Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Outback & Forth | Shrug Down Under - Aussie Rock

To quote Joan Jett, "I love rock and roll".   There were many times in my life, particularly in my teens, when I felt like all I had to keep me sane - was music.  The first record I ever bought with my own money was a 45 of "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe.  I was six or seven years old and after hearing the amazing (to a six year old) drum work, I just had to have it.  The fact that I recall it so vividly now is evidence that it was a worthwhile investment of my birthday money.

I started collecting albums when I got my first job at 14 years of age.  I worked as a busboy at a Sheraton Inn near my home in Garland and although I was diligently saving to buy a motorcycle, I would splurge and buy one album each payday.  I maintained the album collecting habit well into adulthood and continued to buy LPs into 1984 when rest of the world had already begun migrating to compact discs.  The records I purchased reflected the straight up rock and roll and heavy metal that I was into throughout junior high and high school.  Cheap Trick hung the musical moon for me back in high school and they are still my all-time favorite band today.  My listening horizons were significantly expanded when I joined the Air Force as I began interacting with people from not just around the country, but from around the world.  To this day, I still listen regularly to many of the tunes that so deeply resonated with me all those years ago; only today I listen to them in mp3 format.  I could argue ad nauseam over the pros and cons of records versus CDs and mp3s and the loss of warmth and feel from records that we traded for the convenience of going digital, but that's another topic entirely.  If you seek a compromise, check out ponomusic.com.

Mp3s are great and they suck at the same time.  Sonically speaking, an mp3 file encoded at a decent bit rate sounds pretty amazing and enjoying the music couldn't be more simple:
  1. Don your ear buds
  2. Press play on your phone (because nobody carries a separate mp3 player these days)
  3. Rock out
That's the great aspect of mp3s.  The suck is the packaging, or lack of therein.  I'll address this later in this entry, but first this flashback.


Listening to music when I was a kid was a far more involved experience than it is today.  My high fidelity sound system consisted of a battery powered portable record player that I bought at a garage sale for 25 cents and whose sound quality was comparable to a drive-in movie speaker that had been run over by a wood-paneled station wagon and left in the gravel.  Also, I could never find the spider adapter that snapped into the 45 record hole to adapt it to the pencil-sized LP spindle.  Despite my best efforts to perfectly center the record on the platter, it always sounded a little warped like the soundtrack of those old films we used to watch in elementary school.  Nevertheless, I could entertain myself for hours listening to 45s at LP speed or vice versa.

Back then, just acquiring music was a major endeavor and my collection was limited to whatever tunes I could find on the back of a breakfast cereal box, the selections from which were typically limited to The Archies, or The Jackson Five.  If I was "lucky", I could really score and find a box of Honey Comb cereal with a Partridge Family tune or the latest hit by the Monkees on the box.  But I digress.

Eventually, my musical tastes grew in sophistication beyond the offerings of the General Mills repertoire of artists and I had to actually go to a record shop or to a department store that had a record section.  My problem was I couldn't drive yet, so I had to either rely on my mom going to Treasure City or Gibsons on Sundays (they were the only stores open on Sundays back then) or catch one of my older sisters going to the mall and beg to ride along.  This usually sucked because as a young teenage boy, I went to a record store to buy a record and that was it.  I was done.  My mom and sisters' gender dictated that they went to the mall to shop and of course no shopping trip was complete unless they visited every store and boutique in the mall while I begrudgingly staggered along keeping a respectable distance behind them.  If I was lucky, they would meander into a store adjacent to Spencer Gifts and I could hang out there in the black light poster section and look at my glowing teeth and eyeballs in the mirrors.  For the most part, it was self inflicted torture, but it was always worth it because when I got home, I had a new record!
What could possibly go wrong?

