“May you live in interesting times” is (supposedly) an old Chinese proverb. Whether it is a curse or a blessing is dependent on the situation, I think. Here are my interesting times. First, let me introduce the cast. My name is Nathan. This is me: I’m riding Elena through and around Australia. Elena and I left White Cliffs in the early afternoon today heading towards Paroo-Darling National Park, then south to Wilcannia. After a few days of blasting along outback roads, I was feeling cocky. So when we reached this sign, I didn’t worry about the other signs right next to it. I had been dealing with “road maintenance” signs for a few days now, and they didn’t seem to mean anything. Elena and I set off towards Wilcannia. The detour alternative was back tracking on bitumen, and I wasn’t keen to repeat a boring road. A few kilometers down the road, we came across the first water crossing. Now, water on the road is fairly common in the outback—especially with a wet year like this one—so I wasn’t too fussed by it. A quick check on foot showed that the water was fairly shallow with a slightly soft bottom. Elena and I made it across easy. Not far down the road, we came across another crossing. This one was a lot bigger, but after a quick wade, I thought we could get across Bunker Creek. We made it through the first section, water splashing everywhere, but everything was fine—except there were more sections. As I rode through the largest of the crossings, Elena suddenly cutout. I had drowned her in water barely over the footpegs. On top of that, the wind was picking up, and there were dark, ominous-looking clouds on the horizon. I pushed Elena out of the water, which was about 100 meters, then pulled the luggage off her and set to work. At this point I was thinking “This road is closed. No one will find me on it for a very long time.” I had to get myself out of there. After checking the air filter (soaked in water), draining the carb , and pulling the fuel tank off to remove a spark plug and pump the water out of the engine, Elena finally started. The wind was getting really strong now, blowing red grit through all my gear. I put Elena back together as quickly as I could, loaded her up again and we set off as the first drops of rain struck the dry dust of the road. The road ahead looked dry, so I figured the water crossings were all behind me now. It was just a race against the rain. Elena quickly got into her stride and was running quite well considering the circumstances. I rounded a corner doing 100kph when a gray kangaroo on the side of the road suddenly jumped out on a collision course with me. I slammed on the brakes as hard as I dared in the dirt and scrubbed off just enough speed for the ‘roo to pass in front of me by centimeters. As I flew past, Elena’s bashplate and footpeg clipped his leg. In the mirror, I saw him limp off the road, but I didn’t have time to stop. I had to get off this track before the rain turned it to mud. I kept barreling along until I saw another big water crossing. I couldn’t believe it. I was now stuck between water crossings with a thunderstorm bearing down on me. It was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation, so I decided to keep going. The crossing was deep. I wanted to go slowly to keep the engine dry with my feet paddling for balance, but the drag was too much. I put my feet on the footpegs and slogged on. The water was up to my shins and I was worried I would drown the bike again. With lots of clutch slipping to control our speed, we got through. On dry ground again, I gave Elena some throttle. She wasn’t happy. More water in her engine, but she kept running. A few hundred metres down the road we came upon yet another water crossing. This one was deep. The marker showed it was at least 80cm of water. There was no way I could get Elena through that. With the wind howling and the rain steadily getting stronger, I knew I had to turn around and ride back the way I had come. To make matters worse, removing the fuel tank and draining the carb had wasted a lot of my fuel. Somehow I made it through all the water crossings a second time, abusing the clutch to keep me moving slowly forward without stalling. The wind was now at my back as I hammered along the road, dodging pieces of fencing wire, cattle, and nasty washouts. The rain had died down as I outpaced the storm clouds. I reached the “road closed” intersection and turned left towards White Cliffs. Twenty kilometers out from town, Elena gave two sad little backfires then died. I rolled to a stop, switched the petcocks to reserve and fired her up again. Safari tanks have useless reserves due to the bottom of the tank being below the carb, so I crossed my fingers and gently got Elena up to speed. The wind was now slicing in from my left, making holding a line in the wheel ruts difficult and the rain was catching me again. I rolled into White Cliffs just as the rain caught me, clomped into the local pub covered in mud and got a room for the night. Is living in interesting times a curse of a blessing? That depends on if you survive the interesting times. Today I did, but I got a hell of a lot of stupid knocked out of me in the process.