Sometimes so much has happened since I last found time to write that writing about *anything* feels like a betrayal of all the other awesome things that have gone on. I think that’s where I am right now. I keep thinking I should start with the “most important” of the things, whatever that is. But that’s part of the problem – I have no idea what that is. So I’m just going to write about minutia as they occur to me.
You might have read on ben’s blog about bits of our camping trip with my old friend whip boy (I’ve finally gotten him to somewhat accept the nickname! hurrah!) along with some of its many ups and one rather significant down. Right before that big down (down, down, downdowndown) we stopped at a gas station near Yass, about three hours from Sydney, on our way back from camping for a week and a half through several national parks and a brief stay in Melbourne.
Around ten o’clock at night we were switching drivers (Ben to Ben), we needed a gas refill, and Ben (whip boy) wanted coffee. As he wandered inside the truck stop to find some (a story in its own right, where the machine he tried to use spewed coffee and water all over the floor rather than into his cup) I stood outside watching thousands of beetles swooping under the giant canopy over the gas pumps, swarming around the lights. Ungainly, lovely, inch-long golden-brown shiny beetles. They were also attracted to the lights inside the truck stop and flew into the giant plate glass windows and through the open doors. They crawled along the sidewalk aimlessly, and on the floor inside the gas station. I kept trying to rescue them, bringing them back outside where they’d have a chance at mating, or moving them off of the side walk out of being-stepped-on range. But they kept flying back inside, crawling back into the sidewalk. I gave up and just watched.
Bugs are weird. As we walked out of there we thought of a legend that could be created, of the small town with the large truck stop, where once a year under the light of the full moon fairies were transformed into beetles and had twelve hours to collect glitter from the electric lights to power their fairy furnaces for the next year. Or something like that, anyway.
Ten miles out the engine light blinked on and we got off at a truck pullout. The engine coolant was boiling, the water we replaced it with leaked out, and we didn’t know it then, but we were about to say goodbye to that borrowed car for at least three weeks as some mechanics in Yass removed the engine and replaced it with a new/old one.
As we waited for a tow truck I walked along a nearby fence line in the dark peering with my headlamp down every odd little hole to see what I could find. A small mammal peered back out of one, before disappearing at the tremor of whip boy’s footsteps, and large wolf spiders lurked in others.
A pickup truck with spotlights attached pulled into the field on the other side of the fence and Ben (wb) heard shots. Probably hunting roos grazing at night. The Bens strongly urged me to continue peering in the brush on the far side of the car, away from the truck and guns, nearer the highway.
We were eventually towed to Yass where the driver dropped us in the parking lot of a mechanic across the street from “the only motel in town with a 24-hour check-in.” After checking at the motels 24-hour check-in and discovering there was no room for us, we dragged ourselves and our luggage back across the road to make nests in what room was available in the car, awaiting the opening of the shop in 8 hours.
We made tea on the camp stove in the parking lot, found breakfast, checked the car in with the mechanics, grabbed what stuff from the car that we could carry, and dragged several kilometers up and down hills in powerful heat to the bus stop where in five hours a bus that warned us it might need to stop along the way because it had been overheating in this weather would take us to Canberra where we would catch another bus to Central Station, Sydney, and a train to Strathfield, where we would finally walk the twenty minutes home, drop our things, shower, and sleep off our exhaustion.
It sounds tiring, and it was, but it was also an adventure and certainly a new experience. While in Yass we were forced to stop and look around. When we told our landlord we had stopped in Yass he said, “Yass? Nobody stops in Yass. Why would you stop in Yass?” and I can’t really disagree, there isn’t much there. But we did find a small cafe in a small shopping center run by a friendly old couple who drew a cocoa smiley face in the foam of my mocha and really, that summed up the experience. Seeing the bright side of a small disaster in the new experiences we were having, and laughing as we contemplated how this trip went from oh-so-cheap to oh…well… at least we didn’t break down on one of the twisty dirt mountain roads we had been traveling on in a lonely part of a national park.
At that hot bus stop in Yass where I dumped water on my head every hour to cool myself through evaporation I found the most beautiful beetle, sadly dead, on the ground. I’m glad we stopped there.