TRIP REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 5-6, 2005
Trek Number: 10
Destination: "The Mountain"
Number of People: 15
Weather Conditions: Fine and Sunny.
Vehicles:

Toyota FJ62 Land Cruiser
Toyota HJ60 Land Cruiser
Mitsubishi NK Pajero
Toyota Corolla Seca
Toyota 90 Series Prado
Landrover Discovery TDi

Reviews: 2

 

Friday, February 4:

It's hard to believe just how quickly the time has passed since we ventured out on the very first 4WD BDSM Getaway! Weekend. This trek marks the commencement of the third year of sending squirrels into therapy (you want to know why there are no squirrels to be found in Australia? That's because they're all off into therapy), and so it's time for the Second Anniversary Formal D/s Dinner, to be held once again on The Mountain. The weather reports for the upcoming week looked good. Although Muswellbrook itself had been deluged with rain, the mountain slopes themselves had been spared, so it didn't look like we were going to need to do any contingency planning.

This trek was to have a mixture of some regular, and some new, faces. It's also the trek to have the largest contingent of people we've had along to date.

The Canberra crew of Tn & j had taken the Friday off, and had left Canberra at noon in their HJ60, with the idea of being at the homestead by late evening. Along with them was M, an old acquaintance of mine, who was originally going to drive her car up from Canberra and meet up at my place, but I decided to make life easier for her (see how considerate and compassionate I am?) by having her join Tn & j at their place and having her come up with them in their truck instead. I consider M to be one of the world's best flogger makers, and I remember the day I picked up Mr. Redhide from her in mid 1998, when she went to great lengths to explain that I had to "be very careful using it" (in a battle between Mr. Redhide and a chainsaw, the chainsaw would lose) as it is a very heavy flogger. I also fondly remember having tea at her house in Canberra a few years later, where she told me that if she "had known how you were going to use it, I would never have made it for you!"

I just didn't understand her concern - surely she knew I was a shy, gentle, harmless, retiring, wallflower?

Another new face was jh, who had seen this trek advertised on the SydBDSM mailing list, and was meeting up with us at the Mobil service station in Muswellbrook, along with F, who has been with us before at the first Formal D/s Dinner some twelve months ago. I told them to expect us at around 2230 hours. They said they'd have the Pajero there by 2100.

Two other new faces were RopeJ and MrD. RopeJ is very good with rope, so where better to take him than to the Mountain with its barn? MrD is visiting Australia for a year from Colorado, as part of the Dominant's Cultural Exchange Program, and since November of last year, I have seen him gradually become more Australianised. He's only just now become accustomed to right-hand-drive floggers. This might cause him a slight problem when he returns home at the end of this year, however.

Also up from the near south were Gd & s, who came along on the Stockton Beach trek late last year. Although a 4WD is apparently in the pipeline at some point in the not-too-distant future, their car is the main mode of transport for now, so the plan was to drive up to the first property on the plains, leave the car parked at an obliging property-owner's shed, and transfer themselves into one of the 4WDs for the trip up the mountain.

With the Canberra crew making a direct line for the homestead and leaving at noon, and the Pajero meeting us at Muswellbrook, we were to be the last ones to arrive at the homestead, because we weren't going to be leaving Sydney until late afternoon. Gd & s arrived here just after 1600 hours, and while Gd and I were packing their gear into my FJ62, s went off to pick up RopeJ, who only lives a couple of suburbs away from my place. s was gone a long time, and when she finally turned up with RopeJ, it was nearly 1730. It turns out that someone (who shall remain nameless) had locked her keys inside the Corolla at RopeJ's place and had to get the NRMA to open the car for her. As I said, we're not naming names. We finally got away at 1750 hours and headed for the northern suburbs of Sydney, to pick up MrD. Getting there by around 1825 hours, we bundled his stuff inside, made sure that he and RopeJ would behave themselves in the rear seat, and sped off (well, maybe a vehicle weighing over 2.5t can't exactly speed) for the entrance to the F3 Freeway. The traffic up the Pacific Highway wasn't all that bad for a Friday night, and there were only a couple of slow patches.

