It’s always tough to blog about stuff that happened a few days ago, especially if there is more stuff to blog about right afterwards. So here is a roughly chronological account of the road trip to Sydney…
All packed up and on the road by noon, Sean, Nick and I bomb down the Pacific Highway to the Coomera Dreamworld exit where we dump Nick off. He’ll spend the day with his rellies before flying home to Bali the next day. We say farewell with a hug and handshake – Sean will see him again in a couple of weeks, I won’t see him for at least 6 months, perhaps more.
Back on the road we’re making good time, listening to the cricket on ABC radio and crossing the border into New South Wales where we lose an hour due to daylight saving (Queensland continues to be backward in that regard). It’s damn hot out, we’re sweating like fish, and there’s a traffic jam on the way into Byron Bay. Some idiot thought it would be a good idea to force two lanes of highway into a single lane going through a roundabout. So we decide to stop off in Byron Bay for a quick swim and a visit to the Internet Outpost there. It’s much like the one in Bali, but they have a music store in front and computers down the back. Byron is a cool place with lots of travelers and surfers milling about. I think I saw more women in bikinis in that 45 minutes than I’ve seen in my last 5 years (living in Oregon will do that).
Lunch was a meat pie and I tried to get us lost looking for a scenic spot to eat it. Eventually we found our way to the Byron lighthouse and we ate the pies in the car over looking the bay. Very nice.
On the road again and the Indian’s are killing Australia with the bat. Brett Lee is getting carted around the ground and wickets are as rare as hen’s teeth. We’re impressed with the quality of commentary on ABC radio as well as the way they take the piss out of each other.
We’re keen to get as close to Sydney as we can on the first day so we only have a short drive in the morning. We barrel through Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie and even though we brought about 75 CD’s we spend most of the time talking about anything and everything. Road trips are great for discussing the finer points of cricket strategy, all those people you knew back in high school, and the things you did as a child that still make you cringe. And then, there are the roadside attractions.
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It’s getting late and very dark and we decide that Taree, which is about 300km north of Sydney, is a good place to bed down for the night. We haven’t booked ahead and even though we visit every single motel, there are no vacancies. We continue on to the next, smaller, town and the result is the same. The thought that we might not find a place starts to creep in.
By now it’s after 11pm and each town we stop in has no vacancies. A gas stop includes coffee for both of us as we resolve to make it to Newcastle where there should be a bed. It’s only about 150km. In the end, it’s just too far. It’s 1:30am and we figure some sleep is better than pushing on and being more tired in the morning. We find a rest stop and take the advice of the 10 million signs we’ve seen on the way – Stop Revive Survive.
After about 5 hours of half-sleep we step out of the car to use the facilities and are immediately attacked by hundreds of flies. They’re everywhere and some of them end up accompanying us to Sydney. Even though we’re exhausted, we feel alert and ready to tackle the last 200km to Sydney. The cricket match starts at 11am and we figure we can be there by 9am, check into the hotel (which we already booked), get cleaned up and make our way to the Sydney Cricket Ground in plenty of time to see Steve Waugh take the field.
Everything goes well – we make good time, make no wrong turns in Sydney and find ourselves crossing the Harbour Bridge bang on time. Our hotel is right downtown and Sean nips inside to see if we can check in early (and get directions for the parking garage – we circled the block three times trying to find it). The hotel is full so we can’t, but the desk woman promises to call us when we can. Our options are limited – we’re tired, scummy, a little sunburned, and about to spend all day in the sun at the cricket.
We’re able to dump our bags at the hotel and just take what we need to freshen up. The Sydney location of our gym is closed this early on a Sunday, so our hopes of a shower are dashed. Instead we sit down at an outdoor cafe and chow down on a big breakfast to recharge the batteries. We still feel crappy, wearing yesterday’s clothes and day old sweat. We utilize the tried and true traveler’s technique of ducking into the lobby bathroom of a nice hotel and washing up in the sink. We emerge like new men with fresh clothes, clean teeth and deodorized aroma.
As we arrive at the SCG we get our second wind. The crowd outside the ground is huge and the atmosphere promises to be awesome.