that the large salt water aquarium was pretty neat. There were all kinds of local sea life inside.
Sooner than later, we were seated on our flight. We flew via China Eastern Airlines from Vancouver, B.C to Shanghai, China (Pudong International Airport) as our first leg. It was 12hrs and 15 minutes. However, every seat had a video screen with its personal controller/game controller, and while I read an entire book by Robert Heinlein, Kristi watched 4 movies.
We were fed numerous times. One of the snacks looked like a poppy seed hamburger bun, but turned out to be a meat pie. It thought it was good, but Kristi hand me hers. More for me!
Upon arrival in Shanghai, we were herded like goats through the International transfer area to the bordering area for our next flight.
We decided to take a rest and sit down for a while.
Kristi however, decided to do an imitation Gangnam style dance while she had the chance to be in China.
For those of you, like me, that don’t know what that means. Check this video at 27 seconds to get the idea.
About 12hrs, another book, and 2.5 meals later. Kristi could be found celebrating our arrival in Sydney. Note the massive suitcase under her travel backpack. We came prepared for everything.
20 minutes later, we were in the 15 minute parking lot waiting area piling our worldly belongings into a mini cooper that had a steering wheel on the wrong side. Josh was at the wheel! Not only was it nice and sunny the day we arrived in Australia, it was also the hottest day ever recorded in history in Sydney with temps hitting 45.8* C (a whopping 114*F). It was outrageously hot.
However, we had no time to loose, and after checking in with Josh at his place, we changed our clothes, took a shower, and went for a walk while Josh went back to work. After Josh returned from work, the three of us took off to the local train station to head down town for a show.
Josh gave us a bit our tour on the way to the State Theater.
We didn’t know it, but Josh had weaseled his way into a few complimentary tickets to see David Byrne and St. Vicent, live. I had no idea what I was in for.
This was the interior of the theater. It’s easily one of the nicest, if not the nicest that I’ve ever been to.
Presently we were being acoustically accosted by the awesome music of David Byrne and his musical partner St. Vincent. And it was awesome.
If you guys don’t know who David Byrne is by name or by sight, as I didn’t. Check this link, as I’m sure the majority of you have heard this guy before. He’s epic.
After the show, we went back to Josh’s and hung out. Then today, Saturday the 19th, we did more of the same. However I have managed to apply for 4 totally different jobs, and will be looking for more tomorrow as well.
The last couple of days have been a good time here in Australia, with Kristi and I coming around to the time of day, and spending much more time awake than we ever did in the States. Funny what a bit of everyday, all day sunshine can do to a person. Hell, the overcast skies here can hardly count as “Not Sunny”.
For the first two nights, we stayed with Josh at his friend’s house. The second two nights have been at his family’s home with his parents. Day 3 and 4 were more of the same. However, on day three, Josh took us down to Bronte beach for afternoon swim. It had been about 16 months since either Kristi or I have swam in the ocean, the last time being in Mancora, Peru while she visited me on my last adventure. This time, both of us sucked in a bit of air when we touched the water. I don’t know what we were expecting, but the water was colder than we thought it should be. Regardless, I picked up Kristi, threw her in the water, and waded out after Josh myself.
Big waves (little ones too) give Kristi a bit of a fright, and understandably so. The first time in her life she went swimming amongst waves, she had her ass handed to her by a monster wave at Sandy Beach, Hawaii. Since then she’s been much more respectful of the big waves. I think it was partly my fault…
Anyhow, along the walk to the beach, Josh pointed out the Blue Bottle jelly fish that littered parts of the sandy beach, and directed us not to step on them. They “sting” he said. Then it was into the sea for us. Kristi held back on shore for the first half of it, but after a while, I was able to lead her into the waves. She had the fear of god in her for a little while, which ebbed and flowed while we were out there and eventually she went back in, but it was good times all around.
Day 4 saw Kristi and I walking up to Bondi Junction. Josh’s family lives in the Eastern Suburb of Sydney called Bondi. Bondi Junction is a large metro area comprised mainly of retail outlets and other such shops. There is also a fruit market where Kristi and I found fruits to be nearly comparable to the USA, price wise. (For the Seattle area at least) So we loaded a bag up with fruit and eventually walked back to the house. But, it wasn’t long before we managed to snag some cheap Chinese takeout food from a shop, and sample and then buy some pomegranate frozen yogurt! We’re tourists for the moment after all.
Today, being Day 5 has not shown itself to be very productive physically, but that should change shortly. I have not been idle with my down time. Though I’m sure that I look quite statuesque while I stare at my computer screen, with only my fingers moving slightly, I’m actually on the hunt for jobs. Gone are the days of the paper advertisements. It’s ALL online now. And thus, I have an interview scheduled for this morning (Jan 22) with a recruitment office that specializes in finding work for Truck Drivers. Yesterday they gave me a call, asked a barrage of very straight forward questions, and told me they would call me again today for a Skype interview. Tomorrow I have another interview scheduled as well. That one being for a position as Professional Expedition Guide for a company leading treks on the Larapinta Trail near Alice Springs.
