Saturday, April 26, 2014

Darwin, and the Long Trip Home

After Kakadu, I had a mere three-hour drive to get to my last destination, the tropical city of Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory. I had to change a flat while in the park, but through the powerful work of prayer (Praise Be!), the spare tire held until I made it to civilization.

I rented a vacation apartment in Darwin so I could do dishes and laundry and all the un- and re-packing I had to do to get home. It was a lot of work to dig all my stuff out of the vehicle, clean everything, and reassemble everything that belonged to the rental agency. While I did so, I discovered an entire second set of bedding, including a second pillow that I could have sorely used to supplement the single tired-out one I found on my first day. Oh well!

Then, I had to take Princess back.

Go on, now, go! Don'tcha understand, I don't love you anymore! So get out of here! Go on, go!
That left me with a few days in Darwin without a vehicle. I rode my bike to the beach one day, but a) it was 90 degrees F and heavy humidity, so any exercise was a mess, and b) the beach in Darwin isn't really a beach, more like a long tidal flat. After that, I pretty much retreated into the air conditioning, pool, and shaded balcony of my apartment.

I put the bicycle up for sale on the Australian equivalent of Craigslist, but I didn't get a legitimate offer in the day and a half I had left. So I carted it to a shady spot on the esplanade and left it, along with the helmet and the spare inner tube, with a "FREE" sign, thinking it was too bad I wouldn't get to see who got it.

A few hours later, I was sitting on the balcony of my apartment, which is a good ways from the esplanade and faces in the opposite direction to boot. I saw this old guy pedaling hesitantly along on a blue bicycle, a too-small helmet perched unbuckled on top of his head. Could it be? A peek through the binoculars proved it--dude had my bike! It made my day.

I spend the rest of my time in Darwin on that balcony, eating ice cream, grilling up a kangaroo steak, and trying to photograph the crow-sized flying foxes that flapped by every few minutes at dusk.

Never really got a good shot. They seemed to fly slowly, but not slowly enough to turn on and focus a camera.
That, and some really fantastic tropical thunderstorms, which happened nearly every evening.

Darwin is not really a city so much as a medium-sized town that happens to be the only civilization for 1,000 km. I had a nice meal at a pub, and I enjoyed a coffee and ice cream by the waterfront, but there wasn't a whole lot to do. In general, I was content to prepare for the long flight home.

My domestic flight from Darwin to Perth gave me an entire extra day in Perth, which was quite comfortable after I dropped off my luggage in a locker. I was surprised I didn't feel particularly sentimental about the place, though I spent the stunning day (70s, sunny, breezy, and dry) along the river, in the parks, and in an outdoor shopping-plaza pub. Then, it was a very long, very unpleasant flight home (middle seats and infants the whole way). I was happy as hell to get off the plane and be back in Boston, where the weather was actually about the same as it had been in Perth. It felt good to be home!

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