week 57... under the weather
Pakenham to Bairnsdale

If every farmer treated their cows as well as Big Jim Lake here, you'd never have to chew your meat more than twice.
It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas...

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beam this up, snotty...
A few weeks ago we received this email...

Possibly a stupid question - have you two suffered any colds or flu since taking off on your trip? I'm asking because we're currently trying to get over yet another bout of flu, and I'm trying to convince Sharon that riding bicycles around Australia would be good for our health...
  - Snotty, the dwarf with overfull sinuses.

Now, we don't respond to all of our emails, primarily because most of them have something to do with Generic Viagra or enlarging Kevin's (or in some unresearched cases, my) bits and pieces. However, it's not every day we receive a question from a congested dwarf. I confidently replied...

Hey Snotty,
You absolutely should take a trip like ours. Since we've been cycling, I haven't gotten sick at all. Sure, deathly tired, bored and hungry - but not a sniffle or a cough. I used to get sick all the time when I worked in an office, but all this fresh air does wonders for your health. Go for it!

Within a week of answering this email, I was as sick as a dog. Read Friday, you'll see. Yeah, ha ha. Go on and laugh. Tell you what, next time you're sick, you go spend it with four year old gossip magazines and an inflatable pillow in a tent. You'll be wishing for the horse trailer I got to sleep in, you sorry little dwarf.
meet the owens
Every so often you meet people that you really like. That's the way we feel about the Owens. They're happy, they're silly and best of all, they let us become part of their family for a few days. Here's what we learned during that time...
You're all very involved in the Spinal Cord Society. Tell us about it. After Sam became paralyzed, we did some research and realized that there wasn't any active study into the spinal cord going on here in Australia. So, we started the Australian branch ourselves.

Sam I Am:
Age: 22
Brothers: Nick, David
School: U of Melbourne
Majors: Bioengineering, Law
Movie he likes:
Lord of the Rings
Movie he thinks is crap:
Legally Blonde
Sam, how did you become paralyzed? If you look out at the porch, you see how you can run straight out the door and jump into the pool? Well, I'd done it a hundred times before, ran out the door and dove in, and I just cocked it up one time. Hit the bottom of the shallow end, that was that.

And how has it affected you? I still have limited use of my arms, but I need to wear wrist supports... that's why you sometimes see people with their wrists curled up, no support and the muscles have atrophied. Also, strangely enough, I can't control my body temperature, so on days like this, I'm near the fire. But, I have help exercising my legs daily so that when a cure is found to repair the spinal column I'll be able to walk again. Also, I've donated bone marrow to the research, since marrow has stem-cells.

How is the research going? Really well. In the few years we've been in operation, we've actually had a number of major breakthroughs - regenerative tissues, successful tests and trials - the thing is that all of the money donated goes directly to research. George & Barbara cover the salaries and administrative costs out of pocket, which means the money donated is helping directly, rather than indirectly.

Your home is called Happy Valley and you seem like happy people. What's your secret? Living each day as it comes and staying positive.

Let me tell you about Australian Wheel of Fortune. First of all, it's crap. Second of all, it's crap. Allow me to elaborate.

So you spin the wheel, land on $150, right, and ask for a letter. You don't just say "T, please", you have to say, "T for Tom" or "T for Turdface" before they give it to you. Even if there are four T's, you only get $150, NOT $150 x 4. That's garbage.

And how's this for dumb? Even if you don't solve the puzzle, you get to keep your money. What's the challenge in that? You can spin the wheel once and land on $1500, then not do a damn thing for the rest of the game, even solve the puzzle, and you can still win. Garbage, I say again.

And the host, he, like, give you hints and stuff. The category is Title, but half way through the round he might say "By the way, we're looking for a movie" or "Hey Mona, why not try buying a vowel?" You'd never see Pat Sajak doing that. Then at the end of a round, the winner gets to pick between three crappy prizes. Sheesh. Might as well be playing Wheel of Fish.

I'm Mr. Skinnylegs, and I reckon that's crap.

Be sure to read "I Reckon That's Crap" every week, only on Beimers.com!

*The opinions expressed by Mr. Skinnylegs do not necessarily reflect those of beimers.com. If you have any complaints, direct them to mrskinnylegs@beimers.com.
these are the people in our neighbourhood...

