Kangaroos, Hoop Snakes, hundreds of snakes and spyders that can kill you, drop bears and a little bitty mountain bike ride.
This is a tale of terrors and dangers that can befall you in the land they call OZ. I am not talking about the yellow brick road either, although one could fall and break a few different things on a cobbled or bricked road. Yellow is irrelevant. You may think that this tale is made up, that this is a story of fancy, but I assure you that every bit of it is real. By the time you are finished reading this, your blood will run cold and you may be afflicted with a fever. As a child, I too heard the tales of the many terrors that we have all heard and wondered aloud "could that be real?" I am here to tell you, they are real, I have seen it.
Do not be drawn in by Australia's freindly appearance. Gooday mate and all that. Just because the security agent is cute and has a fantastic accent, they are hiding the terrors that await you here. I learned of them firsthand.
I keep hearing about torneado’s, houses being flung up in the air, wicked witches, flying monkeys and scary all knowing dudes. Since I could not take it anymore, I jumped onto a flight to OZ to see if I could figure out what all the noise was about. I brought some red high top converse, just in case I needed those once I arrived. (There are just 2 places like home…)
Since the wind was blowing from the east, it made it hard to get there on time. I just narrowly missed being landed on by a house, and was saved by Crocodile Debbie with a surfboard and big knife. Not sure where that actually came from, but it did. Nonetheless, a dude with an electric cart came to the plane and delivered me and my lass to another flight in record time. “Welcoome to the big shooooo Mr. Vade-bahn-curr. We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! There behind a glass is a real blade of grass, be careful as you pass..."
If you think you are going to get out of this alive,,, you're not. In fact, your mortality can catch up with you really quickly. I have ridden a mountain bike many a time. I mean oodles of times (oodles = a number bigger than 6). In fact, I own my own mountain bike gloves and tire levers, which are used for levering tires – those are very difficult to fake, mind you. Just how did that mouse get into the bottle? But, even if you have ridden one of these MTB contraptions more than 6 times, the sense that gravity will always be your friend can evade you. There have been cases of someone falling off a steed and missing the ground, but I have not been so lucky. I figure that I cannot throw a Frisbee with any real accuracy, surely one of these times I will be falling off my bike and miss. Could I not have that happen at least once?
So we arrived and were greeted by a really cute girl with an Australian accent. I think she was related to Dorothy. “Welcome to Oz.” Behind her stood a Kangaroo and the door mouse. They felt as if they must kick me and send me on my way. At this point, most people just feel they need to read some Burrows partaking of the Naked Lunch, but I do not go there. So out to Stromlo we went. Stromlo is a place of mythical reputation at Trek. People who are not from there, go there to give sacrifice to the evil crashing gods from one of those Spy Who Shagged Me movies. Oh there will be blood. Sort of like loosing your license, it is a demonstrable and larger experience. First the room goes dark, then you hear the word baby a lot and then it is time for dinner. “Maybe we should have pudding?” Not sure what happened in between.
I do know, I got to wear one of those really great hospital gowns, have a little Japanese girl clean up my wounds (who responded nicely to me trying to confuse her in a slow talking American kind of way) and talk to an Aussie doctor about what to do and not to do on a Thursday in Oz. (Always try to hold yourself still when in the presence of a drop bear.)
I am pretty certain that a Kanga leapt out at me when I passed and caused all the damage. In French of course, with a headlamp. Probably, the Roo was running in fear from a drop bear or a hoop snake. Gravity is just that way you know, higher can sometimes equal lower and a loud thud. The bear sits in waiting in a tree, waiting for a friendly Kanga to walk by and then drops on it with fangs ablaze. Lighting out and going straight for the juggler is what they are known for. All the Eucalyptus are just a ruse. Put on for the tourists. Killers from the sky they are.
At speed, a Kanga can take out a mountain biker with just a swipe of the tail. I think they lie in wait and then speed across the bikers line. It is a contest amongst the young like a badge of honor to see who gets take out the hot sporty roo. All the while the Australian media reports they are harmless, which inspires the gentle and unsuspecting Hawaiians to come to OZ. I was caught in the crossfire on that one. Pretty sure that while mid jump, a Kanga took me out. Angling across the front tire as they can do, slashing and striking everything in their way. Laying it out flat, only to wake up in your wife’s arms, with her trying to reassure you. “Your fine. You had a bad incident. The emergency bomb squad is on the way. Try to stay with me as I cook the afternoon tea, and what is that smell?” A good turn down it was not.
So walk me down the trail they did, no key to the premesis amongst them all. The previous proprietor lost them the last time the Matrix was reset. Off to the hospital with nary a complete helmet in the midst. Smashed to smithereens it was, but my scrambled brain all still inside, just snaring to get out. Slowly but surely, the dough rose and off to get a Kilkeny we went. Good Irish ale that is.
Pretty sure concussed I was. I will have to be very careful to not bang the noggin again. Take it easy they say. Do not push it so hard for a while. Do they know who they are taking that to and of what they speak? How many timezones must I note to get to riding the way I should? Arthur Dent (Not Harvey Dent) would not put up with this outrage. Quick, get your towel.
The history of the galaxy will be recorded, that when the revolution did come, those withholding the key were the first up against the wall. I am not speaking of the keymaster either. Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!... Oh well, another story that will be.
So we landed in the good ship Australia, made our way to the great city of Canberra where the streets are anything but straight and many a circular reference they make. The Parliament building not withstanding. Out onto the trails of Stromlo we went. Enjoying the Kangaroo dancing and threading between the many drop bears there. Unfortunately, my bike was not to survive the mission. Apparently coming back to earth in an errant spot. Jettisoning its pilot and impaling itself on the land. Never to see straight wheel affront again. Ending it’s miserable selfless 29’er life right there on the trail, as if it was once a hero and a freeride bike it was not, now has come to rest here.
On to hospital, an Xray, a CT scan much poking and prodding later, the brain implant was declared a success. The helmet was sacrificed to the rock amongst the trail. I will not see that one again – nor will anyone else. (Although compromising pictures were taken and I do not own them, so who knows…) I do hope to find the roo that put me here. I hope to line him up with the keymaster and the executioner to show the marauder that a simple fleeing of the hoop snake cannot deter one of pure MTB joy. No no.
So another really wondrous time was had in OZ. This time with Liz. She always makes the trip more fun, but I am afraid that maybe this time I did not make it fun for her. We will be back, we will make even more and greater bike safety video. Safety man will prevail and many new awesome things will come from the day.
What is your favorite color? What is your favorite city? What is the air speed… never mind. It does not matter. One should just knows that Sydney is clearly in the running. Climate, accents, harbor, kitzy Christmas stuff, Kilkeny ale, boats, that Opera house thing... All of that and more is right there at Syd’s place. Nice house it is.
Quickly, and in order.
- walk about
- ferry ride
- Taronga zoo
- Drop Bear research
- Huffalumps and Woozles
- Ferry ride again
- Kilkeny ale
- Great cover band
- A bunch of cougars masquerading as a bachlorette party
- Morning bike ride around the city
- Bondi beach (yowza)
- Kileny ale – there is a pattern here
- Great seafood overlooking Syd’s bridge
- The best coffee in the world – Mecca coffee Sydney
- Wild taxi ride to airport
- Bazilions of hours later – home
Nice way to end the Aussie time. I hope they will let me come back. I want to meet Jedediah the pilot in Mad Max movies.
There are now just 97 things in Australia that can kill you, one of them has been retired.