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Mike's Magical Mystery Tour

a travel blog by Mike_Veine

This is my blog for keeping my friends and family in touch with my adventures as I travel the world!
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1st Post

Portland, United States

Hi all, this is my first post in my travel blog for my friends and family and it has been a great day to stay inside!

Today I worked on ordering the beer for my Bon Voyage Party on May 11th, I am getting a cornelius keg from Upright Brewing of their #5 beer which is an IPA.

The weather outside sucks...wind is howling and it looks pretty wet. I will be moving from rainy 50+ degrees Farenheit to rainy 10+ degrees Celcius so not much change except Summer is coming here and winter is deepening in Melbourne, AU...damn.

In mid July I should be in Cairns, AU near The Great Barrier Reef and in the Tropic of Capricorn which will be much warmer and drier.

That' s all for now....more when I have my party.

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on May 3, 2012 from Portland, United States
from the travel blog: Mike's Magical Mystery Tour
tagged Portland, RainyDays and 1stPost

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Going away Party and Packing

Portland, United States

Time to write again...well, I had my going away party on May 11th and since Mother's Day was on May 13th several friends brought their Mom's which was a really nice touch.
I had a keg from Upright Brewing and my roommate Rob made Mojito's which were a huge hit. Menu included Sturgeon with sour cream, capers and red onion on crackers; Vegetarian Jambalya with cooked shrimp or Andoullie Sausage on the side for carnivores to add in; and slow cooked BBQ'ed Brisket. Homemade Pecan Pie and a Chocolate Fudge cake rounded out the desserts with some cheesecake my friend Diane brought and RJ brought chips and a veggie tray. So no one went hungry!

Thanks to everyone who came out to help me celebrate!

Now on the 16th I have completed some big things to prepare for the move. I have my Australian Bank account setup which was a pain and today I boxed my bike. Unfortunately I could not get as much in the box with it as I had hoped so more sorting and thinning. Tomorrow a non-profit group my friend Louisa turned me on to will come and pick up a donation of camping gear and other stuff that I have which will help reduce the pile in the garage. Now that the bike is done I hope to get another big bag packed soon. My date to leave, June 5th, is still aways off but I like to have things together so I can slack off. That's all for now!

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on May 16, 2012 from Portland, United States
from the travel blog: Mike's Magical Mystery Tour
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Last Day in USA

Portland, United States

Today is the day I leave...I am nervous, but excited as well and I know that this adventure will help me grow and change to be a better and wiser man.

Thanks to all my friends who have met up, partied, helped me get rid of stuff and in general made my life transition easier this past month; I will miss you all.

My life's possessions are now whittled down to a bike box, two large suitcases and two carry on size suitcases (which still seems like a lot of stuff).

I will try to take a picture of the stuff at the curb before I load it and put it with this post later so I can remember the effort it took.

Next Post from Downunder and sharing the new living situation with you!

Cheers for now, Mike

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on June 5, 2012 from Portland, United States
from the travel blog: Mike's Magical Mystery Tour
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I am in Melbourne!

Melbourne, Australia

I arrived on June 7th Australia date and everything went smoothly with my baggage and bike getting through quarantine and surviving the flight.

My friend, Carl, was at the Airport waiting for me with his UTE which is a small flatbed truck with a cage on the back. We loaded my stuff in the cage and put a homemade cover over it to keep the rain out. It is winter here and cold and wet and dark. Very much like Portland in the Fall. Gets dark at 6pm.

I am living in a 40x25x10 corrugated shed with a wood stove and electricty. It is on the property of Carl's friends- Mike and Haike. Carl has a fold out couch he sleeps on and I have a futon mat on the floor. I have not really had a problem with jet lag.

The area we are in now is not very bike friendly with no shoulders and I need to acclimate to riding on the Left side of the road so it will be awhile before I am on the bike again. They do have some bike lanes in other areas, but spotty. The suburb we are in is called Belgrave. There are over 150 named suburbs of Melbourne which really surprised me! Belgrave is about an hour East of downtown Melbourne.

