Thursday, September 02, 2004

Cold Beer And Crocodiles

I'm still working my way through the Nixon years in The Sixteen-Trillion Dollar Mistake, but I wanted to mention a great book that I finished just before I started this blog, Cold Beer And Crocodiles by Roff Smith. As an American journalist living in Australia, Smith decided to ride a bicycle around the perimeter of the continent. He met a lot of great people, encountered some brutal weather conditions (140-degree heat!), and discovered much more about the country than he had known from his years of living in Sydney.

The hospitality and friendliness of Aussies is a recurrent theme. For example, once while he was riding, a pick-up pulled up alongside him and someone offered him a beer. This is a suspicious situation for a cyclist, since a lot of beer cans get thrown at cyclists from pick-ups. These guys were sincere, though. After a little conversation and a couple of beers, they invited the author to join them for a week of camping and fishing. He was far braver than I because he took them up on it and had a great time. That's just one of many entertaining episodes.

Perhaps the best endorsement for this book is that my wife, who has little interest in bicycle touring, enjoyed reading it, too (she only made it as far as Louisiana in
my cross-country journal). Smith has also written a couple of Australia guidebooks, but I have not seen them. Special thanks to Trucker Buddy Tom for lending me this great book.

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