17 August, 2012

The voiceless day

(Wednesday 25th July)

I started the day with less voice than yesterday and that hasn’t improved. It is very difficult to manage my rowdy family with nothing more than a squeak or a whisper. Even worse in a van where just to be heard you have to speak pretty loudly. A few times I resorted to notes. However, “Settle down or you’ll lose another M&M!” just doesn’t have the same force in a note! Even worse is that you can’t easily get other people’s attention. I can barely reach the boy sitting in the rear facing aisle seat, I tell you I was tempted to throw things today!
Where we landed at the end of the day:
Campaspe River.

We started with grumpy boys this morning, actually mostly just one grumpy boy. It was late to bed last night and then he was the one sleeping on the breakfast table, so had to be shifted most urgently this morning. Another one said, “I don’t like this, all day driving, day after day, thing very much.” I could only agree with him.

Today, though, we were able to finish driving a little bit earlier, about 5pm. Enough time to go and explore the flowing river (and give the grey nomads a scare when our boys went up on the narrow road bridge, which constituted the 110km/hr highway, before we knew where they were). It was a very timely spot to stop for the night as the boys had about reached breaking point. About 10km earlier our eldest forcefully thumped the seat repeatedly and then screamed his lungs out. His explanation:
Building a castle with river sand.

“I did it to get out my frustration so that I didn’t thump one of my brothers.”
“What are you frustrated about?”
“I don’t know.”

I could have answered that for him. He was sick of being stuck in this car, just like the rest of us. I applauded his ability to recognise his own emotions and not take them out on his brothers, but the yell was a bit much and gave David, who was driving at the time, a fright.

I didn't look too sick, did I?
This morning I dozed off in my seat after driving the first shift. This is highly unusual behaviour for me (as an adult, as a kid I did it regularly); but probably a combination of tiredness from all this driving and battling a cold. It did help the morning go quickly, though! I was worried about my after lunch driving shift, so I broke my no caffeine rule and drank a Diet Coke. That helped my drowsiness a lot!

In the last driving shift of the day we met a kangaroo on two different occasions. We slowed for both of them, the first one actually took off and jumped across the road only a couple of metres in front of the motor home. If we’d hit it that would have probably been the end of our motor homing holiday. It was fairly large, maybe about 130cm. So it was a relief to get off the road a little earlier today.

Just after sunrise the next morning.
We’re in a lusher environment; the tablelands west of Charters Towers. I’m not sure we saw any water flowing or lying around in the Northern Territory, but there is around here, even water lying along the road. More vegetation, more wildlife. We lost count of the road kill we saw in the hills east of Mt Isa this morning, in fact all along the road. There must have been dozens.

Oh, and tonight is our last official “free camping”. We only have two more nights left in our journey and for both we’ll be parked at the houses of friends in Mackay and Bundaberg.

Tonight we’re in a lovely spot by a river, but the downside is that we’re sandwiched between the highway and the train line. Granted we’ve only seen one train in 3 ½ hours, but every now and then a semi trailer sounds its horn, no idea why, but that could be a disturbing feature of this otherwise charming spot!

Another good thing about today was that we were able to get almost all the clothes I washed last night dry. Only because we travelled basically east all day and, being winter, the sun came steadily from the north, through the window over our bed. At each stop I spread out a new set of damp clothes on the bed and through the whole day it almost all got dry! Amazing.
Sunrise the next morning.

For now, it is 8.45pm, and I can’t wait to lie down on this bed (I’m sitting up while typing). Maybe we’ll need a holiday to get over this holiday?

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