Eventually, I discovered a new means of avoiding the waterboarding-like experiences at the mall.  These opportunities came in the mail or in the Sunday newspaper from the Columbia House Record Club where I could pick 11 albums for only a penny!  All I had to do was buy two more records at the regular club price.  What could possibly go wrong with that?  Even at 14 years of age, I subconsciously knew this was a ripoff.  But that didn't stop me anymore than the scrambled cable TV signal stopped me from staring cross-eyed at the television for hours on end, trying to spot boobs among the swirled lines in the late night titty flicks on Cinemax (to which we did not subscribe).  Of course, the selection of Columbia House records to choose from to fulfill my obligation was usually limited to crap like Perry Como's Christmas Extravaganza or Jim Neighbors' Go Tell It On The Mountain and they cost about $20 each with shipping.  I gave my mother a Jim Neighbors album for Christmas one year, so it wasn't a total loss and after all, it's thought that counts!  Again I digress.

Just selecting the Columbia House records was a pain in the ass.  First, I had to find 11 records that I actually wanted from their artist selection and I must admit that I selected a few records knowing each would likely wind up as a Frisbee.  When I settled on the magic 11, I had to tear them individually from a matrix of 500 tiny little album cover stamps on a perforated sheet, lick them, and stick them onto the mail-in card.  Sometimes finding a postage stamp for the mail-in card was more difficult than settling on 11 albums.  I remember once sticking one of the album cover stamps on the envelope and mailing it.  I still got my records.

CDs and mp3s clearly have sonic superiority over the albums back in the day and I suppose that for today's have-it-all and have-it-all-now music consumers, that's all that matters.  But where today's music consuming generation loses out is in packaging.

ALERT: Here comes one of those "back in the day" comparisons when "our stuff was better because..."

One of the best aspects of buying records was the packaging.  Packaging in the mp3 world is limited to a miniscule display of the artist's name and track title.  If you're lucky, you get a tiny image of the album cover, which is senseless because these days fewer artists actually release full albums.  I suppose the upside is being able to buy just the tunes you want.  After all, can anyone name one other tune on Billy Thorpe's Children of the Sun record?  Does anyone reading this even remember Billy Thorpe?

When I was a kid, these were the two coolest dudes ever.
Digging through the record was as exciting to me as hearing the music itself.  First, there was the album cover art itself, which was just the tip of the iceberg.  I loved reading the lyrics on the album sleeve and seeing who in the band wrote the tunes.  I loved the photos and learning trivial facts like "Bun E. Carlos plays Ludwig drums exclusively".  Alice Cooper's School's Out album even included a pair of girl's panties.  A sticker of the band's logo that was occasionally included in the packaging was cool, but the real scores always came in the double albums, which usually included posters, stickers, fan club information, photos of fans holding spray painted bedsheets with the band's logo at the concerts.  I remember being captivated at the first double live album I saw.  Frampton Comes Alive was a audiovisual revelation to me.  I didn't even know what a 
Frampton was, but I vividly remember seeing that long curly blond hair and that black Les Paul guitar on the double album cover.  If memory serves, one of my sister's friends brought the album over and they played it on the family hi-fi.  I firmly recall hiding behind the couch being mesmerized at every word on the album jacket and record sleeve and then collecting the bits and pieces of my blown mind having heard Frampton's guitar talk during that epic live version of "Do You Feel Like We Do".  When the album wound up being left behind at our house, I took it and would keep it in my room like a secret pet.  I didn't dare try to play it on my battery powered kiddie record player, but just having it in my room elevated my sense of cool.

Stu Gets Ink on the Sunset Strip
Although albums are making a bit of a comeback for collectors, I think it's too late for today's generation of music buyers; assuming anyone actually buys music these days.  I had hundreds of albums, each with protective sleeves and kept in pristine condition.  Years ago, I gave them all to Stuart, my lifelong friend,  Code Blue co-founder, and famed Sunset Strip party hound.  I have to admit that I've since drank the mp3 Kool-Aid.  I don't even buy CDs anymore.  I have a few collectible and promotional CDs, some of which are autographed; others are just sentimental.
But the truth is, there is little music being made these days that I appreciate enough to actually buy with my hard earned cash.  I have no problem paying 99 cents for the occasional classic rock, classic metal, or new wave tune from my past when a memory of them crosses my mind.  Unfortunately, those tunes don't come with any swag.

