Friday, November 4, 2011

Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

I'd been so tired on Thursday night that I'd been fast asleep, in my little orange and olive-green tent, by 10 p.m.

Which was good, since the sun is up early here in Western Australia. I was out of bed and in the camp showers by six a.m.

Mmmm, warm private showers. The ablution block didn't have women's and men's rooms. They had eight little cubicles, each of which of had a shower and toilet.

The rain was still on and off, so I broke down camp quickly, like it wasn't my first time with this tent.

But I'd forgotten one problem with camping in the rain.

Wet tent.

I stuffed the fly into my giant blue dollar-IKEA bag I'm impulse-purchased at the register and threw it in the back seat. The tent itself went onto the floor of the passenger side. I remember Turbo telling me to stop later and find a place to dry out the tent so that it would be fresh for tonight, but first, I had another mission.

Finding a place open this early that would give me coffee and wifi. My Wanderlust magazine blog deadline is Friday morning, UK time. I'd written it last night—I hoped it made sense given my state-of-mind when I was typing—and I had to get it off my laptop and into the gears of the "cloud."

I pulled out of my campsite just as the rain started again. I was glad I hadn't tried to make my own breakfast in the camper's kitchen.

About ten minutes away was one of those suburban Australian shopping malls. These are small by US standards but plenty big here. And they tend to be more the focus of all kinds of shopping, whereas in the US malls veer more towards useless crap. Here, the malls might contain two giant supermarkets, coffee shops, dollar stores, and KMart. So everyone ends up in the mall frequently, just to do the family grocery shopping.

The mall I chose off the map had both a KMart and a Gloria Jean's Coffee. The KMart gave me the $11 extension cord I'd missed the night before and the Gloria Jean's gave me a place to sip my coffee while I used an open wifi signal instead of paying for the coffee shop wifi.

By the time I pulled out, the sun was shining for my six-and-a-half-hour drive north to Kalbarri.

I had no power left in my laptop, and my phone was on the red. I had to call the campsite for tonight, so I plugged my phone into the USB port on my Hyundai's dashboard to see if it charged.

And as I drove into the broad open sky of the western shore of Australia, down the small two-lane road that passes for a highway here, with scrub brush and road-trains alongside, keeping an eye out for errant kangaroos, the car stereo kicked into gear.

Playing the music I'd loaded onto my phone back in Jersey City in January, then promptly forgot about.

Lucinda Williams warbled me on towards the horizon.

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