Wednesday 19th May 2010
Heavy rain, chance of nothing nice at all..
Thursday 20th May 2010
More heavy rain, possible chance of misery and woe
Friday 21st May 2010
Heavy rain with patches of severe disappointment in the afternoon. It was about this time I was expecting an email from Mike announcing the weekend was off, perhaps even a final wrap up but nothing came. Against the odds, and better judgement, it sounded like it was going ahead.
Saturday 22nd May 2010
Sam arrived at my house at an ungodly 6am, although this is the time we agreed I can't help feeling resentment toward everything that has ever happened before 7am breakfast will not be served on this flight, not for a while. By 6:45 we've got Dave and we're underway down to Kangaroo 'Deliverance' Valley (insert the sounds of a banjo here). You wouldn't believe it but the weather was good, or at least was looking good from such a ridiculously early vantage.
The Kayaking was scheduled for 9:30am, or '9:30am LATEST' as it was noted in Captain Mike's itinerary. Despite this, Owen, Jules, Al and Pete managed to arrive at the kayak site at a casual 10:30am after enjoying a delicious gourmet breakfast in Wollongong. Excuses ranged from 'we got lost' to 'it was all we could find' and included 'we thought it said 10:30' but this last excuse really doesn't work when you're telling us this with the printed itinerary in hand.
They copped two minutes of grief and by 10:32 the first round of beer had been dealt. The sun was out and the first sunny day in a week was being had.
The guys from the kayak hire place didn't seem to mind our tardiness and we were on our way down to the water by 11:30am. Everyone had been allocated a sealed barrel to keep things dry and we managed to stow these in the trailer with the kayaks but the 9 cases of beer, 5 bottles of spirits, various 'boxes' of wine and the 20kg whole lamb had to ride up front in the bus, just for safe keeping.
The bus driver knew the roads, and the speed limit seemed a distant memory when Gary hears a noise from behind and feels something moving now I know what you're thinking here but it's much too early in the trip for that in our haste, one of the kayaks stacked on the trailer had come loose and was hanging off the trailer with it's nose dragging on the road. Gary squealed (like a pig) and the driver backed out of warp speed and pulled over good thing the beer was upfront or this weekend could have been over before it began.
We were at the water with all kayaks loaded and afloat by midday. There were 12 of us and we had five double kayaks to hold the camp gear and personal effects and two single kayaks which were aptly dubbed the 'beer barges'. Ahead of us lay 24km's of paddling and the camp site was just over half way, I was already 3 beers happy.
Some people seemed more proficient with a paddle than others, namely everyone but me and shortly before our lunch stop the trip had suffered it's first casualty Me. I'd managed to get into the beer barge, i'd managed the paddling but getting out was as yet untested. I paddled up to shore, everyone was there looking on as I was last, and i'd managed to park the nose of the kayak on the river bank. Somehow, in only 6 inches of water I managed to roll the entire thing and completely submerge myself. Thankfully the beer was safely sealed in the fore and aft sections of the kayak so no serious casualties, the only casualties here would have been my pride but thankfully I had left this at home.
While I'm aware this weekend has been organised by a Dive club I'd like to point out that I am the only non dive qualified participant so perhaps this kayaking thing was not the greatest idea on earth. Thankfully the weather was warm and sunny and being completely soaked was not much of an issue at this point.
As this was a blokes weekend the beards were already growing, wind was being passed at every opportunity and the entire landscape had become a toilet. We were well into the second case of beer.
The second casualty was about to cop it, this time though he was not alone in tragedy. Having been deemed unsafe to operate a single kayak I had been demoted to operating the bow of a double kayak with Dave as my co-pilot. Somehow, during a complex bottle of beer passing manoeuvre, Dave and I leaned to the same side and the kayak rolled. Barrels, tents and camp chairs were scattered around like ash perhaps that's an exaggeration but shit went everywhere, thankfully most of it was floating but Gary's tent made a dash for the bottom. The only casualty in this tragedy was my digital camera but it has since been resurrected in an emergency silica gel compression chamber that I made using a heat lamp and a tea towel, the A-Team never made anything that good. Dave I hear is making good progress and should be back on solid foods inside of a month.
Once the kayak was reloaded we were back on track and were nearing the campsite. The last leg of the paddle was quite serene and uneventful and we managed to make it to shore by 4pm which left enough time to build Casa del Tento. It was at this point that everyone realised that Al should come with a warning label, this man can build a fire from anything and has probably had a hand in designing anything requiring an atomic detonation. The only way to look at this fire was through a pin hole in some A4 paper as Al had managed a fire as hot and bright as the sun inside of 10 minutes. Sam was also helping prep the area around the fire in case someone needed to sleep there. Pete was already onto his second hat, this one more tragic than the first.
Rick and Ben C. also dug the pit for the lamb and had the heat beads warming up in preparation for the lamb, things were shaping up nicely.
I don't know what happened to the third case but we'd just finished our fourth case of beer and many were caught taking glimpses at the spirits as the sun went down.
