Saturday, November 15, 2008

Picking up steam

Compensating for last weeks short post, here's the longest one yet.

Having learned from previous mistakes, I now write my blog drafts in Google Docs, copy pasting the finished post. Docs work great, allowing me to save my documents on the net and pick it up again from any computer I find myself at. and it has autosave.

Now that I know I'm leaving on time, everything's been a lot easier. I'm now spending most of my free time planning my route, and I'm having a blast!

I called up the Australian embassy in Copenhagen yesterday, asking about how to register the bike in my name and if there was anything else I needed to know about bike ownership in Australia. I was fortunate enough to get through to a very enthusiastic young lady who happened to have done the same trip, except she started in New Zealand and did it in a car. She went in January as well, and she adviced me to go to New Zealand first because of the seasons. Starting in New Zealand, I'll have the summer there which is great since NZ can be chilly during winter. Also, I won't get to Cairns and the sub-tropical part of Queensland until AFTER the wet-season, which was always a bit of a worry for me since the prospect of riding in the rain isn't exactly thrilling.

i've decided not to ship the bike, but to sell it in Auckland and buy a new one in Adelaide. There are several reasons:

  1. Shipping it by boat is unreliable, and may take a lot longer than expected
  2. Shipping by plane is very expensive
  3. I'd have to pay a toll for importing it to Australia
  4. Bikes are cheap in fall, which is when I'll hit Adelaide.

Ive found a great forum for adventure riders. I posted about my trip, and already two guys expressed an interest in joining me for small parts of the trip. It would be great with some company, as I suppose it can get a bit lonely out there.
Also, there's a gathering near Christchurch on february 20, 21 and 22, which couldn't be more convenient for me. This is a great opportunity to meet other adventure riders and learn from them! It depends on the cost though, and whether I'll go back to Christchurch or just want to push on.

It's weird. Even with all the planning going on, I very rarely sit down and really think about this trip. How it's going to be, all the adventures, the prospect of six months away from home, all the new people, the alien sorroundings. Once in a while it hits me. I'm doing this! It's really happening! I'm going!
Then I imagine myself stopping my bike in some forest in the tropical part of Queensland. No particular reason. I'm hearing the engine die out. The sounds of the jungle overtakes me. I see the road snaking out of sight in front and behind. I taste the hot, moist air. Feel the softness of the seat. I lean back against my bagage. I'm completely alone. Those moments are some of my most serene. I get goosebumps just writing about it!
Then, I dive right back into the planning. God this is fun!

While planning the trip, I'm working on a personalized map on google maps. I'll post a link here when I feel it's interesting enough. Optimally, I'll be updating it even as I'm riding the trip, linking each placemark to specific blog-posts.
At home I have two big wall maps of Australia and New Zealand where I sketch out my route. It gives me a good sense of the relative distances (except I constantly underestimate them - Tasmania alone is about the same size as my entire home country!). When I leave I'll hand them to my mum so she can follow my trip.

I regrettably realized that I'm going to miss the Roskilde festival next year. It's a shame, but I'm sure I won't feel too bad about it once I'm down under. It would have been perfect though, coming home just in time for the festival, but it would cut my plans short by two to four weeks.

I've always been fascinated by the underwater world, and by Squid and Octopuses in particular.
Octopuses are the most intelligent invertebrates in the world. Remarkably, two thirds of its neurons are positioned, not in the brain, but in the arms.
Also, they're super squishy.
Wikipedia has a great article on octopi, and an entire separate article on cephalopod intelligence, but all the text in the world just can't do them enough credit. Unfortunately, no-one can be... told, how awesome they are. You have to see it for yourself.

And then, of course, there's the mysterious and horrifying Giant Squid. Known to exist for centuries, this elusive and mysterious creature was first photographed alive in 2004, and caught on video in 2006 (a small female). I've known about them for a long time, and I clearly remember my exitement when I heard that they'd been documented alive.
Their distribution is wide, with specimens found in every ocean. Disconcertingly, many have been found off the coasts of New Zealand...

And as if that wasn't enough, the Colossal Squid is even bigger...

PS.: To my complete surprise, I just found out that the largest Colossal Squid ever captured is going on display on the 13th of December at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa! I'm soooo going to see that!

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