I spent this morning checking the rain gauge, eating croissants and drinking coffee at home. A storm late last night had watered the garden, letting me off the hook for a day or so. By two o'clock I'd exhausted all possibilities and there was nothing for it but to go for a ride. I had an idea I might travel a couple of hours across to the central tablelands and stop for a drink at a café, maybe visit one of the small lakes and return home at sunset. I turned onto the Burrendong Way towards Orange at about three o'clock and for a while it was warm sunshine and wispy high-altitude clouds. An oncoming young P-plate driver in a Subaru Forester took a race line over a curving crest, fully in my lane. I took his lane and went around him. What a difference two or three seconds can make. The current strong El Niño cycle is making its effect known with just a trickle of water running in the Bell River. I flushed a couple of wood ducks from under the bridge as I took this photo. I began counting the first of five dead brown and black snakes that I saw during the afternoon. Whenever I saw a stick or piece of bark on the road I was a little bit leery. Cresting a rise on the Euchareena Road, the view stretched south towards Mount Canobolas about fifty kilometres away. Dark storm clouds were piling in towards the mountain from the south west. Hmm. The area gets incredible thunderstorms due to the higher tableland country. I decided to change plan; head west to Parkes and back north toward Dubbo through the Goobang National Park. A few kilometres on towards the town of Molong and I paused to find my water bottle gone. Looking across the Cumulus vineyard in the direction I was travelling, I couldn't help but notice more storm clouds coming over the horizon. 'Fiddlesticks' I said to myself or something like that. By the time I'd re-fueled and bought another drink at the service station at Molong, the sky towards Parkes was a darker shade of the nice grey that I'd seen earlier. I checked the weather radar on my phone - heavy rain and lightning. Time to head home and see if I could escape the dreadful fate of putting my wet weather human-shaped condom on. I've only put it on once on the side of the road. What other motorists thought of the demented creature, arms and legs flailing about, bending this way and that, shouting obscenities into my helmet as I tried to get into the thing before rain hit. The shop might as well have supplied it with a leather face mask and handcuffs. Hell's teeth, I don't like it. Today, I was wearing my leather jacket and moleskine jeans and a finer figure I could not cut and it wasn't going to spoilt by sweaty Nylon. Not wanting to sit on the highway during the likely Sunday afternoon highway patrol blitz for the next hour or so, I turned onto Banjo Paterson Way, the back road to Dubbo and did a little unintended wheelie over the hump of the railway level crossing heading out of town. When I went over a ridgeline I could see to the south and west again and the curtain of rain coming. Every so often particularly yellow lightning would strike in the distance. As I went north the sun fitfully came out and blue sky and fluffy cumulus were still to the north and east. As I went through the first of two sleepy villages I noticed a few people sitting out on their verandahs. I looked at them and they followed me with their gaze as I went slowly past. Nothing so much that it'd inspire a Stephen King novel but everyone did it as I went by. A little way on and I paused just long enough to take a photo of the perfectly sweeping winrows of mown silage hay in a paddock, the storm growing closer and a cool outflow breeze from it reaching me as I stood there. I went on and took the Renshaw-McGirr Way to the north-east away from the cloud and managed to scare an oblivious farmer doing about 50 km/h in his old Saab 900 as I went around him changing gear at highway speed. He shot bolt-upright in his seat and gripped the steering wheel with both hands. I took the circuitous route back through Mount Arthur and the sun was shining again, the only thing missing was a rainbow. Then I came out of the hills to the west and saw this. To top it off, several lightning strikes happened in the distance just after I took the photo. A nearby wheat crop, still green, was moving like waves in the strong breeze. Thirty minutes later I was pulling into the driveway just as the first drops fell and it looks as though I'm off garden watering duty for another day.