I was delighted to see the beautiful birds they have here. Cockatoos are wild and so are some very striking scarlet and blue parrots. Haike says the parrots will eat out of Mike's hand so I may try this.

I will add some pictures of the area later and now I will post pics of the UTE and Shed.

We will be moving to another friends House where I can sleep in the House on Monday which is a Holiday for the Queen's Birthday. Hopefully we can get a two bedroom place later in the week, but it is a pain here like anywhere applying for rentals.

I have a phone number for contact now and will share it if you email me and ask.

That's it for now, Cheers to all!

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on June 9, 2012 from Melbourne, Australia
from the travel blog: Mike's Magical Mystery Tour
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Whoo Hoo got a House and a Guitar on the same day!

Melbourne, Australia

Today was a really cool day...signed the papers on a three bedroom duplex and randomly found a beautiful Fender Acoustic Guitar in a small music shop.

The house is in Bayswater which is an Eastern suburb of Melbourne about an hour from the CBD (Central Business District) which is what they call Downtown. We will be able to move in on 6/23 so still staying with Carl's friend Shane until then in the little village of Sassafrass.

Shane's place is a small two bedroom house that he calls a cabin. The funny thing about it is it is a prefab that was made in OREGON so, I am walking around on Douglas Fir floors right now! Small world, huh? Shane works as a gardner on some of the expensive estates in this area. We are living in a mecca for hikers and outdoor enthusisasts in Melbourne and for tourists looking for a little country life. It is very beautiful here. The village of Sassafrass is basically a tourist attraction with antique shops, tea shops, little restaurants, and trinket shops.

We moved here from Mike and Heike's on Sunday night and spent Tues., Wed. and Thurs. house hunting. Most places were not so great, but the one we liked best for being newest, most spacious and in the best neighborhood is the one we were accepted for. I will post pics of it when we move in. Friends will loan some furniture and I am looking for deals on Gumtree.com.au which is like Craigslist in the states.

The move in date keeps me on schedule for leaving on my trip North in the middle or last week on July depending on how quickly I get my act together. So that is good.

Finding the guitar was pure serendipity, Carl has a problem with viral conjunctivitis in his left eye since before I arrived and he wanted to go to his Doctor and get it looked at and while he did that I wandered into a tiny music shop. I started looking at guitars and the brands were all unfamiliar and then I saw a Fender six string acoustic sitting on a rack away from the "For Sale" guitars on the wall.

The man who owned the store is named "Heinz" and he is from Austria originally, nice guy a little older than me. He said the guitar was a resale they had just inspected and done a little work on and it was not even priced yet. I picked it up and it felt and sounded just right for me...love at first string! Heinz and I made a deal and I got what looks like a Crocodile leather hardcase for it included with the guitar. I will take a pic and post it when I can get it out in the daylight for a good shot.

You cannot imagine how happy I am to have found it and to make a little music over here. So all in all a very nice day!

Tonight I've got the cabin all to myself, Shane and Carl are both out on dates so a little peace and quiet is nice. i will post some pics of the area around Sassafrass and of Carl's creepy eye for your amusement and amazement.

Remember, you can post comments here for me to see if you want instead of sending me emails about the blog! Cheers!

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on June 15, 2012 from Melbourne, Australia
from the travel blog: Mike's Magical Mystery Tour
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Moving Weekend and Earthquake

Melbourne, Australia

This is going to be an exciting and difficult weekend. Tonight I am picking up the keys to the new House and starting to move in.

It has been raining hard pretty much non stop for three days now with no let up in sight so much like moving in Portland!

Carl and I are scrounging furniture from friends and I bought a futon and a washing machine and should get a dryer (that most exotic of beasts) today hopefully. So tonight I may be sleeping in my own place finally.

Heike has also convinced me to make a Thanksgiving style Turkey dinner for the 4th of July which sounds fun. I will cook the turkey at her House and we will have her family and a German couple that are cousins and an Indian foreign exchange student.

