Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Australia – a few statistics…

August 27th, 2011

A random selection of dubious statistics… strictly for amusement.. Enjoy

Most ironic TV programme – "Conviction Kitchen" – those with a criminal past battle it out for a fresh start…

Distance ridden – Close on 4,000 kilometres. Which is about the same as London to Istanbul. Hardly surprising as it’s not just a country, it’s an entire continent.

Cyclones encountered – Just one – Yasi – but it was the largest, most fearsome to hit Australia’s mainland in living memory

Favourite spot – Mary Valley, north west of Brisbane

Premiers met – One – Anna Bligh

Days lost to flooded highways – Two – trapped for a few extra days in the small but likeable town of Bowen

Local TV and radio interviews – Two TV news pieces, one spot on Talk Radio, and a newspaper article

Prostitutes – Just one, for coffee and a chat – strictly research, and I paid only for the drinks

Cheapest paid pitch – $8 – about five pounds

Best camp kitchen – Innisfail – at a site managed by Maureen

Easiest job – Weather forecaster, Far North Queensland, during the wet season – hmmm, rain today?

Miscreant drivers reported to the Police – One – errant truck driver who seemed to think it amusing to try and, quite literally, run me off the road

Detentions by Public Officials – One – albeit briefly, by an Immigration Officer querying why I’d returned to Australia from New Zealand – errr, because I’ve a multiple entry visa that allows me to do so…

[Ed. That’s quite enough stats for one continent]

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Aloha Hawaii

August 27th, 2011

Bit taken aback. Was sure my Dad had told me to get laid in Hawaii. Admittedly been on the road for almost two years, but Honolulu was only ever meant to be a one night stop-over, not stand. A simple misunderstanding. Lei being those flowery garlands worn on the islands. Popular, it strikes me, because most of the women around here have, well, pretty much nothing else to wear.

But far more outrageous though were the shirts worn by the Hawaiian Airlines cabin crew. Quick to say "I want one" as I boarded. "Come and work for us!" the response. It was attire that suited the in-flight entertainment. Settling on 70s Disco hits in my headphones. It was that or Korean pop music. Dozing off dreaming of Spandex and wondering if "Get Dancin’" (by the fabulously titled Disco Tex and The Sex-O-Letters) was indeed the inspiration for the theme tune for the "Muppets".

In truth, I was just happy to finally embark. I’d been up since five to get the bus to Melbourne airport. Greeted by chaos, glad I’d given myself my usual pessimistic margin for delays. Short hop to Sydney. Too lethargic to venture out of the terminal, instead eking out the last of my Australia dollars on strong coffee. Catching up on the blog. A few e-mails. Waiting for check-in.

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Last supper… in Australia

August 26th, 2011

Breakfast

Fitting final touch. Full English. Supper on my last evening in Australia, and the end of a few hectic but thoroughly enjoyable days in Melbourne with friends Simon and Sue. Exploring the city with a local cycling group. Concocting home made pizzas. Preparing all the kit for the lengthy on-move to Alaska.

And late night coverage of the Tour de France. Throwing my support behind Australian Cadel Evans. Delighted he’d won. Two reasons. Came across as a thoroughly decent chap, success the emotional culmination of years of hard work. And he’s not French….

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Name calling

August 26th, 2011

I’d admitted to being christened "Uncle Push Bike" by my brother. A name, frighteningly, I suspect will stick with my young niece, for ever. I’m sort of resigned to it. Besides, there are far worse things one could be called. Usually by passing motorists. The type that were bullied at school.

Melbourne host Simon had a rather different take. Giving me the quite unexpected moniker "Man Tuesday", inspired by Robert Louis Stephenson and updated to reflect my arrival on…. yep, you guessed it…

I say unexpected because all I ever try to do when I stay with friends is help out. Firmly of the view that if you want hotel service, to be waited upon, well, I think you know the answer… Bit of washing up, clearing the table, chopping vegetables, helping Simon pack a bike. Never like to be a burden.

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Looking for a leash

August 26th, 2011

Looking for a leash from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken goes in search of a kangaroo leash. Bit like a dog lead but stretchy to allow for the bounce… Next week, the hunt for a cordless extension lead…

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Different sort of bike

August 25th, 2011

Different sort of bike from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken discovers a rather unusual Dutch bicycle. In Melbourne’s Queen Victoria market.

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Melbourne market

August 25th, 2011

Melbourne market from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Joining a local cycling group for the day, Ken explores Melbourne’s Queen Victoria market. Contains dubious references to crabs, mussels and fruit and veg.

[With especial thanks to Simon, Jeff, Cheryl and the rest of the group – really friendly bunch!]

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Four buck bag

August 24th, 2011

Bag

An inspired idea from host Simon. Local charity shop. I needed a bag to stow my kit in for the flights over to Alaska. Life expectancy about three days, after which it’d be ditched. My panniers weren’t a practical proposition, their various clips and hooks too vulnerable to the rough and tumble of the baggage mis-handlers.

Surprisingly, there was quite a bit of choice. Soon settling on a fairly large wheeled affair. Modest wear and tear, I promised to drop it into a charity shop in Anchorage, rather than simply discard it when I got there. Asking price was just four bucks – about three pounds – and one I wasn’t going to haggle over. Joked I’d try and get six for it in Alaska.

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Melbourne’s bay

August 24th, 2011

Melbourne’s bay from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken discovers Melbourne’s bay. So big it’s often mistaken for being the ocean proper… With a commentary from generous host Simon.

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Waving goodbye

August 23rd, 2011

Boxedbike

Time to part company. For a short while. My trusty steed bound for Alaska, air freighted for free by Robyn and her team at DHL in Melbourne. Collected by courier and routed via Los Angeles to Anchorage, she’d get there before me.

Thoroughly cleaned, every trace of soil and grime removed, so as to pass muster with US Customs, I’d managed to find a larger bike box than the one I’d found in Hong Kong. Easier to pack than before, but still time-consuming to get right and make sure she made it in one piece.

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