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25 and Under...and 23...and 22 I'm trekking southern Australia in the World Nomads Ambassador van with my little brother & his girlfriend. This should be interesting.

On the Road

AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 19 January 2008 | Views [1122]

What IS that!?!?!?

What IS that!?!?!?

Day 10

The key to roadtripping is, one might say, is to find the perfect balance between the actual driving and the “other” stuff. Eating, sightseeing, hiking, etc. For some, the idea of spending six hours in a car — tunes blaring, windows wide open — is bliss. For others, it’s hell. Why spend that much time in the car when you could be seeing what’s out there? Those are the types of people who see a turnoff for “World’s Largest Eggplant — Only 10 Miles Down This Dirt Road!” and take it.

I’m a turnoff type. Whenever we see a sign for something of mild interest, be it winery, National Park, farm, or hell, even those “pick your own” fruit fields, I stare longingly out the window until it disappears into the oblivion of my memory forever. It’s that nagging feeling of, “Well, what if I miss something?” What if I missed the chance to pick the tastiest strawberry of my entire life? Of course, I know to go down all those roads would be useless and I’d probably be indifferent about most of the stops, but nevertheless, I get that feeling about five times a day.

Some days, we make the stops. We do the tiny wineries off the side of the road (sidenote: I highly recommend the Rosé at the Warratah Winery outside Wilson’s Prom!); we stop for ice cream in the small little towns. But some days it’s nice to just drive. To stare at the signs and wonder what you’re missing. To keep things unknown. They remain pristine that way; untouched country ready and waiting to be explored next time.

Today was a driving day.

We started off on a patch of 90 mile beach, miles from the highway and miles from anyone not attached to a fishing rod. Slowly we made our way back to civilization, stopping in the charming town of Sale for an Internet break, then the larger town of Bairnsdale for ice cream, coffee and groceries. In between we blasted ‘80s and ‘90s hits (Unbelievable, literally) and tried to name all the American state capitals. Topeka, Kansas; Concord, New Hampshire; Sacramento, California; Billings, Montana — who knows. I’m hoping we got at least 40 out of 50.

Post-capital game, Jeff and Crystal decided to try and photograph every single “Drowsy Drivers Die”-ish roadsign. In Australia, you see, they do not want you to drive while tired. “Weary? A 15 Minute Powernap Could Save Your Life!” they shout from the side of the road. Camera in hand, Crystal was ready to capture them all. Every 10 minutes or so, Jeff would shout “Crystal!” and she’d be ready to shoot. We came to the conclusion that by the end of this trip, she’ll probably have more pictures of Australian signs than scenery. That and koalas, uh, relieving themselves. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

As we traveled up the A road, passing Lakes Entrance on the way to Orbost, the scene changed from farm to forest, and we all grew quiet. Huge gums surrounded the now shadowed road, and before long, the Snowy River appeared to our side. It’s these calm moments — in between games and photos and fighting over the volume of the stereo (I like it loud) — when I manage to lose myself in the scenery. That’s what I love about Australia: Just farms, hills and cows for as far as the eye can see.

Another day gone, another night falls. Another drive done.

Tags: ambassador van, philosophy of travel

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