It was when we were in the middle of one of these slow patches that my mobile rang at 1910 hours. It was the Canberra vehicle, and the signal was very poor and dropping half the packets, so I couldn't make out what they were saying. All I could make out was that they were on the Putty Road, and something about Windsor. Then the connection dropped out. Surely, I thought, they couldn't have gotten only that far, after driving for seven hours. Their phone was out of range, so we'd have to wait and see. If they were only at Windsor, they'd be getting to the homestead at about the same time as us.

Around fifteen minutes later, just as I was going through the turnoff and hitting the onramp for the F3, the phone rang again. They were at Singleton. That meant they'd be up there at around 2100 hours or so. We pressed on.

We finally arrive at Muswellbrook at 2230 hours. As we approach the outskirts, I give F a hail on the radio, but there's no response. I try again a few minutes later, and I get a static-filled reply. A minute later again, and F comes through loud and clear. They've been there since 2030 hours and have been spending their waiting time at the Golden Arches. We arrange to meet at the service station and notify them as soon as we drive past the Pajero which I've spotted sitting in the car park. We arrive at the Mobil, and both my truck and the Corolla fuel up, and we spend some time chatting with F, who by now had also driven into the service station, and meet jh in person. We also grab some snacks and finally depart after about twenty minutes and head on north, past Scone. We take the usual turnoff and head towards the slopes, leaving the New England Highway far behind.

At about 0030 hours, we leave the last bit of public road and enter the first station, where we're going to leave the Corolla parked by the station owner's shed for the weekend. This has been arranged prior to the trek, and because of the station owner's generosity, makes it possible to leave the car in a safe spot, far away from the public road. After transferring some minor gear from the Corolla (the bulk of it was in my truck), Gd & s climbed into the Pajero with F & jh for the remainder of the journey. We finally arrive at the homestead at around 0120 hours.

Three trucks were parked outside - the Prado, the HJ60, and the Landrover. Everyone was apparently asleep inside the house, but they had left the generator running, so the lights were on. We unloaded people and equipment, and I broke out the low-pressure compressor and started to inflate everybody's air mattresses outside (hoping the noise wouldn't wake anyone), while others were transferring necessary gear (air mattresses, bedding, etc.) into the lounge room.

What we had originally planned was for some of us to camp out in my large tent, but after looking around and seeing that some rather strong winds were blowing from up the valley, we decided against it, and just added our air mattresses to the car park that was forming on the lounge room floor. We'll set up the tent tomorrow, when we could select a good spot and park the truck alongside to act as a windbreak. By 0200 hours, we were all settled in, the logs in the fireplace were casting a deep red glow around the room, the sky was clear and full of stars and visible through the glass doors, and we all drifted off to sleep, with the occasional fart being the only disturbance breaking the silence.

It wasn't me. Honest.

 

Saturday, February 5:

I'm not sure, but I think consciousness decided to make itself felt at about 0800 hours. c (one of our hosts) came into the kitchen and started to make some coffee. I greeted her in a bleary-eyed way, and we chatted for a bit. I looked about the room.
"Great." I said.
"What?" she asked me.
I replied, "I feel like I'm standing in the middle of a pervert's pyjama party."
One of the bodies stirred slowly to life and murmured, "That's because you are."

Over the next half hour or so, the remaining members of our group gradually reanimated and started to look like human beings again. Breakfast was hearty, and there was a lot of bacon and eggs going around. Except for the vegetarians, of course. They're just plain weird. We spent the next couple of hours lounging around and chatting, and the new faces started to get familiarised with the place.

"I feel like I'm standing in the middle of a pervert's pyjama party."

"That's because you are."

