Yesterday was our longest day of travel so far on this trip. We arrived in Katherine 1200 uneventful kilometres later. After staying in one of the dodgiest, smallest, dingiest backpacking motels the night before, I was grateful to have a decent room and a king size bed. Given we only had just over 300 kilometres left to travel to Darwin we had a leisurely morning and hit the road at 0930.
The road, as you see it in this photo, is long, and straight as far as the eye can see. Up to today. The countryside changed – again. There were actual curves in the road. And hills to climb.
Our leisurely drive to Darwin literally came to a grinding halt after about a hundred kilometres. We hit the first of many roadworks since leaving Adelaide.
Of course the traffic lights directing the flow of cars were red. So we stopped. And so did Big Red. She died. Just like that. No warning, no flashing lights or screaching sirens (as she is wont to do at the drop of a hat). Just conked out. TRH (The Retired Husband) started her up again. Conked out again. The next time he kept his foot on the accelerator and the revs up and we were able to move on.
Of course there were lots more roadworks. And Every.Single.Time. the lights were red. TRH quickly learnt to keep the motor humming. Needless to say there was no question of overtaking the millions of grey nomad caravanners and the 100kph roadtrains on stretches where we had been used to doing *ahem* the maximum legal limit of 130kph. Now cars were passing us!
TRH found that Big Red was happiest chugging along at around 110. Below that, she jumped and jerked, the revs were unsteady. In other words, she was not happy. Neither were we. I was so relieved when TRH announced a pitstop as I had been hanging on wondering how much longer I could hang on. The minute Big Red stopped, she conked out. I wondered if we would be able to start her up again. She did. But she sounded like a very old and grumpy diesel truck. We continued on our unmerry way.
Each kilometre closer to Darwin, I was a little more relieved, thinking that if we needed a tow, at least it was that little bit closer. As we neared the outskirts of Darwin, TRH noticed that she was running smoothly again. As if nothing had happened. What the?????
So we stopped to do some food shopping as agreed with Marc, our son, who would still be at work when we arrived. Walking down the aisles of Woolworths, TRH suddenly stopped.
My left knee, the good one, is so sore I can hardly walk, he said.
What, I said. What happened?
Nothing. It just got sore all of a sudden. Feels like a tendon or something.You’ll have to finish without me. I’ll wait here.
We finished the shopping and together hobbled back to the car with our crook left knees.
I wish I could say this was the end of the drama. Alas, it was not. In our packing at home, I had forgotten to write down Marc’s address. It occurred to me earlier in the day, but knowing that it was only 8 months since TRH had helped him move to Darwin, I did not expect it to be a problem finding his home. He didn’t want me to disturb Marc at work. TRH was confident he would be able to find it.
How wrong were we. We drove around and around and around for nearly two hours. Fortunately Big Red was on her best behaviour. I did send a text to Marc, but he didn’t respond. Mobile phone coverage is not the best here – another problem, but we won’t go into that.
If I could find McDonalds, or the Aboriginal art shop at the corner near Marc’s, we’d be fine.
OK,most people would navigate by pubs but let’s punch Maccas into the thingy.
There are nine of them in Darwin. Of course TRH had no idea which one it was so we took a punt. And drove around in circles some more, coming back several times to the same places that seemed vaguely familiar to him. Then he spotted the art shop! They had only last week, we found out, painted the outside to a different colour.
We made it to Marc’s an hour before he finished work. And guess what? His knee is not so sore anymore.
Now, what do you make of all that?!
© Raili Tanska
PS – Yesterday’s post about the Kulgera shoe tree has been updated. ‘cos I have reliable internet service tonight…. hopefully it continues….