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Published: March 22nd 2018
After a fitful night of sleep, I was up and on the go by 7. Supposedly there is a train that will take me directly to the airport from close to my hotel. I pulled my suitcase up the hill and around the corner to the station with less mumbling than yesterday. Easy as that I had a ticket and was on the correct platform waiting for the train. I don’t think anything could have been more convenient. At the airport, the ticketing kiosks for Virgin Australia were not working, causing a great backlog of irritable passengers in the check in queues. Didn’t bother me any. I stood quietly reading my Kindle as we inched our way forward. Frankly, there was enough kvetching and moaning going on around me that I didn’t need to add any more.
The flight to Ayers Rock Airport took about 3 hours. I had an emergency exit with more than ample room for my extended size . We were all given a small snack, but I had noticed they offered ham and cheese toasties for sale, so in honor of Cindy (from the Perth blog, although she does not eat ham) I ordered one. How
awesome is it that these are called toasties here? We call them grilled ham and cheese, and although it is technically accurate, toastie is such a more fun word. Flying into Ayers Rock, we had beautiful views of the vast, open space and the majestic Uluru formation. Climbing down the steps outside to the tarmac, the hot air felt good. Uh-huh, that is what I told myself as I stood there sweating in the furnace hot day. Luggage was loaded onto flatbed trailers and dropped off in front of the terminal. When I say dropped off, I mean they literally unhooked the trailer and drove off leaving us to push and maul each other to find our suitcase. We are in the Outback now and things seem to run a bit differently. Fortunately, I brought Brenno, the Australian version of me and he knew just how to handle this. And in case you are concerned, no, there was no lasting physical harm done to anyone.
After the luggage frenzy, we were loaded onto buses and taken to our respective hotels. I had booked at the Desert Garden Inn, which looked very nice. To accommodate all of the visitors here,
this resort was built with hotels of varying amenities and price from top of the line luxury (not mine) down to shared hostel rooms (also not mine) to campgrounds (most certainly not mine). My room was not ready yet, so I headed off to the restaurant for a Wagyu hamburger and beer. While eating, I worked on my blogs and enjoyed the quiet. Not too much later, my room was ready and I was free to sprawl out on a full-sized bed for the first time since I left Perth. The air conditioner was set perfectly and soon I was in full on vacation bliss. Unfortunately, this had to come to an end so I could get ready for my first tour.
The Sounds of Silence is a dinner series that had been recommended to me by the Binkleys who had enjoyed it when they were here. A short bus ride dropped me off in the desert, although technically it really isn’t a desert due to rain fall measurement, but that is neither here nor there. Uluru was standing tall in the background as I made my way up a sandy path to the sound of a didgeridoo .
Graciously accepting a glass of sparkling wine, I entered the crowd assembled for the evening. Passed canapes, sparking wine, smiles and pleasantries were the spirit of the evening. Standing in the background I people watched and enjoyed the views and music. Quietly soaking up the beauty of this landscape, it was easy to unwind and become a part of this experience. Soon it was time to wind our way down another path to a dining area. I was assigned to a “good table” with friendly people from all over. One couple was from India, another England, another Indonesia and a friendly couple from Pennsylvania. Talk was easy and the food was nice. We were served a delicious soup and if I could remember what it was I would tell you, but I don’t. After the soup course, we were invited to the buffet where we had Australian foods including kangaroo, baramundie fish and lamb chops. The food was quite nice and was plentiful. Conversation at the table was all over the board with such a diverse group. We talked about where we had been in Australia, where we were going to next, what our favorite sights were as well as
pop culture. It was a civilized and very enjoyable dinner out in the cool evening. Once our plates were cleared, all of the small table lamps were switched off leaving us in absolute darkness. It was time for a star talk. I was super excited to hear what the Kardashians and Beyonce were up to, but as it turns out it was a talk about actual stars in the night sky. Yeah, I guess that makes sense in retrospect.
Being in the pitch dark of the desert is a special feeling. We were in a secluded area with no other lights for distraction. Stars overhead were bright and foreign to me because our stars in the Northern Hemisphere are different from the ones down here. This I knew beforehand, so having a knowledgeable speaker point to them with a laser pointer and talk about them was a true experience. He showed us the Southern Cross and how to find due South by triangulating this and two other stars known as pointers. Or, we could do it by doing the same with two smaller galaxies off to the side. The Milky Way was an intense but graceful smudge dancing across
the sky. As he talked, he showed us some familiar names of the galaxy like Leo the lion, Gemini, Sirius and more. I don’t get how they see most of these, but hey, it seems to have worked. Trying to see Orion’s belt I could understand but adding other stars to make a man was like trying to taste wine with a group and coming up with what we taste. It is all different and there is no one right or wrong answer. I could have sat there for hours listening to his stories. He was funny as all get out and so far from the dry, boring speaker that I had anticipated. Jumping ahead a couple days, I will tell you that when checking out of my hotel the clerk asked what my favorite part of the trip was, and after really thinking about it, this star talk is what I chose.
All too soon, the table lights were turned back on, conversation resumed and it was time to hit the dessert buffet. Sugar, sweets, blah, blah, blah you get the picture. After a short ride back to the hotel, it was time to hit the hay and
get some sleep before my 5:30 AM pickup for the Sunrise Tour.
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