Well, that’s day one’s travel done. By the time I’d packed the car and ran some errands it was about 11am before I left - being unable to stop hugging my cat Charlie probably didn’t help either :'(
I’m following the M1 down the east coast because it’s the easiest route and seems to be the most direct anyway There’s also plenty of towns and places to stop if I need to, which is a comfort considering the condition of the car that I’m driving.
Speaking of cars, I probably should have updated more about the gemini project, but bleh. It’s officially shelved until further notice, and will probably be scrapped entirely. In a few months the mazda’s likely to give up the ghost or get to a point where it’s going to need a large amount of money poured into it to keep it on the road. The clutch is failing, the CV joints need doing, the stem seals are leaking and it’s generally a piece of junk. The TD isn’t much better, with obvious rust repairs that have been done, loads of surface rust and other issues that need to be sorted out, and it’s not even registered yet.
At this point I’m going to DIY (not dodgy) repair the mazda until it gets unmaintainable, and by then I should have myself back in a position to find another (good) car to buy and drive. Something cheap, plain and easy to maintain while being reliable.
Currently I have to leave the fan setting on “heat” while driving the Mazda for more than a short distance at highway speeds otherwise it gets hotter and hotter and boils the water out of the system - something I avoid now I know how to fix it. I don’t know why it does it, there has been mention of the coolant system having air in the top of it, a possible thermostat issue or otherwise, but I haven’t been in a position to test either of these things lately, so that’s something to sort out later. At the moment it’s fine to drive all day like that as long as I don’t put the windows up and turn the car into a mobile sweat box.
Right now I’m sitting in the Park Drive Motel, a three star hotel on the river in a town called Kempsey, which is about 100km south of Coffs Harbour in New South Wales. I’d originally planned to stop at Grafton, but by then it was only about 3:30ish, then I planned to stop at Coffs, but then it was only about 4:30ish… then I planned to stop at Nambucca Heads, but it was a hole and I thought I could get a nicer place for cheaper. The only place there with a vacancy wanted $55/night for an on-site caravan with no facilities or $80/night for a cabin with ensuite. Uh, no.
So, I kept driving, and ended up in Kempsey at about 7pm. Being a little worried about the possibility of getting food on a public holiday in a small town, and also about finding somewhere cheap with a vacancy I stopped at the first place I saw, and this is it. It’s not bad. Not exactly resort quality, but for $60 a night it’s got a queen sized bed, aircon that I’m not likely to need, views of the highway (and sounds) my own shower, a tv and a room well and truly big enough for me to swing several cats in a bag around. Considering it’s a place to sleep in and then keep travelling I’m happy 😀
The local Steak and Seafood place called The Flaming Steer has a seafood basket and a serve of wedges on its way to my room, so that should keep me fueled until I find a truck stop in the morning for a delicious greasy breakfast of pig and chicken bits.
According to the trip odometer on my GPS, I’ve done 490km so far - not a bad effort for a tiny little car full of stuff. I’ve probably gone through 3/4 of a tank of fuel which is pretty good - easy when it’s mostly highway k’s. I’m going to keep a track of the odometer readings and how much I’m using to work out how much it’s cost me to do this trip. The main killer for fuel usage is all the hills, other drivers (yay for it being a public holiday and lots of families on the road) and speed limit changes. Small towns are great, and there’s plenty of them on the trip, but can’t they just make a giant highway through all of them and just let us do 100km/h the whole way? 🙂 100-80-60-40-80-100-70-etc is annoying, I’d hate to be a long distance truck driver and have to do that all the time!
There isn’t many adventures to tell of really, I stopped in Ballina for lunch, and had a burger with bacon and some chips - two dollars buys you about two child-sized handfuls of low-quality chips, won’t be going back there again. Uh, I stopped somewhere for a smoke and a pee. That’s about it.