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August 28, 2001

Overland Australia - Update 32


I wish you were all here to see the colours of this sky as the sun is falling. Blue and lavender bands of all hues, layering one another. It echoes my day today, the first of my days with the expedition. My mind raced while riding, through nervousness, anticipation, fear, exhilaration, doubt, confusion, boredom, exhaustion, happiness. I had expected to go through each of these states slowly over the next six weeks, but now one lasted only minutes before giving way to the next. And all the while there was this strange, dusty red road before me, providing some continuity. As I mentioned in my update yesterday, I became involved with the expedition through John, with whom I was travelling by bus. Three days ago, early in the afternoon, he asked if anyone wanted to join in the trip, and by dinnertime I had, in my mind, already committed to it. It will throw quite a wrench into the rest of my life: I’m supposed to be in Columbus, Ohio, continuing my third year in medical school. I’d been allowed a six-week leave of absence by the dean of my school, and used it to come to Australia, to have some time and space to think about the choices I’d made thus far. I’d made some headway, but knew I needed to have my safe life challenged, to take away all my supports, if I were to come to any unclouded conclusions about how I wanted to spend my life. Well, the supports are gone; this trip is certainly devoid of any comforts of home! But I have food (of a sort) to eat, a spot in front of the fire to spread my sleeping bag, a group of people whose company I enjoy (even if I occasionally question their sanity), and a bike to ride and ride, trying not to prove anything to anyone, including myself.


The trip today began on the corrugated, straight path that the group has followed the last few days. The monotony of it meant I had little distraction from my saddle-soreness, which began not an hour after setting off. Somewhere around lunchtime we met with John in the truck, and I finally had a chance to call my poor parents and inform them of what I’m doing. “Um, hi Mom and Dad. I just wanted to tell you that I’ve met a man on a bus and I’m not going back to school this year and I’m gonna ride a bike across Australia so I’m not coming home and everything is totally kosher and probably really safe and I’m fine and…. You guys? You still there?” I’m sure they could hear the rest of the group cackling in the background, which no doubt made them feel ever so much better. If they could have been here to see what came next, they’d understand why I’m on this trip. The Phone Call placed, we got back on the bikes. After having followed this straight, static highway we’d been on for hours, we turned south onto a side road. Everything changed. The road curved, rose and fell. The yellow and faded green brush gave way to more vibrant shades, and a new flower with a colour between pewter and sky-blue cropped up. The flat land grew to hills and the occasional splintered peak. And when we rounded one hill and edged over its crest, we saw…well, why don’t I shut up already and let the others tell you themselves! Their comments can be found in the education/literacy update.



Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Posted on August 28, 2001 12:14 PM