The lamb was on and was quoted at 2 hours cooking time but my education as it pertains to time must be somewhat different to Rick and Ben C as 5pm + 2 hours = Midnight is not how I remember. Thankfully Jules had the foresight to prepare and bring some entre in the shape of tomato soup and bread rolls which surely saved us from drawing straws for a cannibal sacrifice.
We set about cooking the soup and this, while not involving a kayak in anyway, would see casualty number 3. Butane gas cylinders, lighters and drunk english men are not well known for being 'good combinations' and an issue with camp stove ignition brought out the lighter. A mushroom cloud, medium sized ground fire and singed eyebrows later it was becoming clear who was here for for entertainment purposes only Me again. Mike was heard to repeatedly state how glad he was that I was there and how my series of orchestrated Kramer style moments had assured me an entry ticket next year. Joy.
Thankfully though, we had two backup camp stoves and the soup was saved by Owen and Ross with their Tragn Tralga Trangia whatever, their camp stove things
The camp chairs had been arranged in a horseshoe surrounding the fire and it was becoming clear who was getting quite inebriated, pretty much everyone. The first 1litre bottle of Jack Daniels was gone and hundreds of beer cans were being recycled in the fire, watching aluminium wither and die in the midst of Pyro Al's 5000 fire was quite calming. Ross, Owen and Rick decided that now was a good time for a skinny dip and, despite being unable to convince anyone else of how good an idea it was, were naked within seconds. I'd just like to point out that the rest of were rugged up in thermals, ski jackets, gloves and beanies which gives you an idea of how enticing the offer was. Three moonlit bums waded into the river. The sensibilities must have kicked in for Ross and Owen who were back and next to fire within 5 minutes but Rick was pronounced lost when he didn't return after 10 minutes. Normal people, normal sober people, would have gone searching but given the alcohol in our systems Rick was dubbed a casualty of the trip and a small ceremony was held, this consisted of Gary and I opening another bottle of Jack Daniels and Dave stealing Ricks chair.
15 minutes later Rick returned, he had actually decided it a good idea to swim to the other side of the river and back which was no mean feat, even if he was sober. Rick, thanks for this, had immediately put his undies back on when returning to the camp but Ross and Owen were still stood next to the fire in their birthday suits. I think Ross was having trouble figuring out how his clothes actually worked.
Owen was still stood naked when an empty of bottle of Coke was thrown onto the fire with the lid on. The heat caused the bottle to explode and shoot like a rocket into Owen's back which saw him run off squealing into the night. We would not see him again.
Two bottles of Jack, 6 cases of beer, 2 bottles of coke and a bottle of Jamesons lay in our wake. The Lamb is still not ready but I was pretty much cooked.
Now I'm under no illusions as to why I was tasked with writing this report, sure I can throw a few words together but my redeeming feature for this trip report was not my word smithing. The fact that I was well cooked by 8:30pm and in bed shortly after left no possible way for stories outside of my knowledge to make their way to this website. Some very shrewd delegation on Mike's part, obviously covering for some covert gay key-swapping party to commence after my departure.
The next morning I was up at 7am, Owen and Al were up already. Al was looking after his fire once more, making sure there was enough heat for bacon and eggs. Slowly over the course of the next two hours everyone, in various states of awake, crawled from their nylon hives. My tent was dubbed 'ChunderDome' in homage to the sufferings it had endured in the night and the next hour was spent restoring my iPhone to a functional state.
Sam had come sans tent for the weekend and was found at 3am sleeping 2 inches from the roaring embers of the fire, he is said to be recovering well from smoke inhalation. Gary slept face down in the remains of his Lamb ribs he hadn't eaten much in his sleep as there was still a full plate but he claimed it was intended for 'midnight snacking' and not as a pillow.
Ben C, armed with Excalibur, made light work of breakfast and had 12 delicious bacon and egg butty's being passed around in no time. Everyone was awake by this point, the smell of breakfast had reanimated the remaining few.
Various stories of the night were banded around, and some new revelations of Owen having DM's with his own crap were discussed, I think the poor chap was under the impression that this was quite normal but 11 blank faces said otherwise. Ross revealed his ability to eat 11 Cadbury's Cream Eggs in 1 minute, sadly though this was not backed up with a practical demonstration.
This trip would see one more casualty, and thankfully this time it was not me. It later came to light that on the exact same day, at the exact same time, in that exact location on the exact same trip last year this same exact Mike had rolled his Kayak, this must have become his signature accident. The exception this year was the unwitting inclusion of Rick who, in retaliation for merely seeing the event, was barrel rolled into the water with his kayak and it's contents. It took another fire from Pyro Al to thaw them out.
I think everyone involved had a great weekend, and i'm sure a lot more details will come to light as time progresses but for now the period between 8:30pm and 7:00am the following morning will be referred to as Captain Mike's period of 'Deliverance'. Sadly I also have to report that we managed to come home with 2 cases of beer, next year we'll do better. Mike also managed to use 2 full bottles of lube but has also claimed that next year he'll do better.
It is at this point of writing this report that I realise my word count has far exceeded BSAC standard so I will wrap it up with as masculinely few words as possible.