Thursday, November 3, 2011

Whirlwind Tour of Suburban Perth

This zebra was in a bra store in Perth.
I caught a free local bus from my Perth hotel to Europcar at 2:30 on Thursday.

In the rain. 

Rain's not good for camping, is it? 

I had a $34 faux Thermarest as well as my regular luggage. I'd picked it up yesterday at a surplus store. I'm not a fan of fake Thermarests as they lack the insulating layer, but given that this wasn't going home with me and I already have two Thermarests in my Jersey City garage, this didn't seem like the place for a splurge. And during the camping trip Turbo the Aussie and I had taken across the States in 2002, his cheapie had held up well. Until it melted one day. But I only needed mine to hold up for 11 days and then through Amanda's trip in December. (We're doing tag-team Oz and she's taking my camping gear.) 

The guy at the rental car agency tried not to laugh at me when I asked him a dozen questions about how to not hit kangaroos on the road. I was only joking, of course. I lived in Australia on and off for two years. I know I'm as likely to hit a 'roo here as I am a deer at home. That is to say, likely.

"Drive left, drive left," I reminded myself as I drove through the rain, making my windshield wipers go faster every time I tried to use the turn signals. 

I'll get used to the signals and wipers being reversed right about the time I have to return the car on November 14th. 

I had mapped out my route carefully from my Bangkok hotel room. I headed up Mitchell Freeway to Ray's Outdoors, a huge chain similar to REI at home. I'd called ahead to make sure they had my tent.

There were other tents—cheaper tents. But another thing I'd learned from camping with Turbo is that I hate when the tent drips on me. So I splurged on the $50 tent. Which is still silly-cheap. Even though restaurants are pricey here, at least the tents are bargain-priced.

I picked up a $30 sleeping bag and a $6 cooler, then headed to IKEA, where I bought the cheapest pot, pillow, candle, tea towel, regular towel, mug, plate, bowl, and a tiny stuffed blue dog the size of my usual pink hippos.

My former almost-sister-in-law, an Australian, named the dog already. He is, in the spirit of Oz, named "Red."

Then I drove out in the rain two exits up the freeway to the commercial campground I'd picked for its location near Perth. I didn't want to try to do too much in one day.

The campground staff gave me a site in the corner. There was no picnic table and the wifi didn't reach it, but I never found the wifi anywhere so am fairly skeptical there really was wifi.

I set up my tent and headed right back out to a nearby mall.

My first stop was KMart, where I picked up a $5 folding outdoors chair and $4 flashlight (where IS my Maglite? Did I lose it between Bali and Perth?). I was tempted by the $15 campstove but I think most commercial campgrounds have camper kitchens, and I haven't found any national or state park sites on my route yet.

Then it was off to Coles and Woolworths for some groceries.

I was pretty worn out by now but had two last things to get. I needed a long extension cord for my campsite to have power and I needed a way to make coffee.

I gave up (too worn-out) before finding the extension cord.

But a discount shop had a $3.99 coffee press.


Unfortunately, I didn't get to use it as the rain started right as I was de-camping this morning. Now I have a wet tent in my car and I am cowering from the rain inside a coffee shop.

But the sleep, outside with the sounds of ducks and frogs and crickets?

Best I've had in a month. 

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