Do not enter this post unless you’re prepared to be confronted with an absolute ramble of information, which at some point may be hiking related, but more than likely it’ll end up discussing blogging and ironing.
I thought I should get that disclaimer out right away, so I can warn you where this entry is headed with the main problem being I’ve no idea where it’s going and I’m the one actually writing it. In fact, I’m going for the outright ‘stream of consciousness’ style, but don’t worry as I’ll break it up with some random outdoor photos to stop you from nodding off.
Well, it’s another week done of possibly the quietest ‘holidays’ I’ve ever had and I’m back to work tomorrow. The ongoing ‘ProlapsedDiscNeckFiasco.com’ continues unabated. I’ve resigned myself to having lost my winter hiking time, which has being a bit of an emotional problem mentally that extensive medication hasn’t made any better.
I’m feeling grizzled, annoyed and so distracted, I’ve started doing things like wearing my underpants two days in a row. My ‘Mr Neurosurgeon’ appointment tomorrow will hopefully tell me how this will resolve itself, as a week of high-end anti-inflammatory drugs have done nothing.
Anyway, why is there a photo of a watch at the start of the post? Well, I was aimlessly thinking about the things I always take on a hike and the one thing I can’t live without is a watch. Yeah, yeah, watch, blah, blah, you may say. Aha! This is different though, as the watch I use daily was bought in January 1984. That’s quite a long time ago isn’t it? I wish my hiking gear could last anything up to that time length.
When I joined the Australian Army in 1983 I wasn’t much of a watch bloke and wore $10 specials, which always broke (who would have guessed?). Due to their cheapness, I was breaking so many out on exercise, it was starting to get a little silly, as this was the era before clocks were attached to everything.
I’d be like a chump, asking people for the time and in those days quite a few of the Australian soldiers I worked with were post-Vietnam war, slightly unstable and they’d just look at me in pity shaking their heads saying, “You stupid bastard, the time is…”.
It was that sort of routine and can you imagine if it was actually 1915 instead? “Okay, we’re going over the top at 6.00 am”. I’d be at the back of the briefing with my hand up, “Sir, can you wake me? I don’t have a watch and I’ll miss out on the impenetrable wall of German bullets otherwise.”
So, I needed a strong watch and in those days it seemed a ‘Divers’ style were the sturdiest. I certainly had no intention of going diving, as I don’t even like getting my hair wet, which makes having a shower a little traumatic at times.
In January 1984, I bought this Seiko divers watch for $250, which was a lot considering I was only clearing $450 a fortnight and most of my money was needed for alcohol. Times were so tough we’d go out with shaved heads, in beaten up old cars to the drive-in bottle shop and say, “What’s the cheapest bottle of scotch you sell?”
Back then in Townsville, Queensland, I can always remember the answer, “Well, my friend, ‘Robert The Bruce’ is only $12 a bottle.” Problem solved and afterwards I was on ‘RTB’ every weekend when we weren’t out doing actual army stuff. (By the way, can I have some of my life back, which was wasted getting pissed instead of doing something useful? Is that possible?)
Anyway, back to the watch and what can I say about it? Well, in 27 years the only thing I’ve done to it is the odd battery change and a new strap every few years. Surely, I’ve got my moneys worth in the end, even though it was worth quite a few bottles of ‘RTB’? I’ve worn it literally everywhere in all the things I’ve done over those years. Literally. From airborne rappelling out of helicopters to swinging from the chandelier covered in baby oil on the weekends.
In fact, if I look at 20 years of photos I always see it there on my wrist, which is quite special if one wants to get emotional about a watch I guess. Just think, if I had it back in 1915, then the bonus would’ve been I’d be on time to get slaughtered with everyone else. How great’s that?
How was all that? Did you think this was going to be some sort of bonkers/roll on the floor/slapping of the thighs funny blog entry? I caught you out there didn’t I? Look how easy it is switch tack, yet still stay on top of things even whilst wearing multiple day underpants.
Okay, the amazing picture above has been posted to show you some special ‘features’ of the watch and of course, it’s the token attempt to put the year on the back where it’s meant to be stamped when the battery is changed. According to the photo the last time anyone bothered to do this was back in ’86’. It might be a great watch, but it’s not that good, as I’ve had to change the odd battery since then.
