The weather is hot, and the heat radiates off the red rocks, making today’s hiking even warmer than the air temperature alone would indicate–which made a quick hike to the shower block seem like a necessity. I had a bit of time before the barbecue, so I spent some time perched on the bed in my room, recording the day’s events. The door to my room was propped open, to let a little of the evening air blow through, as it had gotten roasty during the day. In the category of “everything is relative,” a boy walking by looked in and exclaimed, “Wow. Beautiful room. How much do the nice one’s cost?” (I told him and learned he was staying in the dorms that are available here. So I’m guessing “nice” means “no bunk beds.”)
I went for a walk along the Todd River, to just look at the Alice, and to watch the gorgeous sunset. Noisy birds were everywhere. The watercourse was lined with river red gums. It was wonderful.
The barbecue was at 8 o’clock, and the food was abundant. They offered classic Aussie barbecue fare: spaghetti, salad, grilled onions, grilled potatoes, and tough steak, along with one free glass of wine. Not bad for $6.50. They did have kangaroo, as promised, but the cook said you had to order it ahead of time. I was actually rather relieved. I’m fond of kangaroos, and I hadn’t quite gotten my head around the idea of eating one.
The crowd was fun, but very young, and almost all British, including my students from the bus ride. We all shared tales of our various travels. One young man spoke enthusiastically of the adrenaline rush he’d gotten from bungee jumping. I suggested that if he liked adrenaline, he might enjoy the riding trip I made through the mountains, during my first visit to Australia. I described some of the adventure, and the young man, wide-eyed, exclaimed, “But that’s real danger.” I don’t think I let it register on my face, but his reaction surprised and amused me. “So you only want artificial danger?” I queried. “Well, yeah,” he said with emphasis and incredulity that I even needed to ask. The two thoughts that flashed through my mind were that he seemed mighty young to be aware of his mortality and that it seemed like a real waste of adrenaline, using it for something not real.
Storytelling wound down after about an hour, and the young men’s attention shifted from me to the slender, pretty, mostly blond young women who were clearly wondering why a considerably older woman was of such interest. It made me chuckle, but it also gave me a chance to gracefully depart. The bus for Ross River will be picking me up at 7:30 a.m., and a good night’s sleep is always a good thing before moving on.