“The Explorer” 2007 Ford Explorer – Eddie Bauer Version, V 8
From 2013 to present, this vehicle has been the magical steed taking Sir Oisin Rhymer, Sir Leaf McGowan, Sir Thomas Baurley, and his family around North America on various travels. It has driven completely around the United States at least twice. It has been in 38 of the states (USA) and Canada. It pulls the Techno-Vardo to various festivals, travels, and camping trips.
One of the memorable facets to Melbourne I remember from my travels is the fantastic and sometimes bizarre roadside art one can find on the highways in and out of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Many of the roads and freeways around this Metropolis compete for attention by the implementation of large-scale artworks and architectural interventions that make roadtrips that much more appealing. Some of these are listed on the Visit Victoria website. These tie in somewhat with the notable Australia’s Big Things art sculptures found throughout the country. Great aspect to Victoria and Melbourne in my view … definitely worth a drive-through outdoor art gallery peek! Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
The romantic enticement of cross-country road trips in America is almost as famous as its emblematic “apple pie”. Road tripping across rural America is made real popular by various novels, movies, and television series. The images of “Natural Born Killers”, “Leaving Los Vegas”, Jack Kerouac, “Thelma and Louise”, Neil Cassidy, as well as “Bonnie & Clyde” as a crime spree, “independent adventure”, “quests for a new start” and involving nothing other than you, your partner, the open road, and the “borrowed” car. Of course, some of those stories are less than conventional means for a road trip. As well as much being figments from dreams of doing whatever one wishes. These illegal fantasies of course won’t fly with the “drive aways” but the freedom of the open road will. In some countries, like America, a budget traveler can take advantage of “Drive Away” vehicles. These can be great resources for the “techno-gypsie” and “techno-nomad” when travelling without one’s own vardo, gypsy wagon, or vehicle.
“Drive Aways” are vehicles that owners, transportation companies, or agencies need to be driven and/or delivered from point A to point B, usually involving long distances like cross country. Scenarios of companies needing to relocate vehicles from one office to another, car owners moving across the country and flying ahead needing their vehicle to join them at some point, owners of multiple cars moving across the country, or a car being sold on ebay that needs to be delivered to the new owner. Often, this allows for contracting independent individuals who also need to go from point A to B to drive the vehicle for them. “Drive Aways” are however very conventional and a little less known secret in the backpacker community. “Flexibility” is your friend in this regard. Generally these cars are fairly new, clean, and in good condition. The compensation is often usually just the free use of the vehicle, a route, and a tank of gas. All the transporter companies usually ask of you is a clean driving record, a driver’s license, being over age 23, travel expenses, and a security deposit.
A security deposit of between $300-$400 is usually asked for from the driver before given use of the vehicle. You’ll need to keep the car “pristine” and clean, un-altered and hopefully better than you found it. You’ll usually be given a route (with some freedom to explore along the path) and a set number of days for delivery. Sometimes there are restrictions for the number of hours you are permitted to drive per day. If the car is returned at the destination on time, unscathed, then the security deposit is returned. The driver is responsible for the cost of gas after the first free tank. Various companies have different methods in handling how car repairs, accidents, and/or damages are handled ranging from full cost coming from the driver and his/her insurance, some costs from the vehicle’s owner, and/or loss of security deposit. Up front, it’ll sometimes cost you the same price as a rental car with the security deposit, except you get the security deposit back upon returning the car in the same or better condition as you received it.
The difference between a “drive away” and a “rental car” is, time, flexibility, and payment or lack thereof (hopefully) in the end for the vehicle. However it can be limiting – having to stick to a particular route, waiting for an available car, loss of your deposit, and having to go from a set point A to point B. It is however a good option for the budget traveler. Highly recommended is to put on a seat cover to protect the upholstery from travel meals, wear and tear, and unforeseen calamities of spilt coffee or coke. Make note of all scratches, visible marks, and blemishes on the form before signing it and driving away. Sometimes the vehicle you get is quite a gem. Sometimes its packed full of the personal effects of the owner having it moved for them. Make sure to call ahead to your delivery contact giving them an estimated point of arrival. You’ll have to hand off the keys in person as a signature is required in order to get your security deposit back. Its highly recommended to give the car a wash, vacuum, and basic cleaning before turning it in.