Lance & the Yallourn CFA
I love it where we're about to set up our tent at the base of the cooling towers at a nuclear power plant, and a fireman invites us back to the station to sleep on the floor while the new volunteer trainees are getting initiated with the hose. Actually, it's only happened once, but it was fun!
Jim's wife. She keeps Jim in line, corrects his verbal mistakes, and above all, makes sure he doesn't talk too much. It's a rough job, but somebody's got to do it. She and Jim love animals, books, Lord of the Rings, and farm fresh eggs. By the way, they don't run a horse and cart... it's a horse and carriage.
Ted, or "Teddy Bear", is Jim's brother. It was his birthday on Saturday. We learned a very important thing about Jim's childhood from Ted: Ted is responsible for Jim's phobia of bears. He's never seen a bear, and doesn't ever want to, thanks to Ted. Guess they'll never make it to Canada.
She's a chook. Not much else to say about her, I guess.

Thanks for the bumnuts!
wally's amazin' facts!
Ned Kelly was only 25 years old when he was gunned down in Glen Rowan, Victoria. Was he a hero? Was he an outlaw? Most importantly, was he as cute as Heath Ledger? Not that I'm into guys. Ha! As if!

This Week's Amazin' Fact: If there's a Stratford, there's usually an Avon River nearby. It's true in England, it's true in Ontario, and it's certainly true here in southeast Victoria. However, this particular Avon River is the second fastest flooding river in the world! Second only to the Amazon! The thing is, you need rain for a flood, and Stratford, Vic. doesn't get much of it. Except, of course, when Wally's in town! A-hyuk!

Oh well, the farmers love a good rain now and then. It's the least we can do to bring it along with us, grow some grass, fatten up the ol' cows. Hey, ever wonder how much the price of a lamb goes up, from the farmer to your fridge? I'll be baa-aa-aack with the answer!

Don't forget to look for Wally this week!
Distance this week: 271kmDistance since Day 1: 14277km

What is Bikeabout? Click here to find out!

Day 393: Swell Raingear!
Distance Travelled: 92.7km Temperature: 24
Time on Trikes: 8.5h Water Left: 4.0L
Terrain: Fantastic
End Location: Yallourn North CFA Station
which way to the pole?
Just when we begin to get discouraged that it'll take the next ten years to finish this expedition, we have a day where we crack ninety kilometres and we feel great about it! Yay! At this rate, we'll be done in three weeks!
   Of course, after a ninety-kilometre day, we probably don't need to spend half the night partying with the local firemen, but what the heck. It's not every night you stay at the fire hall with a big bunch of burly volunteer firefighters, drinking Vic B and Bundy at $1.50 a can from the station fridge and complaining about the wives back home (a.k.a. the Dragon Lady). This place has more going on than the Yallourn North Pub.
   Anyway, with the way the weather's been going, I'm sure the rain will slow us down again soon. I'll sleep then.

"In a few more kilometers, the world will be your public toilet."
- Aimee.
Day 394: Live to ride another day
Distance Travelled: 37.6km Temperature: 18
Time on Trikes: 4.0h Water Left: 2.0L
Terrain: Cut short
End Location: Happy Valley
anywhere but here
Where's 'here'? 'Here' is the local footy oval in Toonabaggie or Toonawanaweebie or something, just up the street from Woop Woop, Vic. Wherever it is, everyone's wearing moccassins, but I'm positive it's not Moe.
   This morning we almost stuck around at the Yallourn firehouse, but we were so excited by getting so far yesterday that we just had to keep on going, even though the skies were darkening. It looked ominous, but we've been fooled before.
   What did we receive for our valliant efforts? Bugger all. A full 37 kilometres and we were done in by the frickin' frackin' rain AGAIN. We dealt with this setback poorly, shivering under the Toongabbie (that's it!) Rec Centre building awning next to the Toongabbie skate park, staring at the anatomically correct logo of the Toongabbie Rams footy club and basically hemming and hawing about whether the rain looks like it's going to let up or not. (Final answer = Not.)
   Just as we were about to be done in by our own skepticism, we were rescued by Barbara, who invited us up to her house for the night. This is starting to become a trend: we have a miserable day in the rain and we're rescued by a nice Aussie family. I suppose there are worse ways to live.

"Stick around after she leaves, and I'll give you the goss on Barbara."
- The Toongabbie Oasis Busybody.
Day 395: In the Big House
Distance Travelled: 0.0km Temperature: 21
End Location: Happy Valley
the whinge stops here
This week is very lucky. It was on the brink of becoming the second whinge week of this entire expedition. However, it was yanked back from the brink by the Owen family of Happy Valley. Good thing, too, because I was starting to hanker for a good Whinge Week. (Click here for the first Whinge Week, Week 21).
   On the other hand, I was also hankering for some quality time spent in a gorgeous house, with the most friendly people in the whole of Toon-town. It truly is a Happy Valley, even without Mickey and his beanstalk.

