Felix's birthday & getting it back together

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2011

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Flag of Norway  , Eastern Valleys,
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Today is Felix’s birthday and just like the last fews days it has been a roller-coaster of emotions, thankfully not quite as extreme as Monday. Naturally Felix was up bright and early Tuesday morning to put Nina back together, confident all our troubles were over, it was going to be so simple, just pop everything back together, tighten it all up and away we go, on the road by lunchtime. I was also up and about, packing up our bed and organising everything to pack back onto Nina. She has crushed my spirit and broken my heart too many times for me to be brimming with confidence and joy. I was packing up and happily sure we were going to be off again, but deep down I had a niggling feeling this was all going just a little too well.

 I was checking my emails a little down the hill from the open shed where we are camped and repairing Nina when Felix called out to me rather calmly “Floss, we’re not out of trouble yet.” Any positive attitude and up mood I had managed to muster that morning for mine and Felix’s sake was shattered. The whole bloody story of the trip, one problem after another. One of the head studs, the bolts that keep the head compressed onto the cylinder had threaded again, it was the emergency M8 threaded rod repair that had replaced one of the troublesome studs that we didn’t replace in Germany. And a threaded head stud means the head and cylinder can’t be compressed together, which means a loss of compression, which means over-heating and loss of power blah blah blah same problem over and over.

 So we were back to square one in my mind, but to Felix this is only a setback in time, as everything else is good to go as far as we know. But we were still back to ordering parts from all over the world which takes over a week because of customs and tax. Norway has no stock of spare parts anywhere. I’m not going to try to explain the debacle of umming and aahhhring and botch job attempts to get us going again. The challenge of getting parts to Norway within a month is so freaking ridiculously hard I don’t know whether to laugh or cry - well actually that’s just a figure of speech - I know I want to cry. And thats when it was decided what to get. Geir and Stine have been so wonderfully kind and understanding of our need for cheap options and our desire to get going again promptly and have been really going way out of their way to help by calling their friends and professional contacts to see if anyone has something that could be a solution. And although this is so kind and generous it has borne no fruit. So now it was just ordering what we need and getting the long process underway, there was too much beating around the bush for my liking. Please don’t get me wrong, I am eternally grateful  for the amazing kindness, generosity and hospitality these wonderful people have given us so freely off their own backs, but I’m lacking in the virtue of patience right now, though Felix still seems to have plenty.

 Finally after two days of stuffing around deciding what to do, a decision has been made and hopefully tomorrow the order of parts we don’t want anymore and the wrong payment will be rectified and the parts will be en-route via a friend of Felix in Berlin as the company we are ordering from does not ship to Norway for tax and Customs reasons. The reason we are not ordering direct though the Ural dealer is that it entails longer Customs delays. The thread in the cylinder was destroyed, probably by the dodgy quick fixes all along the way with bad replacement studs and then trying to clean the thread. So we were going to use a Helicoil, then we were going to buy a new cylinder but that went out the window because of even more complicated screw ups by past mechanics, so it was back to a Helicoil to fix the destroyed thread in the cylinder. Hopefully the Helicoil is a success, (if not...oh my god, I honestly don’t know what I’ll do.) then when the new studs arrive in they go and away we go

 I’ve decided, and Felix has agreed, we will give up on the dream of going to Lofoten to see whale bones and Tromso for the midnight sun. This is going to be that hardest thing for me to get over. Of all the places I’ve wanted to go, these two places have been absolute top priority, two of the few places in the world I really get arced up about and am genuinely interested in seeing are now off the program - unless we’re prepared to spend a lot of money. So thats it. I feel like it’s kind of over now. The main event has been cancelled, as good as the side shows are it’s just not what I came for. Felix thinks this is funny as I never planned Lofoten and Tromso as parts of this trip at the beginning, in fact we left with no plan, but I have built so much expectation and hope on these destinations. So as hard as it is, time to get over it and get what I can out of whats left. I remembered today how excited I was about doing some WWOOFing. The new plan is to head back to Germany and move around there where spare parts and breakdowns are less challenging. Which will be really good I hope I’m very excited about the whole idea of WWOOFing and being in big happy organic gardens outdoors. I have high expectations, which can be very dangerous.

 Now in all this carry-on I have barely mentioned Felix’s birthday. He spent the day organising the shipping of new parts. After dinner with Stine and Geir, they offered we go to a tool shop called Biltema to get some tools to repair Nina’s latest problem. Then Felix got the best birthday present. Geir offered we take the bikes shopping, Felix and me in his sidecar, Stine and himself on his solo bike. His Ural is only two years old and runs beautifully. Felix was so happy to be riding such a nice bike. He was inspired and his confidence renewed that Nina could again run so nicely. A pessimist like me however just felt disappointed and angry that our bike has been such a failure. It was really sad to realise how different our experience could have been. But anyway, a really nice thing for Felix to do on his birthday. Abroad, celebrations in honour of Felix hitting the twenty five mark were much more lavish than here. In Heidelberg West, a large Toblerone was shared around the Cameron family and happy birthday was sung to Felix over Skype. In Hoddles Creek, my family baked Felix a delicious looking gooey chocolate cake, picked him some flowers, called and sung happy birthday and even had a candle burning in his honour. Felix was really touched by all the birthday wishes sent his way and very happy to have had some lovely chats to family back home. Also special thoughts have been going out to John, Yuki, Clancy and Leo who have just headed off to Madagascar, hoping to spot some lemurs, monkeys and chameleons - a trip seven years in the planning, we wish them all the best on what is sure to be fantastic adventure, especially for the little boys.
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David on

Floss, it was quite painful reading your frustration and impatience as it brings back memories of numerous occasions when Lee has done her absolute stirling best to keep smiling and keep her cool as the hours went by as I finished packing the old FJ for our next trip to the bush, knowing all the while that the longer it took to get away the later into the night we'd be travelling up the dreaded Bonang Highway to finally reach our destination of the Goongerah camp site under the Gippsland Peppermints overlooking the magic Brodribb River. So, although its no comfort whatsoever, I can see where Felix gets it from ... (that's just a line taken from a favourite Rowan Atkinson skit but a bit unkind since the source of all your troubles is Nina not Felix and without Felix's remarkable resourcefullness and technical competence you'd still be somewhere in Germany)

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