Adjusting

Technically I am on annual leave until 8 May, my final day of employment at the Shire of Halls Creek. But I have already handed in my credit card and completed my last return. I have performed my last duties. I will not be returning to work. In real terms I am a retired person. When I awake in the mornings my only obligations are to matters I have decided to attend to. I am still adjusting to this concept. The freedom of being on holiday always had a time limit until now. A future that depends entirely on what I choose to do is difficult to contemplate. It also has some uncertainties. Where will I live? How will I manage my health and mobility issues? What unexpected snags and costs might affect my plans, when I get around to making them?

So far I have mapped out my next steps in the most general terms; take a week or two to show Dave around my part of the Kimberley, triage my stuff and pack what I can take with me, and head for Kate’s place in Queensland. From there the plans are still flexible. But they include visiting 91 year old Mary in NZ as soon as possible, shipping my car and contents over, finding a place to live. I may be returning to Oz to do that after a quick visit home, in which case a Queensland vacation may be in order.

I must sort out my future medical and medication needs.

I also have to access my superannuation and get myself onto the old age pension, or whatever pc term is used to describe it these days.

And I must keep my fingers crossed that I will not need another job in order to eke out a living. The things I want to get on with do not involve paid employment.

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Road Trip.

One way I know I have made a sensible decision in choosing to retire is that my sleep has improved enormously.  Peaceful unbroken rest and no more anxious dreams.

An unexpected and delightful surprise is that my best and oldest friend of 53 years offered to fly over from NZ and join me on the last leg of my circumnavigation of Australia.  I accepted with alacrity.  I believe David is the only person I have never argued with except as an intellectual exercise.  We never had a falling out.

We rode together from Katanning to Karijini, across to Exmouth and back down back in 2013.  Best road trip ever, to date.

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David and our two bikes.

I shall pick him up from Kununurra airport on Anzac Day.

In the following week or so, I shall show David around the Kimberley.  All the places I have come to know and love.  Secret spring, Sawpit Gorge, Lake Stretch, the back road to Mulan, Wolfe Creek Crater, Komaterpillar.  Then when we head off at last I think we might go via the Duncan road. I have not been on it past Marella Gorge.  That will complete my Kimberley experience.

Then we shall be on a road trip all the way to the home of another old friend in Queensland. Though this next trip won’t be on bikes as my back and legs are no longer bike-friendly, it may just be even better.  We can converse and share the driving.

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Technically, at least, at the end of this road trip I will have (almost) travelled all the way round Australia.  I have travelled before between Sydney and Newcastle, and driven between Ballina and Kate’s home where we are heading on this trip. The only gap not covered is the 600 km stretch between Ballina and Newcastle, but I have flown into Coffs Harbour, which is pretty much in the middle between them.  I count that as close enough.  I have visited all the state capitals bar one.  I have not yet set foot in Tasmania, a deficiency I do plan to rectify some time.

Two thirds of my trip around Oz has been by motorcycle.  I rode from Sydney to Perth in 2012. and apart from the 2013 ride I mentioned above, I also rode from Katanning to Halls Creek in November 2014. 

Doing the last leg in my Toyota Land Cruiser with David is just the best ending I can think of.

My cruiser, Taistealaí , is going in for her 290,000 km service on Monday.  She still goes like a dream.  She looks a little used and at present is certainly dirty but she has been well looked after by her three owners.  I am the third.   She proved herself worthy when we did the Gibson expedition to Kiwirrkurra.  

 

I shall take her with me to New Zealand.

A little more detail on the (proposed) route:

jasper route

Gypsy

Roaming free as the breeze
What’s to stop me and why?
I can live as I please
Open road, servo pie…

With apologies.

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My history has made me train wild animals but I’m more famed
Because I’ve really trained myself to be as spry as any elf
The circus life taught me a lot, now the circus is finished – but I’m not.
For I’m not afraid to potter round the dark
I’ll breakfast on tomorrow’s question mark
Adventure is in my blood why any lion could smell it well
But I always hold the whip and I’ll never let it slip
Whatever comes I’ll take the good and send the rest to hell

Roaming free as the breeze
What’s to stop me and why?
I can live as I please
Open road, open sky!