What does all this sentimental schlock have to do with this trip?  Well, since this trip is to Australia, I got to thinking about the Aussie bands I knew and liked (as well as some I didn't like) and started digging through my folders of tunes.  The list that follows is by no means canonical.  Some of the list is stuff I really like, or at least liked at some point in my life.  Some of it is crap.  Nevertheless, take a look at the videos and maybe listen to the tunes.  Some of the lyrics are really deep.  Others are simple pop/rock schlock, but eternally cool nonetheless.




ACDC
Too many records and way too many great tunes to list, but the Bon Scott years have remained my favorite.  Although it's not the one below, I already know which ACDC tune will make my Outback trip movie soundtrack.



INXS
These guys were at the top of their game when Michael Hutchence's untimely death deflated the ball.

  
Icehouse
Icehouse had a few Stateside hits, including "Crazy" and "Icehouse".  "Crazy" was a little too pop for me, but "Icehouse" had an eerie feel that was great in headphones late at night.


Men at Work
I bought the Business As Usual record while stationed in Spain when I was in the Air Force.  It was released in 1981, and all I had heard was "Land Down Under" until another guy in my dorm turned me on to the record.  I liked their use of sax and flutes and learned that there was more to rock music than distorted guitar; although honestly not much more.  "It's A Mistake" was never a hit and the video was stupid.  It's a cool tune nevertheless.
 



Goanna
A goanna is a classification given to several species of giant lizards found in Australia.  I never knew that until I Googled the band having remembered that their one and only hit had a cool drum beat and didgeridoo sound effects.






Crowded House
I was just beginning to play in bands when this record came out.  It was quite a departure from what I typically liked and especially from the metal music I was drumming.  This was and still is another favorite late night headphone tune.


Bee Gees
Full disclosure: I never got into disco and I still have never seen Saturday Night Fever.  Still, I appreciated the harmonies the Brothers Gibb were able to muster over the years.  I couldn't list Aussie bands and leave out the Bee Gees.


 

Midnight Oil
I can't find a single tune by these self absorbed skinhead-looking environmental protest dorks that appealed to me when they were relevant (to the extent that they ever were), much less now.  But, they were pretty popular, at least by Andy Warhol standards, so they made the list and this will have to do.

Split Enz
I bought this record when I was a DJ in high school.  "I Got You" was a new wave hit that I should probably be ashamed to admit I liked then and now.  In full disclosure, Splt Enz were technically from New Zealand, but some of their members were members of Crowded House, which was an Aussie band.  I'm claiming writer's prerogative on this one.



Little River Band
LRB is one of those bands that grew on me as I matured and learned to appreciate their complex musical arrangements and their stellar harmonies.  LRB (probably just an original roadie and bass player) played a Rockwall Heritage Festival a few years ago and they still had it.



The Church
I probably would have never given these guys a second listen were it not for seeing them perform in Austin a few months before I got out of the Air Force.  There are probably numerous bands I've blown off that could win me over if I saw them live, but this is my list, so screw them.


Air Supply
These guys were added for any bulimics reading this who need to purge, but whose hands are busy.


Divinyls
They touched themselves, sang about it, and therefore made the list.




Olivia Newton John
I never forgave her for Xanadu, but had I known this version of one of her seminal soundtracks was available, I might have had a more open mind.


Natalie Imbruglia
I must admit I had no idea she was Australian, but any chick that sings about lying naked on the floor cold and ashamed makes my list.


Pseudo Echo
Another one hit wonder band who hit big on MTV with their rendition of "Funky Town".  Their drummer had three kick drums and they played a key-tar.  For some reason, that was cool to me.  I can listen to the tune, but the video turns my stomach.


Rose Tattoo
These guys were Guns and Roses before Guns and Roses were.  This tune had a killer guitar riff that made great wake-up music when I was in high school.


Billy Thorpe
Children of the Sun was one of those tunes that came along when Close Encounters of the Third Kind was still fresh on our minds.  The concept of space aliens descending to earth and taking us back with them with a killer guitar riff and laser effects in the background struck a chord with me (no pun intended).  I'm told there were other tunes on this record, but I never heard them.