Some of the more famous and popular drive away companies are: www.autodriveaway.com/, and the national driveaway list can be found at: http://www.autodriveawaydc.com/carlist.html or http://www.autodriveaway.com/view_car_list.
Auto Drive Away: “Auto Drive Aways”. Website referenced February 2012. www.autodriveaway.com.
Auto Drive Away DC Car List: “Available Drive Aways”. Website referenced February 2012. www.autodriveawaydc.com/carlist.html.
undated GoNomad Transports Guide: “Drive Away Across the U.S.A. – Even if you don’t own a car.” Website referenced February 7, 2012. http://www.gonomad.com/transports/0012/javins_driveaway.html.
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Breakfast at the Narooma YHA, Sir Thomas Leaf sadly said goodbye to his new German friend as he and Sir Bluey Bee set off for last bit of wanderings around Narooma, sadly saying goodbye to his piece of Australian paradise. Sir Bluey took Sir Thomas a wandering to view some more geological formations on the beaches as they headed up towards Batesman Bay. En route, Sir Bluey took Sir Thomas to a beach for a swim while he went a wandering for some last chances at fishing, again to no avail. They then bartered a bet for a cider as Sir Bluey claimed they would see dozens of dead kangaroos and wombats along the roadside, to which Sir Thomas challenged they wouldn’t see 5 from Batesman Bay to Canberra … and lo and behold, they only saw 3. They did check out them, and was glad to find out that road crews would check the fresh kills for babies in the pouch. Those checked would be spray painted with a large red “X”. They originally were going to meet up with couch surfer “Jungle Jane” but missed the connection as they were passing through Batesman Bay. Instead, they went down to the city park, fed the seagulls fries and had their last fish n’ chips at the Bay Marlin before heading inland. En route, Sir Bluey showed Sir Thomas one of his favorite forests … and before dark, they returned to Canberra.
(note: this is an actively written blog. If links are broken or come to blank pages, it means the page hasn’t been written yet. Check back soon. Meanwhile entertain yourself by going backwards into the blog below)
Remainder of the Story, Photos and videos below the cut:
A refreshing break from the metropolis of Melbourne, me and my travel mate Sir Bluey, headed off for some camping along the infamous “Bittangee Bay” in the Ben Boyd National Forest. A unpaved dirt road led us to this amazing campground overlooking Australia’s rugged South Coast. In fact, we had quite an adventure with it that you can read about here. This small picturesque bay is located on a remote rugged coastline just south of Eden in New South Wales of Australia and is one of the few safe harbours in the area between Twofold Bay, Mallacoota Inlet, and Eden making it a popular night stopover for boaters travelling inbetween for the night. The campground is rugged as well to match the Bay in its entirety. The campground is serviced by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The Bay is also home to the “Bittangabee Bay Ruins” which the campground is above. The Bay and the camping area was once used by the Yuin Nation and the Thaua people as a important camping and teaching grounds for indigenous “secret business” and was seen as a “men’s area”. On the other side of Green Cape to Bittangabee Bay was believed to be the resting place of the Rainbow Serpent. They utilized the area for over 6,000 years until the Europeans started taking over the bay for construction of the lighthouse, fishing, and industry. At this time, the Bay was known as “Pertangerbee” and by European occupation with constructions of the the storehouse in 1844, was later called “Bittangee Bay”. The Campground also has a nice hiking trail to the Green Cape lighthouse as well as down along the beach of the Bay. Lots of wildlife in the area – our 24 hour visit blessed us with seeing kangaroo, wallabee, wombats, and oppossums. Highly recommended place to camp. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