 

By mid-morning, some of the group decided to venture out on a nude bush walk. Technically, I wonder if you can be considered to be nude if you're wearing a hat or joggers. Anyway, their jaunt into the bush proved to be uneventful, satisfying, and with nothing important getting bitten off, at least from what I could make out.

At around 1130, it was time to go and do a little bit of 4WD exploring. Several of us assembled outside and decided who was going into what vehicle. Along with my truck, we had the HJ60 and the Landrover. Once we got that all sorted out, we headed off towards the gate for the eastern track, then headed along the boundary fence trail. This took us to the same place we visited on our expedition back in April 2003, only this time we ventured much further. We stopped at a clearing and everybody that had brought a camera along (and there were a few) went on a brief photo shoot.

 

Exploring the forest.

 

We drove on and eventually came to a rather overgrown section of forest. s proclaimed, "there's a fence line!" and I drove over towards it while the other vehicles stayed back on the main trail. We soon ran out of room to go, as the way ahead was blocked with fallen trees and Gd said, quite confidently, that we'd have to back track. I do so love a challenge. I said something along the lines of "that's what you think!" and proceeded to tackle the fallen trees with my usual, reserved, gusto. We eventually arrived at a clearing, where the other trucks were waiting. It was a relatively easy job, with comments of "I think I've re-broken my coccyx" and "My arthritis is cured now" being heard over the atomic explosions occurring underneath the chassis as various trees tried their best to drive themselves up through the floor pan. Things appeared to be normal, until I tried to open the driver's door. It wouldn't quite open. Hmmm. Looking down, I saw that the sidestep had been pushed right up by a very, very angry tree, and was firmly in the way of the door. I never did like these sidesteps, because they're useless aluminium step tread and hence not the right type (tubular steel with an upwards angle of 45º that you can hi-lift off is what's needed) but they did come with the truck and it's not the first time I've bent them, or indeed even torn them clean off.

So I opened the door as far as I could and, using my regulation steel-capped boots, jumped up and down on the step with all my weight, until it bent downwards far enough to allow me to open the door again. Inspecting the damage, I could see that the sill was dented, and the step a little mangled. It'll be fine with a block of wood and a 10kg sledge hammer.

I had a look underneath the chassis to check if the mechanicals were all still in one piece. Shit, these 60-series trucks are tough. I won't bother repairing the door sill. If they had 4WDing in Star Trek, it would wear the dent as a Klingon 4WD Badge of Honour: "Today is a good day to drive!"

We continued across a 5000-acre back paddock belonging to the neighbouring property (with permission) and stopped for more photos. We journeyed on for a little while further and eventually turned around as it was now nearly 1400 hours, and time for lunch. After some more photo shoots on the return leg, we arrived back at the homestead.

Gd getting into photo mode.

What s calls a "frozen lightning" tree.
The HJ60 crossing the grass plains in the 5000-acre "back" paddock.

 

After lunch, a few people had turns at taking the quad for a spin. The quad's great fun, providing you don't roll it. The placard strongly recommends that you don't incline it more than 26º, which nobody really got anywhere near doing. It's easy to drive, has an automatic gearbox, and a full tank of fuel will get you quite a long way. t took MrD out for a ride, and I was reasonably confident that he'd survive. If he didn't, the only thing that had to be brought back to satisfy the insurance company back in the States was a DNA sample. No problem, really.

By 1600 hours, it was time to start making preparations for the play party and the dinner that was to come afterwards. We had the use of a rather nice table and some chairs which suited the occasion perfectly, plus some rather medieval-style candelabras. We set up the equipment in the barn, and by around 1800 hours, it was also time to pitch the tent, as the extra sleeping space sure was going to come in handy. By around 1900 hours, the tent was set up and the play party already under way. Lighting was provided by the fluorescent fittings in the barn itself, and the usual gas lighting. The generator was moved outside, as usual, to reduce the noise level and make it more comfortable to play. A welcome addition to the play furniture was a rather nice cage, shipped from North Of The Border, I believe, and it was certainly of sturdy construction. The base alone had needed a forklift to get it into the barn. The rotating feature was quite nice - you could spin it and play "Wheel Of Torture" or some other game show.

