We woke up from our lovely tent at the “King’s Canyon Wilderness Lodge”, or at least I did. Justine slept in while I got up for a early morning hike. Earlier, when I mentioned where we were staying, I didn’t yet know about the coffee maker. It was magical, and at 5 AM, I fell in love with it. You press a button, and one fantastic cup of coffee comes out. It was the best coffee I’d had in Australia, and all it took was the push of one little button. My driver took me to the hike where we’d walk into King’s Canyon and then around it where I met up with a few other people. A Canadian couple that retired early (55). The man looked like Mark Filler. They were both in the Oil and Gas industry (I was corrected when I said Gas and Oil), and an older Canadian woman that we spent a good amount of time with – she was on most of our bus trip. She was probably in her 70’s, and kept up with me easily (mainly because I was taking many photos.) The hike wasn’t too hard, but I was somewhat sore afterwards. Interestingly enough the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was filmed here. I’ve not seen it, as I’m not big on my Transvestite Cinema, but I intend to catch up when I return to the States.
Afterwards, I went back to our tent camp, showered and waited for the ride back to our pickup point, where we would join up with our group. In the meanwhile, I had a few more cups of that tasty, tasty coffee. Eventually we found our group, and rode the several hundred miles back to Alice Springs. When I first started this journey, I wasn’t a big fan of bus rides, but in retrospect, I’ve changed my mind. Had we done this on our own, I wouldn’t have been able to see as much, sleep as much, or learn as much. Most of our rides ended up being small groups of people. At one point we had four people on our Greyhound sized bus, but it was never much more than that. There were several great things we managed to see, including a herd of camels, two wild horse and their foal (called Brumsbys), an Emu male with four young emus, birds, dead snakes, goannas and more. Our driver (Garry from APT tours) was very engaging, and taught us a lot. Interestingly enough, everything ran like clockwork. There was one time where a bus wasn’t there to meet us, but it was mainly because we had six people (fewer than normal, so we got on the road quicker.) While I was talking to Garry about it, the bus showed up, right on time. The sleep portion was equally important. Most of these early morning adventures meant I slept only a few hours, and when it wasn’t early morning adventures, it was crappy hotel rooms. Being able to grab an hour or two of sleep on the bus made a huge difference. I never felt great, but I certainly felt a lot better. What I find most important is that we saw so very much of Australia. We did something like 2000 miles of the Australian countryside, from the Great Ocean Road, to Wave Rock, to Alice Springs. It was a fantastic experience.
After our lovely time in central Australia was over, we found ourselves back in Alice Springs. We’d not seen much poverty, beggars, or people sleeping in the streets, but in Alice Springs, it all changed. It seems like all the racial prejudice had been funneled into this one small town. It was depressing beyond belief and a little bit menacing. I grew up in a small town in Florida, so I was somewhat used to it (which makes me sad), but Justine was especially shocked by it. We walked around a bit, and ended up back near our hotel, if only because it seemed like a reasonable place to eat dinner. I had Kangaroo once again, which made me happy. We got up at an hour that used to be early, but is now normal, and went for coffee. We waited until my bank opened and closed the account. I went to that fancy camera shop and bought something to clean the sensor on my D7000 (the Arctic Butterfly, which sounds like a sex toy.) Happily enough, it seems to have cleared my sensor successfully. We then flew back to Sydney.
Sydney wasn’t a bad place, but the hotel was horrible. It was small, the beds (one short queen and one bunk bed overhead) were horrible, and there was mold in the shower. Lots of mold in the shower. We walked to a nearby blue collar neighborhood called Botany Bay (where I believe Captain Cook landed.) We found the place by asking a guy in the liquor store for a recommendation. He said “where the hell you from?”, in his best American accent. He directed us to a very nice Sushi restaurant. We went back to the hotel along a less treacherous route, and went to bed somewhat late (when I say we, I mean me. Justine sticks to an early bedtime.) About 5 AM, the fire alarm went off in the hotel, helping us get an early start on the day, and to New Zealand.