Sep 15 2009

Day Eleven

tim

CampIt was clear that today would need to be what yesterday was not… that is, we needed to cover some serious distance. The plan was to get to the Central Arnem Road turn-off, head down that for some distance, and make camp somewhere off the road.

We got close. Distance wise, we were spot-on. But through the course of the day we started discussing the prospect of visiting Katherine Gorge – something not on our itinerary at all, but something we all wanted to see. After a few phone calls we worked out that some of our plans within Arnhem Land were going to have to change, and it became clear that a trip to the Gorge would work out pretty well.

IMG_0801It’s a little strange to be close to tourists again, but it’s worth it. The swimming hole at the Gorge is beautiful, and I’m told by those that could actually swim out from the bank that there were beautiful views of the Gorge walls from out in the water. We paddled while the sun slowly sank, and wandered back to camp.

As I write, Mandy and Marco are preparing fried rice for tea… and it smells good. We’re not bothering with tents once again tonight… there’s a few more bugs than last night, but it’s warm and close, and it should be a fantastic night.

Shower time…

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Sep 15 2009

Day Ten

tim

Today begins the long hike up to Arnhem Land. The plan was to cover around 900km today, see very little along the way, and trailer the bikes. We got close to that… only it was about 600 kays, and while we didn’t see much, we seemed to stop a number of times.

IMG_0691The highlight of the day turned out to be our camping spot, at Morphett Creek on the Stuart Hwy. It was a random stop, but it was beautiful. The dry creek bed, the bridge and the sporadic traffic on the highway was a perfect combination. We parked the vehicles between the road and our chosen spot, and we quickly got a fire going. Dad and I were on cooking duties, so while Dad chopped up the vegies, I started spiking the lamb with rosemary and garlic.

Andy tends the fire

Andy tends the fire

After some time in camp ovens, nestled by the fire (with a whole lot of red wine added), the roast was done… and freaking fantastic! We ate, we drank, and we took endless photos of the campfire, just because we could. We spent the rest of the night looking for satellites, before Dad read us a psalm.

We spent the night out under the stars… and it was wonderful.

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Sep 15 2009

Day Nine, continued

tim

By the time I’d finished writing my earlier post, the gang had started to return.

IMG_0608Before dinner, and after a swim, we took a drive up to Anzac Hill to enjoy the view and the setting sun.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier is that I met a young couple from Switzerland at church this morning. I’d seen them over at the pancake kitchen this morning, but we hadn’t spoken then. It turned out that Michael and Jasmine’s campsite was right beside ours. It also turned out that while attempting to gain visas to enter Australia they’d got in touch with our friend Peter Downs, National Director of the Vineyard Churches in Australia. From there he’d put them in touch with some Vineyard pastors who are close friends of some of our company. It’s a small and slightly odd world.

Michael and Jasmine joined us for the evening, and sang along when we had some (not so) campfire singing. They absented themselves while we ate dinner, and returned later in the evening. They were a lovely couple, and it was great to get to know them, if only a little.

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Sep 14 2009

This week’s Tweets: 2009-09-14

tim
  • in Coober Pedy with a broken collar bone. #fb #
  • Staying the course… Uluru, Alice Springs, here we come!! #
  • at the Coober Pedy Catacomb Church #
  • they have a drive in #
  • seen the Coober Pedy Catacomb Church. Stopping for fuel and an actual latte #fb #
  • at the Coober Pedy Catacomb Church #
  • approaching Marla for a lunch stop #
  • over the border into Northern Territory. #fb #
  • just turned on to the Lasseter Highway, toward Curtin Springs #fb #
  • driving to Uluru for the sunrise #fb #
  • http://twitpic.com/h4gkx – sunrise at the rock #
  • spent the day at Ujuru and the Olgas #
  • “Roughing it” at the King’s Canyon Resort. Not allowed to feed the dingoes. Pity… #fb #
  • about 60 kays from Alice #
  • the gang’s all here. Heading to town for dinner! #fb #
  • doc at Alice Springs Hospital says that nothing I do will stop the collar bone from healing. Excited! #fb #
  • Dinner at the Red Sea in Alice Springs with the full gang. Nice! #fb #
  • churching at Alice Springs Salvos with dad, unexpectedly meeting old friends and missing others #fb #
  • Quiet afternoon in Alice Springs. Finally got the blog updated. http://www.halfdecentcoffee.com/ride #fb #
  • Oh can’t you see what love has done; what it’s doing to me? #stolenU2lyrics #fb #
  • breaking camp at Alice Springs. Long long drive north today #fb #
  • driving in to Tennant Creek #fb #

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Sep 13 2009

Day Nine

tim

Rest day today. I went the night without pain killers, and slept well without a sling. Some Dutch tourists are making pancakes for breakfast and selling them… nice little cottage (tent?) industry, and not a bad feed, either.

Dad was keen to go to church at the local Salvos this morning, and while I was less keen, I decided to join him. We’d hoped to catch up with our old friend, Dr. Ray Ingamells, who goes to that church, but unfortunately he was called away to a patient a few minutes before we arrived. It turned out that the pastors there were old friends as well… so it was great to catch up with them. The service was interesting, laid back and a little haphazard, made moreso by the fact that the absent doctor was also their pianist.

Marco and Mandy picked us up from church in the Troopie, and we joined them for shopping. I realised the other day that in all my cleverness in wiring up my tank bag, I had no way to power the bag if for some reason it wasn’t on the bike (which is  all that bag will be doing now, sadly). So, first stop was Repco to buy the bits I need to make a cigarette-lighter-to-tank-bag adapter. After that we bought groceries, and headed back to camp.

The caravan park is quiet, despite being full. Some of our group have gone back to the West Macdonnell Ranges for a walk; Andy and Lyn are reminiscing in the streets of Alice Springs; Mandy and Marco drove off some time ago, and if dad isn’t snoozing under the tree over there, it’s just a matter of time. It’s warm, but the shade is nice and the breeze is nicer. My shoulder is making its presence felt, but doesn’t really hurt. I miss Amanda… but even that’s a nice feeling in its own way. Sure, I’m not riding and I could be… but even that doesn’t seem to matter all that much right now. I’m here, and I’m content. God is good.

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Sep 13 2009

Day Eight

tim
King's Canyon

King's Canyon

Those doing the Rim Walk rose at 6am in an effort to beat the heat of the day. The rest of us, taking the shorter walk, rose a little later. The walk  was very easy, but the canyon itself is beautiful, and I was glad to see it.

Tree at King's CanyonWe returned to camp, packed up and checked out late. Andy, Katy, Jordy and I took the Ernst Giles road back to the Stuart Hwy, while the others drove and rode further north, through the West Macdonnel Ranges. Our shorter route gave Andy time to get me to the Alice Springs Hospital, and to pick up the next three members of our crew.

After a short wait at Accident and Emergency I was seen to by a doctor, who wanted to get some preliminary information before booking me in for an x-ray etc. We chatted for a few minutes, and she took a look at my collar bone. My main concern all week has been whether the next three weeks of activities would be detrimental to the healing process. I told her that I wasn’t really fussed about another x-ray, if she could just let me know what I could do and shouldn’t do to help the bone mend.

She said that there was pretty much nothing I could do that would stop the bone from mending, and that the sling or collar and cuff were only there for my comfort, and not to aid the healing process. She said I could take up left-handed javelin throwing tomorrow if I wanted. Turns out, I don’t want… but the thought itself is reassuring. She said that any more than three weeks in the sling wouldn’t be good for my arm and shoulder, and that the sooner I was out of it, the better.

I didn’t bother with the x-ray, and never even saw a consulting room… and was out of there a few minutes later. While Katy and I waited to be picked up, I tried my arm out of the collar and cuff for the first time. I still can’t lift it much, but I could comfortably stand with it by my side or in my pocket. All up, the news from the doctor was encouraging and liberating, and I feel free to enjoy the rest of the trip in whatever way I feel comfortable doing so.

I returned to our new camp with my arm out of the collar and cuff, and was greeted with a lot of happy and relived smiles… plus three new faces. It was so good to see Lyn, Di and Brad… stage two of our little adventure has begun!

Tonight we had dinner at the Red Sea Restaurant. The newcomers to the group are a little confused, as this seems the antithesis of “roughing it”! The kangaroo was delicious, and by all accounts so was everything else. Our end of the table downed a couple of bottles of fine shiraz, and we headed home feeling quite content.

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Sep 13 2009

Day Seven

tim

I woke at about 1:15am with pain in my shoulder and a dry mouth. I took some pain killers (I’ve switched to Neurofen for all but bed-time, so I don’t fall asleep in the car so much) and a drink and went back to sleep…

It was lovely to sleep in this morning. Yesterday was an epic, and my brief visit to the Curtin Springs Hotel last night was more about determination and refusing to miss out on the experience than anything else.

We only had a couple of hundred kays to drive today, as the rubbery itinerary of the last few days had put us closer to King’s Canyon than we’d originally hoped. So we took our time, had a cooked breakfast, and packed up camp. Since the accident my stuff has been a little scattered, so I’ve been trying to regroup and carve out a place for myself, even without a tent to sleep in. I’m getting there, but I’m still missing a towel and a couple of other things.

The drive was all-bitumen, and the roads were good. I took the lead car with Jordy, and kept an eye on Marco on the bike. We stopped at King’s Creek for fuel, and to check out the facilities, but in the heat we decided to go on to the King’s Canyon Resort. There we found actual lawns, a swimming pool, and a great campers’ kitchen… and WiFi internet! We arrived in time for lunch, after which some of us swam in the pool, while Andy, Katy and Jordy took an 8 minute chopper flight down the canyon. I thought they were joking when they mentioned it… otherwise I would have joined them. Oh well.

In the late afternoon a few people went on one of the shorter canyon walks, intending to do the longer Rim Walk tomorrow. I’ll do the shorter walk tomorrow for obvious reasons, so I stayed at camp this afternoon. Dinner was steak, veggies and salad, expertly prepared by Mandy and Marco.

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Sep 13 2009

Day Six

tim

I slept in the car last night, since I got the feeling that lying flat on my back wouldn’t help my comfort levels at all, and I might even be tempted to roll over in my sleep. So, sleeping in the front seat of the Cruiser it was, with the seat leaning right back and my sleeping bag draped over me. I took pain killers before bed, and slept pretty soundly.

I was woken at 4:00am, as we’d planned last night that we would try to get to Uluru for the sunrise. Technically I was the only one who didn’t have to get out of bed to leave, since my “bed” ws making the trip with us. Panadine Forte is good and all, but gee it makes you sleepy. I slept most of yesterday, and found myself falling asleep time and time again this morning as we drove along in the dark.

Marco took the bike. There was no way he was going to miss a photo-op with the bike in front of the Rock, and I don’t blame him. I would have done the same, given half a chance. There were a couple of melancholy moments for me today related to bikes and travel and unfulfilled plans… but on the whole I enjoyed what came.

The sunrise was spectacular, though sadly my (video) camera’s lens wouldn’t allow me a sufficiently wide view to capture the width of the Rock. Talking to others, I wasn’t alone in this. We stayed and ate breakfast after the crowds had cleared, and Marco got his photo op.

We checked out the visitor’s centre at the Uluru, which was interesting. I’m trying to take more time to respect beliefs and cultures other than my own (since respect is meant to be one of the key tenets of my own beliefs) and appreciate the value of legends and stories, no matter how weird they may seem to me, and how they form and maintain community and tradition. There’s a richness in the ancient practices here that I’ve not appreciated before.

We took a short walk around part of the base of the rock, and some of the more able-bodied amongst us took a longer walk from there. It was nice to be a part of the shorter walk, and to extend myself a little… desperate to keep the feeling of being a part of this adventure.

The Olgas - Gorge Walk

The Olgas - Gorge Walk

From there we headed to Kata Tjuta, or The Olgas, and made some lunch. A few of us walked up the Gorge from there. I would have loved to walk even part of the way and stop in the cool places between the rock formations, but when I looked at the path and the tiny figures of people on it, I knew i’d walked enough for one day, and that I’d be waiting near the car. I got to take some photos from the vantage point I had, and the colours and wildlife I saw there were beautiful.

We then drove to the Yulara Resort, where the tourists of the world come to empty their wallets. Marco fuelled up, and the rest of us enjoyed the nearest thing to supermarket shopping that we’d experienced since we left home. There I got a few minutes to talk to Amanda, and let her know how my clicky bones and I were going.

Uluru at sunset

Uluru at sunset

For sunset we headed back to the Rock. The viewing area for sunset is divided for cars and coaches, so the traffic is less… and the distance to the rock is slightly greater, allowing even cameras like mine to take in that classic view. The only disappointment I had there was that, as we drove in, we saw long shadows on the rock from the setting sun. The viewing area itself puts you in line with the settings sun, so while the colours are amazing, the shadows are lost.

Week 1 Gang at Uluru

Week 1 Gang at Uluru

We dined on cheese, dips, beer and wine, and watched as the light faded.

We returned to Curtin Springs, which we still haven’t seen in daylight, and made a late but delicious dinner of pasta, vegetable sauce and optional olives, chilli and fried salami.

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Sep 13 2009

Seems I’ve Got Behind!

tim

With all that has gone on in the last few days, it seems I’ve got behind on the blogging. I tend to type when i have no internet access, and post when I do; the trouble is, I’ve had internet more than not in the past few days which has meant I’ve been able to upload photos to facebook, talk to Amanda on Skype and Tweet to my heart’s content, but I haven’t really written anything.

Stay tuned… I’m back, and I’m catching up!

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Sep 11 2009

Day Five

tim
Staving off redundancy
This is a weird feeling. We’re making camp at Curtin Springs on the Lesseter Hwy, about 100km from Uluru. There’s activity going on all around me, but there’s not a lot I can contribute. I’ll be sleeping in the car tonight, and Dad is sharing a tent with some of the others, so there’s no tent to even supervise setting up.
I managed to pull all the chairs out of the troopie and set them up, but apart from that, I’m done. I have the last Coopers Pale in my one good hand, and I’m sitting down.
The drive today was good. Bitumen kind of good. The long hours in the one spot, and the pressure of the sling on my collar bone has really helped, I think. The bones have barely shifted today, and the “bump” that I’m bound to end up with feels minimal enough. Pain wise, things have settled down. I can feel things clicking when I move, but it really doesn’t hurt too much. I’ve more than halved my drug intake today, which has to be a good thing.
This morning we took a quick tour of Coober Pedy. We checked out the underground Catacomb Church, which is open to the public all day. While we were there, Dad started to sing the old song “Jesus thou art everything to me”. No one else seemed to know it but me, so I sang along. When I turned around to see Dad later, he was in tears. Hugs really hurt when you have a broken collar bone, it turns out.
The landscape changed subtly throughout the day. It was mostly flat, but the vegetation varied a lot. Once we turned on to the Lesseter Hwy we saw more grass amongst the scrub, and more cattle as well. We watched the light of the setting sun on Mt Connor as we approached Curtin Springs.

Staving off redundancy
This is a weird feeling. We’re making camp at Curtin Springs on the Lesseter Hwy, about 100km from Uluru. There’s activity going on all around me, but there’s not a lot I can contribute. I’ll be sleeping in the car tonight, and Dad is sharing a tent with some of the others, so there’s no tent to even supervise setting up.

I managed to pull all the chairs out of the troopie and set them up, but apart from that, I’m done. I have the last Coopers Pale in my one good hand, and I’m sitting down.

The drive today was good. Bitumen kind of good. The long hours in the one spot, and the pressure of the sling on my collar bone has really helped, I think. The bones have barely shifted today, and the “bump” that I’m bound to end up with feels minimal enough. Pain wise, things have settled down. I can feel things clicking when I move, but it really doesn’t hurt too much. I’ve more than halved my drug intake today, which has to be a good thing.

This morning we took a quick tour of Coober Pedy. We checked out the underground Catacomb Church, which is open to the public all day. While we were there, Dad started to sing the old song “Jesus thou art everything to me”. No one else seemed to know it but me, so I sang along. When I turned around to see Dad later, he was in tears. Hugs really hurt when you have a broken collar bone, it turns out.

The landscape changed subtly throughout the day. It was mostly flat, but the vegetation varied a lot. Once we turned on to the Lesseter Hwy we saw more grass amongst the scrub, and more cattle as well. We watched the light of the setting sun on Mt Connor as we approached Curtin Springs.

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