(continuing journal excerpts from Spring 2014)
The Third Day … still
As I was saying … the problem is the number of hours between leaving our hotel room this morning and arriving at the cabin on the Maroochydore River.
The number is 27.
27 is not a huge number, but it is a lot of hours to power the Ventilator (or in less clinical terminology the breathing machine, as I prefer to think of it) that I can no longer be without. It’s more than two years since I learned how to power the breathing machine from the batteries of the power wheelchair (B4, remember her?) through a car-fridge transformer; with considerable coaching from our electronics shop (a real shop, with real advice!). More recently I have discovered how to power the machine from 18 volt cordless drill batteries, which is invaluable because B4 is now parked in the shed and I use a manual wheelchair almost exclusively. Ryobi Lithium batteries are brilliant, durable things. But how many of them do you need to make a 27 hour dash between power points? The answer I have come up with, checked and double checked, is three 4.5 AH (amp hour) batteries. They cost $100 each, but that is a fraction of the cost of the proprietary batteries for the machine.
So, here I am on-board the train bound for Brisbane, ten twenty-sevenths down, seventeen twenty-sevenths ahead. One 4.5 AH battery spent, as expected, so far so good! If my maths is wrong, or if something brakes down, there is a fail-safe system as well, built into what used to be a power wheelchair (a story for another day). The ‘Tractor’ for want of a better name, is sitting across the isle of the train and contains a complete spare system that I rarely leave home without: a second breathing machine, back up 18 Volt, 24V, and 240V power supplies; spare air hoses, spare masks, a bag of tools, and two 15 AH wheelchair drive batteries. That sounds like a lot of power, but using it will reduce the driving range needed for catching tomorrow’s train from Brisbane to Nambour, and then a bus to Maroochydore. Flat driving batteries would be a nasty setback!
Travelling with a sense of calculated risk is energizing and scary. I’m a little less scared and a little more energized with every mile of rail that passes beneath the train, but an indisputable fact remains: I am a very long way from home if something goes wrong! I feel irresponsible, especially when I think of the inconvenience I will cause other people if the wheels do fall off. And there are so many wheels!
A Journal is a valuable possession throughout life, but an essential one when travelling. Something happens to us when we leave one place bound for another; something so significant that it has fuelled endless books, films, songs and every form of art for centuries. The changing scenery flashing past and the slower evolution out at the horizon summons an aspect of my soul. Motion changes every facet of perspective. I become reflective, satisfied, curious, inventive, ambitious even. I love it! A Train Meditation from the pages of my journal …
“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul.” (1st Peter in the New Testament).
My paraphrase (a habit of years; a good way to explore a passage):
Family of God-loved People, listen! Because you are foreign to the world, without a home until we are Home, don’t give an inch to greed, self-interest or other self-demands; these things will deplete your soul.
I am not at home. I am on a long trip and I need to conserve, conserve, plan and save. I have limited batteries for breath. I have two small Thermoses of tea! I have the smallest of wheelchair batteries for mobility. So it’s a matter of careful planning and reserving. People of Faith are also away from home. We are exiles, aliens, strangers in this world of horrors as much as it is a world of beauty.
Use Sparingly – Save Our Souls. Keep everything primed and sharp. Don’t sleep, remain alert, fit to fight.
To be continued …
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