Let’s look at the bright side. I’ve avoided some pretty atrocious weather. I’ve managed to watch part of an epic battle between a resurgent English cricket team hammering an unusually low-key Australian side in the 3rd Ashes Test. There are five tests to determine the victor and the English lead 2 to 1. I’ve restocked and re-supplied. I’ve tweaked and performed minor maintenance on the trailer. I’ve met some really nice people. I am rested and well fed.
All very nice.
For five days have I waited. Each day the same routine. I rise, perform my morning ablutions, enjoy instant coffee (if that is possible), leave the Colliefields hotel cross Throssell Street lamenting the disturbing lack of pedestrian-crossing walk over the renovated iron and wood footbridge over the railway cross Forest Street at the roundabout again lament the lack of pedestrian crossing then cross Steele Street at the same roundabout continuing to muse this strange passion of prioritising the car in an obvious pedestrian-focussed area walk along Steele Street past Taree the home-interior, Collie Shoeland, Collie Travel and Cruise, Pete’s clothes shop, the Australian Red Cross, Civic Video, past the Crank n Cycles bike and toy shop cross Johnston Street cut left through Target and into the Post Office.
It didn’t take long before everyone I meet along this route knows why I am in town. They give encouragement and wish me well. Erik and Pedro in Crank n Cycles, Kaylene in the Post Office, Michelle who owns Colliefields the hotel in which I stay and her staff, and Dave the funny dude who stays here during the week for work. Dave bade me well as he left Collie to return to his family in Mandurah on Friday. He, I, everyone expects me to be long gone by the time next week truly arrives.
Every day for four days the same result: the parcel from Melbourne 5000 odd kilometres to east has not arrived.
Today, the fifth day, it arrived. The Post Office team didn’t bother to keep it in the back where the parcels normally await their intended beneficiary. It was there on the counter awaiting me. They know my routine.
Cheers, smiles, a photo and best wishes. I leave, my step lighter, my grin broad.
I pop into Crank n Cycles where I have spent a lot of time talking bikes with Eric, the owner, and Pedro the dude. They shout in celebration as I hold aloft my parcel. A coffee is thrust in my hand and we all talk about a biker’s titanium fat-wheel Rohloff-hubed bike. They all wish me well as I retrace my steps to the hotel where Michelle joins in the collective celebration.
In my room I drag out the panniers, open the parcel and dump the contents on the floor. Four sets of Ortlieb QL1 hooks and fasteners.
Eagerly I open one of the sets spilling its contents on the floor. I pick the hooks and I look at the housing system on the pannier. I look at the hook again. I look at the pannier housing again. I read the label … QL1.
Err … don’t I need QL2.1?
I have the wrong parts.
It goes through my head like a really bad song … I. Have. The. Wrong. Parts.
I remove the housing from the pannier itself to see if there is any way I can bush doctor the hook onto the housing. There is not.
I. Have. The. Wrong. Parts.
Simple as that.
I call Diggari, Ortlieb’s distributer in Melbourne. He is pleased to hear the parts have arrived. There is that short indescribable silence which always seems to happen after a ‘but’ is delivered after I tell him I. Have. The. Wrong. Parts.
This is not a call about recriminations, about appropriating blame. I don’t chew Richard’s ass. It will not change the dilemma I face and it won’t get me the parts I really need. Together we go through Ortlieb’s website. Even on the website, me with my panniers and the shattered hooks, he with his knowledge of Ortlieb’s stock it is not simple to work out which article is the one I actually want.
Ortlieb do not put any article number on the article itself, so I can’t read off a number.
It seems pretty clear I need Article E192 for the QL2.1 and not E193 also a QL2.1 system. Err … there are two QL2.1 systems that are actually different? Err … yeah. It has to do with the diameter of the frame upon which the panniers will hang-on. Or something like that I believe. Though it’s not entirely clear. But, err, aren’t there adapters to accommodate the various frame sizes? Err … yeah?
I can’t discount that I actually ordered QL1 hooks, Article 162. Richard is not sure he wasn’t confused by the packages in which the hooks are, well, packed which start with ‘2’. As in ‘2 QL1 … blah blah blah’ which he read to be a QL2 system.
There are four systems Ortlieb uses to hang its panniers: QL1, QL2, QL2.1 & QL3. We know it is not QL1, coz I have them and they don’t work. We know it is not QL3 coz it simply isn’t. Now, is it QL2 or QL2.1? And what if we get that wrong?
Solution … send them ALLLLL.
Diggari will front the express post (thank you Richard) and I will send back those which are not the ones.
That sorted I trudge down the stairs and front up to Michelle. The look on her face tells me I don’t have a good look on my face. Graciously we make a good deal about the ever spiralling accommodation costs I am going to have to endure.
