Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
Birtles vs Australia
In which we arrive Home, tote up the Numbers, muse on Road Trips,
and imitate Oscar Awards Night.
(Or, In praise of Homeland Security)
The NZ Department of Agriculture screens all passengers, hoping to prevent
naughty plants and animals from sneaking into the country. No customs officer
is ever as zealous as the Ag guys at the international airports, and rightly so.
It would only take a pair of rogue Koalas to slip through their net and there goes
the entire dairy and wool producing industries.
Acned Agriculture and Wildlife Inspector James is bored with his routine but,
just for me, he puts on his inscrutable, I’m-a-vigilant-tough-guy-and-not-to-be-
messed-with face. He has been told it's really, really important stuff this protecting
of the borders and he has to double as customs inspector as well.
"Did you pack your own bags? Are you carrying any wood, feathers, or foodstuffs?
Camping equipment or tramping boots? Stuffed toys? More than your personal
allowance of 200 grams of heroin, crack, P, crystal meth, marijuhana or Mrs Mac's
Famous animal-related products?"
Now, stuffed toys is unexpected. Maybe it has been selected from a “surprise check
of the day” list to keep passengers on their toes and prevent contempt-through-familiarity
with the system. Or, maybe Inspector James is simply spicing up the process by throwing
a curve ball every so often. Whatever the reason, conscience demands the prevention
of economic ruin, so I declare Grimpeur who is in some corner of the pack and stuffed
with Soichiro-knows what.
“You’ve got a stuffed bear? Could be carrying diseases in the stuffing - we’ll
have to rip its guts out, disinfect it, and return the sad, tattered remains to you”.
"But, he came from NZ, so any diseases he's carrying are already here".
“That’s true, but we’ll still rip its guts out and destroy any value it may have,
sentimental or otherwise, for no reason other than that’s the way we operate.
Rules is rules.”
My mighty defeater of bull koalas is about to be laid low by the worst type of rules -
rules that are rules. But there is a glimmer of hope. On the other side of the counter,
Inspector James’s eyes have lit up and his acne is glowing a brighter shade of red.
He draws nearer - I get a close-up of Mt Vesuvius erupting on his right cheek -
he uses his special Pandy voice….
"In Australia, did you actually take this stuffed bear (that might be carrying
highly communicable agricultural diseases that could wipe out whole industries
overnight and bankrupt the entire Australian ecomomy, bringing the country to
its knees and having god-knows-what effect on its performance in international
cricket, netball and rugby matches) into areas of citrus orchards, sheep farming,
grape growing, and/or beef production?"
"Thank you, sir, thank you! Pass through. See you and your bear again soon?"
(Or, how much and how many)
Distance................12,178 kilometers / 7567 miles
Fuel..................... 303.25 litres
Fuel economy.........2.49 L/100km 113.44 MPG (Imperial)
Tire wear...............x2 rear worn to 20% tread remaining
............................x1 front worn to 30% tread remaining
Parts replaced........XR tank, Sparkplug, Battery
Repairs..................Broken ignition switch cable in wiring harness
Maintenance...........Daily - Oil level, Tyre pressure, Chain lube, Visual check
............................Oil changed at 1000 km intervals
Offs......................5 All in sand on the Oodnadatta Track
Mrs Macs Pies..........0
(Or, a really important thought that I can’t express, but I’ll give it a go in one long
sentence anyway - you work it out)
After chugging around on Birtles into areas and over distances that seem
improbable for a CT, all without having occasion to use either of the words
insoluble or insurmountable, I reviewed my beliefs regarding “danger” and
“bad situations” and found that I had been regarding them as more important,
and giving them more credence, than they deserve.
(Or, those without whom the trip would have been less enjoyable, harder to
organise, or maybe not even a starter at all).
Peter and Gudrun
For getting me to and from the airport; housing and feeding me before and after
the ride; sorting out SIM cards and other telecommunications stuff that I’m too
dumb to do for myself; putting up with my silly jokes, bad hair and malodorous
sneakers; always being just a phone call or email away when I needed parts,
advice or someone to boost my courage; trying to get me to use less salt; and
never, ever, using the words “crazy”, “impossible” or “dangerous”. On top of all this,
Pete procured Birtles on my behalf and upgraded him to an as-good-as-new
standard even before I got off the plane. And these are just the things I know about.
For your enthusiasm about my plans and for your inspiring stories of travel in the
outback. They were just what I needed to drive out the negative thoughts that
were filling my mind in the days before we set out.
For designing such a great bike.
Readers of the Road Report
For your generous comments on the report.
Sue, my partner and best friend
For holding the fort while I was traipsing around Australia meeting charming young
ladies like Pandy, and for bringing home the bacon that made it all possible.
ANOTHER BIG CT TRIP?
For now, Soichiro’s little red rockets will just be going down to the shops or on weekend jaunts.
But, at night when all is quiet, if I go into the garage and listen carefully I can hear soft voices.
They are getting louder and more insistent every day …
"Ride till die!"
"Le CT une fois de plus? Merde!"
BigZoner #096 (English Chapter)
"Keep brotherhood till die"
platypus121 screwed with this post 12-03-2012 at 07:50 PM