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Day 11 HOME

Melbourne, Australia


Today I woke up and quickly got ready to pull out for the 765 Kilometer trip to Melbourne and home in Bayswater. I was ready to be home. I decided not to try for the wine country this trip and just to drive 8-10 hours straight through with minimal stops.

The car had run really badly coming into Adelaide the night before so I was praying that it would hold together to get me home.

I checked the fluids first and added power steering fluid, oil and ATF today first thing. The ATF is the hardest to know how much, but I did not have much left in the container Pete had given me so I just put it all in.

Off we go....full tank of gas and iced coffee ready to drink and hit the road.

I used my iphone gps to find my way around Adelaide so I could avoid the CBD by going East then South to the highway that runs straight to Melbourne. This worked really well and gave me confidence that I could do the same thing to find the house in Bayswater when I got to Melbourne.

The country outside of Adelaide is some of the most beautiful I have ever seen anywhere. Rolling green hills covered with fields of two different green grasses and seperated by fields of brillant yellow flowers dominated the scenery with unsusual multibranched trees that are hard to describe, but quite symetrical and beautiful and green.

Mixed in for good measure were pastures with huge herds of grazing sheep and little lambs all shorn of their curly fur...close cropped haircuts were the style.

It was so picturesque and bucolic, like an advert for the most pastoral setting ever.

Even though this is a main highway with a 110 k speed limit it is, like most highways on this continent apparently, only two lanes. And it runs through many small towns where you have to decelerate to 80- then 60- and then 40 kph sometimes for school zones.

So... not a high speed run home.

Close to the big cities the road is a divided highway with two lanes heading each direction, but that is the exception.

The car was running fine by the gauges- temp well within tolerance, but it still shook and struggled with the climbing loads and the tach setting from 2,000 to 2,500. I found that I could coast below 2,000 and then accelerate to a speed and hold it by backing way off the throttle and avoid the shaking sometimes, but that took a lot of concentration and effort. Pain in the Butt.

I only hoped we would make it home and gradually the kilometers diminished, At 1:30 PM I was only 328 k away and I stopped for lunch in a cute little town that started with a 'K'- I think it was called Kaloona or something like that. After gassing up the road took me through the center of town and near a park. I stopped and went to a little diner I saw and ordered nachos for lunch of all things off of their "Lighter fare" menu. It was a small bowl with cheese, chips, sour cream and guacamole with red enchilada sauce (I think). No meat, beans, onion or anything else so I guess that was what made it "Lighter fare".

After lunch it was back to abusing the poor Magna for another 300 k til we were at the outskirts of Melbourne with the sun going down and rush hour still in effect.

The Iphone gps had given me a course to run and I tried to memorize it because I never knew when I might hit a wrong button and wipe it out (this had happened several times before...) and because my battery was getting low... I never bought a cigarette lighter charger- in fact I still don't know if the cigarette lighter even works, I forget it everytime I think about checking it next time I get in the car!

All of a sudden I was diving into a tunnel with five or six lanes of traffic around me. I knew I was on the right road and the signs named suburbs I knew, but I had no idea I'd be underground- of course the Iphone wouldn't update underground either.

After what seemed a long time I emerged and could get a postion. I was coming near to the street I wanted to get off on that would take me East towards my suburb. There was still a huge line of cars from the tail end of rush hour (it was 6:30 pm) backed up at the stoplight for my left turn and the car had been running really, really rough the last 20 k or so. I put it in Neutral to idle and then I would forget that and try to drive off when I could go- stupid, but I am really tired by now too.

This street had an 80 kph speed limit and I made good time. I put the address of the house in the search of the gps and also hit the directions button and the good old Iphone gave a six page list of directions. I scanned through pages 1- 4 quickly in case the battery died as it was giving a 'low battery' warning. I memorized all the moves up to the last two leading to my street thinking, "when I get close I will recognize landmarks!".

Sure enough, with about 3 k to go before my first major turn I hit something on the phone and lost my directions! Sh*t!

I followed what I had memorized and everything was going great- then I found myself on a dark road which I thought I recognized but could not be sure. After going a couple of Kilometers I lost my confidence and pulled into a residential area to try and reboot the gps. But the battery was kaput. In desperation and exhaustion I called Carl hoping he could locate me on a street directory he has and come and lead me home. I was exhausted beyond belief and needed a friend's help to make it home.

He was home and got the guide and said, "Wow, you are really close- I'll be there in a couple of minutes!".

About 5 minutes later Carl pulled up and I gave him a big hug and thanks for coming to save me. The Magna Exec Wagon started again (thank God) and I followed Carl for about four blocks and then I recognized our IGA and realized I was only about 2.5 K's from home when I had stopped.

Carl let me have the driveway to park in and I stumbled out of the car shellshocked with relief- the Journey was over and I had won the Top Gear Challenge...

I pulled a few things from the car and collapsed in a chair in MY living room and Carl shoved a beer in my hand and heated up some Bachelor's Nightmare goulash for me.

Tonight I would sleep in my own bed and for the first time in almost two months I would be still the next day.

Finis

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on September 11, 2012 from Melbourne, Australia
from the travel blog: Mike's Top Gear Challenge
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I am a Yank retiring abroad and going a fun journey starting now and ending.....?

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