rAge 2006.

This post is a little late, I know, but student holidays are over and work’s been keeping me busy again. But anyway…

We left Durban at 06:00 (after picking up the two guys that I was taking up with me) and headed on up. Stopped at Mooi River for some breakfast after waiting 10 minutes at the ramp toll gate because the truck drivers were taking their sweet bloody time to pay the toll fees. Nevertheless, it was only a minor annoyance (and we had the pleasure of listening to a hilarious clip on the radio on pilots wanting to be radio DJs while we waited). Anyway, an hour out of Mooi River, I was feeling relaxed and settled. I’d had a good breakfast, hardly any traffic on the road – you know, that sort of thing. I was feeling confident that I’d reach Johannesburg between 13:00 and 14:00…

Then, as I got to the top of Van Reenen’s Pass, at the last left-hand bend before you cross into the Free State (just past the Little Church turn-off, for those of you that’s been that way before), I came to a queue of stationary vehicles. We’d just gone though some roadworks, so my first thought was: “More roadworks. Probably one of those 20 minute stop/go thingies. Won’t take too long before I’m though.” But then a Hazardous Materials vehicle came by on the wrong side of the road (which was eerily deserted) and I knew that it was something bad.

Then a cop car came driving past, and informed us that a tanker carrying hazardous stuff had overturned just past the bend that we were on. So we had to turn off all cellphones, and that sort of thing. One of the two guys I was taking up smokes like a chimney, so he wasn’t too happy about that. We walked 500m up the road, and there lay the tanker. It was obstructing the two lanes going to Harrismith, and was leaking all its contents all over the other two lanes. What we found really ironic is that the cop car that had warned us earlier was parked in the middle of all the foam that the Hazmat truck had sprayed down. Idiotic bugger.

We realised that the road would probably be closed for the remainder of the day, and had to decide: do we wait or find another route? After a brief discussion, we got back into the car, turned around, and headed back down the pass. Our new route: the old route before Van Reenen’s pass existed – the N11 going through Ladysmith, Newcastle and Volksrust, then the R23 going though Standerton before rejoining the N3 at Heidelburg.

We had lunch at a Wimpy we found on the outskirts of Newcastle, where the service was excruciatingly slow. But then, I suppose that’s what you’d expect at a small town. I next ended up stopping three hours later when we finally reached Heidelburg, as there were no places to stop at inbetween. Not only that, but the stretch between Volksrust and Standerton turned out to be the biggest one-way out there. I got stuck behind a truck for the best past of 60km, unable to overtake. Fortunately, when we reached Standerton, the truck decided to continue its journey on the road to Secunda. When I finally found a garage at the interchange with the N3, my arms were just about ready to fall off.

By then, it was 16:45 and we were anticipating heavy traffic on the road ahead. To our surprise, there was heavy traffic, but it was all heading in the opposite direction, and we reached our destination, the Coca-Cola Dome in Northgate without further incident.

As for the LAN itself, it was extremely well organised, with an efficient registration system. We fortunately found seats right next to the other group of guys that went up (they went up the day before and spent the night in Harrismith, therefore avoiding the tanker chaos). What was really nice, is that you could wish for any game, and you were almost guaranteed of someone playing it. Needless to say, Flatout 2 was pretty much the order of the day as far as I was concerned. I also tried my hand at some deathmatch games (really fun with a full server) and stayed well clear of Counter-Strike and DotA.

#ifndef OFFTOPIC_RANT
#define OFFTOPIC_RANT
I’m convinced that the only reason that people still play Counter-Strike is that they can’t afford a computer to play a better game on. Then again, when they get said better computer, they’ll probably play nothing else but Counter-Strike: Source. There were two guys in my immediate vicinity that played nothing else the entire time.
#endif

On Saturday, we visited the exhibition itself, and saw a whole lot of shiny gadgets and new toys to play around with. I also popped to the PCFormat stand and met Cameron. Cameron is the guy who does the PCFormat cover discs, and if you’ll recall, he left a comment on here a while back. He’s probably one of the friendliest people that I’ve ever met. I also met up with some old friends of mine that I haven’t seen in years, and met some new ones. I’d brought up my spare PSU to give to one of them who needed it badly – the poor guy was doing some modding and fried his one. He was really appreciative when I handed that PSU over.

I also realised that I wouldn’t get much sleep there (bearing in mind that I still had to drive back home on Sunday), so on Saturday evening I headed off to Benoni to spend the night with some family friends. They were thrilled to see me, and we spent the best part of Sunday morning catching up on news. Then I headed back to pick up my computer and the other two guys, and off we went back to Durban. The drive back was totally uneventful, except for some rather extreme weather conditions that we encountered between Mooi River and Pietermaritzburg.

Bring on rAge 2007.

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