The first job pays more and is local, allowing Kristi more freedom in her choices for work. The second pays less but is more extravagant, but is also in a small town, far from everything else, and could prove difficult for Kristi to find work. However, we’re not worried. Independent of any of this, we’ll always have a good time. Should it be necessary, we’ll simply find a place to live soon, move in, pay a month’s rent, sleep, eat, swim, walk, run, climb, hike, and otherwise exercise while we keep up the search for jobs.
I had to order a camera battery charger for my Camera, and thus photos are limited at the moment. Here is a view of Sydney Harbor from Josh’s family home.
Tuesday, January 22nd. Another easy day in the life of Alex and Kristi.
Kristi likes to exercise, and she also likes to spend time with me. This generally involves me getting off my lazy ass and exercising with her so that we can spend time together, and she can get her exercise. One might point out that we have the entirety of the rest of the day to spend time together. BUT, you must realize, if she exercises alone, then she gets lonely and misses me. Hmmmmm. Sounds like I am being bamboozled now that I see it in writing.
Well anyhow, it was Josh’s day off from work yesterday, and that led us down to Bondi Beach (pronounced BON-DYE) for an afternoon swim. It was about 85*F (29*C) outside, and hot as hell when in the direct sunlight. We all wore sunscreen, though I should have worn more, and we all three walked barefoot the 15 minutes to the beach. At the beach, we went for a swim, and Kristi tackled all of the much smaller waves. I saw a good looking topless sunbather, Kristi’s top got knocked around in the waves, and there were more good looking girls than any of my single friends could shake a stick at. Don’t worry about Kristi though, there were enough tanned, well muscled Australian boys running around that I might now have a better understanding of the benefits of exercise. i.e Why Kristi wants me to exercise with her.
After the swim, we walked, barefoot again, back to Josh’s place where I proceeded to look for jobs.
Well, I told myself that I would take any job that held my interest, and this one snagged it pretty well. I had high hopes to do something that I am familiar with when I got here, to make easing into the workforce a bit “easier” and those hopes panned out as well.
I got a message on Facebook from my friend stating that:
"Got a job over here for ya mate. $20-$25/hour, 40-60 hours a week. Driving trucks with boats on the back. Start immediately. Call me on 04******** asap buddy."
So I called up my friend. He responded with more of the same jabber, and told me more specifically that a friend/colleague/client of his had told him that he was having a hard time finding a decent reliable employee that could drive a truck and operate a forklift. At which point my friend mentioned that he had a guy (me) that was reliable, can do everything he needed, and would do it reliably and on time. He told me to call the guy, in 15 minutes. And so I did.
I barely had to call the guy, before I was verbally hired. The conversation went kind of like this:
Other Guy: So you’re in Sydney now?
Me: Yes, that's correct.
Other Guy: How soon can you be here in Perth?
Me: Well, I can leave anytime. Start Monday?
Other Guy: Yea, that’s good. Excellent. What will you do for accommodation?
Me: Well, my friend has spoken of that a bit, and we'll find something that will suit me, no problem.
Other Guy: O.K then. Well you can drive the Ute home (utility vehicle) on the days you work, so transportation is no worry. Yep, O.K., Alright just let me know when you get to Perth, and we'll work it out. Thanks mate!
And that how I came to be tentatively employed by the friend/colleague/client of my friend.
I start Monday. $20/hr during the week, $25/hr on the weekend. 40-60 hours a week. It's 90-100 degrees daily at the moment in Perth, so I'll be bringing my bucket of sun block with me, along with a big work had with a wide brim.
Now it’s time to learn to drive on the left side of the road, and God Forbid, learn to shift with my left hand. I think shifting will be easier, but this left hand side of the road thing… Well I suppose I just have to survive the first day!
Life is good.
P.S. About this time, normally my Dad would quote some Dr. Joseph Murphy at me: “Money flows to me freely, copiously and endlessly”. Pg 128 The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. Or something like that…
The day before Kristi and I left for Perth, we decided that we should at least do some sort of touristy activity before we flew across the continent. So, on Wednesday the 23rd, we took a walk down the hill to Rose Bay Wharf in order to catch the ferry to Circular Quay (pronounced Key), the downtown city center ferry dock.
We missed our intended 11:13 ferry because we didn’t really know for certain where we were going, but after we asked for directions we found ourselves sitting at the ferry wharf waiting for the 11:43 ferry.
