One day rolled into another and they passed way too fast. We bid the Tiger Pub goodbye and headed for the west coast town of Strahan. More specifically, we sought access into a World Heritage Rainforest. In addition, we were coming up on the January super full moon eclipse. We weren't sure where we would be for the event and didn't put energy into planning the perfect location since we would be in the land of clouds and moisture. See the eclipse or not, we would feel its propensity to intensify feelings and birth surprise.
We were into tall forests and tight curves immediately. We crossed a large river, pulled off the road and walked back onto the bridge. I was looking for platypus; Greg, I guessed, a Tasmanian Tiger. What we saw was a shocker:
A sculling team? There was no nearby university or city, and I was a long way from the Charles River, the last time I'd seen scullers sweep toward Boston. If I'd been on my toes I would have understood the message: expect the unexpected. We were back on the road, heading uphill into a tight horseshoe turn, when a second dose of surprise met us head on: a humongous tour bus.
We'd seen tour buses with accompanying safety vehicles that stopped traffic so buses could maneuver through the mountainous horseshoes. Greg didn't consciously challenge the bus. I'm sure he thought it would back off. Or he forgot he was driving an RV and thought he had room. Whatever the split-second rationale, the encounter turned into a game of chicken. Neither stopped and I thought we were goners. No shoulders, steep drop off; I don't know how that bus managed not to push us off the road. Let's just say I got to verify what I've often imagined my final words might be: o fck! (Second scenario: I love you Hope.)
We drove in silence, too stunned to speak. A wave of homesickness rushed through my body as the effect of the close call intensified. I longed for the comfort of Teak and Hobo. I wanted to speak to Hope. Regret raised its head as we passed the turn off for Cradle Mountain Wilderness area and a hike I longed to take. I was seeing the world in terms of what I didn't have, and I needed to crawl out of the funk! I reminded myself that only four Tasmania days remained and choices had to be made. We had opted for rainforest and old growth that beckoned me more than mountains. As for the funk, it was about to get a swift kick.
Greg had worried for days about damage to the upper side of the van. He'd run into branches a couple of times, leaving marks and some small indentations. Nothing serious, I said. RV companies didn't expect to have the van returned unscathed. My reassurance didn't work and the damage weighed heavily on his conscience. We stopped in the village of Tullah (aboriginal word for "the meeting of two rivers") where he stood on a cement embankment to scrub off the marks. I handed him cleansers and meandered over to the neighbor's yard of spectacular flowers: gladiolas, roses, mums, lilies ... my spirit soared as I moved from bloom to bloom. Then I saw her small, bent-over frame on the porch, snipping stems and arranging flowers in bottles. I asked if they were for sale. Yes, $5 a bouquet, she said. I couldn't get the money fast enough. I chose my bright blossoms and we began to chat. She was eighty; she had lived in isolated Tullah all but four years of her life, when she went to college. Then she invited me inside to see her teddy bear collection. A room like none other --
What funk? Every inch was adorned with furry comfort. This woman was a Goddess.
Greg successfully erased the brown marks and I had a big bouquet of joy I carefully carried until our final day in Tasmania, when I would leave the flowers in a Hobart B&B.
We dropped onto Tasmania's west coast within a few hours; entered Strahan with a second wind and excitement for the few remaining hours of daylight.
|First view of Tasmania's west coast!|
|There was a time when Tullah's only link to the outside world was by steam engine.|
|One can ride this restored wood steam engine through the hills and rainforest.|
|Through the windshield: the mountainous highway|