Australia - Seeing Beyond the Cities.

The more opportunity I have to travel through rural parts of Australia the more I wonder why many of us are attracted to the cities. Even more so I contemplate people who spend their whole lives city living and think perhaps they are just a little bit crazy.

Why do many of us settle for the convenience and comfort of city life over adventure and the open road?

Being born in Whyalla, South Australia (the second largest SA town outside of Adelaide I believe), I'm not really a 'country' person but neither am I a fully fledged city dweller either. I've lived most of my life in the 'burbs' (suburbs that is).

However, when I get into the wide open spaces of the Australian country side, where you can see for miles across the landscape, it speaks to me of travel and seeing what's beyond that next hill. Even if you're just looking across farming country, with field after field, separated by a line of trees or a road here and there.

Being able to see that much sky overhead is inspiring to me.

Although I'm not inspired to paint Australian landscapes I can see why many artists are. Somehow, no matter how good the photographer, nothing shows the depth and vastness of the Australian landscape quite like a well executed painting.

I've traveled past many tall grassy covered hills and wondered what the view from the top might be like if only I could walk up there and see?

Some day I hope to find out.

Nissan Vanette - The Frog Van

A few months back I wrote about everything I know about cars in which I can be found lying under my partner's son's recently acquired 'Frog' van (so named due to its lovely green colour).

Since then the son has upgraded to a better class of vehicle and the Frog van is now my pride and joy (well it's mine anyway and it's more of a 'project' than a 'pride and joy')

Long time readers of this blog will know I was the proud owner of a 1971 Chrysler Galant. 'Was' being the operative word. Whilst I really loved that car a van is actually more suited to my needs. I'm definitely function over fashion when it comes to cars.

With a little bit of 'mist' in the eye I sold the Galant - for a very nice profit I might add. Enough to recoup the money spent on purchasing the Galant and getting the Frog van back on the road. As well I bought a much needed set of retread tyres and some nice wheel trims (or 'hub caps' if you prefer) too.

The van is a 'project' because I hope to do the thing up and turn it into a basic camper van that can still be used as a load carrying vehicle if need be. Hence anything I add into the back in the way of tables, beds etc. MUST be able to fold up out of the way as much as possible.

As a small move in that direction I've added a padded seat to the top of the metal tool box that is currently fixed permanently inside the van. It's just the right height to sit on and will be ideal when partnered with a planned fold out table.

Long term I'll be installing power points for recharging my laptop which will eventually have 'mobile' Internet. When that happens I truly will be able to work from anywhere. Well anywhere that has mobile Internet coverage anyway. A step closer to my dream of becoming my name sake, The Extraordinary Tourist.

In the mean time I'm learning more about cars. After the van became mine I discovered it didn't like traveling up steep hills. Seriously it was like 'the little engine that could', "I think I can, I think I can..."

I thought it might have been an issue with a dud spark plug but I was talking to my partner's brother one day (who knows more about cars than I) and he mentioned it might be a fuel pump issue.

At the time I was sceptical because I knew the carburetor wasn't having any trouble filling with petrol but my spark plug theory turned out to be a dud so I moved on to the fuel pump suggestion.

Turned out a vacuum hose attached to the fuel pump had split at each end breaking the seal. I replaced it and the van hasn't had any problem going up steep hills since. I would never have thought to even look at the fuel pump - left to my own devices.

For the most part the van now runs fine however starting it for the first time on any given day can be a bit hard. It turns over confidently but struggles to fire. I'm thinking an oil change may help since I've been told the oil wasn't changed even when the cylinder head was pulled out and fixed. Who knows how long that oil's been in there since, prior to that, the van had been sitting in some one's garage/driveway for ages.

It still also runs on every now and then when you turn off the key. Again an oil change might help. I don't know really but it couldn't hurt.

If you know anything about four cylinder carburetor engines and the symptoms sound familiar to you feel free to share what you know in the comments. I'd appreciate the help.

Can KFC Help You With Anything Else Today?

My partner ordered a dine in meal at our local KFC restaurant. The girl behind the counter asked numerous questions like "What drinks would you like?", "Would you like to up size your order?" and of course, "Dine in or take-away?". Finally she totaled everything up, my partner paid for the meal, then the girl behind the counter asked...

"Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

It was one of those double take moments, like it kind of makes sense but doesn't.

"Sure, I'm struggling with my taxes can you help me out?"

I didn't say that but it was the first thing that came to mind as an observer of this transaction.

I'm sure the question is meant to be some kind of up-sell. Perhaps they'll catch you off guard and you'll place a second order that you didn't know you needed until just now?

Seriously though, once you've placed your order and paid for it, just what else can the girl at KFC actually do to help?

"Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

"Yes, there's someone sitting in your restaurant where I want to sit. Can you tell them to move please? Oh...and while you're at it, can you create world peace and end human suffering?"

Well you never know if you don't ask.
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