Sunday, March 23, 2014


Even if I went up the wrong hill, the sunset at the top was well worth the wrong turn.....
“So if I don’t make it to your place in like an hour, Sam, send the cops out.” I said laughing as I rolled away.  I had just met Sam at McDonalds having a quick snack in Merimula.  My intention was to make a quick stop at “Macca’s” as the Aussies say, check my email, while enjoying a 30 cent ice cream cone and then head on my way to a campsite on the beach 5 kilometers south.  Wouldn’t you know the ice cream machine was broken, so I settled for a small fry, the second cheapest item on the menu, and sat down outside trying to log on to the free wifi hotspot.  I was trying to get the wireless connection to work when Sam, sitting at the table across from me asked if I was looking for the youth hostel in town.  I told him I was planning on camping just south at Pambula beach.  He invited himself over to my table to finish his meal and we got talking.  I told him the usual, where I was from, where I was going, what I thought of Australia,…the roads, and I asked him the typical question, “So what do you do around here?”

He prefaced his answer by asking if I was some sort of naturalist….I told him no, curious to see what he proceeded to tell me.  “I’m a whale boner!” he stated.  Now that was something I had never heard of and naturally I wanted to know more.  He started explaining to me what a whale boner does and how they go about getting rid of dead whales.  I was fascinated and he could see my eyes getting bigger and bigger.  He told me there were only 6 of them in the whole world, which made me feel pretty special!  Here I was at McDonalds in Merimbula having fries with one of the six whale boners in the whole world, boy was I special!  Just when he reached the climax of the explanation he could see I was hooked, and said “I’m no good at this lying thing!  I can’t do it anymore, you are really falling for it!” 

Ha! As most of you know, I’m the most gullible person out there and I had completely fallen for his story.  Truth is, there are only about 6 in the whole world, but Sam was a mechanical engineer, an ex-pro Australian Football player and now lived in Pembula, close to where he was born and raised.  He’d just been out running up a huge hill that I had also cycled and was stopping for some “power food” as he called it.  He followed his crazy story, with a “crazy invitation” as he put it.  But as you all know, nothing now is really crazy, I’ve heard it all by now on my trip.  He offered me a place to sleep for the night at his house, so I accepted.  Ironically I had already turned down another invitation to camp at a stranger’s house just 15 kilometers earlier, but I wanted to make it to the beach. Sam seemed like a nice enough guy, carefree, talkative, a knowledgeable local,….so of course, I took him up on him offer. 
You don't see this street name every day, another reason to stop on my way to Sam's house

Sam drew me a little map to his house and I got on my way.  He lived about 8 kilometers away, 20 minutes top on bike, that is why I sarcastically said if I’m not there in an hour send the cops. I’d come to a round-about, then a junction, make a right and just when I was out of breathe and dying up a climb, I’d see his street.  First I came to the roundabout in Pambula, made a right and started climbing up a steep hill.  I stopped, to take a picture on my way up, coming across  an “Oregon Street” on the right and a beautiful sunset in the distance.  Then I continued to climb.  It was a tough hill.  I saw a few streets on the right, but not his.  At the top, there was another, but it was on the left.  Hhhmmmm, no Mt. Durragh Street.  So I went down the hill a bit,… street!  I turned around and went back up at which point I got out my GPS.  I don’t know if it was because I was tired, weary, or just plain dumb, but I located his street on the GPS, but couldn’t figure out how to get there.  I pulled off on the first street I came to and knocked at a house.  By now it had gotten dark, sound familiar? An hour had easily passed and I was getting worried that Sam would be worried.  The people who lived there were having a grand old evening drinking wine and dining, and I felt awful interrupting.  However, they steered me in the right direction and had a good laugh at my random pop-in.

I set off again, cycling back the way I had come to the intersection I had missed and up another big hill.  This is when I saw Sam again, who had set off to look for me in his car.  Here it was, an hour later and I finally arrived.  What a laugh we had had.  I got settled, took a shower, met his roommate, and finished eating the rest of my dinner I had bought previously at the super market.  I asked Sam about the kangaroos down on Pambula beach I had heard about and he said, “Let’s go, we’ll go find them!”