Some early scenes from the play party.

 

By around 2100 hours, the play party was over, and it was time for the formal dinner. The original idea was to have to have the dinner either in the barn, or on the front patio of the house. We eventually decided to have it in the house itself, because the barn was too far away from the kitchen, and the wind would have made it unpleasant to hold it on the front patio. We moved the furniture into the lounge room and soon the dinner was underway.

The food was good, as was the company. G performed his usual, excellent, repertoire, and s accompanied him on some vocals. After the dinner, it was time for me to make a brief speech. I thanked the regulars for coming along on these treks for two years now, and also for the new faces, being prepared to travel for so many hours, over so many kilometres on unfamiliar roads (and when the roads ran out, so many tracks, and when the tracks ran out, hell, just keep on going) to experience something just that little bit different in the Scene. It was just damned great to have a bunch of people up here not just to play, but to socialise and, well, to just enjoy themselves as people, not just as Dom/me or submissive.

I thanked G & c for being gracious enough to open their home to us, and for them to have been doing so, on and off, for two years now. I don't know if you've noticed or not, but if you look through all the trip reports to date, The Mountain seems to have become the location for half of our treks. It was never intended to be this way - it just happened, because we just get along so well, and everybody seems to have such a good experience up here.

I first met G & c in December of 2002, when I had only just started advertising the 4WD BDSM Getaway! Weekends on the mailing lists, and was looking for a suitable location to host the first trek. G had responded, via a mutual friend, and invited us to come up and meet them, although we didn't know each other from a bar of soap. After initial fears of "stranger danger" which lasted all of five minutes, we found that we were all comparatively normal (whatever that means) and we stayed the night. After spending the weekend up here, I was in no doubt that this was going to work. As I said, G & c have been generous to the 4WD BDSM Getaway! Weekends project by making their home available to what can be, at times, a group of unknown faces, and I truly thank them for that. I think it's been a rewarding experience for all concerned.

 

 

After this, I had to say a few words about a different subject.

Earlier this very same week, a friend in the Melbourne scene had passed away. He was well known, and well liked. Ben, or SirB as he was known, had been ill for a very long time. I felt odd talking about him to the group, because only a few of them either knew him directly or knew of him, and I felt quite strange because I would rather have been down in Melbourne than being up here in the wilderness, but it was not to be. I raised a glass, and those of us that knew him personally, remembered him. It's been said a million times on the mailing lists, but I'll state it one more time here on this web site: he flies with dragons now.

Kalo taxidi, Ben, you dirty old bugger.

Normal programming resumed, with more music, and dessert made the rounds. Things began to wind down at around midnight, and we started to get very mellow. At around 0030 hours, the table and chairs were out on the rear balcony to make way for the sleeping bags and air mattresses of those sleeping in the lounge room; the fireplace glowing. By 0100 hours, it was time for lights out. Everybody was settled in, so I left the house, walked over to the generator that was parked next to the barn, and pulled the high tension lead off the spark plug. The steady humming of the engine faltered, and after a couple of seconds, stammered to a halt. The lights in the house and the barn dimmed and faded into blackness as the filaments cooled.

The silence was total, and surreal. The surroundings were in darkness. I could hear the leaves of the trees rustling in the light breeze. Looking up, the sky exploded in stars. I just stood there for around ten minutes, looking up at the sky. It's one of the most astonishing things to experience, coming out here and just looking up at the night sky. Gives one a sense of perspective.

I finally headed off for my tent and hit the sack. The last thing I remember is looking at the glowing hands of my Traser and seeing it was 0130 hours, and listening to the leaves dancing across the ground in the gentle wind.

 

Sunday, February 6:

This morning was spent on breakfast, relaxing on the rear balcony, taking the quad for a spin, playing in the barn, going on another nude bush walk., remounting a tyre on the low-end loader, or lounging around the house, depending on who was doing what, when, and where. Myself, I had brought a laptop up with me and had some PCB design work to do. I had my software, my CAD files, and the inverter in the truck was going to power my efforts for the next few hours. Or so I thought. Plugging the laptop into the inverter produced a rather annoying beeping alarm, and it became obvious that the inverter wasn't producing anything, let alone 240V. I got the 12V soldering iron out of the truck's toolbox, and spent the next couple of hours pulling the inverter apart, looking for any dry joints to resolder, hoping that would cure it.
Finally pitched a tent here after 2 years. M's riding the quad (left).

Various people came and went, on their way to doing various things, and I had a brief chat with F, who was sitting in his Pajero, which was parked next to my truck. I asked him what he was doing, as he was just sitting there. He answered he was just enjoying the beautiful silence of the place, and looking out at the view of the valley below.

It's at times like these that you remember some of the things that we have lost.

At around 1230 hours, I decided that I had had enough of trying to get the inverter to work, and gave it up. I'd repair it in my workshop back at the office, at another time. I went over to the barn, grabbed the fuel container, and filled the tank on the quad. Strapping on my camera backpack, I gunned the quad down along the northern boundary trail in search of some scenery to shoot.

I managed to easily get it up to around 50km/h (it'll actually do 80km/h flat out) but I wasn't keen on going any faster than that - the quad is unstable at the best of times, and the tracks I was hurtling down were hardly freeway-smooth. As it is, you're almost standing up most of the time at that sort of speed, because if you're sitting down on the saddle and happened to hit a bump or a hole, chances are you're going to be flung off.

After going down some strictly-4WD-only trails that had been severely overgrown since I last drove my truck along them over a year ago, I ended up at the dam, and the road that takes you to the eastern access track. Following a now-disused track alongside the dam, I got a nice series of shots, and rode onwards towards the fern tree gully. I was looking for a track that would take me down into the ravine, imagining that perhaps I could meet up with the river somewhere and get some more photos.

A few shots from the series taken at the dam.

Around two hundred metres down the trail, I came to a turnoff on my right that looked as if it might take me down to the valley floor. I pursued this other trail for a short while and it looked fine, but then I came to a crest, where the gradient suddenly became very steep and was easily 30º, perhaps even 35º, and was full of deep ruts, with numerous small boulders guaranteeing a rough ride down. No problem, I thought: after all, the general 4WD saying is, if you can walk it without falling over, you can drive it. I engaged low range (it was already in 4WD mode anyway, as I never drive the quad in 2WD mode and for damn good reason) and gingerly proceeded down the slope.

After going a short distance, I was pretty well convinced that the gradient was a hell of a lot bloody steeper than 30º. Normally, you have your feet down on the steps, and you're sitting on the saddle. In other words, you're basically sitting in an upright position. This thing was tilted so much that the only way I could stop myself from flying forward over the handlebars was to have my feet pushing down on the bar that held the headlights on, which was level with the handlebars. Rather than sitting in an upright position, I was in the same posture as trying to touch my toes during sit ups, which in fact I was practically doing as I turned the handlebars to negotiate the boulders. Even though low-range was engaged, as soon as I released the brakes, the quad surged forward at an alarming rate of knots, as if there was no engine braking at all. And this was in low-range. I could see that this was going to be fun.

