Frequently in life, we have to say goodbye to things before we are ready. Currently, we are having one of those times.
It has been around eight months since we began our journey here in OZ. We have covered some serious Ks and seen some wonderful things along the way. We’ve seen much of eastern Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. We have seen rain forests, gorges, mountains, valleys, beaches, cities, small towns, an a bit of the outback. Through all of this, Rocky was our faithful chariot and boon companion.
Rocky is our 94 Mitsubishi Triton dual cab 4×4. Though he is a bit old, he has taken us many places and allowed us to experience many of the natural wonders Australia’s eastern states have to offer. As a parting gift from our time on the station, we cut and welded a new roof basket for him, and bought a brand new roof rack to put the basket on. Sadly, we will never get to see it on. For recently, Rocky died.
We finished our three and a half month working stint on a sheep and cattle station and had finally got back on the road. We were excited to resume our nomadic ways and see the rest of country. Two days after leaving, we pulled into a lovely little town called Peterborough in South Australia. The plan was to stay the night at the rest stop, go see the dentist for my bi-yearly cleaning, then head on out to the Flinders Ranges for some hiking and camping.
It was a cold, cloudy day with gusty winds and the occasional burst of rain. We bought all the gear necessary to put the basket we had made on the roof rack we had just bought, went to the dentist, and then, with great enthusiasm, headed out of town. We got about 30 Ks before disaster struck. We were traveling north west along a lovely little two lane highway, surrounded on both sides by green pastures full of cattle and sheep, when a coolant hose burst, and the car quickly overheated (the car is apparently lacking in warning lights) damaging the engine. In a brief moment, with very little drama, it was all over for Rocky.
We called for roadside assistance and sat down to wait the hour or so it would take to arrive. While we waited, we couldn’t help but shake the sense of growing dread. At one point, we even asked each other what we would do if the car was toast, but neither of us thought it was going to come to that. When the owner of the local garage arrived, we told him what happened, and we soon got the bad news. It turns out, the engines in our model of vehicle were rather susceptible to heat related stress. The over heating of the engine had likely done irreparable damage.
We were in shock! Our car, which is also our house, was done. It was one of the major set backs we had been hoping would not happen since the beginning. In many ways, our whole trip had been planned upon the assumption we would have our own vehicle. Most of what we wanted to do was see the open countryside, and bask in un-populated beauty of the Australian countryside. To be able to do all this, a vehicle is required, and we no longer had it.
We knew when we bought the car, that it was a possibility. For the past eight months we would worry every time there was a sound we did not recognize, or a smell that we couldn’t identify. Looking back, we were constantly in a state of concern about the truck. We had been waiting, in some sense, for this final disaster to occur.
And yet, when it did, it filled us with the most profound sense of defeat. We stood there on the side of the road, watching him load the car onto the trailer to tow it back to town, and in our minds, watched the rest of our trip crumble. We were distraught. The ride back to town was deathly silent as we pondered our immediate future. What were we to do? How can we continue on? And of course: Why would this happen to us?
I will admit, for a brief time, we considered the unthinkable, the one thing we promised ourselves we would not do. We thought about giving up. In many ways it pains me to admit, but at the time, we were so shocked, felt so defeated, we considered it.
When we got back to town, we immediately found ourselves a hotel room. We sat there on the bed, and once again considered our future. After a quiet few minutes, we looked at each other, and in that moment, we decided this would not beat us. We would find a way to go on. We took strength from a warm shower and a cold beer, from the words of those we love, from each other, and most of all, from within our selves, and though we still felt defeated, we decided then and there, we would go on.
And we have. We spent the entire next day looking at our options. We did not have to time to wait on a new engine, so the truck was no more. It was time to find a new vehicle. Since we had just finished working, we had plenty of money, though this setback did mean that we would no longer have the money to pay for the rest of the trip without finding work again, so the question then became to buy or rent? After doing the research, we decided to rent. Neither of use were really prepared to face the uncertainty of buying another used vehicle, despite the benefits of having our own car. So we searched and found a car we can rent that will get us to Perth and allow us to have a good time while my sister is in town. After that, we don’t know what we will do, but I am confident we will figure it out.
As of now, I am sitting on a bus to Adelaide where we will collect our new vehicle and begin our trip once again. I keep reminding myself that in part, this is why I chose to come. To let bad things happen, and to face them head on. To learn, and change, and grow, no matter how hard it may be. We all know that life presents numerous challenges that we are not totally prepared to face (If we were they wouldn’t really be challenges would they?), and it is largely ones ability to face these challenges and adapt to the changes they bring, that matters in the long run. I truly believe that it is our attitude that makes us or breaks us in times of hardship. It is an attitude that is developed in times like these, when we look ourselves in the soul, and decide, I will not be defeated.
So we will say goodbye to Rocky, we will remember the good times and the bad, and we will move on. We will make the best of it and enjoy the rest of our journey. And in the years to come, when difficulty comes my way, I will look back at times like this and say to myself, I did not give up then and I was better for it. I will not give up now.