What is it about me and the F3 Freeway?
After spending the last few days in a futile attempt to get loosely organised (and I use the terms 'loosely' and 'organised' in their loosest of loose forms) for our foray to NZ (oh, did I mention that? Yeah I'm off to NZ for a bit. Of riding.) the K-man and myself loaded up the rental and were about to leave when the phone rang. Dad. "Have you heard about the fires blocking the F3? Well, no! Hmmm. Flashbacks to New Year's Day 06 rapidly filled my head with dread. That day was about 44c. No air con in my car. We had to turn around and stay overnight at Richy's. A nightmare, but we saved his dog. Then on our next venture south, we were stuck again on our way home when a major accident blocked the highway. Today was thankfully 'only' around the mid 30s, and we had the luxury of an air-conditioned car, so that wasn't a major concern. What was tough, was the fact that we were pissing in the wind if we thought we were gonna make it to the airport on time. Radio was saying that it was about a 3 hour crawl down the old Pacific Highway, and just as we were detoured onto it the word came through that it was out of action too.
Choppers hovered above, either dropping water on the flames or filming it for the news (we saw our car!) Keeds was walking up the road to see what was going on, and was relaying news back down the line. Well, people were just grabbing him and asking what he knew. A lady even came up to us and said "I was told you're the man to speak to" to Kedan! Then another guy appeared and asked where the race was we were going to do. I looked on in bemusement as Kedan spat out "Ara tara katara ra" or some such drivel. I quietly hoped the guy wasn't a Kiwi and required more information.
Finally we got to move the 400 metres to a point we could turn around and see the turmoil behind. The traffic was backed up from where we had been for about 10km, and people looked like they were settling in for the long haul. Our shouts of "GO BACK YOU FOOLS" fell on dumb ears, but we couldn't give a crap by this stage... we were outa there. So after three hours of sitting still and a slew of calls to airlines later, we were heading back towards home with tails between our legs and rescheduled flights for Wednesday. The chick at Virgin was really good, not like those bastards at Qantas, and even though we have to pay a bit extra for the seats, she waived the changeover fee and was generally really helpful. There are still some good employees of Giant Global Money Laundering Corporations out there after all. So now we'll have another crack at getting across the pond on Wednesday, Acts of Nature permitting. We've done the drill, now it's showtime.
*UPDATE: The 'chick at Virgin' is Tracey, and she called Kedan this morning to say that we don't have to pay anything at all to change our flights, and the same for everyone who was caught in the fires. Nice one Virgin!