The Angels/Angel City
Starting out as The Angels, this is another band I was turned on to while in Spain.  The record Dark Room was released in 1980 under the band name Angel City and had several tunes I loved.  The title track is the one I related to the most.  "Face The Day" and "Marseilles" were also great tunes.


Not Australian, but I couldn't leave him out.  Listen for those amazing drums and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Outback & Forth | Shrug Down Under - What Condition My Condition Was In



Remember this guy? 
Thick Shrug - Dec, 2010
A few years ago; four to be precise, he made up his mind to lose a few pounds; 50 to be precise again.  In December 2010, I knew I needed to drop weight and condition myself for the ride to and from the Arctic Circle.  I had six months to do it and damned if I wasn’t determined enough to make it happen.
Thin Shrug - June, 2011


That’s the good news.  The bad news is that most of that guy is back.  Try as I might have (most of the time, anyway), I managed to gain 30 of those pounds back over the four years since I returned from Alaska.  The worse news is I lost an additional 17 pounds on that trip, so theoretically (or mathematically), I’ve gained back 47 pounds.  It doesn’t sound as bad if I break it down over the four years’ time.  In that case it’s barely twelve pounds a year.  Twelve, twenty-four, thirty-six, whatever the number, it’s too many.  The somewhat better news is that I have almost a year to drop the weight.  The somewhat less than better news is that at four years older, I suspect losing it will be more difficult and time consuming that it was in 2011.  As with the Alaskapade before and the Oz trip ahead of me, dropping the weight also will take commitment.


I have to confess that I’ve been working on dropping weight for a few months now but despite my efforts, all I’ve managed to do is maintain and not gain any more weight.  I’ve been rowing religiously, eating right (for the most part), I walk for miles when working on the road, and I always take the stairs.  Still, I struggle to keep in shape.  Growing older sucks.  I compared my recent efforts and results to the results and efforts from four years ago and figured something must be wrong.  Maybe it’s a thyroid thing.  Perhaps I should see a doctor.


Other than seeing my orthopedist for arthritis issues, I haven’t been to a doctor in years.  So last month, I went in for a physical.  I learned several things at that appointment.  I learned that once a man passes fifty years of age, the examination activities south of the belly button are no longer limited to a tug on the nuts and a head-turned cough.  You guys over fifty know where I’m heading.  Those under fifty will know all too soon.

When the nurse took my temperature, she simply scanned my forehead with a device seemingly from a Star Trek episode and the readings appeared on her iPad.  It was the same when she checked my ears and my blood pressure.  I joked out loud "Hey, there's an app for that!"

Despite my jovial mood, the truth is doctor appointments are always make me anxious and my anxiety level was already elevated a bit just by being in a doctor's office.  Well, the elevator ascended to the penthouse level and crashed through the roof like the Wonkavator when the doctor reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of rubber exam gloves and a large tube of lube.  I was doing my best to un-pucker as I dropped my pants when I spotted the iPad still sitting on the counter and said "You can't use that, huh?"  He replied stoically "I don't think it will fit".  Touché.  "You can't just point and shoot and then analyze the image?".  He laughed. "No, there's no app for that." 

 

Truth is, I used to occasionally get the old procto plunge when I was on flight status back in my Air Force days.  I didn't care much for it then either.  Some things get easier as we age.  Or, we just learn to enjoy things from the perspective that accompanies an older, more seasoned, and matured point of view.  I sit on airplanes these days and smile when I hear babies cry because I remember holding my infant sons and fighting back angst and when they cried incessantly, seemingly for no reason.  I smile when I listen to old recordings of my band and remember how tedious and stressful the recording sessions were.    Strangely enough however, I did not smile as I bent over the examination table and the physician’s finger probed the inside of my butthole. Unlike other life events, this one has not benefited from advances in technology.  By the time all that fun was over, I found myself actually looking forward to the blood draw needle.  Again I digress.

