Morning in Airlie Beach. Nice. I found a cafe, enjoyed a very nice breakfast of something greasy and filling. Rain had been falling steadily throughout the night, and didn’t appear to be letting up now. Several miserable looking backpackers passed me as I ate, they were wet, cold, possibly hungry, and a long way from home. Many of them were trudging toward a nearby bus, heading northwards, by the look of it. Thursday, ‘At least they’ll be draining and cleaning the Townsville Rock Pool in time for your arrival,’ I thought.
I was back on the road minutes after checking out of my room, driving slowly through the town, taking in the views. Must bring the family back for a look. Thinking about it though, it might be a bit of an ask. The only barrier being the long and boring drive between Rockhampton and Mackay. The dreaded Malborough stretch, which is so boring that the sight of a cow or windmill is enough to bring excitement into the life of the dull eyed traveller. Today I would be rolling down that road and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it.
The rain intensified as I wound my way toward the Bruce Highway turn off, and as I turned onto the main road, as if by magic, the rain stopped. Pushing the family truckster up to the 100 k speed limit I checked the sky above, clear, to the West, clear, to the South and North, yep, clear. But over Airlie to the East, huge dark clouds sat, pouring liquid gold onto this lucky part of the country. Once again I wished I had a huge net with which I could snare those rain givers and drag them home to Gladstone. It would be a win/win situation, Airlie tourists would enjoy the sunshine, and Gladstone would get some much needed rain!
The road into Mackay was a pleasant drive… for about fifteen minutes. Then some goose in a four wheel drive locked onto my tail and started flashing his lights and getting a little aggro. Checking my speed (over the limit by 10 kph) I thought, ‘Well buddy, take the lead!’ He did, on a blind corner, heading up hill. The oncoming truck didn’t hesitate to let both of us know that he was unimpressed. Goose Boy (my new name for him) dived back in behind me after hanging on for as long as he could on the wrong side of the road, then he started surging at me, pretending to ram my rear end. Tapping on the brake pedal while accelerating gave him a bit of a fright, but not for long. Thinking that I’d rather be shot of this bozo, I ended up slowing down to 70 kph, and let him go. Geez it took him ages to get round me, definitely driving the wrong sort of vehicle for his driving needs. Anyway, as he passed he waved his middle finger in my direction, and actually hit his passenger (a woman who looked like his mum) in the face as he did so. I laughed so hard that I nearly drove off the road. My merriment wasn’t lost on Goose Boy and when he finally got passed me, he slowed to 60 kph, and started tapping his brake pedal. Jesus! Where do these clowns come from, and why are they attracted to me?
Backing off to 50 kph I was thinking, ‘Well sooner or later the idiot will get bored and piss off.’ Nope. He had bought his ticket, and now he was going to enjoy the ride. So, for the next few kilometres we drove, in fits and starts, toward Mackay. Then a truck appeared behind me, and taking one look at this pair of idiots in front of him decided he wanted no part of it, and overtook the two of us. Locking onto the tail of the truck I slipped past Goose Boy, giving him a friendly wave as I did (no, really it was friendly, I even held up all my fingers).
It took him ten minutes to catch up to me again, and the crap started all over again. ‘Bugger this,’ I thought, and punched the accelerator. ‘Bugger the cops, bugger Mackay, and bugger inbred farmers and their rednecked ways!’
With Goose Boy vanishing in the distance I relaxed and switched on the radio. My favourite station was now in range, Radio National, and even better it was time for the Book Show. The feature book was called ‘My Family and Other Animals’, and I got quite a few laughs from this pleasant book reading. So by the time I reached the outskirts of Mackay I was in a very good mood. Maybe I would stay for the night in this neat little city?
Goose Boy re-appeared like something out of Mad Max, red faced and foaming at the mouth. By now we were on a four lane road, and he was alongside, screaming something at me. I shook my head at him. This, amazingly, made him wilder, and he pretended to shoot at me with his hand. My eyebrows shot up, ‘What the…?’ Then he swerved toward my car. That’s it. I wound down my window and his mum looked mortified as I yelled out, “Pull over dickhead, let’s end this!”
He looked like he’d been given an early Xmas present, and he pulled in behind me as I slowed. When it became apparent that things were going to go to hell in a handbasket, dear old mum came to my rescue. As I slipped off my seatbelt I checked the rear view mirror, and Ma was giving Gooseboy the royal booting. She was waving her finger, and screaming at him, and from what little I could hear it was pretty evident that Mum had spent some time hanging around wharfies and construction workers. Some of the phrases she was using I even wrote down later for future use…
As it turned out, I didn’t even have to get out of the car. Goose Boy, his face burning with shame, drove round my parked car without even looking at me, Mum yelling into his ear, and continued into Mackay. Shaking my head I sat full of pent up rage and nowhere to use it. Turning on the radio I thought ‘I’ll just calm down for a moment before driving on.’ Then Brown Eyed Girl came on, and I switched it off. To hell with Mackay. I’m going home.
I slipped my Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash CD into the stereo and spent the next 1/2 hour battling Mackay traffic and trucks. By the time I hit Sarina, my blood pressure had returned to normal, and I was singing along with the boys on the stereo.
For the next three hours there was nothing else to report. Did I mention that this is a boring drive? By the time I hit Malborough, near Rockhampton, I had listened to Waylon, Willie, Johnnie, Slim, and was working my way through, ZZ Top, AC/DC, Guns n Roses, and a couple of Jethro Tulls. An eclectic mix, and another reason my family don’t like travelling with me anymore…
Rocky was hot. The fuel cheap, and the food tasty. Home was an hour a way, and being on a very familiar road I switched off the stereo, and the air con, wound down my windows, and with the wind blowing through my ears, decided to think.
The burning question was the one my sisters’ partner had asked: “What are you training for? What sort of body shape are you after?”
I didn’t know. Ok, I didn’t have the desire, or the discipline to be BIG. Doing nothing wasn’t an option either, because I would get BIG, but not in a good way. If I knew what body shape I was after then I could adjust my training to suit, and maybe I’d start seeing results.
By the time I reached home I had worked it out. I wanted to be thin, and fit. I wanted to look like I did when I was in the Army Reserves. To be strong and fit, and able to run, jog, hike, swim etc . Like my music, I couldn’t just pick one thing, I needed to be fit enough to tackle any number of challenges. Versatility was the key. I remembered one of my mates’ fathers then, the first time I met him we were shaking hands and he muttered, “Broad shoulders, first to die.” I couldn’t have been more surprised if he’d pulled his pants down in front of me. My mate explained, having heard this before obviously, “Dad was a prisoner on the Burma railway. When the Japs cut the rations down to a cup of rice a day, the big men, the broad shouldered blokes all died first, because they needed much more protein than the wiry, little fellas. It sort of affected dad.” Geez, you reckon? Funny how that stayed with me though…
So, that was what I wanted to be, lean, well toned, an all rounder. I got a mental picture in my head of me in my Army greens, and thought, ‘That’s the destination, now how to get there?’
I’d already unpacked my stuff, cleaned the car, and hung my washing out to dry by the time my family arrived home. The dog had removed most of the skin from my knees to my ankles in a frenzy of happiness. After an hour of being loved, hugged and licked (by the dog!), I hit the gym.
I’d lost all my hard earned gains, had put on weight, and felt like crap. An hour later, I staggered out and made my way home.
I needed to make some changes to my lifestyle.
That night, as I logged on to Craig Harper.com I read that I needed to change my thinking before anything else could change. Yep. What was first? I put my beer down and stared at it for a long time…