About 100 meters away was a float plane docking area, taking tourists for city view tours over the city center.
On the way to the city center, we stopped off at a few different ferry docks before we found ourselves passing the Sydney Opera House. This is a picture through a salt sprayed ferry window.
And of course, the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
After we made our way through the hustle and bustle of Circular Quay, we decided to check out the botanical gardens. However, we never made it, because we got distracted by a tree.
Climbing trees is pretty fun.
Kristi is awesome.
What’s up? Alright, so climbing trees was a hobby of mine a while back. So what….
Sometime in the middle of 2012 or so, my Mom decidedly became interested in Birding. So she carries around a pair of binoculars when she’s on road trips with my Dad, and when they go places. So when I see awesome looking birds, I have to take pictures.
Before long, we decided that we’d walk back to the Circular Quay to check about ferries back to Rose Bay.
This big ass sailboat reminded me of the Stahlratte, the sail boat that carried me and my bike from Panama to Colombia.
I look pretty crappy in this one. Thought I’d share it with you. Ha! 4 months ago I applied for a position as a Sydney Harbor Bridge guide. It wasn’t until after I applied that I read the part, “Permanent Residents only, no tourists/backpackers.”
Another awesome looking bird.
Hahaha. Alright, so the birds aren’t extraordinary, but this guy was pretty interested. I’m pretty sure that he thinks he can talk to the birds. Hell, maybe he can…
In front of the local art museum there is a nice lawn that people use to lay down for a rest. In the distance you can see the cruise ship dock, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and the Sydney Opera House.
Before long, we had walked back to the Circular Quay, hopped back on the return ferry to Rose Bay and begun the trek over to the Bondi Beach area. On the way there, Kristi made sure to pose for this photo.
Meanwhile, I made sure to take a picture of this bike, a Honda VTR250. A Vtwin 250cc bike. Bitchin. We don’t have those in the States.
After a stop off at a café, Kristi and I made our way back to the Crawford residence. From their deck, you could see dozens of sailboats cruising around in Sydney Harbor.
Later that night, when Josh got off work, he took us to MAD Pizza, a franchised pizza restaurant that his friend owns.
We ordered mucho pizza, and stuffed face while we drank s, and wine, and shots of Lemon something or other.
That was our last night in Sydney, and it carried us to a bar farther down the road before we ended up in a taxi on the way back to Josh’s place. Then, we were awake before 4:30am, catching a taxi at 5am, and catching a flight to Perth at 7am. Around 10am local time, but after a 5 hour flight. I found Kristi doing this…
We had made it to Andy Dalton and Cass Wilson’s home, in the Hamilton Hill suburb of Perth, Australia. You guys might remember Andy?
Cass, Andy Daltons significant other, had picked us up at the airport and brought us back to their home, where Kristi promptly made use of the sleeping facilities and took a short nap. Not too long after that, Andy came back from work and started cooking on the grill.
That first night at Andy’s had us stuffed to our gills with BBQ’ed meats. I love eating meat. What I love even more the eating meat, is eating LOTS of meat.
The next day, being Friday and the beginning of the weekend, we were loaded up in Cass’s station wagon, headed for the boat ramp to haul out to Rottnest Island for a weekend of boating, boozing, and scuba diving for crayfish amongst other shenanigans.
With everything on the jetty and unloaded from the car, we’re nearly ready to go!
Sooner than later, we are on the boat, and Andy is demanding a be opened. We are on a boat. It is 10am. But we ARE on a boat.
The river that leads out to the ocean has a max speed of 8knots. Cass and Kristi enjoyed it on the front of the boat.
I didn’t remember to bring a hat with me to Australia. For one reason or another, it never made it in my bag. Captain Andy let me borrow one.
Pretty soon we were clear of the 8knot speed limit and in the open ocean, hauling ass for Rottnest.
Captain Andy at his finest.
First thing on the list of activities is Scuba Diving. Last time I went Scuba diving was in Honduras in June of 2010. So it’s been a while!
Mean while, while Andy and I are underwater searching for Crayfish, Kristi and Cass were hanging out on the boat. I imagine that this is what they looked like.
When we came up, we had caught one Crayfish, though we should have caught more. I was a half assed hunting partner on that first dive.
A short while later, we had the boat ted up to shore buoys and were marveling at Pelicans. Neither Kristi nor I knew first had how ENORMOUS these pelicans are in real life. They were BIG.
Seriously, they are big. And, remember, my Madre likes to look at birds, and this bird is kick ass.
After a while, Andy decided to teach Kristi how to rip a crayfish in half.
She gave it a shot, as you can tell in the video I posted a few days back, but she wasn’t able to manage it. So Andy stepped in, tore/twisted it in half, and tossed the head into the water. Soon thereafter, the Sting Rays started showing up.
