Saturday, 21 July 2007

On the road

I was a bit surprised when the roadhouse coffee arrived in a tea pot, but nowhere near as surprised as I was when the woman who delivered it to the table said, 'I brought a mug. Is that all right? It's just that some ladies don't like to drink out of a mug. They prefer a cup.'

At this stage I would have been happy with a bucket. Which was just as well, because the tea pot held two mugs-worth of coffee. Just what I needed.

And that's about as wild as the trip has been so far. Oh, there was a spot of excitement when the B-double in front of me started weaving about the road. But the driver pulled over at the next rest stop. (The Newell Highway is well-served with these.)

And a mob of kangaroos bounded across the road in the early afternoon*, requiring some imaginative braking and steering to avoid them sliding up the launch-pad bonnet and into my face. Not sure that air bags are effective at preventing the driver being smacked in the head by a roo. I hope I don't find out.

But over 1,400 km, that's really not a big deal.

Unfortunately, my CD player is only working intermittently and the radio isn't much chop out here**. So I've had to keep myself awake on the boring bits by designing the ultimate road trip car. No, it doesn't have a high-powered engine or an in-built back massager, but it does have a roof-mounted RPG launcher for encouraging slow vehicles to get out of the way. I thought about putting the launcher on the bonnet, but that would reduce visibility, obviously. Mounting it on the doors would also pose a problem. Get out of the car too quickly and you might blow up your own engine. No, it has to be the roof.

Should the threat of a car-mounted RPG not be sufficient and you have to fire it (via a heads up display, of course, safety is important here), then you'll be left with a pile of smouldering caravan fragments in the lane ahead. This is why you'll also need a cow-catcher to scoop the debris out of the way. I was thinking that titanium might be a good material for this — light-weight but tough. Perhaps I should have asked the physics boffins at Parkes what they could recommend? Maybe on the way back.

I was also pondering on the caravan axle, which might survive the RPG attack. Then I saw a sign on the outskirts of Moree that offered 'lasers for every purpose' ... Perfect.

I hope the CD player works properly tomorrow.


* Not the usual peak time for marsupials

** I have been trying to gather data for my study of country music on rural radio stations. I want to plot the proportion of country music played against the distance from a major urban centre. The hypothesis is that it increases steadily up to a point and then leaps to 100%. I want to identify that tipping point.

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