Bidding sweet farewells to Sciencequeen, the raving mad adventurers – Sir Thomas Leaf Rhymer Oisin McGowan and Sir Bluey Bee of Canberra headed off to the wild blue yonder … and as they were exiting Melbourne, distracted by the roadside art, struck a flip pity-floppity sound coming from the rear tire … “A flat” caused a delay to the explorers of the Eastern Coast of Australia. Sir Bluey came to the rescue by pulling out a spare from his carriage and quickly re-assembled the cart. They then broke for lunch at an Aldi en route with a planned picnic at Willow Park. Lunch was a bit rushed as the delvers were attacked by monster mosquitoes and were soon back on the road to the east coast of Australia in search of a good camping space for the night and perhaps a good place to fish. A rest area similar to the horrorful one from the slasher flick “Rest Stop” un-nerved Sir Thomas as he quickly relieved himself and shuddered at the “needle” disposal box in the restroom. Sir Bluey was already chatting up a mate who was brewing him coffee in an RV nearby while Sir Thomas just had horrorful flashbacks of the film and the RV with the twisted children. “Enough of Hollywood on the brain” Sir Thomas pondered, as the duo were soon back on the road to lighter panoramas … soon enough they were driving along the coast to Lakes Entrance where they pulled in at the first sight of water to be greeted by a giant flock of pelicans and ocean wildlife in an inlet and docks. Sir Bluey was gifted some crab bait from some mates on the dock. They then went up along the coast to Cann River, followed a treacherous dirt road with gullies and potholes, and at the brink of dark, hoping not to run into the bushman beast that Sir Thomas told Sir Bluey many frightening tales of along their dark drive into the coastal woodlands where he is rumored to be found. They found the campground, set up camp, and while Sir Thomas Leaf was making curry, was invaded upon by numerous Opossums. A hike to the outhouse and many Wallabees and Kangaroos were surprised and spied in the dark. After setting up tent and camp, fending off possums from the food, Sir Thomas wandered for a view of the ethereal coastline and called it a night and off to bed.
Early to rise, Sir Thomas Leaf and Sir Bluey Bee gathered together a wakeful state as they prepared tea, breakfast, and organization for their journey across the Snowy Mountains on to Melbourne and the Eastern coast of Australia. Packing up their adventure gear into Sir Bluey’s white carriage, the duo began their quest. Tight space and luggage for the camping gear and equipment, they were soon off on their explorations of Australia. Sir Bluey’s dog knew something was up into action, so eagerly barked and attempted to escape from the Bluey Bee homestead. On through the Tuggernanong and out of Canberra they were “on the road” again. A long road awaited as they headed off to Lake Jindabyne driving along the roadways into the middle of nowhere, dodging kangaroos and wallaby’s, breathing in the sweet menthol smell of eucalyptus, and exploring the countryside. Sir Thomas Leaf thought much of the countryside reminded him of Oregon, Colorado, and other areas of the United States – minus the trees, the flora, the fauna, and Australia’s unique critters. Not to mention the Kilometer signs and that Australian’s drive on the opposite side of the road that he’s used to. Sir Thomas Leaf was also quite shocked that gasoline in Australia was about $6+/gallon (ca. $1.52/liter). On through the town of Cooma for a pit stop so the duo could purchase a fishing license, stock up on groceries, and make Peanut Butter n’ Jelly sandwiches for lunch. Sir Thomas Leaf and Sir Bluey Bee got to know each other very well through their travels across the countryside. Sir Bluey Bee gifted Sir Thomas Leaf a box of “Tim Tams“, an exquisite Australia biscuit (Cookies). Sir Thomas Leaf loved them so much that he couldn’t put them down. After a quick visit to the information center and learning that the only primitive camping allowed seemed to be in designated areas in National Parks (none on the side of the road, in the forests, or on the beaches) and there was 95% of the time a charge of $10 or more per person per camping site made camping a not so viable or cost effective solution to economic road tripping. As they were heading towards Lake Jindabyne they passed by unique metal art sculpture of a ball that had a fence around it. Apparently was for the Lake Festival and part of the Lake Light Sculptures. Entering Berridale, the adventures knew they were now in the Snowy Mountains. Lots of Kangaroo Crossing signs along the roadside as they ventured forward. Then late afternoon, lo’ and behold, they embraced the beauty that is Lake Jindabyne. Entering into the community of Jindabyne, the search was out for the