At Rottnest, there are enough Sting Rays around to justify the removal of their barbs, as they become a danger to the beach goers. So while Kristi was inches from this Sting Ray, it posed no danger.
She even fed it a baby octopus that a neighbor boat offered her to feed them.
She petted this one and wrote, “HI” on its back. Hahaha!
Kristi was having a pretty damn good time. It was fun.
She was even happier when Andy chopped up Garlic, tossed it in the butter and started cooking the crayfish.
YUM! Beer and Crayfish!
Throughout the rest of the night, all 4 of us were drinking like we had nothing better to do. In truth, we didn’t really have anything better to do. Captain Andy spent part of that time challenging the boat next door in an Australian song play off. We think we won. They think they won. It was good fun either way.
This was our neighbor’s boat.
These are our neighbors.
That night, the BIG sting rays showed up. This one was about 7 feet across. The other one we saw was well over 9 feet. It was massive.
This guy was scared out of his mind, but he “petted” the sting ray anyhow.
Kristi got in on the action too.
The next morning, after a night of dancing at the bar just on shore, we were still debating with our neighbors over who won the Aussie Song play off from the night before.
I forgot to mention that Saturday morning was the beginning of Australia Day, and boat mooring spots are at a premium. As we left our shore mooring spot that morning, there was a boat waiting to take our place immediately.
On the way back to the mainland, Andy and I first went for another dive, and again came back with only one crayfish. Of course, the goal is more than one, but it doesn’t always work out.
That night, Andy had a couple of friends over, and while Andy was grilling up a storm, Mr. Charlie Hamersley showed up! Here is Charlie, Kristi and the Grill Master Andrew Dalton!
Since the Australia day BBQ, life has been straight forward. I’m working now, and therefore I’ll be saving up some money as well. I’m having a kick ass time so far!
Great report so far Al (I read all of your South America trip report) just hurry up and get a motorcycle so we can see some trip reports from you in the Outback. Have fun and good luck with the new job !
It’s been to long since I’ve updated the report! Sorry everyone!
Since last weekend, all sorts of good stuff has happened, and even more fun stuff has occurred! That might sound like the same thing, but it’s not!
During the first week here in Perth, we were staying at Andy and Cass’s place. Since then, we have been staying at Charlie’s place. Charlie lives about 10 minutes away in a different neighborhood. Since the first week, and from now on, we’ll be staying at Charlie’s. Here is a picture of the back yard.
Near to Charlie’s house are a few shops that Kristi walks to when she feels like it. As I’m at work most of the time, she’s taking care of grocery shopping and the like.
In the same section of shops is the Post Office where Kristi sends off her multitude of post cards to friends and family.
Near to where we live is a park of sorts. We’re constantly seeing new things every day, among them being the flora and fauna. We certainly don’t have trees like this where we live in the States.
Here are some olive trees that Kristi spied growing in someone’s front yard. Awesome.
You reading this Mom? They’ve got a kick ass list of birds here.
Some Duck action. Or Swan? I don’t know.
The ugly duckling’s got a friend.
Apparently Cockatoos are wild here. More awesome.
After a week of working at Aquastack (Aquastackmarina.com.au) working 50 hours outside, and nearly cooking my arms and legs off, Kristi and I made our way over to Andy and Cass’s place for the third weekend in a row to head out for a weekend of boating.
Andy had to tow the boat with his 2 seater Holden Ute, so Kristi and I had the opportunity to head out to the launch area an hour away on Andy’s 2010 Yamaha Super Tenere. HELL YES
And sooner than we knew it, we were out on the boat again! Life is tough here, can’t you tell?
For the weekend, Andy arranged for a two bedroom lake house next to the Murray River where we all would be staying the weekend. Eventually Charlie and his housemate Marian would make it out as well.
Here you can see Captain Splashy and First Mate Thirsty hard at work.
If Tom Reuter is reading this, he will enjoy knowing that people are kite boarding and windsurfing their asses off DAILY.
This is what I mean.
While we were out on the boat, we took some time to chance out luck at Crabbing. I got the duty of Puller. So I pulled the shit out of crap pots.
First grab the buoy, second, pull the shit out of it.
Crab Pot Pulling SUCCESS!
After the Crab Pot has been pulled, grab the crab, and measure it. Captain Splashy took that chore.
After a while, we had caught a few crabs, and decided to call it a day.
On the way back, we made an effort at trolling for some fish. No fish for us.
Sunsets in Western Australia set over the water just like home in Western Washington.
Another sunset photo to kick off the night.
By this time, Captain Splashy is flexing his muscle under the astute scrutiny of First Mate Thirsty.
By now, as per Captain Splashy’s rule, and First Mate Thirsty’s ongoing support, both the Captain and First mate are likely quite drunk at this moment.
