Longreach Part 1

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We felt ready. We were going to do a big trip to far away, travelling many nights with no real plan. We were not going to map out our trip, we were not going to book anything. We were going to jump into the deep end of the caravanning pool.

This incredible freedom we dreamed about was happening, the wild spontaneity of being able to just say, “let’s go” and then the actual”going” on a whim. (and it not being the kind of “going” that had anything to do with a UTI, I mean.) It only took us 3 days of non-stop packing and shopping to be ready to just go, unlike when we used to pack a suitcase in an hour, get in the car and drive for a known number of hours and arrive at a booked motel.

LOVE.ING.IT!!!

We are taking the approach that we will learn as we go until we reach a pinnacle of knowingness where there will not be any more to know and a bell or a siren of some kind will go off in the heavens to let us know that we are ready for the big trip – the one where we leave everything and everyone and disappear into the wilds for months. I am pretty sure the angels will sing and gifts will be showered down upon us.

One of the first things I learned is that my husband’s idea of packing resembles that of a penguin. In the end, as he began to get giddy with the idea we were actually going, his movements to and from the van became more and more frantic. When I would ask what he took out and where he put it, he would respond with, “don’t worry about it, we will sort it out when we stop tonight.” I should have been concerned when he did not do the final walk through of the house to make sure we had everything, and was instead in the truck, seat belted in, honking for me to get out there. What was I thinking? I swear I was going to do a final walk through without him but he was yelling at me to, “GET. IN. THE. BLOODY. TRUCK” so I decided I should get in the bloody truck. Thankfully I can still run a bit. I did manage to catch up to him and jump into the passenger’s seat of the truck as he was driving off, out of our street. The leg that got dragged for half a block was bleeding and quite numb for the first couple of hours but it scabbed up nicely and I could eventually move it.

After a couple of hours, we began discussing the things we did not bring with us. He started the conversation by asking me if I remembered to pack the map book. And I responded, “no, dear, where was it?”

“In my office with the things I wanted to bring.”

I took a breath and asked, “Did you bring the other things you had there?”

“Yes.”

“You know the things that I laid out in my office I wanted to bring?” I queried.

“Ya?”

“I went into MY office and when I picked up some of the things I wanted to bring, I saw there were more of MY things still there so you know what I did? I brought them too. I kind of thought I should do that because being as they were MY things, and it was MY office. I did not even think I could have left some things there for you to bring when you check on my things.”

“Why would I check on your things in your office?”

“BINGO!!”

He turned and looked at me like I had completely lost the plot, ” What’s wrong with you woman? Sometimes you go on and on about things, are you sure you are OK?”

I pulled out the crayons I had packed in the truck, and drew him a picture of HIS things, HIS office, him picking up some, but not all, noticing that, and then coming back to get the rest of it because the mind-reading fairy was away on extended leave, my head was tin foiled to block out hearing his thoughts, and I was packing my own things. I also drew him several pictures of him telling me to worry about my things and he would worry about his, and oh ya, telling me to leave the things in his office alone. Then I coloured it all in pretty and showed it to him.

He was too busy swearing about the map we left behind to fully appreciate the nice details and shading on the pictures. He certainly did not seem to grasp the point.

Instead, we went through a list of several other things “I” forgot. He said we would have to practice this until we were both clear on what we needed and each of our jobs. He tried to cheer me up a bit by saying, “Don’t worry, you will get it eventually. It will become second nature.”

I smiled with gritted teeth, crumpling up my picture. He asked if I remembered to bring a trash bag for the truck.

Miles went by with Derek chatting away as if he was not wrong about the whole “who forgot the map.” I had about 8 days and 30,000 miles to go before I would be able to let it go. I didn’t think this trip was going to cover that and kind of resented the chirpiness of Derek’s voice about the whole caravanning wonder life we were embarking on.

“Are we having fun yet?” he was actually beaming.

‘NO. Not even close.”

“It will come,” and he actually patted my hand.

Fluffy was performing pretty good except for this little epileptic seizure thing she had going on when we needed to brake. I am not sure how much she was jerking around but we definitely were in the truck, as the power brakes grabbed and released, grabbed and released. It was annoying going through towns but actually scary going down big hills and coming to curves with all the warning signs suggesting death or possible almost death should we exceed the speed limit of 2 km per hour … and we always were. Those signs showed pictures of people dying from trucks flipping over because some idiot made the road wrong, the incline was almost straight down, there were also falling rocks, not much of a side before the mountain plunged, and the danger of kangaroos and roaming cows always a possibility. I learned all about the “camber” of the road, albeit he was incredulous that I did not know what that was. OK, so some idiot built the road wrong . . . I could be completely out of line here, but wouldn’t it make more sense to fix the road than to scoop up all the dead bodies?

I was sure the brakes were going to fail completely, release at the wrong time, hold at the worst time and that would be it. Death by caravan . . . on top of you . . . in the gully with kangaroos hopping over your squished body. On top of all those warnings, we had to worry about the idiot caravanners driving 50 km under the speed limit. The only reason they were moving at all was because despite the driver standing on his brakes, they had failed, and that much weight at an angle, was going to start to roll down the hill.

We couldn’t pass them. Well, we could have, and then they would have had to paint another sign showing an overtaking caravan smashing into an oncoming caravan with cows and kangaroos flying everywhere. I am not sure they had a good enough artist for that and asking people to stop and see a slide show before they continued down the mountain was not really practical … I mean without a popcorn stand or something.

I really hated the slow caravanners down those hills. Derek had promised not to yell at any drivers on the road and he always keeps his promises. That’s why I had to break out all my swear words and scream them out the window. There really is nothing you can do with those people except to pray that a kangaroo takes them out and they fall off the other side.

And then you realize you forgot the Jesus shrine you crocheted for the caravan because you knew you would have need to repent each day and perform self-flagellations because you suck at the “being kind to others” part of Christianity. And you can’t even talk about it because this forget was your fault and there was no way in hell you were going to cop to that and shift the whole blame thing from him to you.

I was pretty sure Derek would not be looking for Jesus and I would be safe from discovery. I might be dead and going to hell but Derek would never know I forgot anything.

Sometimes the kindest thing to do for the people you love is to allow them their illusions. I turned up Enya’s Water Music and patted his hand.

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