Wednesday night we had an earthquake that was a 5.5 with an epiCenter only about 60 Miles from here. Shane's cabin started shaking and the noise was so extreme and the shaking so violent that I thought we were having a landslide because of all the rain and the hills around this place. I ran to the Center of the room expecting mud to come shooting through some window at any time. Carl had been in Christchurch, NZ for the big earthquakes they had so he was less affected, but it was kind of scary.

So I have at least three days of moving in the rain to look forward to...yuk.

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on June 21, 2012 from Melbourne, Australia
from the travel blog: Mike's Magical Mystery Tour
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Turkey Dinner and Trip Prep!

Melbourne, Australia

Today is a big day...I booked the first stage of my travel to Cairns to start my bicycle trip from Cairns to Darwin. I will be leaving by Greyhound Bus from Melbourne to Brisbane on July 20th for a 25 hour bus trip! Should be a hoot!!

Since blogging last I have been busy moving in, purchasing used furniture and outfitting the house to make it livable for the next year. That is all pretty much done now so to celebrate my first month in Australia I made another "ethnic" American dinner for my friends Mike and Haike.

I wanted to make a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner for the 4th of July (which would have been the 5th here), but I had not counted on the general inavailability of turkeys in this country. Apparently turkeys are only eaten for Christmas Dinner and not all the time so you cannot just go to a market and buy one. I ordered one special from the Belgrave butcher and even though I ordered a week early they couldn't get one until the 4th in the afternoon...so that changed the timetable and I picked Saturday since it was my one month anniversary in Australia.

When I picked up my Turkey on Thursday it weighed in at a whopping 3.76 Kilos or a little over 8 lbs. It looked like a large chicken. It cost $64.00 so it was the smallest, most expensive turkey ever! The upside is that it would cook in only about three hours so I did not have to start early to make it.

The menu for Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner was:

Turkey with Southern Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
Mashed Potatos and Homemade Turkey Giblet Gravy
Green Bean Cassarole
Cranberry Sauce
Dinner Rolls
Scratch Made Pumpkin Pies with Vanilla Ice Cream

Since they do not have canned pumpkin here either I had to steam fresh pumpkin and make a puree and drain the excess water to get the Pumpkin part. That was fun and made a really great flavor so I think I will always do this.

The 7th was also Mike's Mother's birthday so his Mom and Dad came to dinner and we celebrated that too. It was a very special, fun dinner and Haike contributed some delicious wine. And even though the turkey was small there were leftovers for other dinners and sandwiches.

So, to get back to the begining of the post...I will leave Melbourne on the 20th by bus to Brisbane and I am booking a sleeper on the Sunlander Express leaving Brisbane on Sunday, 22 July arriving 31 hours later in Cairns. I will start booking rooms and other stuff now that I have a timetable to work with spending 5-7 days in Cairns and on the coast camping before setting out on The Ride.

I have a riding plan that a private tour group uses with mileages and overnight stops and activities for each day and I will use it as a guide. If you would like to see it I can send it to your email in a PDF so let me know in comments here or please email me!

It looks like I will spend 30-35 days on the road, maybe longer if I take multiple rest days in one place because I like it. The route takes me East out of Cairns and then South and East to Mount Issa then North to Darwin.

From Darwin I will take The Ghan outback train to Alice Springs and a bus to The Rock in Uluru. After that I will take the train from Alice Springs to Adelaide and either take a bus from there or have Carl meet me for a road trip.

So more before leaving and then more from the road soon.

Thanks for reading! Pics of the Little Turkey added as well.

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on July 10, 2012 from Melbourne, Australia
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Leaving Melbourne Tomorrow

Melbourne, Australia

Hi All...Well, organizing and getting gear for my bike ride from Cairns to Darwin is done and all that is left to do is pack up and catch the bus tomorrow evening. Spent the past two days chasing last minute stuff and seeing if it will all fit. Everything seems good.

I will spend two days in Brisbane now because my train doesn't leave until Monday evening arriving Cairns on Tuesday evening. While I am in Brisbane I will probably go to the Art Museum and maybe catch a movie. I am staying in hostels in Brisbane and Cairns but I have a private room in Cairns for two nights and maybe three. I will check out the diving and snorkeling boat trips before heading North of Cairns for a couple of camping nights somewhere near the beach hopefully, crocodiles permiting!