I trudge back to the Post Office. Kaylene can’t quite believe it either. Earliest I should expect express post? Tuesday, she reckons.
Erik’s face distorts into that “Oh, you poor bugger” people’s faces scrunge into when they can actually feel another’s pain.
The waitress in the café of the hotel pats me gently on my shoulder and Max the young German tree planter staying at the hotel laughs in a good natured way and Frank his Dutch work/room-mate teases me later by asking “Have your parts arrived yet?” knowing full well the story.
And I resume my waiting.
Thinking about my economy, as I am staying in a hotel, I go check out the local caravan park. Nice place, kinda neat. Patrick, the owner, tells me it’s 80AUD per night for one of the small rooms-bungalows and 30AUD for a tent site. The excellent value of Colliefields is driven home to me, since following making a deal with Michelle am paying 40 AUD including (a simple) breakfast, for a room albeit with shared facilities.
Last night, late, as in around 0030 I give into my snack-attack and make my way to the lounge where breakfast is served, a toaster and microwave for guests’ use, comfy sofas and the ubiquitous large flat-panel TV provide a chill-out environment for guests. The hotel and its guests are quiet, bedded down for the night for most people here are early rises. I, a stranded traveller, have no imperative to wake at six. So I don’t. I am alone, master of the chill-out lounge and owner of a grumbling stomach. I ate dinner early and by now my stomach complains.
I take some raisin-bread pop it in the toaster, wait a minute or two, remove it, smear some kind of pseudo-butter on it followed by marmalade. Lovely. There’s one piece of bread left. I go for it, popping in the toaster. Up it comes. I lay it on the plate, take my knife and aim for the ‘spread’ when the smoke alarm suddenly goes off.
0030 in the morning in a very quiet hotel in a chill-out lounge surrounded by guests’ rooms where the good folk are all resting and I have just triggered the most abominable sound any person would want to hear, slumbering or not.
Startled I stare at the offending thing, smug secure and significantly out of reach a good three or more meters above my head. No way am I going to be able to turn it off. I close the lounge’s door and I pull the curtains aside from the three big windows hoping to open them to let out the offending air. They are all permanently secured and I can’t open any of them.
Standing in the middle of the room I realise there is nothing I can do. The bweeping continues. I return and finish slathering my toast in ‘spread’ and marmalade and eat it. At some point the alarm has to shut off. And I await the expected inquisitiveness of roused guests wondering why a smoke alarm has suddenly been triggered.
The noise stops. I open the lounge door and begin to clean up.
I hear it. A shuffle. I turn to face the inquisitor. Michelle, the hotel’s owner, covered in a dressing-gown looking sharp for all that she’s still half asleep and looking at me curiously.
“The toaster” I explain, feeling foolish and guilty. “A piece of toast! And there isn’t even any smoke!” And there isn’t. The toast didn’t burn or go black of otherwise give off clouds of impending doom.
Michelle relaxes. “I am sincerely and truly sorry for this” I continue.
The twinkle returns to her eye “Shit happens” she says after explaining that the smoke alarm is very sensitive and I am certainly not the first to trigger it.
The local winery, Harris River Estate – http://www.harrisriverestate.com.au/ – had a bit of an open day on Sunday. Music provided by an acoustic duo, wine tasting, food inside a cozy cafe with a fire. I ride the six kilometers to the winery to see what it’s all about. Very pleasant. Lovely setting, with the ubiquitous jarra-marri forest surrounding the estate. Nice people, from the owners, Carl & Jullie, the team such as John and the young French-dude who’s become a bit of a pruner hotshot, Kylie behind the bar, as well as the number of guests curious about Dreamer and my intentions.
And they produce a … voignier … that wine of the unpronounceable name yet of superlative taste (http://www.totalwine.com/eng/guide-to-wine/viogner.cfm). I bought a bottle. (Hopefully) I don’t have much time to drink it since I expect my long-awaited and somewhat ill-favoured spare parts should arrive tomorrow.
Nice day. I like these sorts of days. Low key, easy-going yet different and informative.
So far my adventure’s been a bit of an inspirational tour. I’ve met a range of people who’ve followed their dreams and are enjoying the fruits of their endeavours. From the Elder Statesman Jeff of Banksia Springs in Dwellingup, through middle-age Carl and Jullie at Harris River Estate, to the young Eric of Crank n Cycles. Very good to meet such people and realise chasing down dreams is a very worthy pursuit. Gives me much food for thought.
It’s the fourth of August. I arrived here on the 26th of July. It has been a long wait. According to Australia Post’s parcel tracking service my parcel has arrived. Time to check it out. I’ll Be Back!
They fit … am back on track! Finally.
Tomorrow, the big day … trail day.
Collie, 4 August, 2015