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October 11, 2001

Overland Australia - Update 63

October 11, 2001
Day 80

Mick Roney and company

‘Creepy Crawlies’
From: Mick

The group has unanimously agreed that I, for some larger cosmic reason, have been selected as the Vortex for any and all perils the group may encounter. A shield, if you will, that protects the rest of the group from possible harm. If danger lurks it will lurk around, over, under, or on top of me. I have for this reason become a very precious Totem for the group. They now believe, as long as I survive this trip, they will be safe. One example of this strange phenomenon happened just this morning.

I have a very fixed routine when setting up my tent at night and how I get out of it and break it down in the morning. I do this not just because I am compulsively organized and neat, but for a very smart and necessary reason to keep all the possible ‘creepy crawlers’ out of my tent. One specific part of that routine is how I take my bike shoes and socks off at night and how I put them on in the morning.

After I have set up the tent and it is time to get some sleep, I patiently look around the door of the tent to make sure there are no ‘creepy crawlers’ around. I then zip open the tent door and get in the tent, leaving my feet just outside the tent and my headlamp locked onto the area. Sweeping the headlamp back and forth to make sure of nothing coming my way, I then remove the bike shoes and place them on the ground. As for my socks, they are removed and turned inside out and placed on a hook on the outside of my tent within arm’s length, of course, so I don’t have to get out of the tent to grab them. But why turn the socks inside out you may ask?

Turning my socks inside out is a simple and effective reminder to check my shoes and socks for inhabitants before sticking my feet in them. This is a serious matter and a good habit to get into in the Outback. I had been doing just that for seventy-nine days straight. With no ‘creepy crawlers’ in the shoes and socks so far, I woke up on day eighty, which should have been my first clue, ready to go riding.

I put my headlamp on, got on my riding clothes, sat up next to the door of my tent and unzipped the flap. I immediately shined my headlamp in the dark all around the shoes and socks. The coast looked clear. I reached for my first sock. I was a bit groggy at 4:30 in the morning and did not react when my sock felt a bit heavy. However, before my brain could ‘put two and two together’, I had put the sock squarely to my face and, with the headlamp shining directly at the opening of the sock, I peeled it back with both hands. Can you say blood-curdling scream?


Like those pods in the movie ‘Aliens,’ my sock unleashed the biggest
barking spider I have ever seen. It hit my chin, fell on my arm and jumped with a thud on the ground just outside the tent! From the moment it was on me, it felt cold, clammy and heavy. And, yes, before I knew it, Jason and his camera were on me. At that time, the big spider and I were at a stand off, neither wanting to turn their back on the other.

As I watched the spider I began to realise it was just as scared as I. Wouldn’t you be if you were awakened by a huge giant peeling open your place of rest? Quite frankly that spider could have bitten me several times but it did not. That being said, I urged the spider on its way and enjoyed the group’s concerned remarks for me.

Those remarks were things like, “You scream like a girl” and “Afraid of a Daddy Longlegs, you big baby”. I let them have their fun and then reminded them that if it were not for me being here, one of them would have received a ‘creepy crawly’ in THEIR sock!

Mick Roney

*Aboriginal place-names for the day:

CURRAMULKA: Emus Came Down to Drink at a Deep Water Hole, Fell In, and
were Speared by the Hunters.
MYOON MYOOAN: Red and Yellow Stones which Provide Pigment for Body
OOLAMBULLA: Plenty of Grasshoppers

Today’s educational theme is the creepy crawlers of the Outback. You can
learn about Mike’s little friend, and the other insects whose home we
are sharing.

Environmental Studies


Posted on October 11, 2001 3:46 PM