Hello from Mike, Marc, and Jessica in Captain BlueBear! We stole Mike from the rest of the caravan mostly because we needed a cameraman to snap all the beautiful sights we’re seeing and his pictures for the blog posts in general (FYI, Mike is the mediaman for the trip).
Since we were already packed up and heard of a possible storm in Alice Springs, the team has decided to drive straight to Darwin in the next couple days instead of trying to test-drive in SA. Today, the destination is Tennant Creek, one of the checkpoints for WSC, and it’s approximately 960kms from Marla.
The team woke up early today for the long drive, but we woke up even earlier to head up to Alice Springs to get a new tire (see Day 8 Part 2 for more information). We left before dawn and witnessed a beautiful sunrise along the Stuart Highway. The panoramic view was amazing; too bad there was a road train in the same rest area with us…the engine was constantly rumbling and it sort of ruined the mood a little bit…just a little bit.
We continued driving through the Outback, and soon afterwards we crossed the intra-state border and arrived in the Northern Territory. Oh yeah, it’s official now; we saw a sign at the border! In addition to the sign, we also saw a Giant Echidna in Krugera. What the heck. It surely seems like Australians like to collect random giant things although we have still yet to see the Giant Squid in Adelaide.
Anyways, as we continued driving, we started to see more changes in the landscape: new mountains, different rocks, varying shrubs and trees, a wider variety of roadkills, and as always, a lot of red dirt. We have never in our life seen roads that literally stretch straight to the horizion. I had this suspicious feeling, especially at night, that we were stuck in an infinite loop of road. If you want to know what driving in the Outback is like, just imagine driving on a two lane highway consiting of red/white side-of-the-road markers, then a little bit down the road a kangaroo sign, and a little further a cattle sign and cattle grid, and then repeat this over and over again. Fun times were had by all, including Mike.
Eventually we reached the town of Alice Springs, and after seeing its airport and local KFC, we declared it civilization and promptly began our search for goods to cure our first world problems: fish smell in the cabin, shredded tire, and broked audio jack on the iPod (to save Mike from listening to Jessica and me singing to the same 12 Killers song over and over again). First, we got a brand new tire, Jessica talked the price down $50 (beast); then we went to the grocery store and picked up some vanilla air freshner (let the battle with the stench begin), and finally we picked up an audio plug to iPod jack cable (music at last).
We are now sitting at McDonalds blogging away. The rest of the team has just arrived in town and plans to stop only briefly before continuing on the way towards Tennant Creek. According to the plan, we will camp by the side of the road tonight to simulate race conditions.
Wish us luck,
Mike, Marc, and Jessica