Day 17: Katherine to Darwin
Temp: 27-35°C with 96% humidity
*I didn't take many photos today.
When the rest of your life is a rollercoaster, the forward movement of a motorcycle on a (usually) smooth surface is a welcome environment. After having what is pretty much an elongated nap, cruising from Katherine to Darwin in the most mundane fashion seemed to be the right thing to do.
I don't actually recall how I got to Darwin. I remember filling up my spare petrol cans in Katherine, making a valient effort to go to the least busy servo available, and heading North. My head was foggy and my eyes were sore. I'm still safer riding that I am walking, so off I went. I filled up once at 200km into the ride, and continued on mindlessly until I found myself in the heart of Darwin city. I stepped foot on the ground twice since leaving Katherine: once to refuel and once to find out where the motorcycle garage is.
I was on a mission to find Holeshot Kawasaki, a sister garage of my favourite shop in Vancouver by the same name. I sought them out and withheld any major servicing until I got to Darwin, and I'm glad I did. Reflecting back to Melbourne when I called them, I remembered them as very friendly and willing to go out of the way to accommodate my big ride.
Backtracking 10km from the city centre and getting slightly lost, I finally found Holeshot Kawasaki in the 'burbs of Darwin. When I walked in, I was greeted by all 4 staff members hanging out in various parts of the showroom. It was like surround sound. The room showcased every type of bike they had to offer, from the baby 125cc to the H2. Because I skipped Fitzroy Crossing and went from Broome to Halls Creek in a day, I was a day ahead of my scheduled service and they were all booked for today. I swung by anyway to pick up chain cleaner, a brush, an oil filter, and 3L of oil. Buying 3 separate 1L cans of 10W40 was painful - after replacing the filter, Sheba's 2.2L oil capacity needs an extra 800ml to fill the gap. 3L of oil is just awkward. I could envision butterflies fluttering out of my wallet... if I had a wallet in the first place.
The oil, filter, and chain cleaner added up to be about $100. I was going to take my items and do a self service on a side street. It wouldn't be that much different from what I was doing to get there. Nathan, one of the mechanics, came out and said they can squeeze me in for the oil change, so I gladly gave them my key and they took my fully loaded Sheba out back. I
I sat in their waiting area and stared off to space, my mind filled with crippling thoughts that are too volatile to properly acknowledge. Depression ran its course through every capillary of my body as I sat there in the cool oasis that is Holeshot. Northern Territory is turning out to be one of my favourite states actually. It might be because there's so few people, nobody's in a rush, and the service everywhere is excellent. Darwin is without the Melbourne speed, but without the Melbourne entitlement as well. It was nice.
90 minutes later, they had managed to squeeze in her oil change... and also surprised me with an air filter clean, fluids and brake check, valve adjustment, headlight replacement, tyre pressure check, chain adjustment and clean, and a myriad of other things. They did a full 6000km servicing... and even gave her a mini wash. I was definitely not expecting the level of care and service they gave us, especially because I arrived a day early. My jaw dropped and my head became clearer. It was one of those moments where the clouds leave momentarily and the sunlight shines through.
As a reader of this blog, I'm not sure if you'd understand. But from Melbourne to Perth to Broome to Darwin, Sheba and I have already created a bond that is beyond girl and machine. I relied on her to the extent that my life depended on it. If I were stranded it was because I didn't take care of her. So, it's not just a bike they did a maintenance on. It was my wellbeing.
Finally tuned up and ready to go, Sheba and I headed to Darwin CBD and ordered a bowl of hot pho (vietnamese noodles) because that's what you do on hot days. 2 bites later I was in a food coma... my stomach apparently shrank to the size of a potato over the last few days. After dinner we took the long way back home and caught the sunset through the trees all the way back to the hotel. I think somehow they knew about my last few days, but I arrived to a letter and some keys saying my room has been upgraded for free. It has a living space, kitchen, and a queen sized bed. And I happened to park next to the car washing area of the car park. I didn't even know that was a thing.
The letter also said the room was located on the second floor so I decided to take all my bags in one go. This means: 2x 30L tailbags, a 48L saddlebag pair, a backpack, helmet, gloves, and any electronics on my handlebars. I was wearing all my other gear too.
Now the size of a baby rhinoceros, I waddled to the proper corner of the apartment block and shuffled upstairs, shifting my weight with every step. Hmm. Room 539 was nowhere to be found. Maybe I have the map upsidedown. I went to the opposite corner of the property and the numbers seemed to pull away from mine. Every room started with a 5 so it didn't help. After dragging my sorry sweat ass up and down the stairs, doing laps around the complex at an equally sorry pace, I realized that I'm Canadian... and that in Canada, ground floor and 1st floor are synonymous.
I checked the map again. Ground. Then 1st. Then 2nd. ... bloody hell.
All the guests on the 1st floor had now closed their blinds and locked their screen doors because a sweaty, creepy, leather clad midget is making rounds and moaning. I climbed another set of stairs and there was my room. It was almost a laughable situation, except when you're in it.
Man, I have issues.