"Looks like the weather's going to pull a Launceston on us."
- Kevin.
Day 396: Don't forget your lunch!
Distance Travelled: 0.0km Temperature: 20
End Location: Happy Valley
happy days
Truth be told, we probably could have stayed at Happy Valley forever. But I think eventually Sam would have heard all of our stories and gotten a little bit tired of seeing our ugly mugs each morning at the breakfast table. We had to leave before this happened - we did want them to invite us back one day.
   (Note: He also would have gotten deathly ill thanks to Aimee's bio-hazardous illness, which began to show symptoms this morning. To a guy who can't cough, a virus isn't a very hospitable goodbye gift. P.S. Aimee's new nickname is "Outbreak Monkey".)
   And so, with our salmon and caper sandwiches, a carton of orange juice and a kiss on each cheek, we departed Happy Valley. Straight into the jaws of Stormy, Grumpy, Sickly Valley. Luckily, another guy saved us from that.

"If you were an A student, you'd have known that."
- George.
Day 397: What about Kebabs?
Distance Travelled: 51.6km Temperature: 18
Time on Trikes: 7.0h Water Left: 2.5L
Terrain: Not nice enough
End Location: Jim & Karen's, Stratford
outbreak monkey: prologue
If you recall, last week we stayed in Pakenham. There was a small child there who liked me much more than he liked Kevin. If I recall correctly, I believe he even tried to shoot Kev in the back of the head. I was his favourite body-shield when Kevin retaliated with his own finger-gun. The result of this closeness is that I have now caught child-cooties.
   It's been over a year since I've been sick and now I can definitely feel a sniffle coming on. So on top of the rain and the disrepair of the bikes, I can now add illness to the list.
   Maybe there's hope for a whinge week after all.

"Ooh! Sweeping! Worst Possible Scenario!"
- Aimee.
Day 398: Horse Throat
Distance Travelled: 11.5km Temperature: 16
Time on Trikes: 1.0h Water Left: 0.0L
Terrain: Lightweight
End Location: Jim & Karen's, Stratford
outbreak monkey's day off
   Guh mording. As you cad probably tell, I'b sick. Stuffy doze, itchy watery eyes, chesty cough... everythig straid oud ob a cold-medicid ad. You doe doze people od da cobbercials with giant dozes and kleedex bade of sadpaper? Dat's be. Id a horse trailer.
   Whedever I'b sick, with or without the horse trailer, der are three thigs I deed to survive until toborrow. Dey are as follows:
  • Salt & Biddegar Poe-tay-toe chips
  • Bagazeeds
  • Deo-Citrad*
I have by Salt & Biddegar poe-tay-toe chips. I have by bagazeeds. See you toborrow. Guh dight.
*Neo-Citran is to Canada as Thera-Flu is to America. I don't think there's an Australian equivalent, unless you count a dollop of Vegemite in hot water.

"For a while I was worried about the price of the land, but then I figured, God ain't makin' any more dirt."
- Jim.
Day 399: Kevin can still pick up the chicks.
Distance Travelled: 77.5km Temperature: 20
Time on Trikes: 6.0h Water Left: 3.5L
Terrain: Just what we needed
End Location: Tambo River Caravan Park
milking it
A quick trip out to the farm is just what the doctor ordered. Sort of. It's more like what Jim ordered. And it wasn't that quick. As we soon discovered, a half hour at the farm with Jim turns into two hours of snuggling the cows and feeding the horses. There is no such thing as a quick trip when Jim's involved.
   On a different note, at least I can now say that I've tasted the freshest milk in the world: straight from a cow. (You don't get too many opportunities to do that in New York, now do ya?)
   Before you get all "oh gross" on me, I'm not saying I got down under the cow and slurped it out, although it would have made for a really funny photo. When you milk a cow, you can actually point the teat and squirt milk across the room. It just so happened that I squirted it into my mouth instead. Okay, stop grossing yourself out.
   Remember: THIS IS WHERE MILK COMES FROM. There's probably a cow on your milk carton right now. You just try not to think about it when you're eating your Cocoa Puffs, but it's the truth. Deal with it.

"I wouldn't recommend the photo I just took of you. It's strangely... um... pornographic, in a clicked-the-wrong-link sort of way."
- Kevin.
bumnut: (n.) egg.

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