Day 5: Here Comes the Sun…and Outback

Here Comes the Sun

Hiya, it’s Marc and Jessica again!

It seems like the team hasn’t had very good internet connection since we have been the only ones posting.  After separating from the rest of the team for three days, we have finally reunited today in Adelaide and are now resting together up by Port Pirie.

The weather was touch and go for most of the day, full of a mix of hit-and-run rain showers, sunshine, and of course our personal favorite, sunshine-showers.  We were getting a bit frustrated, with having to flick our windshield wipers on-and-off every couple of minutes as we leaped frogged from rain patch to rain patch, but fortunately for us Captain BlueBear had a trick up his sleeve. Our Volkswagen vehicles have this nice feature which detects water on the windshield and will automatically trigger the wiping mode to clear it off. It even will vary the rate to match the quanity of water being deposited (Win!).

One little scary incident happened today with the team.  Before we talk about the incident, I’d like to briefly describe our caravan configuration.  We have two scout vehicles that are ahead of everybody, and they are the Golf Wagon TDI (Captain BlueBear) and the 2WD Maxi Caddy TDI (Maroon 5).  We then have our 4WD Maxi Caddy TDI as the lead vehicle, Amarok/Trailer in the place in Impulse, and the T5 Crewvan as the chase vehicle.

VW Sponsored Vehicles
CalSol Caravan Minus Captain BlueBear

After we finalized our lodging for the night with Captain BlueBear, we called the rest of the caravan over via the radio and got out of our car to direct them into the park.  The caravan park is located on the side of National Highway One, and unfortunately Maroon 5 missed the turn, which caused the rest of the caravan to miss the turn.  What was so scary about this was as soon as Maroon 5 realized that, they braked and tried to pull to the side, and the lead vehicle followed and braked, but trailer was not ready and could not do the same in time.  We were very lucky that even with so little gap between the cars, we did not collide.  Soon afterwards, the lead vehicle turned off to exit the highway and trailer followed.  However, the lead vehicle pulled a U-turn in the middle of the exit that the trailer was not able to do, and as the trailer continued driving forward, the chase vehicle did the same and stayed with lead and left the trailer alone.  At that point, the trailer was very confused and was no longer sure where to go.  They made a turn when it was possible trying to find lead and chase, and in the midst of all this confusion, the driver of trailer followed their instinct and ended up on the right side of the road as opposed to the left side.  They did not realize and panicked when they saw a  vehicle coming right at them; it was very fortunate that they pulled through and made it back to the correct lane without ending in an accident.

We had a team meeting immediately after this had happened and went over all the details and several actions we can take to prevent such incidents from happening ever again.  Here I would like to thank Carlos Miller, the only parent and a former firefighter who is currently here with the team, to guide us through this problem with his experience and leadership.  We are very lucky to have Carlos on board; he, as a parent, has been looking out for us in all possible aspects, and his role as a former firefighter will help us survive in the Outback.

Back to a happier note, we love the public library service here in SA!  Our library card from Murray Bridge is apparently good for internet statewide, and considering how scarce internet has been here in Oz, having 50-70MB of data at any state library is an extremely valuable resource.  Big props to the SA government for its spectacular library system, specifically the Blackwood branch in the City of Mitcham; after accidentally getting over our data limit with a video upload, they kindly provided us with extra data to finish up our blog posts and wrapping up other things we were doing.

Captain BlueBear had planned on stopping off at a Amateur Radio store in Adelaide to pick up higher-gain antennas to expand the coverage area of our setups but unfortunately it was closed on weekends. It’s ok though, we are already working on a solution of using Maroon 5 as a relay between us and the Lead/Chase cars.

Captain BlueBear in front of the Big Blade

We saw some interesting sights on our drive up to Port Pirie.  First, there was a large pink loch in the town of Lochiel 125km North of Adelaide (look it up on Google Maps, it really was a pink lake); this loch even had its own Lochness Monster made out of tires.  Just up the road we saw a road sign for the “Big Blade” at Snowtown (ironically named I am guessing since its elevation was only around 30m).  In need of a rest stop, we pulled in expecting to see a collasual fiberglass knife large enough to dice up a brontasaurs, but unfortunately it was only a giant wind turbine blade.  Finally, we saw our first offical road train (you know its official because it says “Road Train” on the back).  They are very, very scary.

First Road Train Sighting


Marc + Jessica