Can I possibly drag out this watch appreciation entry any more? Oh yeah, no challenge at all, as in the photo you can see the serial number of ‘372851’. What’s so handy, is if it’s ever stolen and I need to make an insurance claim, I can direct the company to www.hikingfiasco.com. I might even pick up a few more followers of the blog. Clever huh?
Now, if you’re wondering why there are random photos of Tasmania appearing, it’s because just over a year ago my son Ben and I had a little venture down there. A winter walk through the Walls of Jerusalem with a link up to the Overland Track via an untracked part called ‘Never Never’, followed by a stroll north to Cradle Mountain.
I’d walked the Overland Track on my own in September 2009 and enjoyed it, but this time instead of replaying the same walk, I thought it would be more interesting with a little bit ‘extra’, so Ben got to ‘enjoy’ the refreshing Tasmanian winter. I re-read my entry about the day we walked the untracked section called the ‘Never Never’ (great name?!) and it was written in the early stages of my blogging, so I still don’t think I captured how crap that particular day was. You can find it on my blog and I won’t be re-writing the entry, but it does remind me it’s been just over a year since I started this whole online caper.
This leads to the ramble you’ll have to decipher now. It was hard to start an Australian based hiking blog, as there don’t seem to be many out there. What kicked it off was the frustration at finding nothing online about the Croajingolong National Park hike, which I wanted to do, so I thought I could put something together that might help someone else out there in avoiding the Googling pain I went through.
So, most of my blogging isn’t organised and the first thing you’ll find about mine is I’m trying to keep it fairly simple with walks described (if I ever get out there again). I’ve tinkered with gear, but there are far more informed writers who can dissect and articulate equipment better than me.
On reflection, my equipment method is buying stuff, which I hope works or if it doesn’t, it gets the full shoulder ‘hurl’ into the wall technique. Mm… I don’t think my dispatching method (remember, the power is in the shoulder during the throw) is very informative for gear reviews.
What else? Oh yeah, I’m not interested at all in making a dollar out of this blogging either, so you’ll never see an advert on my site. By the way, I’m not trying to take some sort of elitist ‘high ground’ here about adverts. It’s just something that doesn’t interest me. All I like to do is potter around with a bit of writing, which I find is quite cathartic, Except when I have to put into print something like the ‘Never Never’ post, as I still might need some extra therapy to recover from.
The photos below are definitely not staged and this is how Ben and I particularly remember the day. Never, ever, in the history of mankind have two people fallen over so often in one day of walking. Mind you, not just falling over, but getting snared into trees that took constant ‘he-man’ efforts to extract from.
Moving on now and I think one of the trickiest things with a blog is to come up with the actual name. How hard is it to make something that stands out from all the others? Ben and I had a pool of names with different angles to each, with most having some sort of rhyme involved. It either had to be intelligent, moody or at least remotely legible to what I was going to write about.
‘Hiking like a Viking’ sounded great for a blog, except I’m not Scandinavian which was a small issue, so it got thrown aside. I guess I could have invested in a blond wig and just run with it, but that would be as dumb as using an ‘Elvis’ wig for some cheap laughs, which only an idiot would do.
Next out of the hat was, “Hiking is Fun whilst well Hung”. Mm… We thought about this for a while, but there was the possibility it might be a little controversial, plus I might get flamed by people demanding, “You said it, now johnson proof is required”. Okay, what’s next…
More names please? Yeah, okay, let’s get a little outdoor ‘manly’ method going with, ‘Give me Hiking or Give me Death’. Not bad? It’s kind of tough and shows a certain dedication at least? Fussy crowd to please in the blogging world though, so it was back to the hat.
I’m a pretty big bloke at 189 cm with broad shoulders and I’ve been called ‘mountain man’ before which I’m not sure is a compliment or an insult. Believe it or not, but I’m quite reserved and as a totally unrelated observation I learned in life, if you’re big, tall and reserved, you’re ‘aloof’. On the other hand, if you’re small and reserved you’re ‘shy’. Interesting.
So, to follow the mode of ‘I’m a big bloke’ style of hiker we had another blog name of, ‘Too Tough Means I’m Built Rough for Walking Stuff’. There are plenty of rhymes there, which should get a following, but maybe a little too technical I think?
