Woke up this morning to rain; but we were out and at the car before 6 am.Those ponchos came in handy again.Using instructions from the staff at Greenhouse Backpackers we made it to the airport in less than an hour.Raining all the way!Checked in, called home and settled in to wait for our plane for Alice Springs.We got an aisle seat for me and a window for Mary; a very nice eighth grade boy sat between us.He was with his “footie” ball team traveling home to Alice Springs.His dad works in the gold mines and mother is an attorney.Mary had fun conversing with him as I caught an extra few winks on the two and half hour trip.They fed us a wonderful chicken sandwich on some of the most delicious bread I think I’ve ever eaten.
Our transportation to Annie’s Place was waiting at the airport.We’re all checked in for the night and then at 5 am tomorrow morning we leave for our three day outback experience with KingsCanyon and Ayers Rock with the Mulga Tour Company.We’ll sleep two nights under the stars.Warm during the day and very, very cold at night we’re told.
This afternoon we headed downtown and toured two museums.The first one was of the Flying Doctors that have created a wonderful medical system for Australia with their airplanes.Mary purchased her “outback” hat in the shop there and also some Australia music on a CD for their follow up meeting for World Youth Day. The CD has many of the songs that her group learned while they were here.
Our second museum was about Australian Women and how they have contributed to the building of the country.One of the first things we saw was a huge quilt made up of squares signed by many of these women.Wonderfully displayed with many artifacts; this Museum was just moved last year into the “old jail”.So it is a double museum as they have preserved the jail and it is also open for viewing.
We then walked into the main part of town and saw many aborigine people, they make up about ninety percent of the population that live here fulltime.Found their K-Mart…yes, and also a Best Western Hotel.Walked around town and saw Bo Jingles Bar and just had to stop in for a beer and listen to their two guitar playing singers perform several songs before walking back to the Hostel.We’ve had showers, packed our single backpack that holds everything we need for the next three days; we ate dinner here and will try the Internet in a bit.Do hope my computer signs on and I can sent a few things.If not, see you in three days!
Alice SpringsMonday, July 28, 2008
Up at 5 am; we were in the lobby with our bedsheets by 5:30 as we’d been told.Where was everyone?Finally Amtje and Jochem (Beligium) arrived and no one else!We were a bit put out when everyone started showing up about 6 pm…a half hour late! The four of us hadn't realized that we were in a different time zone and should have set our clocks back half an hour...yes...they have half hour time differences in some areas of Australia!
We put our extra bags into the storage room, left our computers with the office staff, ate a quick breakfast of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches provided by the tour and loaded into the Mulga’s tour bus.This bus was our home for the next three days and two nights.
By dawn we were well down the road and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise.Our destination for Monday was King’s Canyon; a six hour bus trip! Mary had snagged the front seats behind the driver and we’d planned to move about on other days; but the first thing that Mark, our tour director and driver did was to have everyone introduce themselves and then Sam, who had the seat opposite the driver, write the names on the windshield. When asked about rotating seats Mark said “no, every one generally keeps the same seats for the whole trip”! ; so we did!
Our tour had seven college students, two girls and five boys, from England, all in their twenties.Five of them have been studying here for six months.We had a married couple from New Zealand, Ron was the oldest member of the group at 80 years and I was second at 69. Joan, Ron’s wife is only 68.The only other Americans were Dave and Linda from Connecticut, either early sixties or late fifties.Maeliss and Nicolas are married, late twenties, early thirties, and attorney’s living and working in Paris.Yes, they were French but spoke excellent English.We had a single girl from Austria.Two German girls in their twenties who have been working here for a year and their parents who’d arrived to tour with them.The parents spoke very, very little English.Our Belgium friends are both teachers and just good friends who travel together during vacation breaks.That should total twenty five with thirteen women and a dozen men including our guide.
We ate lunch along the road; they’d prepared tuna and egg sandwiches for use and continued our drive.Along the road we’d see an occasional kangaroo, some of them dead after being hit by cars; a common occurrence, also lots of cows roaming loose and also prey to the vehicles driving at night.
We stopped at the Camel Farm and those that wanted got to ride a camel around the ring; yes, Mary and I shared a camel for the brief ride that also included a run at the end; a very jarring experience.
Arrived in King’s Canyon in the early afternoon and hiked the Canyon Rim trail.The worst part of the trail was near the beginning, they call it “heart attack hill”.Not too long but very, very steep.The hike was over three hours and it was hot!Each person carried their own l.5 liter bottle of water and we each drank all of it before the end of the trail.And this is their winter:it’s probably over 120 degrees in this canyon in the summer months.They haven’t had much rain in nineteen months so definitely a drought. We were a sweaty, smelly bunch as we climbed into the bus to continue our adventure.
It was dark by the time we pulled into our private campsite for the night.In the dark we all helped unpack the bus; used our torches (flashlights) to gather firewood and built a roaring bonfire in short order.Ah, light!!!Mark then set up his kitchen and fixed us a great dinner of rice, beans and camel meat.We all washed our own dishes and helped to clear up afterwards.
I forgot to mention that during the afternoon we taken a count of those that wanted beer or wine and had stopped to purchase our drinks for the next two days; so we washed our food down with beer and enjoyed the stars.Around the bonfire we shared stories and really got to know one another. Ron, our 80 year old is the life of the party.He plays on a tennis team and has climbed many major mountains in his lifetime.
Soon we grabbed our swags, a large canvas sleeping bag that is water proof.Inside of that we had a sleeping bag.It got really cold the first night and we put on many layers of clothes plus raising our hoods on our sweatshirts to protect our head and ears from the cold.No, I did not get up during the night once I was tucked in.Our bathroom facilities were out of the rim of the bonfire in the bush!
I can’t remember the last time when I’ve seen so many stars and the Milky Way.We also had a great view of the Southern Cross constellation; someone called it "our thousand star hotel"! We all slept soundly after a very active day and tomorrow will be more of the same!