On the Road Again

Trip Start Jan 16, 2014
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Trip End Jun 01, 2014


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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Monday, February 3, 2014

"Not all those who wander are lost" - J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday morning, after saying our goodbyes, as Russ and Jo headed off to teach and Sam and Gaylen headed off to learn, I caught up on some planning, wrote a bit for this blog and watched some of that horrendous Super Bowl via a website...yup, Super Bowl Monday!

By the afternoon I was back on the road, heading South along the coast to Ben Boyd National Park, specifically to a camping area and surf spot named Saltwater, which was pretty remote, and had only 14 camp sites...so odds are that it would not be crowded.

Following about a three hour drive and then picking up some supplies, I headed down a long, winding dirt road and finally I was there...Unfortunately the surf wasn't...however I was not expecting it to be as Russ and I analyzed the charts and swell predictions for the upcoming a week...and it wasn't looking good for this part of the coast.

What a bummer, I thought as I witnessed a perfect 1ft waves peeling across a picturesque bay...I can only envision how good this place gets and given the location, I would imagine the crowd factor is next to nil!

The camp ground host and her niece came over to warmly welcome me...and she confirmed, as she boogie boards, that she has witnessed and surfed days which could make the cover of any surf magazine out there...and with no one else around.

They were both so very kind and I had not brought any firewood, so she offered for me to take as much as I wanted from her...which made the perfect source for cooking my slab of Ribeye over which I then smothered with blue cheese and topped with sautéed mushrooms.

Some of my most cherished times, back when I slept in my tent almost as much as my bed, was cooking over an open fire and it seems since moving from Colorado to San Diego, my camping days have been reduced by about 99%. This was an absolute treat and made me reminisce to those days, after hiking in the mountains or rafting a river, setting up camp and eating like a King.

At sunrise the next morning, I walked down to the beach, fingers crossed, wishing, hoping, praying....I can hear some waves....its gonna be there....perfection....no one out....I can feel it.....and...nada!

The campground host was once again so very generous....she could see how bad I wanted to surf, so she offered me the use of a kayak so I could at least go for a paddle up the creek and get some sort of aquatic "fix." I went quite a ways...I really felt as if I was in the middle of nowhere....and the reality is that I was in the middle of nowhere. As I stopped paddling, you could hear nothing but nature all around....such a sweet "silence"...no sounds of cars, planes, construction and uh, leaf blowers!

That afternoon I set out on a section of the Point to Point coastal trail. Holy crap was this spectacular. There were sections were lava rock met granite rock then BAM....a layer of quartz dissected the two with a section of cobble stone strewn overtop....it was, at least as far as I know, akin to walking on another planet. Around every corner a new vista, the Sea crashing into the cliffs below, the wind howling to the point of feeling you could be taken away...and absolute complete isolation. Once again, another long hike...with not a soul in site...solitude is bliss!

After a hearty pasta dinner, some wine and an evening stroll on the beach, it was off to sleep. After all, I had to get up early because there was going to be epic surf....right?

The next morning, I could hear the surf even louder that the previous day....I know today is the day...it is going to be going off! I think maybe my hearing was just a little better because the waves were just lapping up against the shoreline....oh well.

After packing up, I decided to drive as much as I could, as the coastline does not offer much between Ben Boyd Park and Melbourne, at least in the way of surf.

Peddle to the Meddle, I drove and drove and drove, stopping for a few breaks and dinner and after about 13 hours, it was time to sleep.

I made it past Melbourne, almost to the turnoff that would take me to the Great Ocean Road and to a series of places where the surf was expected to hit. I pulled off at a rest stop to sleep...a rest stop that was recommended in the book I had been given by the camper van company.

It was in a very small, sort of run down town and the area for campers to park was down a dirt road, no lights....and no other campers staying there, which I found odd because all the other rest areas I had stopped at had people staying there.

As I was about to doze off, an abnormal feeling came over me....something was just not right. I was assessing if I was just being stupid, maybe due to being so tired....or if there really was something wrong. I am a firm believer in going with your gut...and mine was saying to leave. It is not often I am faced with these sort of overwhelming feelings...but in this moment it was stronger than ever. I popped up, jumped behind the wheel and started to drive off.