A couple of weeks later, I went in for a follow up and a review of the findings.  With the exception of slightly elevated LDL cholesterol, it was all good news.  I have to admit that part of me kind of hoped I would have had a thyroid condition or some other excuse for my inability to drop weight.  When I mentioned this, the doctor offered to put me on a program that included some prescription weight loss pill.  I opted out, acknowledging the reality that if I can take a pill to lose weight, I can also just do the work.  I know I'd be better off to eat even smarter and work even harder and ultimately achieve the same results.  Appetite control is my biggest challenge.  I already eat the right foods; I just eat to much of them.  I'm rowing even more religiously and I've added a six-mile walk several days a week to my regimen.

There is a nice walking path across a 2.5 mile bridge that traverses a lake near my home.  With a half mile walk to and from the bridge, I get a six mile walking workout.  The first walk across the bridge started out with ease, even in the heat of a July afternoon in Texas.  I remembered to apply sun screen before I left.  I remembered to bring a sweat towel.  I remembered my phone and ear buds to listen to my current audiobook.  It was at the instant I reached the turning point and began my three mile walk back facing west directly into the sun that I wished I had remembered to bring water.  I estimate that I dropped about five pounds in sweat alone and honestly, about halfway across the bridge, was ready to call for an Uber ride.  "Yeah...just look for the dehydrated idiot passed out and doubled over the walking path barricade."  I continued on motivated (if not humiliated) by the senior citizens who passed me by on the bridge, some of them jogging (probably just to further emasculate me).  As I walked past a small boutique hospital in my neighborhood looking like an extra on The Walking Dead, I considered admitting myself just for a drink of water.  Knowing my luck, they would have shoved me into the psych ward.

I made it home with every joint aching, blisters on my feet, and asking myself "Am I really that out of shape?"  I gulped down a few glasses of water, swallowed a handful of Advil, and went to bed.  I awakened the next morning feeling surprisingly well.  The aches were gone, but the blisters remained.  I know now that I can prevent (most of) the aches with proper hydration and give my feet some relief with better socks.  I can also steal the gel insoles from my riding boots and stuff them in my walking shoes.  The answer to my introspective physical analysis is likely yes; I probably am that out of shape.  The Outback will kick my ass all the way back to Texas if I don't properly prepare and condition myself.


That first hike across the bridge notwithstanding, I feel confident that I'm well on my way in terms of conditioning, but there is still one more unrelated procedure I need to undergo.  My physical exam results package included the address and phone number for a local digestive health clinic and a referral for a colonoscopy.  This week, I received a prep kit.  At first glance my dyslexic eyes saw "superbowl prep kit".  I don't even remember which teams played in this year's Superbowl, but I figured it might be fun.  Then I read it closer.  SUPREP BOWEL PREP KIT.  I suppose it's a bottle of liquid Colon Blow.  I'm really dreading this, but I know at my age, it's something I have to do.  At any rate, it ought to make for some good blog fodder.  Stay tuned for Adventures With Shrug's Colon!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Outback & Forth | Shrug Down Under - Australian Oddities - Skylab!

When the Skylab space station crashed near Esperance, Western Australia, in 1979, the town’s council issued NASA a $400 fine for littering.  NASA never paid.

When the Skylab space station crashed near Esperance, Western Australia, in 1979, the town's council issued NASA a $400 fine for littering, which was never paid.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Outback & Forth | Shrug Down Under - Grinding About Gear


Hester Packed for Alaska
I babbled in the introduction about the logistics involved in making this trip.  The more I think about it, the more I realize there is more to think about.  Beyond the routine personal supplies, I need to consider motocross the riding gear I'll need because literally none of my street riding equipment will be of any use on this adventure. Beyond riding gear, there's also the regulatory paperwork such as an international driver's license, an Australian visa, travel insurance, vaccination records, my Men At Work Fan Club membership card, etc.  I know I have almost a year before I leave, but I know also how time flies. Maybe it's time to make a list.

