week 9...
time flies

In Stuart's Footsteps

That's not a swarm of smarmies... that's a willy-willy, caught on tape! See what we're up against out here? Not sure where a willy-willy ends and a tornado begins, but I think we're looking at a willy-nado.

Even though our first willy-willy encounter scared the bejeepers out of us, now they're simply entertaining and tend to add some excitement to the arvo. After sixty-four days of biking, we can deal with the heat, the isolation, the humidity, the bore water, the ants, and the occasional feral pig. We're prepared to take most of what Mother Nature throws at us.

That said, what we can't take are the frickin' frackin' flies. There are no flies like NT flies. They're looking for two things from you: moisture and windblock. This means that while you're counting two or three on the lip of your water bottle, there's probably another 30 or 40 covering your back trying to get out of the wind. It would be safe to say that we both think there's a special place in hell reserved for Outback flies. A dry and windy place! Nyah ha ha!

There's only one thing that's worse than the flies, and that's the smarmies. Actually native bees, smarmies may look like flies, but don't leave when you swat at them. You can literally pet them without getting the least reaction, except maybe the bee equivalent of "Ow! Hey! Okay okay, I'm moving. Yeesh." Where most flies standing on your eyelashes would probably move if you blinked, the smarmy refuses to take the hint and continues trying to get into the corner of your eye to have a little slurp of your precious eye fluids. Yes, this is gross. This is the Outback.

Spidey Sense:
Body Length: 6cm
Body Width: 3cm
Legs: 8
Legspan: 12cm
Scare Factor: 9

You'll find more brushes with death below!
Brush with Death #1
Brush with Death #2
Brush with Death #3
Brush with Death #4
Brush with Death #5
brush with death #6
"This looks like a good spot." wheezed Aimee, half-heartedly. After nine hours of cycling, at 10:30 at night, Kevin was in no mood to argue.

Aimee needed sleep. Badly. But not so badly that she'd neglect her evening tasks: stretching, soaking the dehydrated peas, and checking the ground for ants. Kevin was pulling the tent off of the back of the bikes.

"No ants here-- hey, wait a sec..." Aimee peered the flashlight down a small, wide hole. "What the hey?" The curious hole was the diameter of a 50 cent piece, and the inside was strewn with webbing.

"Probably just a tent pole hole." suggested Kevin.
"With webbing?"
"Some little spider thought it was a comfy spot to live. Where's my dinner?"
"Wait... something's moving in there..."

He emerged! A hideous, hairy, brown, ugly, nasty, poisonous, disgusting, squishy, eight-legged abomination of nature crawled... slowly... out... of.. the... hole!

So we left to find another spot.
these are the people in our neighbourhood...

Scratch the Truckie was the only one that stayed at the Renner Springs Roadhouse as long as we did - about ten hours. In all that time, we never did get the chance to ask him how he got his nickname.. maybe that's for the best.
Sharon was just about ready to pedal away with our bikes! We considered letting her go on without us and we'd run the Renner Springs Roadhouse for her. It was tempting. (By the way, thanks for the ice!)
Well, lookee who just pulled up at the Dunmarra Roadhouse! It's our good mate, Marc! Looks like Marc drew the short straw to drive the ute back to Townsville. It's always a treat to see someone twice (which seems to happen a lot out here), but to see someone you really like twice - that's magic! In fact, it's Magic Cool...
Awwww. It's a teenie weenie bay-beee! We met Macloyd in Elliot on our way through and just thought he was the cutest, squishiest little thing. Only a few weeks old and he's already met his first Canadians... Probably best that he hasn't acquired memory cells yet.
how to play backpacker
Getting Started:
1) For each player, deal three cards face down, three cards face up on top of the first three, and three cards for the player to pick up.
2) Each player may trade any cards in hand for cards face up in front of him.
3) Player with a 3 in hand goes first.
Game play:
1) If the discard pile is empty, player can play any card.
2) If a card is in the pile, player must play a card (or pair, triplet, quad) equal to or higher than that card.
3) After discarding, if player has less than three cards in hand, he must replenish until he has three (unless deck is finished).
4) If player cannot play a higher card (or special card) he must pick up the entire discard pile.
When deck is empty:
1) Keep discarding from hand until player is holding no cards.
2) On next turn, player must be able to play one of the three cards in front of him. If he can't, he must pick up the discard pile and play as before.
3) Once the three face-up cards have been played, on the next turn the player must guess which of the face-down cards in front of him may be played. If it can, play continues. If not, he picks up the discard pile.
4) First player to have no cards in front of him or in hand is the winner. Last is the "backpacker".
 Special Cards:
2: Reset (Played any time. After a 2, any card can be played.) 5: Invisible (Played any time. Like a pass, 5 takes on value of card below it)
7: Low Card (Played in sequence. Next card must be less than or equal to 7) 8: Skip a turn (Played in sequence. Pair of 8s means skip 2 people, etc.)
10: Clear (Played any time. Discard pile is cleared) Jack: (Played in sequence. CW play becomes CCW, or vice versa)
wally's amazin' facts!
Before you start complaining about paying $4.80 for a Coke at the Barkley Homestead, realize that it takes 500 litres of diesel each day to power the roadhouse! That diesel is what makes your Coke cold and the fans spin. You won't hear me complaining!