Kangaroos galore!

Sam had a small red sports car. I reckon it’s the first time I’ve been in a sports car before, I felt like pretty hot stuff, even though I was sporting my same old cycling attire!  On our way to the beach we came across heaps of kangaroos.  Like dear in North America, they are out grazing on people’s lawns at night.  People in the area never have to mow their lawns Sam stated because of the kangaroos.  They are so tame, they usually don’t move when a car comes near which explains the multitude of kangaroo road kill that I have been seeing alongside the road.  Before tonight, I could say I had seen more dead kangaroos than live, but after my VIP kangaroo tour with Sam, that all changed.  After the kangaroos, we made our way down to the beach.  And although I had been ohhhing and awwing galore with the kangaroos, Sam told me I was about to see the coolest thing I’d ever witnessed in my life.  What could it be?  Clint had just brought me to see the moonrise the other night and Sydney’s bays at night, I had seen kangaroos feeding on a beach a few days after, and I’ve been to far off exotic places in this world.  What could be more fascinating that that?

Magic, it looks like total blackness, but I promise it was spectacular, click here to listen to the video.....

We walked down to the beach where a river met the ocean and went inland.  We walked along the shore of the river and all of a sudden Sam started running and in the sand his feet lit up.  He splashed the water and millions of little lights were in each splash.  There were fish in the water and he’d kick up the water and scare them and all the little lights would flicker.  Your feet imprints stayed illuminated as you stepped in the sand, even the curl of the mini waves would light up.  It was fascinating.  There were tiny little phosphorus microbes in the water, millions of them everywhere.  Some inside fish, others just in the water, glowing and sparkling like magic.  I was blown away!  We walked further along the shore playing in the water with out feet, over rocks and upstream.  All of a sudden we heard a blowing sound, like water out a spout, and sure enough we could just make out the outline of a dolphin arcing out of the water, swimming up stream to feed.  The dolphin scared all the fish, so they jumped and scurried out of the way, again completely lit up, enhancing this phenomenon I was experiencing.  Granted it was completely black and the phosphorus was glowing bright light, I took picture after picture, trying all the different settings on my camera, but not a single one of them turned out.  I even shot videos, and the only thing you can see or hear is our conversation and us laughing.  Sam has got a great sense of humor and is a wonderful story teller.  He kept me laughing and smiling the whole night, taking advantage of the fact I fell for almost anything he said- yes, I’m that gullible!

The only evidence I have we were actually on the beach!

Sam, was a sweetheart.  At the end of our little expedition in the friendliest and funniest voice, he stopped, put out his cheek and asked for a kiss, telling me that seeing the phosphorus wasn’t free! Had these words come from some other guy trying to pull a fast one, he wouldn’t have been so lucky.  But hey, Sam was worthy of a little kiss on the cheek! He made me laugh.  What a memorable quote at the end of a totally magical (and definitely random) night.  I don't have any photos to show for it, nothing but what is in my head, a wonderful memory for a special evening! You see, tonight, or today rather, is a very special day for me on my trip.  The 23rd of March marks the halfway point on my loong way home.  Seven month ago today, I left Barcelona heading to Eugene, Oregon.  I wanted to do something special to celebrate, in fact, I wanted to make it down to the beach to write in the sand to document this day, but as this trip has showed me, sometimes you never know what is up just ahead of you or in store for your on the road.  The life of a tour cyclist is always filed with surprises!  Just shy of 7 months from now, if all goes as planned (ie. I don’t meet anymore Sam’s who sweep me off my feet with phosphorus microbes) I will roll up to 2460 Pioneer Pike in Eugene, Oregon on my 35th birthday.  I can’t even begin to fathom the experiences that lie ahead of me between here, Pambula, and Eugene, Oregon

Here's my official treat for the 7 month anniversary! Last cafe for the next 110 km.


  1. What a wonderful day... Happy 7month anniversary.... I so enjoy reading your adventures... Continued safe travels... //pattyC -- Angela's mom

  2. Oh wow, that is amazing!! I want to add this to our list of places to visit when we go to Australia, were the kangaroos and the phosphorous microbes both at Pambula beach?