The next morning, Kristi did her best at capturing the coy fish that have been introduced to the pond outside the rear sliding glass door. You can tell that the Duck just doesn’t give a shit.
The next morning, the Captain and First mate took on the task of cooking the crab that we had caught, not only the night before, but that morning as well. All four of us took off that morning to catch more crab, and while Andy and Cass were throwing out the pots, Kristi and I were scooping them off the sand in 3 feet deep water right off shore. We used a metal basket at the end of a wooden handle the length of a broom, specifically made for the purpose. We caught 15, but only 5 were of size. Andy and Cass caught 10.
First Mate Thirsty hard at work boiling crabs.
Cooked crabs, ready and waiting to be eaten.
Black swans and shit like that.
And a fat white duck being harassed by seagulls. F’ing seagulls.
And that is the kind of stuff we do on the weekends.
While we’re eating lunch at the riverside pub, the fat red-faced goose is eating his food, and Andy is planning our next weekend out and about.
However, as I lead a working man’s life at the moment, we’ve only got the weekends free so things take place on a 5 days on, 2 days off schedule.
Now, while awesome things are happening on the weekend, more awesomeness is has been cruising my way at work. First, I was the boat yard go to guy. Wash this boat, flush that engine, take this boat to that boat ramp, go get that boat at the other boat ramp and bring it back. Wash it, flush it, move the trailer, move that other trailer. Forget that it’s 38-41*C (100-105*F). Just drink more water.
Wait a minute. Boss man Dan figures out that you have an international business degree, know a fair bit about business, and can answer phone calls and reply to emails? Well then, take this smart phone and answer every call that comes your way. Don’t forget to answer the emails to. Oh, I haven’t answered a call or replied to an email since Christmas, so you have some catching up to do.
Oh, you need to be able to respond to emails all the time, no matter where you are? Yeah, take this Ipad and docking station and get to work.
So, now I spend half of my time reading emails, calling potential clients, and answering their phone calls. However, none of this is for AquaStack Marina, but instead, for Westcoastboatsales.com a Western Australia based US Boat Importer.
So now, not only am I the new “Boat Bitch” I’m also the Office Bitch. But it comes with perks, as long as I start selling boats!
I hope that you have as good a time as I did/have had in Australia.....I am coming to the end of my year here and I have had a wide range of experiences. I lived in Perth for a while and enjoyed it but it looks like you've got a job at the better side of it, by the sea!
If you get a chance at all, try and get a station job in the out-back for a while. It is an experience that I think anyone should take. I really enjoyed it. Anyone that is practical with a can-do attitude gets on very very well. If it interests you, I might have a few leads, just P/M me.
Holy CRAP! It’s been much too long since I’ve updated this report! I knew I was lagging, but damn, I’ve let your people down!
So, since it’s been a few weeks, but things have still been damn busy. Life is good here in Western Australia, and Kristi and I have been having a good time. Kristi works at the Boat Shed, an upscale grocery store in Cottesloe, while I’m learning how to sell boats to Australians.
In the meantime here is a good photo from a few weeks ago when Andy and I took off for Rottnest on his boat for a couple of nights. Kristi had to work this weekend, and thus we had a guy’s weekend. This is a photo of the Jumbo Cray that Andy caught while we were scuba diving for crayfish.
This will give you a bit of scale to judge the size of this thing by.
And this what it’s baby brothers look like in the frying pan. Hell yes.
After stuffing face on Crayfish and other tasty morsels, we proceeded to drink steadily until the sun set over the ocean.
And then we proceeded to fall asleep. This is what 13’ of man looks like in a 22’ boat.
Over the next couple of weeks, more of the same sort of stuff happened. I went to work, Kristi went to work, and we’ve been stuffing our money in the bank as fast as we can. (I’ve got big plans. I don’t know what they are, but they are big.)
Here is a cool grass hopper in the middle of it all.
So, for the past 3 weeks I have been taking Kristi to work every morning before I went to work. After work, she’d take the bus home. Or, she’d take the bus to work, and then I’d pick her up after she got off. However it worked around my work schedule. Well, that sucked for both of us. I’d spend 30mins round trip taking her to work, and when she was on the bus, it’d take her an hour to get home. So, we made a very informed decision, got on the internet, searched the local classifieds, and bought Kristi her newest form of transportation. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.
There is enough room in the garage to park the beast, and it’ll take Kristi to work (11.3 kms one way, or 7 miles and 15-20 minutes). It’s a Piaggio Fly 125. A 125cc 4 stroke motor scooter capable of hitting 100kmph on the fly with Kristi on the back, and easily cruises at 80kmph (50mph). She loves it. I think that that is AWESOME!
So, she’s riding her “new to her” scooter to work, and I’m getting flat tires on trailers towing boats!
