Sunday, January 04, 2004

Blog of Januaries past.

January 4, 1992.

Writing in transit -- somewhere in Western Australia. To be exact, in the middle of nowhere. But at least the bus is headed for the other side of nowhere, i.e. Adelaide. Been a while since I've taken an epic bus ride, but I remember the sensations. The whiz of the wind, the bumps and vibrations of the bus. Since the last time I took a transcontinental bus, VCRs have been installed in the vehicles. One's in this bus, anyway, but the movies are as crummy as airplane movies (Home Alone, for one.)

The sun is setting behind the bus as we go east, and I've traveled all day. It's 8:15 now and we're still in Western Australia. For sheer vastness, WA puts Texas to shame. But it's mostly like West Texas.

January 7, 1992.

The 24-hour bus ride across South Australia and the drier portions of New South Wales -- including Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Cobor, Dubbo and across the Blue Mountains in a blanket of fog -- wasn't bad, though I had a harder time sleeping on the bus because of the construction of its seats, and because of the talkative driver. Sometimes he talked with the other driver (they take shifts driving), but he also spent a fair amount of time chatting up a female passenger who was separated from her husband. The driver was divorced; I learned a great deal about him.

After Wilcannia, the number of animals in or near the road increased precipitously. Mostly goats, sheep and kangaroos, but I also spotted a pair of emu. At one point, the drivers discoursed about animal hazards on the road, including some talk of the protective steel bumper-complex on the front of the bus, which I'd noticed as I got on. Helps minimize the damage a large kangaroo, say, might do hitting a 100-kph bus.

Only a few minutes later, the bus passed a large truck going the other way, and suddenly the bus quivered. THUMP! The noise had come from the side of the bus, near the driver. "Damn," he said. "It's been a year since I've hit anything." According to the driver, we'd dispatched a goat.


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