Hello from Alice Springs!

Coober Pedy was Boooring. We shopped for some Opals and met up with some guys from the shark tour who happened to be headed the same direction as us. That was about it.

After Coober Pedy, we headed off to Uluru (Ayers Rock) with a stopover at some town or another along the way. The place we had planned to stop – Kulgera – was a little creepy so we drove on. I swear I heard banjos strumming as I stepped out of the vehicle. This town consisted of a caravan park, a bar, and a petrol station. The people there were really weird and unfriendly. Totally out of character with anything else we’ve witnessed in Australia so far. Very bizarre!

We spent two nights at the resort just outside the national park where Ayers Rock and the Olgas are located. The resort area has accommodations of all types, restaurants, supermarkets, bars – all out in the middle of nowhere. It’s really well designed and the campground was good. We watched the sun set on Ayers Rock the first night, and luckily for us the rain stopped long enough to get a fantastic sunset – complete with three rainbows. Trust us to find rain in the bloody desert! It’s rained on us four or five times in the past week! We also met up with our sharker friends Toby and Steven again and witnessed some TRULY awful local entertainment. I almost bought a CD just so I could prove how bad this guy was!

The next day, we each took 30 minute helicopter flights over Ayers and the Olgas. We lucked into some cheaper tickets because there were only single seats left on two separate flights. Fine for us. Got some great photos, and flying in a helicopter is something you can never get enough of! Then we headed out and did a short walk up to Ayers and then a three hour hike through the Valley of the Winds in the Olgas. Stupendous scenery. The landscape is truly awe-inspiring. I can see why these formations are sacred to the Aboriginal people here. It really upsets me that people insist on climbing the rock, even though they have been told that it’s a sacred object. I don’t understand how people can be so insensitive – especially when they’re Australian themselves. I ran into several Aussies personally who had climbed it, and recommended that I do so as well. I was polite – mostly. But it really disgusts me how little respect people have for the indigenous culture here. I suppose it’s the same as in Canada. (But hanging out with Giselle taught me a few things I guess!)

Much to Jessica’s dismay, we went BACK to the rock a third time to do another smaller walk around the base the following day. By this point, she was totally sick of looking at a giant rock. Although we did get to see a butcher bird up close and personal on that walk – he sang us a little song and hung out with us for awhile. Very cute. After our morning walk, we headed off to King’s Canyon.

We spent two nights just outside King’s Canyon at a resort that paled in comparison to the previous one. The people were really nice, but the facilities weren’t great. The first thing we did there was put Jessica onto a camel named Stan. She LOVED it. Had to ride Stan again the next day for a longer ride, too. It’s a bit odd that the first animal she’s ridden is a camel and not a horse, but oh well! Then we took her on a five minute helicopter ride. The rides at Ayers were too expensive, and too long in case she freaked out. But Grant sweet-talked the guy at King’s Canyon into taking the three of us up for a few minutes for only $80. Jessica chattered to me the whole way. She loved it, and has been telling everyone about the camel named Stan and the helicopter ever since. I’m really glad she’s so adventuresome or we’d be in for some trouble in Asia!

The following morning we headed out (much later than we should have) to King’s Canyon for the four hour hike up the rim. WOW. Amazing scenery. Even better than the Olgas and Ayers, I would have to say. It was a long, hot walk for everyone, but totally worth it. I’m sure my pictures won’t begin to do it justice. Jessica hiked up the hardest part (nicknamed heart-attack hill) all by herself – talking the whole way up!

That evening we hit the pool at the campground to cool off. Jessica is now swimming all by herself with only her armbands to hold her up. She paddled around the pool asking everyone their names. Of course, it rained again that night – which was when we discovered we now had a leaky roof vent in addition to the back windows. Time for another trip to Britz.

We decided to splurge and get a hotel room for three nights here in Alice. We took the campervan back to Britz AGAIN for a fix-it job. They’ve managed to change out the windows and reseal them, and hopefully that fixes the problem. They can’t seem to do anything about how loud the a/c is. We’ve been getting complaints about it from our neighbours while camping. One lady packed up her tent and moved away from us it’s so loud. Grr. Hopefully they give us some sort of compensation for all this crap when we return the vehicle. I wanted a different unit until we looked into the one in the parking lot while we were handing ours over. Yikes. It was WAY worse than ours! We’ve got ours back now, and it’s all homey again. Amazingly, we’re getting used to living in this stupid thing. It has been nice to have some room for Jessica to run around in at the hotel, though.

Because of all the hassle with Britz, we haven’t done all that much here in Alice. We’ve mostly been catching up on laundry and doing a tour of the local galleries and souvenir shops. Grant FINALLY bought a Didgeridoo and took a lesson on how to play it. We went to a concert last night and Jessica was dancing up a storm much to the amusement of everyone. I got to bang on an African drum, so I was a happy camper, too. Before the concert, we tried to order some food for dinner to our room. Wow. That’s more difficult than it should be here in Alice. The first pizza place only made specific pizzas and they were pretty expensive. So, we called for chinese. They said they were closed, although they answered the phone and the menu we had specifically said they should be open. Then we called good old Pizza hut. They don’t deliver. Interesting. Then we finally called the first pizza place back and got an overpriced crappy pizza with BBQ sauce on it. Yuck. Of course, each phone call cost us $1 as well.

Well, time’s almost out here. I’ve uploaded (hopefully) some of the shark photos. Send me email people!! I’m all out-of touch!!

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