October 18, 2010




A short one tonight, I hope, as I used up all my time processing photos from yesterday.


I was up about 6:15 this morning and by 7:15 I was ready for my brekkie.† I didnít have anything left to eat (other than my iron rations and food bars brought from home), and I hadnít ordered breakfast from the motel.† So, I went out looking.† The little cafť across the street wasnít open, but a bakery down the street was.† I had an absolutely delicious bacon, egg, and cheese toasted sandwich and an excellent sausage roll, and that set me up for the morning.


I got all packed up and was on the road by 8:45, after taking care of my internet activities.† The dial up internet plan I had bought worked out great for me in Dungog, and I expect to use it a couple of more times on the trip, where I donít have wi fi internet access, or where it is too expensive.


It was another beautiful day, like yesterday.† I drove the scenic route and enjoyed the drive very much.† It was 5 hours of driving, according to Google Maps, and it took me 5 Ĺ hours with several stops.† I filled up on gas at the last cheap gas station, as it turned out, and I stopped in a little town at a bakery and got a couple of meat pies and a caramel slice for my lunch.† I had my lunch by a river at a rest area, and it was very nice.† The pies and the caramel slice were excellent.


I had been concerned that since I didnít have any birding planned for today that I would get skunked on my trip list, which hasnít happened yet.† But, along the way, there was a single Apostlebird in the road, and that was one for my trip list.† It is always fun for me to try to see at least one new bird on each day of the trip, and today I kept the string alive.


I arrived in Gilgandra by about 2:30, which should have given me plenty of time to process my pictures from yesterday, even though there were a lot of them.† However, there was a problem connecting to the wireless internet.† I spent a lot of time on it, and it turned out to be a problem with the motelís network.† They got their tech support guy over here eventually, and I went out and did a big grocery shopping for the next several days in the meantime.† The tech guy had to get the Internet Service Provider on the phone, but finally I was able to connect, but, it was almost 5 PM by then, and my big time advantage had gone.


So, I had a drink or two, IMíed with my friend Fred in Sacramento, and processed my pictures.† Somehow, it is now 8:30, and Iím still writing this.† I had wanted to update my spreadsheet today, but that will have to wait, I guess.†† I should have plenty of time to do that in the next couple of days, because I will be staying at a place with no internet and no phone, so I wonít be able to get online for a couple of days, after tomorrow morning.


I have uploaded Photos07, and Iíll create the link to it when I get this done.† I included 6 pictures that my bird guide Mick sent me by email; youíll see them at the end of the album, with his name on them.† Itís great to have good quality pictures of some of the great birds we saw yesterday.† As I think I mentioned in the last Ramblings, my camera was giving me trouble yesterday, and I had to heavily process a lot of my pictures in Photos07, and the quality is not what I am used to.


After my grocery shopping today, I went to an ATM to get some more cash, and it told me that my bank had declined the transaction, so that is another thing I am going to have to look into, and just when I wonít have internet connection for a couple of days.† I have some American cash, so I can always go to a bank to get Aussie currency, and I could also try one of my credit cards, but I hate to pay the 4% cash advance fee that they charge.† Iím always trying to save a few bucks, wherever I can.


Along those lines, I have mentioned how expensive alcoholic beverages are over here, and today I bought another bottle of the high proof Bundeburg rum I like so much.† It is 66 bucks a bottle (700 ml), though, so I donít want to drink it too fast.† (It was only 35 bucks for a 1.125 liter bottle at the duty free shop, but you could only bring two of them into the country.† My second one is half gone now.)† Iíll try to ration myself.


My local IGA (Independent Grocers of Australia Ė a sort of association of grocery stores in small towns across Australia) had the smoked chicken breasts, so I bought a couple more packs of those, two breasts to a pack.† They are very expensive, roughly 12 bucks a pound, but make excellent lean protein for me.† I also got sandwich makings and some very interesting meal thingies that donít need to be refrigerated and can be heated in a microwave.† I got a chicken with gravy and potatoes one, a chicken alfredo one, and a beef stew one.† It will be interesting to see how they taste.† Again, pretty expensive, but something I can have while traveling, when I have a microwave.† Tonight Iím in a motel, but at my request ahead of time, they put a microwave in my room, so I heated up a can of soup tonight, and had it with cheese and crackers.† I am staying in two or three other motels that will also provide a microwave, along with the little fridge that absolutely every place I have ever stayed over here provides.† In other places I will have kitchens.


The next two nights should be very interesting.† Iím staying in a pretty remote area, and I have a cabin to myself, I think.† It is only 40 bucks a night, so I am wondering what the catch is.† One catch is that there is a kitchen and a shower, but no toilet.† I will have to use the shared ďseptic toilet facilityĒ in the amenities block, some distance from my cabin.† Iím wondering what that is going to be like.† The womenís toilet facility sounds like it is maybe an actual water toilet, and Iím figuring I will just sneak in there for my morning constitutional, and Iím hoping that there isnít anyone else staying at this place when I am there.† We will see.


The approach I was planning to use to get to this place involved driving for over an hour on an unpaved road, and there are a couple of creek crossings on the road.† It has been much wetter than usual this year here, so this afternoon I called the place (the Willie Retreat), and asked about that road.† The woman said that there was quite a bit of water over the road at the main creek, Monkeygar Creek, and it wouldnít be a good idea to try to cross it in a small 4 WD vehicle.† So, I guess I will have to take the long way around on paved roads.† I donít mind that in itself, but some of the best birding is supposed to be along that unpaved stretch of road.† I might try going part way along it tomorrow, just for the birding, then backtrack and drive around on the paved road.† Weíll see what it looks like and what time it is when I get there.† Iím not going to want to take any chance whatsoever of being washed away at a creek crossing, though.


On the subject of creek crossings, today on the radio I heard about some flooded rivers to the south of here.† Some bridges were going to be closed, and I will be crossing that area in several days.† The floods resulted from rain last weekend, I guess, and it takes weeks for the floodwaters to move all the way downstream.† I guess one reason it moves so slowly is that the land is so flat.† It will be interesting to see what I see when I get down to that area, later this week.


I guess that catches me up.† Iíll be out of touch for a couple of days, after tomorrow morning (Monday noon in Seattle), so look for more from me about Thursday morning, US West Coast time.