Forget May 21, 2011. That Rapture guy… he was a crazy. We all know when the fire and brimstone is going to start raining down on us. It’s on all the radio shows, and news stations from the West Coast to the East. They call it Carmaggedon, and it is the most anticipated, publicized traffic jam in the long and illustrious history of the Automobile. Now is the time for that start up, centrally located, pet sitting business, as Los Angelenos will be sitting, baking in their cars for 48 hours, or until they die. Water stations should be set up along every canyon. Pretty locals with encouraging signs reading: “You can do it!” “Sit, Sit, Sit!!!!” “If you got endurance call me at… “ While strings of motorists, miles long, grit there teeth and inch forward into a blazing, fiery sunset.
My brain tunes out the radio, and takes a temporal and spatial leap to that winding road next to the Southern Ocean, battered by waves and rock, where I was introduced to the courtesy nod: a polite acknowledgement of your fellow driver, who you see so seldom on these Australian backwashes. We’d just left Melbourne: Tim, Lisa, Mario and I, united by our love of that great matchmaker: the Internet, and a common goal – Adelaide.
We slowly wind our way past Torquay, that surfer swallowing beach town, and warm up to the Great Ocean Road, and it’s monstrous, stony inhabitants. They call them the 12 Apostles although there are no longer 12. The ocean won over 4 of these natural, limestone monoliths with its constant licking and kissing, until they quivered into the sea. 8 more stand strong, but not forever. They stand like giant teeth ready to grind up surfers, and boards and unlucky, beach wanderers who descend from the cliffs, hypnotized by that rhythmic crash, of sea on rock and rock on sea, and they don’t see the waves coming for them, they don’t see.
We see, we listen, we hear, we smell that deadly salt, and leave this place just at sunset to make camp. Tim and I share a lovely tent on soft ground. He sleeps under towels, ever Mr. Chivalry, as I’m cold, and without a sleeping bag. Mario and Lisa are in the van – he is downstairs, she is upstairs, and this is how it goes; day upon day crashing down on our wandering, winding, rippling trip to Adelaide.
We camp up Wait-A-While road with some locals and their dog, who watched TV with the Dalai Lama, while he was supposed to be guiding a meditation. These yarns spread across our campfire and light up our faces. We take the fire from the circle, and spin poi, scaring away the kangaroos and wallabies and all the other docile creatures that live in this land, unpopulated by natural predators.
Fruits and Vegetables are contraband crossing the border from Victoria to South Australia. So we gorge ourselves on greens, and toss the rest to the sea, playing catch with the passing scenery. Keeping some greenery to keep us company at night. We hide it deep in the chasms of our luggage piled high in the back seats, and hope we don’t get stopped. This sort of recklessness comes with that rolling, winding motion of effortless, driving past the sea, the rolling sea.
We share meals with contemptuous koalas, sitting on the ground and we climb up to meet them in the canopy of the rainforests. We’ve wander from the boiling drink up to the Lake Elizabeth’s serene shores, and then on to the spiked peaks of the Grampions peaking over the edge of the clouds to see what the angels are eating for dinner. Laying on that, fine, sparkly rock and soaking up visions of these moving dinner parties, sweeping past us, I don’t want to go down to the bottom, but there’s ice cream there, and a stove to make pasta in the back of our van. So we go with blessed visions of sustenance.
From the Grampions back down to the outer edges of Adelaide, the hills, the Adelaide hills that look like little Germany, or so say my two German companions. We gorge ourselves on wine until Tim knocks his nose into a handrail and is required to fill out a Health and Safety report. We drink to that sea, and that sky and that road that presses against the wheels of our van, to move us forward, against a world that’s moving backward, and keeping us in the exact same spot.
When we reach Adelaide, and we part ways with Mario for now, but not for good. Tim, Lisa and I wander off to find beds for the night, in this glass city of Churches. We feel at home here, having watched the angels eat, watched the sea make love to the rocks, knowing there will be nothing left, someday…
All of this and I’ve moved an inch in this Los Angeles traffic, but the world has turned under me, and I’ll remember that when Carmageddon comes.