Monday morning, May 13th, 06:15.
I find myself sitting in my car, hands shaking, clutching the steering wheel. Suddenly, the whole vehicle began to shake.
Jesus, man! Get it together! The sense of absolute elation that I had travelled on over the past five weeks had evaporated, now replaced with absolute fear.
What the heck was I doing? Leaving everything?!? Am I nuts? Have I completely lost it?
Probably. But still, I am a man who shares the same name of a very well-known sayer. Therefore, when Psyman says, he does – for most of it. So I did. I breathed, turned the engine and pulled out towards the city where I picked up Cookie and hit the road with Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks pounding out through the speakers.
On the road to Darwin.
Our first stop was breakfast in Daylesford to say ‘goodbye’ to a mate before we continued on towards the Grampians, a national park a few hours north-west of Melbourne. We trekked up a peak, surprised a wallaby and enjoyed the view before we found a camping spot and pitched up a tent.
“Shit,” I unfolded the tent.
“What is it?” Cookie asked.
I slumped and looked at her in embarrassment. “No sticks. No pegs. Just a tarp.” She laughed and took it well as I pulled out some rope and we sussed out a spot between two trees. The first major and basic outdoor rule is to never camp under a tree. But it was the only option to hold up the tarp.
The wood around us was wet due to the rains of the previous night. But with the help of Cookie’s hair spray and a lighter, she soon got the wood fired up.
“Should I bring out the guitar, strum some tunes?” I asked.
“Sure,” she agreed.
I sat by the fire with Ol’ Red, my trusty steed of 10 years. I started to tune her up, beginning with the top E string. Reaching the G string, I noticed the machine head was turning but the string wasn’t stretching.
Huh. I took a closer look at the machine head. “I think she’s busted,” I concluded. “We’ll have to keep an eye open for music stores as we progress north.”
She nodded and before long, we settled in for a quiet night’s sleep.