Snowy Mountains Backpackers where the delvers would be lodging for the night. The hostel was pretty empty, just a group from Sydney who were internationals from Poland and Czechoslovakia. They adventuring pair got to have their own room and choice of bunks with a room and a balcony with a barbeque. This was Sir Bluey Bee’s first hosteling experience that Sir Thomas Leaf believed he enjoyed so much he would be utilizing them in the near future greatly. A fabulous community room, dining room, and entertainment room beheld them. The adventurers then got together their fishing gear and headed out to the lake for some fishing – no catches nor nibbles, but were entertained by a crippled brave gull who came and sat next to them. They fed it some of the worms and bait taking time for a photo-session with the bird as well. After fishing, with no catches other than photos of a bird, they returned back to the hostel to cook up some left-over pasta from the previous night and to imbibe into some Brundeburg Rum (Australian). They quickly made friends with their Slavic comrades who were sharing the hostel with them. The adventurers did venture out to find a pub with some cute “sheilas” (as Sir Bluey would put it) but to no avail they returned for a nightcap and a long night’s rest for their expedition through the Snowy Mountains tomorrow.
While still a bit hungover, Sir Thomas Leaf awoke rather early to set out in breaking down camp. He would need to depart Black Rock City in order to be back to work in Colorado on tuesday morning at 7 am. It would be a tight journey as it was. It took him some time to break down his bodypainting station camp and pack up the van. A good percentage of the other attendees were doing much the same thing. He tried to find his brother the eccentric Docteur Mangor, but alas no such luck. Was unable to find most of his friends who were probably sleeping off last night’s partying. Good times were had by all. A long 3 hour bumper to bumper 7-lanes of traffic wide exodus from Black Rock City await for Sir Thomas Leaf just to get out of the city. His rideshare Lady Ellie decided to stay longer at the Burn and catch a ride back with the knightly Sir Guy who offered the fair maiden passage back to Boulder, Colorado. In exchange, Sir Guy sent several bins of his gear back in the “Isis Adventure through Time” vardo Sir Thomas Leaf was driving. Long hot journey across the playa in three hours of traffic – white out conditions and the usual partying from the cars in line as everyone waited to slowly creep out of the city. Finally to pavement, Sir Thomas Leaf headed south through Gerlach, Empire, and onwards through Pyramid Lake Reservation. Finally back on the highway, heading east towards Utah, Sir Thomas Leaf was onwards to his return home. He had caught out of a glimmer of his eye enroute to the Burn a oddly decorated kitchy monument on the side of the road he earmarked to visit on the way home. So off he exited to view the abandoned “Thunder Mountain Indian Monument”. He was a bit creeped out as no one was there and it was just turning dark, having an eerie creepy feeling as he got out of his car and walked the monument grounds thinking how easy it would be for someone to mug him and rob his belongings at such a stop-off in the middle of nowhere, before dark, alone, down a dirt road offset from the highway. Back on the road safe, as darkness fell, Sir Thomas Leaf high-tailed it along the highway, pitstopping for dinner, and back on the road driving to where he started to phase out. Then he heard something pop in the engine. Deciding to exit to investigate to find a gas station at midnight, just as he pulled into the closed station’s parking lot, the headlights he saw following him turned into flashing reds and blues …. a police officer followed him from the Interstate as his tags were 2 days expired (Expired end of August and new stickers were probably awaiting him in his mailbox back in Colorado). The officer ran his i.d. as Sir Thomas Leaf opened up his engine to see what was wrong – power steering belt snapped. Luckily, it only ran his power steering. He was glad the warrant for his delayed payment of a speeding ticket from Burning Man 2009 was cleared, as he wasn’t sure if it was still on file, as it wasn’t. Relieved, he drove onwards to find a rest area to pull over to sleep. Good thing the “Isis Adventure thru Time” Vardo van had a comfortable futon bed in back, he thought.