As I headed out of the dark area, I could see two people in my headlights that would have were headed my way. Now for all I know, they were on a stroll through the park....at 1:00AM...or maybe having listened to Lone Survivor on audio book all day just put something in my head....either way, I was out of there, on to the next rest stop, one that provided a much better place to rest my head....and mind.

I slept in a bit the next morning, stocked up on a weeks supply of groceries, updated the blog and headed out for my journey along the Great Ocean Road...in search of surf and whatever else lies ahead....first stop, Johanna Beach.

What a drive getting there...reminds me of Central Coastal California where ranch land meets the coastland. Johanna offers free camping and some of the best beach breaks in Western Victoria. Given that is free, gone are the previous days of camping with no one else around, which was a nice change of pace in its own right.

Now, the list of people I am now starting to meet is growing rapidly as everyone around me is so friendly, talkative, from all parts of the globe...each with their own stories to tell. The younger French couple next to me were traveling for a year around Australia. The retired Australian couple on the other side of me were out enjoying life, no where particular to be.

Back in my home state of Texas, they say if you don't like the weather, wait a minute. Well my saying for Westen Victoria is that if you don't like the weather, wait a second. It changed so very often which also included gusting winds which was destroying the surf...but at least there was surf for a change...big, surging washer machine like surf, rip currents everywhere.

I met a super cool couple from Western Australia that had sold everything, packed up and headed out to explore the world, starting with their own country. These two, along with their dog Indo, were well stocked enough bad ass camping gear, they could open an REI outlet!

The next day, because the surf was blown out, I hiked the coastline, once again finding amazing discoveries around every corner. I ran into the same couple on the beach later that afternoon, and despite the surf conditions looking like class 6 white water river, we decided to head out to catch a few.

The water was moving around in so many directions, it was absolute chaos. We were attempting to get to this inside section, where the outside set waves that were closing out were reforming, offering a bit of face before slamming on to the beach.

Getting there was like swimming on a treadmill. In all my hours spent in the water, I have yet to encounter a current so strong. No wonder we were the only ones out with a campground packed with frothing hungry surfers. We finally managed to get through it, caught a few and then those outside closeout waves become sets of five, then eight, then 12....over and over, pounding us on the head. We agreed that it was time to wave the white flag...surf session turned into more of a swim session. People had actually gathered on the beach to watch....probably anticipating one of us drown. Well, I am not going to complain, I finally got a few waves and I would rest well this evening.

As I got back to camp, I chatted a bit with the retired couple next to me. We shared a few stories before I started making dinner...and then she came by with a gift. She gave me a greeting card that she had hand made that afternoon and expressed that this was something I could send to a loved one back home. I was completely taken back by this gesture, from someone that was a conversation apart from being a complete stranger. I thanked her....and as she walked off, I asked her, "ma'am, may I ask why you made this for me? I mean, you and I just met?"....and she looked at me and said, "there is just something special about you"...

For everyone that has left a comment or emailed me back regarding this blog, I send back the most massive THANK YOU! Uploading photos on crappy WIFI signals and putting this together on the road takes almost enough time to make me want to pull out my hair and just me keep this a personal journal. Receiving your feedback makes it all worthwhile and helps me to feel connected to everyone while I am miles and miles away.

Thanks for reading....the search for surf continues....
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Comments

Mom on

Thank you Greg for sharing your adventures with all of us. We are the ones that need to stay connected to you and so we so appreciate the time and effort you put into writing your blog in adverse conditions. You are one great writer. Continue to listen to your gut--- it is well formed.

dani on

I agree with your Mom!
I'm sure there are people like me, who not only enjoy these updates, but look forward to them! I feel like we are truly along for the ride and always excited to see how the next adventure unfolds. stay safe G!!

Scott Booth on

You could be pulling your hair out trying to upload listing pictures instead of kick ass vacation pictures so I don't feel bad for you!!

Pictures are awesome, keep them coming so I can live vicariously through you.

Scott Dahlberg on

Dude...the stories, pictures, thoughts and adventure is so great. Keep them coming, keep your wits about you, learn, live and have fun!

Marian Kunihisa on

Enjoying reading about your adventures and the pics are awesome!...glad you got out of there when your gut said to GO!! Stay safe...

Scott on

Loving the adventure, thank you!

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