Goodbye Mark-Expedition Dust day 98
I woke up and started my day with writing, I had fallen asleep halfway through the blog the night before. The blog along with fixing the new camera holders meant the day was going to be another late start. I put my headphones in to block out the sound of the flies, it took me about an hour to finish what I was writing and then send it to Ngaio on the satellite device.
Breakfast was leftovers from last nights stew with an added tin of chilly beans to bulk it up.
It was 1130 when we got on our bikes and said our goodbyes to Mark. I was so happy he had come out with dad, it was such a cool surprise! Incase you missed it, a week ago Mark drove all the way from his home for 22 hours with my dad and then met me on the edge of the Simpson Desert. He really changed the camp vibes in a positive way by whipping up roasts, stews and huge T-Bone steaks! Its literally been a week of outback feasting. I am sad to see him go so soon but it was a total blessing having him hanging out with us.
We both left our camp at the same time, Mark in his white ute tooted his horn and drove off leaving a trail of dust. The ute got smaller and smaller and as it creasted the hill in the distance it disappeared, it was just dad and me now. Our late start meant it was already filthy hot and dusty. The wind had turned and was now blowing from the north east, still a headwind though. We started climbing a huge hill that seemed to never stop, the corrugations were pretty bad, there was definitely a lot of bouncing and dad was grumbling about how uncomfortable he was on the bike seat. At the top of the hill I came across a few trees! It looked like a bloody good spot for a rest and my first 50 pushups for the day. I spotted dad popping a few sneaky pain killers before we got back on the bikes. I didn’t have a heart to tell him we had only done 19km at this point and still had another 50 to do.
I could see something strange going on up ahead, a huge road train was going very slow with something pouring out the back, I thought really hard about it but couldn’t work out what was going on. Out of the heatwaves on the horizon two bright yellow graders appeared! I turned to dad and exitedly yelled “GRADERS!” As we rode past I gave the guys driving the hugest smile and thumbs up! I told dad that this is like a golden ticket out here, I was stoked. Our speed drastically improved. The graders had paved the way for a fantastic day! As we rode over the next few hours the landscape began to change again, rather than dunes there are now big basins and rock cones.
The area that we are in is channel country, there are lots of river beds and hills between them. Over the last few months there must have been rain because some of the creeks still have stagnant pools of water in them.
There was quite a big stretch of sealed road that went way down and crossed over one of the river beds. When I got to it I found it had had water in it, it was close enough to the road and we had done more than half of the distance for the day, so I decided a swim was appropriate. I leaned my bike up against a tree and waited for dad to catch up, I thought he might want to join me. I had stripped off and was standing in the deep mud in the river bank, dad took one look and said “I’m not getting in the dirty puddle!” I laughed and said “you can take the man out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the man” and slid my way down into the water.
The sealed road went on for about 14km it was a total dream to ride along but right at the end was a hill bigger than any I have seen so far. At the top there was a lookout, from the bottom it looked like a long way up. I dropped to my lowest gear and started climbing, it was tough but I made it up. Dad however had to get off and push the steepest section, he was getting tired, I asked him why he was making lots of grumpy sounds, he said “these are painful sounds because my everything hurts!”
The view from the top was overlooking the valley below and behind and out towards where we were headed. The gravel was back on the other side of the hill but it was pretty darn smooth so we were able to zoom down the hill only stopping once when a large ute with a camper pulled up to offer us a cold beer and chocolate! What a great ending to our day!
We had our beers and watched the hawks chasing grasshoppers on the sides on the road. As we knocked of the final ten kilometres the sun began to set behind us, I kept looking around because of how beautiful it was. Our camp is off the side of the road under some small gum trees. We ate our radix and damper and even had a hot chocololate with milk power and the chocolate from the kind souls who gave it to us. Dad is very sore and hes got a rash that is starting to get raw from rubbing on the seat but other than that it was another wonderful day to be alive.