Friday, February 1, 2008

35 km West of Jerramungup - And the rains came.

January 28th

I woke at five, an almost luxuriant time for me as I had only 40 km to go today. I stretched, impossibly rested and relaxed for someone's first time sleeping on the road. Yet something felt wrong in the cool dark around me. No one or thing had tampered with me or my gear. I realized it was the stars. I had expected to wake up to clear skies and the mosaic of the southern Milky Way. Instead I was greeted with the dark gray of low-slung clouds. Rain? Surely it wouldn’t rain in this dry land, not in the middle of summer? I turned over and slept for another hour. The clouds were still there, unmoved, now the color of weathered aluminum. In this land of open spaces and fearsome sun, the unfamiliarity of these saturated looking clouds took on a sinister appeal. I packed my kit quickly to the barely discernable drops and what sounded like – well, what I wanted it to sound like was a car in the distance – but there was no mistaking the sound of thunder.

"Just the time to get on the road" I thought to myself.
"Maybe it will miss me; besides a lightning storm at 6:30 in the morning? You’ve got to be kidding me."

No more than 500 meters on the road, my worst suspicions were confirmed. The rumble in the distance had become an ear-splitting peal, and the rain now began in earnest. The idea of sitting on the side of the road in the wet and soon to be cold to wait it out was not that appealing to me.
Once more it flashed. Not that close; not that far.

"Maybe it’s going away from me," I pondered optimistically. Then, in my right brake hand I felt a surge of static electricity. In a sudden, motivated effort (in which I felt I did not panic), I got my bike to the side of the road, set it down gently, and walked 20 or so meters away from the taller trees on the side of the road and sat in a ditch. My head was just slightly above the surface of the pavement. The rain shifted from earnest to roughly two notches below torrential. Sitting eye level with the road, I could see as well as feel the violence as the raindrops beat the pavement making a shallow mist above the roadway.

I pulled my legs up close to my chest conserving what little heat I had for what I hoped would be a short experience. I laughed out loud. This was no misery. It was completely my choice to be here, and I better make the best of it. This thought kept me warm until the storm abated.
Freshly showered, I made my way to Jerramungup.

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