I also can't help thinking through the tech gear (geek stuff) I'd like to take along.  This trip will require an entirely different packing mindset because I'll have no saddle bag or tour pack storage like I did on the Alaskapade.  A saddle roll on the front and back of the bike and a backpack will be all I can personally carry.  The guide operator will be able to transport some of my gear on their support vehicle, but I'm not sure what space/weight limitations will be placed on me.  I'd really like to take a laptop for documenting the journey, for dumping still and video camera files, and for Internet access on the coasts as well as if there happens to be any access along the route.  I don't take written notes very well, so worst case I'll have my tablet onto which I can dictate my daily notes.  If that's the case, I'll have to stock up on SD memory cards.
Alaskapade Loads O' Crap
As stated in my "Getting There" entry, I'll be renting a motorcycle, so it's unlikely that I'll be able to modify the electrical system to power all the devices that I took to Alaska on Hester.  I suppose that means I'll have to leave the foot massaging chair and margarita machine at home.  Seriously, I'll be lucky to be able to charge just one device while I ride.  The bike I'll be riding will have electric start, so there's a battery to which I might be able to connect a Battery Tender accessory pigtail and that will provide me USB charging.  I want to take a digital camera, my GoPro and its remote control, and my phone - all of which need to be recharged regularly.  I don't plan to use the phone over there and get raped by roaming and international data fees.  I got enough of that action at my last physical.  The pre-loaded Android GPS maps I recently found for the Australian continent  might come in handy while I'm in the middle of nowhere.  With them, I'll have all the geographic data on the phone itself and will not have to rely on a cellular data connection.    I'm probably over thinking all this.  Whatever the case, I have time to sort out the space and power requirements and make it all work.

Arctic Circle Spot Message
I've decided to reactivate and take my Spot Connect GPS locator and a pile of spare batteries so I can provide a live mapping feed on the Web to chart my progress, just as I did on the Alaskapade.  This is yet another reason to have my phone charged as it will also serve as my input device for the Spot messenger.  The Spot will be my lifeline to the world; or should I say the world's lifeline to me.

I expect to go days at a time without Internet connectivity, so the only contact with the rest of the world will be in the form of SMS messages sent to phones or email accounts via a Bluetooth connection between my phone and the Spot device.  The messages are outbound only and are composed of simple text without images, but they will provide a link to my location plotted on a Google map and hopefully some witty, albeit succint insight to the progress of the trip.  I had over 400 subscribers on the Alaskapade feed and although it was free to them, I made it a point not to blow up their mail boxes and phones.  I need to get up to speed on the latest Spot offerings and capabilities and then post a geek speak update later.  Who knows, by the time I leave, the Spot people may have a new suite of features for me to unleash on the Outback.

Motocross Boots a la Salvador Dali
The riding gear shopping list is getting extensive...and probably expensive.  All that's left of my dirt riding gear is my enduro jacket, one pair of ballistic nylon riding pants, some moisture wicking socks, and my chest protector.  I raided my closets and storage bins and found two of my old riding jerseys along with other clothes awaiting their return to vogue.  I'll add a couple more to the list because with 18 riding days and no laundry facilities, I doubt I'll be able to outrun my own odor.

Like a kid who discovered a long since played with favorite toy, I dug out and excitedly unzipped my motocross boot bag and then was shocked and then saddened at how my boots pretty much disintegrated in my hands.  The leather was in tact and the stitching was tight, but the plastic buckles and straps were literally mush.  These were pretty nice Diadora racing boots imported from Spain and they had served me well for years.  Now I have to add boots to the list, which sucks not only financially, but because breaking in new motocross boots was always a pain in the ass...well, feet.  I used to walk around the house in my new boots a week or so before the first race with them so they wouldn't kill me on race day.  I once showed up at a race with only one boot.  I'm still not sure how that happened, but I'm pretty sure I tried to blame it on someone else.  Lucky for me, a friend graciously offered to let me wear a brand new pair of boots that he purchased from a vendor who had brought them to the race to deliver.  Breaking boots in a 100+ mile race through the woods is not fun, but I suspect it would have been easier than in one boot or in sneakers.  Maybe riding boots have changed in ten years, or maybe I can buy a used pair that fit me and that have already been broken in.  I'm counting on one or the other.  If I'm wrong, try not to laugh if you see me stomping around like a housewife dressed in hooker heels for a costume party and walking like I have a roll of quarters shoved up my ass.

