Sunday, February 12, 2012

Australian Adventure: Log 4

Now based in Worongary, a small town in and around Surfers Paradise, we now have the crew together. Mark, the team leader and Craig, the team mechanic, have already been in town for a couple days and had even already procured transportation, a rugged Nissan Patrol 4WD that ran off LPG, that’s propane for you North American folks. The other pilot, Glen, still hadn’t come in from the rains, stuck in Toowoomba. However, the floods had subsided and he would be in the next day, soaking wet, gear wet right through. With the crew together, we did a tourist drive through Surfers Paradise, a real paradise, which is actually full of surfers. In fact, the entire city seems to be void of any real commercial or retail services other than beachside restaurants, coffee shops and surf shops. The whole city seems to be residential high rises full of surfers. We were staying at Marks wife’s nephews house, which he, Nam and his wife Devo, graciously lent us in our bid to get ready for the trip

Soon the epic rains subsided and the procurement of materials began. A camper trailer was purchased out in Ipswich to keep us all out of the baking Outback sun when on the road. The paramotors, camera’s and flight data recorders were all late getting shipped and didn’t arrive until after the start date of February 1st. Rather annoying, however, we needed the extra time anyways to sort out all the logistics. Running all over Nerang, Surfers Paradise, Brisbane and pretty much the whole Gold Coast we slowly got decaling, roof rack, Bull bar and some little mechanical issues sorted with the Nissan. The local paramotor club help us out greatly, with Gary giving me and Glen additional bedrooms at his house, Ben offering up some helpful mechanical advice tuning in the motors. Fabien, who runs a pet accessories distribution gave us floor space at his warehouse to store and work on all the equipment and everyone gave us some great advice in traversing and flying over the terrain that would soon follow.

It all finally came together on the February 4th, with the motors in and tuned up, and all the equipment washed and packed away into the Nissan and Camper, we left Worongary for Townsville, and the start of our record attempting adventure. Leaving late in the evening, the first leg of our 1,500 km trip only took us to a couple hundred kilometres past Brisbane, to a nice little rest area along a now empty Pacific Coast Highway. An interesting stop for dinner at a prior rest stop just before a local theme park, “Aussie Land,” where an equally interesting bar stood tall along the roadside, like five-stories tall. Walking into the ground floor, hard rock music blared over the speakers for the three guys that were playing pool in the corner. A walk up a spiral wood staircase took us to a second level, where there was just additional seating room. Up several more flights of stairs, we finally came to the top floor, where we could finally order some food. The overpriced dinner wasn’t the best; however, eating high up on the balcony, the cooler air was nice refreshment to the heated confines of the Nissan under the hot Aussie sun.

The day was so hot that night I didn’t bother unpacking my sleeping bag, wishing for a cool breeze. Craig and I took the two pullout beds in the camper, while Glen set up a tent and Mark strung a camping hammock up into some nearby trees. As with my experience here in mid Australia, the humidity really rises at night, so while the temperature may go down, it actually feels hotter than the daytime, making sleep a hard and nasty affair. Crawling into bed, I was already a bit wet with sweat, and getting to sleep was a bit of a challenge with the heat trapped in the camper. At some time during the night I woke up, shivering and near hypothermia as the temperature had dropped during the night, but the humidity stayed up, layering everything in thick dew, including me. My sleeping back packed away deep in the truck, I toughed it out, throwing some socks on and covering myself with a towel to stay warm, hopefully daylight comes soon.

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