And after 2+month of beard growing.
I cut it off.
So, there you have it. Kristi and I are tearing around town on a scooter that doesn’t like to haul 350lbs around, but we don’t care. (HOWEVER there is an identical black one for sale 4kms away….) Kristi has her very own transportation, and I’m shifting gears as hard as I possibly can in a 3.2liter turbo diesel Nissan Patrol. I don’t think my boss cares either, as he’s racing me home….
Perth to Exmouth, and back. 2,550kms, 31hrs driving
The past few weeks have been pretty busy, as the boat import business is ramping up for my boss. What does that mean? It means I'm responsible to an increasing number of clients that want to employ our services. Good for business, and good for me as well. Means more money, and more learning opportunities for me.
Advertisement has ramped up, and jobs of different sorts are coming in by the herd. More tow jobs, cleaning jobs, mechanical jobs, electrical jobs, etc. That means that when I'm not busy in the office, my commercial drivers license comes into play and I drive trucks.
My Dad asks me on the phone, "So, wait a minute boy-yo, you're telling me that you earned an "edjumacation" and you're driving trucks for a living?" Of course he is only hassling me, and wants the best for me. He also realizes that I am able to see more of, and learn more about the area where I'm currently living. I chalk it up to another employable skill, to supplement the education.
So, the call came in one of my days off from work. "Can you quote a tow job for my 24ft Thomas Craft up to Exmouth from Perth?" "Yea, sure, blah blah blah, it'll be this much." "Sounds good".
I got back to work and was asked if I wanted to drive to Exmouth. I immediately said yes. The original plan was to haul it up there in one of the pick-up truckes (Utes), but I ended up driving the 5 ton Mitsubishi as the 24ft boat was heavier than anticipated.
I left the yard at 6:30am, and soon thereafter the sun started to rise.
About an hour later, and I was further outside of Perth (South Perth/Willagee) than I had been since we arrived here. The temperatures in the morning have dropped significantly with the onset of winter, and in the morning it's about 8*C (46.5*F) which gives rise to a bit of low hanging fog. Cool.
At one junction, I found myself behind a "Road Train" early on, before my first fuel station. This was not a true road train in the sense that it was only 2 trailers long. The longest are 3 full sized trailers with a combined length of over 50meters. Or as many as 4-5 but at the same overall length. I'd find myself passing quite a few on the way south when I was no longer hauling the 2.5ton boat.
As the sun came up higher, the temperature rose, the sunglasses came out, and I settled in for the long haul.
This is the only photo I have of the boat on the trailer. It's actually on it's own very degraded trailer, which was then fork lifted onto our road worthy trailer and strapped down with several heavy duty industrial ratchet straps. You can just make out the yellow straps in the photo.
On my way into the second fuel stop, in Geraldton, I had completed just about 475kms. The way up was less arid then what I would find further north, and in town these flowers caught my attention.
Then it was back out on the road again, straight for some darker than usual rain clouds.
Which proceeded to dump rain on me.
And then, 10 minutes later they were gone.
Just north of Geraldton, about 500kms north of Perth, these three dudes were sitting on the side of the road with a sign. I didn't ever even read the sign, I just pulled over. The 5 ton truck has a drivers seat and two passenger seats in a double wide bench. I told them straight up, I got room for as much shit as you can carry, but you'll have to squeeze into these seats. How far am I going? Exmouth man, another 700kms, and I'll take you anywhere along the way. HELL YEA! I then had 3 companions for the next 500kms.
The first and third guys are German, and the middle is from Sweden. From my left Dennis 20yrs old, Sasha 20yrs old, Jas 22yrs old.
A lot of this going on.
And I saw more of these, then I did live one. Actually, I saw several dozen dead "road killed" kangaroos, but only saw one live one, and only 3 hops at that as it disappeared into the roadside bush. I saw some dead goats, a couple dead cows, a live Emu run across the road, and birds galore.
A nice day for a drive, but if you didn't have a comfy 80mph+ road bike, you may not enjoy it much on two wheels.
Having only seen a termite mound on t.v. that I can remember, I recognized these forms from some Animal Planet documentaries. There were thousands of them.
On the way up, I didn't stop many times. After collecting the backpackers, we stopped at a road side rest area to use the toilets, and then continued onto Canarvon, 475kms north of Geraldton where I collected them. We bought fuel and food there, and then drove another 133kms north to the Minilya Road House. I arrived at 8:30pm, and that is the intersection where the travellers hopped out. The two Germans were headed to Broome, and then eventually Darwin to hop on a plane to Thailand. The Swede was just tagging along.