Then the Ride begins and I estimate 28- 30 days of riding and 5-8 rest days depending on where I am and what there is to see. I considered taking the less improved and more isolated Northern Route (which is 600-700 K shorter), but one look at Google Earth convinced me that the Southern Route on sealed roads is adventurous and isolated enough!

The main climbing is on the second day at the end and is moderate but long and then it is a short descent and a fairly flat ride across the desert. The temperature today in Mt. Isa which is deep in the desert middle of nowhere and my approximate Halfway point was a low of 10.9C/ 51f and a high of 22.3C/ 70.9F, with light to moderate winds (22- 30Kph) from the S-SE so no big deal. I should be there before August 14th maybe as early as the 10th so still time for plenty of weather changes.

i am posting a pic of me and the guitar (which I will miss) and one of my gear piled up so you can see what I am carrying.

From now on any posts will be made from my IPhone or an Internet cafe.

I will try to update every 4 days or so and post pics when I can as well.

Wish you were here!

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on July 19, 2012 from Melbourne, Australia
from the travel blog: Mike's Magical Mystery Tour
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Traveling notes

Brisbane, Australia

Day on bus memories

Lots of flat ranch land like going from PDX to Salem but with different trees and cactus by the roadside. I saw emus sheep and cattle and lots of birds. Two memorable sights- a tiny church graveyard with a young blond woman kneeling in the middle of it and an extremely shaggy white pony loping down a hill. Bus was not too bad got 4-5 hours of sleep but it gets monotonous.

Brisbane notes
Reminds me of Portland with a River and Bridges and an esplanade with runners and cyclists. Good weather. Uncomfortable room share with 3 Irish girls on a 7 week holiday and top bunk in dirty hostel. Cockroach city.

Met two girls named Carherine at breakfast. They had been fitness walking and we ended up eating at the same west end sidewalk cafe. One of the Catherines was going to a food and wine festival in the Southbank which is like Portland's waterfront park so I met up with her and and friend for walking and wine and cheese. Later she took me to the oldest hotel in Brisbane which was famous for their steaks and I had a good dinner.

I went to two art museums. One had a show of women artists of Australia and the other had a traveling collection from The Prado, a Spanish museum that has the art collection of the kings of Spain going back to the 15th Century. This show was only exhibiting paintings.

I enjoyed the women's art more probably because it was more varied in type of works and more contemporary. 

Then leaving Brisbane onto the Tilt train to Cairns. Saw a Joey for the first time right after I woke up on the train. We left Brisbane at 6:25pm for a 24 hour trip. Lots of fields of sugar cane some hills and saw the Ocean in the distance. 

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on July 23, 2012 from Brisbane, Australia
from the travel blog: Mike's Magical Mystery Tour
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Last post before the ride

Cairns, Australia

Hi All,

I'm using notepad on my iPhone and my rubber keyboard to make this posting. This will be my way on the trip and it actually works pretty well!

I am in Cairns now (pronounced CANS) and I have a large private room at a hostel for only 39 a night! Better than Motel 6.

I slept really well after the 24 hour train ride and even woke up at 4:30 AM which will be about the time I get up on the ride every morning. Today I booked a diving and snorkeling excursion to the Reef for tomorrow and it will last pretty much all day. When I get back I will load up all my panniers and plan to start just after sunup for the first leg.
I have everything I need now and even purchased another phone from a company that has better reception in the Outback. 

I got the bike all put back together and test rode it and she is fine.

I was up so early today that I even wrote a short Story I've been meaning to do and I am considering putting a second "trip" on this site just for my short stories. For now please just email me at mveine7@gmail.com or comment in the comments section of the blog.

The 27th is GO Day and my first stop will be a town called Mareeba a short 60k but with climbing out of the coast through a coastal range so I should still get a good workout for the first day.

More from the road in two or three days if I have service.

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on July 24, 2012 from Cairns, Australia
from the travel blog: Mike's Magical Mystery Tour
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