Monday-Tuesday, 30-31 August 2010
* Colorado Springs / Boulder / Fort Collins, Colorado thruWyoming, United States of America *
Sir Thomas Leaf finished off two days of work in the laboratory at the Curation facility working with prehistoric artifacts, finishing up requested maps and doing alot of cartography and monday evening spent finishing up packing his vardo “Isis Adventure Thru Time” for Black Rock City. He put his head around some ritual ideas for a memorial in tribute to one of his great teacher’s (or at least mentor in Druidism) Isaac Bonewits. Some free time in the evening on monday he did some research on vampires – especially the Connecticut Vampire Graves, the Blood Countess, and the legend of Mercy Brown. Tuesday came quickly, off work at 4:30, Sir Thomas Leaf jumped into his vardo and high-tailed it up I-25, fighting rush hour, onwards to Boulder to pick up his fellow traveller, Lady Ellie, a fire spinning Burning Man virgin. Onwards through Boulder, Sir Thomas Leaf and Lady Ellie packed up the vardo for their journey out west. Some dishes to do and a pitstop in Fort Collins at “Three Guys Burgers” the adventurers were soon on their way. After entering Wyoming, Lady Ellie tried to drive the tricky “Isis Adventure thru Time” vardo, but the clutch (currently having issues with 1st gear) wouldn’t cooperate. Driving through Wyoming into the night, Sir Thomas Leaf grew wary and exhausted, so the travellers pitstopped at a rest area in Utah for a night’s rest instead of driving straight through.
Do you enjoy these tales? Want more? Buy Sir Thomas Leaf a chai tea and he’ll tell you a tale … Any contribution, $1, $5, $10+ will help more than you can believe and will add more adventures, photos, stories, and reviews for your pleasure …
Many travellers just don’t really get the picture of how simplistic cooking can be, especially when on the road. Its pretty easy to equipt your car, vardo, van, or better yet … RV with kitchen stuff. Basically all you need is pots n’ pans, a camping cooking stove, utensils, and ingredients. Patience and taking a moment out of your crunched travel schedule to actual “make” a healthy meal rather then succombing to pulling through a fast food drive thru and indulging in something that’s not good for you just because its fast or cheap.
One of my favorite meals on the road for the rest area dining experience is Pad Thai. “Reststop Pad Thai”.
What you need:
Pot for boiling water and rice noodles
spices …. I like cayenne, curry, ginger, garlic
camping stove with fuel and matches (or lighter)
strainer, plates or bowls, forks, napkins
Ingredients for the dish:
cayenne, garlic, curry, ginger
potatoes and fresh vegetables
tofu or meat
pad thai sauce
Boil water with rice noodles. Once soft, drain and rinse with cold water from your jug. Set aside in a bowl.
In frying pan, add olive oil, garlic, and sliced or chunked potatoes
Fry up tofu and or meat. Once potatoes and tofu (or meat) is lightly browned, add in vegetables.
Add ginger, curry, and cayenne to taste.
Add in two eggs/fry in with the tofu (meat) and veggies.
Stir frequently with spatula.
Add in rice noodles.
