Saturday, March 19, 2011

No Japan so a bit of a pit stop

We've been in Perth long enough now to have forgotten when we actually got here. I guess that's as settled as you can be when you're on the road. I was meant to be flying from here to Japan on Sunday night to do some work, but given the fallout from the earthquake, figuratively and literally, my trip has been cancelled. I was all prepared to go but the Japanese financial institution that I was going to be doing the work for decided to pull the pin and postpone the implementation. I guess they thought that with everybody already panicking around the place, the last thing they needed was to add to it by having their computer system down if something went wrong. People unable to buy tickets to get out of town just before the nuclear plant goes up is probably not what they need right now. But had they not cancelled it, I would have been hopping on to a plane on Sunday night bound for Osaka, totally confident that I would be fine. Perhaps with a slight concern about the prediction of another big quake to hit the country over the coming days or weeks, but with a bit of perspective on the media frenzy and the fear that they love to spread. Things just always seem a lot worse when you are far away, seeing the most graphic images continually pumped into your home by the media who seem to salivate at the ratings bonanza that such events bring. It's an undoubted disaster for Japan and you wouldn't catch me flying in to Fukushima Daiichi right now, but Osaka, some 700km away, seems pretty safe to me. Just don't breathe the air or drink the water or eat the food and you'll be fine.

In 1989 I was in California during the big earthquake they had there. I was on a training course down in Santa Clara when it hit late in the afternoon, just before the World Series got underway at Candlestick Park. Game one of the historic Bay Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's. I heard a rumbling coming from above before I felt anything. Like a number of elephants on the floor up had decided to move a couple of pianos. And then things started to shake. "Get away from the windows", we were told. That seemed a pretty good tip, so I made my way across the floor which was wobbling around like a bowl of jelly. It felt amazing. I'd never experienced anything like it. Sort of like a ride at Luna Park that you didn't even have to pay for. I loved it! When I got out of the building I was completely buzzing with the adrenaline and to the shock of others, was claiming that I wished we could do all that again. It was only when I saw the footage of the broken Bay Bridge with cars hanging off the edge, the marina district in flames and the 880 freeway that had collapsed and squashed a number of people that I thought I should call Mum and let her know I was fine. The events on TV, while catastrophic for some, seemed a million miles from what I'd experienced. And it certainly wasn't going to be footage of me joyfully bouncing around the floor as if on a water bed that was going to be beamed into homes around the world. The earthquake did play on my mind though at various stages later in my trip. Aftershocks continued for days and when driving across the Golden Gate late at night, it seemed a long way down if an earthquake should strike and take the bridge down with me attached.

So without a trip to Japan now, there is some rescheduling to do. We've decided to stay in Perth a little longer to do some required maintenance on the van and the car. One or more of the batteries in the van seems to have packed it in making it almost essential at the moment for us to be camped somewhere that has electricity for us to plug into. Our fully charged batteries, four of them, connected to four solar panels, can run two LED lights and the fridge for a few hours before starting to flash red, indicating that they are about to conk out. So something is seriously wrong there. I'm hoping that just one battery is dragging the others down, as they are pretty pricey to replace. We'll see when we get them tested. I also need to look into what we need to do to the car to set it up for a bit of offroad adventuring when we start our trek north. That needs to be balanced with the cost and also with the likelihood of being seriously offroad with either a pregnant woman or a newborn baby. Hmmm... what to do? The list is potentially long. In my Utopian world, baby or no baby we are driving down the Gibb River Road and that may require new shocks, new tyres, a wheel holder to get the wheel out from under the vehicle, a winch, some roofracks and driving lights - probably don't need them, but everyone else seems to have them so how can I not want them - and some good recovery gear in case we get stuck. Plus perhaps an emergency beacon thingy in case it all gets really out of hand. That list is a bucket full of money, so not sure how far we'll go. But at the very least I need to get the car serviced for a big trip. In the van we need some new insect screens and fridge door shelves to replace the casualties that have occurred along the way. Maybe also pick up some crocodile repellent for when we get to the Kimberley. There's a caravan and camping show on in Perth this weekend where they'll have all this stuff plus loads of things I couldn't even imagine. Maybe we'll go down there and check it out. That is while we're not lying back on the pure white sand of beautiful Scarborough Beach, taking in some fine weather and dipping periodically in to the surf. That's one thing I love about this trip. When the weekend comes, we're in some very very nice places for a good day out.

No comments: