Wednesday, April 09, 2008

My dad is 73 today!

Three years ago I posted about my dad celebrating his 70th birthday on the road in the Outback of Australia.

Well, they're at it again, so happy 73rd birthday Dad!

Here are some adventures from a recent email. Keep in mind that he is celebrating his SEVENTY THIRD birthday...

"We have finally emerged from the remote outback, and this is the first chance we have had to get on the internet in about 10 days. We had a marvelous trip across the never-never.

The weather stayed quite good for us, although it had rained a few days before we went through, and we had to cross a few wet and watery places. We had seen some water mirages of the type we always see when it is hot on the roads in Texas, and as we were barreling along I said to Mom, 'There is another mirage,' and as we got closer it still looked like a mirage until SPLASH! - it wasn't a mirage! Fortunately I had suspected it might not be just before we got there so had slowed down enough that there was no problem.

The real outback part went from Warburton to the Carnegie Homestead, if you have your maps. The part up to the Heather Highway was very good, and the first half of the Heather was good too. Then when we made the turn onto the last half of the Heather things began to deteriorate quite fast. The corrugation was terrible. The track split in places in up to 4 different tracks trying to get less corrugation, and we'd try different ones, never sure we were on the best one. We hit a number of washouts where we would simply have to stop and get out and try to figure out what was the best way to get across them without tipping the campervan over - the angle we were in at times was quite scary. Usually Mom would get out and survey the place, break off branches if necessary, knock down parts of the bank so we wouldn't get hung up and then watch to see if I toppled the van over as I drove across. It was very exciting a number of times.

In places the spinifex grass was up to 4 feet high, both on the sides of the road and in the center of it, so you could hardly see the road at all - it was just 2 small tracks across the spinifex. In that area we averaged about 10-12 mph, and when we would get up to 18mph (30kph) we would be ecstatic.

In a distance of about 900 Km we passed only one vehicle. We know there was also one vehicle going the same way we were, but a day ahead of us. We never came across their bodies, so we assume they made it too. We stayed overnight at Everard Junction on that really bad stretch (it is circled on the map). It was amazingly lonely out there - no station or any organized life for at least 150 miles in any direction. That was the junction of the Gary Highway and the Gunbarrel Highway, but it was certainly unlike any highway junction you have ever seen - just grass and 2 small tracks as far as one could see. There were lots of holes in the ground, which were clearly homes for unknown creatures, and once it was dark we definitely did not venture out of the camper until it got light the next day.

The first few hours the next day were like the end of the previous day - very slow. Then about 100 Km before Carnegie Homestead the road got much better (the road we had been on up to then was "built" in the 1950s and had had absolutely no maintenance on it since then). At Carnegie Station we were able to get fuel (it costs about $8/gallon out there!), could take a shower, etc.

The next day we drove into Wiluna, the first town in almost 3 days - we were going to stay there, but it was not at all a friendly looking place so we drove another 180Km on unpaved, but good, road to Meekathara, which was a marvelous town of 2000. About 50Km out of Maakathara we came across a car stopped with 3 aborigine women and 2 men there. They asked us to stop, which we did. They had run out of fuel. They needed gasoline and we had diesel, so we could not help them. They had no food, so we gave them a half loaf of bread, a jar of peanut better and a large can of beans, which they really seemed to appreciate. They had plenty of water. We told them we would tell people in Meekathara about them, and as soon as we got into town we found the police and told them. What they did about it, I don't know, but the police thanked us for being so concerned and kind, and that made us feel a bit better.

We were then on pretty much paved road for the next almost 1000Km, except for a stretch of about 150 Km. Kalgoorlie is a big (30,000) town with all the comforts of home. We are going to celebrate our birthdays with a dinner in the best restaurant in town later today, and also we got an ensuite site at the campground (it has its own bathroom right outside the camper door). So we are now living it up! Kalgoorlie is a gold mining town, and we just visited the most huge mining pit I've ever seen. We've got pictures, etc. So that's about it for us. We've had great adventures and hope for a few more to go, but the worst (or best) is likely over."

Do I have the coolest parents or what?

No comments: