Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Such an Adventure

Our trip to Uluru - or Ayers Rock. Each time I told someone where We were going I would get corrected with the other name. SO from now on I will just address the large rock formation in the middle of Australia as "the Rock".

As you read this entry I want you to keep a couple questions in the back of your mind. What is the longest distance you have driven without encountering a town? What is the most you have ever paid for a tow truck and What is the most fancy vehicle you have ever driven?

Now onto my post.

As most of you know we live in the middle of Australia. Alice Springs to be specific. It is a great little town in the Red Center. Everything we buy must be trucked or flown in. That makes everything pretty expensive, right? Well, I now have a better appreciation for supply and demand at any rate.

What is a really big tourist attraction near by? When I say near by I mean that relatively. It is actually about a 5 hour drive. "The Rock". We have been here about 3 years and still have not gone to see it. We were going to stay at a resort at Ayers' Rock one night and another resort at Kings Canyon the following evening. Being married to a "Planner" we had quite a plan worked out. To begin with - how are we getting there? James wants us to use his super doper SUV. This vehicle is made for the Bush - but in comfort. It is a lovely Range Rover full of custom additions to include a refrigerator, luggage rack, additional LPG (liquid propane gas) tank as a fuel reserve, water tanks, first aid kit that I could comfortably preform a couple minor surgeries with, belts, hoses, tool kits.....heaps of stuff that probably made this SUV the most prepared truck on the road between Darwin and Adelaide.

Being such a fancy pants truck it had a couple quirks that we should know about. There is a bit of an electrical issue - the engine temperature light will come on for no real reason. It is no big deal, just pull over and wiggle the fuses in the fuse box. OK. Stu can do that.

Here we are getting ready to go on Tuesday morning. It is pretty chilly in the mornings here, so I brought my wonderful new quilt so the kids could snuggle up in the back seat and I brought Sam's to work on the hand quilting I have been struggling with for the past several months.

Here are my little gnomes in the back seat..."ULURU!!!" We are pretty excited about our trip at this point. I really like road trip out here because over each rise the landscape totally changes from one alien landscape to something totally unexpected and completely amazing. Towering Ghost gums, red rocky soil, dry river beds - mountain ranges that look like the skeletons of beasts from another age. On our first leg of the journey we past about 4 other vehicles and no towns. I kept thinking to myself "wow, good thing we borrowed James' awesome truck. I sure would hate to break down out here."
We passed Stuart's Well. It is a road house that offers camel rides and the entertainment skills of a singing Dingo. Yep, a singing Dingo. I will get back to that later.

This road house is the Erldunda roadhouse, complete with about 20 Emus and 2 big strange statues of a frilled neck dragon and an echidna (spiny anteater). Our trouble began about 5 minutes after passing this roadhouse. The engine temperature light began to flash and then an annoying alarm began to signal trouble. Stu pulled over to wiggle the fuses and I decided he probably saw the smoke for himself coming out from under the hood. Yep...turns out the coolant reservoir was empty. (being the military planner that my husband is, the truck was checked before we left Alice and again at Erldunda and being the Australian military planner that James is, it was serviced just a couple days earlier) There was no reason for there to not be coolant in the reservoir - except for something bad to have happened. Either a hose had broken or the water pump had broken. Turns out that the latter happened. We limped the truck back to the roadhouse (thank goodness we were so close - can you imagine marching miles and miles with 3 young children and 2 quilts?)
We waited at the roadhouse for about 6 hours for a tow truck to come get us (from Alice Springs). This is the closest Flat Stanley will get to Uluru - sorry Audrey. (it is a tea towel).

Here we are waiting...
Here the truck is getting loaded up onto the tow truck. We rode in the truck on top of the tow truck. IS that legal in the US? I doubt it. It was very rocky up on top of the tow truck. Thanks goodness it was too chilly for the roos to be out on the road.

We did end up stopping at the Roadhouse with the singing Dingo on our way back to Alice Springs. We all jumped down from the tall tow truck and visited the facilities then went in to listen to the singing skills of the Dingo. This was the first time I have seen a Dingo. They are very big and very alert, and really don't sing that well. But let's keep that between us. There were actually a good many folks at the roadhouse enjoying the show. The Dingo man wanted to know who would play the piano and Emma shot her hand in the air so fast she was selected. Emma does not "really" play the piano. She likes to bang on the keys, but it seemed to be enough of a tune for Dinkie the singing Dingo. He howled away and kept bumping noses with Emma. I guess he wanted her play something with a little more rhythm. Who knows.
Overall our trip - while not at all what we planned - was quite an adventure. I think Ayres Rock is our MT Everest. We didn't even make it to base camp. But we had a pretty good time. I won't tell you how much we paid for the tow...but it hurt a bit and was certainly the most I have ever paid to be towed anywhere.
If you come to Australia I hope your trip to the Rock is more successful than ours. ;o)


Dayna said...

I never made it to the Rock either. There's a lot of wide open spaces down there. We had a windsheild smashed and drove miles before we found a town and then waited (like you) until we could get a replacement.

Beth said...

What a crazy road trip. I have nothing that comes close. I am glad you made it home safe.

Rafael's Mum said...

Thank you for telling this story so well Tia ! You sure are one heck of a storyteller, you could add them all together in a book sometime ! You sure had me in stitches...again! Very sorry you didn't make it...and for the tow (won't mention it again..) but so glad you were near the roadhouse. Love the bit where you mention your 5 babies (3 human, 2 quilts), it sure would have been quite an evacuation !

Emma said...

Do you know, NOT having been there, probably makes you 'more Australian'?! I've never been, and I would fairly confidently expect that places me in a large majority of Australians. I still want to call it Ayers Rock, although Uluru has been its official (and PC!) name for a long time now.

Breezy Bree said...

Its adventures like this that you'll remember forever and laugh about for even longer :)
We has a similar story in France, but with 7 kids under 5 in a minivan and not one of the 6 adults being able to say 'broken van' in French :)

Lynn said...

Love the story!

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