After finally getting down to the bottom (with deep imprints on my left hand from squeezing the brake lever hard down for the entire duration), it was all rather disappointing. There was no way down to the bottom of the ravine, there was no view of the bottom of the ravine, in fact you couldn't even see where the ravine was. I turned around and attempted to climb back up the track. I think I had gotten around ten metres or so before the front wheels lifted up off the ground - the damned thing had turned into a bucking bronco. I immediately lifted off the throttle and gently applied the brakes. Discretion being the better part of valour, I engaged reverse and decided to crawl it back to the bottom. That's when I got a second surprise - apparently, there's no 4WD mode when you're in reverse gear, because as I was backing it down, the front wheels hung on a couple of the rocks, and the rear wheels started spinning like mad. The front wheels weren't being driven. I wonder what it says in the Polaris owner's manual? It could of course have been a defective transmission in this quad, but that didn't help me right now. I went forward a little bit and managed to free the front, and then tried reversing back down again. This didn't feel good. It felt like it was going to roll end over end, so I stopped, pronto.

Sensing the precariousness of my position, I decided the smart thing to do would be to hop off, put it in reverse, and walk it down the hill. This was easier said than done, because I couldn't get off. As soon as I stopped applying forward throttle, it would roll back down the hill, which was fine as long as I wasn't on it. Gravity can have the habit of being annoying. I eventually managed to hop off after putting it into reverse and, applying a touch of throttle, walked it down the slope. It got stuck in one spot, but that was easily solved by applying some throttle, turning the handlebars, and then just letting it go, watching it sail away from me and roll down to the bottom. Hey, it worked.

Walking back to the quad and riding around to see if there was another way out, it quickly became apparent there wasn't one.

Great, I'm thinking. Here I am, at the bottom of an almost impassible rock-strewn trail on a section of the property that hasn't seen a logging truck or anything else with a motor in it for who knows how many years, no radio, no radio range even if I did have a radio, and if I went back to the homestead on foot (perhaps a three quarters of an hour walk) and came back with a truck, there was no way to get a truck in with a snatch strap or a winch to recover the quad anyway. It was at this stage that I was thinking that I was perhaps just a tad excessive in coming down this particular trail. After a minute's contemplation on this point, I decided to rephrase it as, "pushing the limit of the performance envelope." That wouldn't help me any in getting the quad out of here, but at least it sounded kind of justifiable if you asked the question, "What the hell were you thinking?!?"

So. It looked like the only way out was the way in. I decided to engage in some road building. That's one of the things they taught us when we went for our VETAB tickets. I walked up to the top of the track, took off my camera backpack and placed it there, safely out of the way. I figured the last thing I needed was to fall backwards down a steep slope onto five grand's worth of Nikon gear and end up with an expensive butt plug.

Walking back down, I removed as many of the smaller rocks as I could. If they were light enough, I picked them up and tossed them to the side. Larger ones I'd just roll down the hill and listen to them crash into the scrub. I'd kick dirt into the depressions left by the rocks to try and make the surface level. After half an hour, I was ready to try again.

Laying down on the quad so that I was almost horizontal, I squeezed the throttle gently, and approached the track at a constant speed of about 1km/h. Keeping that constant speed, I guided the quad up the smoothest parts of the track. It just walked it as if it were on the freeway. No bucking, no feeling like it was about to roll, nothing. Within a few minutes, I was at the top where I had left my camera bag. Piece of cake, really. NOT.

I made my way back to the homestead, reasoning I had earned a good lunch. As I passed by the top paddock, I could see that some of the group were busy refitting a tyre to the low-end loader. With a diameter of 2 metres, it was one big doughnut they were playing with. I dropped my camera gear off at the house and then headed off to meet up with them but it was too late, as by the time I approached the paddock, they were done and making their way back.

Our group spent the early afternoon just chilling. It was originally intended that we leave for Sydney at 1500 hours, but it's so hard to leave this place. We started packing at 1500 hours, so we figured we'd be out of here about an hour later. That too, didn't quite happen, but we did finally leave the homestead at 1630 hours. Travelling down the western access track, our journey down the mountain was punctuated by several stops for photo opportunities for several members of the group. If it wasn't one truck stopping, it was another. The scenery was, as usual, stunning, and the late afternoon light was something else. We finally arrived down onto the plains at around 1730 hours, and parked opposite the shed where we had left the Corolla. It was time to transfer Gd & s back to their own vehicle, along with their gear.