Okay, being a big bloke is not all beer and skittles, as I have a bit of an ‘Elvis complex’ of eating way too much. So, I was thinking a sort of walking/getting trim style of blog which might appeal so we had, ‘Walk to Remove the Pork’. Not bad, but not the greatest and I think it needs a little more work, plus I would have to talk about getting trim. What? Are you insane? This isn’t a dieting blog.
Next up was the contemplative musing approach, where we became a little philosophical by heading down the Socrates road. As one of his close friends, he didn’t mind being called the ‘Soc’ and I know he would’ve nodded in approval at the thinking power required to come up with the following name, ‘I am, therefore it is a possibility’. It’s pretty good isn’t it? That’s clearly obvious considering it took me about 16 seconds to come up with it.
This whole ‘blog name’ thing is going on a little too long now isn’t it? What was left, other than a sort of factual hiking scenario that people would relate to, such as, ‘Thunder in the Sleeping Bag in the Night’? This didn’t sound too intelligent though compared to the previous ‘Soc’ style, so there was a brief moment of ‘complete blog name block’.
Whilst I was stuck on the name, there was another theme of the blog I was going to run with. You’ll never see what I look like. I was after a ‘mysterious man mystique’ (MMM) sort of feel, where you the reader are now leaning back in your chair with your cravat on, whilst puffing on your pipe thinking, “Is he a rock star? Is he a magnificent beast who if he revealed himself would actually have a million followers or is he a cross between Joseph Merrick and a twisted sand-shoe?”
Well, last night I began to weaken and contemplated giving up my anonymity by posting a full faced photo of myself. Ben and I were out for dinner and whilst lined up for a great portrait photo, some nut walked past carrying a Queen card, blocking my face and the moment was lost. Oh well, I gave it a shot, but again you miss out.
In relation to the blog name, we were getting low on options. Then Ben said, “Every time you go walking something turns to crap. Always. It’s a complete fiasco over and over again.”
Well, the globe in my brain increased from a dim light and the name was there. So, in the end I had nothing to do with the name at all. Ben made it up, but luckily he hasn’t demanded any royalties yet. Remember the thing about no adverts on my blog, so I can keep it all minimalist and the no interest angle? Well, yeah, it’s that, plus I don’t have to pay Ben anything at all if I happened to make 10 bucks out of any advertising. So, thank god the blog name is done and dusted as I couldn’t go through that ‘naming’ pain again.
Can I now wrap this up finally? Yes, shortly, but let’s quickly look at the above photo of a fallen tree that’s quite memorable to Ben and I, as this was what we used to cross the Mersey River in the Never Never to reach the Overland Track. It looks fine, but it was soaking wet, slippery and how we did not fall in as we crawled across this in fading winter light I’ll never know. Ben still has the thought regarding this exercise as, “Never ever have I had such a ridiculous situation thrust upon me.” By the way, if you’re wondering, I’m not that mean, as I actually crossed it first.
So, my rambling is done and hopefully you’ve learnt something out of it. Well, what that is I’ll leave it up to you, as I can’t believe how much banging on I’ve just done in this blog entry.
So, the final points to wrap this up with are you can’t go wrong with a ‘Seiko Quartz Divers 150 mt’ watch. Just look how battered it is in my photo and it’s still going strong, but hopefully I’m not writing an entry next week titled, ‘What a Bummer as Seiko Watch has just Broken after 27 years’.
Ah yes, I know you’ve forgotten, but let’s go back to the very start and hidden in the opening line of this blog entry was the word ‘ironing’. Hang on, hiking and ironing? Are you nuts? Well, yeah, but I have a piece of domestic advice, which I can pass on, as the iron I bought in 1982 to practice with before joining the army, is still going as strong as ever.
The secret? I’ve never put water in it, as I’m a firm believer water and electrics don’t mix (don’t get technical on me about kettles). I put the iron onto ‘flat-stick power napalm’ setting and use spray starch for my shirts. If this neck thing keeps me out of walking any longer there’s a possibility of an upcoming ‘iron appreciation thread’ and if that eventuates even I’d have to admit things have officially become desperate.