16 August, 2012

Awesome start, very ordinary finish

(Tuesday 24 July)
This morning we started early again, finishing in time to see the sun rise in a most spectacular place — Karlu Karlu (Devil's Marbles).  I finished tidying up after breakfast a few minutes after everyone left and was most surprised to get out of the motor home and find my entire family standing on the tops of large boulders! I scrambled up too, as far as I dared with my short legs, and watched the sun rise. It was beautiful.

And there is nothing quite a quick scramble on boulders to produce quiet boys for a while afterwards. We had a good start.

But on the whole it was a day when Murphy’s law abounded. The first hint was 100km into my first shift of the day. I was driving carefully at 49 km/hr through Tennant Creek, but missed the school zone sign and was pulled over by a policeman (in a green police car). He was gracious enough to just give me a warning, seeing quite clearly that we were visitors to the state, but it shook me up a little.

This was our third encounter with police in the Northern Territory. The first two were on David’s shifts when he was Random Breath tested plus a visual safety check. Our fourth was to come later today when we stopped at a rest stop across the road from a remote police station. 

On our way out of the rest stop we realised that we’d neglected to take the water cooler off the kitchen bench (a lethal weapon at 100km/h), so David pulled across the highway and onto the verge while we fixed the problem. In that short time the policeman noticed us (we’re pretty obvious) and dashed out in his car to see what was wrong. He was a bit nonplussed that we were fine. There isn’t a rule about not parking in front of police stations, is there? I’m guessing he was having a slow day!

Camping at Karlu Karlu.
Most of the rest of our travels were fairly uneventful, if long. Again, we had very few stops — most were driver and passenger seat changes, fuel, toilet needs. We made it back into Queensland again, our home state.

Oh, but I did pass my second road train (with three trailers)! My first was yesterday just outside of Alice Springs. It is a scary thing to do, especially in a motor home! But thankfully this baby has a good amount of power and we were on the Barkley highway west of the Qld border, which is pretty straight and not high on traffic.

A painted-on road grid!
Check this link:
I’m battling a cold, though I don’t feel too bad. I sound pretty bad though. It is a combination of a cold and talking over the noise of the engine to David as well as shouting back at the boys. My voice gradually faded over the day. I even took a nap. I don’t remember the last time I napped during a car journey.

We pulled into Mt Isa close to dusk, I dashed into Coles to get groceries while the guys got petrol. Then we searched for the caravan park we were booked into. The directions were distinctly unclear and got us lost at a time when we were low on energy reserves. My lack of voice didn’t help my feelings of frustration either. By this time the boys were just acting crazy in the back, and that made finding our way even more difficult. Eventually we found our way and parked. Everything seemed to take so long as we prepared for dinner and sleeping the night, and I began to make mistakes, a sure sign of tiredness.

A lot of straight, flat, featureless land today.
My first mistake was while preparing to wash up after dinner. Without a dish drainer, it is challenging to dry dishes for five people. I was checking the stove to see which element was hot (David cooked left-over pancake mix for dessert) and unthinkingly touched the hot one with the pads of my index and middle fingers. Oooooouch!

Next mistake came soon afterwards. I somehow lost the plus down the plughole. It squished and went shooting down the pipe. Thankfully it is tethered to the tap, so we fished it out eventually!

Third mistake was putting the laundry into the dryer on too weak a setting (which goes with another mistake: not bringing enough dollar coins with us on this trip). End result: a bunch of clothes that are clean and only partly dry and no money to put them through another dryer cycle (office is shut). They’re hanging outside overnight, I hope they are a bit drier before we depart early tomorrow. Wet clothes are difficult to manage when you are travelling!

Fourth mistake: washing myself in the shower with body lotion. It was lovely and smooth, but I wonder how clean I got?

I could write more, but my fingers are hurting and I’m tired. Time to call it a day. Tomorrow onwards towards to coast. We have two days to get to Mackay via Townsville, both days should be less than 700km, which is better than today and yesterday. We’ve driven close to 1,600km since yesterday morning. No wonder I’m a bit muddled. Hopefully it will be a good night and another great start tomorrow. Our youngest son commented to me that he was disappointed we couldn’t see any horizon from our caravan park. I guess we’ve seen a lot of horizon recently and he’s grown to enjoy that. I hope Tokyo won’t be too much a comedown for us all!

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