It's all uphill from here - we just turned north onto the Stuart Highway. Contrary to popular belief, the highway wasn't named after a talking mouse owned by Geena Davis, but rather a brave explorer, became the first man to trek across the continent from Adelaide to Darwin. It took him three separate attempts, but he finally did it. That's perserverance for you! The current Stuart Highway directly follows his path - and so will we!

Out here, cattle stations can be bigger than some European countries. If you've got more land than Belgium to cover, how do you keep track of your cows and round 'em up when it's time for a head-count? I'll tell ya next week!

Don't forget to look for Wally this week!
Distance this week: 394kmDistance since Day 1: 3536km

What is Bikeabout? Click here to find out!

Day 58: Decisions, decisions...
Distance Travelled: 32.8km Temperature: 43
Time on Trikes: 3.0h Water Left: 7.0L
Terrain: Seemed fairly easy
End Location: Just past Three Ways
the third way
We've been south, we've been east. West is not a current option. Looks like it's time to head north. Actually, all things considered, this is the worst possible time to head north, but we've never let minor things like considerations get in our way. North it is.
   What's north, you ask? More of the same, but hotter and more humid. I think there may be more hills. Definitely more empty space. Lots and lots of empty space. Having had our fill of empty space on the Barkly Highway means that we've finally devised several different ways of managing the awkward silences that pop up... one for each day of the week! Read on and you'll never be bored again...

"I really don't care how I look in this town."
- Aimee.
Day 59: Something to think about
Distance Travelled: 53.0km Temperature: 39
Time on Trikes: 8.0h Water Left: 12L
Terrain: Climbed all day
End Location: Radio Repeater 8038
out of the green
The first and best time waster (best because we just invented it today, so it's still fresh and exciting) is the I'm Thinking Of Something game. A cross between I Spy and Twenty Questions, this game takes up heaps of time on those long empty outback roads...

I'm Thinking Of Something...
1) Player 1 thinks of anything in the world, from a chain-link fence to a photo of Nolan and Chris in front of the Stanley Cup.
2) Player 1 says "I'm thinking of something GREY." (the fence as an example).
3) Player 2 is allowed to ask Yes/No questions, or Either/Or questions. (Is it plastic? Is it metal? Is it used by kids or adults?)
4) When player 2 guesses the item, it's his turn to think of something!
Average length of round: 1-3km

Some of our better thoughts: A Blue's Clues VHS tape, Hugh Grant's Hair, a fishing sinker, bubble stuff, the diving platform at Danny's camp, Jennifer Lopez's Grammy dress.

"Considering where we are, I think Jennifer Lopez is a much better thing to think about than a Bob the Builder Backpack."
- Kevin.
Day 60: Obviously not an American Dictionary
Distance Travelled: 72.3km Temperature: 35
Time on Trikes: 8.5h Water Left: 11L
Terrain: Up and Down
End Location: Helen Springs
improve your diction
Although admirable, advancing around Australia can be anesthetizing. As aforementioned, us able-bodied adventurers are allowing adequate amplitude to acquire advancement and aptitude at an altitude above the average ambler. Arguably, though Aimee and I aren't ab--... er... acc--... ad--
  Aw, forget it. We're reading the dictionary. As you can see, we haven't made it that far. Hey Aimee! What's that metal heebie you use to dig... food...?
Average length of page: 1.5km

"This is great! It's like sleeping on a park bench!"
- Kevin.
Day 61: It's a gas!
Distance Travelled: 69.2km Temperature: 37
Time on Trikes: 9.0h Water Left: 11L
Terrain: Slow uphill
End Location: Near Renner Springs
aptly named
Ah, Renner Springs Roadhouse. Shade, seats, and tasty, cold water. Sometimes you need to waste time in a public place just as much as in the middle of nowhere. Like when you're waiting for the sun to go down. Luckily, today you've got a table.
  Backpackers may know this game by another nastier name, but we prefer to call it "Backpacker." Because we learned it from backpackers. Yes, that's why.

