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Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Diff & the Grace of God

First, an applied linguistics lesson from the course Dazz facilitates...

The difference between language and animal forms of communication is the creativity of language. Completely unique utterances can be produced that are 100% comprehensible to listeners who have not heard them before. The title of this entry is one such utterance. I am quite convinced that no-one has ever used this particular combination of words before. So how do these two things relate to each other???

We left Swansea late in the day on Thursday, hoping to miss peak hour traffic in Sydney. A few traffic lights on Pennant Hills Road (both of us realized about the same time that if the massive trucks could fit in these tiny lanes then our little 4WD and van could!) and we were onto motorways and plain sailing.

Our lovely stop for the evening ended up being a truck stop on the Hume Highway just south of Campbletown. We were both tired and our sore throats had had enough of the day when we approached a stop with ‘facilities’. We saw trucks parked in the spaciously laid out area, and then a van and decided if it was good enough for them it was good enough for us. We were so tired that the dull roar of trucks didn’t bother us. I convinced myself it was like the trucks on the road behind Mum & Dad’s, or the trains at Grandad’s, and happily fell asleep. In the morning we could see the highway out one window and out the other window was a beautiful little lake… an amazing contrast!

We passed numerous rest areas that day, most of them like the one we had stayed in, but decided we wanted to aim for something a little quieter and nicer tonight. The Camps book had a place in Jugiong (between Yass and Gundagai), and approaching the town there were a number of big billboards extolling the virtues of this tiny village (pop. 120 I think). So we arrived at a nice little rest area beside a park, a fruit shop and cellar door across the road, and a motel and servo down the road. A nice stop for a night…

We jumped out for an explore and read all the info boards and decided it was time for dinner. As we got back to the car ‘Oh no!’ said he. ‘What?’ said she. ‘Oohhh nooo!’ said he. ‘Whaattt?’ said she. ‘OOHHH NOOO!’ said he. ‘WHAAATTTT?’ said she. ‘THAT!’ ‘Uhhhh’

‘What’ I hear you cry! A tiny little oil leak… nothing new for our car… except this was out of the back wheel.

The pre-existing noise that had been diagnosed as a benign diff problem that needed Nulon had been getting a little worse lately. We’d even bought the Nulon a few days before but hadn’t had a chance to put it in. Earlier in the day at the top of the hill at the War Memorial park in Goulbourn it really sounded unhappy, and Dazz had said he would take it in and get it looked at, and now there was a great deal more urgency in the task.

So at 4:45pm he raced down to the Jugiong servo and a seal in the wheel bearing and the diff was diagnosed to be the problem.

What about the grace of God? This is going to cost big money?

1. We were stopped in a free place (always good when you don’t know how long you might have to stay!!).
2. There were loos and water (another bonus when the duration is open-ended).
3. There was a servo that could fix it 1km down the road (we didn’t need to use any more of our RACQ annual allotment).
4. There were shops that sold bread and milk nice and close.
5. It really was a very pretty little spot – a few hundred metres through the show grounds and we were on the banks of the Murrimbidgee River (and yes, we were on the road to… Gunda…gai…)
6. The new diff fit! It’s out of a later model Jackaroo and was the only one Paul could find. The parts guy assured Paul it would fit our model, but we’ve all been told ‘big ones’ by the guy just trying to sell a part…
7. He didn’t actually pull the diff out of our car until the new part came in (the following Wednesday), so we could use the car to charge batteries while we marked up until then.
8. He got it finished just before closing time on Thursday night before the Anzac Day long weekend. (They sent the wrong bearing up first time ‘round so his wife went into Gundagai to get the right one off the courier so we wouldn’t have to stay the long weekend.)
9. As it turned out we think we got a good deal in terms of what he charged for labour.

So, all in all, a very mild motoring adventure by our standards.

Since then it’s been more of the same boring, everyday, run of the mill, traveling kind of stuff.

Looking for the riverside camp near Everton (between Wangaratta and Myrtleford) we saw a van in a field with a bunch of people. We slowed down and they waved us over, as Dazz said ‘I think this is private property’. It was. Their property, and they were quite happy for us to camp there for the night with them… only thing was seemed like they’d been drinking happily for many hours and were completely tanked!! A little too much unpredictability for our liking. The explained where the other spot was, but told us to come back if there was nothing happening there… fortunately for us there was plenty happening – a little motorhome club rally! We joined the motorhomers for a much quieter and predictable [read ‘early’] evening.

Next day we stopped in Myrtleford for half a church (didn’t know what time it started and didn’t get going very early on account of the overcast sleep-in weather), and then explored Bright in the drizzle during the afternoon. The weather forecast was for rain on Monday and then clearing so we went back to the same spot that night and spent Monday marking in the rain.

Tuesday was perfect photo weather – beautiful mist clearing to give Dazz a stack of reasons to keep stopping on our way to Beechworth. We were hoping to see some more autumn colours without the rain, and we weren’t disappointed. We love small towns were you can just park and walk around and see everything. Of course we did the obligatory Beechworth Bakery, and just smelling Dazz’s chocolate dessert was enough to give me palpitations.

Now we’re down on the Murray River, one of Dazz’s Dad’s favourite spots to camp. It’s been a relaxing mix of marking, eating, kayaking, washing and I’m now experimenting with bread making…