Monday, 4 August 2008

He Says - The weekend that changed our lives

Well this trip has been a long time in the coming; Nine years ago Tam and I went backpacking for several months and did a RTW “on foot”. Since then we both have had the urge to do it again, but could not see how to maintain a career and have the money ect.

Three years ago I got a job in the UK, and within days of landing I was on the look out for my dream bike. This bike was to be an African Twin, I had had one before during a brief employment in Germany but unfortunately they were not ever imported into Australia. So this purchase had two motives beyond simply having the need for a bike. The first was to bring it home to Aus, the second was to travel with it, with the dream of an around the world trip. Although due to work arrangements and finical constraints, I did not buy one for almost a year. It turned out to be a low mileage 2000 RD07a model.

We agreed that any and all modifications I made to the bike must be practical and for improving its tour-ability. I stuck to this with almost religious zeal, if you simply ignore all the fun I had making this and that and modify that to improve this. See religious zeal: i.e.- only paying attention and admitting to the parts of the story that prove me right. In true religious fashion we endowed the inanimate object with a name ANUBIS, and powers. (Truth is the naming was far less interesting … 1st time I rode home on the bike.. Tam looks at it and says “it looks like a big black dog, lets name it Anubis”. This was because we both always wanted a big black dog named Anubis, and my last Africa Twin was Dar Hund, so the dog theme fit.)

Tam and I have done a few trips on Anubis, out of the UK and a few with in the UK, and were getting very used to travelling on the bike. We talked about the idea of an around the world trip on the bike as well as just an overland trip back home to Australia. However, I always got the impression that it was more of a “yes dear that would be nice” , a pipe dream that neither of us thought would ever really happen, not really a plan. At the Horizons Unlimited meet 2008 everything changed. Due to a host of reasons, I had been extremely unhappy with my job for several months. I always felt that I was meant for more or meant to do something that mattered. Just prior to the meet my job hit rock bottom and it took arbitration to rescue it. The irony was that I fought for a job I no longer wanted. I won this dubious victory, only to feel like I lost far more.

Tam and I went to the meet with in a week or so later. This was to be my second meeting and Tam’s first. As I had volunteered to help (work) at the meeting, I by and large I left Tam alone. It was extremely interesting to watch Tam’s progression though out the weekend, when we could talk about what we had seen and done that day. Day one (Thursday night): Tam reported to me that she felt ” really out of place, around all these bikers”. Day two: she felt comfortable but intimidated by all the “really serious travellers and bikers” (she is not really a biker just likes to travel that way). Day three: really like it and felt everyone was extremely nice; Day four: although we have only done some shortish trips together, she felt “that the long trip was possible, and lets start to plan it!!”

That was it. That one weekend, that one sentence, and our lives changed! Over the next week or so ideas were bounced around (our jobs were taking 2nd or 3rd place in our heads and hearts. We discussed many ideas and realised that this trip does not just have to be fun, but we could and would use it to try and make a difference to ourselves and used our skills to help conservation efforts (not to mention start me on my new career path).