My lion taming acting was enough to create quite a buzz
From Timbuctu to Samarkand I wowed them in the hinterland
I was king of the king of the beasts on the stage
Why, the public wouldn’t let me out of my cage
They loved it when the lions licked my paws
And I got the lion’s share of their applause
I follow with the bold and the brave when the bold are gone
Whatever I wish I’ll be when the wish appeals to me
For there’s a thing worth more than gold
My creed! I must go!

English words by Anne Ronell (1939)

The music for “Open Road Open Sky” was originally composed by Johann Strauss for his 1885 light opera “Der Zigeunerbaron Wikipedia16“. The English version of this song became popular in 1939 after Ann Ronell adapted Strauss’s music and wrote new lyrics.

Vale Zeus

I feel as if I have been cursed with the Doom of Loss.

Joe messaged me today to tell me that Zeus was badly injured in a dogfight and died this morning.  Today I felt the grief I could not feel on Friday.  This could have happened at any time Zeus was with me in that forsaken community.  But it happened now.

No point in asking “why?” or “what if?”   Shit happens.

I had no qualms about leaving Zeus with Joe and Lina, They are good people and loved him as I did.  He was earning his keep as a guard dog and I was convinced he had found his place and was happier there with his little pack of puppy playmates than he would have been with me over the next few months.  Even if I knew where I was going I had no idea when I would be settled again, or whether he could adjust to the New Zealand climate after being a desert dog.  But if I hadn’t left him behind…..

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And then, just to top things off, I dropped my new iPhone onto concrete and smashed it.  It is buggered.  I have been waiting for a protective case to arrive that I ordered at the same time I bought the phone.  It will probably turn up tomorrow.

So it goes.

I remind myself of the motto I wrote on the ‘fridge after the first burglaries over a year ago.  I shall print it out and hang it everywhere I go from now on.  The lesson I have learned from these past years.

Nothing really matters.  

Comfortably Numb

Friday April 6th.

I am usually a sentimental old fool.  One who weeps during most episodes of Dr Who.

Leaving a place has been particularly poignant for me over the years.
I have usually invested something of myself in every place I have been…
But I am no good at all at doing goodbyes.  Especially when I know there is no going back.

Today I drove out of Billiluna with the last of my remaining possessions in the back of the Troopy.   I said goodbye to only one person. Joe.  A friend who is an outsider in the community, like me.  And Zeus the dog, whom I am leaving with Joe.

I searched my psyche for some sign of emotion, but there was none. No sorrow or regret. Not even joy.  Nor satisfaction. I could not even pat myself on the back for a job well done.  I felt no anticipation for what might be next. I was empty and devoid of feeling.

I was tired. But I really had not expected I’d be so drained as to feel nothing at all.

On the drive back to Halls Creek I thought of a few more things that I had not seen when packing up.  More things that had been stolen. Most notably my UEBoom2 bluetooth speaker.

So finally I felt something.

Irritation.

So it goes.

away

 

Stir Crazy

I have been back in the community for just over 6 weeks now.  Since I returned I have been very reluctant to leave even when I had the opportunity.  Despite the fact I now have a lockable steel cage plus a locking security screen door and three deadlocks on the solid door to my donga, I have not forgotten the trauma of last year.  A day or two away is not distressing, but now The Wet is setting in I get a little angsty about the possibility of being caught out of town by the weather once more.

On Friday I was to have attended our team planning meeting in Halls Creek. They booked me into the SPQ for Thursday and Friday night.  I was actually keen to go because I have a small pile of parcels to collect from Halls Creek and also I wanted to do a run to Kununurra on Saturday to stock up on groceries and essentials.     Plus a break away from here would be good for me.  I may be going a little stir crazy.  Had I gone I would have come home again today,  Sunday.

However.

A severe weather warning was issued just before I was about to set out.  I phoned the boss to ask if I should come in anyway or should I attend the meeting by telephone conference instead.   Just as well that was the decision, because the road was closed on Friday, and judging by the downpours since it will likely not reopen for a few days or a week or more.

Margie suggested jokingly I was a “pussy” for not wishing to come into town.  On the contrary, if I was permitted to drive through the mud and floods I would be happy to do so.  It is not travelling in the weather I worry about, but not being permitted to travel through it.  Getting stuck in mud is a challenge, and fun.  Being stuck as a supernumary in Halls Creek is no fun at all.   I’d rather be here while all my stuff is here.