Use home-made pad thai sauce or store bought sauce. (can also get peanut sauce to go from Tokyo Joes)
The turkeys in my neighbourhood with their baby hatchlings
From the journal of Sir Thomas “Rymour Oisin” Leaf: Tuesday, The 28th of Quintilis (Julius Caesar’s “July”) in the good year 2009 of the Common Era
“The lab was busy today as I wound up working late. I originally was trying to get off work by 2:30 pm, but last minute requests delayed departure. I was out the door by 4:00 pm. We had a larger management entity come to evaluate our program, lots of house cleaning, struggling with total station downloads, and the installation of software on the field laptops as well as end of the month activities. As I was driving down my road home to get some last minute items I forgot, I noticed my computer speaker cable was dragging outside of my vardo (2003 Toyota Matrix). Damn … so had to replace the speakers – no longer would work. Nice to see the local turkeys had some hatchlings. Symbollic of new life and new beginnings for this journey. Something big is in store for me. Running around doing errands afterwards caused more delays as I hit the bank for $200 cash, went shopping at the Bargain Mart in Manitou Springs for cheap travel goodies, and then finally got out of Colorado Springs by 5:30 pm … just in time for rush hour. I had wanted to get an oil change. No time. Checked the fluids, all look good. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself cruising through Denver by 6:30 pm as the traffic seemed to dissipate early for my journey. Onto the Oregon Trail I was as I drove on through the plains and into Laramie by 9:30 pm. A quick gas up and then onwards to Rock Springs, Wyoming … at 400.7 miles into the journey at 1:00 am, it was time to sleep. I crashed at a rest area outside of Rock Springs, Wyoming – sleeping from 1-7 am.
From the journal of Sir Thomas “Rymour Oisin” Leaf: The 15th of Quintilis (Julius Caesar’s “July”) in the good year 2009 of the Common Era
“It was a short day in the laboratory working on maps. I had overworked the last few days so was able to get away with doing a half day. Shortly after, I headed back to my mountain cottage strapping, binding, and packaging up my Matrix CUV vardo that would be taking me to the Western slopes of the Rockies … on some high desert mesa-tops just outside of Paonia, Colorado. Tina and her partner Heather arrived shortly after 3 pm. We packed into our cars and headed south on Highway 115 to 50 where we would slowly crawl across the Rocky Mountains through Canon City, Salida, and Durango. Many beautiful amazing lakes along the way welcomed us as well as panoramic mountain vistas …. it ot pretty problematic as we creeped through the canyons and had to ditch deer in the roadway in the pitch dark. We eventually got to Paonia late at night around 10 pm. Luckily we were able to reach David who guided us to find the staff/merchant/entertainment entrance and he blessed us with entry. There were a couple of people awaiting to get in as well, and I was pleased to find my amazing kindred spirit – the lovely Pacific Northwest mermaid Wendy. Was soooo wonderful to see her. I also quickly met her lovely road partner Dana. We slowly crawl down the bumpy gravel mountain road to where we were guided as the merchant area … behind the guideline, we parked and set up our sleeping tents in the dark. Exhausted. Turned in early as would need to set up the vending/bodypaint tent the next day. Clear skies above, I slept under the stars with the rain flap open – amazing views of the stars above and the dry arid high desert enchantment, I slept like a baby. Good and high energy all around. I was very happy to be there. ”
From the journal of Sir Thomas “Rymour Oisin” Leaf: The 12th of Quintilis (Julius Caesar’s “July”) in the good year 2009 of the Common Era: Part Une.
“Early to rise I still was not in a very good mood. Everyone was bustling about, alot of people were leaving. I thought that strange as it was 9 am and there was still a day left of the festival. Maybe others had the same vibe and feeling I did? wanting to leave as well? I found “A” and told her I was packing up the tent and wanting to leave. She didn’t want to leave, she wanted to stay an extra day. I told her I couldn’t as I needed to get back to have time to pack for Dream Time, wanted to hit the Earthship center on the way home, and needed to get some sleep for work as I had to be there at 7 am tomorrow. We had an argument about it as she didn’t want to leave. I went and packed up camp and tried to find someone to catch a ride with back to Colorado. After many defeats, I did find a van that was overpacked with 15 who were heading to Denver. They said worst case if I couldn’t get a ride, they would shove me in, but they were already packed over the max. Wouldn’t let a brother go without a ride. I was really worried about being stranded. I packed my gear into A’s car and put my backpack on – armed with water and was just about to start hiking and hitchhiking 30 miles to Taos in hopes the bus station would be open on a sunday and have a line going to Colorado Springs. Continue reading 7.12.09: Cronicles of STL: Chapter 4: ‘Stranded?’→