Thursday, February 25, 2010

The 'Epic Fail' Camping Trip - Part II

We re-mounted our bikes and started out on the next leg of our journey. Immediately ahead of us was a narrow, winding road which made its way up a very steep hill. I dropped right down into low gear, my bum dipping from from side to side as I tried to cover as much ground as possible. My thighs began to burn. Sweat trickled out of my hair and stung my eyes. Each car and truck that overtook us left a cloud of hot exhaust in its wake. I started to feel truly nauseous. I was close to defeat, which meant having to get off and walk. Just at that moment, there was a breeze on my cheek as Jumbo, on his racing bike, sailed past on his way uphill. Fixit had also passed me, but he was on a mountain bike like mine, so eventually he too had to cave in and walk. Jumbo made it easily to the top of the hill.

"Hey, what's wrong with you two?"he yelled.

When we eventually made it to the top Fixit paid Jumbo back with a sarcastic comment. I got ready to jump in and quell a fight, but fortunately they both backed down. Glittering enticingly on the horizon we spied the ocean, about 3km to our east. We were not heading for the ocean yet, though. The plan was to ride out along the ridge into the National Park and then follow a trail down to our campsite, which would be right on the water. I could hardly wait to dump my pack on the sand and cool off in the ocean.

We set off cycling upwards along a road with houses either side. After what seemed like a very long climb, the bitumen suddenly ended and turned into gravel. When I say gravel, I actually mean rocks and dirt. Jumbo hurtled downhill into the gravel, his back wheel fishtailing from side to side, churning up puffs of dust. I winced, and got ready to apply first aid to my baby's grazed limbs. Thankfully he regained his balance and my heartrate returned to normal. I checked my National Parks map. We still had at least 7km still to go. The road was indicated as 'sealed' on the map. Not only was it not sealed, it was so rough that it was actually only passable by four wheel drive. Have you ever tried to ride a bicycle on gravel? It's just not possible.

"Sorry guys, I guess we'll just have to walk," I said.
Onwards we trudged, pushing our bikes and carrying our packs. Cicadas droned relentlessly overhead. I peered into a nearby yard, looking for a tap to re-fill our water bottles. I knew the campsite would not have water, but I had at least hoped that there would be a tap within 10km of it. Now I was starting to worry. If the map was wrong about the road, maybe I should assume there would be no water, either. Suddenly, I spied something nestled under the eaves of a garage.

It was a water tank.

I checked the only other two houses in sight. Tank water, both of them. That meant that where we were heading, there was no town water. No taps. Nothing.

"But I'm not thirsty!" raged Jumbo,"Why do we need water, anyway?"

"Baby, have a look at the map. This is where we are now, and this is where we're going. Maybe you're not thirsty now, but in this heat, it's dangerous to go without water."
He glared at me and did not turn his bike around.
"How do you know?"
"That's just the way it is. People can live without food, but without water, you can die in less than a day."
He gave an unimpressed grunt.
"We will just have to go to a different campsite, one that has water," I added.
"So, we're not going home?"
"Where is this other campsite?"
"Back near where we saw the ocean. It's for soft campers with cars. It's all downhill from here, and you can swim when we get there."

Fixit had already started back along the gravel road. Reluctantly, my small mutineer swung his bike around and rejoined the expedition.

We sailed downhill, the wind cooling our sweaty hair, and before long we reached the kind of campground which I try my best to avoid. A small city of tents had been erected. All of them had kitchens, some had changing cubicles, and one even had totem tennis in case the beach turned out to be not entertaining enough. Everywhere you looked, people were walking, talking, sitting, cooking, eating, playing. I believe I even saw a television. Gosh, definitely no chance of any peace and quiet...

We did not stop at the campground but pedalled on, heading straight for the beach. After locking our bikes and dumping our packs, we ran headlong into the beautiful green-blue ocean, where we lolled and swam for a long, long time.

In the Final Part of the Epic Fail Camping Trip, our Heroes Do Battle with a Difficult Person, and Spend a Night in the Wilderness...

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