Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Time Flies in Dub-yay

Our arrival to Dub-yay was punctuated with Scott getting violently ill overnight in the middle of the desert. While we were driving, he complained of not feeling well. Before he could fall asleep that night, he was leaning out the side of the van. It's a mystery, because we were eating mostly non-perishable food during the drive. Our guess is some nasty roadhouse water, since most of the water is trucked in and is non-potable. He was back to normal in 24 hours.

As soon as we arrived to the west coast, we went for a much needed dip in the ocean (after hours of 100 F driving), and watched the sunset over the Indian Ocean. We've managed to watch the sunset almost every night for the past 5 weeks, and have enough sunset pictures to last our lifetime. We are now on the south coast of Dub-yay, and will assuredly miss the guaranteed sunset viewing every night.

When we first arrived on the west coast, we headed north pretty quickly, as we had been warned about the heat, and it would only get worse. The mid-northern section of WA is like driving on the moon. We would drive for 5 hours without seeing anything but wild goats and roadkill 'roos. We were rewarded with some wild dolphin feeding, crystal clear snorkeling, and some brilliant turquoise water and white-sand beaches. It didn't last long because it was just too hot during the day. We covered about 2000 miles in a week as we made a beeline north and then back south again.

The swarming flies caught us by surprise, as we had assumed that they were only bad in the outback. They don't bite, but they swarm your face and body until you think you might go mad. Luckily, we had some mesh fly hats that we had bought during a similar attack of flies in Ontario, Canada in 2003 (these were the biting variety). We found ourselves hiding in the van when it wasn't windy, as the wind was the only remedy to the fly madness. I was the first one to inhale a fly, but Scott has managed to inhale 3 flies and snort at least one so far.

One of the reasons we drove to WA during this time of the year was for the consistent, strong winds for kite/windsurfing. Along with keeping the flies away, the wind has definitely provided most of our active entertainment since we arrived in WA. The wind has also taught us a valuable lesson -- don't park near a sand dune for the night with your windows/doors open. It happened one fateful night when we had to move the van in the middle of the night because it was getting pounded with sand from gale force winds that erupted overnight. The next morning, I was disgusted by the amount of sand that was piled everywhere. It took an entire day for me to clean the van and all of the items in the van.

One of the few non-windy diversions, as we drove south, was snorkeling with 5+ ft manta rays in really shallow water. We saw them from the shore, and hurried back to the van to get our snorkeling gear. The rays come into shore in about 10 inches of water where we could barely fit our heads under the water. It's pretty cool to be able to swim with such massive, relatively harmless creatures.

One thing you can't help but notice in WA is the prolific mining culture/economy. The mines (alumina, bauxite, etc) have created an immense amount of wealth and jobs throughout WA. It's so prolific that people talk of "the mines" as if we know where and what they are talking about, even when "the mine" is 10 hours away. We met an older couple yesterday who pull in $200K by working at the mines -- he drives a truck and she cleans! They told us that the schools had a shortage of teachers because a bunch of them quit to go work in the mines!

2010 got off to a bad start when I went for a swim on a very hot evening and dove under a wave (on a really steep beach) only to smash my face on the sand (maybe some rocks based on what happened to my face). I've heard of "keeping your nose to the grindstone" but this was like putting my face on a belt sander. After the pain of the first couple of days subsided, I've realised the worst part is going to be dealing with the sun and water on a face that doesn't have any skin.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'm so glad you made it to the coast! I can't believe you've been living out of a van for almost 2 years and avoided swallowing a fly until now. I hope the face heals fast- G'day!