Click here to learn how to play!

"Car... White..."
- Kevin.
Day 62: You know what they say...
Distance Travelled: 63.6km Temperature: 39
Time on Trikes: 11h Water Left: 12L
Terrain: Slower uphill
End Location: Near Newcastle Waters
23-dexterity, 8-charisma
Okay, that last one was a little tough to grasp in 100 words or less, but this next is great! It's solitaire you can play without a table! You can play it... um... in the bathtub! Haven't you ever been sitting in the tub and thought, man, I could go for a game of solitaire, since I'm alone anyway! Well, today's your lucky day!

Solitaire for People with Large Dextrous Hands and No Table
1) Hold the deck face up in your left hand.
2) Deal a card into a "slot" in your right hand (space between your fingers: you should have 4).
3) If the next card is one increment above or below that card, place it on top in the same slot.
4) If the next card is the same as a card in a slot, place it on top, then discard everything in that slot (into space between left pinky & ring).
5) If the next card is not same, one above, or one below, place it into an empty slot.
6) If there are no empty slots, and you can't place the next card, you lose!
Average length of game: 200m

I admit, it's a pretty easy game, but what the hell, it's solitaire. Since you're by yourself you'd probably cheat anyway, so it might as well be easy to win.

"I'll just be over here, defiling the ant palace."
- Kevin.
Day 64: Look Like a Million Books
Distance Travelled: 53.6km Temperature: 41
Time on Trikes: 8.5h Water Left: 10L
Terrain: Even slower uphill
End Location: Mr Spider's Abode
action, aliens and a library
Back at Renner Springs we scored a great book: Contest, by Matt Reilly. In fact, it was so good, we decided to read it out loud! Since Kevin's in the back, and he can do better accents than I can, he reads to me while I, um, pedal.
  What makes this book so perfect to read out loud? First, it's a really really simple plot, not to mention a surprisingly diferent plot compared to the back cover description. On the back it read something like: "Dr. Swain and his daughter are stuck in the New York Public Library, unwillingly caught in a contest where the only way to win is not to die." Sounds kinda like House on Haunted Hill, doesn't it, except more suspence, less cheap horror gags.
  The real plot: an alien arbitrarily chooses Dr. Swain to compete in a life or death contest, called the Presidian, against six othergoofy menacing aliens that look like spiders and crocodiles. It had the makings of a fine movie. It even had midgets! That guy from Willow has to make his money somewhere.
  Anyway, the plot was pretty predictable. The language wasn't too flowery or complicated. And, there were very few characters, which meant Kev didn't have to keep making up voices each new chapter (after the last book we read aloud, Brainfire, Kev became quite adept at a Russian accent).

Good Authors Aloud: Clive Cussler, Arthur Hailey, Matt Reilly.
Bad Aloud: Stephen King, Terry Pratchet, J.R.R. Tolkien.
Never Read Ever: Campbell Armstrong.
Average length of book: 4-5 days

"If I saw that in my shoe, I would consider leaving the shoe."
- Aimee.
Day 64: SPANG!
Distance Travelled: 49.7km Temperature: 42
Time on Trikes: 4.0h Water Left: 12L
Terrain: Medium
End Location: Near Daly Waters
knock knock
Aim started this time-waster when she was in the rear seat... you can tell she made it up because it reeks of simplicity.

Peel The Orange
1) Sit on the back of the bike and peel an orange. You try to either:
  a) hit the front person on their helmet with the peels;
  b) try to get a piece of peel into the helmet grooves so that the orange bits sit there all day and begin to wilt into their head in the heat of the afternoon; or
  c) toss bits into the dry grass alongside of the road so they think there's a snake in the bushes.
Average length of game: 100m

See? It's simple, but it keeps the neck muscles limber.

"I'll tell you one thing about the Australian public: they're... oh, what's the word... pathetic."
- Wayne, Australian Army Command (retired yesterday).
Aussie salute: Hold up your right hand next to your head, fingers spread. Now, wave your hand back and forth in front of your face. Repeat until the flies, mozzies and smarmies have left you alone.

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© 2002 Kevin Beimers & Aimee Lingman. (n.) exciting and risky undertaking or exploit.