I mentioned my new best friends Tinana and Scrabble, didn't I? Scrabble is a scruffy and fairly brainless but totally adorable little terrier of some sort, with the cutest personality. She has two expressions - awake and asleep - and I have never known a dog to contort herself so wildly to get patted.
After lengthy debate about whether she was an 'adorable love pumpkin' or an 'adorable love parsnip' (she is shaped more like a parsnip than a pumpkin, it's true) I almost got away with smuggling her into my tank bag for the trip home. That Michelle was too feisty though. She heard me encouraging the Love Parsnip to hop into my tank bag.
'Don't do it, Scrabble,' she hissed. 'She has CATS!' Sigh...
So, Scrabbleless, and with a loaded up bike, I followed Clem for a fab ride to Mount Glorious. Yeah, tough life, but the thought of riding the motorway back through Brissie during peak hour was too horrible, so we'd planned to head out of Brisbane the scenic way. Actually, it wasn't peak hour when we left. It was closer to midday, and the clouds that hung over Brissie were black and evil-looking.
They didn't get any better. The first enormous blobs of rain splashed onto me just near Warwick, but they didn't last. Refuelling at Tenterfield, I asked the man at the servo if he knew what the weather ahead was like, and the report was all bad (and, as it turned out, very accurate!) Some ominous thundery rumbles made me put on the wet weather gear - well, the top half anyway - it was still way too warm to wear the entire sauna suit.
After the rain had been pelting down in non-stop sheets for half an hour I was actually feeling a little cool around the legs, not to mention squelchy in the toe region as my Rossi boots gave up all pretence of being waterproof.
I gave up when I could no longer see the road for the rain, and pulled over in a little place called Deepwater where, oddly enough, the water was very deep - rivers of it running down the sides of the main road. I abandoned my poor bike to rain and hail, and sheltered under an awning until the sky lightened a tiny bit. Could I make it to Glen Innes and a warm dry motel, I wondered?
I could. The rain sort of stopped - but when I got to Glen Innes there was hail piled so high by the sides of the road that it looked like a snowscape!
Press on, press on while the weather's tolerable, said the little voice in my head. You might even get as far as Armidale!
Not a hope. The sky split again just as I limped into Guyra, and I turned into the Guyra Park Motel. Lucky to get a room, I was - a road crew from just down the highway had scored some emergency accommodation to escape the wild weather. You can't lay bitumen in torrential rain, apparently.
So - even though the motel was full, the town was empty (it shuts on Monday nights) and if it hadn't been for a fellow traveller called Pete, I would've had nothing but a bag of chips for dinner. Resourceful Pete sourced some lasagne, and we chatted till quite late. He was heading home to Cairns on a KTM he'd just bought in Sydney (hope your trip's going well, Pete!)
After a late night I'd hoped to sleep till 6am, but thunder, lightning and an absolute deluge of Old Testament proportions woke me at 5 on Tuesday morning.