The story goes that they were all traveling in a large motorhome, with an Italian girl, an Irish girl and a Scottish dude. They only made it one night. They partied hard that first night and in the morning the Italian girl said straight up that she didn't get along with Dennis the German, and that he couldn't continue with them in the motorhome. He didn't fully understand why, and thus apologized. He didn't mean offense with his dancing antics the drunken night before, and was sorry. It's only the first day, can we give the second day a try? No, no go. You can't stay. The two girls had rented the motorhome, and as such it was their prerogative. And as such, all three (two Germans and the Swede) got out. I picked them up 5hrs after they had set up shop on the side of the road. They were splitting the fuel 6 ways for that first day. Now the other three are paying twice as much fuel. Idiots.
I too spent the night at the road house, and slept in the bow of the boat. I slept well, and for 8.5hrs, then woke up, left at 6:30am and made my way to Exmouth. Exmouth as some of the best fishing habitats in all of Australia, so the locals boast. Maybe even the world. The reef fishing and snorkeling and spear fishing is outrageous.
I stayed for 90 minutes, and left.
This is what it looked like up until I saw the ocean in Exmouth. This is about what 300-400kms looked like.
With a few thousand more of these.
Meanwhile, without the weight of the boat/trailer package behind me, I'm now doing the speed limit of 110kmph and well over when I'm going downhill. The land speed record of the trip.
I passed the Tropic of Capricorn apparently. Looked the same to me...
Promptly I ran out of fuel. I neglected to fuel up in Exmouth as it was 10kms into town to get fuel and would waste time. So I put 40 liters of fuel in the tank like the photo below. Well, it wasn't enough for the 235km trip back to Manilya where I dropped off the backpackers. So, in went the next 40 liters, and I had to lift up the cab, crack the first 4 of 6 fuel injector lines in order, while priming the system with the built in hand pump. After 15 minutes of this shit, it fired up and I was good to go. Rookie mistake, as I should have just put all 80 liters into the tank when I dropped off the boat in Exmouth. Instead I cost myself half an hour. Good thing I had cellphone service to call the boss and get quick roadside instructions on priming the fuel system from the other employee Alan. Do this, do this, do this, and call me back if it doesn't work. It worked.
Outback fuel station.
Shortly thereafter, I passed an oversized load. This was preempted by a lead car, that was then followed by a police car driving in my lane. I pulled over, and two of these went by. This is the second.
Some large communications antenna in the distance.
I drank three of these. One the first day, and two the second....
Because sooner than later, it became dark. At around 6:30pm, and I didn't finish driving for another 5 hours.
GPS on the work phone was tracking mileage and estimated arrival time while I drove 5kmph over the speed limit (most of the time), with no one else in sight.
And around 10pm, out in the boondocks somewhere, I snagged this photo of the southern hemispheres night sky at a request for a friend in the US.
At 11:40pm I dropped the truck and trailer at my boss's house, hopped in the work ute, drove home, drank 1.5liters of water, and passed out. Awesome.
Caversham Wildlife Park
We decided to get off of our asses and go see some things that all Australians have become accustomed too. Unusual animals that tourists find entertaining. We brought Rupa and Indu, a couple of Kristi's friends along with us. We couldn't all fit in the work vehicle I use during the week, so Kristi rode behind on the scooter.
Here we go, Indu, Kristi and Rupa in that order. Rupa and Kristi work together, Indu is Rupa's friend.
Peacocks roam the pathways at the park. Cool.
Right at the front of the park is an area where you can hand feed Kangaroos. They are all on the small side, but I'm sure that's to protect us from the big bastards that all the Aussies tell me about.
This one drew a bit of attention. It's an albino one. Or as the Australian's would say, Al-been-oh.
I was trying to outdo the kangaroo, but he didn't give a crap.
This one had a joey in it's pouch. Later, Kristi fed them both at the same time.
More al-been-oh action.
They were pretty cute, though the Aussies don't seem to care about them.
Double the action.
Somewhere along the way we found this fat little bugger, a juvenile wombat at around 40lbs. Apparently they grow to be as heavy as 80lbs when full adults. Much larger then I had assumed or so thought I knew.
Then this inverted oreo chicken walked by. White feathers on the outside, darker than night on the inside.
Way cooler opossum then we have in the US. Fuzzy and pet-worthy looking.
A scottish cow, full grown, full of hair, and hungry.
Bobtail lizards. Their tales are the same size and shape (almost) as their heads to protect themselves from predators.
This one is sleeping as it will for as many as 20hrs a day.
Kristi likes to sleep too.
A kingfisher. One of the larger breeds of it's kind.
Some cool looking owl.
And a hawk owl.
Multi colored parrot.
A black cockatoo
A pink cockatoo.
And a wallaby!
