Trip Of A Lifetime

Trip Of A Lifetime

As I write this, I’m somewhere over the ocean enduring the disgustingly long flight from Sydney to Los Angeles. Once in the land of freaks and fakes, I then hop a plane back to god’s country. It’s a brutal itinerary only made tolerable by lots of booze and company. Of course, I don’t have company this time around.

Notorious is nowhere to be seen. The seat beside me is empty and the one beside it is only half filled by an old man thats looks so frail that I expect him to wither up at any moment. Best not to offer him a drink or cause him too much grief… His departure could slow my own and I’m ready to get home. Every man, even the aged and the indigent, for himself.

I guess it’s a pretty shitty way to be given the hospitality I’ve been shown over the last 11 or so days in Melbourne, but it’s a reality and I might as well face it. I’m not at all worthy of the red carpet treatment that the fellas in the River City Coupe & Roadster club divvied my way all week, but I took it and smiled. Those damned Aussies had me seduced and I somehow had them fooled. I can only hope it all sticks this time.

Past the previously mentioned unmentionable (mainly Monday and deeply into Tuesday morning), Blake and I had a whole week of Australia to fill. Typically, this kind of time would be filled with camera touting tourist stuff and we did our fare share of that, but our new mates made sure to keep us busy with real events as well. Just about every day we’d load up in the staff car and head to another BBQ or dinner or lunch or… You get the idea.

On Wednesday, Pete and Martin from the Vultures agreed to take us to the “Street Rod Capital Of Australia” where we hooked up with two big players in the Australian “Hot Rod” History book. Mr. Swifty and Mr. Ford showed us around greater Castlemaine and even gave us a tour of a ranch that has become a kind of old car burial ground. It was somberly beautiful.

Even cooler than that though was a stop by Swifty’s mother-in-law’s house where, in the back shed, sat a t-roadster that Mr. Swifty had built in 1962. The car sits mostly untouched and in remarkable condition. Australian magazines of the period show the Aussies to be about 5-years behind Americans as far as styling and performance trends. This little ‘t’ looked right out of 1958 and was perfect in every way.

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I just took a little interlude from writing this little ditty as pre-packaged and vile slop was delivered to my seat. I think the steward called it lunch? Either way, I couldn’t make out exactly what it was and decided to pass. The visual made me miss the lunch prepared for us by Mrs. Swifty – wonderful chicken, dressing, peas, corn, carrots, cranberry, salad, and…

Good god man. That woman can cook like Dre’ can lay down a beat. Smooth, effortless, and with a smile that makes you miss home.

Which brings me back on point. I was asked a lot about what I figured to be the biggest surprise of Australia. I think to me the most unexpected aspect of the trip was the overall car culture of Melbourne. As we stuffed down dinner in Mark B’s incredible shed or celebrated Australia Day at Doug’s joint, I found myself feeling like I was home. I didn’t expect to find the same kind of great people in Australia that we have in Austin, but I did… And that was really the biggest surprise to me.

Well, that or the cop that pulled my buddy Pete over for no reason and then stuffed a Breathalyzer in his grille as if he was a three-strike candidate hellbent on doing time for driving drunk. Lucky for the copper, my attorney was present or things could have gotten ugly. As it stood, he just got the Texas Stink Eye and a clean breathe reading. I don’t guess he realized that he was dealing with professionals, right Pete?

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Anyway, according to the moving map on the screen in front of me, we are just passing over Christmas Island. Sounds like a nice place… and I guess this is a nice place to end this article. It’s funny – I spent over a week in Melbourne as a king while being thanked countless times. To this very minute, I don’t really understand why those fellas were thanking me. That was a trip of a lifetime and I’m the fella that should be tossing out the love and affection. So, I’ll have at it now:

1. The Thompson’s. Mark and Jess put Blake and I up in their “shed.” It became the Jalopy Journal Australian Head Quarters and they became family. Simple as that. Pals.

2. The River City Coupe & Roadster Club. It took these fellas a year to put together this reliability run. It was their first one. They did it with grace and dignity and I’m proud to have been at #1. Thanks for all the BBQs, the bullshittin’, and the friendship.

3. Ben Thomas. A bastion of style and cool… See you soon homeboy.

4. Pete, Martin, and The Vultures. Thanks for everything fellas. I owe ya all… and next time you guys hit Austin, I’ll get even.

5. The Swifty’s. All of you. For everything.

6. Blake. My attorney. My pal. It’s funny, in my stories I am the hero and Blake is the sidekick. Part of the comedic genius of all that is that in reality, it’s actually the other way around. Blake is the real hero.

7. Metalshapes, Norwell, & Cob. I’ve never taken off like this for so many days and you three made it possible. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

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These thank you lists are damn well impossible. I don’t even know why I start them. I’m already thinking of folks I missed… Like what about Greg for the Holden ride or Doug for the crawl space “train ride” or… I think it’s time I press the “laid back” button and watch a movie.

Thank you Australia. Thank you for a great time.

See you all on the flip side of the world.

RHC

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