I was already aware that I needed a helmet and goggles.  While cleaning out my garage last summer, I almost accidentally displaced a family of birds that had nested inside my Fox Racing helmet.  Apparently the straps from the helmet and from my goggles made nice nesting material.  They also chewed away the helmet's internal Styrofoam and cloth to make a cozy home for their babies.  They left the boys' old helmets and my street helmets alone, choosing my barely used and color coordinated Fox Racing helmet instead.  I waited till the nest was empty in the winter to toss the helmet, cursing Mother Nature under my breath. Add a helmet to the list.

I won't cut corners too tight on the helmet and boots, because they're way too important.  But, I can get the other riding gear I need on the cheap by shopping online and looking for last year's motocross fashions.  Yes, even motocross riding gear has fashion seasons and no, I was never in fashion.
"Dressed" to Kill in Arkansas - c. 2001
(I still have this Jersey & Pants, & Hat)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Outback & Forth | Shrug Down Under - Logistics 101

I have to admit that when I first dreamed up this trip, I had a naive perception of what it would actually take to pull it off.  I named this entry "Intro To Logistics" because I'm certain my plans will change numerous times and simply labeling it "Logistics" - as if they're all sorted out in this one entry - would make me look a bigger fool than many people might already think I am.  I'm sure other logistics related entries will follow as the months pass and I discover more about what it will take to succeed.  If you find such topics boring, you have been warned.

I wrote in the first entry about this trip that I envisioned it while returning home from a road trip to Maine on my Harley.  Maybe I was subconsciously bored by the 2,300 miles of paved roads I traversed on my way home from Shark Week IV and daydreamed about tearing up the numerous trails I could see meandering off into the woods on either side of the freeway.  Whatever the reason, the dream is now firmly planted in my head and it's up to me to sort out the details to realize it.
Australia is as wide as the distance between London to Moscow.

When I got a closer look at the Australian continent and studied the terrain, climate, and sheer expanse, it became clear to me that this was going to be more difficult than I originally thought.  First of all, Australia is HUGE.  A suitable analogy would be riding dirt bike on unpaved surfaces across the entire United States.  That analogy is suitable because I'll be riding a dirt bike across an expanse of land damn near equal to the size of the United States and 95% of the terrain will be unpaved.  The Simpson Desert alone has over 1,200 sand dunes.  I'm hoping there's an oasis in there somewhere because it's too big to ride around.  The closer I looked, the clearer it became that there were very few fuel stations out there and even fewer places to get food or water.  On the Alaskapade, I carried a couple of one gallon gas cans in my saddle bags and a stash of beef jerky and peanuts in my tour pack.  Looking at the maps, I'm thinking I would need to drag an entire fuel station behind me to make it across Ausralia.  If I could do that, I'd make sure it was a Quick Trip or a Race Trac because they have the best prices on Monster Energy drinks and they carry the best bad-for-you hotdogs and other processed meat snacks at two for $2.  Also, you can add chili and cheese for only 40 cents!  But I digress.

My point in all this ranting is that I can't do this alone.  I may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but I'm smart enough to figure that one out.  I could ride it alone.  Indeed, I prefer to ride alone on long distances, but much like Baja or Dakkar desert racers, I'll need logistical help on this one.  Once I reconciled the limits of my mere mortal capabilities, I began looking for a support system.  I found several operators who would rent me a Harley or other street bike for touring around Australia, but I don't have the vacation time or funds to pull that one off...yet.  As I searched, I found none who could provide support for touring across Australia.  I emailed a few companies over there as well as a few Harley riders I know who live in Oz, asked them for insight, and eventually found what I need.   I'll be riding with a guide who can provide me a bike and who has a support vehicle that can make it across the continent carrying fuel, water, necessary tools, spare parts, and my camping gear.  Additionally, there will probably be four or five other riders along for the route, which will help offset the cost and might even provide some fireside company while camping at night. I'm still finalizing the logistics and will update here as the details unfold.

This dream is actually starting to come together!  I've secured travel, I'm getting into physical condition, and I have a plan for getting across alive without starving, dehydrating, and hopefully not being eaten by a dingo.

More logistics to come!