Tiki gets the need I have to travel, because she is a fellow Traveller, and the capitalisation is deliberate. We both value wandering with someone we can rely upon, not to mention travelling with someone who enjoys it as much as we do, but we're also happy enough to go it alone.
Getting away like this was the first of my tests to see if I'm actually capable of a Nullarbor trip (or two) this year. On the final drive in my move to Canberra, I did the whole thing with Tiki as passenger over two days, and it was found that while I may be exhausted and unable to walk, I would often pick up fairly noticably once I started to drive.
This was my first big drive on my own since I got sick. I did ok. The biggest issue apart from my usual problems was the heat. Car ran fine, though needed water and oil, unsurprisingly. What made this drive do-able was meeting up with Tiki. If I'd looked like having serious trouble getting back to Canberra, she would have willingly shadowed my car back home, even if it added miles and hours to her trip, detouring to make sure I'm ok.
It was nice driving through the cool night air, smelling the changes in the earth from one area to the next. NSW has some wonderful scents that I've not experienced before. It's another of the reasons I drive places with windows down, to smell the air. Ok, yes, my car doesn't have air-conditioning, but for me that's a good thing.
I often feel the urge to travel, but I forget why it's such a constant background hum until I get to do it once more. Then I start to remember what it means to me, to be out in new places. Even the fleeting touches of the small towns as I go through them are things I enjoy.
Travel for me is like sex... Alright, stop sighing, if you haven't realised by now that both touch me deeply psychologically and spiritually by now, you haven't been reading closely enough. Hey, why else do you think I'm driven to do a 7,000 km round trip in my car every year? You think any urge that didn't touch the depths of my soul and who I am would get that kind of regular commitment? That I would indulge myself regularly in anything that didn't make me feel so connected or give me great joy? They are both things best shared in the right places with the right people. And they are both things that can be great fun, with the right people, or even alone *grin*
I touched on some of this in my 100 Days post.
That's why I'm picky about who I travel with - it's too important to be done with just anyone. In the past I've been willing to travel with most people but as I age, the wandering is too important to me to risk it being spoilt by someone who whines, has no appreciation, or is wussy about a lack of mod-cons. That said, there are one or two people who fall into that category that I'd still travel with, because everything else about them would even out the bad points. But generally, I err on the side of caution.
I find a decent trip away to be a time for adventure, self-discovery, delight, laughs, sharing... It's one of the times I feel really happy and alive, and it's something I like to share with those closest to me, though I know that isn't always possible. Some people don't like travel, or they don't experience the beauty of this country in the way I do. Some people would be too likely to shit me, or impact on my enjoyment of the trip. And given how infrequently I get to travel, it's not worth the risk.
Tiki and I met up ok in the town of Parkes. We left my car behind at the info centre carpark and then drove around in hers to find a place to camp. We often have the same ideas on what will make for a good place, and so if one is unsure that a spot is right, the other has often had doubts as well. We have been known to drive for a fair distance in the hope of finding a place that feels good, though sometimes we just give up and crash at a rest spot.
Eventually found a bit of national park that seemed nice, and dossed down without the tent, which was wonderful. Usually we need it because of high winds, rain threatening, mosquitoes... but apart from a mere handful of noisy mozzies, and the occasional inquisitive ant, we were fine. So under the ancient gaze of the stars, we huddled together for warmth and comfort under a blanket, admiring the night sky, spotting the occasional satellite cruising by overhead, and chatted away as we do so easily until we fell asleep.
The Parkes radio telescope was cool. It's amazing to watch a thousand tonnes of man-made machinery shifting about. A dish 64 metres across, welded together at night, accurate to within 1 millimetre - it's hard not to be impressed. And the visitor's centre is good, too. They have a lot of peculiar issues though. Because they are so close to the radio telescope, and the telescope is being made more and more sensitive, it's cutting down the type and variety of displays they can have. The have a lovely model of the telescope that you can operate, that wasn't being used because the electrics in the interactive display were interfering with the real one. They have to use CRT monitors, because they create less interference than LCD ones. Mobile phones are, of course, a big problem.
We talked at length to John, the guy in charge of the visitor's centre, ate at the cafe, watched the slideshow with its wonderfully melodramatic music near the start, wandered around a bit, then headed back to town to lounge around and chat in the park to give the heat of the day a chance to burn off. Then, around 6:30 we said our goodbyes and Tiki headed off to Melbourne and I left for Canberra.
And today I am stuffed! But given the heat of the two days I went driving in, that's to be expected. Will see how many days it takes me to feel human again, and try to judge how much is post-heat, and how much is illness related. Next test is to see if I can manage the drive down to Melbourne ok for the Discworld Convention at the start-ish of February.
If that doesn't give me too much grief, I'll be doing a Nullarbor trip with hespa come March/April, which I'm greatly looking forward to.