I did a lot of driving on Saturday, probably more than I do in the typical month. One trip to Geelong, one across town, both into uncharted territory which had me – at some stages – continually checking the Melway on the passenger seat to verify where I was. Suddenly I can see the point of those high tech in-car navigation system things that treat you like a moron. "Turn left in 200 metres, or you will be forever lost in the bowels of North Geelong."

Actually the drive to Geelong went smoothly as far as navigation was concerned. The thing about the drive to Geelong is that while you can’t possibly get lost on the freeway – it has signs so huge pointing to Geelong that you can be in no doubt that you’re going in the right direction – it’s so damn BORING since the roadworks finished. Miles and miles of straight, flat road. At least when they were still fixing it, you might see the occasional bulldozer to break the monotony.

Being the first day of the long weekend, one might have expected a lot of people to be heading out of town, but in fact there wasn’t much traffic until getting into Geelong. Then I encountered congestion, and worse: the surfer dudes.

The surfer dudes had overtaken me earlier on the freeway. I’m not sure I believe thosecontinual e-mails that come around via friends of friends of friends supposedly listing the locations of speed cameras on the freeway to Geelong, but it does leave me being a tad more careful than usual about my speed. Anyway the surfer dudes were in a white station wagon, probably heading down to Torquay or somewhere for the weekend. They had one of those stickers on the back of their car which has some lame joke accompanied by an obscene hand gesture that most of us would look at in the shop and think maybe it was remotely clever or funny for a split second, but it is in no way good enough that one would actually part money for it, let alone slap it on the back of the car. I don’t even remember what it said now, but trust me on this: it was lame.

So when I got to Geelong, a proliferation of traffic lights and other traffic barred my way into the city. I was head of the queue in the middle lane at one such set of lights, and as the light turned green and we all started off again, I saw the surfer dudes waiting to turn out of a service station exit. The surfer dude who was driving paused for a little bit too long, thinking about whether he wanted to go or wait, then decided to go. He zoomed out onto the road, right across all three lanes of traffic, into the right hand lane, then swerved back into the middle lane. I had to brake sharply (and gave them a toot of the horn), then watched over the next couple of K as they drove along, drifting around in the lane, almost into the left hand lane several times. Hmmm. A car to avoid, which I managed to do for the rest of the drive.

Having the Melways handy didn’t stop me getting quite lost on the cross town trip later in the day – in my mind I confused two quite separate roads across the river that are 3 kilometres apart, and ended up waaaay off course. And when I got to the street I was headed for, the handily scrawled Post-It note with the street number on it went missing, and I spent several minutes scrabbling about the car trying to find it.

Many hours later I headed back, and thought I knew where I was going, until I found myself not on Princess Street as I expected but on Earl Street instead. Which was okay, I found my way home, though now I think about it, I wonder if the people who named the streets around there had an obsession with royalty. I finally arrived home about 2:20am, so tired I didn’t even brush my teeth before collapsing into bed. Though I did manage to quickly check my e-mail. Priorities, you know?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.