G had brought the trailer along, and because Gd & s were not going to be with us in convoy all the way home (they were going to break off and head down south later on by themselves), all their gear was carried down in the Prado's trailer, which made it easy to just transfer the whole lot back into their car. There were a couple of other 4WDs parked here now, too. These belonged to the farmer who was in the paddock, moving his sheep with the help of his working dogs.

We mulled around for about twenty minutes, watching the sheep dogs work and chatting to each other about how the weekend had been. It was a bit surreal, because several of the dogs had muzzles which were steel wire cages straight out of Hannibal Lecter Design School. We knew it was so that they couldn't bite the sheep if they got rough, but still, it looked like a canine kink fest.

I wonder if they make larger sizes for rabid subbies? Could be a good market there.

By the time we had all said our goodbyes, it was nearly 1800 hours. The plan was to meet up at the Mobil service station again in Muswellbrook, so we could fuel up and get something small to eat to tide us over until dinner proper, and then head off for home. G & c stayed behind to talk to their neighbour as he was tending his sheep, so we waved them goodbye and hit the road. The sun bathed the hills in a soft yellow light as we headed back for the New England Highway.

Safely down to the base of the mountain, and time to transfer passengers and gear.

We arrived back in Muswellbrook soon thereafter, and fueled up. We stayed a while, talking and again reviewing the weekend. The Pajero was going to make a direct line for home, the Corolla was going to stay with us for most of the way and then branch off, which left the Canberrans to come over to my place and stay the night, before making the final leg to Canberra in the morning. We took an alternate route home via Cessnock, taking the turnoff at Branxton, and I think we might be using this route from now on, as it saves a little time on the journey. This means we'll no longer be going via Beresfield, which is a pity, as the food there is quite good, but on the other hand, it makes the journey a little shorter. We'll see - it depends on how hungry you get.

We reached Freeman's Waterhole at 2200 hours, when Gd reported over the radio that I had a flat rear tyre. Pulling over and having a look, I saw that yes indeed the near side rear was well and truly kerfuffled. I thought the handling was a little bit strange, but it didn't really feel all that different. The 60 series may be tough, but it handles like a boat. You can lose a rear tyre and not really notice all that much difference. Hey, they don't get much more agricultural than this! There was nowhere to work on it on the side of the road, so we continued on slowly, looking for a clearing to do a tyre change, and fortunately came upon the service station a couple of kilometres later. We pulled in under the lights and unpacked enough gear to get to the recovery box and the tools.

The next half hour was a period of general silliness and roadside service. Between impact wrenches and Hi-Lift jacks, the tyre got changed, but I don't think the service station operator watching the proceedings will ever be the same again.

By the time we get to the Caltex on the F3 freeway, it's nearly 2300 hours. We're hungry, and take the last of what's on offer in the cafeteria. This is one aspect where the service station at Beresfield wins hands down, 24 hours a day, but hey we're here. We hit the F3 again at 2330 hours and hit the final stretch for home. Gd & s go past us in the Corolla a few minutes later and disappear into the traffic. That just leaves the two trucks. We hit the outskirts of Sydney and get to MrD's house by 0030 hours and drop him off. At 0115 hours, we're back at home base. t takes RopeJ home (his place is only about 10 minutes away) while Tn helps me unpack the roof basket on my truck and get the rest of the gear stowed inside. j went to bed pretty much as soon as we arrived. I was going to set M up to sleep on the couch upstairs, but she had immediately crashed on the couch downstairs and was fast asleep when I popped in, so I left her there.

They'd all be gone by the time I woke up, as they would have an early start.

This particular weekend was special, for a number of reasons, including: the number of people we had along, the formal dinner, our remembrance of a friend no longer here, the marking of the completion of the second year of the 4WD BDSM Getaway! Weekends. It was an eye-opener for some, and a welcome visit back over familiar ground for others.


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