This is about as exciting as the month of May was for us. Working and saving, working and saving. We're planning big things you see. Though we're not sure where they will lead us. However, we know we need to see the rest of Australia sooner before later, and to do this we decided on 4 wheels held together by a van. A duel fuel 2005 Mitsubishi Express Van! Bought it complete with an ARB roof top tent mounted to Rhino Rack roof racks, and an ARB awning. Hell yes. More to come as Kristi and I work to convert it to a 5 seater capable of sleeping four, and keeping out beverages cold while camping on the beach. Bitchin.
This van is Awesome. It’s dual fuel, so it runs on Gasoline and LPG as well. Gasoline is about $1.40/liter where we are, and LPG is as cheap as 66.5c/liter. It’s not a efficient per liter, but at the cost it is roughly 40% more cost efficient then running on gasoline. With the two tanks, I have about a 550 mile (900km) range before getting fuel, allowing me to skip the more costly road house fuel stations.
The previous owner installed Rhino Rack roof racks and an ARB roof top tent and awning. The tent is in like new condition though the cover is a bit weather beaten.
The awning comes out a fair way and is also in like new condition.
Plenty of sleeping room in the tent, and the folding padded mattress is in good shape and comfortable as well. The Tent/Awning combo sells for just about $2,000 when new. Score.
Clean and in great shape on the inside as well.
Only two seats in the front. Not going to cut it when on the road. This will have to change.
WHAM! A bench seat out of the back of a Mitsubishi magna station wagon. Perfect. Scored it off www.gumtree.com for $65 complete with the hardware.
Power plugs. One for the outside of the van which will be plugged into local power when at camp sites, and one for the inside which will be wired to the corresponding outside one.
100AH deep cycle batteries. Gotta wire them up to an inverter and charger for the shore power, and hopefully solar panels to follow.
A 49 liter Waeco two way (12/24volt) fridge, found on Gumtree (internet classifieds) for $450, complete with thermal cover. They sell for $1100 new. Works great.
A to compliment the time spent in the garage.
BREAK! Kristi’s scooter got a bit of a makeover with the addition of a “Scooter Skirt”. To keep her dry.
Covers her legs in the morning when it’s cold, and keeps her dry when it’s pouring rain. Bitchin.
Here are some of the supplies to start the hacking and screwing and drilling and cutting and all sorts of other general tomfoolery. It’s nice to have a garage to work in. Charlie is a FIFO (fly in fly out) worker at a mine and was away for 8 days. I borrowed his tools and got to work.
After a quick trip to Bunnings (Home Depot equivalent where I spent multiple hours staring at hardware and sheets and planks of wood visualizing everything), I came up with this.
Then I starting drinking one of these.
And ended up with this.
That fit in the van like this.
And was bracketed down permanently into the van like this. The seat folds completely flat to the rear also.
And in turn folds flat like this as well.
It also lifts up to allow access to the batteries and charger, inverter, wiring, and other generic things that will be stored/mounted/placed here.
Next up was a kitchen area for the rear. In go the equivalent of a couple of 2x4’s, some timber and sheet metal screws of various lengths, some chopping and sawing and drilling and screwing and bam, you get this.
Under which cleanly fits the fridge.
BREAK! Popcorn and cider time. Please note the 500ml size of the cider. Rekorderlig cider is awesome.
Meanwhile this is night two, and not the same day, so I’m no boozer by any means. The tent won’t allow the van to fit in the garage, but it will back in part way.
Measure twice and cut one. Can’t get into the fridge without pulling it out from underneath the kitchen counter, and that’s just not going to cut it.
Back to work with the jigsaw.
And there we have it.
Screw a support beam into the back of the counter for the next step.
An accordion style folding bed platform.
Kristi stepped up and joined in on the fun.
Section two went in as planned.
Then section three as well. Now it’s one 4ft by 8ft section of 3/4” plywood in four sections.
Notice the hinges? The third section folds up and over section two.
Section three and two fold up to section one and the entire bed platform folds up to form the backdrop to the kitchen and allow access to the storage area between the bench seat and the kitchen.
A view from the rear.
And a view of the sliding bolts installed to keep the fridge door in place.
Obviously there is more to come with this van, but we're nearly there. I bought two 5liter jugs of oil (the van has a 3.9l oil capacity), two oil filters, four new spark plugs, new engine coolant, windshield wiper fluid, and new wiper blades for the front and rear. We've got a second set of generic roof rack bars to install on top of the van behind the tent to which will be mounted a basket (also rhino rack brand) to hold miscellaneous gear, and a bracket to install in front of the tent to hold the spare tire which was removed from the rear (having been removed from under the vehicle to fit the LPG tank during it's conversion). Then maybe a solar panel, a water tank, a stove and a cupboard and we're pretty well set for the great Australian road trip set to start sometime in the near future. It'll take place in two stages though and should be pretty kick ass!
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