Day 124: Lavington, NSW - Four Legs on the Slow Road - CycleBlaze

December 28, 2014

Day 124: Lavington, NSW

I walk into the large shared bathroom to the sound of a German dropping a big shit. This takes place not long after the extended brigade of Germans before him took showers. The upshot is that the place has developed the smell and feel of walking into a portable toilet in the middle of a tropical rain forest that hasn't been emptied at any point in the last five months.

Good morning, Lavington.

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The common denominator between New Zealand and Australia, beyond accents that never fail to make us smile, is that the wireless internet is unreliable and slow absolutely everywhere. It's the same story in every motel, every backpackers, every campground, and every cafe, no matter how big or small the town, how much money you're willing to spend, or how attractive or post-apocalyptic the place looks. After five hours of pissing and moaning about this in our hostel, we ride the three miles into the downtown area of Albury, the next town over and the biggest in the area. We head to the library, because libraries have been the only reliable source of Internet over the past three months. But that also fails today; even though the place is supposed to be open on Sunday, it's closed. A sign on the door says it's something related to the holidays, even though today isn't a holiday, and neither was yesterday, and neither is tomorrow.

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We respond to this insignificant first-world problem by devising an elaborate and in the end well-executed plan to sneak pizza, garlic bread, soda, beer, and cider upstairs into our room. This is necessary because anything fun or interesting or delicious is prohibited by the long list of rules spelled out in eight-point font that have been taped to the back of all the hostel doors.

This is better than the library anyway.
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The reason we have all of this stuff is that we're celebrating. And the reason we're celebrating is because today's my birthday. Thirty-two years ago on this day back in Seattle I shot out into a world that has never again been the same. It's a humble celebration, but that's enough, because anything would be better than how I spent my birthday last year. After traveling for a month down the coasts of Oregon and California in my van all alone but for my dog, I had flown home to Seattle for Christmas. On the way there I caught some strain of the flu from the coughing, sniffling, dripping guy slumped against the window in the seat in front of me. By the time I returned to the Bay Area a few days later it had reduced me to a sweating, aching, perpetually tired mess who was once again far from home and all alone but for his dog. Although the specifics are tough to remember because I've tried hard to forget them, what I recall of that day was spending a lot of time parked at a pullout just off of the Pacific Coast Highway about fifty miles north of Santa Cruz, huddled on the folded-out bed in the back of the van, listening to college football bowl games on AM radio, eating lukewarm ramen noodles, rubbing that dog's head and telling him what a good boy he was and how much I loved him, and generally feeling bad for myself.

Somehow, a year to the day later, I'm here. A couple of times in the last month Kristen asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Always my response was that I wanted nothing, because the most unexpected, unlikely, improbable gift in the world has already been given to me. I know that's kind of a barf-worthy thing to say, but it's the truth.

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As I write down directions for the days to come on unlined three-by-five notecards some time near midnight, the smell of a big shit that's been dropped by one of the perpetually arguing members of the Thai family that arrived a few hours ago angles its way down the hall before storming into the common area where I work. And thus my day is bookended.

Good night, Lavington.

Today's ride: 7 miles (11 km)
Total: 3,730 miles (6,003 km)

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