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Day 7 Camels!

Alice Springs, Australia

Mike's Top Gear Challenge Day 7

Morning and another day begins on my challenge to get home in a  $900 car. So far I have covered over 1400 kilometers and made it from Darwin to Alice Springs. Today I will try for Uluru also known as Ayers Rock which is about 440 k away.

After packing up I carefully checked all the fluid levels on the car- all good. I started her up to warm up and she started on the first hit of the key. I have a starter issue where sometimes the bendix doesn't catch the first time and I need to start it a couple of times to get it to catch. Not a big deal.
As the car warmed up I put the last things away and on my walk around I noticed that the rear license plate was falling off! The metal was so worn around the rusty screws it was breaking and the left side was dangling. I loosened the screw and reset the plate, then knuckled the screw back down as tight as I could. We'll see if it holds. 

Then the car died.

It had never done this before- Pete had set the idle and the car had always run smoothly.
I restarted and she died again!
I restarted and gave her gas to keep the idle up. I was ready to go so I backed out of my space and she died again....oh no.

I started up again and revved the idle, hit into gear from neutral and slammed forward keeping the RPMs high and rolled onto the highway. And then there was no problem. I drove to the store for ice and snacks and left town heading for The Rock.

It was quiet on the highway and soon I was rolling along at 130 kph . It is cooler here the farther south you go unlike the US because I am getting closer to the South Pole! Yesterday I passed out of the Tropic of Capricorn so the temperature should start going down more and more. 

I passed two more fires on the way and I got to The Resort by the Rock about 1:30. I had a nice lunch with wine and calamari and I heard that they had Sunset Camel Rides every night. This sounded interesting as I have never been on a camel before. After lunch I booked the camel ride and got a campsite in their campground. Nice and grassy and shady. I had time for a shower and some reading before the camel tour bus would pick me up. 

The sunshine here is addictive, so warm and bright blue skies everyday! I walked over to the bus pickup and I met a family of four from Tasmania who were also on the ride. The bus arrived and our Cameleer drove us to the Camel Farm (as they call it) and we joined a group of other camel adventurers. We received safety briefings- basically don't fall off- and some instruction before boarding our beast. It was two to a camel so I was paired up with a flight attendant from Colorado who had extensive camel riding experience in Morocco and Africa. Maybe I would make it through this if I listen to her?

When you get on the camel you have to lean way back in the saddle so when he "launches" you won't be thrown off forward. It was fun watching my fellow travelers rise up on their camels. Some startled looks on faces since the camel shoots up pretty quickly! Then when we were all up we were off and walking, each camel hooked to the other by a rope and a line through their noses. 

A photographer took pictures and so did all of us. Did you know that a camel only has fat in their hump and not water? Or that a camel can drink salt water? Or that a pregnant camel can delay birth up to 17 months if drought conditions are bad? Wow! Pretty amazing animals.

The Cameleer uses voice commands in Arabic to tell the lead camel what to do. He said the camels respond well to the sounds and are as smart as an 8 year old child. Pretty cool.

We rode for over an hour and watched the sunset then headed back to the ranch for a beer and wine and snack reception. I bought a photo from the photographer as a keepsake andthen back to camp and bed.

Tomorrow I will go into the park and to the Rock for a close inspection and then I am off to an area called Kings Canyon which is supposed to be very beautiful as well as a good place to hike.

More tomorrow! Bye Gear Heads.      

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on September 6, 2012 from Alice Springs, Australia
from the travel blog: Mike's Top Gear Challenge
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